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Natixis: Ebola Won’t ‘End the Capital Markets as We Know Them’

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The U.S. economy is growing in spite of a recent market selloff and troubling geopolitical events, as Natixis Global Asset Management (KN) sees it.

“We don’t think that the world is coming to an end,” said David Lafferty, senior VP and chief market strategist at Natixis Global Asset Management. “We don’t think that Ebola is going to end the capital markets as we know them. Yes, we should be concerned about things like Russia, ISIS and the like.”

At a Wednesday press briefing in New York, Lafferty warmed to the theme. ”There are always geopolitical events that we need to consider,” Lafferty added, “but we don’t think that any of that derails the fundamental strength that we have in the U.S. economy.”

Natixis remains, in Lafferty’s words, “moderately bullish” on the U.S. economy. “We think that growth is going to accelerate into the fourth quarter and into 2015,” said Lafferty. “I would put ‘accelerate’ in quotes because it’s going to go from being 2%-2.5% to maybe right around 3%, not much better than that, but it’s in the right direction.”

Lafferty also addressed investors’–and advisors’–ever-burning question: When will the Federal Reserve tighten?

“We think that the question advisors are asking isn’t really the right one,” he said. “It’s not so much when but why the Fed is tightening. I think for a long-term financial plan I’m not sure if the Fed tightening in March, June or September matters all that much.”

What does matters is why the Fed would tighten, giving two possible scenarios.

“The first is where the Fed is tightening in an environment of real growth but low inflation, which is currently where we are ,” Lafferty said. “We think that’s actually a pretty positive scenario for Fed tightening.”

Lafferty’s second scenario, though, isn’t so positive. 

“The other scenario is where the Fed’s hand is forced due to inflationary pressures building in the system. That is not currently in place but that is something certainly we’re keeping an eye on,” he said. “We’re definitely watching wage and commodity prices as two particular drivers that might force inflation up.”

Lefferty said commodity prices have been falling, which has been helpful in keeping inflation down, and he added there has been no wage pressure despite a declining unemployment rate.

The September jobs report showed that the labor market continues to rebound. With a 248,000 gain in payrolls last month after a 180,000 increase in August, unemployment is down to a six-year low of 5.9%.

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