Global Matters Weekly – 9 March 2020

Tipping point
by Alex Harvey, CFA

When the seeds of the Arab Spring were sown in 2010 in a market in Tunisia, few would have foreseen the chain of events that followed. The resulting wave of civil protest and unrest that rippled across north Africa led to the collapse of regimes and leaders that had been in place for many decades, most notably Muammar Gaddafi. Roll forward nearly a decade and 9,123 kilometres and another otherwise unremarkable marketplace finds itself at ground zero for the current bout of volatility in markets. In reality there is little to link these events, but the pattern of snowballing and onward contagion is perhaps not so different as camels’ backs get broken.

Market Snapshot

  • Global equity markets volatile in response to the coronavirus
  • Bond yields tumble as investors go risk-off
  • Brent crude tumbles around 30%, currently at $36 a barrel
  • Gold rose 5.6% ending the week at $1665.9 an ounce