Get ASX Price
Hot Issues
The never-ending coronavirus pandemic
Can I go back to work if I’ve already accessed my super?
2020-21 saw investment returns rebound
Tax Time Checklists - Super Funds; Individuals; and Company, Trust, Partnership
What is capital gains tax and when might I have to pay it?
6 steps to help you feel more positive about your finances
End of year (EOY) financial strategies
The 2021-22 Australian Budget - Analysis
Videos to help understand financial planning topics.
Investing on behalf of your kids
Super contribution caps are going up from 1 July 2021
Protecting your loved ones
Federal Budget 2021 - Overview
Building a more secure and resilient Australia
Federal Budget 2021 - Health
The return of geopolitical risk? - what to watch over the remainder of 2021
Relationship break-up entitlements when you're in a de facto
What do you need to think about when deciding when to retire?
6 steps to building good financial habits
RBA on hold and likely to remain easy for a long while yet as full employment gets more of a look in
More Aussies look to buy property and refinance
A new crypto world is emerging - the non-fungible token
Saving for your child's future
5 tips for creating your own good fortune this Lunar New Year
A broad range of Calculators.
Shares have had a very strong rebound since March last year so where are we in the investment cycle?
ATO Small Business Newsroom
Many in the dark about retirement
Transfer balance cap set to increase to $1.7 million
How to rebuild your super after a COVID-19 withdrawal
Financial wellness in 2020 - how did yours compare?
The global economy and investment markets this year
ASIC sounds warning around high-yield bond scams
Is $1m enough to retire?
How much super should I have at my age?
Tips for parents who became the bank of mum and dad
How to 2020-proof your finances
Vaccination rates as they happen around the world
2021 - a list of lists regarding the macro investment outlook
2020 - the year that united us
Videos and other resources for our clients
How to review your direct debits and save
Majority of working Aussies to benefit from personal income tax cuts
2020 is coming to an end. Phew!!
Review of 2020, outlook for 2021
The right times for financial advice
Is your home loan still right for you?
3 golden rules that make saving for retirement easier
How to budget for your social life in retirement
Still The Lucky Country
Comprehensive list of COVID-19 initiatives and packages.
Understanding the Age Pension income and assets test
Considerations when downsizing your home
Ways to help reduce your debts before you retire
How to identify (and beat) your spending triggers
Budget 2020 - A very comprehensive break down.
Budget 2020 - Fact Sheets
Budget 2020 - At a Glance, Overview, Outlook
JobKeeper extension – changes implemented
Australia's "eye popping" budget deficit and public debt blow out
The economics of COVID-19 lockdowns
How mindfulness can improve the way we work
Taking control of your personal finances in a COVID-19 world
September update of latest COVID-19 initiatives.
Seven reasons why the trend in shares will likely remain up, albeit with bumps along the way
Market outlook Q&A
Changes to super contribution rules for over 65s
COVID-19: How long may your super savings take to recover?
Boost your super in the lead up to retirement
4 ways to help prepare your finances for a recession
JobKeeper - Latest Update
The fiscal cliff is more likely to be a fiscal slope
Australian economic and fiscal update
Protect yourself from COVID-19 related scams
The economic hangover of COVID-19: how long will it last?
How to rebuild your super after a COVID-19 withdrawal
Market update - July 2020
Investment options and retirement
Extra Tools & Resources for our clients.
The Australian economy and recovery from COVID-19
Digital payments and online banking for older Aussies
The coming surge in Australia's budget deficit and public debt due to coronavirus
10 medium to longer-term implications from the coronavirus shock
Thinking about insurance ahead of retirement
Gifting and financial generosity during coronavirus
Diversification - why it matters now more than ever
The value of financial advice
Our Website, your resources
Light at the end of the coronavirus tunnel
Market update
Changes to pension drawdown and deeming rates
Preserving retirement saving during COVID-19
How investment market volatility could affect your super
COVID-19: Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package
The coronavirus pandemic and the economy – a Q&A from an investment perspective
Money challenges women face
Data so large it's hard to comprehend.
Is coronavirus driving a recession, depression or an economic hit like no other?
Holding your nerve – why retirees fear a market plunge
Historic $130bn wage subsidy to cover 6 million workers
Stage 2 – Covid-19 stimulus package.
Covid-19 Update - Small Business
PM launches $17.6 billion virus stimulus plan
The plunge in shares – seven things investors need to keep in mind
Three reasons why low inflation is good for shares and property
Can refinancing my home loan save me money?
Expected GDP by country 2010 to 2100
Super investment options – what’s right for you?
Life beyond work
Statistical picture of Australia - Update
A resource hub for our clients.
Market Update
Real Time World Population Growth - Wow!!
Dividends explained
Start 2020 with a best snapshot of Australia.
5 tips for green investing
Make Australians save again
Bushfires and the Australian economy
Grow your super in the new year
Australia by the Numbers
How to create realistic goals…… and stick to them.
5 days to get your finances in order
Our Advent calendar for 2019
5 reasons why I’m not so fussed about the global outlook
Superannuation changes
You'll be the life of the party when armed with this information!
7 tips to improve your financial wellness
Rebooting for retirement
5 reasons why the A$ may be close to the bottom
Resist today, relax tomorrow
Market Update 30 September 2019
How much superannuation is enough?
All Australia's vital statistics - October 2019
6 new financial videos
DGP by country since 1800
Boost savings with compound interest
High times for low interest rates
Market Update - September 2019
Will the world slip up on oil again?
Australia by the numbers - September 2019
Spending money in a cashless world
Dealing with being cash poor and asset rich
Saving for a rainy day
Market update
Access to more resources and tools than most websites.
Nine reasons why recession remains unlikely in Australia
Can I go back to work if I’ve accessed my super?
How's Australia doing statistically?
Protecting your super package.
Making the most of record-low interest rates.
Market Update 2019
How the top 10 global companies have changes since 1998
The longest US economic expansion ever
When can I access my super
Australia by numbers – Update
How to retire early
How to play catch up with your Super
Inflation undershoots in Australia
9 money mistakes to avoid in retirement
What a financial planner does to help.
Australia's vital statistics.
What kind of money parent are you?
How to save money
Federal Budget 2019 - Overview
How the 2019 Federal Budget affects you
New Global growth slowing, plunging bond yields & inverted yield curves
Women and Money
Market Update - March 2019
The problem with getting to 53 years of age.
How to avoid a travel debt hangover
Things to avoid as a newbie investor
Budget Time - How's Australia going?
Most older Aussies prefer home care over a nursing home
Why growth in China is unlikely to slow too far
10 money conversations to have when your relationship heats up
Australia slides into a 'per capita recession'
6 steps to get your money stuff together
All you need to know about how Australia is going.
Australian housing downturn Q&A
6 ways to reduce your credit card debt once and for all
5 life insurance questions you've always wanted to ask
2019 a list of lists - regarding the macro investment outlook
Part 4 - The major benefit of ‘behavioural coaching'
How to adult—a quick guide to personal finances in your 20s
How Australia is performing.
The Australian economy in 2019
Holiday budgeting tips— How to avoid a travel debt hangover
Australia - a comprehensive run-down of our vital statistics.
The Fed and market turmoil - the Fed turns a bit dovish but not enough (yet)
12 ways to avoid waste this Christmas
Rising US interest rates, trade wars, the US midterm election results, etc
Our Advent calendar for 2018
Responsible and ethical investing
What are the 3 biggest living expenses for households?
Your Adviser and Behavioural Coaching
Stop!! Don't do a paper Budget, use our online budgeting tools instead.
Information needed to be the BBQ expert.
Would you like to retire by 40?
The property cycle and the economy
How financial advice helps create wealth.
7 money personalities you may identify with or want to avoid
Are shares expensive?
How's Australia doing statistically?
Super investment options – what’s right for you?
Here's how to lead a happier life
What happened to all the worries about rising inflation and bond yields? Goldilocks, tariffs, Turkey & other things
Is it better to buy an investment property or home first?
Nine keys to successful investing
This information will turn you into a fireside expert.
How Australians will use their tax return
Lessons from the blue zones: secrets of a long life
Trumponomics and investment markets
Tools for budgeting, cash flow, Super and more ….
How tax deductible personal super contributions work
How much super should I have at my age?
The rise of the gig economy and side gigs (thanks to technology)
Statistics for all Australians
Watch out for tax scams
After the Australian household debt and east coast housing booms
Now’s the time for tax planning
Why it pays to contribute to your partner's super
Australia by numbers – Update
How to deal with financial stress – nearly 1 in 3 affected
Federal Budget 2018 – Overview
Your Budget
4 components of our 2018 Federal Budget
US China trade war fears – Q & A
Tools to help you manage your financial position are available on our site.
7 ways to boost your super
Australians reveal their priority goals
Australia by numbers – Update
Your retirement questions answered
How to make money by turning your unwanted goods into cash
Our website is really our digital office.
Bitcoin – is it really for you?
Spread your money, reduce risk
Love and money? It’s not about control
The pullback in shares - seven reasons not to be too concerned
Australia. All you need to know to be the expert.
Australian’s love affair with debt - how big is the risk?
5 ways to keep a cool head in a falling share market
2018 – a list of lists regarding the macro investment outlook
Sports lovers enjoy better financial fitness
Where Australia is at. Our leading indicators.
The year that was and the year ahead
Add some extra cash to your New Year
New year, new financial resolutions
Our Advent calendar for 2017
Where are we in the global investment cycle?
Australia's vital statistics
12 ways to enjoy summer without spending a fortune
One in three Aussies travel without protection
Digital payment options could see you spend more this Christmas
If you’ve always thought property prices only go up…
Will Australian house prices crash?
Where are we in the global investment cycle and what's the risk of a 1987 style crash?
Money steps for women
Resources on our site to help you, your family and your friends.
Australian Dietary Guidelines and healthy eating chart (PDF)
How to retire, your way
Prepare for retirement without missing out today
Be the boss of your cash
The Australian economy bounces back again
Should you lend money to family?
Money mistakes people make in their 50s and 60s
Australian Dietary Guidelines and healthy eating chart (PDF)
Eight steps to improved cashflow... and lifestyle
Powerful Budgeting, cash flow and Super Tools available on our site.
5 ways Australians will use their tax return this year
Australia's leading causes of death - ABS
The threat of war with North Korea
Six traits of Australians living the dream
The break higher in the Australian dollar is likely to be limited
Money can buy you happiness, you’re just spending it wrong
Key Economic Indicators, 2017 – updated
Helping your kids buy a home
From Goldilocks to taper tantrum 2.0
What’s your debt age?
Doing a budget is a good idea but ....
Planning is the key to making it financially
What to do when you come into money
Managing your money when you move in together
Reduce your bills with these household items
It pays to contribute to your partner's super
How to cope with losing independence
Transition to retirement income streams
The Australian economy hits another rough patch
Watch out for tax scams
The three core pillars of this year's budget
Federal Budget - 2017-18 - Overview
Federal Budget - 2017-18 - Budget documents
Make the most of the current super caps
Five, four, three… it’s not too late to get more in super
Super changes are coming
What’s your debt age?
Australian cash rate on hold
Super changes this financial year - Dr Shane Oliver - video
The door is closing on super’s current caps
Is Donald Trump's honeymoon with investors over?
Estate planning and why you need a super plan
What does a comfortable retirement look like?
Give your career a health check
Super changes from July 2017
Changes to the Age Pension assets test
Keep your money safe over the silly season
Looking ahead at 2017
Review of 2016, outlook for 2017 - looking better despite the political noise
Merry Christmas for 2016, a Happy New Year and a prosperous 2017.
54.2 million worries
Five tips for happy healthy ageing
Thinking about managing your own super?
Sending more to the tax office than you should?
Government pulls back on proposed changes to super
Market Update - What to consider when investing in a low return world
Stop!! Don't do a paper Budget, use our online budgeting tools instead.
Oliver's Insight - Megatrends
Value of Advice
A growing family doesn't have to blow the budget
Blinded by optimism
Thinking about managing your own super?
The investment outlook - it's not all that bad!
What’s your biggest obstacle to financial success?
Ageing Parents
Should you own the roof over your head?
Be a senior entrepreneur on your own terms!
Brexit and other key developments
Brexit wins
Commentary on major issues - AMP
Five money habits for a happy financial year
Are grandparents giving too much?
Remember to factor in parental subsidies at tax time
2016-17 Federal Budget - AMP
2016 Budget in detail
How (and why) to talk to your adult children about insurance
Procrastination: Just do it. Eventually.
Why Australian property won't collapse
The Lucky Country holding up pretty well
Have we reached the bottom?
The evolution of the Chinese consumer
Retirement rolls around faster than you think
Pressed for time?
Changes to the Age Pension assets test
Women are building financial intelligence
Heirlooms no more
Initial market falls precede stronger returns - Shane Oliver
What exactly is income protection insurance and do I need it?
A rough start to the year, which could have further to go
Aged Care - Changes to Assessment of Rental Income
A bump in the road, then a new start
New year, new start – are you ready for retirement?
Review of 2015, outlook for 2016 - Dr Shane Oliver
We wish you a Merry Christmas for 2015 and a Happy New Year
Go easy on the plastic over Christmas
Resolutions for a wealthy future
The Australian dollar doing what it normally does - overshoot. Dr Shane Oliver
How to manage volatility in a low return world
The Australian economy - more help will be needed. Dr Shane Oliver
Insurance through my super
Four tactics to build an investment portfolio
The demand for global infrastructure
Help achieve your investment goals with dynamic asset allocation
The Power of Budgeting
Jump retirement hurdles with a coach
Preparing for the time of your life
A Super Loan for all reasons
Making a smooth transition
Australian Government - Budget 2015
Budget 2015 - some professional opinions
Achieving a comfortable retirement
Is off-the-plan on the money?
Should I take my super as a lump sum or not?
Do you have a key person in your business?
Tips for success in a competitive job market
All you need to know about buying at auction
To sell or not to sell?
Saving in a material world
The return of geopolitical risk? - what to watch over the remainder of 2021


Dr Shane Oliver
Head of Investment Strategy and Chief Economist
AMP Capital




Key points

  • Geopolitical issues generate much interest but don’t necessarily have a significant impact on markets
  • But geopolitical risks are higher than prior to the GFC reflecting three big themes: a populist backlash against economic rationalist policies; the falling relative power of the US; and the polarising impact of social media
  • After a lull following the transition to President Biden, key geopolitical issues to watch this year are: US and Australian tensions with China; Iran/Israel tensions; Russia and Ukraine; the German election; US tax hikes and a possible early Australian election.


Over the last decade or so it seems geopolitical risk has become of greater significance for investors – particularly with the 2016 Brexit vote and Donald Trump’s election, and tensions with China from 2018. However, beyond lots of noise around President Trump and the US election, geopolitical risk took a back seat for most of the last year in terms of relevance for global investment markets as coronavirus dominated. But, after a period of relative calm following the handover to President Biden, there is a growing risk that it may make a bit of a comeback with tensions building in a number of areas.

Big picture geopolitical trends

Although significant geopolitical events impacted investment markets in the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s (with notably two Gulf Wars and 9/11), the broad trend in terms of geopolitical influence was reasonably positive for investment markets with the embrace of free market/economic rationalism (after the perceived failure of widespread government intervention in the 1970s), the collapse of communism and associated surge in global trade, the peace dividend and the dominance of the US as the global cop. However, over the last decade geopolitical developments have arguably started to move in a direction which is less favourable for investment markets. There are three big geopolitical developments contributing to this:

The political pendulum is swinging back to the left - the slow post-global financial crisis recovery, rising inequality, a dimming in memories of the malaise associated with interventionist economic policies and high inflation in the 1970s, and stress around immigration in various developed countries has contributed to a backlash against establishment politics and economic rationalist policies. This has been showing up in support for re-regulation, nationalisation, increased taxes and protectionism and other populist responses. While aspirational politics ruled in the 1980s & 1990s it’s since been replaced with scepticism about trickle-down economics. The trend towards bigger government has been pushed along by the pandemic, which has seen last decade’s fiscal austerity ditched in favour of big government spending and big budget deficits made possible by very low interest rates.

The swing of the political pendulum to the left is most acute in Anglo Saxon countries as it was here that the pendulum swung most towards free markets in the 1980s and 1990s. This swing is clearly evident under President Biden who is ushering in a greater focus on public spending to fix economic and social problems, partly financed by increased taxes and with bigger budget deficits. It’s also evident in Australia with the budget repair focus of last decade now on the backburner and the Government focussed on pushing unemployment below 5%. But the swing to the left is also evident in German politics. And scepticism about western capitalist democracy has also become more evident in some countries, notably China which has backed away from becoming more like the West.

In the short term, big government spending could boost growth and productivity and may be seen as necessary to “save capitalism from itself” (as FDR’s New Deal did). Longer term, big government could act as a dampener on productivity growth and boost inflation – but if the post-WW2 experience is anything go by that could take a while to be a major issue.

The relative decline of US power – this is shifting us away from the unipolar world that dominated after the Cold War when the US was the global cop, and most countries were moving to become free market democracies. Now we are seeing the rise of China at the same time that it’s strengthening the role of the Communist Party, Russia revisiting its Soviet past and efforts by other countries to fill the gap left by the US in parts of the world, resulting in a multi-polar world and increased tensions - all of which has the potential to upset investment markets at times.

Third, social media is allowing us to make our own reality resulting in entrenched division and less scope for cooperation amongst socio-political groups to achieve common goals. As politicians pander to this, the danger is that economic policy making will be less rational and more populist.

Global geopolitical issues to keep an eye on in 2021

The main geopolitical risks to key an eye on this year are:

US/China tensions, particularly regarding Taiwan – this is probably the biggest risk. Trump’s tariffs have not been reduced and Biden has maintained a hard line on China reflecting US public opinion. Tensions are heating up again as the US is preparing to sell weapons to Taiwan with military exercises in the Taiwan Strait and South China Sea, and some in China threatening to reunify Taiwan by force. The issue is arguably being accentuated by US restrictions on semiconductor sales to China and, of course, Taiwan has a state-of-the-art semiconductor industry. It’s hard to see China reunifying Taiwan by force given the economic costs that would flow from trade sanctions and it all sounds like a lot of posturing, but the risks have gone up and markets may start to focus on it more, particularly if there are accidental military clashes in the area. And there are reportedly signs Europe may be moving towards the US’s side on the broader US-China issue. Key to watch will be the Biden Admin’s review of US policy on China in coming months and Biden’s first bilateral meeting with President Xi.

Australia/China tensions – these have been building since Australia banned Huawei from participating in its 5G rollout and intensified last year after Australia called for an independent inquiry into the source of coronavirus, and China put bans and tariffs on various imports from Australia. The tensions may be escalating again with the Federal Government cancelling Victoria’s Belt and Road Initiative with China which could result in a further escalation in bans and tariffs on Australian exports to China. So far these have not had a major macroeconomic impact because the value of the products affected is small (less than 1% of GDP) and the impact has been swamped by the strength in iron ore exports and prices. And with Australia accounting for 50% of iron ore exports globally, there is insufficient iron ore supply from other countries for China to move to other sources. It could become more of an issue over the longer term if the tensions continue to worsen and ultimately impact iron ore, and this may already be showing up as a risk premium in Australian assets with the $A trading lower against the $US than might be suggested by the level of commodity prices and the trade surplus, and this may also be constraining the relative performance of the Australian share market. So any easing of tensions could boost the $A and Australian shares, but it could also go the other way if tensions escalate.

Iran/Israel tensions – the US is looking to return to the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran in order to continue its “pivot to Asia” and given its energy independence making it less reliant on Middle East oil. Iran wants a return to the deal to take pressure of its economy. But Israel is not keen, is strongly opposed to Iran’s nuclear ambitions and has allegedly sabotaged some Iranian facilities with Iran vowing retaliation. Ideally Biden needs to get a deal done before August when a more hawkish Iranian president may take over. Reports indicate US/Iran talks are making progress, but there is a long way go and tensions between Iran & Israel and Saudi Arabia & Iran could flare up in the interim with potential to impact oil prices – although beyond short term spikes the impact here is not what it used to be.

Russia tensions – Biden has taken a hard line against Russia. It could insist that Germany cancel the Nord Stream 2 (Russian/German gas) pipeline which would risk Russian retaliation possibly with another incursion into Ukraine. A full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine is unlikely as it would unite Europe & the US against Russia and be costly economically, but another incursion is a risk. Tensions have faded in the last few weeks but could flare up again ahead of Russian elections in September with Putin looking for something to rally political support. Note though that the Russian invasion of Crimea and the shooting down of MH17 only saw brief 2% and 1% dips respectively in US shares in 2014 in what was a solid year.

German election – with Angela Merkel stepping down after nearly 16 years as Chancellor in Germany, polls indicate there is a good chance that the Greens will win control of government in the 26th September elections or if not then be a part of it. However, while this will likely need to be in coalition with the Christian Democrats which would limit the Greens more extreme left-wing policies, it’s likely to see German policy tilt to the left with more fiscal stimulus (a direction the Christian Democrats are leaning in anyway) which will boost recovery in Europe and be a further force for European integration. So, a Green win could actually be a positive risk for European shares.

Terrorism – The risks here have subsided, but new attacks can’t be ruled out. However, economies and markets seem to have become desensitised to them to a degree.

North Korea – Biden appears to be set on taking a more incremental approach to resolving issues with North Korea than Trump did, but more North Korean provocations could occur before progress is made. Note though that North Korean provocations had little lasting impact on markets in 2017.

US tax hikes – so far, the US share market has not been too concerned much about the Biden Administration’s proposed tax hikes on the assumption the negative impact will be offset by extra spending and congress will scale them back - which they probably will. This could change if they are not scaled back.

Australia – the main risk is an early election but differences between the Government and Labor are minor compared to the 2019 election. The Coalition is now eschewing fiscal austerity in favour of boosting growth to deliver a tight jobs market and higher wages. And Labor Leader Anthony Albanese has dropped most of the “big end of town” taxes it proposed in 2019. A Labor Government would take a tougher stance on climate and a more interventionist approach, however, a significant impact on the economy from a change of government is low compared to the 2019 election. To avoid separate House and Senate elections, the latest the next election can be is 21 May 2022. Recent controversies have reduced the chance of an early election.

Implications for investors

Our view is that share markets will head higher this year as recovery continues and this boosts earnings. However, investor sentiment is very bullish which is negative from a contrarian perspective and we are coming into a seasonally softer period of the year for shares, as the old saying “sell in May and go away..” reminds us and the next chart illustrates (although Australian shares can push higher into July). Geopolitical risks as noted above – along with a resumption of the bond market tantrum as inflation rises further and maybe a new coronavirus scare – could provide a trigger for a short-term correction.

The seasonal pattern in US and Australian shares

Source: Bloomberg, AMP Capital

That said, there are several points for investors to bear in mind. First, geopolitical issues create much interest, but as we seen with, eg, Brexit, North Korea and trade wars, they rarely have lasting negative impacts on markets. Second, it’s hard to quantify geopolitical risks as you have to understand each issue separately. Finally, trying to time negative geopolitical shocks & pick their impact is not easy and it often makes more sense for investors to respond once they are factored into markets as the worst usually doesn’t happen, rather than permanently sheltering from them in low returning cash.


Important note: While every care has been taken in the preparation of this document, AMP Capital Investors Limited (ABN 59 001 777 591, AFSL 232497) and AMP Capital Funds Management Limited (ABN 15 159 557 721, AFSL 426455) make no representations or warranties as to the accuracy or completeness of any statement in it including, without limitation, any forecasts. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance. This document has been prepared for the purpose of providing general information, without taking account of any particular investor’s objectives, financial situation or needs. An investor should, before making any investment decisions, consider the appropriateness of the information in this document, and seek professional advice, having regard to the investor’s objectives, financial situation and needs. This document is solely for the use of the party to whom it is provided.

Hawthorn Financial Planning Pty Ltd ABN 47 011 910 918
Corporate Authorised Representative
Charter Financial Planning Limited ABN 35 002 976 294
Australian Financial Services Licensee Licence number 234665
Registered address Level 24, 33 Alfred Street Sydney NSW 2000
Legal Disclaimer | Privacy Policy

Hawthorn Financial Planning 67 King William Road UNLEY SA 5061 Ph: (08) 8339 7973