Using terms like "benign" and "Goldilocks" to describe their economic forecasts, economists and chief investment officers predict 2018 will be a year of sustained GDP growth and manageable inflation in the U.S. and worldwide.
"There's good momentum" for the next six to 12 months, said Joachim Fels, a managing director and global economic adviser for Pacific Investment Management Co. LLC, Newport Beach, Calif. "Economic indicators are above expectations."
U.S. growth prospects appear "benign" and "inflation is not threatening," she said. And the eurozone has "exceeded expectations" by being "very strong."
However, being true to their nature, economists — "on the one hand, on the other hand" is their profession's unofficial motto — also mentioned a few dramatic possibilities that could alter their predictions.
A recent PIMCO forecast, for example, said its "Goldilocks-extended" forecast could be jolted by a "zombie apocalypse or a sudden spontaneous collapse in asset prices."
Mr. Fels defined the economic version of a zombie apocalypse as a war with North Korea, a "major explosion" in the Middle East leading to an oil supply shock or China changing its policy to allow its currency to depreciate.
To Ms. Mateos y Lago, U.S. retrenchment on the North American Free Trade Agreement would be "a step back and quite detrimental" to the U.S. and world economies. "There could be concern than the U.S. wouldn't stop at NAFTA and could escalate trade tensions," she said.
Protectionist trade policies by the U.S. remained a potential disrupter of forecasts by many interviewees.
"There always will be political risk, and you have to build that into your investment strategy," said Celia Dallas, the Arlington, Va.-based chief investment strategist of Cambridge Associates LLC.
Her forecasts could be upset by "a major war," Middle East turmoil affecting oil supply and prices, trade tensions between U.S. and China and "significant" protectionist policies by the U.S., she said.
Still, a recent analysis by Ms. Dallas noted that investors should "expect more of the same" in 2018 because "many of the factors that drove risk assets higher this year are still in force" even though 2018's gains might not be as great as those in 2017.
"For the first time in about a decade," all components of the MSCI All Country World index "are in expansion mode," said Ms. Dallas, citing these results as a source for her optimism.