Wade (pictured) told the group’s London investment conference last week that a combination of the recent fall in commodity prices and a loss of business momentum may signal weaker prospects for global growth.In addition, he says that the strong consumer demand that helped support global GDP in 2004 will not be such a pillar of support in 2005. This is because the tax cuts in the US and the low interest rates that prompted people to spend rather than save will not be around next year. He adds: “Oil prices are also acting as a brake on growth and the corporate sector will bear the brunt of this as profits will be flat going forward.” Head of UK equities Richard Buxton takes a less pessimistic view of events. He says the UK economy is in what he calls a “mid-cycle pause in economic momentum” and argues that a slowdown is not certain: “Going into a recovery, growth always fades after the initial bout of momentum. This fade doesn’t mean we are automatically about to fall into another bear market. “Indeed, corporate sector confidence is improving, profits are beating expectations, balance sheets are back in shape and borrowing is picking up. This is not a recipe for a downturn in my view.” Buxton argues that after an unprecedented 50 consecutive quarters of GDP growth, he cannot envisage the UK economy shrinking. “Ireland shows that housing markets can have soft landings, so it follows there does not have to be a housing price crash here. Indeed, fiscal policy represents a greater threat of recession than the housing market.” Head of Japanese equities Andrew Rose takes a similar view. He says that while the economy has showed signs of a slowdown from its initial recovery, underperforming other world markets since April this year, Japan should continue to grow above trend.