Two weeks that could shake the world economy

01 December 2015 - 02:05 By © The Daily Telegraph

Fourteen days in December will decide the fate of world markets as first the European Central Bank, Opec and then the US central bank gather to take landmark decisions on policy. The meetings will dictate the flow of trillions of dollars and could mark the most significant shift in policy for a decade.Hounded by deflation in the eurozone, the ECB is widely expected to ramp up its quantitative easing programme soon.Worries about falling prices prompted the ECB to unveil a£44-billion (about R960-billion) a month quantitative easing package at the start of the year.On Friday, Opec will decide on production levels and set the direction of oil prices for the year ahead, and maybe a generation.Global commodity markets have been shaken to their core during the past 12 months by the actions of a small cabal of oil-rich states.In Vienna just over a year ago, the Opec nations sent shock waves around the world when they launched a price war by ramping up oil output to crush rival producers. The move brought to an end an era of elevated oil prices.The impact on the oil-producing industry has been staggering.Investment in projects has been cut by $220-billion according to energy consultant Wood MacKenzie.The next seismic shift in global capital markets will come as the US Federal Reserve meets on December 16 to decide whether interest rates could rise for the first time since 2006.But the Fed has little idea what the impact of tightening monetary policy will actually be.Truth be told, the central bankers have little idea of how world markets will respond during the coming two weeks.Money managers have been searching for any hint of how to position investments for the year ahead and could react very quickly once the ECB, Opec and US Federal Reserve decisions are known.

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