Credit: Otilia Dragan/

On the evening of Thursday 22 February 2024, Abrdn, a global investment company and asset manager represented in Luxembourg, held its annual flagship event, the Scottish Heritage Night, at Tero House 17, in Luxembourg-Ville.

The evening kicked off with a presentation of the ten big macroeconomic questions for markets in 2024. Sree Kochugovindan, Senior Research Economist, focusing on Global Macro Research emphasised the upcoming period will be more “volatile” than the ten years between the global financial crisis in 2009 and the pandemic, which were relatively stable. The question arose whether a new moderate episode would follow. With over 40% of the world currently getting ready to vote, there may be major changes ahead. The election in the US, in particular, is set to have a key impact. She noted that the disinflation process has been relatively easy.

Touching on current political issues, Sree Kochugovindan discussed the impact of Middle Eastern politics on potential growth and inflation. She stressed that the focus is mainly on logistical challenges, particularly with slightly different and potentially indirect costs. Unlike during the pandemic, there is currently no "perfect storm" in terms of maritime costs but there could be a difficult situation if it persists, leading to knock-on effects. While delivery prices are increasing, they are not expected to reach the levels seen during the peak of the pandemic. Nevertheless, she noted that inflation volatility is to be expected over the next five to ten years. Thanks to technological advancements such as AI, which could both create and destroy jobs, inflation may not be a significant concern for the next decade. Central banks may lower rates, but not to the levels seen before the pandemic. There is an expectation of a slowdown in global growth, with banks lending less than before. However, the US economy continues to perform well, she underlined.

Regarding the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, she explained that it largely led to increased savings as people shopped mainly for essential goods. However, household savings have now been depleted, and while a recession may not occur, a slowdown in the US economy is likely. It is anticipated that economies worldwide will also experience a slowdown, she pointed out.

Analysing the current political landscape, she noted that there is a noticeable shift towards the right in Europe, although it remains largely centrist. National polls in the United States show Trump leading over Biden, with swing states closely contested but Trump holding a slight advantage. A lot hinges on the US elections, she stressed, and market volatility may emerge due to the uncertainty surrounding the outcome of the election. While there is a strong chance of Trump being re-elected, there are concerns given the numerous charges against him. If Trump returns to power, his policies could differ significantly from his previous term, with potential implications such as increased tariffs on Chinese goods. The driving force behind these potential policy changes could be dissatisfaction with Biden's performance mainly due to nostalgia for the pre-pandemic era, Sree Kochugovindan noted. She added that the economy has been getting stronger under Biden (with unemployment at a low 3.4%) and inflation steadily easing – however, feeling the sting of a high cost of life and less purchasing power may push people to vote for Trump.

Later, Abrdn representatives presented various current investment opportunities.

The evening continued with a whisky tasting by Master of Ceremonies Stuart Cassels and bagpipes music performed by Blair Porter. Stuart Cassels is also the founder, former frontman and Managing Director of the Red Hot Chilli Pipers, a Scottish brand which has sold over half a million albums worldwide. Stuart Cassels explained facts about whisky and its Scottish roots and he also clarified why bagpipes are closely associated with Scotland:

The bagpipes were originally Roman - you got them in Spain in Germany and other countries, but they became popular in Scotland because bagpipers had a job in Scotland.” Because they did not have to work on farms anymore, bagpipers became a higher position in society, and more music specifically for bagpipes could be developed. He added that bagpiping is still a profession nowadays and that even British monarchs would have their own bagpipers to this day.

The evening paid tribute to Scotland's famous poet, Robert Burns, whose work helped immortalise and safeguard the Scottish heritage. A walking dinner followed with various Scottish dishes and whiskey varieties on offer, including Haggis, a traditional Scottish savoury pudding cooked in a sheep’s stomach. As Stuart Cassels explained, haggis is nowadays made with oats, sausage meat peppers and other spices but in the old days, haggis was a mix of the week’s leftovers, a "poor man's dinner". He performed Robert Burns’ Address to a Haggis, a Scots language poem, in a lively manner, before the evening continued with more bagpipe music and degustation of Scottish fares.