This poses the question: how much worse could things get? For equity investors, few issues could be more important. There has for years been a close link between economic activity and equity returns; since 1996 the correlation between annual growth in world trade and annual returns on the FTSE All-Share index has been a hefty 0.56. During this time, we have not seen decent returns on equities without decent growth in world trade. The health of the world economy is therefore crucial for investors.