NEW YORK - The investment landscape won't be much different in 2013 than it has been this year, but the investors might be.
After spending most of 2012 in a defensive crouch, cowed by past crises and on guard against any future ones, more investors seem willing to take risks in 2013 in hopes of a greater reward, money managers say.
"Managing money with one eye on the rear-view mirror is no fun," said Alan Wilde, head of fixed income and currency strategy at Baring Asset Management, which oversees $50 billion.
With investors a bit less skittish but still starved for yield, Wilde said he expects a "small increase in optimism" to encourage investors to chase higher returns.
Doing so will require creativity as conditions around the world - advanced economies in particular - are not conducive to rapid growth. With debt levels and jobless rates high and inflation subdued, most major central banks are committed to holding interest rates near zero for years to come.
Cash may not be an option either. Savings accounts yield virtually nothing and money markets only marginally more.
Returns on both are well below the rate of inflation, which when stripped of volatile food and energy costs stood just shy of 2 per cent in the year to November.
That panorama, investment managers say, should enhance the appeal of assets such as stocks, high-yielding "junk" bonds, floating-rate loans and mortgage-backed securities.