5 years after Brexit vote and the sun still occasionally shines. For how much longer. Don’t worry… it could be much much worse..
There are many very clever investment firms – Baillie Gifford takes a long view to recognise and consider the future and trends, while Bridgewater is taking a view on inflation and rates. But, what if the most important factor likely to drive long-term returns proves to be the destabilising consequences of the last 10-years of interest rate repression and the distortion of rules, regulations and fads? These could prove the “no-see-ems” that tumble markets!
The inflation/deflation debate continues to roll thin summer markets, but the bigger issues are probably elsewhere. What’s happening to markets as they become increasingly consensus led, and focused more on compliance than sentiment?
GB News’ crushing of Militant Wokery has made the many companies threatening to boycott the new channel look very stupid. The woke agenda was basically “be nice”, but has been hi-jacked by militant cadres, becoming “be nice or else, and we define what is nice.” It’s a form of politics that can and will move markets.
Fed Head Jerome Powell set the market wagging y’day, triggering a mini-taper tantrum in bonds and stocks when he revealed no immediate rate hike but the possibility/likelihood of 2 rate rises in 2023. Bonds and Stocks fell. Bonds are unlikely to get much better in coming months – unless we see a market wobble that forces Central Banks to intervene, or something that creates a flash flight to quality. We are now in new market phase – the correlation between bonds and equities is looking vulnerable to a reversal when the free money that’s fed the rally since 2010 dries up! This is getting….. “interesting”.
Global Markets are somnambulating into the holiday slumber. But, a restful summer does not beckon - everyone fears complacency. Crashes follow a predictable patten – while everyone is looking at the wrong thing, some smart cookie spots the real problem, it happens, the regulators close the loophole, and inevitably it happens all over again somewhere else. What will drive the meltdown this time? Your guess is as good as mine!
As the US Fed meets to discuss rates and assess the real inflation threat, the UK Covid-freedom delay is likely to stall recovery momentum and add to the economic pain being felt at the micro-level. Markets are pricing for a transitory inflation bloom, but what is the real inflation outlook and what will it mean for bond markets as the European Union launches Europe’s fully mutualised funding programme – don’t anyone tell the Germans its happened!
Money supply economists argue inflation is nailed on, even if Central Banks and Governments taper QE and hold back further fiscal spending binges. But the consequences of the last 12 years of monetary experimentation, the massive inflation in financial asset prices, the changed investment environment, and rising inequality mean the coming crisis really will be different this time. Maybe it’s not inflation we should fear, but its much more evil and thuggish sibling – Stagflation.
As the UK and Yoorp prepare for a set-to over Sausages, the real issue remains inflation vs deflation. Are rising PPIs in China due to speculation on commodities boosting prices, is inflation due to supply glitches, and are the longer-term threats of Central Bank taper, growing West-East tension, and the reality of pandemic debt likely to tip us back into a deflationary cycle?
A short digression on Covid, Dementia and Sir Alexander Fleming.