This is not a storm, a hurricane this way comes.

Readers of a sensitive nature may wish to take a chill pill before reading this morning’s Porridge comment. Remember, the sun will come up tomorrow. The market might not.

Blain’s Morning Porridge, August 30 2022 – This is not a storm, a hurricane this way comes.

“The church bell chimed ’til it rang twenty-nine times, for each man on the Edmund Fitzgerald”

Warning Readers of a sensitive nature may wish to take a chill pill before reading this morning’s Porridge comment. Remember, the sun will come up tomorrow. The market might not.

Red Sky in the Morning – Sailor take warning. I woke to a vivid red sky this morning – by the time I rushed upstairs to snap a photograph it was already fading. In sailor lore Red Skies presage storms – it’s the rising sun reflecting off high levels of water vapour carried by approaching weather fronts that causes the bright red effect. Curiously, it’s been the quietest Caribbean Hurricane Season in decades, yet I suspect there is an almighty storm already upon global markets – we are so caught up in it we don’t realise its knocking on the windows – and about to knock them out!

The worst part of any storm is not the Eye (which is calm), or even the winds and storm surges as the gale approaches. The strongest winds are just outside the “eye-wall”, following the path of destruction. The really sustained high-winds and storm waves are in the following quarters. When it’s an Atlantic storm barrelling into Europe from across the Atlantic, is the bottom left-hand of the rotating storm where the winds are strongest and most destructive.

Which is all a long-winded way of saying.. this might get worse.. Much worse.

Despite many storm warnings – this market is ill prepared for the kind of instability about to hit, as recession, stagflation, geo-politics, domestic politics, energy, food, inflation and the rest combine in that most misused of metaphors; a Perfect Storm. There is no such thing – every storm is different – and it’s not the things you see coming that maims you, it’s the things you don’t!

Following Jackson Hole last week – where the Fed and other Central Banks confirmed the battle versus inflation means higher rates for longer – the market has staged a predictable sell-back. The numbers look bad – but hardly terminal. It still looks kind of normal for a typical September market reverse, a correction. The gains from the summer rally will probably be wiped out, but market participants will be expecting the next play to begin. In the next few days we will be back to talk of recovery.

Nothing much to panic about when the US 2 year bonds nearly hit 3.5%. Stocks in reverse. The VIX fear indicator of stock volatility is up to 27. None of these are chaotic – yet. Arrr…. The calm will not last…

The wind in the wires made a tattle-tale sound
And a wave broke over the railing
And every man knew, as the captain did too
T’was the witch of September come stealin’

The big issue is how prepared for a market blow are we? Anyone with a career record under 15-years has never experienced a real market gale – the last one being the Global Financial Crisis of 2008. I reckon that’s well over 50% of the financial workforce. Their careers have been forged in markets artificially supported by quantitative easing and Zero Interest rates. Now we are stepping into aggressive rate hikes and quantitative tightening – with the Fed confirming a steep pace of hikes to tame inflation, even if it causes a slowdown. And the financial conditions barometer is tumbling as consumers and business face impossible budget calls.

This is a new game.

Lots of young fund managers will be looking at their books and wondering how they are going to reverse the 10-15% losses they’ve sustained this year. The compliance and risk management mitigation mindset that dominates institutional investor groupthink will largely ensure they don’t bet the farm on big risky bets, but for most funds – which means the money folk are saving for retirement – it’s going to a very bad year.

Risk and groupthink mean there are going to be fewer folk out there looking for risky opportunities – potentially meaning the crisis last longer. Losses on losses, at a time when consumer discretionary spending and pension saving will have been hammered by inflation, will have profound consequences on the future market.  Forget the walls of money that’s fuelled funds, and speculative market rallies – we’re looking at significantly less money coming into markets.

Bankers will be smiling. They are focused on how the transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich was accelerated by QE and now means the top 1% of the global population own over 58% of societies wealth and assets. No wonder investment banks are hiring aggressively into private banking and wealth management services! Family offices don’t mind being smoozed.

Meanwhile… The Fed and the US economy can afford some economic misery. The US is largely detached from the global energy price shock, and will survive global recession in its largely self-contained domestic bubble. A recession will hurt – but won’t kill the economy.

This gathering storm is going to hit Europe hardest. Energy insecurity and the Ukraine war is responsible, but a large number of ECB board members are publicly calling for an unparalleled 75 bp hike to tame the inflation beast, and to reverse the sinking Euro (down 15% this year, and headed lower). Higher rates and a deepening economic crisis as Europe heads into recession and rising unemployment is scary, and doubly so as soaring energy costs look likely to trigger rising social tensions. As I’ve said before, when the going gets tough, the French will be revolting.

The dawn came late and the breakfast had to wait
When the gales of September came slashin’
When afternoon came it was freezin’ rain
In the face of a hurricane west wind

As for the UK. La-la land. New prime minister next week, promising tax cuts for the rich and regressive tax allowances to fight soaring energy bill – when the bottom 40% of the UK don’t pay tax. It won’t help the national mood to know our new Aircraft Carrier, the Prince of Wales, broke down a few miles from port yesterday on its way to a major deployment. Oops.. Sums up busted Britain.

What comes next isn’t pretty.

Since 1985 I’ve experienced a number of market crashes. They have been shocking, sharp and surprising. In every case they were caused by a blindingly obvious financial market imbalance – like consumer lending risks, over-exuberance, unsustainable expectations, etc. The coming crisis is very different – it’s been a series of exogenous shocks; Covid, and now Energy and Ukraine. It feels more fundamental that the simple market mispricings that triggered some form of market crash every 6-7 years. These were short, and we quickly recovered.

What is coming is something worse. This may be a once in a century storm…

When suppertime came, the old cook came on deck sayin’
“Fellas, it’s too rough to feed ya”
At seven PM, a main hatchway caved in, he said
“Fellas, it’s been good to know ya”

This is developing into something with a smattering of 1929 – unravelling massive financial mispricings – together with the exogenous effects of the wartime shocks in 1914 and from 1939. Forget inflation and growth, but consider issues like expertise, experience, groupthink, panic and fear, and the crushing of small investors trying to figure out where this might go next..

The captain wired in he had water comin’ in
And the good ship and crew was in peril
And later that night when his lights went outta sight
Came the wreck of the Global Economy

The one positive thing I can add.. following any storm.. the seas calm, the sun comes up, and we go out and do it all again..

Footnote – On August 11, 1979, 303 small yachts set out on the Fastnet Race from the Isle of Wight to the famous lighthouse off the South-Western tip of Ireland and back to Plymouth. There were strong winds forecast, but nothing unmanagable. It turned out much worse. The fleet was hit by a weather bomb as fronts combined to create a Force 11 Hurricane. 15 sailors died. Lessons have been learnt – mainly that: there is nothing always about a storm at sea except its danger.”

Same thing in markets….

And apologies to Gordon Lightfoot this morning…

Five Things to Read

BBerg – China’s Largest Developer Posts Record 96% Profit Slump

FT – Investors increase bets against Euro as energy crisis intensifies

Thunderer – UK recession will last till 2024, Goldman Sachs warns

WSJ – Russia Confounds the West by Recapturing Its Oil Riches

Garuniad – These are energy bills many Britons simply can’t afford.

Shard Podcast

Market Volatility, Liquidity and Alternative Investments

Bill Blain, Strategist and Head of Alternative Assets at Shard Capital speaks with Mike Hollings, CIO at LeifBridge, to discuss market volatility, liquid and illiquid investments, alternative investments and what an investment portfolio should look like in today’s global environment.

Out of time, and back to the day job..

Bill Blain

Strategist – Shard Capital


  1. ” … young fund managers will be looking at their books and wondering how they are going to reverse the 10-15% losses they’ve sustained this year.”

    It may be helpful to contemplate the prediction by Jeremy Grantham, in early 2022 from memory, that markets may go down 50% or more. Since then Noriel Roubini is now also suggesting a 50% fall in markets. These guys could be wrong but the risk of a bigger crash is certainly worth considering.

    Maybe stop worrying about how to reverse a 15% fall and start thinking about how to avoid a further fall of about 35% or so. A career defining few months may be ahead. Best of luck guys.

    • a 50% in markets is not neccessarily a 50% fall in investments – if they have been handled smartly and inteligently. Problem is the investment management business is largely a fee slicing business charging investors for the privilage of index tracking. THis is the real scandal I really should be writing about – when I get the time.


  2. Excellent article. I am not an indecisive man, but this market has me for lack of a better word, frozen. I am fortunate and am still well positive. Mainly due to diving head long into Conoco stock at $33. If I sell I am going to get molested on Capital gains tax. And I literally have zero losses to offset it. And also, hell, winter ain’t here, and energy has just one way to go. But on the other hand, if your prognosis, which I totally agree with comes true? Demand destruction, and oil DOES fall. I have never been this confused on the market before.

    • Buy
      Energy – oil, gas, and renewables
      Utilities – we can’t do without them
      Treasuries (sov bonds in GBp and Euro set to sink)

      Commodities – not so much I feel in view of recession.
      China – messy, but…

      Spec Stocks
      Euros, GBP

      • Cod Latin – the original is” “let justice be done, even though it mean the end of the world”
        Not sure “let money be done, even thought it means the end of the world” quite works from a Roman perspective, but your point is clear….

  3. The most important difference between a sea storm and a market storm is that the former is nature-made while the latter is man-made. It is painfully obvious that the current market crash has been engineered by the banksters since the 2008 crash. Every macro system wrought by the evil banksters is fake.

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