Markets are never as bad as you fear, but never as good as you hope. The Threat Board has seldom looked so complex: we can try to predict outcomes, but its notoriously difficult. The list of potential ignition points seems to be expanding exponentially: Energy Prices, Oil, Inflation, Stagflation, Supply Chains, Recession, China, Politics, Consumer Sentiment, Business Confidence, Property Markets, Liquidity, Bond Yields, Stock Prices.. you name it and someone is worrying about it.
The increasing use of the word “treasure” to define wealth, money and resources is a fascinating linguistic shift with implications for attitudes to the way money is managed. However, changing words won’t stop the powerful threads of self-delusion and groupthink that so dominate markets today.
Fed Minutes hint at Taper this year, but markets are pricing for it not happening: a slowing global economy, competitive pressures, the market’s addiction to debt and Covid will all conspire to stop Central Banks tightening. They might be right.
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”.
Will the agreement on global tax ever become a reality, and the real threat of financial asset inflation!
The G7 agreement is being hailed as a great step forward, but will it ever happen? Janet Yellen’s call for higher rates is a clear sign the problem of financial asset inflation will finally be addressed – the question is how painful the treatment and taper tantrum will be? Not addressing financial asset inflation is a far bigger risk than the debt crisis many monetary traditionalists perceive has grown from government pandemic spending.
Nothing to worry about… except Pandemic, Bonds, Inflation or Deflation, Record Container Prices and Geopolitics? Is there any chance of compromise and a deal on the US infrastructure package everyone agrees is necessary – or will it sink into the partisan swamp? And Cathie Wood talks up her investment strategies – but what’s the substance behind the leading Zeitgeist Investor?
There are plenty of positive news stories emerging as the global economy reopens, but also an increasing number of real-world tangible threats emerging. The Pandemic has affected economies from top to bottom, and many issues won’t be resolved overnight. For markets the issues to consider aren’t just inflation or market bubbles, but how supply chain issues and instability could continue to impact sentiment.
The successful mass pushback on the European Super League may seem a minor issue contained in the sports arena, but it highlights growing voter dissatisfaction with politics, wealth inequality, questions who will pay for funding recovery, and just how much longer the speculative bubbles can continue as the world changes.
Markets look set to rally strongly into Q2, but are they over-exuberant? The rise in deaths and new strains in Brazil hints the Covid war isn’t won yet, there are rising political risks in Europe, and widening wealth inequality is apparent everywhere. Just how solid are our expectations of stability, renewed global travel and recovery if Covid is here for the long-term?
You could not make this up; an unimaginably complex WW3 Techno-thriller unfolding as markets stumble and global supply chains hover on the edge of anarchy. On the other hand, maybe that’s just the way it was planned.