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.
Central banks, inflation and recession are the visible risks, but what if we are looking at all the wrong things?
Everyone is balancing inflation, economic numbers and this week’s Jackson Hole Central Bank smooze-a-thon to guess markets. What if we are looking at the wrong things – and economic divergence, income and wealth inequality and unravelling domestic politics are the critical factors?
The pace of US CPI inflation moderated slightly, but it’s too early for the market to conclude rate hikes are over. There are many imbalances still to resolve – especially in consumer credit. Meanwhile, the new UK premier’s clumsy attempts to blame the BOE raise questions.
The Fed just aggressively hiked 75 bp in the midst of the first major correction since 2009, making clear the game has changed, and we’re into a whole new cycle. While the market correction remains ongoing, when it flips, it will flip swiftly. Already there are positive signals to be seen – but only if you look outside the box.
Markets are being whipsawed by rate hike threats from Central Banks, China lockdowns, the Ukraine war, while being stalked by inflation and stagflation. The big risk remains policy mistakes – trying to solve these with the wrong monetary and fiscal policies.
Market expectations are all over the place as participants factor in what a new Fed appointment might mean in terms of lower for longer rates and more accommodative policy – but it all feels increasingly hollow. Momentum is not infinite!
Some of the heat was taken out the escalating China Syndrome yesterday when the Chinese regulator held a “secret” meeting with global firms, while Jay Powell took the pressure out of immediate taper fears. Both issues remain sources of massive future pressure on markets – they are sorted for now, but not resolved!
What Inflation? “Oh, that’s nothing to worry about, the central banks have no choice but to keep juicing markets”… The market is so focused on the short-term and ignoring the consequences of the last 10 years of QE, monetary experimentation and easy rates, that its blundering into the next crisis. Inflation matters, and has jumped from financial assets into the real economy.
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”.
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!