Occasionally the Morning Porridge strikes a lucky insight on markets – this morning here are some thoughts on how 2022 markets and events may or may not develop. If they occur I shall hail myself an investment genius. If not, can we quietly forget them?
“The future may dimly be perceived through the veil of the past”, sounds like bad poetry, but has a point. The confusions and conflabulations that characterised 2021 will likely set the tone for what’s coming – what were the key themes of 2021? Best to understand them before trying to fathom what comes next.
Markets are roiled by lockdowns and approaching holidays. Already the guessing season has begun – with predictions running all the way from Gloomy to Dire. Central Banks will be anxious to be seen to be doing the right thing – which probably means more of the same. And investors? Delusional or exploiting the delusion of others.
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.
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?
Forget the noise from crashing crypto – the big issue for markets is cutting through the buzz of contradictions to perceive the real picture presented by the threats of: inflation, taper tantrum and price sustainability. This is going to be an “interesting” summer.. (If it ever stops raining…)
Markets are full of noise about everything from inflation, risk, leverage and politics, but the reality is we are approaching “Peak Speculation”. It doesn’t mean a crash in imminent, but that investment strategies and approaches are going to have to factor in a new reality, and be far more suspicious, questioning and smart as a new reality takes hold. The consequences of QE and other factors that fuelled the speculative age could be with us for decades.
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.
Global Supply Chains could be stressed by the boat jammed in the Suez Canal. The lessons from the Pandemic offer an opportunity to rethink Global Infrastructure Spending – and mop up much of the money glut currently funding financial asset inflation!
As vaccine wars hot up and markets worry about interest rates and central bank action, the theme of price distortion continues to unsettle valuations. One aspect of distortion is in the increasing weight being put on ESG metrics – which should be market positive, but look to be vulnerable to Woke-like “doubleplusungood” groupthink, potentially further distorting markets.