Hot Hot Hot – Inflation Data Substantiates More Fed Rate Hikes
Inflation paired with a sluggish economy wreaked havoc on the equity markets this week. Equities fell hard (before rising on Friday) while bond spreads widened. Inflation remains public enemy number one as a hotter than expected CPI report confirmed what many of us already know… Inflation is running strong and has yet to subside. Once inflation seeps throughout the economy, it is notoriously difficult to regain composure without the Fed breaking some part of the economy or the market. Fed Chairman Powell suggested this much when he said he “cannot guarantee a soft landing” with the economy as the Fed raises short terms rates and begins to tighten its balance sheet.
Prepare For Continued Volatility
Expect continued volatility as market participants work through their models on where the Fed funds rate will settle in. This will determine if earnings and multiples on equities require recalibration. The highly speculative crypto space had a horrible week with $800 billion in value evaporating from the market. Fears of systemic risk have been discussed but have since been discounted. These types of conversations take place during bear markets and are often preludes to a market blow-up or recession.
Real estate remains a favored asset class in times of inflation. This should bode well for a housing market that is already constrained by supply. However, in bad markets, all asset classes tend to re-price. It is hard to say if the supply limits are such as to not affect a drawdown in home valuation. Banks remain eager to lend and with interest rates increasing, we expect a very competitive lending landscape. This should result in lenders willing to take a tighter margin to get money out the door. Underwriting standards remain robust, so loan quality remains high. This is good for banks and ultimately the economy. We don’t expect a repeat of the 2008 financial crisis, even though we see a tough year in markets.
Interest rates touched well above 3.000% before falling later in the week. The yield curve remains very flat as we stay on recession alert. With consumer sentiment and business sentiment negative, this should help slow down spending… And hopefully, bring down demand while lowering inflation.