Spreads Widen On Mortgages As Inflation & War Weigh Down On Markets
The global economy remains on edge with the war in Europe and surging inflation. Many of us are worried about the state of the world, our savings, and the cost of living; especially after two years in a pandemic. Consumers are very concerned about the rising costs of food, gas, as well as other goods and services. Too many headwinds remain to write with any conviction about where the economy or the markets are headed. It certainly feels eerie, but may encourage some greater risk-taking for those who can stomach the volatility. Fearful times usually present opportunities. However, no one can say for certain if this time will be different.
I remain of the mindset to look for good quality investments which require digging into financial statements and determining if the business has an investible moat around it and a good balance sheet. The meme stocks have been crushed and unfortunately many people have learned the hard way how challenging investing can be. The same thought process applies to buying real estate when volatility picks up and sentiment sinks. The combination of more fear and higher interest rates should be a tailwind for new buyers. Also, with no more easy money being made perhaps buyers will be less excited about bidding up houses. However, the limited supply of homes in big cities such as Los Angeles will provide a floor to prices. This will keep home valuations steady even as the major U.S. indices flirt with bear market drawdowns.
Interest rates should go higher near term. Regardless, the flattening yield curve must be watched closely and could limit how tight Fed policy may become. Recession talk has picked up as of late. High commodity and food prices along with ongoing supply chain issues do not bode well for GDP growth. Consumer confidence, the best form of stimulus there is (when we feel good about the world we spend more) has languished. The war in Ukraine touches many emotional nerves and should keep consumer confidence low until it ends (hopefully soon). Put all of this together, on top of our massive deficit, and it makes one wonder how far the Fed will be able to go with rate increases.