Stocks surged in Q1 2024 across a variety of sectors, and earnings season will soon test the breadth of that rally. Last week’s CPI report on inflation is confirming that interest rates may indeed remain higher for longer as the bond markets have been suggesting. Inflation as measured by CPI, rose by 3.5% in March, higher than expectations, and signaling an acceleration of inflation. Without food and energy, inflation is now at 3.8%, while shelter was up 5.7%, and electricity was up 5%. This was the third time in as many months that the CPI was higher than expected.

It is most likely high interest rates that are causing shelter prices to spike, because so many homeowners are locked in...

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A lot of bad news has been ignored by Wall Street on the assumption that the Fed will ‘pivot” and begin lowering interest rates this year. The market is annualizing three and six-month inflation, which is generating a lower inflation number than by comparing the last twelve months. For example, the Fed’s preferred inflation measure, the “core PCE” still shows annual inflation at 3.2%, while the six-month measure is now at 1.9%. This is leading many market participants to expect a significant amount of easing from the Fed. In fact, the futures market is expecting the Fed cut its short-term interest rates by 1.7% between now and the end of the year. Based on recen...

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While many market participants are expecting a “soft” landing for the economy after more than a five per cent rise in interest rates, the evidence for a hard landing is mounting.

  • Unemployment just rose from 3.4% to 3.8%

  • The personal savings rate just rose by 3% with consumers anticipating harder times ahead.

  • High yield bond defaults are up 1.6% to 3.2%

  • Credit card delinquencies are up from 0.8% to 1.2%

  • Auto delinquencies are up 5% to 7.3%

  • Business confidence has been falling since late 2020.

  • The bond yield curve is now steepening quickly; having been very inverted at -1.1%, it is now at only -45 bps.

The 10-year Treasury bond yield is now at a sixteen year high.

When bond yields go up be...

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Momentum in the stock market is positive, yet overbought, as signs of lower inflation has driven technology stocks to the highest levels of valuation against the S&P 500 since the dotcom bust. This is because the valuation of tech stocks has increased without an increase in earnings expectations. Much of this exuberance is based upon the emergence of artificial intelligence as “the next big thing”, although this is still grounded in speculation.

Analysts are raising earnings estimates, expecting an economic recovery, despite leading economic indicators going in the opposite direction.

A handful of mega cap growth stocks is responsible for most of this year’s rally in the S&P ...

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The stock market has been pricing in the possibility of the Fed cutting interest rates – a Fed “pivot “, which, presumably, could drive higher stock valuations. However, the bond market is clearly pricing in a serious economic recession ahead. Signs that unemployment has hit bottom, and is now rising, have begun appearing in recent economic data, which, historically (since 1948) spells trouble for stocks, particularly in the first three months of rising unemployment. Here is the most recent chart for US job openings from the St. Louis Fed:


When businesses cut job openings, layoffs often coincide. Another leading indicator of unemployment, temporary help services, have been d...

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2022 was a year that focused on inflation’s potential impact on financial markets and asset prices. It was twice as bad as the global financial crisis in 2008; nearly $40 trillion in stock and bond value disappeared.

2023 will be a year in which the second-round effects of that inflation and subsequent rate hikes actually materialize.

This will come at a time when central banks around the world are raising interest rates to slow their economies to tame inflation, and shrinking their balance sheets from having over-stimulated economic activity for the past 14 years. The global money printing press stopped in 2022; we should now expect growth and inflation to fall.

To fight inflation, the U...

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The inflation problem is now well-known to everyone, but the larger looming problem is credit and currency risk, as well as a contracting economy. US government debt now stands at $31 trillion, while global debt is at $360 trillion. While these numbers may seem grotesque, they are the result of a global borrowing spree for over a decade with zero interest rates. Now that central banks are aggressively raising rates, how will that debt get serviced?

There was a near collapse in the British bond market last week. The new Prime Minister, Liz Truss, decided to propose sweeping tax cuts for the wealthy at a time when UK debt is soaring, interest rates are rising sharply, there is a treacherous ene...

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The Fed is acting aggressively to control inflation, which came in far above expectations yesterday at an annualized 9.1% for the month of June. By raising interest rates in amounts larger than expected, they are hoping to cool off the economy by aggressively slowing it. This bodes for a lower stock market in the third quarter.

Unfortunately, the inflation we are experiencing is a supply issue, which the Federal Reserve cannot control. Even former Fed Chairman Bernanke said recently that “factors beyond the Fed’s control can contribute to inflation… Supply side forces are, indeed, important today – not only the increases in global energy and food prices...but also pan...

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The first quarter was impacted by a hawkish Federal Reserve, a war in Ukraine, global supply shocks causing rampant inflation, and global risks intensifying.

The Federal Reserve’s tightening cycle is now fully underway, with the futures market predicting as many as 5 more rate hikes this year following a one-quarter point rake hike on March 15th. The Fed is tightening monetary conditions into a U.S. slowdown, which is quite the contrary of what happened between 2016 and 2018.

Furthermore, the Fed announced an end to their “quantitative easing” program, which means that they will be draining $95 billion of assets from their balance sheet every month starting in May and reachin...

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With the end of fiscal stimulus in 2022 and the Fed transitioning away from an extraordinarily accommodative stance, there is a risk that recent inflationary impulses will be short-lived.

Despite the volatility seen in January, many remain positive on the stock market, citing a robust economy and earnings growth. However, there are a few recent indications which give cause for reflection.

Last week, the New York manufacturing survey slipped into contraction. Consumer sentiment has fallen to its second lowest level in 10 years, with three-quarters of consumers ranking inflation, rather than unemployment, the most serious problem facing the nation. Core retail sales have been unexpectedly trendi...
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