First Quarter Forecast and Opinion

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...

Fourth Quarter Forecast and Opinion

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...

Third Quarter Forecast and Opinion

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...

Second Quarter Forecast and Opinion

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...

First Quarter Forecast and Opinion

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...

4th Quarter Forecast and Opinion

The growth outlook for the fourth quarter is opaque, because there is no way to determine when supply chain disruptions will begin to unwind. A reluctant recognition of higher inflation by the Federal Reserve is developing, as supply chain bottlenecks are holding up inflation longer than previously thought. There are currently 72 container ships off the port of Los Angeles which cannot deliver some 550,000 containers coming from Asia. This is due to a lack of investment in US ports over the past 10 years, as well as a shortage of qualified truckers, and may continue into 2022.. Consumers have been warned that Christmas shopping may be severely impaired by empty shelves this year.


Third Quarter Forecast and Opinion

The predominant theme in the second quarter was inflationary pressure in the financial markets, and how this might impact the Federal Reserve’s policy decisions on interest rates. The inflation rate in May was 5% compared with a year earlier. Year-on Year price increases in almost all commodities have been very elevated, evidenced by the copper market (+51%), wheat (up 21%), US median home prices (up 23%), and oil (up over 50% this year).

The Federal Reserve believes that this inflation is transitory, and appears elevated due to the “look-back” effect, i.e., the fact that the basis of comparison was so low last March, April, and May.

In June, the Fed raised its expectations f...

Second Quarter Forecast and Opinion

The US savings rate is very elevated at 13.6%, compared with a pre-Covid average of 6% since 2000. Americans have been saving during the pandemic at an unprecedented rate; as the pandemic abates, they will begin spending with pent up demand. This, combined with a rapidly recovering economy, an unprecedented increase in money supply, a Federal Reserve which seems committed to unlimited economic stimulus, ever expanding fiscal stimulus from the government, and a new sense of optimism about a successful vaccination program are keeping spirits high in the stock market.

The Fed has repeatedly committed to keeping the overnight Fed funds rate low, and there has been an unprecedented increase in the...

First Quarter Outlook and Forecast

One year ago, GDP growth was expected to be 4.8%. Instead, it’s now projected for 2020 at -4%, the largest drop in modern history. Simultaneously, world stock markets increased in value from $80 trillion to $100 trillion even as S&P earnings per share dropped by 15% last year.

This strange stock market behavior can be explained by the sheer size of the stimulus thrown at the Covid-19 crisis. Essentially, the Fed threw $4.5 trillion at the $300 billion problem of lost Covid-19 wages. The enormity of this government stimulus overcame any economic downturn, uncertainty, or political tension. Another $1.9 trillion of stimulus was announced last week by president elect Biden. Two other facto...

Fourth Quarter Outlook and Forecast

Extreme uncertainty is driving investor sentiment as we approach the 2020 elections, and this uncertainty may be driven by more than the voting outcome. A view of the implicit volatility curve on the S&P 500 options demonstrates that Wall Street is pricing in this volatility after the elections and well into December. The reader may draw their own conclusions about what this means, while remembering that the stock market likes neither uncertainty nor constitutional crises.

Covid-19 has put an end to the economy’s expansion at a time when the nation is deeply in debt. According to the Wall Street Journal, “borrowing spurred by years of low interest rates adds up to $64 trillion in ...