What you should and shouldn’t worry about

The S&P 500 took fright last Monday and skidded -1.6% after falling -0.8% the previous Friday. Talking heads attributed the decline to worries about the rising incidence of the Delta variant around the world.     Fears over the Delta variant slowing economic growth are overblown. However, there are two other key risks that equity...

How to engineer inflation

Both the June CPI and PPI came in hot and well ahead of expectations. There was the inevitable debate about the transitory nature of the price increases. Looking longer-term, however, the conventional models for explaining inflation have been unsatisfactory.   Notwithstanding the numerous failures by Japanese policymakers, consider the US as another example. Let’s begin...

Do valuations matter anymore?

How expensive are US equities? Fed Governor Lael Brainard warned about "stretched valuations" in the preamble to the May 2021 Financial Stability Report:   Vulnerabilities associated with elevated risk appetite are rising. Valuations across a range of asset classes have continued to rise from levels that were already elevated late last year...The combination of stretched...

The inflation red herring

Rising inflation fears are all over the headlines. From a top-down perspective, inflation pressures are clearly rising.     The Transcript, which monitors earnings calls, documented companies reporting rising inflationary pressures from supply chain bottlenecks and commodity price strength, which have the potential to create margin squeezes.   “…the inflationary pressures, particularly surrounding some of...

Biden’s American Rescue Plan: Bullish or bearish?

If you thought that Biden would govern as a centrist, you were wrong. In the wake of the passage of a $1.9 trillion stimulus package, President Joe Biden is planning to attack the enduring challenge of inequality by expanding government spending with a second ambitious $3 trillion economic renewal plan and a revamp of the tax...

Will rising yields sideswipe equities?

Jerome Powell's Congressional testimony last week made the Fed's position clear. Monetary policy will remain easy for the foreseeable future. Inflation dynamics change, but not on a dime. While Fed policy will leave short-term interest rates anchored near zero, the market's inflation expectations have been rising. Last week, the 10-year Treasury yield briefly breached 1.6%...

2020 is over, what’s the next pain trade?

Preface: Explaining our market timing models We maintain several market timing models, each with differing time horizons. The "Ultimate Market Timing Model" is a long-term market timing model based on the research outlined in our post, Building the ultimate market timing model. This model tends to generate only a handful of signals each decade.  ...

The Democrats’ trifecta win explained

Last weekend, I conducted an unscientific and low sample Twitter poll on the market perception of the Georgia special Senate elections. The results were surprising. Respondents were bullish on both a Republican and Democratic sweep.     As the results of the Georgia Senate race became clear, the analyst writing under the pseudonym Jesse Livermore...

Will Mnuchin and COVID derail the cyclical rebound?

I hope that I haven't offended the market gods. Just after my bullish call for a cyclical recovery (see Everything you need to know about the Great Rotation but were afraid to ask), a number of contrary data points have appeared to cast doubt on the reflation thesis.   The markets were jolted by the...

Buy the cyclical and reflation trade?

The global economy seems to be setting up for a strong recovery. We are seeing a combination of easy monetary policy, slimmed-down supply chains, and a rebound in consumer confidence.     The cyclical and reflation trade is becoming the consensus view. However, there may still be time to board that train. Futures positioning in...

Does the economy even need more stimulus?

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has set a Tuesday deadline for an agreement for a coronavirus stimulus package before the election. Recent data begs the question of whether more stimulus is even needed.   Last Friday's retail sales print was astonishingly strong and beat market expectations. While retail sales statistics are notoriously noisy, September retail sales...

A valuation puzzle: Why are stocks so strong?

One of the investment puzzles of 2020 is the stock market's behavior. In the face of the worst global economic downturn since the Great Depression, why haven't stock prices fallen further? Investors saw a brief panic in February and March, and the S&P 500 has recovered and even made an all-time high in early September....

How the Fed’s Policy Review received an incomplete grade

It has been over a week since Jerome Powell's virtual Jackson Hole speech in which he laid out the Fed's revised its updates to its Statement on Longer-Run Goals and Monetary Policy Strategy after a long and extensive internal review. There were two changes. one was a shift towards an "average inflation targeting" regime, where the...