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The Federal Reserve (Fed) has a history of raising short-term interest rates until something “breaks.” Considering the Fed has raised rates from a near-zero level to 4.75% (upper bound) over the course of only one year, it was almost a near certainty this time would be no different. Recent bank failures suggest things are indeed starting to break. However, we don’t think we’re on the brink of a full-blown crisis, as market indicators we follow suggest contagion risks are still currently low. And while we don’t think a full-blown crisis is imminent, financial stability risks have clearly increased, which makes a prudent asset allocation plan a must.
Last week did not play out how we anticipated. Coming into the week, it was all about Federal Reserve (Fed) Chair Jerome Powell’s congressional testimony and the February jobs report. Instead, we got a shockingly fast collapse of a financial institution with over $200 billion in assets, which turned the market’s focus toward the stability of the banking system and what systemic risks banks might be facing. This commentary is focused on our asset allocation views, but no doubt
Suggesting an economy makes “no landing” makes no sense. Analogies eventually break down, especially this one. Economic activity does not stop like an airplane eventually does, but rather the economy will settle into a steady state where growth is consistent with factors such as population and productivity. Here we take a look at some factors that illustrate how the economy is struggling to find a stable growth path.
While concerns about the debt ceiling have been increasing, markets, businesses, and the economy are likely to see only minimal impact until we are days, or maybe a few weeks, from the “x date,” the date on which the federal government will no longer be able to meet all its obligations, likely in the summer or early fall. We continue to believe the chances that Congress will fail to raise the debt ceiling before the x date remain extremely low, but current political dynamics have likely increased the risk and there are some negative consequences to even an eleventh hour agreement, as we saw in 2011.
Markets have adjusted to several changes this year. The pace at which inflation has cooled is slowing. The market has started to believe the Federal Reserve’s (Fed) “higher for longer” message. The bar for earnings has been lowered. Market relationships to interest rates have been turned upside down. And many of last year’s losers are this year’s winners, and vice versa. Here we take a look at some of the biggest changes in the market environment so far in 2023 and what those changes could mean for investors over the balance of the year.