“Weapons change, but strategy remains strategy, on the New York Stock Exchange as on the battlefield.” Edwin Lefevre, “Reminiscences of a Stock Operator”
In America and many other important countries around the globe, uncertainties and risks regarding numerous intertwined economic and political variables and marketplaces appear especially substantial at present. In particular, inflationary and recessionary (deflationary) forces currently engage in a fierce battle for supremacy.
Monetary tightening by the Federal Reserve Board and its central banking allies has helped to cut lofty consumer price inflation levels. However, inflation remains undefeated. It hovers well above targets aimed at by these noble guardians. Yet in comparison with ongoing high actual consumer price inflation, inflationary expectations for longer run time spans generally have remained moderate. But massive public debt challenges America and many other leading nations nevertheless arguably signal the eventual advent of even higher interest rates. And given the ongoing Russian/Ukraine conflict and an effort by OPEC+ to support prices, how probable is it that petroleum and other commodity prices will ascend again?
Higher interest rates have diminished worldwide GDP growth prospects and raised recessionary fears. But central bankers, Wall Street, Main Street, and politicians do not want a severe recession and will strive to avoid that eventuality.
The United States dollar, though it has depreciated from its major high achieved in autumn 2022, arguably remains “too strong”. However, history shows that a variety of nations elect to engage in competitive depreciation and trade wars to bolster their country’s GDP.
Unemployment in the United States remains low, which helps consumer confidence. Sunny Wall Street rhetoric regarding allegedly favorable long run nominal earnings prospects for American stocks bolsters enthusiastic “search for yield” activity by investors and other fortune-hunters. Yet Fed and other central tightening and economic sluggishness may reverse this healthy unemployment situation and dim corporate earnings prospects. Consumer net worth levels and trends are important in this context. A strong and growing household balance sheet encourages consumer spending and thereby economic growth. Consumers, the major component of American GDP, unfortunately have endured damage to their balance sheet from the fall in the stocks (S+P 500 peak in January 2022) as well as a year-on-year decline in home prices over the past several months. Recent shocking banking collapses in America and Europe hint of fragilities and uncertainties facing diverse economic arenas and the value of their assets.
Persistent fierce partisan conflicts range across numerous economic, political, and other cultural dimensions. This makes it difficult for politicians to compromise (witness America’s federal legislative circus) and thus significantly to alter ongoing marketplace trends and relationships via resolute substantive action.
Given these contending considerations, critical benchmark financial battlegrounds such as the United States Treasury 10 year note, US dollar, and the S+P 500 for the near term therefore probably will travel sideways for the near term. Price trends for commodities “in general” probably will converge with those of the S+P 500 and other key global stock marketplaces, although occasionally this relationship may display divergence.
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