Inflation, the Fed, and Recession. It’s Not Linear.

The June CPI number came in at 9.1%. This is not only the second consecutive month that we’ve seen an increase – it was a whopper. Consensus expectations were for an 8.8% annualized increase in inflation. This huge spike came after the Federal Reserve raised interest rates by a surprise 75 basis points after the June meeting and communicated that more – and higher – rate increases are in store.

As measured by the futures markets, the immediate response was to assume that the high inflation number would increase the likelihood of the Fed enacting at least a 75-basis point rate increase and potentially a 100-basis point increase at the FOMC meeting at the end of July.

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Staying Safe Around Bears

The S&P 500 recently breached bear territory, which is largely agreed to be a market that has dropped 20% from a recent peak. It’s common to see some retracing. The “bear-market bounce” is real.

However, even if the market recovers a bit, it will take some time, good sentiment, and real economic progress for performance to climb from bear to correction to neutral to positive.

In the meantime, outside of a short, sharp drop in 2020, we haven’t seen this volatile market since, you guessed it, 2008.

Driven by inflation, global uncertainty, supply chain issues, and rising rates – economists are predicting a recession in the months and years ahead. Some are even saying we’re in a recession now.

With a bear market, and 20%+ drops in the market, comes a wave of emotions: Stress, sadness, and anxiety. The list can go on and on.

The National Park Service has a lot of advice for safeguarding yourself when you encounter not-Smokey out in the wild. And much of it is based on psychology and managing your own fear, so that you stay in control of yourself and the situation.

We’ve borrowed from that playbook to give you tactical pointers in navigating bear markets, volatility, and turbulence.
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What’s Driving the Recent Volatility? A Quick Guide

The Federal Reserve has been very clear about its intentions to move more aggressively in fighting inflation. It currently defines “more aggressively” as a likely series of 50 basis point rate hikes, beginning with the May Federal Open Market Committee meeting. This will mark the first time in 22 years that the Fed has doubled the normal 25 basis point increase.

In remarks at a panel discussion at the IMF on April 21st, Chairman Powell reiterated that it is appropriate “to be moving a little more quickly” on rate hikes. He also indicated that he believes that financial markets are “acting appropriately generally,” meaning that they are adjusting to the expectations of higher rates.

Markets are forward-looking, so prices today reflect what markets think will happen in the future. A good example of this is mortgage rates: The average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage was 5.29% as the last week of April opened. For contrast, in early March, it was 3.76%.

Markets are having trouble interpreting this information. The problem is that so far, we’ve heard the Fed’s intentions, but without corresponding data showing whether or not rate hikes are working, markets can’t assess the likely path. And that leads to volatility.

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Market Volatility Survival Guide

Free Online Training: Market Volatility Survival Guide

If you’ve been paying any kind of attention to the markets over the last two months, you’ve probably noticed a new trend: volatility.  Consistent market volatility isn’t something we’ve seen in quite some time.  Other than the market’s brief reaction to the Brexit, we really haven’t seen much upheaval since the depths of the financial crisis.

With tighter monetary policy from the Federal Reserve and both feet on the gas of our fiscal policy here in the U.S., there’s a good chance the choppy waters are here to stay.

Since I’ve been getting a ton of questions recently about how to handle market volatility, I figured it’d be a good subject for an online training.  So, this Tuesday, March 6th, from 10-11am PST / 1-2pm EST, I’ll be hosting a free online training on how to protect your retirement accounts during market corrections.  Here’s the link to register.

Topics We’ll Cover:

  • The single BEST strategy to protect your retirement portfolio when markets crash
  • The secret to surviving the next bear market
  • The top 5  mistakes you should avoid when saving in workplace retirement accounts
  • How to tune out the noise and identify what news you should actually pay attention to

This will be a free online event, but seating is strictly limited to 100 attendees.  Feel free to spread the word to your friends/family members/colleagues who might be interested, but make sure you reserve your spot before the spaces are filled.

Click Here to Register

I look forward to seeing you there!