— Fed week this week and the ritual continues.
— Armageddon continues on hold rebuffed by continuing good economic and earnings reports.
— A few words about inflation
— If you believe the Fed’s rhetoric the 10-year US treasury note near 5% yield is the deal of the decade.
I composed this piece on the weekend. Even with today’s strong market it continues very relevant. The head fake maybe today’s market. Even though most sectors of the market caught a bid today, it again was large cap and mega cap that won the day.
Fed week rituals continues
In March, 2022, the Fed under the command of Jerome Powell began to quickly and relentlessly march short-term rates higher, up from 20 basis points (2/10 of 1%) to a current reading of 5.33%. That is up from 3.08 % one year ago. Over the entire 19 month period the “nattering nabobs of negativism” (i.e. the media and punditry corps) have been calling for disaster in the economy and market. To quote a media advertising icon of an earlier time I ask “where’s the beef?” (Clara Peller)
Nonetheless the ritual of fear mongering and speculation continues, as the market waits for the next tablets from on high (Fed comments) to be delivered at one pm (CDT) Wednesday … very silly.
As we still wait for the axe to fall money has continued to be funneled into a tiny bunch of the largest cap growth and tech stocks in the market and out of everything else. Although the S&P 500 and NASDAQ are still above their October, 2022, lows the rest of the market, as represented by the S&P 400 mid-cap and Russell 2000 indices, are in real bear markets. Both have broken down from their October, 2022 lows (which I thought at the time adequately discounted an economic slowdown). They are both down now at least 20% from the all-time highs recorded in 2021. They are down so much because conventional group-think says that because of their size they would be more vulnerable to the long-awaited economic crisis (brewing for the past 19 months).
Meanwhile the S&P 500 is still up over 7% year-to-date, in very large parts due to its cap-weighted concentration in the ‘Magnificent Seven’ stocks–Apple (AAPL.O), Microsoft (MSFT.O), Alphabet (GOOGL.O), Amazon (AMZN.O), Nvidia (NVDA.O), Tesla (TSLA.O) and Meta Platforms (META.O). This is not a very healthy look and they appear to be feeling the weight of their top-heaviness. The Mag 7s have shed more than 1.2 trillion in value since their July peak. That 1.2 trillion equals about 25% of the total market capitalization represented in the S&P 400 and Russell 2000 indices combined.
My sense on what Chairman Powell has said of a hawkish nature is more to jawbone inflationary expectations down … a bark that is worse than its bite.
The 10-year Federal Reserve Note looking interesting
If you believe the Fed rhetoric, the 10-year yielding close to 5% has to be appealing. If the Fed is successful at driving inflation down to 2%, today’s buyer is getting a huge real return vs. inflation (300 basis points). Even if 3% turns out to be right number for inflation the real return on the ten-year is huge. I believe that if the Fed persists on its 2% inflation goal it will create economic softness which would bring flight-to-safety buyers to the note (pushing the price up and yield down). Ergo, we may be at or near the peak yields on the UST ten-year.
Based on the facts that exist currently in our economy the irrational fear that has crept into the market is unjustified. It is times like these you need to get a little greedy a la Warren Buffet’s mantra: “Be greedy when others are fearful and fearful when others are greedy.”
What’s your take?
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