While the US economy has managed to display surprising strength thus far, it is difficult to see this continue given the unbridled growth in federal debt. Bond markets are expressing their concerns with rise in yields to 16-year highs. Stock markets are likely to catch up at some point in time.
Markets continue to remain unsettled by concerns around US policy. Monetary policy has been closely followed and, to a certain extent, ‘baked into’ market prices. But the unbridled increase in debt, as well as the politicisation of fiscal policy, is making markets extremely nervous.
Markets have now accepted two narratives – “higher (interest rates) for longer” and “soft landing”, i.e., normalized inflation without a significant slowdown. In our view, these are not compatible with each other, especially given the high level of debt in the US. The resilience in the economy has been mainly thanks to expansionary fiscal policy
The Federal Reserve seems to have finally convinced the markets that interest rates are likely to stay ‘higher for longer’. This has led to a bear steepening in the US Dollar yield curve with the long end at the highest level now since 2007, and moved the sentiment pendulum in equity markets firmly towards ‘fear’…
US inflation data came in somewhat higher than expected, but markets have remained rangebound. Focus has shifted to the outcome of the FOMC where, even though the expectation is that rates will remain steady, forward guidance is likely to have a meaningful impact.