- Stagflation concerns are growing
- Equities took a hit yesterday
- Bitcoin under further pressure
In a word, stagflation. That’s how I’d sum up what this market angst is all about. Or at least, the spectre of stagflation. Simply put, growth is already decelerating and downside risks to the growth outlook are darkening due to rising cases, Delta and other emerging variants, as well as worries about potentially lower vaccine efficacy. At the same time, inflation is shooting higher. Supply side constraints (supply chain tightness, availability of labour/parts) are a problem central bankers cannot solve.
As I detailed on August 12th 2020, the Fed was always going to struggle to get a grip on inflation as it let the economy run hot – AIT was developed before the vaccines had their effect and the Fed has been slow to respond. (US inflation hot, stocks keep higher as bonds slip). “The Fed should and could be relaxed about headline inflation running above 2 per cent for a time, instead prioritising the employment level, but it also means inflation expectations can start to become unanchored as they did in the 1970s […] In a nutshell, if inflation expectations lose their anchors, then we are faced with a stagflationary environment like nothing we have seen for 50 years. High inflation, low growth for years to come is the unwanted child of a global pandemic meeting massive government intervention. And, expounding further on Aug 13th: “The risk is that inflation expectations can start to become unanchored as they did in the 1970s when the Fed had lost credibility, this led to a period of stagflation and was only tamed by Volcker’s aggressive hiking cycle.”