Powell Starting to Change His Tune

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell should have started the November Federal Reserve meeting press conference with one of the more widely used movie quotes, "there's a storm coming." Chairman Powell's comments after the Fed meeting were certainly the most hawkish we have heard from him.

First, the Federal Reserve Board unanimously voted for the 0.75% rate hike. That alone is a sign that all members of the Fed believe we still need to slow the economy to fight inflation.

During the press conference, Powell took this perhaps another step further when he was asked a question and responded that inflation hasn't been coming down as fast as the Fed had hoped.

Powell's answer about inflation not coming down as his team expected came after he indicated the likelihood of a soft landing was diminishing. Powell mentioned that November's 0.75% hike, the fourth hike of that amount in four consecutive meetings, was "fast pace," however, he also insisted that it was "appropriate" given our current situation, referring to high inflation.

Powell also stated the Fed has some ways to go with future rate hikes. He continued, "We may move to higher levels than we thought."

Another concerning statement came when Powell said, "the question of when to moderate the pace of increases is now much less important than the question of how high to raise rates and how long to keep monetary policy restrictive."

I had written in the past that I felt the Fed Chairman was "sugar coating" the inflation situation to help stabilize the economy and the market's reactions to his comments.

However, Jerome Powell's comments on November 2, 2022, were the first time he did not come across as soft or sugar-coating about what is happening with inflation and the economy. In several ways, the Federal Reserve Chairman is telling the world that inflation is enemy number one and that what the Fed has done up to this point is not working.

So, what does this all mean for the average investor? Continue reading "Powell Starting to Change His Tune"

Now is the Time to Hedge Your Portfolio

A few weeks ago, I asked if you believed the current rally was here to stay. At that time, the market had been rallying since the middle of June. Some market participants were calling the June low 'the bottom.'

Time will tell if June was the bottom, but based on what has happened over the last two weeks of August, I am betting that we have not yet seen the bottom.

Let's review quickly what just occurred. The Federal Reserve's President, Jerome Powell, told the country that there would be "some pain" in the coming months. Powell also said that the Fed would "keep at it until the job is done," referring to getting inflation under control.

Powell didn't detail how severe the pain would be or how businesses and households would feel it. Still, I think it is safe to say that Powell acknowledges we are likely heading towards a recession.

The market's reaction to Powell's comments sent the S&P 500 down 9.2% since the August 16 high of 4,327. The NASDAQ is down 11%, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average is off by 8.2% since August 16.

Not only is the NASDAQ down double digits, but the exchange-traded funds that track the major indexes, The SPDR S&P 500 ETF (SPY) and the Invesco NASDAQ QQQ ETF (QQQ), are both now trading below their 50-day averages. That is in addition to them already having given up their 200-day, 100-day, and 20-day moving averages.

Furthermore, economist after economists, jumped on the 'recession is imminent', bandwagon this past week. Most of these economists have even pointed out that the Federal Reserve has miscalculated the intense inflation we are experiencing.

They were referring to when the Fed told us back in the spring that the inflation we were experiencing at that time was "transitory." The Fed was wrong about that, and it is unlikely that the Fed members want to be wrong again by underestimating the persistence of current inflationary causes.

Due to their previous missteps, many believe the Fed will not take its foot off the gas quickly enough. This makes it unlikely the economy will experience a soft landing which we have been hearing about over the past few months.

And if you don't know the opposite of a 'soft landing' in economics, it's a recession. Continue reading "Now is the Time to Hedge Your Portfolio"