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Futures Rise On First Trading Day Of 2023 But Far From Record High Hit Year Ago Today

Futures Rise On First Trading Day Of 2023 But Far From Record High Hit Year Ago Today

US stock futures rose on the first trading day of 2023,…



Futures Rise On First Trading Day Of 2023 But Far From Record High Hit Year Ago Today

US stock futures rose on the first trading day of 2023, with some of the most beaten down and shorted stocks and sectors outperforming, as optimism crept - however briefly - into the market on the one-year anniversary of the S&P 500’s last record high.  Contracts on the S&P 500 climbed as much as 1.1% before fading much of their earlier gains. One year ago, the S&P closed at 4,796.56: since Jan. 3, 2022, the US stock benchmark endured its biggest annual decline since the global financial crisis, ending the year down 19%. Nasdaq 100 futures rose 0.6% Tuesday. The dollar jumped as the euro tumbled, while Treasuries were headed for their strongest start to a year in more than two decades as investors scooped up government debt on wagers the Federal Reserve will further slow its pace of rate hikes.

Stocks that were among last year’s worst performers rise in the first US premarket trading session of the new year, with riskier names like meme stocks, cryptocurrency-related shares and electric- vehicle makers gaining amid a return in risk appetite and renewed optimism over China’s reopening. However, not all beaten down names jumped: Tesla fell 3.8% after the electric-car maker delivered fewer vehicles than expected. Analysts noted that the company is facing significant demand issues as it ramps up production capacity and offers hefty incentives in of its two biggest markets. Here are some other notable premarket movers:

  • Chinese stocks rose in US premarket trading amid signs that Covid infections in China may have peaked, boosting optimism over the nation’s reopening.
  • Gilead Sciences is downgraded to sector perform from outperform at RBC Capital Markets as the broker says it will take time to gain more definitive visibility on the next sets of potential drivers.
  • Mondelez International was downgraded to sector perform from outperform at RBC Capital Markets, with the brokerage saying that it is now difficult to justify further upside to EPS estimates as the macro environment weakens.

Stocks are set to gain at the open despite concern that the Fed's interest rate increases will cause the economy to slow significantly in 2023, if not contract. The Big Short Michael Burry said on Twitter late Sunday that the US this year is likely to be “in recession by any definition”, in other words, Powell will be able to declare mission accomplished. Optimists are counting on inflation to slowly cool even as the labor market remains strong. Some pressure eased in the final months of 2022 as Fed officials pointed to a less-aggressive tightening path, while China’s exit from its Zero Covid policy also helped sentiment.

“The Fed has pushed up rates well into restrictive levels and has signaled a willingness to go further,” said Rajeev De Mello, a global macro portfolio manager at GAMA Asset Management, who’s cautious on US stocks. “I would become more comfortable with US equities when we are closer to a pause. Even after the 2022 decline, some US equities still trade at high valuations.”

“Hopes that supply chain issues in China will continue to ease, which could help bring down inflation, may be feeding into sentiment,” said Susannah Streeter, senior investment and markets analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown. Traders are “seizing onto glimmers of hope that once the winter waves die down, China’s recovery could be back on track.”


In Europe the Stoxx 50 rallied as much as 1.4% before fading some gains after a surprise drop in German unemployment signaled resilience in the region’s biggest economy; FTSE 100 outperforms, higher by 1.5% on the day. Travel and leisure and tech stocks led gains while defensive sectors including utilities and telecoms underperformed. Here are some of the biggest European movers:

  • UK stocks outperformed as the London Stock Exchange reopened following Monday’s New Year holiday. Domestic-focused shares, which slumped last year, rose, with homebuilders Barratt Developments and Persimmon up at least 4% and banks Lloyds and NatWest up at least 2%.
  • Travel stocks rose, with TUI up as much as 6.6% and carrier IAG up as much as 5.6%. Strong pricing power driven by the reopening of Asian and trans-Atlantic routes is one of the multiple catalysts that should benefit European long- haul carriers in 2023, according to Citigroup.
  • AstraZeneca and Novo Nordisk both rose more than 2% after JPMorgan said the firms were its most favored in the European pharma-biotech sector alongside Merck KGaA.
  • Brenntag shares rose as much as 6% after the German chemicals distributor said it was no longer proceeding with discussions to potentially acquire US rival Univar Solutions.
  • Zalando shares rose as much as 4.3%, touching the highest since June, after Hauck & Aufhaeuser predicted the company would remain a winning platform in European online fashion.
  • Aker Carbon Capture gained as much as 13% after it signed a Letter of Intent for the delivery of two Just Catch units for an undisclosed European customer.
  • Fresenius Medical Care fell as much as 5.2% after JPMorgan flagged “significant” risks to estimates for the dialysis provider in the near term in a review of the European medtech sector. The shares were also downgraded at Jefferies, while parent Fresenius SE was upgraded.
  • Gaztransport & Technigaz fell as much as 7.7% after the French maker of cargo containment systems for liquefied natural gas said it’s ceasing activities in Russia.

Earlier in the session, Asian stocks erased an initial decline, spurred by a rebound in Chinese equities as traders assessed peaks in China’s Covid-19 infections and the outlook for the economy.  The MSCI Asia Pacific ex-Japan Index was 0.2% higher, reversing a drop of as much as 1.5% and poised for a third straight daily gain. Chinese stocks listed in Hong Kong had their best start to a year since 2018 as subway use recovered in nearly a dozen major cities.  A decline earlier in the day in Chinese stocks was triggered by weak manufacturing for December as well as tourism data for the New Year holiday.

“While it is inevitable to see further surges and more widespread infections at the initial stage of opening, the outlook for the Chinese economy has brightened for 2023,” Saxo Capital Markets strategists wrote in a note. China’s renewed support for private enterprise and the property sector, and an improved credit impulse mean “Hong Kong and mainland Chinese equities have a more positive tendency,” they added. Korea’s Kospi gauge fell to a two-month low as local funds sold tech stocks such as Samsung amid worries about the earnings outlook. Japan and New Zealand were closed for a holiday.  After a dismal 19% slide in 2022, strategists are expecting the MSCI Asia Pacific Index to outperform US peers this year with a stronger rebound in the second half. China’s full reopening, a pivot in Fed policy and an end to the chip downcycle are among the positive catalysts seen to outweigh a slowdown in global growth.

Indian stocks rose for a second straight session, helped by gains in lenders after most banks reported strong growth in credit offtake for the previous month. Gains in local shares tracked most Asian peers, with Chinese equities rallying as traders assess the outlook for economic recovery on signs of Covid peaking in some cities.  The S&P BSE Sensex rose 0.2% to 61,294.20 in Mumbai, while the NSE Nifty 50 Index was higher by a similar measure. Fifteen out of BSE Ltd.’s 20 sector sub-indexes advanced, led by consumer durables makers.  Axis Bank and HDFC Bank were the key gainers among Sensex’s 30 companies, 17 of which ended higher, while the rest declined. Tata Consultancy Services led the gains in software companies.  Reliance Industries fell after the Indian government revised windfall tax on domestic crude and diesel exports higher.

In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 index fell 1.3% to close at 6,946.20, its lowest since Nov. 7. All sectors dropped on the benchmark’s first trading day of the year, with banks and miners contributing the most to its decline. In New Zealand, the market was closed for a holiday.

In FX, the Bloomberg dollar spot index rallied by as much as 0.9% as the greenback strengthened against all Group-of-10 peers save the Japanese yen. The JPY is the only G-10 currency that’s up against the dollar. NZD and AUD underperform. The yen briefly reversed gains against the dollar in early European trading before resuming its advance; the Japanese currency advanced to a six-month high in the Asian session after an initial bout of stop-loss selling through a key technical level was followed by momentum buying against the dollar and euro. Front-end volatility in the majors is better bid as the new year kicks off, with the yen being at the forefront of traders’ attention. The euro fell by as much as 1.3% to a three-week low of 1.0534 following some weaker than expected German inflation prints. The Australian and New Zealand dollars flipped to gains amid signs that Covid cases in major Chinese cities may have peaked. Positive comments toward Americans from China’s Foreign Minister Qin Gang also lifted risk sentiment

In rates, Treasuries traded sharply higher, outperforming core European rates with yields as much as 11bp richer on the day across intermediates vs Friday’s closing levels. US 10-year yields around 3.765%, richer by 11bp on the day and outperforming bunds and gilts by 6bp and 3bp; belly-led gains richen 2s5s30s Treasuries fly by 4.2bp vs Friday’s close while 2s10s curve flattens ~4bp. Gilts and Treasuries yields across the curve decline, led by the 10-year yields, each down about 13bps. Comparative bunds underperform, declining some 8bps.  There is no fresh catalyst for the first trading day of the year, as investors look to fade current rate-hike premium priced into front-end. In Europe, Treasury and bund curves bull-flattened while money markets eased Fed and ECB tightening wagers after German regional inflation figures signaled slowing inflation. Fed-dated swaps price Fed peak rate at around 4.95% by June meeting, down from 4.98% at Friday’s close.

In commodities, oil declined under pressure from a stronger dollar, reversing earlier gains. European gas prices slid as a warmer-than-expected start to winter across large parts of the world rapidly have eased fears of a natural gas crisis. Most base metals trade in the green. Spot gold rises roughly $12 to trade near $1,836/oz.

In crypto, bitcoin traded flat, just below $17K. Sam Bankman-Fried is expected on Tuesday to enter a plea of not guilty to criminal charges that he cheated investors and looted billions of dollars at his now-bankrupt FTX cryptocurrency exchange, according to a source cited by Reuters.

Today's calendar is relatively quiet with just S&P Global Manufacturing PMI and US Construction spending on deck.

Market Snapshot

  • S&P 500 futures up 1.1% to 3,902.00
  • MXAP up 0.6% to 156.64
  • MXAPJ up 0.3% to 507.14
  • Nikkei little changed at 26,094.50
  • Topix down 0.2% to 1,891.71
  • Hang Seng Index up 1.8% to 20,145.29
  • Shanghai Composite up 0.9% to 3,116.51
  • Sensex little changed at 61,227.58
  • Australia S&P/ASX 200 down 1.3% to 6,946.19
  • Kospi down 0.3% to 2,218.68
  • STOXX Europe 600 up 1.8% to 436.53
  • German 10Y yield little changed at 2.38%
  • Euro down 1.1% to $1.0549
  • Brent Futures up 0.5% to $86.30/bbl
  • Gold spot up 0.9% to $1,840.74
  • U.S. Dollar Index up 1.03% to 104.59

Top Overnight News from Bloomberg

  • German unemployment unexpectedly fell in December. Joblessness dropped by 13,000 in December, the Federal Labor Agency said in a statement on Tuesday. All 15 economists surveyed by Bloomberg anticipated an increase. The unemployment rate was 5.5%, also better than expected
  • British rail workers will walk off the job much of this week, paralyzing transport and adding to the troubles piling up for Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s government
  • A warmer-than-expected start to winter across large parts of the world is rapidly easing fears of a natural gas crisis that had been predicted to trigger outages and add to pressure on power bills
  • Nearly a dozen major Chinese cities are reporting a recovery in subway use, a sign that an ‘exit wave’ of Covid infections may have peaked in some urban areas
  • Official Chinese data over the weekend showed the decline in manufacturing worsened last month, while activity in the services sector plunged the most since February 2020. Separately, a private survey of businesses by China Beige Book International on Monday suggests the economy contracted in the fourth quarter from a year earlier
  • Turkey’s consumer prices rose an annual 64.3% in December, down from 84.4% the previous month, according to data released by state statistics agency TurkStat on Tuesday. The median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg was 66.7%

A more detailed look at global markets courtesy of Newsquawk

Stocks in Asia were a mixed bag (Japan and New Zealand are away from market). ASX (-1.3%) is the laggard whilst Chinese bourses are on a firmer footing (Shanghai Comp +0.8%, Hang Seng +2.1%). Weekend developments focused around China's NBS PMIs, with the official NBS manufacturing PMI dropping to 47.0 (exp. 48.0) in December from 48.0 in November, the largest monthly decline since the start of the pandemic in February 2020, and remaining below the neutral 50-mark for the third consecutive month. Reuters notes that the data gives the first glimpse of the manufacturing sector after China removed its COVID restrictions in early December. Meanwhile, the Caixin version of the manufacturing PMI declined to 49.0 in December (exp. 48.8, prev. 49.4). EU Health Commissioner Kyriakides has reportedly contacted China offering variant-adapted EU vaccine donations alongside public health expertise, via FT citing sources which add China has not responded yet. IMF chief Georgieva said one-third of the global economy will be hit by recession this year, and 2023 will likely be tougher for the world economy than the previous 12 months.

Top Asian News

  • Evergrande Vows Debt Payment After Restructuring Delay
  • Samsung Veteran Sounds Alarm on Korea Losing Global Chip War
  • Copper Advances as Chinese Stimulus Eyed After Poor Factory Data
  • Garuda Shares Fall as Trading Resumes After Debt Restructuring
  • Marcos Seeks to Move China Ties to ‘Higher Gear’ in Trip
  • More Flight Delays as Philippine Airport Reels From Glitch

European bourses are firmer across the board, Euro Stoxx 50 +1.4%, as the region's strong start to 2023 continues. Post-APAC individual developments have been somewhat limited and primarily focused on Chinese PMIs and USD action. Stateside, futures are firmer across the board with the ES back above 3900 ahead of the week's risk events from Wednesday onwards. TikTok owner ByteDance has cut hundreds of jobs at multiple departments in China, according to SCMP sources; the job reductions came after the CEO told employees in December that the company needs to ‘get fit and beef up the muscle’ to streamline operations.

Top European News

  • European Stocks Extend Recovery on China as Traders Await Data
  • UK Stocks Outperform, Catching Up With Europe After Holiday
  • Genus, Scor, Aroundtown, Royal Unibrew Short Sellers Active
  • Bulgaria Starts New Bid to Form Coalition as Snap Elections Loom


  • Dollar erases and reverses losses on positional, fundamental and technical grounds
  • DXY picks off late December peaks within 103.460-104.820 range, Yen retreats after testing multi-month peaks vs Buck in holiday-thinned trade overnight, USD/JPY back on 130.00 handle from circa 129.51 low
  • Kiwi and Aussie unable to evade Greenback revival with NZD/USD eyeing 0.6200 and AUD/USD probing 0.6700 vs 0.6360+ and 0.6830+ highs
  • Euro deflated by sub-consensus German state CPIs ahead of prelim. national data
  • EUR/USD towards bottom of 1.06830-1.0526 band and Pound unable to benefit from upward revision to final UK manufacturing PMI, Cable closer to 1.1900 than 1.2100

Fixed Income

  • Bunds boosted by softer than forecast German regional inflation reports as stops are triggered between 133.79-135.55 parameters
  • Gilts catch up and carry on after the extended UK New Year break as 10 year bond hits 101.66 from 99.97 low and 99.90 prior close
  • T-note climbs without cash-backing to 113-02 from 112-12+ ahead of final US manufacturing PMI and construction spending data


  • Crude benchmarks have come under modest pressure as the European morning progresses, with the benchmarks currently lower by circa. USD -0.70/bbl having more than retracted a concerted bid that occurred around the European cash equity open.
  • Spot gold and silver are firmer despite the mentioned USD strength with Chinese data points perhaps proving favourable for the traditional haven. Albeit, the yellow metal has retreated from a USD 1850/oz peak.
  • Base metals are supported despite the China metrics as the overall tone remains constructive amid a relatively thin docket to start a particularly busy week.
  • Indian gov't is reportedly considering selling 2.1mln/T of wheat, with a decision due in the next 10-days, via Reuters citing sources.
  • Chinese Foreign Ministry says some nations restrictions on Chinese travellers lack scientific basis and are unreasonable; will take corresponding measures accordingly.

US Event Calendar

  • 09:45: Dec. S&P Global US Manufacturing PM, est. 46.2, prior 46.2
  • 10:00: Nov. Construction Spending MoM, est. -0.4%, prior -0.3%
Tyler Durden Tue, 01/03/2023 - 08:05

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New ways to protect food crops from climate change and other disruptions

“There’s no doubt we can produce enough food for the world’s population – humanity is strategic enough to achieve that. The question is whether…



“There’s no doubt we can produce enough food for the world’s population – humanity is strategic enough to achieve that. The question is whether – because of war and conflict and corruption and destabilization – we do,” said World Food Programme leader David Beasley in an interview with Time magazine earlier this year.    

Credit: NMBU

“There’s no doubt we can produce enough food for the world’s population – humanity is strategic enough to achieve that. The question is whether – because of war and conflict and corruption and destabilization – we do,” said World Food Programme leader David Beasley in an interview with Time magazine earlier this year.    

Indeed, projections show that we are not on track to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 2 of Zero Hunger by 2030. As climate and security crises continue to destabilise our food sources, researchers are taking a critical look not just at how we produce food – but at the entire systems behind our food supplies. In this case, the systems behind the seeds that produce our food crops.    

“Whilst adapting crops to climate change and conserving their variation is essential for food security, these measures are meaningless if farmers do not have access to the seeds,” says crop scientist and food system expert Ola Westengen. Westengen leads the team of researchers from the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU) who recently reviewed the state of seed systems for small-holder farmers in low/middle income countries. Their findings are now published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).   

What are seed systems?    

Seed systems are the provision, management and distribution of seeds. They cover the entire seed chain, from the conservation of their diversity and variety development, to their production and distribution, and the rules that govern these activities.  In short, they are the structures that make seeds available to farmers so that crops can be sown, harvested and end up on our plates.    

Whilst a well-functioning seed system will ensure seed security for all farmers, the researchers say that, in practice, it is rarely the case that seed systems function as well as they might. Seed systems can be disrupted by conflict and disasters, as well as by problems stemming from social inequality, lack of coordination or inappropriate policies.      

What does this study tell us that we don’t already know?   

“There are recent innovations and investments by governments and donors to improve farmers’ access to diverse crop varieties and quality seeds,” explains Teshome Hunduma, a seed governance researcher and co-author of the study. “For example, there are now more flexible policies and regulations that encourage diversity in the seed systems used by farmers, rather than pushing farmers to switch to commercial seed systems that focus on less diverse commodity crops – which is the norm.” Commodity crops are those grown in large volume and high intensity for the purpose of sale, as opposed to those grown by small-holder farmers for direct processing and consumption.   

“The study highlights emerging initiatives that are helping farmers to secure food supplies, such as participatory plant breeding,” says Teshome. Participatory plant breeding is the development and selection of new crop varieties where the farmers are in control. Farmers, who know the needs of their farms best, work with researchers and others to improve crops and develop plant varieties that are in line with their household needs and culture, and that are resilient to environmental and climate challenges.    

“Farmers prefer and need different types of seeds, based on diverse social, cultural and ecological conditions,” adds ethnobotanist and co-author Sarah Paule Dalle.       

The study discusses various disruptions to farmer’s access to seeds. Social inequality is one such disruption. How so?   

“A seed system that only serves a segment of a farming society contributes to seed insecurity,” replies Teshome. “For example, commercial seed systems deliver high-yielding varieties of quality hybrid seeds. Whilst wealthy farmers can afford such seeds, poor farmers can’t.”    

“Similarly, whilst commercial seed systems that focus on commodity crops may benefit men who might primarily be interested in market value, such systems have little to offer women who want crops that provide household nutrition and meet their cultural preferences.”   

“This means poor farmers and women do not have the same access to seeds that meet their needs. The result is seed, and thus food, insecurity due to social and economic inequality.”     

Political-economic factors have driven the globalization of food systems over the last decades, which also includes seed systems. “Seeds have become big business”, say the researchers. According to studies quoted in the article, the four largest multinational companies in seed trade today control about 60% of the ~50 billion USD global commercial seed market. The large private actors have the power not only to shape markets, but also to influence science and innovation agendas and policy frameworks.     

This can be problematic, say the researchers, when private sector research and development typically focuses on the most profitable crops, such as maize and soy. Crops grown and consumed by subsistence farmers are thus largely neglected, and the potential of crop diversity – the foundation of agriculture – remains largely untapped. Technology that could help develop more robust varieties remains hypothetical.   

How does the ownership of crop diversity threaten food supplies and what can be done?      

The term crop diversity refers both to different crops and different varieties of a crop. According to the Global Crop Diversity Trust (one of the world’s primary international organizations on crop diversity conservation), securing and making available the world’s crop diversity is essential for future food and nutrition security.      

“Plant breeders and scientists use crop diversity to develop new, more resilient and productive varieties that consumers want to eat, that are nutritious and tasty, and that are adapted to local preferences, environments and challenges,” explains Benjamin Kilian, a plant genetics expert at the Global Crop Diversity Trust. The Crop Trust, together with the Norwegian University of Life Sciences, implements the major project from which this study emerged: Biodiversity for Opportunities, Livelihoods and Development (BOLD). Coordinated by Kilian, the project supports the conservation and use of crop diversity to strengthen food and nutrition security on a global scale. It builds on the Crop Wild Relatives project and is funded by the Norwegian government.   

“In the BOLD project, researchers work with genebanks, plant breeders and others in the seed value chain to co-develop seed systems that are both resilient to climate stresses and inclusive of small-holder farmers on the frontline of adaptation,” adds Westengen.     

Will access to seeds in the vulnerable areas that you are studying be improved in time to make a difference?   

“We hope so, if we make the right moves to include small-holder farmers in seed system development,” says Dalle. “A well-functioning seed system should also be resilient. That is, it should withstand shocks such as drought or pandemics and breakdowns or disruptions such as war and conflict.”    

“To do this, the system should promote a diversity of seeds, both local varieties and those improved to better adapt to stresses. It should also involve diverse groups of people such as farmer cooperatives/groups, and both public and private companies to increase the choice of seeds and seed sources. During lockdowns in the COVID-19 pandemic, for example, farmers’ own seed systems enabled access to seeds in developing countries when the activities of private companies and agro-dealers were restricted,” explains Dalle.   

Westengen summarizes: “Our study highlights links between the crucial work of the Global Crop Diversity Trust and the farmers on the frontline of adapting our food systems to climate change. It is an argument for co-designing seed system development in full cooperation with farmers and other actors in the seed system. This way, efforts can meet the needs of various groups of farmers in different agroecological contexts. There is no one-size-fits-all; if there is one natural law in biology, it is that diversity is key to future evolution. That also goes for seed systems – and food system development.”   

Navigating towards resilient and inclusive seed systems by Ola T. Westengen, Sarah Paule Dalle and Teshome Hunduma Mulesa was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) this week. PNAS is widely considered one of the most prestigious and highly cited multidisciplinary research journals.   

About the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU)  
NMBU’s research and education enables people all over the world to tackle the big, global challenges regarding the environment, sustainable development, how to improve human and animal health, renewable energy sources, food production, and land- and resource management. 

 About the Crop Trust 
The Crop Trust is an international organization working to conserve crop diversity and thus protect global food and nutrition security. At the core of Crop Trust is an endowment fund dedicated to providing guaranteed long-term financial support to key genebanks worldwide. The Crop Trust supports the Svalbard Global Seed Vault and coordinates large-scale projects worldwide to secure crop diversity and make it available for use. The Crop Trust is recognized as an essential element of the funding strategy of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture.  

About the BOLD Project 
BOLD (Biodiversity for Opportunities, Livelihoods, and Development) is a major 10-year project to strengthen food and nutrition security worldwide by supporting the conservation and use of crop diversity. The project works with national genebanks, pre-breeding and seed system partners globally. Funded by the government of Norway, BOLD is led by the Crop Trust in partnership with the Norwegian University of Life Sciences and the International Plant Treaty. 

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A Federal Reserve Pivot is not Bullish

An old saying cautions one to be careful of what one wishes for. Stock investors wishing for the Federal Reserve to pivot may want to rethink their logic…



An old saying cautions one to be careful of what one wishes for. Stock investors wishing for the Federal Reserve to pivot may want to rethink their logic and review the charts.

The second largest U.S. bank failure and the deeply discounted emergency sale of Credit Suisse have investors betting the Federal Reserve will pivot. They don’t seem to care that inflation is running hot and sticky, and the Fed remains determined to keep rates “higher for longer” despite the evolving crisis.

Like Pavlov’s dogs, investors buy when they hear the pivot bell ringing. Their conditioning may prove harmful if the past proves prescient.

The Bearish History of Rate Cuts

Since 1970, there have been nine instances in which the Fed significantly cut the Fed Funds rate. The average maximum drawdown from the start of each rate reduction period to the market trough was 27.25%.

The three most recent episodes saw larger-than-average drawdowns. Of the six other experiences, only one, 1974-1977, saw a drawdown worse than the average.  

So why are the most recent drawdowns worse than those before 1990? Before 1990, the Fed was more active. As such, they didn’t allow rates to get too far above or below the economy’s natural rate. Indeed, high inflation during the 1970s and early 1980s forced Fed vigilance. Regardless of the reason, higher interest rates helped keep speculative bubbles in check.

During the last 20 years, the Fed has presided over a low-interest rate environment. The graph below shows that real yields, yields less inflation expectations, have been trending lower for 40 years. From the pandemic until the Fed started raising rates in March 2022, the 10-year real yield was often negative.

real yields wicksell

Speculation often blossoms when interest rates are predictably low. As we are learning, such speculative behavior emanating from Fed policy in 2020 and 2021 led to conservative bankers and aggressive hedge funds taking outsized risks. While not coming to their side, what was their alternative? Accepting a negative real return is not good for profits.

We take a quick detour to appreciate how the level of interest rates drives speculation.

Wicksell’s Elegant Model

A few years ago, we shared the logic of famed Swedish economist Knut Wicksell. The nineteenth-century economist’s model states two interest rates help assess economic activity. Per Wicksell’s Elegant Model:

First, there is the “natural rate,” which reflects the structural growth rate of the economy (which is also reflective of the growth rate of corporate earnings). The natural rate is the combined growth of the working-age population and productivity growth. Second, Wicksell holds that there is the “market rate” or the cost of money in the economy as determined by supply and demand.

Wicksell viewed the divergences between the natural and market rates as the mechanism by which the economic cycle is determined. If a divergence between the natural and market rates is abnormally sustained, it causes a severe misallocation of capital.

The bottom line:

Per Wicksell, optimal policy should aim at keeping the natural and market rate as closely aligned as possible to prevent misallocation. But when short-term market rates are below the natural rate, intelligent investors respond appropriately. They borrow heavily at the low rate and buy existing assets with somewhat predictable returns and shorter time horizons. Financial assets skyrocket in value while long-term, cash-flow-driven investments with riskier prospects languish.

The second half of 2020 and 2021 provide evidence of Wicksell’s theory. Despite brisk economic activity and rising inflation, the Fed kept interest rates at zero and added more to its balance sheet (QE) than during the Financial Crisis. The speculation resulting from keeping rates well below the natural rate was palpable.

What Percentage Drawdown Should We Expect This Time?

Since the market experienced a decent drawdown during the rate hike cycle starting in March 2022, might a good chunk of the rate drawdown associated with a rate cut have already occurred?

The graph below shows the maximum drawdown from the beginning of rate hiking cycles. The average drawdown during rate hiking cycles is 11.50%. The S&P 500 experienced a nearly 25% drawdown during the current cycle.

rate hikes and drawdowns

There are two other considerations in formulating expectations for what the next Federal Reserve pivot has in store for stocks.

First, the graph below shows the maximum drawdowns during rate-cutting periods and the one-year returns following the final rate cut. From May 2020 to May 2021, the one-year period following the last rate cut, the S&P 500 rose over 50%. Such is three times the 16% average of the prior eight episodes. Therefore, it’s not surprising the maximum drawdown during the current rate hike cycle was larger than average.

rate cuts and drawdowns

Second, valuations help explain why recent drawdowns during Federal Reserve pivots are worse than those before the dot-com bubble crash. The graph below shows the last three rate cuts started when CAPE10 valuations were above the historical average. The prior instances all occurred at below-average valuations.

cape 10 valuations

The current CAPE valuation is not as extended as in late 2021 but is about 50% above average. While the market has already corrected some, the valuation may still return to average or below it, as it did in 2003 and 2009.

It’s tough to draw conclusions about the 2020 drawdown. Unprecedented fiscal and monetary policies played a prominent role in boosting animal spirits and elevating stocks. Given inflation and political discord, we don’t think Fed members or politicians will be likely to gun the fiscal and monetary engines in the event of a more significant market decline.


The Federal Reserve is outspoken about its desire to get inflation to its 2% target. If they were to pivot by as much and as soon as the market predicts, something has broken. Currently, it would take a severe negative turn to the banking crisis or a rapidly deteriorating economy to justify a pivot, the likes of which markets imply. Mind you, something breaking, be it a crisis or recession, does not bode well for corporate earnings and stock prices.

There is one more point worth considering regarding a Federal Reserve pivot. If the Fed cuts Fed Funds, the yield curve will likely un-invert and return to a normal positive slope. Historically yield curve inversions, as we have, are only recession warnings. The un-inversion of yield curves has traditionally signaled that a recession is imminent. 

The graph below shows two well-followed Treasury yield curves. The steepening of both curves, shown in all four cases and other instances before 1990, accompanied a recession.

Over the past two weeks, the two-year- ten-year UST yield curve has steepened by 60 bps!

yield curves rate cuts and recessions

The post A Federal Reserve Pivot is not Bullish appeared first on RIA.

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COVID-19 impacted smoking assessment rates in community health centers, necessitating a closer examination on how procedures can be adapted

COVID-19 Impacted  Smoking Assessment Rates in Community Health Centers, Necessitating a Closer Examination on How Procedures Can be Adapted Credit: Annals…



COVID-19 Impacted  Smoking Assessment Rates in Community Health Centers, Necessitating a Closer Examination on How Procedures Can be Adapted

Credit: Annals of Family Medicine

COVID-19 Impacted  Smoking Assessment Rates in Community Health Centers, Necessitating a Closer Examination on How Procedures Can be Adapted

Researchers from Oregon Health & Science University and OCHIN,  a large nonprofit network of community health centers, extracted electronic health record data from 217 primary care clinics between January 2019 through the end of July 2021, which included telehealth and in-person visits for 759,138 adult patients aged 18 and older years to determine how monthly rates of tobacco assessment had been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The team calculated the rates per 1,000 patients. The team found that between March and May 2020, tobacco assessment monthly rates declined from 155.7 per 1,000 patients down to 77.7 per 1,000 patients, a 50% decline. There was a subsequent increase in tobacco assessment between June 2020 and May 2021. However, assessments remained 33.5% lower than pre-pandemic levels. These findings are significant given the fact that tobacco use can increase the severity of COVID-19 symptoms.

What is Known on This Topic: While there is plentiful evidence on the impact that COVID-19 has had on primary health care seeking and delivery, little is known about how the pandemic affected tobacco use assessments and cessation programs.

What This Study Adds: The decline in the rate of tobacco assessments during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic was substantial and rates have yet to return to pre-pandemic levels. Given that tobacco use can exacerbate COVID-19 symptoms, researchers recommend careful examination of procedural changes to adapt care delivery to support community health centers, specifically tobacco cessation efforts.

.Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic on Assessing Tobacco Status in Community Health Centers

Susan A. Flocke, PhD, et al,
Department of Family Medicine, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, Oregon
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