In the final Fed meeting of the year, Chairman Powell and the FOMC announced a rate hike of 50 bps, lifting the policy rate to 4.25%-4.50%.
The decision was unanimous and very much in line with expectations and prevailing rhetoric.
This marked the eighth consecutive meeting where monetary policy was tightened, although the magnitude of the hike was lowered from 75 bps (which was implemented through the previous four announcements).
The decision came shortly after the publication of CPI which was down at 7.1% YoY (a report of which interested readers can view here), compared to the previous month which registered a rise of 7.7%.
Although Jerome Powell did not appear to suggest that an additional 50-bps hike could be expected in the first meeting of 2023, the Fed’s planned tightening is far from complete, and the market will likely see a 25-bps increase during the next announcement.
The much-awaited dot plot shows an increase in target levels of interest rates from the September projections, with 2023 rising from 4.6% to 5.1%, 2024 increasing from 3.9% to 4.1%, and 2025 from 2.9% to 3.1%.
This increase in the terminal rate was above market expectations, and may well be the last card the Fed can play given the rising turmoil in real estate, underfunded pension holdings and other assets.
After the June CPI peaked at 9.1% (a report of which is available here) and triggered an extended period of frantic tightening, the Fed is left with very limited ability to revise its pathway further upwards without risking a blow to its credibility.
A couple of the members expect the policy rate to rise even above 5.5% in 2023, implying rate hikes into the summer, which would bring a halt to market liquidity and jeopardise credit markets.
Summary of economic projections
Firstly, inflation projections show that the Fed does not expect to see the 2% level materialize until at least 2025.
Worryingly, this implies that the monetary authorities are looking to keep rates elevated for the entirety of that period.
The chart below gives us a sense of the magnitude of the challenge that the Fed faces compared to historic tightening cycles.
Yet, Bank of America’s Head of Global Economic Research, Ethan Harris, expects that although achieving 3% – 4% inflation could be possible, the 2% target may well be out of reach even over a 2-3 year horizon.
The Fed has painted itself into a corner on this issue, by continuing to steadfastly commit to its 2% target.
Arguably, there is nothing sacrosanct about this number, but having put this threshold on a pedestal for years, the FOMC has lost any flexibility to ease this constraint.
Secondly, the Fed has projected unemployment to reach a median level of 4.6% in 2023, and expects this to be maintained through 2024 whiles rates continue to be high.
This is highly optimistic given that the lagged effects of the Fed’s unprecedented tightening will come to bear, while rate hikes are expected to continue.
The Survey of Consumers published by the University of Michigan last month reinforced this concern by stating,
About 43% of consumers expected unemployment to rise in the year ahead, a share last exceeded at the start of the pandemic and before that in 2009.
Just as importantly, in another report by the University, 47% of the top third of earners are also looking to draw down spending over the next year in response to high inflation, which would prove catastrophic for job seekers in the coming quarters.
With reports of plenty of small business closures underway as well, non-college-educated and less-skilled workers will find it harder to secure work.
Sharp turnarounds in some economic indicators are pointing to what Danielle DiMartino Booth, CEO and Chief Strategist at Quill Intelligence, as well as an advisor to the Dallas Fed from 2006 – 2015, has referred to as the,
…compressed lag effect.
This implies that the pace of tightening this year may have caught up with policymakers, and we could potentially see a faster deterioration in economic activity than in previous cycles.
The real estate sector is highly sensitive to interest rates and witnessed a surge in mortgage rates (which I covered here), as well as a sharp downturn in the Case-Shiller Index (discussed in an article on Invezz) reflecting the lack of buying appetite.
Short-term interest rates in the municipal bond market have shot up as well, a worrying omen of things to come, in one of the safest asset classes in the economy.
The annual percentage change in initial unemployment claims has suddenly turned positive, signalling that more trouble may be brewing in the labour market.
A Fed divided?
Although this decision was unanimous, as inflation levels ease, dovish members may fear that additional tightening could have catastrophic effects on crucial sectors including housing and auto, as well as on overall consumer spending.
The exit of James Bullard, President of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis from the FOMC this year, may mean one less ally for the chairman’s tightening agenda.
Booth believes that things may get very tricky for the monetary body if well-known doves such as John C. Williams of the New York Fed, and Lael Brainard of the Board of Governors were to find new common ground in 2023.
Markets will likely see a 25-bps hike during the first meeting of 2023.
Although the Fed has remained resolute, the introduction of potentially more dovish members via rotations, falling inflation expectations, ongoing demand destruction and unwinding of the jobs market will likely force the Fed to pause earlier than the current target.
At this juncture, the Fed is caught between a rock and a hard place, risking much higher unemployment due to over-tightening or else triggering further price instability in the event of easing.
In addition, if refinancing rates continue to rise, negative spillovers may drag down asset values in other markets as well.
It will be interesting to see whether the following dot plot shows a wider distribution, which would imply greater policy friction between the serving members and a strong likelihood of a pivot.
The post The Fed’s 50-bps hike faces off against the “compressed lag effect” appeared first on Invezz.unemployment pandemic credit markets monetary policy fomc fed federal reserve mortgage rates real estate interest rates consumer spending unemployment
Generative AI’s growing impact on businesses
Over recent years, artificial intelligence (AI) has gained considerable traction. And on the back of the resultant excitement, price-earnings (P/E) ratios…
Over recent years, artificial intelligence (AI) has gained considerable traction. And on the back of the resultant excitement, price-earnings (P/E) ratios for stocks even remotely related have soared. Is the excitement premature?
McKinsey recently published an article titled The State of AI in 2023: Generative AI’s Breakout year, draws on the results of six years of consistent surveying and reveals some compelling findings. My takeaway is that service providers are buying the chips and working furiously to offer AI-enhanced solutions, but corporate customers are still some way off embedding those solutions in their own workflows. There exists a lack of understanding, necessitating more education.
The highest-performing organisations however, as showcased in the research, are already adopting a comprehensive approach to AI, emphasising not just its potential but also the requisite strategies to harness its full value.
Irrespective of the industry, and of whether they are service organisations or manufacturers, the most successful industry leaders strategically chart significant AI opportunities across their operational domains. McKinsey’s findings suggest that despite the buzz surrounding the innovations in generative AI (gen AI), a substantial portion of potential business value originates from AI solutions that don’t even involve gen AI. This reflects a disciplined and value-focused (cost) perspective adopted by even top-tier companies.
One of the critical takeaways from McKinsey’s research is the integration of AI in strategic planning and capability building. For instance, in areas like technology and data management, leading firms emphasise the functionalities essential for capturing the value AI promises. They are capitalising on large language models’ (LLM) prowess to analyse company and industry-specific data. Moreover, these companies are diligently assessing the merits of using prevailing AI services, termed by McKinsey as the “taker” approach. In parallel, many are working on refining their AI models, a strategy McKinsey labels the “shaper” approach, where firms train these models using proprietary data to build a competitive edge.
But the number of organisations doing so are relatively few (Figure 1.)
Figure 1. Gen AI is mostly used in marketing, sales, product and service development
Nevertheless, the latest McKinsey global survey reveals the burgeoning influence of gen AI tools is unmistakably evident. A mere year after their debut, a striking one-third of respondents disclosed that their companies consistently integrate gen AI in specific business functions. The implications of AI stretch far beyond its technological aspects, capturing the strategic focus of top-tier leadership. McKinsey quotes, “Nearly one-quarter of surveyed C-suite executives say they are personally using gen AI tools for work,” signalling the mainstreaming of AI in executive deliberations.
In other words, however, a common finding is individuals are using gen AI personally, but their organisation have yet to formally incorporate it into daily processes and workflows. This, despite the “three-quarters of all respondents expect[ing] gen AI to cause significant or disruptive change in the nature of their industry’s competition in the next three years.”
As an aside, AI’s disruptive impact is expected to vary by industry.
McKinsey notes, “Industries relying most heavily on knowledge work are likely to see more disruption—and potentially reap more value. While our estimates suggest that tech companies, unsurprisingly, are poised to see the highest impact from gen AI—adding value equivalent to as much as 9 per cent of global industry revenue—knowledge-based industries such as banking (up to 5 per cent), pharmaceuticals and medical products (also up to 5 per cent), and education (up to 4 per cent) could experience significant effects as well. By contrast, manufacturing-based industries, such as aerospace, automotive, and advanced electronics, could experience less disruptive effects. This stands in contrast to the impact of previous technology waves that affected manufacturing the most and is due to gen AI’s strengths in language-based activities, as opposed to those requiring physical labour.”
Moreover, the journey with AI isn’t devoid of challenges. McKinsey’s findings highlight a significant area of concern: risk management related to gen AI. Many organisations appear unprepared to address gen AI-associated risks, with under half of the respondents indicating measures to mitigate what they perceive as the most pressing risk – inaccuracy.
Drawing from McKinsey’s comprehensive survey, it’s evident that while the realm of AI, particularly gen AI, presents immense potential, it’s a domain still in its very early stages. Many organisations are on the brink of leveraging its power, but there’s still a considerable journey ahead in terms of risk management, strategic adoption, and capability building. As the landscape continues to evolve, McKinsey’s research offers a crucial ‘Give Way’ sign in the roadmap for businesses to navigate the AI frontier.
And that means there is every possibility the boom in AI-related stocks is a bubble. Stock market investors are notoriously impatient and if the benefits (measured in dollars) aren’t coming through investors will recalibrate their expectations. There is every possibility AI is as transformative for the world as promised, but the stock market’s journey is likely to be rocky, inevitably rewinding premature expectations ahead of more sober assessments. Think, ‘fits and starts’.
As a result, investors should have ample opportunity to invest in the transformative impact of AI at reasonable prices again and shouldn’t feel compelled to pay bubble-like prices amid a fear of missing out.stocks
Lights Out for Stocks and Bonds? Not So Fast.
The stock market suddenly has the look of a wounded prize fighter. And the bond market is bordering on being dysfunctional. In a word, the market is…
The stock market suddenly has the look of a wounded prize fighter. And the bond market is bordering on being dysfunctional. In a word, the market is disoriented. Disorientation leads to mistakes.
Don't be fooled. From an investment standpoint, this is one of those periods where those who stay vigilant and pay attention to developments will be in better shape than those who remain confused by circumstances.
As I noted last week: "The relationship between interest rates and stocks is about to be tested, perhaps in a big way. Observe the tightening of the volatility bands (Bollinger Bands) around the New York Stock Exchange Advance Decline line ($NYAD) and the major indexes. This type of technical development reliably predicts big moves. The real arbiter may be the US Treasury bond market. And the place where a lot of the action may take place once bonds decide what to do next may be the large-cap tech stocks. Think QQQ."
Bond Yields Trade Outside Normal Megatrend Boundaries
Big things are happening in the bond market, which could have lasting effects on stocks and the US economy.
I've been expecting a big move in bond yields, noting recently that yields on the 10-Year US Treasury Yield Index ($TNX) were "on the verge of breaking above long-term resistance," while adding that if such a move took place, it "would likely be meaningful for all markets; stocks, commodities, and currencies."
Well, it happened; after the FOMC meeting and Powell's post-mortem (uh, press conference), TNX blew out all expectations and broke above the 4.4% yield area in a big way, marking their highest point since 2007. It was such a big move that it may be an intermediate-term top. At one point in overnight trading on September 21, 2023, TNX hit the 4.5% level. But the current selling in bonds is way overdone, which means that at least a temporary drop in yields is on the cards.
Here's what I mean. The price chart above portrays the relationship between TNX and its 200-day moving average and its corresponding Bollinger Bands. As I noted in my recent video on Bollinger Bands, this is a crucial indicator for pointing out trends that have gone too far and are ripe for a reversal.
In this case, TNX blew out above the upper Bollinger Band, which is two standard deviations above the 200-day moving average. That move is the magnitude of a Category 5 hurricane on steroids and amphetamines. It's also unlikely to remain in place for long unless the market is completely broken.
The price chart suggests we may see a similar situation to what we saw in October 2022 when TNX made a similar move before delivering a nifty fall in yields, which also marked the bottom for stocks.
Meanwhile, as described below, the S&P 500 ($SPX) is reaching oversold levels not seen since the October 2022 and the March 2023 market bottoms.
Oil Holds Up Better Than QQQ For Now
A great way to regroup after a tough trading period is to first look for areas of the market that are exhibiting relative strength. Currently, the oil sector fits the bill. Second, it pays to look for beaten-up sectors where recoveries are happening the fastest. At this point, it's still early for that part of the equation to develop, as too many traders are still shell-shocked.
Starting with a look at West Texas Intermediate Crude ($WTIC), prices are holding above $90 as the supply for diesel and fuel is well below the five-year average. And yes, U.S. oil supplies continue to tighten while the weekly rig count falls.
The NYSE Oil Index ($XOI), home to the big oil companies such as Chevron Texaco (CVX), had a mild reaction to the heavy selling we saw in the rest of the market. XOI looks set to test its 50-day simple moving average in what looks to be a short-term pullback.
Chevron's shares barely budged earlier in the week despite an ongoing, albeit short-lived strike by natural gas workers at its Australian facilities. That's a strong showing of relative strength. You can see that short sellers are trying to knock the stock down (falling Accumulation/Distribution line), but buyers are not budging as the On Balance Volume (OBV) line is holding steady.
On the other hand, the very popular trading vehicle the Invesco QQQ Trust (QQQ) broke below the key support level offered by the $370 price point and its 20 and 50-day simple moving averages. This is an area that I highlighted here last week as being critical support. It now faces a test of the support area at $355. A break below that would likely take QQQ and the rest of the market lower.
An encouraging development is that the RSI for QQQ is nearing 30, which means it's oversold. Let's see what happens next. You can also see a similar pattern in the ADI/OBV indicators to what's evident in CVX above, which suggests that when the shorts get squeezed, it could be an impressive move up.
And for frequent updates on the technicals for the big stocks in QQQ, click here.
The Market's Breadth Breaks Down and Heads to Oversold Territory
The NYSE Advance Decline line ($NYAD) finally broke below its 20 and 50-day simple moving averages and is headed toward an oversold reading on the RSI, which is approaching the 30 area.
The Nasdaq 100 Index ($NDX) followed and is not testing the 14500–14750 support area. ADI is falling, but OBV is holding up, which means we will likely see a clash between short sellers and buyers at some point in the future.
The S&P 500 ($SPX) is in deeper trouble as it has broken below the key support at 4350 and its 20 and 50-day moving averages. On the other hand, SPX closed below its lower Bollinger Band on September 22, 2023, and is nearing an oversold level on RSI. Still, the selling pressure was solid as ADI and OBV broke down.
VIX Remains Below 20
The Cboe Volatility Index ($VIX) is still below the 20 area but is rising. A move above 20 would be very negative.
When VIX rises, stocks tend to fall as it signifies that traders are buying puts. Rising put volume is a sign that market makers are selling stock index futures in order to hedge their put sales to the public. A fall in VIX is bullish as it means less put option buying, and it eventually leads to call buying, which causes market makers to hedge by buying stock index futures, raising the odds of higher stock prices.
Liquidity is Tightening Some
Liquidity is tightening. The Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR) is an approximate sign of the market's liquidity. It remains near its recent high in response to the Fed's move and the rise in bond yields. A move below 5 would be bullish. A move above 5.5% would signal that monetary conditions are tightening beyond the Fed's intentions. That would be very bearish.
To get the latest information on options trading, check out Options Trading for Dummies, now in its 4th Edition—Get Your Copy Now! Now also available in Audible audiobook format!
In The Money Options
Joe Duarte is a former money manager, an active trader, and a widely recognized independent stock market analyst since 1987. He is author of eight investment books, including the best-selling Trading Options for Dummies, rated a TOP Options Book for 2018 by Benzinga.com and now in its third edition, plus The Everything Investing in Your 20s and 30s Book and six other trading books.
To receive Joe's exclusive stock, option and ETF recommendations, in your mailbox every week visit https://joeduarteinthemoneyoptions.com/secure/order_email.asp.bonds sp 500 nasdaq stocks fomc fed us treasury etf currencies testing interest rates commodities oil
Bitcoin Mining Can Reduce Up To 8% Of Global Emissions: Report
Bitcoin Mining Can Reduce Up To 8% Of Global Emissions: Report
Authored by Ezra Reguerra via CoinTelegraph.com,
A paper published by the…
A paper published by the Institute of Risk Management (IRM) concluded that Bitcoin has the potential to be a catalyst for a global energy transition.
IRM Energy and Renewables Group members Dylan Campbell and Alexander Larsen published a report titled “Bitcoin and the Energy Transition: From Risk to Opportunity.”
The paper argued that while BTC was perceived as a risk because of its energy consumption, it can also catalyze energy transition and lead to new solutions for energy challenges worldwide.
Within the report, the authors also highlighted the important function of energy and the increasing need for reliable, clean and more affordable energy sources.
Despite the criticisms of Bitcoin’s energy intensity, the study provided a more balanced view of Bitcoin by showing the potential benefits BTC can bring to the energy industry.
Amount of vented methane that can be used in Bitcoin mining. Source: IRM
According to the report, Bitcoin mining can reduce global emissions by up to 8% by 2030. This can be done by converting the world’s wasted methane emissions into less harmful emissions. The report cited a theoretical case saying that using captured methane to power Bitcoin mining operations can reduce the amount of methane vented into the atmosphere.
The paper also presented other opportunities for Bitcoin to contribute to the energy sector.
“We have shown that while Bitcoin is a consumer of electricity, this does not translate to it being a high emitter of carbon dioxide and other atmospheric pollutants. Bitcoin can be the catalyst to a cleaner, more energy-abundant future for all,” the authors wrote.
According to the report, Bitcoin can contribute to energy efficiency through electricity grid management by using Bitcoin miners and transferring heat from miners to greenhouses.
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