No, this commentary is not about Lionel Messi, the Argentine soccer phenom who is widely regarded one of the greatest footballers of all time. However, it is about something that economists say may be as rare as Messi’s talent: Moderating Expansion with Sticky Supply-driven Inflation (MESSI).
You can see why we prefer the acronym.
MESSI is a type of inflation that occurs when “strong, but cooling demand is met by constrained, but accelerating supply, leading to transitory, yet sticky inflation.”1 The coronavirus pandemic may have produced just the right circumstances, according to Gregory Daco of Oxford Economics.
“Initially, extreme health conditions, severe social distancing measures, and unprecedented fiscal transfers to households supported a surge in spending on goods. With domestic and international supply struggling to rebound quickly and inventories being run down, prices for goods surged. Later, as the health situation improved, the re-opening of the economy led to greater demand for services which also ran into the tight supply conditions, leading to higher service sector inflation.”
The recent rapid rise of inflation has many people concerned that we may experience runaway inflation, which occurs when prices rise rapidly, or stagflation, which occurs when economic growth slows while inflation rises. Daco doesn’t believe either will prove to be the case:
“It’s not runaway inflation, and it’s certainly not stagflation…In the debate between transitory and runaway inflation, we have repeatedly said that the truth lies somewhere in the middle, with inflation likely to be ‘sticky but not oppressive.’”
The baseline view from Oxford Economics is that higher inflation will persist into the first half of 2022 before falling back to about two percent by the end of next year.
Time will tell.
Last week, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at a record high, and the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index and Nasdaq Composite also finished higher, according to Ben Levisohn of Barron’s. The yield on 10-year U.S. Treasuries also moved higher.
Don’t get spooked!
Barron’s Big Money Poll is an exclusive survey of market sentiment among professional investors. Last week, Nicholas Jasinski reported on 2021’s findings:
“America’s money managers are optimistic about the long-term outlook for the economy, the financial markets, and the recovery from the [COVID-19] pandemic. It’s the short-term prognosis that concerns them. Monetary and fiscal policies are in flux. Supply-chain bottlenecks and labor shortages are igniting inflation and threatening corporate profit margins, and the economic recovery from 2020’s recession –so robust until now – is decelerating. Add pricey stock valuations and rising bond yields, and the immediate future suddenly looks more challenging than the recent past.”
Among those surveyed by Barron’s, half are bullish about prospects for the next 12 months, down from 67 percent last spring. Twelve percent are bearish, up from seven percent last spring, and the rest are neutral. Fifty percent said stock markets are fairly valued at current levels, and 80 percent anticipate a stock market correction – a drop of about 10 percent from a recent high – during the next six months.
Market corrections are not all that unusual. The average correction lasts a few months, reported James Chen on Investopedia. That’s long enough, though, for loss aversion to kick in. Research has found that, psychologically, the pain from loss is twice as powerful as the pleasure from gain. As a result, when markets decline, loss aversion causes some investors to wonder whether they should make changes to their investment strategies and that can have a negative impact on long-term financial goals.
There is no way to know whether a correction is ahead. That said, if a market downturn has you wondering about your investment strategy, please get in touch. We can discuss whether changes should be made.
Last week, major U.S. indices finished the week higher, and the yield on a 10-year U.S. Treasury moved lower.
The word “jouncy” may have started life as a combination of bouncy and jolting – and it’s a pretty good way to describe what happened to stock markets last week.
The week started with the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index experiencing daily gains and losses of about one percent. Other major U.S. indices saw sizeable daily swings in value, too. Lu Wang of Bloomberg reported:
“The harrowing reversals reflect a particularly stark divide between bull and bear cases in markets right now. On one side, risk appetites are being constricted by lingering uncertainty over the government debt ceiling, tightening Federal Reserve policy and disrupted supply chains. At the same time, sentiment is being buttressed by improving [COVID-19] trends, an economy that keeps chugging along and forecasts for more double-digit earnings growth from corporate America.”
Considering how volatile things were early in the week, investors were remarkably sanguine about Friday’s less-than-stellar employment report. The Bureau of Labor Statistics indicated that less than 200,000 jobs were created in September.3 According to Ben Levisohn of Barron’s, the number was below expectations and provided relatively little insight to economic growth.
“Yes, the U.S. added just 194,000 jobs in September, well below forecasts for 500,000, and that’s the kind of miss that would suggest a slowing economy. The number, though, was close to meaningless, given the seasonal adjustments – which may have skewed it lower – and by comparison to the household survey, which showed more than 500,000 new jobs as the unemployment rate fell to 4.8%. Try making an investment decision off that.”
Consumers, investors, and central bankers are also expending a lot of energy worrying about power – the kind that’s generated by natural gas, oil, coal, wind, sun and other sources. Supply and demand issues in energy markets have caused prices to rise and is pushing inflation higher, according to Julia Horowitz of CNN Business.
Major U.S. indices finished the week higher, although the Nasdaq Composite’s gain was just 0.1 percent. The yield on a 10-year U.S. Treasury rose to 1.6 percent.