US inflation was last at 8.3% in January 1982. And then, the 10-year yield was 14.6. History may not be a perfect guide, but it is the best we have. So it might be worth planning for rates to go much higher than most “experts” expect, now that they have broken out of their downtrend.
Chemicals and the Economy
As the head of Germany’s Employers’ Associations warned last month: “We are facing the biggest crisis the post-war Federal Republic has ever had. We have to be honest and say: First of all, we will lose the prosperity that we have had for years”.
The election’s timing could hardly be worse, with Johnson now just a caretaker premier. Russia is threatening food and energy security by cutting fertiliser and gas supplies. The UK should be working very closely with the EU on these critical issues. But instead, we may well see candidates attack the Protocol and the EU to win constituency support.
Social and political issues were always more important than economics before the SuperCycle. And now they are resurfacing again. Does an individual woman have the right to choose what to do with her body? Or can judges tell her what she can, and can’t do? It is early days, but many women may choose to vote Democrat because of this issue in November.
The history of the 1929 and 2000 downturns suggests the real pain is yet to come. Housing markets look terribly over-valued around the world, as I noted last month. And US consumer sentiment is at all-time lows. So most company earnings seem set to fall, with more than 60% of US CEOs now expecting to see a recession.
The Fed might change its mind and rush to support asset markets again. But that seems unlikely today. If it doesn’t, then debt, divorce and death will force an increasing number of people to sell their home. And if buyers continue to disappear, then sellers will have to continue cutting prices in order to try and achieve a sale, as the bubble finally bursts.
Problems in the housing market aren’t just confined to the US, UK, Germany and China. The average house price/income ratio is now back to the highest level since records began. And the problem for homeowners is that potential buyers are already starting to disappear as mortgage rates rise – and affordability reduces.
Energy and financial markets are exacerbating the risks ahead. Oil prices at current levels – as the chart confirms, they now account for more than 3% of global GDP – have historically led to recession as the chart shows. The reason is that consumers have to cut back on their discretionary spending, which drives economic growth, in order to heat their homes and travel to work and school. Today’s high levels of natural gas prices add to this risk.
This is why we are facing a K-shaped recession. Companies and investors have a difficult time ahead. They not only have to navigate a potentially major downturn. But they also have to completely reposition their portfolios for the New Normal world that will follow.
OPEC+ oil producers saw prices tumble $10/bbl (13%) on Friday as the world woke up to the fact that the next phase of the pandemic may be underway. And this is not the only challenge that they face. OIL PRICES HAVE ONLY BEEN HELD UP BY MAJOR SUPPLY CUTBACKS The first is the challenge from […]