By: Steve Smith
And if the Fed is now determined to remove the punch bowl, they have a lot of tightening yet to do. After today’s jobs numbers, the probability of 4 rate hikes this year climbed to roughly 30 percent. Even that would only take the Fed Funds rate to the 2.25-2.5% range, while the Taylor Rule suggests it should already be closer to 4%.
Certainly, it’s beginning to look as if the Fed is not only behind the curve today, but that they may soon be forced to take more drastic measures to tackle rising inflation. As my friend Eric Cinnamond has been explaining for some time now, the consensus among companies is that inflationary pressures are now as great as they have been in many years, if not decades.
For now, it seems the popular market narrative, reinforced by today’s jobs report, is that the economy finds itself in a “Goldilocks” scenario: not too hot so that the Fed feels the need to cool it off, but not too cool as to put a damper on the uber-bullish analyst estimates of company earnings for the coming year.
However, if the narrative continues to shift from the Goldilocks narrative, which appears to have peaked last year, into greater agreement with all of these companies pointing to inflation, then markets could be forced to rapidly reprice their current, rosy assumptions about fundamentals and Fed policy.
For these reasons, our investing advice is to focus more on what is going on with inflation at the individual company level and, more importantly, on the Fed’s reaction to those developments rather than on Wall Street’s current Goldilocks narrative. At the end of the day, as Druckenmiller says, “earnings don’t move the overall market,” and Wall Street’s not very good at predicting either anyway, especially at major turning points.