As we wrote last week, the May inflation report and the University of Michigan consumer sentiment surveys were worrisome indicators. So much so that on Monday the Fed leaked news to the media that they were going to raise rates 75 basis points at the coming meeting, instead of the 50 they’ve signaled since the May meeting. Chairman Powell admitted as much at the post-FOMC press conference. In addition to that hawkish turn, the committee further communicated that they expect the overnight rate to end 2022 at 3.4% and end 2023 at 3.8%. Moreover, to drive home his transformation from Trump lapdog to Volker incarnate, he later said that his commitment to reining in inflation was “unconditional.” Presumably, that means that he doesn’t care how the equity market reacts. We’re not fully convinced of that commitment, but time will tell.
President Biden and the members of the Federal Reserve were hoping against hope that this morning’s CPI report would come in below expectations, but to no avail. In fact, each and every one of the economic releases communicated bad news to our leaders. The headline year-over-year CPI came in at 8.6% versus the consensus estimate of 8.3%, and the ex-food and energy tally came in at 6.0%, a touch above the survey estimate of 5.9%. Later in the morning the University of Michigan consumer survey offered no better news. The overall sentiment tally plunged to 50 versus last month 58, and the inflation component for the coming year ticked up to 5.4%. That’s a clear message to Messrs. Biden and Powell of no confidence. The reaction out of the markets was as expected with Stock indices getting crushed. Several intrepid market analysts said earlier this week that the stock market could be close to a bottom, but they’re eating their words today as the S&P 500 is only 100 points away from its recent low.
Market turmoil has reached a fevered pitch as investors continue to digest the May inflation reports. Headline year-over-year CPI for May came in at 8.6% versus the consensus estimate of 8.3%, and the ex-food and energy tally came in at 6.0%, a touch above the survey estimate of 5.9%. Contributing to the unease was the University of Michigan survey, a popular coincident indicator of consumer sentiment. The overall sentiment tally plunged to 50 versus 58 last month, and the inflation expectation component for the coming year ticked up to 5.4%. That’s a clear message to Messer’s Biden and Powell of no confidence in their inflation fighting prowess. The market rection to the news has been brutal, with the 2-year Treasury note trading as high as high as 3.43%. Similarly, the S&P 500 is now 22% off the January high.
Investor consensus reversed sharply this week, from the opinion that the Fed would hike twice then pause, to the Fed needs to hike at every meeting until reaching 3.0%. Evidence of the change can be found in the 17 basis point rise in the yield of the two-year note, which is now about 10 basis points below the high of the year.
While the economic data was generally mixed for the week, with the exception of the print on the May employment report, we attribute the consensus change to the meeting between Chairman Powell and President Biden, and comments from the JP Morgan CEO.
Bond prices continued to rebound this week with the front end out performing. The yield to maturity on the 2 year US Treasury Note declined another 10bps to 2.49% while the yield on the 30 year Bond remained the same at 2.99%. The steepening of the yield curve is the result of participant’s expectation of slower growth and lower inflation going forward. The chart below shows that participants removed future expected rate hikes over the course of the next year – effectively recalibrating the terminal fed funds rate lower. The mid-month equity swoon and the string of earnings misses added to the bullish sentiment in the front end.