Relief rallies are always encouraging but do not necessarily portray parting clouds for a return to “normal” market conditions. The market is still digesting a rather dizzying array of challenging dynamics that have unfolded quickly over the last quarter.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine has created significant uncertainty for investors. Prior to the war’s outbreak, central bankers were already facing a challenging inflationary environment, and these new commodity-driven price pressures are set to complicate matters even further.
The outlook is currently challenging. Tightening is coming, but it is not here yet and in the meantime current policy remains quite accommodative. There is no doubt that extremely easy policy boosted equity prices, which were reinforced by strong earnings. Still, we believe organic growth can continue.
As is often the case, markets are a better reflection of general sentiment than news headlines and so far, it points to an ongoing global recovery as equities hold their gains of 2021 and long-term bond yields rise. It may not be time yet to write off more difficult scenarios derived from the outbreak of Omicron, but facts so far do speak more positively than just one month ago.
The global outlook still looks positive, but less is known about the potential impact of the latest variant of the COVID-19 virus, Omicron—particularly in light of the fast government response to add restrictions on travel and, in some cases, local mobility.
We maintain a constructive view of risk assets but are cognizant that the path toward realising gains will be more delicate as we traverse the course of the Fed and other central banks removing their easy policies.
Has economic data really changed so much as to suggest an inflection point on inflation and the growth outlook was near? To some degree perhaps, at least in the eyes of the market, but not enough in the end for central banks to meaningfully change their guidance.
Volatility has arisen as we expected it eventually would, and September is often an apt month to rediscover risk given market participants’ return from summer vacations noting that record high equity markets do not quite square with a number of significant risk events on the near-term horizon.
As we contemplate a post-pandemic world, it is becoming more likely that things will not return to “normal” as we once knew it. While vaccines have been highly successful in preventing serious illness in those who are still contracting the virus, the Delta variant of COVID-19 is also proving to be harder to contain.
Cross-asset pricing has recently been challenging our reflationary outlook. When we first discussed the prospects for reflation about a year ago, we identified a number of key factors.