Fed Chairman Powell has spoken unreservedly for a year now that he was serious about fighting inflation and will do ‘whatever it takes.’ Hardly anyone can question that resolve given the unprecedented 4.25% rate increases in the last nine months (see first Image below). The pace of hikes, however, makes the case that the lack of rate action till March of this year was the wrong decision, with the benefit of hindsight.
As the Federal Reserve executes its policy shift from pandemic era generosity to inflation busting zeal, financial markets are at crossroads. It fears, not necessarily the exit of ‘easy’ money supply as much as a policy error, the kind that takes an economy with underlying consumer demand greater than pre-pandemic levels and leaves it without a pulse.
Topics: Interest Rates
Many among us found ourselves playing armchair epidemiologist at the outset of the pandemic. Casual discussions about rates of community transmission and projectile statistics of a cough in indoor settings, along with a browser tab open consistently to track worldwide COVID tallies, all served as useful distractions.
While the country grappled with this black swan event, healthcare infrastructure strained to accommodate three distinct influxes of COVID-infected patients in just nine short months. As the fourth wave continues to impact parts of the country today, it’s a little premature for a full postmortem on how the healthcare sector fared as a whole, but there are reasons to be hopeful.
Topics: Financial Planning, Economy, health insurance
Inflation is on the minds of many and there is no shortage of price increase anecdotes around the country. From commodities like iron ore and copper doubling in price, to paying MSRP for a year-old car, these observations of rising prices are coloring perceptions about general affordability, the dollar, the central bank and investments.
Whether we are experiencing inflation is not up for debate, however, the prospect of sustainable inflation is definitely debatable. Is it the ‘80s all over again? Can we objectively look at the pandemic-induced supply disruptions, a confluence of weather anomalies, lean manufacturing driven supply chain decisions and a Texas freeze, and call it a structural and sustainable inflation? Not really. At least, not yet.
Topics: Stocks, Market, Economy, Interest Rates
Low interest rates, along with all their advantages and pitfalls, have defined much of the last decade. While prior recessionary periods have seen overnight shifts by the central bank to sub-1% interest rates, 2020 appears to manifest an extreme version of it so far. As the Federal Funds Rate was slashed from 1.5% to nearly 0% in March of 2020, the 10-year Treasury, the widely followed proxy for long-term rate setting purposes, registered a low of just 52 basis points within days of the Fed actions, an historic low.
Topics: Investment Management
While some investing wisdom is timeless and can be as simple as “save early and often,” behavioral finance shows us that the best advice is one that can be followed and adhered to long enough for it to deliver.
Priorities in one's 20s are and should be different than those in one's 40s and beyond. 2020 has put a wrinkle in even the best laid plans and added other layers of uncertainties to be taken into account for both short- and long-term financial decisions. Here are some steps to consider in the different phases of financial life.
Topics: Investment Management