Last week did not play out how we anticipated. Coming into the week, it was all about Federal Reserve (Fed) Chair Jerome Powell’s congressional testimony and the February jobs report. Instead, we got a shockingly fast collapse of a financial institution with over $200 billion in assets, which turned the market’s focus toward the stability of the banking system and what systemic risks banks might be facing. This commentary is focused on our asset allocation views, but no doubt the Silicon Valley Bank saga will require more attention from investors in the days ahead.
Suggesting an economy makes “no landing” makes no sense. Analogies eventually break down, especially this one. Economic activity does not stop like an airplane eventually does, but rather the economy will settle into a steady state where growth is consistent with factors such as population and productivity. Here we take a look at some factors that illustrate how the economy is struggling to find a stable growth path.

Debt Ceiling Primer: What You Need to Know

by Brian Ormord on
While concerns about the debt ceiling have been increasing, markets, businesses, and the economy are likely to see only minimal impact until we are days, or maybe a few weeks, from the “x date,” the date on which the federal government will no longer be able to meet all its obligations, likely in the summer or early fall. We continue to believe the chances that Congress will fail to raise the debt ceiling before the x date remain extremely low, but current political dynamics have likely increased the risk and there are some negative consequences to even an eleventh hour agreement, as we saw in 2011.
Markets have adjusted to several changes this year. The pace at which inflation has cooled is slowing. The market has started to believe the Federal Reserve’s (Fed) “higher for longer” message. The bar for earnings has been lowered. Market relationships to interest rates have been turned upside down. And many of last year’s losers are this year’s winners, and vice versa. Here we take a look at some of the biggest changes in the market environment so far in 2023 and what those changes could mean for investors over the balance of the year.
Soft landing or no soft landing, that is the question, with all due respect to William Shakespeare. But while this may be the most commonly asked question these days, it may not be the most important or the toughest. That honor goes to what’s priced in. Good market forecasts are not just about the economy and earnings—they are about what the market is pricing in. Below we share our thoughts on the potential for a soft landing, the possible role China might play in that, and whether markets are pricing in too much good news.
Investors got more excited about international investing late last year. Some of that was chasing better returns, as developed international equities solidly beat the U.S. over the last three months of 2022. Some was the increased popularity of value investing as mega-cap U.S. technology stocks became less in favor. The surprising resilience of core European economies and a weaker U.S. dollar added to the market’s excitement. After such strong performance in international benchmarks recently, is there enough good news still yet to come for these markets to continue to outpace the U.S.?
The script has been flipped in 2023. Last year’s underperformers have turned into outperformers this year, driving the S&P 500 Index up over 5% this month. The pace and composition of the rally have left many investors skeptical over its sustainability, especially amid a lackluster earnings season thus far. Of course, the market is also forward-looking, with expectations for falling inflation and a less hawkish Federal Reserve (Fed) as we progress into 2023. And although the trajectory of the rally will likely slow, seasonal indicators point to a path higher for U.S. equity markets by year-end.
The latest episode of the debate between stock market bulls and bears has gotten more interesting. For every valid point from one side, there’s an equally compelling argument on the other side. Perhaps the best reason for the debate is the uniqueness of this environment. The pandemic and its aftermath don’t come with a historical playbook. We haven’t been here before. So we’ll just recognize that the outlook is uncertain, weigh the pros and cons, glean what we can from the past, and give it our best shot. Call us cautious bulls.

Q4 Earnings Preview: Pessimism May Be Overdone

by Brian Ormord on
Fourth quarter earnings season is underway and probably won’t bring much good news. Lackluster global growth, ongoing profit margin pressures from inflation, and negative currency impacts are likely to translate into a year-over-year decline in S&P 500 Index earnings for the quarter. As always, guidance matters more as market participants look forward. The key question coming into this earnings season is whether the pessimism surrounding 2023 earnings has gone too far.
We believe accountability and modesty are among the keys to success in this business. In striving for those qualities, LPL Research has a tradition of starting off a new year with a lessons learned commentary. We got some things wrong last year, no doubt. But those who don’t learn from their mistakes are doomed to repeat them. Here are some of our lessons learned from 2022. As you might imagine, inflation and the Federal Reserve are common themes throughout.
2022 was a dizzying year as markets and the global economy continued to find itself out of balance due to the still present aftereffects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the policy response to it. If 2022 was about recognizing imbalances that had built in the economy and starting to address them, we believe 2023 will be about setting ourselves up for what comes next as the economy and markets find their way back to steadier ground. The process of finding balance may continue to be challenging and we may even see a recession, but underlying fundamentals could create opportunities in stock and bond markets that were difficult to find in 2022.
The Federal Reserve (Fed) wrapped up its last Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting of the year last week, where it hiked short-term interest rates for the seventh time in as many meetings, taking the fed funds rate to 4.5% (upper bound). A day later, both the European Central Bank (ECB) and the Bank of England (BoE) also hiked interest rates, taking their respective policy rates to the highest levels since 2008. Over 90% of central banks have hiked interest rates this year, making the (mostly) global coordinated effort unprecedented. The good news? We think we’re close to the end of these rate hiking cycles, which could lessen the headwind we’ve seen on global financial markets this year.