The COVID collapse showed the Fed could abandon its clunky forward guidance and make the appropriate “pivot” when the facts changed. Now that facts have changed for the better, the Fed is right back to the rigid and dogmatic approach that characterized Fed-speak for almost all of the last economic expansion.
Corporate profits were outstanding last year, but even the benefit of a 40% cut in the top income-tax rate wasn’t enough to lift the net profit margin back to the all-time high of 10.6% established in early 2012. Still, the latest 10.0% figure is more than a percentage point above the 2007 cycle high and about two points better than any other cycle high.
While the celebration over Jerome Powell’s “Christmas Capitulation” lingered throughout February, we’re still awaiting signs the capitulation consisted of anything more than words.
The consensus view is that the stock market will be fine as long as there’s no recession in sight.The same LEI that has displayed a fine GDP forecasting record has shown essentially no relationship with S&P 500 forward twelve-month performance. In fact the regression line shows a slight negative slope!
Evidently, being a bull in a bull market is no longer good enough.
Ben Bernanke seems at peace with his looming retirement from the Fed. He’s certainly more relaxed and confident, and even looks more youthful. So much so, in fact, that Ben’s last appearance had me thinking of a young Tom Cruise - or more specifically, Cruise’s character Pete Mitchell (“Maverick”) in the 1986 film Top Gun. Remember when Maverick froze up during a dogfight with a Soviet MiG fighter, with his crosshairs trained perfectly on it?
Maverick: “Uh, it’s not good. It doesn’t look good.”
Doug Ramsey examines several once very reliable relationships between stocks, bonds, inflation, and commodities.