There are many factors that may affect inflation. Also, the weights of certain factors may vary across countries. Take the development of the exchange rate, for example.
2017 was an excellent year for stocks. Developed markets were up more than 16% in local currencies, emerging markets almost 28%. Read more
The current environment is very positive for the capital markets: strong growth, low inflation, supportive monetary policies, good earnings growth, and low volatilities, i.e. fluctuations. Also, the numerous risks have not had a significantly negative impact on prices. However, the phase of rising prices started as early as March 2009. This environment implies that any change in the relevant parameters such as growth, inflation, and monetary policy would be tantamount to deterioration, given that improvement is not possible anymore. The most important question asked by investors at the outset of 2018 is therefore whether this positive environment is still here to stay.
The Council of the European Central Bank pulled an impressive stunt at the monetary policy meeting on 26 October. ECB President Mario Draghi announced to reduce the extremely supportive monetary policy in the near future while sounding very cautious (dovish) with regard to the process at the same time.
The most important central bank in the world, the Federal Reserve of the USA, has announced a historic decision as a result of its FOMC meeting on 20 September: the central bank balance sheet, hugely inflated in the wake of the bond purchase programme, will be gradually reduced from October onwards. Generally speaking this is a good sign, as the decision can be seen as further testimony to the normalisation of the economic environment.
The seemingly unrelenting climb of US equities has stopped in August. Market volatility spiked, the decline of the US dollar ended, bond spreads widened, and macro risk-indicators surged. While there has been no major correction (yet), the fresh breeze of optimism that characterized equity markets in the first half of the year gave space to the somewhat stale atmosphere that typically takes over when the majority of investors switch into risk-off mode.
Some ten years after the outbreak of the Great Recession, global economic growth is positive and broadly based, inflation is low in the developed economies and falling in important emerging economies, and monetary policies are very supportive, cautious, and predictable. At the same time, company earnings growth has increased significantly, and the volatilities of many asset prices are low. This environment is generally positive for risky asset classes.
Making sense of it all
I will be upfront about it: to me, the Taylor rule is still a helpful tool to assess the future monetary policy of the US central bank. However, it should not be used as blueprint without thinking it through. Instead, it should be seen as heuristic tool that helps structure one’s analysis.
Taylor Rule – precise formula, vague Inputs
Since 2008, the key-lending rates in the USA seem to have been significantly too low as measured by the Taylor rule. With some economists blaming Alan Greenspan’s loose monetary policy as partially responsible for the financial crisis of 2008, the question is whether we are in for a déjà-vu.
The US central bank has embarked on a cycle of interest rate hikes. The question is: by how much will the interest rates increase still, and at what point will it reach a level detrimental to the economy, where equities should be regrouped into asset classes less sensitive to the economic cycle?