The “rotation to reality”, which has been postulated by this column since it started 10 months ago, has played out like a script. Rising US Federal Reserve (Fed) rates, Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s Ukraine misadventures, disrupted energy and food supply chains, plus the great crypto deleveraging amid its current winter, have all helped to dampen the spirits of all but the most bullish.
Fluff that had no intrinsic value, such as meme stocks, “growth at all costs” business models, imaginative coins and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) minted for crypto heaven, have all succumbed to Newton’s law of universal gravitation. Instead of a gentle drop, many find themselves caught in a vortex that seemingly spins more furiously as each day goes by. Many giddy market Cassandras have started drawing parallels to the 2008 global financial crisis (GFC).
Will this be the sub-prime tail that triggers the dominoes falling across the world? The current inflationary threat is coming from non-traditional quarters, such as commodities logjams, war-disrupted freight and de-globalisation. Are central banks, rusty at dealing with this traditional yet unfamiliar scourge, ill-equipped to do so beyond the blunt sledgehammer of steeper and steeper interest rate rises? Is stagflation inevitable whilst countries hoard their chickens and palm oil?