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Just a few unrelated concepts to end a turbulent week.

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Read this week's Major Trend update.

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Over the years, I’ve never tried to “figure out” what the Fed would do. Rarely spent much time adding up the number of doves versus hawks comprising the board. Didn’t find much value in parsing “Fed Speak,” carefully examining changes in the minutes from the last meeting, trying to reconcile widely diverging opinions among the multiple speeches of current members, and certainly never did a deep dive into the dot plots. Turns out, that was a mistake!

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A replay of a Zoom Call with Chief Investment Strategist, Jim Paulsen where he shared his thoughts and observations on today's market and what he sees looking ahead. The slides are available through the PDF Download.

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What a year! Runaway inflation, surging bond yields, a rebirth of the Volcker Fed, a persistent bear market, widespread recession fears, a European War, and rising China/U.S. tensions. Not to mention—yet another booster shot, the passing of a 70-year-reigning Monarch, unprecedented heat, floods, fires, tornadoes, hurricanes, and, of course, mid-term elections in a country with massive political strife.

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Yields have been on an upswing all year, and based on Federal Reserve comments, they may go up for the balance of 2022 and perhaps into 2023. Nevertheless, a host of factors suggest yields are getting more and more “out of bounds” with historical norms, and a “rate peak” is probably nearing.

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The CPI figures were hotter than expected and point to more Fed intervention. Barring a 2020 collapse in the price index, year-over-year figures are going to remain high for quite some time.

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While the market moves back into sell-off mode, everyone seems to be waiting for the inevitable hammer to drop on earnings. If and when that happens, does it give us any insight about performance prospects? Or does it just make forward P/E ratios less attractive?

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Inflation plays a part in nearly all economic cycles. Once a new recovery gains footing, inflation starts rising, overheat fears intensify, policy officials respond, and bond yields increase. However, significant inflation—the type that becomes the centerpiece of an economic expansion—is a rarity.

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Despite a bear market, small-cap stocks have essentially been market performers this year. The S&P 500 is off by 17.8%, while the S&P 600 Small Cap Index is about the same (-18%). The Russell 2000’s YTD loss of 19.8% is nearly equivalent, even though it contains a more significant portion of low-quality companies. Overall, small caps have been resilient as the Bear growls, and, hopefully, that’s a good sign they could again be the leaders once the Bull takes charge.

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The stock market rally from the June low failed to break through its 200-day moving average on August 16th, and the S&P 500 has since fallen on tough times. The market advance was seemingly clipped, and the Bears again ruled! The decline began during the preamble leading up to Jackson Hole, and the S&P 500 completely collapsed after Chairman Powell’s hawkish speech reiterated the Fed’s resolve to bring inflation under control. The index dropped by about 9% from its recent high and is more than 18% below its all-time high.

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The contemporary economic and financial market cycle has been a weird one. It began with the biggest post-war bust in both real GDP and employment, followed almost instantaneously by a boom! It has been characterized by unprecedented use of monetary and fiscal stimulus, the lowest bond yields ever recorded in U.S. history, chronic supply-side shortages, the highest inflation in 40 years, and one of the speediest and most aggressive Fed tightening cycles

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Read this week's MTI update...

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Estimates are continuing to shrink for 2022 and 2023.

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With inflation still ravaging the U.S. economy and the leader of the Federal Reserve about to take center stage to inform everyone what he will do about it, investors should remind themselves that “disinflation” probably still rules. Yeah, you read that right.

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