Investors are growing cautious as we approach the fourth quarter, and their trepidation is justified. Here’s a brief summary of the situation: there is a potential global financial crisis stemming from the Chinese property market meltdown, supply chain bottlenecks are growing worse, Q3 Earnings warnings are being reported from many large corporations, interest rates are rising, inflation is at a 40-year high, tax hikes are coming in ’22, and the threat of a U.S. debt default still hangs in the air until the end of November.
The macroeconomic situation today is one of stagflation. Meaning, inflation rates are higher than normal at the same time GDP growth is slowing. To this point, the data shows that 6.2 million people lost their benefits in the week of September 11th, as most government pandemic unemployment relief programs expired. These people all need to find a job, and quickly, to supplant that huge government weekly stipend that is now gone. Instead, we find that weekly layoffs are consistently higher than any other time since before the pandemic all the way back through 2015. And, we see that only 194k net new jobs were added during the month of September.
Capital Economics has this to say about the situation:
“with the labor force still three million individuals lower than it was in February 2020, and surveys suggesting that the number who don’t want a job is increasing, it’s looking more and more likely that labor supply has suffered a permanent hit from the pandemic.”
We also note that the Q3 GDP growth estimate from the highly accurate Atlanta fed plunged to just 1.3%, from the 6.7% pace of growth recorded by the BEA during Q2.
So, it is stagflation for now; but deflation is just a few quarters away because there is a demand shock set to occur stemming from plunging asset prices. The stock market’s recent volatility can be likened to a typical pothole in the pavement. However, a huge crater has formed just down the road. The perfect storm for the stock market and economy is in full development and should hit the U.S. by the second quarter of next year.