LEAD VS LAG: Case strengthening inflationary drivers peaked ("lead"), even if CPI remains elevated ("lag") = market perception lagging

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Inflation vs Recession = Markets focus of either "half-empty" views to "worser half-empty"

Incoming data this week has pointed to a pronounced softening of economic momentum globally, and this has pushed commodity prices lower and similarly pushed down interest rates. And this has shifted market focus:

  • inflation vs recession
  • two paths to ruin, either inflation wrecks the economy or a recession wrecks the economy
  • weakening incoming economic data, at a minimum, reduces the "hawkish upside" risk from central banks
  • but these are not the only two paths for markets, even if markets see these as most probable
  • falling inflation is arguably more important anyways
  • falling inflation would push Fed closer to a dovish pivot
  • a recession would trigger a Fed pivot (to dove) and would support markets

A third option remains "soft landing" -- in this version:

  • inflationary pressures are cooling as supply chains ease
  • Fed and other central banks have tightened sufficiently currently to further soften the labor market and housing
  • thus, instead of a recession vs inflation debate, it should be "soft" vs "hard" landing
  • and under "soft" there is a wider path for equity markets to recover
Taking a step back, the incoming data this week could...

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