One of the most urgent and consistent questions I have been getting recently is around inflation. With the headline numbers high—and they are high—the concern is that we are moving back to the 1970s and that inflation will stay at the current 5 percent or run even higher. That conclusion seems reasonable, given the large federal deficit and spending over the past couple of years. When combined with the signs of slowing growth, it could point back to stagflation. The 1970s are calling. Maybe disco will come back as well?
Last week was relatively quiet in terms of economic updates, with only two major data releases. Initial jobless claims continued to decline to start September, while producer prices increased by more than expected in August. This will be a busier week for updates, with reports to come on consumer inflation, industrial production, retail sales, and consumer sentiment.
China’s recent regulatory crackdown and the consequent impact on its financial markets have caught the attention of worldwide media and investors. (A recent post by my colleague Peter Roberto explores the regulatory backdrop.) Given the current environment, I’ve been receiving numerous questions asking if now is the time to double down on Chinese equities. Potential investors are wondering if the recent bounce in some of the hardest-hit stocks could be a sustained run. My belief is that, over the shorter term, headline risks remain elevated for Chinese equities. In the long term, continued economic growth in China may present attractive opportunities for value creation. To avoid potential landmines, however, active management is critical.
There were a number of important economic data releases last week, with a focus on consumer and business confidence and the August employment report. The employment report showed that the pace of hiring slowed during the month, as rising medical risks served as a headwind for faster job growth. This week will be relatively quiet, with only two reports due to the holiday-shortened schedule.