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Can We Trust The Fed's Forecasts?

the fed's Forecasts
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EDITOR'S NOTE: Disfaith in the Fed may be at an all-time high. Aside from this recent spike, however, investors have generally placed a great deal of trust in the institution despite its average forecasting inaccuracy rate of 73%. So, the Fed gets it wrong seven out of ten guesses, according to the MarketWatch article below. Yet, the warning “don’t fight the Fed” continues to sound, especially when it comes to betting on stock valuations. If the author is correct, America should be wary of the Fed’s latest “tough talk” on rates. The market may not be the economy, but the Fed wants to sustain the impression that, somehow, it is. Do you think the Fed’s going to allow the market to drop by 20% to 30% to lower the average American’s overall cost of living? If your answer is yes, read on and think twice.

The bond bears have been in ascendance this week, even before the release of the latest minutes from the last Federal Open Market Committee meeting. The yield on the 10-year Treasury has jumped 23.7 basis points this week, the largest four-day yield gain since June 5, 2020, as the Fed minutes showed discussion of a fast winddown of its balance sheet alongside rising interest rates.

Granted, this was a discussion from Dec. 14 and 15, though St. Louis Fed President James Bullard’s comments on Thursday suggested the more aggressive stance outlined in the minutes was still very much current thinking.

David Rosenberg, chief economist and strategist at Rosenberg Research and the former chief North American economist at Merrill Lynch, isn’t buying the tough talk from the Fed. “One should be skeptical of the Fed’s forecasts, given the poor track record, even though investors treat them (and the dot plots and FOMC minutes) as gospel,” he says.

Dating back to 2012, the Fed’s forecasts on rates have been correct 37% of the time, accurate on core inflation 29% of the time, accurate on unemployment 24% of the time and accurate on real gross domestic product growth 17% of the time. And the Fed tends to be too bullish on growth, he adds.

“What I’m saying is that they say in the stock market never to bet against the Fed but in the bond market, I can definitely tell you that it is perfectly safe to say that you can bet against the Fed’s forecasting ability — especially when it comes to the one thing the Fed can actually control, which is the policy rate,” he says. Pointing to flattening real consumer spending, housing past its peak, too much inventory, a record high trade deficit and flat-to-down real business speaking, “there is absolutely no impetus to domestic demand growth going forward and yet the Fed continues to play the role of economic cheerleader.”

If the Fed were to hike to 1.75% next year, it would mean the possibility of a 20% decline in home values and a 30% slide in equity prices, if there were a mean reversion in price-to-income ratios. Even now, both asset classes are overpriced by 15%, he says.

He recommends in the stock market shying away from cyclical sensitivity and toward defensive growth such as healthcare, staples and utilities; and in corporate credit, trading up in quality.

The chart

Photo: Market Watch

Cryptocurrency crime reached a record $14 billion last year, according to research company Chainalysis, with scammers taking $7.8 billion and outright theft of $3.2 billion. As a percent of all transactions, however, the company said crypto crime was at a record low, since total volumes jumped 567% but illicit activity rose by 79%.

The buzz

The U.S. created a surprisingly low 199,000 nonfarm jobs in December, coming in well short of consensus estimates. But the unemployment rate continued to slide, falling to 3.9% from 4.2%.

U.S. stock futures ES00, -1.52% NQ00, -2.05% turned lower after the report was released.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury TMUBMUSD10Y, 1.793% picked up to 1.76%.

Oil CL.1, -0.46% was trading around $80 a barrel amid the unrest in producers Kazakhstan and Libya.

Absci ABSI, -2.92% shares rocketed after the biotech inked a drug discovery collaboration deal with chemicals company Merck MRK, +0.47%, with up to $610 million in fees and milestone payments.

GameStop GME, -12.09% shares rose 14% in premarket trade after The Wall Street Journal reported the videogame retailer is launching a marketplace for nonfungible tokens and looking to establish cryptocurrency partnerships.

STMicroelectronics STM, -3.47% rose 4% in Milan as the chip maker said fourth-quarter revenue was above the top end of estimates. Samsung Electronics 005930, -0.38% said its fourth-quarter operating profit has likely grown 52%, helped by demand for memory chips and improved returns from its contract chip-making business.

Top tickers

Here are the most active stock-market tickers on MarketWatch, as of 6 a.m. Eastern.

Ticker Security name
GME, -12.09% GameStop
AMC, -3.74% AMC Entertainment
TSLA, -0.79% Tesla
NIO, -2.46% NIO
AAPL, -1.45% Apple
BABA, -1.93% Alibaba
NVDA, -3.75% Nvidia
NAKD, -7.79% Cenntro Electric
NVAX, +7.02% Novavax
AMZN, -2.72% Amazon

Random reads

Leonardo DiCaprio has won his share of acting awards, but now he’s had a tree named after him.

Inflation is everywhere but still not in the $1.50 hot dog from Costco COST, -4.83%.

The coach of a basketball team that won a game by a 92-to-4 margin was suspended.

Want more for the day ahead? Sign up for The Barron’s Daily, a morning briefing for investors, including exclusive commentary from Barron’s and MarketWatch writers.

Originally posted on Market Watch.

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All articles are provided as a third party analysis and do not necessarily reflect the explicit views of GSI Exchange and should not be construed as financial advice.

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