Fed: Risky asset prices, inflation expectations, management weight

The October Consumer Expectations Survey released by the New York Fed reported that median inflation expectations remained unchanged at 4.2% over the medium-term horizon and rose 0.4 percentage points to 5.7% over the short-term horizon.

The October Consumer Expectations Survey released by the New York Fed reported that median inflation expectations remained unchanged at 4.2% over the medium-term horizon and rose 0.4 percentage points to 5.7% over the short-term horizon. Measures of uncertainty and disagreement about future inflation rose to new series highs on both horizons. Household labor market prospects continued to improve as earnings and job prospects rose and perceived risks of job loss decreased.

 

One-year ahead home price change uncertainty… Source: New York Fed Survey of Consumer Expectations

 

According to the October 2021 Senior Credit Officer Opinion Survey on Bank Credit Practices; Regarding loans to businesses, October survey respondents reported easier standards and stronger demand for commercial and industrial (C&I) loans to large and medium-sized firms in the third quarter. Banks also announced easier standards for C&I loans to small firms, while demand from small firms remained essentially unchanged. Regarding small firms, banks reported cutting costs and increasing the maximum credit limit. For loans to households, banks netted eased standards for most categories of residential real estate loans. Demand reports for consumer loans were mixed as banks also eased standards in all three categories of consumer loans: credit card loans, auto loans and other consumer loans. Banks cited customers facing more positive revenue expectations and higher expected customer spending needs given prevailing interest rates and conditions as reasons for stronger expected demand. Looking ahead, banks expect stronger demand for C&I loans from firms of all sizes over the next six months.

 

If we look at the November 2021 Financial Stability Report;

 

Since the release of the May 2021 Financial Stability Report, the prices of risky assets have generally risen further. Despite concerns about the spread of the Delta variant of the virus that causes COVID-19, asset prices were supported by rising earnings expectations and lower Treasury yields. Business and household borrowing as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP) declined further. Banks continued to be profitable and have strong capital. Conversely, structural weaknesses persist in some money market funds (MMFs) and other cash management instruments, as well as bond and bank loan mutual funds, which may re-enforce shocks to the financial system in times of stress.

 

Comments on the current level of vulnerabilities are as follows:

 

·        Asset valuations: Prices of risky assets have generally increased since the previous report, and in some markets prices are higher than expected cash flows. Housing prices, which have been increasing rapidly since May, continue to surpass the rent increases. However, despite rising home valuations, there is little evidence of deteriorating credit standards or highly leveraged investment activities in the housing market. Asset prices remain vulnerable to significant declines if investor risk sentiment falters, virus frustrations under control progress, or the economic recovery stalls.

·        Borrowing by businesses and households: Key measures of business debt vulnerability, including debt-to-GDP, gross leverage and interest coverage rates, have largely returned to pre-pandemic levels. Business balance sheets benefited from continued earnings growth, low interest rates and government support. However, the rise of the Delta variant seems to have slowed improvements in the small business outlook. Basic measures of household vulnerability have also largely returned to pre-pandemic levels. Household balance sheets have benefited from extensions in debtor assistance programs, federal stimulus, and higher overall personal savings rates, among other factors. However, the end of government support programs and uncertainty about the pandemic process can still pose significant risks to households.

·        Leverage in the financial sector: Bank profits were strong this year and capital ratios remained well above regulatory requirements. Some challenging conditions remain due to compressed net interest margins and loans in sectors most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Leverage was low at broker-dealers. Leverage continued to be high by historical standards at life insurance companies, and hedge fund leverage was slightly above its historical average. Issuance of collateralized loan obligations (CLOs) and asset-backed securities (ABS) has been strong.

·        Financing risk: Domestic banks relied only modestly on short-term wholesale funding and continued to maintain large holdings of high-quality liquid assets (HQLA). In contrast, structural weaknesses persist in some types of MMFs and other cash management instruments, as well as in bonds and bank loan mutual funds. There are also funding risk gaps in the growing stablecoin industry.

 

The Fed warns that the prices of risky assets continue to rise, making them more susceptible to dangerous declines if the economy deteriorates, calling stablecoins a rising threat. According to the Fed's warnings; Asset prices remain vulnerable to significant declines if investor risk sensitivity deteriorates, progress is made in containing the virus, or the economic recovery stalls. The central bank also noted that threats to stablecoins are on the rise, that vulnerability in China's commercial real estate sector could spread to the US if it worsens dramatically, and that this year's meme-stock craze (Meme stock refers to shares of a company that has gained a cult-like following through online and social media platforms) said similar "hard to predict" volatility could increase further.

 

Forward Price-Earnings Ratio of S&P 500 Firms… Source: Fed Financial Stability Report November 2021

 

On the one hand, the Fed cuts its monthly bond purchases, ending the purchases in June and increasing interest rates towards the end of 2022; It signals financial market sentiment by raising alarms about higher asset prices. Such a correction is obviously likely to be addressed if the Fed moves more seriously to raise interest rates. However, the approach of the stock markets will not be based only on financial conditions. Global slowdown risks and reduced growth projections (China's real estate sector turmoil, supply chain troubles, persistent inflation, vaccine-resistant Covid variants, tight transformation in financial liquidity conditions, etc.) pose a certain risk in terms of "growth stocks". But hi-tech is more likely to benefit from the transformational impact in the broad term. Still, stock valuations steered high since the Covid-19 pandemic period may cause a little more caution for new investment.

 

After the news that Quarles will leave the Fed by the end of the year, the news of Biden's meeting with Brainard came. It's still unclear whether Powell will be appointed after February 2022, and it's more likely than before that he will be replaced "although they didn't agree on time" as part of efforts to erase Trump's trail. Of course, change in the Fed Board of Directors is important in terms of vote weights.

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