Category Archives: chaos

Evidence Mounts S&P 500 Enters New Market Regime

The S&P 500 (Index: SPX) continued falling in the third full trading week of September 2022, closing the week down 4.65% from the previous week's close, and a full 23.0% below its 3 January 2022 peak.

This decline is consistent with how the dividend futures-based model would set stock prices if the model's basic multiplier was suddenly reset from the value of -2.5 that has applied since 16 June 2021 to be +2.0 as of 13 September 2022, assuming investors are also focusing their attention on the distant future quarter of 2023-Q2:

Alternative Futures - S&P 500 - 2022Q3 - Standard Model (m=-2.5 from 16 June 2021) - Snapshot on 23 Sep 2022

We're surprised by how closely the trajectory of the S&P 500 is tracking along with the model's projection of the index' trajectory associated with investors focusing their attention on 2023-Q2. That's because the model has also entered a period when we expect its projections are being affected by the past volatility of the historic stock prices it uses as the base reference points for projecting the index' future potential trajectories based on how far into the future investors are looking. That's something we'll revisit next week, when we'll estimate how much of the decline in stock prices is attributable to noise and how much is signal based on how investors have changed their view of the market.

Speaking of which, we find other analysts are picking up on just how different today's market is from that of just two weeks ago. Here's how Reuters covered that development on Friday, September 23, 2022:

Across Wall Street, banks are scrambling to adjust their forecasts to account for a Federal Reserve that shows no evidence of letting up in its fight against inflation after delivering another market-bruising rate hike this week and signaling more severe monetary policy tightening ahead.

Once-reliable technical indicators are falling by the wayside. The S&P dipped below its mid-June low of 3,666 on Friday afternoon, erasing a sharp summer rebound in U.S. stocks – the first time in history the index breached a new low after erasing more than half of its losses.

A rout in bond markets added to the pressure on stocks — yields on the benchmark 10-year Treasury, which move inversely to prices, recently stood at 3.67%, their highest level since 2010.

“These are uncharted waters,” said Sam Stovall, chief investment strategist at CFRA Research. “The market right now is going through a crisis of confidence.”

Or rather, the market has entered a new regime. Here are the market-moving headlines from the week that was:

Monday, 19 September 2022
Tuesday, 20 September 2022
Wednesday, 21 September 2022
Thursday, 22 September 2022
Friday, 23 September 2022

After the Fed hiked the Federal Funds Rate to a target range of 3.00-3.25%, the CME Group's FedWatch Tool projects a three-quarter point rate hike when the FOMC meets in early November (2022-Q4), followed by a half point rate hike in December (2022-Q4). In 2023, investors are expected at least a quarter point rate hike in February (2023-Q1) and another in June (2023-Q2), bringing the FFR to a target range of 4.75-5.00%. After this peak in 2023-Q2, the FedWatch tool indicates the Fed will respond to developing recessionary conditions with quarter point rate cuts projected in July (2023-Q3) and December (2023-Q4).

Meanwhile, the Atlanta Fed's GDPNow tool's projection for real GDP growth in the soon-to-end quarter of 2022-Q3 dropped again for the third consecutive week, from 0.5% to 0.3%. The Bureau of Economic Analysis will provide its first official estimate of real GDP growth in 2022-Q3 at the end of October 2022. The BEA has previously indicated the first two quarters of 2022 experienced negative real growth, but that may change as the BEA's analysts release their annual revisions.

The S&P 500 Retreats Toward Bear Territory

Extraordinary things are afoot for the S&P 500 (Index: SPX). After recovering from the Eurozone geopolitics noise event last week, the index plunged on 13 September 2022 as investors reacted to the news that inflation in the U.S. is running much hotter than expected. By the end of the trading week, the S&P 500 retreated to 3,873.33, some 19.2% below its 3 January 2022 all-time record high and just 0.8% away from the 20% decline threshold that defines a bear market.

Investors reacted that way because the high inflation means the Federal Reserve will keep hiking rates until a hard landing in the form of a recession is inevitable. The CME Group's FedWatch Tool projects a three-quarter point rate hike next week (2022-Q3), which investors are now betting will be followed by another three-quarter point hike in November (2022-Q4). The tool then projects the pace of rate hikes may slow a bit, with a quarter-point rate hike in December (2022-Q4) to close out 2022 in the target range of 4.00-4.25%. In 2023, the FedWatch tool anticipates quarter-point rate hikes in both February and March (2023-Q1) to reach a target range of 4.50-4.75% before potentially reversing in either May or June (2023-Q2) in response to building recessionary conditions.

The latest update to the alternative futures chart captures the plunge in stock prices, which have fallen below the levels associated with the dividend futures-based model's projected trajectories associated with how far investors are looking into the future and their expectations for dividend growth at those times.

Alternative Futures - S&P 500 - 2022Q3 - Standard Model (m=-2.5 from 16 June 2021) - Snapshot on 16 Sep 2022

As this is being written, it's still too early to make a firm determination, but here are the possibilities for what that development means:

  1. The market is experiencing a new noise event. If so, the deviation from the model's projections will be temporary, as it was for the Eurozone Geopolitical Noise event that ended the previous week, and we'll see stock prices rebound up to the levels projected by the model after the noise dissipates.
  2. The market is experiencing a regime change. For the dividend futures-based model, that means investors are resetting how they value changes in the growth rate of dividends with respect to how they relate to changes in the growth rate of stock prices. In the model, that relationship is often stable and can be nearly constant for prolonged periods of time. But it does change and when it does, it shows up as a change in the value of the model's basic multiplier (m).

The early evidence is supporting the second option, if we also assume investors shifted their forward-looking focus toward 2023-Q2 in setting current day stock prices, which is to say the inflation report prompted another Lévy flight event this year. If so, the value of m changed from the -2.5 it has been since 16 June 2021 to instead be around +2.0 as of 13 September 2022. The next chart shows how the model's projections would change under that scenario:

Alternative Futures - S&P 500 - 2022Q3 - Standard Model (m=+2.0 from 13 September 2021) - Snapshot on 16 Sep 2022

The week's market-moving headlines and the FedWatch tool's projections provide evidence in support of such a new Lévy flight event, in which investors would be looking out to 2023-Q2 as the likely timing in which the Fed's current series of rate hikes reach their terminal peak before the Fed is forced to reverse and begin cutting rates because of building recessionary pressures. It may however be some weeks before we have a clear answer as to which scenario we've described applies or if something else altogether is at work. Unofficially, we're hoping the scenario we described is wrong and the first scenario is the right one.

But that's all part of what makes tracking the S&P 500 such chaotic fun! Here's the past week's market moving headlines:

Monday, 12 September 2022
Tuesday, 13 September 2022
Wednesday, 14 September 2022
Thursday, 15 September 2022
Friday, 16 September 2022

The Atlanta Fed's GDPNow tool's forecast for real GDP growth in 2022-Q3 plunged for the second consecutive week, from 1.3% to 0.5%. The Bureau of Economic Analysis will provide its first official estimate of real GDP growth for the U.S. economy in 2022-Q3 on 27 October 2022.

The S&P 500 Recovers Losses as Geopolitical Noise Dissipates

The S&P 500 (Index: SPX) quickly recovered from the outbreak of geopolitical noise originating from the Eurozone in the previous week, rising 143.10 points (+3.6%) to end the Labor Day Holiday-shortened trading week at 4,067.36.

The change puts the level of the index back within the typical range anticipated by the dividend futures-based model for investors focusing on the current quarter of 2022-Q3. The latest update to the alternative futures chart shows that development.

Alternative Futures - S&P 500 - 2022Q3 - Standard Model (m=-2.5 from 16 June 2021) - Snapshot on 9 Sep 2022

With the geopolitical noise tied to energy demand and the very short supply of fossil fuels in Germany, the trigger for dissipating the noise can be traced to a decision by Germany's government to continue operating two nuclear power generating stations it previously planned to shutter without replacement by the end of this year. The sudden reversal of its anti-nuclear power policies greatly reduced the country's projected developing shortage of fossil fuels in the short term, which threatened to throw the country into deep recession from its poorly considered energy policies.

In the first week of September 2022, the inevitable outcome to Germany's bad policies threatened to bleed out into the global economy, which created the negative noise event causing stock prices to drop to "deeply undervalued territory". But all noise events end, it was only ever a question of when. Germany's energy policy U-turn was the week's main market-moving event.

Of course, other stuff happened too. Here's our summary of the week's lesser market-moving headlines:

Tuesday, 6 September 2022
Wednesday, 7 September 2022
Thursday, 8 September 2022
Friday, 9 September 2022

The CME Group's FedWatch Tool still anticipates a three-quarter point rate hike in September (2022-Q3), but now projects a half-point rate hike in November (2022-Q4), followed by a quarter-point rate hike in December 2022. In 2023, the FedWatch tool predicts one last quarter-point rate hike in March (2023-Q1), with the Fed's series of rate hikes topping out in a target range of 4.00-4.25%. The FedWatch tool then forecasts the Fed will be forced to respond to developing recessionary conditions by announcing a quarter point rate cut in June (2023-Q2).

The Atlanta Fed's GDPNow tool's forecast for real GDP growth in 2022-Q3 plunged 2.6% to 1.3% over the past week, fully reversing the growth surge it predicted a week ago.

Update 13 September 2022

And then the August 2022 inflation report dropped, crashing the expectatation the Federal Reserve's minions might be able to pull off a "soft landing".

It may finally be time to reset the value of m, the basic multiplier used in the dividend futures-based model.

The S&P 500 Has Rough Week as Geopolitics Adds Noise to Market

The S&P 500 (Index: SPX) moved back toward bear territory in the trading week ending on 2 September 2022. Geopolitics, particularly those emanating from the Eurozone, played an outsize role in sending stock prices to their lowest level in weeks.

The biggest reversal came on Friday, 2 September 2022, when the index swung from being up as high as 1.3% in the morning to instead close down by 1.2%. The major factor driving that development was Vladimir Putin's announcement that Russia would shut down gas pipelines going to the European Union indefinitely. The action will likely drive the Eurozone fully into recession.

And if not that, the higher interest rates the minions of the European Central Bank are considering to combat the inflation caused in good part by having the continent's Russian-supply of oil cut off may also do the job. The Eurozone doesn't lack for bad options and its problems appear are bleeding over into the U.S. stock market.

Alternative Futures - S&P 500 - 2022Q3 - Standard Model (m=-2.5 from 16 June 2021) - Snapshot on 2 Sep 2022

If not for the geopolitical noise event, we think the S&P 500 would be tracking more closely to the alternative trajectory associated with investors focusing on 2022-Q3, which is where they had clearly set their focus as early as last week. At least, until the deep hole the Eurozone is in got deeper. The market moving headlines of the week that was capture those developments along with the U.S.-based market drivers that primarily influence the U.S-based index.

Monday, 29 August 2022
Tuesday, 30 August 2022
Wednesday, 31 August 2022
Thursday, 1 September 2022
Friday, 2 September 2022

The CME Group's FedWatch Tool still projects a three-quarter point rate hike in September (2022-Q3), but now forecasts that will be followed by a series of quarter point rate hikes that will top out in the target range of 3.75-4.00% in February 2023.

Meanwhile, the Atlanta Fed's GDPNow tool's forecast for real GDP growth in 2022-Q3 jumped from 1.6 to 2.6% over the past week.

Fed Chair Sends S&P 500 Plummeting in 2022’s Tenth Lévy Flight Event

Fed Chair Jerome Powell spoke from the Federal Reserve's annual retreat Jackson Hole on Friday, 26 August 2022. In doing that, he succeeded in sending the S&P 500 (Index: SPX) on its tenth confirmed Lévy flight event of 2022, sending the index down 3.37% to close the week at 4,057.66.

Since it's the tenth Lévy flight event of the year, investors are getting a lot of exposure these high volalilty episodes. For readers who are new to the concept, here's what it means:

  • Lévy flights involve large changes in stock prices that occur more often than statistical analysis based on a normal distribution predicts.
  • These events coincide with investors shifting their forward-looking focus from one point of time in the future to another.
  • How much stock prices change during these events is tied to what the expectations are for dividend growth between these future points in time.

All of which are tied together in the dividend futures-based model we invented to forecast the future for the S&P 500. The alternative futures chart tracks the actual trajectory of the index against the levels it projects it would be for when investors focus their attention upon specific future quarters.

Alternative Futures - S&P 500 - 2022Q3 - Standard Model (m=-2.5 from 16 June 2021) - Snapshot on 26 Aug 2022

Going into the last trading week, the chart shows investors had been focused on the future quarter of 2023-Q1 in setting current day stock prices. Fed Chair Powell's Jackson Hole speech on Friday, 26 August 2022 however refocused their attention on 2022-Q3 by increasing the uncertainty they have for how much the Fed will change interest rates at its upcoming September meetings.

Our summary of the market-moving headlines of the trading week that was documents how that shift in the forward looking focus developed during the trading week.

Monday, 22 August 2022
Tuesday, 23 August 2022
Wednesday, 24 August 2022
Thursday, 25 August 2022
Friday, 26 August 2022

After Fed Chair Jerome Powell got done speaking on Friday, 26 August 2022, the CME Group's FedWatch Tool's projections of the Fed's future interest rate hikes registered big changes in investor expectations, confirming the Lévy flight event resulting from investors resetting their time horizon. Instead of a half point rate hike in September (2022-Q3), the probability of a three-quarter point hike rose over 50% as investors expectations changed for this quarter. Looking further forward in time, that hike would be followed by a half point rate hike in November (2022-Q4), after which, investors think the Fed will hold off on more rate hikes until February 2023 when they anticipate a quarter point rate hike. That will put the Fed's target for the Federal Funds Rate in the 3.75-4.00% range, which is where investors are now expecting the Fed's series of rate hikes will top out.

Meanwhile, the Atlanta Fed's GDPNow tool's forecast for real GDP growth in 2022-Q3 held steady at 1.6%, so we can rule out changes in the outlook for the U.S. economy as a significant contributing factor to what happened with stock prices during the week. What happened was caused by investors drawing in their focus from 2023-Q1 to 2022-Q3 in reaction to Powell's Jackson Hole remarks.