A defining characteristic of the investment environment this year has been an oscillating market driven by a rapidly changing set of facts and overall investment narrative. We started the year with optimism that we would move beyond COVID-19 and enter a period of slower but more normalized growth. However, investor sentiment plummeted following an inflationary perfect storm.
It is with little remorse that we close the book on the first half of 2022. Whereas the first quarter could be characterized by—among other things—a crisis of confidence in valuations and a historic adjustment in expectations for Federal Reserve policy tightening, investor attention in the second quarter shifted toward the prospects for an economic recession. Inflationary pressures continued to defy gravity, not only in the U.S. but also around the world, and stocks and bonds alike suffered.
In June’s Capital Perspectives, “Battle of the Bulls vs. the Bears,” we spotlight the question with which investors are now grappling: Can the economy withstand the twin burdens of high inflation and tightening monetary policy to avoid a recession within the next 12–18 months? The answer is not so simple.We share our views on the likelihood of an economic soft landing, which depends on understanding whether inflation has peaked and how quickly it will decelerate.