Even after one of the worst starts to an equity trading year in history, the market upheaval might just be getting started.
Ominous signs are piling up that more turmoil is still coming, as key indicators point toward a potential recession. That could deepen the market rout triggered by the Federal Reserve leading a hawkish shift among central banks and war in Ukraine.
The U.S. Treasury yield curve has collapsed to near inversion — a situation when short-term rates exceed those with longer tenors, which has often preceded a downturn. In Europe, energy costs have climbed to unprecedented levels, as sanctions against Russia exacerbate a global commodity crunch.
“Over time, the three biggest factors that tend to drive the U.S. economy into a recession are an inverted yield curve, some kind of commodity price shock or Fed tightening,” said Ed Clissold, chief U.S. strategist at Ned Davis Research. “Right now, there appears to be potential for all three to happen at the same time.”
Food prices are already past levels that contributed to uprisings in the past, and the outbreak of a war between Russia and Ukraine — which combined account for 28% of global wheat exports and 16% of corn, according to UBS Global Wealth Management — only adds to risks.
Meanwhile, the Fed is unlikely to intervene to prevent sell-offs, according to George Saravelos, Deutsche Bank’s global head of currency research. That’s because the root cause of the current spike in inflation is a supply shock, rendering the playbook used to fight downturns for the past 30 years all but useless.