Why this is the most important week for the stock market: Morning Brief

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Monday, March 14, 2022

I would compare this week in the markets to that feeling when you passed your driver’s test and were able to roam the open roads with freedom for the first time. So much anticipation on what’s possible, and it all lived up to the hype (until you got into your first accident, then it sucked).

This week the Federal Reserve meets! This is the interest rate-hike meeting investors have been waiting for since the third quarter of 2021. Jerome “Big Money” Powell — otherwise known as the Federal Reserve chairman — will hop on the mic Wednesday afternoon and try to show he lives in a few different worlds.

It’s a world where Powell will have to acknowledge again he is anti-inflation and will hammer it into the ground with more rate hikes besides the one he will sign off on. But, it’s also a world where Powell doesn’t want to sound too hawkish so as to not rattle a market already concerned with the Russia-Ukraine war and soaring energy prices.

The difficulty threading the needle here for Powell is immense, underscored by the following commentary from Wall Street pros.

“In the face of a new crisis, the Fed put strike remains sharply lower than usual and actually adds negative convexity to the market at present. The more the situation in Europe progresses, and the higher the prices, the more the Fed has to add to the turmoil. As a result, things could get a lot uglier before the storm passes.” — David Zervos, Jefferies’ managing director.

“We suspect that Fed officials will be reluctant to seriously consider a 50bp hike until downside risks to the global economy from the war diminish. But we do not expect the war to knock the Fed off of a 25bp-per-meeting tightening path. Inflation is likely to remain uncomfortably high at every remaining FOMC meeting this year, and we think Fed officials will want to deliver some tightening action in response unless they fear that another rate hike would risk pushing…


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