The US economy showed remarkable resilience in the first half of the year in the face of rising interest rates, sticky inflation, a regional banking crisis, an ominous yield curve and persistent geopolitical tension in Europe and with China.
We are writing to give you a brief update on the events in the banking sector over the past week and the implications on Rain portfolios. By now you are likely aware of the events surrounding Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) which was seized by the FDIC on Friday, and Silvergate Capital Corp, which announced it was voluntarily liquidating its banking entity. Both firms were hit by downturns in their respective industries, technology, and cryptocurrency startups.
The economy and financial markets remained rangebound in the fourth quarter, after a year of historic shocks including surging inflation, the outbreak of war in Europe and sharply tighter monetary policy.
The economy decelerated and financial conditions tightened during the third quarter, making for a challenging time for financial markets. While inflation numbers appear to have peaked during the period, the outlook for prices remains uncertain, driven by the continued war in Ukraine, draconian Chinese COVID policy, and a tight US labor market.
While the war in Europe dominated markets in Q1, the only war that mattered to markets in Q2 was the battle that was heating up between the Fed and inflation. During the quarter, surging prices forced the Fed to pivot to dramatically more aggressive tightening. This in turn drove mortgage rates up, sent the dollar soaring and led to significant stock market losses.
Toward the end of the third quarter of 2021, it became clear the economic rebound in the US would be more uneven than expected. A resurgent virus and signs of waning vaccine effectiveness held back the nascent recovery in the travel and leisure industries, supply-chain bottlenecks persisted and began to hamper production, a regulatory crackdown in China sent shudders through foreign markets, and back-to-back hurricanes in the eastern US further complicated the recovery.