I think Valentine’s Day is a marketing scam. It sets expectations that are hard to beat. I love my wife and still can’t believe she went out with me, let alone is still married to me after 26 years, but Valentine’s is tough. It comes with expectations. Wives aren’t surprised when we send flowers to them on Valentine’s Day because they are expected. Economists had the same experience with last week’s inflation report. It was good but boringly expected.
Nobody was “wowed” by the latest Consumer Price Index (CPI). The CPI is a report from the Labor Department that measures what consumers pay for goods and services, which came out on January 12, 2023. The CPI still went up but rose at its slowest pace since October 2021. This was the sixth straight month inflation slowed down, but it didn’t “wow” anyone because it was what the analysts expected.
Investors are hard to impress. This report showed that inflation grew at a pace of 6.5% in December 2022 compared to December 2021. It’s still annoyingly high but not growing like last June when it was going up at a 9% pace. So instead of being giddy, investors and analysts gave it a weak thumbs up at best.
Investors hoped this report would come in better than expected, influencing the beginning of February’s Federal Reserve meeting. It was still a good report because it showed the inflation weakening, but it probably wasn’t enough to convince the Fed to stop their rate increases at this meeting. I think the report was good enough to convince them to raise rates in smaller amounts but not stop them altogether.
Though the CPI inflation numbers didn’t dazzle the economist, they did show signs our economic activity cooled in late 2022, which probably means inflation will continue to decline. If this happens, I expect the Fed to end its rate hikes this spring. When the Fed stops raising rates, it will prop up corporate profits and could lead to a double-digit gain for the S&P 500 index this year.
It took me twenty years, but I finally figured out a Valentine’s Day hack. I buy the expected flowers, but to “wow her,” I also buy a big heart full of assorted chocolate. She gives me a big kiss and hug and then puts the assorted chocolate on the counter for us both to enjoy. Maybe I should send the Federal Reserve a box of chocolates.
Have a blessed week!
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Dr. Richard Baker, AIF® is the founder of and an executive wealth advisor at Fervent Wealth Management
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