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Wealth Work

Equity performance and inflation

It has been a long time since labor has had so much power

Right now there are over 10 million job openings in the United States. Meanwhile, 4.3 million Americans quit their jobs in August. It has been a long time since labor has had so much power.

Many of these job openings and quits are hitting small businesses especially hard. Competition for skilled, unskilled and semi-skilled labor is fierce.

When the quantity demanded is high but the quantity supplied is low, prices rises. And that’s what we’re seeing in the market. Small businesses are raising worker compensation to compete for labor.

Wage inflation is now the most commonly-reported type of inflation affecting US businesses, closely followed by higher raw materials and transportation costs.

If these inflationary trends persist, it is reasonable to expect interest rates to rise. The 10yr US Treasury bond yield has risen to 1.544%, and many expect the rise to continue.

The Fed continues to buy $120b of bonds each month, so there is quite a bit of runway before they must raise short term rates, but what would happen if they did? The following chart looks at equity market returns during previous tightening cycles. Although, this time could be different as inflation today has much different characteristics than during previous cycles.

What if someone invests today and the market subsequently crashes?

The following table looks at how someone would have performed if they invested right at the market peak before major market crashes. On a long-enough time horizon, the markets have historically been quite forgiving.

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