| July 13, 2023

Macro Overview

Equity markets reacted to uncertainty in June as major indices saw an increase in volatility. Earnings continue to be a critical focal point as companies struggle to maintain elevated prices while consumer confidence has begun to erode.

The Federal Reserve has essentially signaled that it is more concerned about combating inflation than the negative consequences of continued rising rates on the economy.

A growing discussion among economists is whether or not the economy will experience a soft landing, meaning that the recent Fed rate increases will not evolve into a recession. Should a recession result, economists view such an environment as a hard landing, which is when job expansion and economic growth are hindered.

Once each year, the Federal Reserve conducts a test to assess how large banks are likely to perform under hypothetical economic conditions. The results of the most recent tests revealed that all the major banking institutions passed this year's stress test. The tests assumed a hypothetical 10% unemployment rate and a 40% drop in commercial real estate prices.

Yields on short-term bonds rose in June as the Fed indicated that it intends to raise rates at least two more instances this year. Longer-term bond yields remained below shorter-term bond yields as confidence in future economic growth faltered.

Inflation expectations among consumers continue to dissipate worldwide, as inflation expectations throughout European and Pacific Rim countries head downward. The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta projects a decrease in GDP growth in the U.S. as domestic economic growth recedes.

The average age in the U.S. increased to a historic high in 2022, reaching a median age of 38.9 years. The average age has steadily risen over the past decades, primarily due to declining birth rates coupled with longer life spans over the past 20 years.

Sources: Federal Reserve Bank of the United States, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, U.S. Census Bureau

Equity Volatility Increases - Domestic Stocks Overview

Many analysts view the recent rise in equities as a momentum rally, meaning that only a few companies have been leading the overall rise in the market. Earnings are becoming extremely critical as companies struggle to maintain higher prices as consumer demand weakens.

A concentration of companies in select sectors has thus far led the market this year, with technology and consumer discretionary stocks exhibiting the largest contribution. The utilities and energy sectors lagged as rising rates and decreasing commodity prices hindered the sectors.

Sources: S&P, Bloomberg, Dow Jones

Fed Continues Rate Hikes - Fixed Income Overview

Continuing inflation concerns have led the Fed to raise rates as the bond market grapples with the increases. Short-term bond yields have risen relative to long-term bond yields as expectations are that interest rates will be lower in the future. The yield on the 2-year Treasury ended June at 4.87%, while the 10-year Treasury yield was 3.81% at the end of the month.

Elevated yields continue to hamper housing with higher mortgage rates and consumer loans. Expectations of easing economic growth and lessening inflation have kept longer-term bond yields lower.

Sources: Treasury, Bloomberg, Federal Reserve

New Home Sales Grow as Existing Home Sales Drop - Housing Market Update

With hiking mortgage rates and historically high home prices, home sales have seen tumultuous recent months as the supply and demand for houses fluctuate. Recent data show that pending home sales are declining, as are existing home sales.

This trend reflects the lack of homeowners who wish to sell their homes, primarily due to not taking on a new mortgage at a higher rate. Many homeowners currently pay mortgages with rates between 2% and 4% due to low mortgage rates between 2019 and 2022. The 30-year fixed mortgage rate did not surpass 4% for 33 months during this period. Mortgage rates surpassed 7% in October 2022 and are currently at 6.8% for a 30-year fixed-conforming loan, scaring away many potential homebuyers who already own a property.

In March alone, pending home sales dropped 5.2%, their largest decrease last September. These trends can be seen in existing home sales, which have dropped by over 2 million monthly sales since January 2022. With fewer existing homes up for sale, many potential homebuyers are instead looking into new homes. This can be seen in new home sales, which increased by 40% since June 2022, reaching a 14-month high. While sales across the board are still down from the heights of the pandemic, existing homes are seeing stagnant sales and new homes are rising in popularity.

Sources: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, U.S. Census Bureau, National Association of Realtors, Bloomberg

Consumers Still Spending Amid Inflation - Consumer Behavior

Consumer sentiment and spending have remained fairly consistent in recent months. Despite a dip in summer 2022, current consumer sentiment is at a similar level to its values before elevated inflation levels evolved. Inflation has steadily decreased for the past 11 months and reached 4% in May 2023, its lowest level since March 2021. Consumers’ inflation expectations have mellowed accordingly, dropping to a year-ahead expectation of 3.3% inflation as of June 2023. Consumers have not seen year-ahead prices rising this slowly since March 2021.

Despite a slowing economy, consumer spending and outlooks have remained resilient. Business investment and pullbacks in inventories have slowed growth, with investor sentiment remaining quite fragile. This has resulted in two consecutive quarterly decreases in GDP following the previous two-quarters of negative GDP growth.

Data such as this is extremely important to the Fed, which monitors spending and how it affects inflation. However, with aggressive monetary policies in place, deflationary pressures may also continue to grow, potentially negatively impacting asset prices.

Sources: University of Michigan, Bureau of Economic Analysis, Federal Reserve Bank of the U.S.

America is Getting Older - Demographics

The average age in the U.S. increased to a historic high in 2022, rising 0.2 years between 2021 and 2022 to reach a median of 38.9 years old. The average age has been steadily rising toward 40 years old, primarily due to declining birth rates coupled with people living longer over the past 20 years.

Americans’ median age reached 30 years old in 1980 and rose to 35 years old in 2000. In the past 22 years, the average age has risen by 3.6 years. America has been steadily aging over the past 50 years, with median age rising 10.8 years since 1970.

In 2022, 17 states had a median age of above 40, while no state experienced a decrease from their 2021 median age. Maine had the highest median age at 44.8, while Utah was the youngest state at 31.9 years. Florida had two of the nation’s six oldest counties, including the oldest county with a median age of 68.1 years old.

Other key populations across Europe and Asia have seen similar trends and steady increases in age. The oldest median ages in nations across the world include Japan at 48.6, Monaco at 55.4, and Germany at 47.8 years. On the flip side, the youngest median ages include Niger at 14.8, Uganda at 15.7, and Angola at 15.9 years. The United States is the 61st oldest nation globally world, with a similar median age to China and Thailand.

Sources: U.S. Census Bureau, CIA World Factbook

**Market Returns: All data is indicative of total return which includes capital gain/loss and reinvested dividends for noted period. Index data sources; MSCI, DJ-UBSCI, WTI, IDC, S&P. The information provided is believed to be reliable, but its accuracy or completeness is not warranted. This material is not intended as an offer or solicitation for the purchase or sale of any stock, bond, mutual fund, or any other financial instrument. The views and strategies discussed herein may not be appropriate and/or suitable for all investors. This material is meant solely for informational purposes, and is not intended to suffice as any type of accounting, legal, tax, or estate planning advice. Any and all forecasts mentioned are for illustrative purposes only and should not be interpreted as investment recommendation.