Inflation and Stock Price Increases Causing Worry

Earlier this month, inflation and interest rate concerns sent stocks into a “historic and nerve-rattling plunge,” but the market rallied shortly thereafter, leading some experts to say that stocks can continue to rally even if both indicators creep upward. This according to an article in The New York Times.

According to Brian Nick, chief investment strategist for Nuveen, while the past 20 years have seen a strong correlation between stocks and interest rates, the same wasn’t true for the 30-year period before that. He says it’s “important for investors to look beyond the headlines about rising interest rates to ask why they’re going up”—specifically, they can be a sign of economic growth that prompts the Fed to avoid “overheating”, but if the Fed is forced to raise rates to battle inflationary pressure, the risk of recession can loom large. Today’s environment, says Nick, “looks like a little bit of both.”

Princeton professor of economics Alan Blinder says, “Investors are right to be concerned,” about higher interest rates and inflation at some point harming share prices. Harvard economist Martin Feldstein, an expert on the relationship between inflation, interest rates and stock prices, “has been warning for months that markets are highly vulnerable to rate increases and inflation.” Weeks before the correction earlier this month, the article says, he wrote that the markets faced a “fragile financial situation, and potentially a steep drop somewhere up ahead.”

The article also cites comments from market historian and InvesTech Research president James Stack, who says, “Historically, it’s impossible to name any threshold at which rising rates might trigger a rush for the exit or a bear market.” Once the Fed starts a tightening cycle, however, Stack argues that it’s “very difficult to avoid a recession before it is over.”