It doesn't feel like stuff is going up in price as much as it used to - do you also feel the same way? We recently had the US release their CPI figures for April. It came in at 4.90%. This is one for the record books folks - 10 straight months of declines. And we are seeing inflation falling faster than it rose - hard to believe, isn't it? Don't believe me? Here are the figures: CPI increased by just 3.80% in the 10 months leading up to its peak of 9.10% in June of 2022, compared to a fall of 4.20% since.
Here's the number of consecutive monthly declines in year-on-year CPI since 1945. Just when you thought you had seen it all.
It took over two years from the COVID shutdown for inflation to hit its highs, so getting back to normal levels won't be an overnight process. The bottom line is that inflation is moving in the right direction, and quickly at that.
Here's what all of this means for the stock market, according to Bespoke. They summarize the performance of the S&P 500 in the year after every prior period where the y/y change in CPI declined by five or more percentage points in a 12-month span (with no other occurrences in the prior year). Following these six other periods, forward returns for the equity market were very positive. One and six months later, the S&P 500 was higher every time with median gains of 5.17% and 13.52%, respectively. Three and twelve months later, the S&P 500 was only down once, and median returns were above 10%.
Looking at the chart below, even though the S&P 500 was lower in the year after the 1947 period, it was higher multiple times throughout the year. In fact, in all six periods shown, the S&P 500 was up by at least 13% at some point in the next year every time, and there was only one period (1947) that it even experienced a decline of 5% at some point during the year.
If you think you've got this game covered, think again. Open your mind. Think of the possibilities. Don't rule anything out. Pull your ego out of the equation and stop investing like you have to be right all the time.
Jonathan Sim and I discuss more of what is going on in financial markets in last week's The Wide Lens Podcast.