January 2023 / VIDEO
Five Important Insights From 2022
The Fed is determined to fight inflation and yield is back, but socially oriented goals could impact economic policies in China.
- The Fed is committed to do whatever it takes to curb inflation. Meanwhile, a focus on socially oriented goals could impact economic policies in China.
- The rout in bonds helped to restore healthy yields but reminded investors that stocks and bonds can sometimes sell off at the same time.
We have learned a lot during 2022, including these five important insights that investors should keep in mind as we enter 2023.
1. Valuation matters.
Equity markets sold off sharply in 2022 despite earnings expectations only falling modestly. This is because equity valuations were too high going into the year. Once investors recognized that interest rates would be rising sharply in the future, valuations adjusted sharply downward. Unfortunately, this means that if earnings expectations fall sharply during 2023 due to a global recession, the sell-off that we have already seen in stocks could get worse.
2. The Fed will choose fighting inflation over supporting the economy.
Market expectations for the Fed were consistently too low during 2022. And we still don’t yet know how high they will raise rates during this cycle, nor do we know how long they will hold them at elevated levels. But we do know that they do not want a replay of the 1970s. They are willing to do whatever it takes to get inflation back to healthy levels, even if that means pushing the U.S. economy into recession. Their primary focus will be on bringing wage inflation lower in 2023. We should not expect them to back off if the economy shows further signs of weakness unless the labor market also weakens considerably.
3. China has changed.
2022 proved to be a year of considerable change in China, with the extended leadership of President Xi Jinping. Notably, the government has indicated that while economic growth remains important, it will reinvigorate socially oriented goals. This could lead to less predictable economic policy changes in the future. We were surprised by the easing of COVID restrictions in December and investors should be prepared for more uncertainty going forward.
4. Stocks and bonds can go down at the same time.
Bonds have historically offered ballast to investors’ portfolios when equities faltered. But this is not always the case, particularly when the Fed embarks on a new hiking cycle–which is, of course what transpired in 2022.
However, it should be noted that 2022 was somewhat of an outlier for two reasons:
- The Fed usually tightens when economic growth is accelerating, which was not the case in 2022.
- The Fed usually tightens much more gradually than they have this time around.
Fortunately, stock/bond correlations look likely to fall in 2023 as the Fed appears close to the end of its hiking cycle.
5. Yield is back.
The silver lining to the rout in bonds during 2022 is that bonds have healthy yields once again. This means investors no longer have to take significant credit risk to get a healthy yield from their bond portfolio, and it also means there is a larger income buffer that can help to offset any further increases in interest rates and/or credit spreads.
As we move into 2023, we will be closely monitoring all of these issues and will update you accordingly as they play out.
Bloomberg® and Bloomberg Global Aggregate and Bloomberg Global High Yield Bond Indices are service marks of Bloomberg Finance L.P. and its affiliates, including Bloomberg Index Services Limited (“BISL”), the administrator of the index (collectively, “Bloomberg”) and have been licensed for use for certain purposes by T. Rowe Price. Bloomberg is not affiliated with T. Rowe Price, and Bloomberg does not approve, endorse, review, or recommend its products. Bloomberg does not guarantee the timeliness, accurateness, or completeness of any data or information relating to its products.
The S&P 500 Index is a product of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC, a division of S&P Global, or its affiliates (“SPDJI”) and has been licensed for use by T. Rowe Price. Standard & Poor’s® and S&P® are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC, a division of S&P Global (“S&P”); Dow Jones® is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC (“Dow Jones”); T. Rowe Price's Products are not sponsored, endorsed, sold or promoted by SPDJI, Dow Jones, S&P, their respective affiliates, and none of such parties make any representation regarding the advisability of investing in such product(s) nor do they have any liability for any errors, omissions, or interruptions of the S&P 500 Index.
This material is being furnished for general informational and/or marketing purposes only. The material does not constitute or undertake to give advice of any nature, including fiduciary investment advice, nor is it intended to serve as the primary basis for an investment decision. Prospective investors are recommended to seek independent legal, financial and tax advice before making any investment decision. T. Rowe Price group of companies including T. Rowe Price Associates, Inc. and/or its affiliates receive revenue from T. Rowe Price investment products and services. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance. The value of an investment and any income from it can go down as well as up. Investors may get back less than the amount invested.
The material does not constitute a distribution, an offer, an invitation, a personal or general recommendation or solicitation to sell or buy any securities in any jurisdiction or to conduct any particular investment activity. The material has not been reviewed by any regulatory authority in any jurisdiction.
Information and opinions presented have been obtained or derived from sources believed to be reliable and current; however, we cannot guarantee the sources’ accuracy or completeness. There is no guarantee that any forecasts made will come to pass. The views contained herein are as of the date written and are subject to change without notice; these views may differ from those of other T. Rowe Price group companies and/or associates. Under no circumstances should the material, in whole or in part, be copied or redistributed without consent from T. Rowe Price.
The material is not intended for use by persons in jurisdictions which prohibit or restrict the distribution of the material and in certain countries the material is provided upon specific request. It is not intended for distribution to retail investors in any jurisdiction.
December 2022 / MARKETS & ECONOMY
January 2023 / INVESTMENT INSIGHTS