Thrilling Thursday – March Rate Hike Looms But Market Ignores Risk

How many ways can they tell you?  

Every Fed speaker this week has indicated that rates will be going up sooner than later and CPI and PPI coming in at DOUBLE expectations yesterday indicated the Fed is already behind the curve on raising rates and Yellen, yesterday and Tuesday said to Congress "if we do not raise rates we run the risk of causing a Recession" – seems pretty clear to me.  Still the markets are only pricing in a 41% chance of a hike at the March 15th meeting – beware the ides of March indeed!  

The Fed needs 3 hikes in 2017 and if not March, we're left with May 3rd, June 14th, July 26th, Sept 20th, Nov 1st and Dec 13th.  They won't want to raise two meetings in a row so, if not March, then May is a must and every other after that but May is a long time to wait when inflation is double your expectations on Feb 15th.  So, unless CPI and PPI have substantially calmed down over the next 30 days – expect a rate hike at the March meeting.

Another thing that's gotten ridiculously inflated is the S&P's Price to Book Value Ratio, now back over 3 for the first time since the catastrophic top of 2007.  Ah, good times…

The Book Value of equity is an accounting measure that is based on the historic cost principle, and reflects past issuances of equity, augmented by any profits or losses, and reduced by dividends and share buybacks.  Essentially, it's the price a buyer would be expected to pay for the company, as is, in a takeover or liquidation.  The Price of an equity is nothing more than speculation on the future value of the company so a PBV of 3 indicates you are paying 3 times more than the stocks are actually worth.  

Now, the average company is not going bankrupt, so it's normal to pay something for the operation of the company and your expected future income but 2-2.4 is a more normal PBV, not 3 – 3 is simply about 30% too expensive.  

Of course, President Trump promises to lower those nasty taxes but, as
continue reading