In the latest BofA survey of European fixed income investors (both IG and high yiled), the bank’s credit analyst Barnaby Martin writes that “after fretting about inflation at the start of the year, April’s credit survey shows that the biggest concern has reverted back to “Quantitative Failure”, driven by the recent data slowdown.”
Indeed, as the chart below shows, whereas the evolution of “biggest risks” for Euro investors indicated that strong growth at the start of the year provoked worries over rising inflation, “the recent data moderation has meant that these concerns have quickly given way to worries about a lack of inflation – and thus “Quantitative Failure”.” And yes, it took just three months for the market to make a 180 and worry not about inflation, but deflation, and a Fed that may be pursuing too many rate hikes into 2018. As Martin notes, “the speed at which inflation concerns have flipped highlights the slim margin of error for a “goldilocks” economic backdrop in ’18.”
In retrospect, however, the sudden reversal is probably not that much of a surprise: as we showed this morning, according to the Citi G-10 Eco Surprise index, after hitting the highest level since the financial crisis, economic surprises promptly tumbled into the red just three months later, confirming how tenuous and fleeting the so-called “global coordinated economic recovery” had been all along.
And yet this sudden reversal puts the Fed and central banks in a major quandary. Recall that in a world with over $200 trillion in debt, amounting to well over 300% of Global GDP, the only saving grace is for the debt to get inflated as the alternative is default, either sovereign or private.
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