Financial Market

Financial markets over the year were unusually focused on a single date point: inflation. Markets thus became hyper-sensitized and prone to major moves with successive price index reports, each carrying implications about Federal Reserve policy interest rates. By extension, employment and other economic reports suggesting various levels of inflationary pressure moved bonds and stocks as well. The year’s first nine months were dominated by negative inflation surprises and the need to absorb an aggressive, unprecedented interest rate policy response by Jerome Powell and the Federal Reserve: rate hikes adding up to 4.25%, over seven meetings from March through December. This scale and speed have no match in Fed history. Once the inflation data showed improvement later in the year, markets started to recover.