Aug. 29 Markets Report: Inflation Bug Infects Us All
Powell forecasts economic "pain" on the horizon, energy markets teeter and totter, and Y Combinator names a new President.
Updated Aug 30, 2022
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The Obsession with "Recession"
- In his speech at the Kansas City Fed on Friday, Chairman Jerome Powell said that "higher interest rates, slower [economic] growth, and softer labor markets conditions [will] bring some pain to households and businesses." Powell stated that this "pain" is necessary to stabilize prices and lower inflation. He also predicted that the interest rate will settle around 2.25% to 2.50% depending on economic data and outlook come the Fed's September 20 meeting.
- A new study presented at the Kansas City Fed reported that central banks' monetary policy could fail to control inflation if governments don't adjust their fiscal policies accordingly; it asserts that government budgets are a decisive factor in curbing high inflation because raising interest rates isn't enough.
- Germany's fears of a winter gas shortage dissipated after the country's Economy Minister stated that they're ahead of schedule in replenishing their stockpile. Russia accounted for 55% of Germany's gas supply before throttling gas exports in response to wartime sanctions.
- Germany's government might nationalize Gazprom Germania—an abandoned local branch of Russia's mostly-state-owned gas company.
- Egypt is inching toward an economic crisis as it risks defaulting on its foreign debt.
- The exchange rate of the Egyptian pound plunged after $14.6 billion of investments left the country, largely due to concerns about the impact of the war in Ukraine. The North African country is rationing electricity to achieve a natural gas surplus, pump exports, and generate foreign cash flow to fill its forex reserves.
Stocks & Bonds
Stocks & Bonds
Recession Red Flags
- Yields on two-year U.S. treasury bonds reached their highest level since 2007.
- In contrast, European Central Bank officials continue to debate an unprecedented 75 basis-point hike, and New Zealand's Reserve Bank signals an end to its aggressive monetary tightening.
- Over 39,000 high tech workers have been laid off this year so far, according to Crunchbase. One of the biggest mass layoffs in the U.S. tech sector included companies like Netflix, Robinhood, Stripe, and Wayfair.
- Rising mortgage rates and falling home sales are indicating a real estate market recession. This negative feedback loop may contribute to a broader economic recession, but could mean those who can afford higher prices will have more opportunities to buy.
The Bear Keeps Growling
- Bitcoin's price sank below $20,000 for the first time in over a month. Crypto analytics firm Glassnode reported that the current bear market will likely continue due to unfavorable macroeconomic conditions, low capital influx from investors, and low demand for BTC.
- Coinbase just launched cbETH—a liquid staking token for ETH. This enables ether stakers on Coinbase to sell their ETH2 or deposit it into Ethereum DeFi protocols.
- Israeli Blockchain Industry Forum founder and self-described "web7 investor" Maya Zehavi tweeted that Israeli regulators may have been playing inside baseball when it came to the solvency of Celsius, a now-bankrupt crypto lending firm.
NFTs & metaverse
NFTs & metaverse
Will the NFT Bubble Burst?
- Transaction volume on OpenSea has plummeted by nearly 83% over the last four months. According to DappRadar, OpenSea's volume was almost $84 million on April 30, 2022, compared to less than $14.5 million today.
- A thread tweeted by @zachxbt revealed the identity of the hacker who breached several NFT-related twitter accounts, including those of artist Beeple and the NounsDAO. That's what web3 is all about—doxing a hacker for some sweet vigilante justice.
Why Toil When There's Oil?
- Goldman Sachs senior commodities strategist Sabine Schel projects stronger returns on commodities investments because supply constraints are more likely than a global economic recession.
- Iran reportedly has between 60 million and 93 million barrels of crude oil floating in offshore tankers in the Persian Gulf and near the coasts of China and Singapore that could hit the market and weigh down futures prices as soon as U.S. sanctions against Tehran are lifted.
- European energy prices dipped in response to Germany's stockpile of fossil fuels filling up ahead of schedule. The EU may introduce energy market reforms to bring down prices even further.
The C-Suite Weighs in on Energy
- Shell CEO Ben van Beurden said that Europe could face years of gas shortages as a result of getting cut off from Russian supply.
- Elon Musk said that we (humans) must continue extracting oil and gas for civilization to progress. Musk, the founder and CEO of Tesla, said that sustainable energy sources must be developed in the meantime and that transitioning to green energy will be "one of the biggest challenges the world has ever faced."
Commodity Winners & Losers
Dutch Natural Gas:
The Startup Scoop
- Famed startup accelerator Y Combinator named Garry Tan as its next CEO and president. Tan, who co-founded seed investment firm Initialized Capital, will replace Geoff Ralston by the end of 2022.
- The VC world had its eyes on clean energy and healthcare last week, according to Crunchbase.
- Lunar Energy raised $300 million in two funding rounds to develop hardware and software solutions for sustainable energy independence. Former Tesla executive Kunal Girotra is taking the lead on this venture.
- Fervo Energy raised $138 million to build and operate geothermal power plants using state-of-the-art drilling techniques and sensing technology. The Berkely, California-based startup has raised $177 million since it was founded in 2017.
- Alma raised $130 million in a Series D funding round to help independently practicing therapists deal with billing and other administrative tasks. The New York-based health insurance company has raised $220 million since it was founded in 2018.