Things get complicated when everyone is pessimistically careful causing the prices to become overly depressed. Hence smart money says to be fearless when others are fearful. Things get dangerous when market participants are optimistically careless causing prices to soar to euphoric levels. Know the mood and trade accordingly. We still seem trapped in a phase of over-optimism with investors jumping on any positive news to validate their hopes the market will go higher. After all, that’s what they have been doing since 2009, so surely, they can only ever go up. Nope. A lower-than-expected US Consumer Price Index pushes up prices for a while. Any hints of a Fed “pivot” to lower rate rises will push stock markets higher. If you want an example of over-optimism in the face of reality, it’s the high likelihood that the market believes that Central Banks can navigate a genuine soft landing. Why? They have never previously succeeded. Every known instance of economies overheating, and rampant inflation has been followed by a crash of some description as Central Banks either let inflation run on too long or engineer an economic crisis by hiking rates too hard. There is no such thing as a soft landing, but a good landing is one you can walk away from. The expectation that we can still avoid a damaging recession in 2023 is strong across markets. I don’t want to sound grumpy, but I still think a recession will happen because of rising rates, property sentiment dipping, and inflation which leaves consumers unhappy, nervous and not buying. For consumer societies to thrive, we need more, not less consumption. People spend even less when faced with tax rises, austerity spending, declining services, rabid inflation, industrial strife, and ongoing political sleaze. It’s a recipe for economic misery, and next year’s stagflation, in the UK, looks nailed on. To see where we are going, look back to where we have come from. 2022 was a watershed year. The third exogenous shock of the decade, the Ukraine War and Energy Price Shock, followed by COVID-19 in 2020 and Supply Chain Disruptions in 2021. We also have a critical endogenous shock underway. Quantitative Tightening as global Central Banks try to unroll the effects of monetary experimentation in the 2010s. You also must understand the key economic factors that drove “Forget everything you ever thought you knew about economics and your perceptions of current markets! That might just be the best piece of advice I ever give.” Front Cover Feature 42 Finance Monthly.