Report on Q2 2022

Report on Q2 2022

8 Jul 2022

The FTSE 250 fell by 11.8% in Q2 and was down by 20.5% in the first half. For the FTSE 100 those numbers were -4.6% and -2.9% respectively. The message was that the big international companies were relatively unscathed but the more domestically exposed businesses flashed a big warning about recession or worse. 

It was only to be expected that government bond yields, with less central bank support than before and gathering inflation, would rise and so they did. By mid June, UK 10 year gilt yields jumped from 1.6% to 2.65%, US treasuries from 2.34% to 3.48% and German Bunds from 0.56% to 1.76%.

But in the second half of June, a mini bull market resumed in government bonds. On 1 July, UK yields were back down to 2.06%, US to 3.02% and German to 1.2%. On the face of, the bond markets are now more frightened of recession than inflation. 

Consistent with this, despite the front page news about inflation and wage demands and threatened strikes, most commodity prices are well off their highs. Oil is +39% this year but was up 73% in March. Wheat is +23% but was up by 56% in May. The near certainty of rising prices for aluminium and copper has turned into falls of 13% and 19% respectively year to date.

There has probably been stockpiling by producers as well as the self-inflicted closure of much of the Chinese economy.

One should also remember that the monetary splurge that accompanied lockdowns probably filled the savings of the professional classes very nicely. History may record that this was a huge and regrettable transfer of resources in the wrong direction i.e. from the relatively poor to the relatively well off.

Whatever one thinks, it is notable that the summer holidays are marked not by complaints of price gouging by holiday companies (though there is some of that if you were a regular user of Eurotunnel) but by the scandal of not enough flights to transport those who sport pale skins to the sun. 

I note also that despite the threat or probability of costlier mortgages, UK house prices rose at an annual rate of 13% in June. Once again, the property owning classes appear to be being bailed out. 

If this is what a recession looks like it is a very middle class (in the British sense) version.

Like everyone else, I am somewhat spooked by tumbling stock markets but the continued residual liquidity sloshing around makes me feel that forced selling is not imminent and that value, where identifiable, should be investible.  


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