August 2022 Monthly Review

Jordi Visser

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August began with continued enthusiasm for risk assets until the 16th, when the SPX peaked and began a sharp fall. This fall accelerated after Fed Chairman Powell’s Jackson Hole speech where he continued to emphasize that bringing down inflation was the Fed’s primary objective. In August, the SPX closed down -4.24% and the Russell 2000 Small Cap Index finished down -2.18%. The hawkish rhetoric from the Fed moved 10-year and 2-year rates up over 50 bps each. This led to weakness in credit with both HY and IG down for the month. Oil continued its down trend, moving lower for the 3rd month in a row, and Gas at the pump continued its decline with a fall of 38 cents.

At a factor level, surprisingly, there were some positive signs as beta outperformed quality for the second month in a row. Normally, when stocks fall sharply, there is a rotation away from beta and into quality, so this marks a positive divergence to watch for in September. In addition, pure growth relative to pure value outperformed for the third month in a row. This pair had fallen sharply through May on the back of inflation and rate hike fears. This is another positive divergence.

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