Fed Storm Rising. It’s been roughly 13 years since I borrowed—and modified—that title from Tom Clancy for our old hardcopy client newsletter, The Strategist. It was written during the early stages of the last Fed tightening cycle, a hiking campaign which was to last for two years, jacking up its overnight rate from the previously-unimaginable level of 1% to a peak of 5 1/4% in June, 2006.
Despite the fact the Fed increased rates at 17 consecutive meetings from 2004 to 2006, the S&P 500 rose pretty much steadily throughout this period. Stocks even made a slightly higher high in October of 2007, in the wake of the Fed’s somewhat panicky 50 basis points (1/2%) cut, in September of that year, due to the escalating crisis in the housing market. On the day this sharp rate reduction occurred, the Dow spiked 2.5% while the S&P 500 vaulted an even larger 3%. Investors were clearly remembering the old Wall Street maxim that you don’t fight the Fed.