Foreign Contagion Risks and the Policy Path 

The U.S. economy continues to show remarkable resilience in the face of stubbornly high inflation and tighter financial conditions. Core inflation, which is more influenced by the sticky components of rents and wages, remains elevated even as headline inflation recedes at a glacial pace. The Fed has already raised short rates from zero to 3% and remains steadfast in its commitment to more rate hikes.

The fallout from persistent inflation and a hawkish Fed has led to several adverse outcomes. The U.S. dollar and long-term bond yields continue to soar higher. And stock prices continue their downward trajectory as they discount rising risks of a global recession.

Despite the Fed’s efforts to cool the economy down, the jobs market remains surprisingly strong. The unemployment rate is still at its all-time low of 3.5% and weekly unemployment claims are close to historical lows. There are still 10 million job openings, which far exceed the available pool of 6 million unemployed workers.

Healthy job creation and steady wage gains have supported consumer incomes and spending. As a result, real GDP growth for the third quarter is projected to rebound from negative levels in the first two quarters to above +2%.

On the policy front, the Fed has repeatedly communicated that restoring price stability now is crucial for achieving sustainable growth and full employment in the long run. In this context, the Fed has made it abundantly clear that it is willing to accept “short-term pain for long-term gain”.

The current economic backdrop in the U.S. will likely encourage the Fed to continue tightening aggressively. After all, why worry about the possibility of breaking something in a big way or unleashing systemic risk from a financial crisis when we haven’t even slowed the economy materially?

With investor focus squarely on U.S. inflation and Fed policy, it may be worthwhile at this juncture to take a closer look at the broad global economic landscape. The U.S. has enjoyed strong growth fundamentals through both the Covid crisis and this latest inflation shock. The rest of the world has not been so fortunate. The inflation problem is significantly worse and growth is materially weaker outside the U.S.

In a still tightly integrated global economy, we examine the impact of U.S. policy actions on global growth. To what extent has the rapid pace of Fed tightening contributed to global economic stress?

At a more relevant level, we also assess the risks of contagion back to the U.S. from ailing foreign economies. We focus on two themes:

  • Can the U.S. remain an oasis in an increasingly barren global growth landscape and avoid cross-border contagion?
  • Can U.S. policy responses better mitigate global systemic risk and minimize contagion risks?

We look at recent developments in key foreign economies. We identify the strong dollar as a potential driver of future U.S. and global weakness. Finally, we offer some thoughts on the Fed’s optimal policy path forward within a broader global context.

Foreign Economic Risks

We begin our brief tour of foreign economies with a quick look at recent volatility in the U.K. bond market and its global fallout.

On September 23, the new administration in the U.K. announced a new fiscal plan to spur growth from supply-side reform and tax cuts. However, this focus on fiscal stimulus was at odds with restrictive monetary policy from the Bank of England and risked a further escalation of already-high inflation.

The lack of any funding details also raised concerns about an unsustainably higher debt burden and sent U.K. bond yields soaring. This upward spiral in bond yields was further exacerbated by forced liquidation of U.K. long-term bonds, also known as gilts, by local pension funds.

The unexpected rise in U.K. bond yields spread through the global bond and currency markets. This contagion is seen clearly in Figure 1.

Source: FactSet as of October 12, 2022

Immediately after the initial announcement, the 30-year U.K. gilt bond yield (shown in green) rose by more than 100 basis points to almost 5%. The spike in U.K bond yields reverberated across the globe. The 10-year U.S. bond yield (dark blue) moved higher by 50 basis points to almost 4% and the U.S. dollar strengthened against the British pound (light blue) by more than 5%. Higher bond yields and the strong dollar, in turn, sent U.S. stocks significantly lower at the end of September.

The rise in U.K. bond interest rates also highlighted another vulnerability for the global economy. As much as higher interest rates crowd out consumer spending in any economy, the problem is particularly severe in foreign economies.

The U.S. consumer is unique, and fortunate, in being able to access fixed rate long-term mortgages ranging in term from 15 to 30 years. For example, think about a U.S. household that refinanced its long-term mortgage during the period of low interest rates prior to 2022. With a low interest rate locked in for many years, that household is now immune to higher housing costs from rising mortgage rates.

Our readers may find it interesting to note that few mortgages overseas are at a fixed rate over long terms. Figure 2 provides a glimpse of how mortgages vary across countries by the term over which the interest rate is fixed.

Source: European Mortgage Federation

More than 90% of mortgages in the U.S. have a fixed rate over a long term in excess of 10 years. In Germany and Spain, that proportion drops to just around 50%. The impact of rising rates on housing costs is even worse in the U.K., where long-term fixed rate mortgages simply don’t exist.

More than 90% of mortgages in the U.K. offer a fixed rate for only 1-5 years. In a country already hit hard by high inflation, the greater proportion of mortgages resetting to a higher rate and higher payments significantly add to the odds of a U.K. recession.

The situation is also grim in Europe, but for a different set of reasons. Europe’s historical dependence on Russian energy is well known. Prior to the war with Ukraine, roughly 40% of Europe’s natural gas imports came from Russia. Since the invasion, Europe has looked for new sources of supply and Russia has retaliated by shutting off some of its existing supply of gas.

The resulting energy shortfall in Europe has led to sky-high energy prices, high inflation and significantly weaker growth. We show the outsized impact of energy costs on Eurozone inflation in Figure 3.

Source: European Central Bank

The nearly ten-fold increase in natural gas prices in Europe has led to a mega-spike in energy inflation and double-digit headline inflation in Europe. While energy inflation in the U.S. has started to decline, it shows no signs of abating in Europe. And things are likely to get worse during the dark winter months as Europe contemplates reduced energy consumption. Any cutbacks in production within energy-intensive sectors will likely lead to more layoffs and lower economic growth.

European policymakers are particularly hamstrung in balancing inflation and growth considerations at this point. The inflation problem in Europe emanates from a true supply shock, which cannot be remedied simply by raising interest rates. Any fiscal stimulus to counter lower industrial production and employment runs the risk of driving already-high inflation even higher.

Our baseline outcomes for Europe are listed below.

  • The European Central Bank is unlikely to hike rates as aggressively as the Fed.
  • A weak Euro will likely contribute to higher energy prices and more persistent headline inflation.
  • Europe may be forced to consider fiscal stimulus at some point to soften the recessionary hit.

Finally, we touch briefly on growth challenges in China. For a long time, China’s high growth trajectory was achieved by investment and trade. It has recently tried to shift growth more towards domestic consumption, but with limited success. China’s two key drivers of growth are now under significant pressure.

China’s investment share of GDP is almost twice the global average and has come at the expense of an unsustainable surge in debt. As an example, the heavily indebted real estate sector is now slowing dramatically. A zero-Covid policy has reduced mobility of people, goods and services, increased supply chain problems and decreased global trade. China’s trade and competitiveness have been further compromised by the new U.S. export controls on semiconductor chips and machinery.

We note in summary that foreign economies are far more fragile than the U.S. and remain quite vulnerable to policy missteps and exogenous shocks.

Pitfalls of a Strong Dollar

The U.S. economy is stronger than any foreign economy for a number of reasons. The recent monetary and fiscal stimulus in the U.S. was the largest in the world. As a result, the U.S. consumer is still resilient and its jobs market is still strong. U.S. inflation is, therefore, as much a demand issue as it is a supply-side shock.

As we have discussed above, this is not the case in the rest of the world. Foreign central banks are unable to raise rates aggressively because of weaker demand. Foreign inflation is also far less of a demand issue than it is a true supply-side shock.

This divergence between growth and policy dynamics in the U.S. and the rest of the world argues for continued dollar strength. We highlight two key risks from a persistently strong U.S. dollar.

First, a strong dollar reduces earnings for U.S. multinational companies from a simple currency translation effect. Revenues booked in foreign countries get translated back to lower dollar levels at a higher exchange rate. Figure 4 shows this intuitive strong-dollar / weak-earnings relationship.

Source: Bloomberg

The blue line in Figure 4 shows the year-over-year change in the U.S. dollar on an inverted scale on the right axis. A downward sloping line, therefore, denotes dollar strength. The green line shows the year-over-year growth in S&P 500 earnings estimates for the next twelve months (NTM) on the left axis.

We can clearly see here that S&P 500 earnings go down as the dollar goes up. A sustained rally in the U.S. dollar going forward could further reduce corporate profits and potentially trigger a dangerous self-reinforcing spiral of more layoffs, lower consumer spending, weaker economic growth, lower company revenues, back to lower profits … and so on.

And second, a strong dollar poses risks to foreign economies as well. A strong U.S. dollar raises the cost of their imports and drives up their inflation. Supply-side energy inflation is already high overseas; a strong dollar only makes this bad situation worse. Currency fluctuations affect trade balances and foreign exchange reserves. And emerging market economies find it increasingly difficult to service their dollar-denominated debt.

The strength of the U.S. dollar remains an important conduit for global contagion of economic weakness.

Possibilities for the Policy Path

The Fed has repeatedly reiterated its relentless pursuit of monetary tightening to quell inflation. It has so far been unmoved by the prospects of a U.S. or global recession.

We have recently suggested that the Fed may be well served from a shift in positioning where it becomes less rigid and more data-dependent. Our view is based on the observation that real-time U.S. inflation is likely coming down even as lagged measures of inflation such as shelter CPI continue to rise. We believe that the downward trajectory in upstream and coincident inflation will eventually bring overall inflation below policy rates.

Our focus on the fragility of foreign economies bolsters the argument for a more flexible approach to Fed policy. There is now an increasing chance that a central bank or government misstep is an accident waiting to happen. The calamitous fallout from the U.K. mini-budget crisis is just one small example.

We also believe that it is premature for the Fed to pause right now and a grave mistake for it to pivot towards rate cuts. We support the notion of continued rate hikes in 2022 to keep inflation expectations in check.

However, the Fed will likely have done enough and the U.S. and global economies will likely have weakened enough for the Fed to signal a pause in early 2023. A prescriptive upward march in U.S. policy rates in 2023 may very well lead to an unexpected and dire financial crisis somewhere in the world.


We are still in the midst of unprecedented economic and market uncertainty. U.S. core inflation remains sticky even as more timely measures of inflation appear to be declining in real time. Foreign inflation is less influenced by demand and largely remains a supply-side shock.

Against this backdrop, foreign economies are fragile and especially vulnerable to policy missteps. We believe that a pause in rate hikes by the Fed in 2023 will mitigate the risks of unexpected financial crises.

We continue to emphasize our strong regional preference for the U.S. over foreign markets. We also continue to target sufficient liquidity reserves to help our clients weather this storm. More so than ever, we remain vigilant and prudent in diversifying risk within client portfolios.


Foreign economies are fragile and remain vulnerable to policy missteps and exogenous shocks.


The strength of the U.S. dollar remains an important conduit for global contagion of economic weakness.


A pause in rate hikes by the Fed in 2023 will mitigate the risks of unexpected financial crises.

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Whittier Trust Company promotes Dean Byrne to Regional Manager of Whittier Trust Company of Nevada, Senior Vice President, Senior Portfolio Manager. 

In addition to his new duties as head of the Whittier Trust Reno office, Dean manages equity, fixed income, and alternative assets for high-net-worth individuals and foundations. Dean advises clients on issues such as efficient wealth transfer strategies, the Nevada Tax Advantage, holistic asset allocation, risk assessment, and the importance of after-tax performance. Dean sits on the board of The Whittier Trust Company of Nevada and is a member of the Investment Committee at Whittier Trust.

“Dean is a fabulous portfolio manager, and an extraordinary leader. As we were carefully weighing our options for this role, Dean rose to the top immediately. Dean also has an outstanding team of talented and dedicated professionals. As the largest private multi-family office headquartered in Nevada, leadership is critical to our mission of serving clients. Nevada is in great hands, and we look forward to our continued growth in Reno, Lake Tahoe and throughout the state,” stated David Dahl, CEO of Whittier Trust.

Dean holds the designation of Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA®) and is a member of the CFA Society of Nevada. He received his Bachelor’s degree in Finance from the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR), and currently serves on the Board of the University of Nevada Foundation as a member of their Investment Committee. He is a member of the university’s Silver and Blue Society and sits on the Advisory Board for the University of Nevada’s College of Business. Dean also serves on the Board of Directors of Classical Tahoe.

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Julie Nesbit joins Whittier Trust Company’s Board of Directors. Julie recently retired from Whittier Trust after serving for 12 years as Executive Vice President and Executive Director of Philanthropic Services in South Pasadena, California. 

In addition to Julie’s new position as a Director of Whittier Trust Company, she is a Trustee of the California Science Center, Director of the Los Angeles Fire Department Foundation and a director of the USC Marshall School of Business BSEL and Care Harbor. 

“Julie was such a valuable member of the team, serving for over a decade as the leader of our philanthropy department. We were sad to be losing her to a well deserved retirement, but thrilled when she agreed to continue on as a member of our board of directors. Working with Julie is an absolute joy, and Whittier Trust benefits from having her around.” - David Dahl, CEO of Whittier Trust

Julie Nesbit joined Whittier Trust with over 30 years of experience in the worlds of financial services and high-tech. Prior to Whittier Trust, she was a Partner with Ernst & Young, LLP for 16 years. At Ernst & Young, she held several operating and leadership positions, working with private and Fortune 250 clients. Before Ernst & Young, she worked for XL/DataComp, Inc. a start-up based in Hinsdale, IL as a District Manager where she was a member of the executive team that took the company public. Her first job was with IBM as a Systems Engineer and Consultant. 

Julie grew up in Southern California. She received her Bachelor of Science degree from the University of California, Los Angeles, and has completed advanced studies at Harvard Business School, as well as at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. Julie is married and shares five children with her husband. 

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Whittier Trust Company hires Andrew Paulson as Vice President, Real Estate in South Pasadena, California.

As Vice President, Andrew Paulson is responsible for directing and overseeing real estate portfolios for Whittier Trust clients and servicing their real estate needs. This includes acquisitions, dispositions, financing, leasing, and sourcing real estate investment opportunities. He also works to develop new business for Whittier Trust.  

“Andrew knows the real estate business inside and out. He’s done great things over his decade and a half working in this sector, and we couldn’t be more excited to have him on our team.” -Chuck Adams, Executive Vice President, Real Estate

Andrew brings to Whittier Trust over 15 years of experience in real estate asset management, with institutional, private equity, and family office firms. Before Whittier Trust, Andrew was a Vice President, Senior Fiduciary Asset Manager at Wells Fargo’s Wealth Management Group. Andrew also previously served as a Director of Asset Management at Black Equities in Beverly Hills and as an Asset Manager at American Realty Advisors in Los Angeles.

Andrew earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and an MBA in Finance from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. Today, he is active with local organizations in the Pasadena area, supporting youth sports and education.

The End of Easy Money


The market turmoil in 2022 so far is in sharp contrast to the heady mix of stimulative policy and low volatility in 2021. In 2022, persistently high inflation has led to tighter monetary policy and slower growth.

The Fed has raised rates from 0 to 2.25%. It is on track to reduce its balance sheet ... perhaps by as much as $500 billion by December. Long term interest rates have moved dramatically in response to inflation and proposed Fed policy. Along the way, the war in Ukraine and lockdowns in China have further pushed back the potential peak in inflation.

These events have conspired to create a hostile market environment for risky assets. At their low point, stocks were down by more than -20% and bonds had declined by over -10%.

As a long cycle of easy money draws to an end, we discuss several implications of a more normalized regime of inflation, interest rates and valuations.

In the short term ...

  • Have we just seen that elusive peak in inflation or will the data “flatter to deceive”?
  • How far behind is the Fed in its tightening cycle and how far does it need to go from here?
  • Are we in a recession now? If not, when will it arrive and how long will it last?
  • How severe and protracted will the bear market be for stocks and other risky assets?

There are even more intriguing questions on the other side of this economic slowdown.

In the longer run ...

  • Where will inflation and interest rates eventually settle?
  • What will stock and bond returns look like?

These are extraordinary times of change, challenge and chaos. We hope these insights help our readers navigate this unusually high market volatility.

Inflation and The Fed

We know inflation has been rising steadily. It is now remarkably high, pervasive and ubiquitous. However, there are clear signs in recent weeks that inflation may have peaked in June.

Headline and core CPI inflation (Consumer Price Index) for July came in below the June highs and also below consensus expectations. The downside surprise to July inflation has now raised hopes that inflation may have started its descent from June’s lofty 9.1% perch.

It is still feared that wage inflation, which tends to be more sticky and stubborn, will be a key impediment to a swift reversal in inflation. For example, average hourly earnings grew by 5.2% in July on a year-over-year basis.

But a closer look at monthly changes in average hourly earnings others some hints of deceleration. In the last 6 months, average hourly earnings have increased at a slower pace of just around 4%. In contrast, wage gains in the prior twelve months were in the range of 5-6%.

A potential diminution in wage pressures is corroborated with a decline of over a million job openings in recent months and an increase in corporate layoffs.

As inflation and stagflation fears have given way to recession concerns in recent weeks, we have seen other compelling signs of disinflation and demand destruction.

  • Longer-term inflation expectations have come down dramatically. As an example, 5-year inflation expectations have fallen from a high of about 3.7% to around 2.6%.
  • Gasoline futures are off their highs by over 20%. And the average price of gas at the pump has declined steadily by over $1/gallon since mid-June.
  • The price of most commodities including copper, nickel, lumber, wheat and corn has also declined by more than 20% in recent weeks.
  • Supply chain pressures continue to decline even as demand seems to be getting weaker.

And finally, at the risk of re-igniting a controversial debate, our last argument in favor of subsiding future inflation comes from monetary theory instead of empirical evidence.

We have previously observed that the relationship between money supply growth and inflation seemed to have broken down after the 1980s. This was borne out by the data between 1990 and 2020.

We believe that this relationship was meaningfully restored over the last couple of years. The recent surge in money supply had a bigger impact on inflation than in prior years because of its sheer size and origin. The colossal $10 trillion of monetary and fiscal stimulus was unprecedented in magnitude. And stimulus checks literally took the form of inflationary “helicopter” money.

As a result, we have seen a revival of Milton Friedman’s well-known thesis that inflation is always and everywhere a monetary phenomenon. As goes money supply, so goes inflation. We believe this played out in a material way in 2021 and 2022. We also acknowledge that the pandemic effects of supply chain disruptions and pent-up demand further exacerbated inflationary pressures.

We show year-over-year changes in money supply and inflation in Figure 1.

Figure 1: Money Supply Growth and Inflation

Source: St. Louis Federal Reserve

Our measure of money supply is M2 which typically includes checking, savings and money market accounts. It is shown above in blue. The green line shows the year-over-year change in CPI inflation.

We see two effects playing out in this relationship. One, fiscal stimulus tends to have a bigger impact on inflation than monetary stimulus. And two, monetary stimulus generally works on a lagged basis ... typically after 6 to 12 months.

Money supply shot up and peaked at over 25% in early 2021. We believe it contributed to the spike in inflation a year later.

But from that peak, money supply growth has declined dramatically in the last year or so. There are no more stimulus checks and the Fed is now tightening.

We believe that the recent decline in money supply growth has not yet fully impacted inflation. On the same lagged basis, it will likely reduce inflation in the coming months.

We close with a final word of caution on the outlook for inflation. We do not expect inflation to abate nearly as quickly as the rate at which it shot up.

The ongoing war in Ukraine will continue to dislocate commodity prices and supply chains. And even as energy and goods inflation tails off, services inflation which includes rents and wages will likely be stickier and more persistent.

As a result, while inflation will likely recede, it will do so slowly and remain above target in 2022 and 2023. We expect core PCE inflation (Personal Consumption Expenditures) at around 4% by the end of 2022 and at about 3% by the end of 2023.

So, where does all this leave the Fed? And what do they need to do next?

The misguided belief on the Fed’s part last year that inflation would be transient leaves it in a difficult spot in 2022 – fight inflation and risk a recession or avoid a recession and risk a long inflationary spiral.

Its dilemma is further compounded at this point. The Fed finds itself at peak hawkishness with consecutive 75 basis point hikes even as inflation may be peaking.

We begin our discussion on the Fed with a quick recap of their policy responses so far. Yes, the Fed was hopelessly late in beginning its tightening cycle. But we believe they are not as far behind as the current gap between a Fed funds rate of 2.25% and July’s headline CPI print of 8.5% may suggest.

While the Fed was late to raise rates, they did use their policy tool of forward guidance to good effect in engineering a slowdown.

The Fed has clearly communicated in recent months what they expect to do in the future. As a result, financial conditions have already tightened in the form of higher interest rates, a stronger dollar and lower stock prices.

We also anticipate a lower cap to the Fed funds rate than many may fear. We believe that today’s high inflation is not simply a demand problem, it is also a supply issue. In so far as this may be true, the Fed will get some help in the fight against inflation ... and it will come from the private sector as supply chains continue to get restored.

So, should the Fed continue on its policy path or consider a pause or a pivot if inflation does peak?

The 2y-10y portion of the yield curve is already steeply inverted. At its current projected pace, the Fed will invert the short end of the yield curve as well by November.

Does the Fed have any options but to invert the entire yield curve before the end of the year?


The Fed’s hawkish stance has so far succeeded in preventing current inflation from becoming anchored in inflation expectations. To keep inflation expectations muted and avoid an inflationary spiral, the Fed needs to continue hiking in the foreseeable future.

But at some point in the next several months, the Fed may have some flexibility. By then, it may be able to look back at a clearly visible peak in inflation. If June proves to be that peak, the Fed may then have enough evidence of falling inflation to consider a shift in policy.

We believe a pivot to rate cuts anytime soon would be a mistake; it runs the risk of prolonging the inflationary cycle much like it did in the 1970s. We believe, however, that a “no-promises” pause in 4 to 6 months may not be as unlikely as many believe... especially if the incoming data shows a clear and convincing trend of disinflation.

We focus next on the depth and duration of a potential recession and the current bear market.

Recession and Bear Market

Investors have agonized about a long list of concerns for several months now. There is one common theme across all these sources of anxiety. Just how severe will this current bear market or a potential recession be?

We look at several factors to answer this question and conclude that the worst fears on this front may be unfounded.

We first assess the impact of higher interest rates on the broad economy. And we do so through two potential transmission mechanisms – its impact on the housing market and corporate profits.

We have addressed concerns about the housing market in our prior writings. It is true that higher mortgage rates have combined with high home prices to push mortgage costs to their highest level since 2008.

But we still refute concerns of a dire housing situation or parallels to the 2008 Financial Crisis for a number of fundamental reasons. These include a limited supply and inventory of homes, greater credit-worthiness of borrowers and a significantly lower household debt to income ratio.

We also uncover an interesting and less-understood observation related to interest expenses and corporate profits.

Corporate debt is typically laddered across a wide range of maturities. On this spectrum, variable rate and short-term debt resets almost immediately to higher interest rates; longer-term debt does not. As a result, short-lived exogenous shocks in corporate bond yields simply don’t transmit as quickly or materially to interest expenses.

We saw this phenomenon during the Global Financial Crisis and we are likely to see it this time around as well. With the abundance of easy money until last year, corporations were quick to refinance most of their debt to much longer maturities.

Less than 15% of corporate debt today is in short-term and variable rate debt. More than 30% of corporate debt has a maturity of 10 years or longer. Based on this distribution, overall interest expenses are unlikely to rise sharply any time soon.

We offer one final observation in support of our belief that any potential recession is less likely to be deep and protracted.

The strength of the U.S. economy at the beginning of the year was based on a strong U.S. consumer. The strength of the consumer in large part is derived from the health of the labor market.

Figure 2 shows that the labor market has held up surprisingly well through the turmoil this year. Cumulative job growth has handily outstripped GDP growth in 2022.

Figure 2: Employment and GDP

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Source: St. Louis Federal Reserve

Figure 2 shows two consecutive quarters of negative real GDP growth which suggests that we may be in a recession right now. However, it is hard to square that up with the health of the labor market. We see in Figure 2 that employment has been strong – more than 3 million new jobs have been created in 2022 through July and the unemployment rate is at 3.5%. In the same period, Gross Domestic Income (GDI) has also been positive and divergent from GDP.

The National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) determines the beginning and end of recessions using several metrics. GDI and employment are two of the more important factors in their assessment. It will be curious to see if the NBER eventually labels the first half of 2022 as an official recession or not. We wouldn’t be surprised if the answer turns out be No.

We believe that the economy is strong enough where any potential recession, should it unfold, will be short and shallow.

And how about the current bear market in stocks? Could it become more severe and protracted? Is the recent uptick in stock prices the beginning of a new bull market or simply a bear market rally?

The outlook for stocks depends on how resilient corporate earnings turn out to be in the coming months. Earnings have held up remarkably well through the first half of 2022. In the first two quarters, earnings came in well above consensus expectations. 2022 earnings growth for the S&P 500 is still on track to match its 9% estimate from the beginning of the year.

While earnings estimates for 2023 have declined a bit in recent weeks, they also remain surprisingly robust. Earnings for the S&P 500 in 2023 were projected to be around 250 at their high point; they are now estimated to be 2% lower at 245.

It was widely expected that high inflation and a strong dollar in the second quarter would take a bigger toll on corporate profits. Those fears have not yet been realized. In fact, if inflation peaks in June, inflation and currency headwinds will only diminish from this point on.

In order for stocks to retrace their recent gains and create new lows, we estimate that 2023 earnings need to fall by another 10-15% to the 210-220 level. We deem this to be less likely than feared. If the devasting second quarter could dent 2023 earnings by only 2%, then subsequent quarters with weaker head-winds are unlikely to inflict greater damage.

We believe that the underlying strength of the U.S. economy and company fundamentals will allow earnings to withstand adverse inflation and currency effects.

There is still a dominant view in the investment community that the recent rebound in stock prices is simply a bear market rally that will eventually give way to new lows. We assign a greater probability to the counter view that this may be the start of a new bull market.

In summary, we do not expect the current growth scare to degenerate into a prolonged recession or a lengthy bear market.

We also look further out into the next decade and offer the following perspectives on the economy and the markets.

Longer Term Outlook

Here is a brief look at the longer term outlook for inflation, interest rates, and stock and bond returns.

The last five decades have seen 3 distinct inflation regimes. We show them in Figure 3.

Figure 3: CPI Inflation in the Last Five Decades

Source: St. Louis Federal Reserve, 2022 – year-over-year change as of July

Figure 3 shows that inflation was about 8% on average during the 1970s. It then declined to around 3% from the 1980s to the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) and fell even lower to around 2% after the GFC. Which of these 3 regimes are we likely to see over the next decade?

We have already argued against a prolonged 1970s type of recessionary spiral. We also believe that the 2% post-GFC inflation represents a cyclical low which may be difficult to reach in the next cycle.

The GFC was a severe financial crisis which then led to an even more pronounced deleveraging cycle in its aftermath. Absent such a strong disinflationary force and in the face of potential de-globalization, we believe inflation in the coming decade is more likely to be around 3% than around 2%.

In this setting, we expect the neutral long-term Fed funds rate to remain around 2.5-3.0%. At these levels, it will keep pace with realized inflation.

The post-GFC and post-Covid periods were characterized by low, and even negative, long term interest rates across the globe. Real interest rates, net of inflation, were significantly more negative.

We believe that this era of easy money is now over and expect interest rates to be higher in the next decade. U.S. Treasury bond yields will likely be in the 3-4% range and, as a result, real long term rates will also be positive.

We believe real GDP will settle in at a more normal level of around 1.5-2% in the next decade. This should still allow earnings to grow in the range of 6-8%.

We next assess what a fair Price/Earnings (P/E) multiple might be for stocks going forward.

We draw on historical precedent in Figure 4 to answer the question.

Figure 4: P/E Multiples by Inflation Regime.

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Source: Strategas

Figure 4 shows trailing 12-month P/Es across different inflation regimes. Stocks perform best when inflation is low and between 0 and 4%. At either extreme, both deflation and high inflation tend to destroy profit margins and compress P/E multiples.

Based on the data shown in Figure 4, our expectations of inflation around 3% and our view on interest rates, we believe that the fair P/E multiple for the S&P 500 index in the next cycle is likely to be 18-19 times trailing 12-month earnings.

We expect this economic backdrop will lead to more traditional returns for stocks, bonds and cash. It is likely that cash generates returns in the 2-3% range, bond returns are around 3-5% depending on credit exposure and stock returns are between 7-9%.

Within these ranges, investors can expect normal levels of risk premiums for bearing the risk of investing in stocks and bond over the next decade.


The sheer breadth and depth of economic uncertainty so far in 2022 has been truly unprecedented. We have rarely, if ever, seen such divergent economic and market forecasts in the past.

In an effort to filter some signals from all the noise, we summarize our key observations at this crucial juncture.

We believe:

  • Inflation will moderate from here and recede gradually
  • Short and long Treasury rates are less likely to exceed 4%
  • Any potential recession, should it unfold, is less likely to be deep and protracted
  • The bear market in stocks may well be shorter than most investors expect
  • Stocks offer more upside than downside over the intermediate term

We are mindful of the broad range of unknowns at this point and the even greater need to invest with care and prudence. We remain firmly committed to the basic principles of portfolio diversification, risk management and investing in high quality companies.

We do not expect to see a lengthy recession, should it even unfold, nor a prolonged bear market. 


We also expect to see a more normalized regime of inflation, interest rates and valuations in the next decade.

From Investments to Family Office to Trustee Services and more, we are your single-source solution.

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The market turbulence of 2022 stands in sharp contrast to the utopian mix of easy money, low volatility and high returns seen in 2021. It is now widely acknowledged that inflation is perhaps the most disruptive theme contributing to economic uncertainty. High inflation can act as a tax and slow growth by itself. It also increases the risk of a policy misstep where overly aggressive tightening by the Fed may trigger a recession.

In this webinar, Sandip Bhagat, Chief Investment Officer at Whittier Trust, and David Shaw, Publishing Director at Family Business Magazine, come together for a discussion on inflation and its impact on your family business.

Contact us to learn more about how our team of advisors can help you.

YouTube video

Whittier Trust Company and The Whittier Trust Company of Nevada, Inc. are state-chartered trust companies, which are wholly owned by Whittier Holdings, Inc., a closely held holding company. All of said companies are referred to herein, individually and collectively, as “Whittier”. The accompanying materials are provided for informational purposes only and are not intended, and should not be construed, as investment, tax or legal advice. Please consult your own investment, legal and/or tax advisors in connection with financial decisions and before engaging in any financial transactions. These materials do not purport to be a complete statement of approaches, which may vary due to individual factors and circumstances. Although the information provided is carefully reviewed, Whittier makes no representations or warranties regarding the information provided and cannot be held responsible for any direct or incidental loss or damage resulting from applying any of the information provided. Past performance is no guarantee of future results and no investment or financial planning strategy can guarantee profit or protection against losses. These materials may not be reproduced or distributed without Whittier’s prior written consent.

From Investments to Family Office to Trustee Services and more, we are your single-source solution.

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By Jay Karpen

Following two long and challenging years of COVID, many of us are finally planning our next vacation to a far-off location. We deserve a smooth and safe flight, absent the unforeseen events – delayed flights, uncertain weather, airsick children. Spending time selecting the right travel partner is the best way to ensure a successful trip, just as selecting the right financial partner is the best way to achieve your financial goals and objectives. Would you trust anyone to fly you?

Experience and Credentials Matter

Whether you are selecting a pilot or an airline, you want a partner with the experience, training, and credentials to ensure you arrive safely at your destination. Someone who can leverage their expertise to both properly prepare and guide passengers safely on their journey because even a cloudless day may have pockets of unexpected turbulence.

An experienced financial advisor has that same advantage, drawing on decades of experience working with hundreds of other families to develop financial plans and construct portfolios for all environments – inflationary, high growth, recessions and changing tax regimes. Just as seasoned pilots prepare passengers for rough weather by ascending or descending to smooth elevations, the experienced financial advisor knows how to construct a portfolio that fits the needs and goals of each client’s unique situation – whether that be through investing in durable high-quality stocks and bonds, adding alternative investments or choosing the appropriate asset allocation for the client.

Discount Airlines Are Not Always a Bargain

There is often a temptation to choose a budget airline without evaluating the value proposition. A discount airline may offer a lower sticker price, but the seat may not be as comfortable, and you may end up paying significantly more in fees.

In the world of financial advisors, the same is true. Some financial advisors offer low upfront fees, but have expensive charges on their products (e.g., mutual funds) and ancillary services. Additionally, they do not have the low client to advisor ratio, access to top-tier investments, or client customization that high-end clients deserve. When evaluating financial advisors, selecting a premium transparent financial partner results in a first-class experience with fewer frustrations down the runway.

Turbulence Happens

Although pilots attempt to circumvent turbulence for the comfort of passengers, it is sometimes unavoidable. Fortunately, it is not something to worry about, especially if a pilot provides advance warning so passengers are safely buckled in their seats. Planes are designed to withstand gusts that most people will never experience in their traveling lives; the last turbulence-induced commercial flight crash was in 1966.

Similar to pilots, financial advisors attempt to avoid but expect market volatility. Since 1985, the S&P 500 has experienced a 14% sell-off on average each year. A good financial advisor prepares the client and the portfolio for this volatility, and when it happens, they hop on the “intercom” to reassure passengers, so they do not sell at the worst time, turning a temporary loss into a permanent one. A great financial advisor capitalizes on volatility to opportunistically deploy capital, tax-loss harvest, and utilize estate planning techniques.


We have been through a lot these past few years and deserve that vacation. Why risk a canceled or bumpy ride with a discount airline? Choose the premium option that will not only guide you through the inclement weather but will ensure you and your loved ones comfortably arrive at your financial goals.

From Investments to Family Office to Trustee Services and more, we are your single-source solution.

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There are a significant amount of considerations to take into account when establishing a trustee for your estate.

In the case of a living trust, you may play all the roles of trustor, trustee, and beneficiary. In the event of your death, or in preparation for a time in your life when you no longer wish to (or feel like you can) carry responsibility for the estate, the trust becomes a necessary agreement to pass these responsibilities to a trustee to oversee your assets, ensuring they are managed and distributed according to your intentions. Your trust will likely far outlast you, and it is important to place the right person in charge of important decisions regarding your estate. A trustee takes on legal responsibility for your assets and carries fiduciary responsibility for proper management of the assets and fulfilling your intent for, and provisions within, the trust. This constitutes many important and detail-oriented duties from proper record keeping to diligent tax administration, to official asset consolidation, titling, management and discretionary distribution.

When selecting a trustee, it’s important to remember that the trustee can be sued by interested parties if it’s felt that they have breached their duty of care. From holistic asset management to meticulous record-keeping, their charge is serious and the trustee you select should be a character of high honesty and integrity, organized, and a great communicator with a sophisticated understanding of all wealth management pillars. It’s not uncommon for a trustor to select a family member or someone close to the family who checks all the boxes, but this can be a full-time effort with many looming situations that can test objectivity. Individuals can certainly be up to the test, but it may be more prudent to solicit the services of an institutional trustee. Inquire about their proven track record, account loads, and the size and expertise of their staff. An institutional trustee can help significantly in taking the burden off the family, help your trust actually reduce the cost of outside services, and ensure long term stability through many generations.

From Investments to Family Office to Trustee Services and more, we are your single-source solution.

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Your investment portfolio can be so much more than a collection of assets. All aspects of your wealth management should provide a sense of pride and fulfillment, and by aligning investment decisions with your values, your portfolio can begin to reflect what’s most important to you and your family.

Considering Environmental, Social and Governance factors (ESG) can help you chart a path toward more socially responsible investing. Environmental factors consider the impact on the planet caused by the companies you’re investing in. Social factors address a company’s relationship to their employees, customers and community. Governance factors look at corporate leadership standards. Contrary to popular belief, taking these factors into account does not mean you need to sacrifice returns. Companies that take these factors into account tend to mitigate risks, reduce taxes and ensure long-term sustainability.

“This sounds great, but how do I start integrating ESG into my impact investing?”

Speaking with your advisor should be enough to get that process started. Value alignment can happen in four easy steps. First, determine what matters most to you. Gather your stakeholders and discuss a few desired outcomes from your investments. Second, develop your impact statement. This will serve as an easy to reference compass when making decisions. Third, implement your ESG Strategy. Break this journey into easy to manage steps, and strategize for tax efficiency. Lastly, set up annual meetings with your advisor to check on your progress.

Incorporating ESG factors into your investment portfolio, can bring stakeholders closer together, establish a deeper connection to your assets and help you leave behind a lasting legacy.

From Investments to Family Office to Trustee Services and more, we are your single-source solution.

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We are often asked by folks who are relatively new to philanthropy – especially younger family members as they begin to get involved with their family’s philanthropy – if we have a list of do’s and don’ts for interfacing with grantee organizations.  Because every family’s philanthropic journey is unique, we’ve been reluctant to come up with a universal set of rules.  But we do have a set of guiding principles that we believe have allowed us to represent our clients well in the philanthropic community for over 65 years.  In this webinar, we’ll share our philosophy and the best practices we have developed for:

  • Conducting grantee research and initial outreach
  • Performing financial diligence
  • Scheduling and conducting site visits
  • Engaging in ongoing communication

By implementing these practices, we believe you’ll be on your way to developing respectful and honest relationships with your grantees, which can only enhance your philanthropic experience.

YouTube video

Whittier Trust Company and The Whittier Trust Company of Nevada, Inc. are state-chartered trust companies, which are wholly owned by Whittier Holdings, Inc., a closely held holding company. All of said companies are referred to herein, individually and collectively, as “Whittier”. The accompanying materials are provided for informational purposes only and are not intended, and should not be construed, as investment, tax or legal advice. Please consult your own investment, legal and/or tax advisors in connection with financial decisions and before engaging in any financial transactions. These materials do not purport to be a complete statement of approaches, which may vary due to individual factors and circumstances. Although the information provided is carefully reviewed, Whittier makes no representations or warranties regarding the information provided and cannot be held responsible for any direct or incidental loss or damage resulting from applying any of the information provided. Past performance is no guarantee of future results and no investment or financial planning strategy can guarantee profit or protection against losses. These materials may not be reproduced or distributed without Whittier’s prior written consent.

From Investments to Family Office to Trustee Services and more, we are your single-source solution.

An image of a silver and gold ring intertwined together.
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