Macro Briefing: 24 August 2022

* Ukraine war at six-month mark, with no end in sight
* Putin reportedly thinks winter will favor Russia in its Ukraine war efforts
* US plans for $3 billion in new aid for Ukraine
* US military strikes target Iran-linked targets in Syria
* More Americans fall into poverty from inflation vs. pandemic or Great Recession
* Streak of falling US gasoline prices offers relief for drivers
* New home sales in US continue to slide in July
* US PMI survey data shows further contraction in business activity in August:

Is time running out for the Federal Reserve to tame inflation? “The Fed believes — correctly, I think — that it’s operating on a clock,” writes economist Paul Krugman. “So far, expectations of inflation have stayed anchored, but we can’t count on that happy condition persisting if inflation stays high for an extended period. The Fed, therefore, needs to take action to reduce underlying inflation fairly quickly.” He concludes: “So orthodoxy — reducing inflation by engineering a slowdown — it is. It’s still unclear whether this slowdown will be severe enough to be labeled a recession, but it will be painful for consumers even if it isn’t. There are many good things to be said about a hot economy and tight labor markets, and we’ll miss them when they’re gone. But there don’t seem to be any realistic alternatives.”

Junk-bond rally runs into headwinds as concerns about ongoing rate hikes resonate anew. The Wall Street Journal reports: “Investors’ appetite for junk bonds is cooling ahead of a critical stretch for economic data and Fed policy, stalling a summertime rally that had boosted low-rated corporate debt.”