January 2022: The Long Road Back to Policy Normalization

January 08, 2022

"No person has the power to have everything they want, but it is in their power not to want what they don't have, and to cheerfully put to good use what they do have."

Seneca, ca. 4 BC – 65 AD, Roman statesman and philosopher

The Long Road Back to Policy Normalization

What are the most important criteria to consider when buying real estate? Just about any realtor and every HGTV show will tell you, it's 'location, location, location.' Believe it or not, this phrase is more than just a buzzwordy catchphrase – it is good advice.

No one really knows where the famous phrase originated or who coined it. References to it date back to the Chicago Tribune Classifieds in 1926, though it was used in a way that suggests it was already a familiar expression by that time. Location not only affects the value but also the desirability of a property. Where the home is located is often the determining factor when it comes to property value and future appreciation potential.

So, when we read that someone recently spent a little under a half-million dollars for a plot of land to have the privilege of becoming California-based rapper Snoop Dogg's next-door neighbor, it seemed like quite a bargain.

Turns out the story is more complicated: the buyer actually spent $450,000 for a plot of virtual land to be Snoop's virtual neighbor in the 'Snoopverse', which is an interactive world that the entertainer is developing in the metaverse. His virtual neighbors will get access to exclusive content, including members-only parties at a digital replica of his California mansion – which is currently still being constructed. That's right, the latest hot real estate market is in the digital realm, where property sales are guided by the same principle as in the physical world: location, location, location.

In the wake of Facebook rebranding as Meta, you may have heard of the 'metaverse', but you are certainly not alone if you don't quite understand what that means. Defining the 'metaverse' is complicated, especially because it doesn't exist yet and the concept means different things to different people. For now, the metaverse is an aspirational term for a future digital world that encapsulates some current trends in online infrastructure, including the growth of real-time 3D, where users 'live' within a digital universe to socialize, shop, exercise, work, and play. It is considered the successor of the internet as we currently know it and will be made up of persistent, shared spaces that provide users with immersive experiences and a sense of presence....

In the real world, however, effective monetary policy faces a number of significant hurdles. For one, it operates with long and variable lags, which heightens the risk that their actions can create as much or more economic instability as they resolve. Interest rate changes can take up to 18 months to have their full effect. This means that monetary policy needs to try to predict the state of the economy for up to 18 months ahead and it's possible that inflation could have already dissipated by the time the economy starts to adjust to rate hikes.

For most of 2021, Fed officials insisted that inflation would be transitory, yet they were repeatedly surprised by the strength and staying power of inflationary forces that persistently overshot their forecasts. The question now is whether the central bank will be able to do what it takes to get price pressures under control. The longer inflation runs beyond expectations, the more challenging that will be. If they raise rates too quickly, economic activity could cool off and eventually impair the recovery. Wait too long to raise rates and escalating prices could get out of control. Since inflation affects all aspects of the economy, from consumer spending to business investment and interest rates, how effectively the central bank can deal with the upsurge in prices will be the most important variable influencing financial market behavior this year.

The central bank's highly accommodative policies to support the economy have also been a major...

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