How to invest calmly in a chaotic world

As Russia launched its blitzkrieg against Ukraine, my inbox brimmed with reports from investment firms on what you should do next—buy consumer-staple stocks, sell European and Taiwanese shares, buy oil tankers or palladium, sell bitcoin, buy gold, sell bonds.

Remember, though: Just weeks earlier, plenty of politicians, particularly in Europe, thought invasion fears were overblown. In markets, too, many professionals thought the outlook was clear, convinced that the Federal Reserve would act to temper inflation by raising interest rates 0.5 percentage points in March.

Russia’s aggression has crushed such certainty; in a world disrupted by war, the U.S. economy may be too frail to withstand a big increase in rates.

Now that the conflict has sent oil prices near $100 a barrel, investors are suddenly sure the Fed won’t be able to act decisively against inflation. They might be right, at least for now. But…

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