top of page

Go big or Go Home

Small guys falling down

Boy falling off bike

Small Caps Stumble: Is the Dream of Rate Cuts Dead?

The party might be over for small and mid-cap stocks. After mirroring the recent rally fueled by large-cap names, the Russell 2000, a key index for these smaller companies, has taken a nosedive. That type of reaction isn't a good sign for this segment of the stock market and possibly the overall economy. This raises a critical question: is the dream of interest rate cuts fading away?

Remember the Russell 2000? It was seen as a beacon of optimism. A strong showing by this index suggested investors believed in the broader economy and anticipated at least a couple of interest rate cuts from the Fed this year. I was in the camp that 2 or possibly 3 (minor) cuts could be on the table for this year. I was certainly in the minority and many analysts had Jay Powerll and the Fed at 6 - 8 cuts for 2024. Wild is an understatement! This optimism made sense – smaller banks, heavily represented in the Russell 2000, struggle when rates rise, just like they did during the March 2023 sell-off. Additionally, many smaller companies carry higher debt loads, making them even more sensitive to interest rate fluctuations.

But then April came along and brought about rain showers and inflation data that threw a wrench into the plans. The hope for a smooth decline in inflation seemed more like a bumpy rollercoaster ride, casting doubt on the Fed's ability to cut rates as anticipated. Doing so would contradict the very purpose of the Fed; keep inflation at bay. This shift in sentiment hit small and mid-cap stocks hard, with the Russell 2000 dropping a staggering 8% in April alone. Yikes.

Federal Reserve Chair Powell's recent comments were the final blow. By essentially admitting that inflation isn't falling as quickly as hoped, he signaled a "wait and see" approach from the Fed. This translates to a "higher for longer" interest rate environment – bad news for smaller companies yearning for a rate cut lifeline. We do have to credit Powell in that he's been upfront with his strategy and stayed the course based on data points and metrics. His playbook has been out in the open for everyone to read.

The market, along with Fed speakers, seems to have accepted this new reality. However, all eyes will now be on the small guys. Yes, that includes us. Any indication that they believe an easing cycle could come sooner than the end of summer will likely cause further volatility.

The takeaway? 

While large-cap stocks may weather the storm, the future for small and mid-cap companies remains uncertain. The ride is not

so smooth for the small fry's but when they get things going, they can move fast. Investors in this space should closely monitor the Fed's messaging and economic data for clues about the timing of potential rate cuts, which could be the key to reigniting growth in this segment of the market.

If you haven't checked out my PennyWise Financial Podcast, watch a clip from my latest episode. You'll see topics that cover all sorts of things that tie into financial decisions or goals we plan for every day with our clients.

Scroll down a little past the clip to watch the entire episode. It's available on all major podcast platforms like Apple Podcasts, YouTube Music, Spotify, Amazon Music, and YouTube.

👇Or click below to watch the full Episode

Everyone wants to offer advice. We hope you have the right person. A trusted person to guide you on your path to achieving your goals. If you're not working with the right team or want a second opinion, we hope you consider our services. Follow our content to learn more about our process, and investment philosophy and hear real-life accounts of what our clients are dealing with and how we help them.

And that's only the beginning. Reach out and schedule a consultation to discuss your situation. We'll walk you through your options and help you make the right choice for your goals. Click below to listen to the latest PennyWise Financial Podcast and hear more commentary on the stuff you need to know, and much more. Check out another episode below or view our catalog of videos by clicking the button linked to our channel.

Want to learn more? Follow our latest market commentary, firm updates, or anything financial via our blog, Podcast, or Videos.

Financial Model Blog Logo
PennyWise Financial Podcast Logo

Recent Posts

See All



bottom of page