In her recent set-piece testimony before Congress, Janet Yellen made clear that she is determined to repeat the sort of ‘gradualism’ in raising rates that proved so disastrous after the Tech bust. In other words, that she will not so much boil the frog slowly as encourage him to go out and make a further raft of foredoomed, highly-leveraged investment decisions before he realises he’s been cooked.
[This article appeared in slightly abridged form in the Epoch Times under the title, ‘The Fed’s Quantitative Tightening‘]
The older a bull market gets, those who are paid to comment on it become more and more desperate for new things to say about it – a professionally pressing need which tends to split the pundits into two distinct camps, each equally one-eyed about whether prospects are good or bad.
The more our would-be Philosopher Kings attempt to display the awesome panoply of their intellectual armour, the more we think, not of the Greek sage from whom they seem to draw inspiration, but of Mickey Mouse’s dopey canine friend.
In bonds, the Bears are mounting another one of their forlorn hope charges against the central bank ramparts which is, in turn, rendering equities a little more expensive in relative, as well as absolute, terms. Commodities, meanwhile, are firmly rooted in mean reversion mode.
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No, Mario is NOT about to give up – whatever! China monetary trends might mean the industrial earnings cycle has peaked. US debt levels are still OK, but the low cost is promoting slightly worrisome growth – nor are Tech balance sheets entirely without blemish. Commodities – clueless and friendless.
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Falling returns in the US. Tight money in China. An upswing in Japan. Deflation in India. Gold goes cold. Fretting the Fed on falling CPI and a flattening curve? No need to panic, just yet.
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Millennial pessimism being a common affliction of thinkers throughout the ages, we should perhaps not be too surprised that we moderns, too, are prone to stroll along in its strangely seductive shadowlands of the mind.
The First Time as Tragedy
In the past, our ready predisposition to fear the worst has proven to be well-founded. Indeed, through much of the two years leading up to the Great Crash of 2008, there was all too much evidence to ignore that a kind of collective madness had gripped the whole universe of investment world and had spilled out from thence into every plot of building land and every auction house in the real world.
SUMMARY: Thanks to the election of President Trump and to his uncompromising attitude to the establishment media, much hot air is being expended on the subject of ‘fake news’. What we should really be getting worked up about is ‘fake economics’, for this is a much more pervasive evil, as well as a much more persistent one. Continue reading
At the start of the year it has become wearily traditional for us pundits to offer one of two genres of prediction.
The first takes the form of a genuine—if ultimately foredoomed—attempt to lift a ragged corner of those thick shrouds of unknowability which separate today from tomorrow. The second combines such futility with a certain arch attempt to make one’s name in the event one chances upon what can afterwards be trumpeted as the inspired prediction of what the consensus presently regards as a highly unlikely event. Continue reading
Reuters’ story that SAFE told its banks they should be as obstructive as possible in meeting customer demands for foreign currency, but should absolute not divulge the reason why, certainly succeeded in causing a stir in markets. Continue reading