Best of the Week
Most Popular
1.Are UK Savings Interest Rates Finally Starting to Rise? Best Cash ISA 2017 - Nadeem_Walayat
2.Inflation Tsunami - Supermarkets, Retail Sector Crisis 2017, EU Suicide and Burning Stocks - Nadeem_Walayat
3.Big Moves in the World Stock Markets - Big Bases - Rambus_Chartology
4.The Next Financial Implosion Is Not Going To Be About The Banks! - Gordon_T_Long
5.Why EU BrExit Single Market Access Hard line is European Union Committing Suicide - Nadeem_Walayat
6.Trump Ramps Up US Military Debt Spending In Preparations for China War - Nadeem_Walayat
7.Watch What Happens When Silver Price Hits $26...  - MoneyMetals
8.Stock Market Fake Risk, Fake Return? Market Crash? - 2nd Mar 17 - Axel_Merk
9.Global Inflation Surges, Central Banks Losing Control and Triggered the Wage Price Spiral? - Nadeem_Walayat
10.Why Gold Will Boom In 2017 - James Burgess
Last 7 days
Foundation – Fall Of The American Galactic Empire - 27th Mar 17
Stock Market More Correction Ahead - 27th Mar 17
US Dollar Inflection Point - 27th Mar 17
Political Week Presurres US Stock Market - 25th Mar 17
London Terror Attack Red Herring, Real Issue is Age of Reason vs Religion - 25th Mar 17
Will Washington Risk WW3 to Block an Emerging EU-Russia Superstate - 25th Mar 17
Unaccountable Military Industrial Complex Is Destroying America and the Rest Of The World Too - 25th Mar 17
Silver Mining Stock Fundamentals - 24th Mar 17
A Walk Down the Dark Road of Bad Government - 24th Mar 17
Is Stock Market Flash Crash Postponed Until Monday? - 24th Mar 17
Stock Market Bubble and Gold - 24th Mar 17
Maps Of Past Empires That Can Tell Us About The Future - 24th Mar 17
SNP Independent Scotland's Destiny With Economic Catastrophe, the English Subsidy - IndyRef2 - 24th Mar 17
Stock Market VIX Cycles Set To Explode March/April 2017 – Part II - 23rd Mar 17
Is Now a Good Time to Invest in the US Housing Market? - 23rd Mar 17
The Stock Market Is a Present-Day Version of Pavlov’s Dog - 23rd Mar 17
US Budget - There’s Almost Nothing Left To Cut - 23rd Mar 17
Stock Market Upward Reversal Or Just Quick Rebound Before Another Leg Down? - 23rd Mar 17
Trends to Look Out For as a Modern-day Landlord - 23rd Mar 17
Here’s Why Interstate Health Insurance Won’t Fix Obamacare / Trumpcare - 23rd Mar 17
China’s Biggest Limitations Determine the Future of East Asia - 23rd Mar 17
This is About So Much More Than Trump and Brexit - 23rd Mar 17
Trump Stock Market Rally Over? 20% Bear Drop By Mid Summer? - 22nd Mar 17
Trump Added $3 Trillion in Wealth to Stock Market Participants - 22nd Mar 17
What's Next for the US Dollar, Gold and Stocks? - 22nd Mar 17
MSM Bond Market Full Nonsense Mode as ‘Trump Trades’ Unwind on Schedule - 22nd Mar 17
Peak Gold – Biggest Gold Story Not Being Reported - 22nd Mar 17
Return of Sovereign France, Europe’s Changing Landscape - 22nd Mar 17
Trump Stocks Bull Market Rolling Over? You Were Warned! - 22nd Mar 17
Stock Market Charts That Scream “This Is It” - Here’s What to Do - 22nd Mar 17
Raising the Minimum Wage Is a Jobs Killing Move - 22nd Mar 17
Potential Bottoming Patterns in Gold and Silver Precious Metals Stocks Complex... - 22nd Mar 17
UK Stagflation, Soaring Inflation CPI 2.3%, RPI 3.2%, Real 4.4% - 21st Mar 17
The Demise of the Gold and Silver Bull Run is Greatly Exaggerated - 21st Mar 17
USD Decline Continues, Pull SPX Down as well? - 21st Mar 17
Trump Watershed Budget - 21st Mar 17
How do Client Acquisition Offers Affect Businesses? - 21st Mar 17
Physical Metals Demand Plus Manipulation Suits Will Break Paper Market - 20th Mar 17
Stock Market Uncertainty Following Interest Rate Increase - Will Uptrend Continue? - 20th Mar 17
Precious Metals : Who’s in Charge ? - 20th Mar 17
Stock Market Correction Continues - 20th Mar 17
Why The Status Quo Is Under Increasing Attack By 'Populist People Power' - 20th Mar 17
Why the SNP WILL Destroy Scotland, Exit UK Single Market for EU - IndyRef2 - 19th Mar 17
Crypto Craziness: Bitcoin Plunges on Fork Concerns, Steem Skyrockets and Dash Surges Above $100 - 19th Mar 17
What ‘Ice-Nine’ Means for Your Money - 19th Mar 17
Stock Market 4 Year Cycle - 18th Mar 17

Market Oracle FREE Newsletter

Elliott Wave Trading

Stock Market… A Barrel of Monkeys

Stock-Markets / Stock Markets 2013 Sep 05, 2013 - 09:14 PM GMT

By: John_Mauldin

Stock-Markets

By Grant Williams

"What's more fun than a Barrel of Monkeys? Nothing!"

Not my words, but those of the Milton Bradley Co., which still produces under license a game first created by a gentleman named Leonard Marks, who sold the rights to his simple but addictive game to Lakeside Toys in 1965.


It would be difficult to imagine a simpler premise for a game than that of Barrel of Monkeys. The rules of the game, printed on the bottom of the plastic barrel in which the monkeys are contained, are simplicity itself:

Dump monkeys onto table. Pick up one monkey by an arm. Hook other arm through a second monkey's arm. Continue making a chain. Your turn is over when a monkey is dropped.

Easy!

Each barrel contains 12 monkeys but can accommodate, at a push, 24, which makes the game so much more enjoyable. What could be better than assembling a long chain of tangled monkeys, each reliant on those either side of it for purchase, with just the one person holding onto a single monkey's arm at the top end of the chain, responsible for all those monkeys dangling from his fingers.

Of course, with great power comes great responsibility; and that lone hand at the top of the chain of monkeys has to be careful — any slight mistake and the monkeys will tumble, and that, I am afraid, is the end of your turn. You don't get to go again because you screwed it up and the monkeys came crashing down.

On May 22nd of this year, Ben Bernanke's game of Barrel of Monkeys was in full swing. It had been his turn for several years, and he looked as though he'd be picking up monkeys for a long time to come. The chain of monkeys hanging from his hand was so long that he had no real idea where it ended.

That day, in prepared testimony before the Joint Economic Committee of Congress in Washington, DC, Bernanke stated that the Fed could increase or decrease its asset purchases depending on the weakness or strength of data:

The program relates the flow of asset purchases to the economic outlook. As the economic outlook — and particularly the outlook for the labor market — improves in a real and sustainable way, the committee will gradually reduce the flow of purchases.

To assuage any lingering doubt, he continued:

I want to be very clear that a step to reduce the flow of purchases would not be an automatic, mechanistic process of ending the program. Rather, any change in the flow of purchases would depend on the incoming data and our assessment of how the labor market and inflation are evolving.

Markets fluttered a little as they tend to do around these carefully stage-managed performances, but remained largely sanguine. However, in the Q&A session that followed his prepared remarks, Bernanke, in response to a fairly innocuous question, went a little off-piste, straying into some improv, making a suggestion that, within minutes, had given rise to a phenomenon which by the end of the day had earned its very own soubriquet: the "Taper Tantrum":

If we see continued improvement and we have confidence that that's going to be sustained then we could in the next few meetings ... take a step down in our pace of purchases. If we do that it would not mean that we are automatically aiming towards a complete wind down. Rather we would be looking beyond that to see how the economy evolves and we could either raise or lower our pace of purchases going forward.

The statement contained the usual bit about the Fed being open to both decreasing OR increasing bond purchases; but it added one, as it turned out vital, piece of information:

"... we could in the next few meetings ... take a step down in our pace of purchases."

Boom! That's all it took. The monkeys began to shiver, shake, and screech.

Now, I have been saying for the longest time that these days nothing matters to anybody until it matters to everybody, and that is largely down to the Fed themselves (and their peers across the various oceans and borders who are complicit in this era of free money). The proof of my statement is seen in the fact that as soon as Bernanke mentioned that the "taper" — which, let's face it, EVERYBODY knows has to happen sooner or later — would possibly begin before the end of 2013, markets began to crumble.

The S&P 500 dropped a quick 6% on the outlandish idea that free money by the trillion wasn't going to continue forever, and this came as something of a shock to investors who had watched the index levitate relentlessly as the stimulus being applied by the Fed to the tune of $85bn a month did its job — and by "did its job" I wish I were talking about lowering unemployment and stimulating growth; but, alas, I'm talking about bolstering bank balance sheets and driving equity prices to unsustainable and unfairly valued levels.

As you can see from the chart below, the market turned around and recovered its losses pretty quickly as a seemingly endless procession of Fed governors and "friendly" journalists were rolled out to explain — in increasingly panicked tones — that everything was OK and that the esteemed Chairman didn't actually say they would definitely be cutting off the easy money.

Source: Bloomberg

In his own prepared remarks the following morning, Fed mouthpiece and Wall Street Journal reporter Jon Hilsenrath was quick to soothe:

(WSJ): The next step by the Fed could be especially tricky. One worry at the central bank is that a single small step to shrink the size of the program could be interpreted by investors as the first in a larger move to end it altogether. [Yesterday] Mr. Bernanke sought to dispel that view, part of a broader effort by Fed officials to manage market expectations.

If the Fed takes one step to reduce the bond buying, it won't mean the Fed is "automatically aiming towards a complete wind-down," Mr. Bernanke said. "Rather we would be looking beyond that to seeing how the economy evolves and we could either raise or lower our pace of purchases going forward. Again that is dependent on the data," he said.

It's OK, folks. Ben's got this. Calm down.

After the scrambling was over and the 6% air pocket was safely navigated, the S&P 500 first regained and then surpassed its previous high. At this point, the Punditocracy (as my buddy Scott calls it) declared that any "taper" had now been priced in.

And there the story should have ended. Nothing to see here folks, get back to your couches.

But of course it didn't end.

To continue reading this article from Things That Make You Go Hmmm… – a free weekly newsletter by Grant Williams, a highly respected financial expert and current portfolio and strategy advisor at Vulpes Investment Management in Singapore – please click here.


© 2005-2016 http://www.MarketOracle.co.uk - The Market Oracle is a FREE Daily Financial Markets Analysis & Forecasting online publication.


Post Comment

Only logged in users are allowed to post comments. Register/ Log in

Catching a Falling Financial Knife