Best of the Week
Most Popular
1. Crude Oil Price Trend Forecast - Saudi's Want $100 for ARAMCO Stock IPO - Nadeem_Walayat
2.Gold Price Focusing on May Cycle Bottom - Jim_Curry
3.Silver, silver, and silver! There’s More Than Silver, People! - P_Radomski_CFA
4.Is the Malaysian Economy a Potemkin Village - Sam_Chee_Kong
5.Stock Market Study Shows Why You Shouldn’t “Sell in May and Go Away” - Troy_Bombardia
6.A Big Stock Market Shock is About to Start - Martin C
7.A Long Term Gold Very Unpopular View - Rambus_Chartology
8.Stock Market “Sell in May and go away” Study When Stocks Are Down YTD - Troy_Bombardia
9.Global Currency RESET Challenge: Ultimate Twist - Jim_Willie_CB
10.The Coming Silver Supply Crunch Is Worse Than You Know - Jeff Clark
Last 7 days
Blackstone, BlackRock or a Public Bank for California’s Money? - 27th May 18
Stock Market Study: How Long After a 10%+ “Small Correction” to Make New Highs? - 27th May 18
Gold, US Stocks and Bonds - 26th May 18
Climate Change Canaries and Our Changing Climate - 26th May 18
Gold Junior Stocks GDXJ ETF Fundamentals - 26th May 18
What to Expect at a Critical Stock Market Point: End of a Wave 2 Rally - 25th May 18
Merlin Passes Top Tips for Buying and Using Premium vs Standard, Theme Parks UK - 25th May 18
Trump “Victories” on Trade are Anything But - 25th May 18
Crude Oil: It’s Here! - 25th May 18
Stock Market Distribution Pattern Revealed - 25th May 18
Stock Market Topping - Everything Looks Rosy at the End of a Trend! - 25th May 18
Trump Puts North Korea Nuclear WAR Back on Track as Plans for Nobel Peace Prize Evaporate - 25th May 18
Insane EU GDPR SCAM Triggers Mass Email Spam Attacks! - 24th May 18
Stock Market Higher Again, but Still No Breakout - 24th May 18
Study: Slowing Global Economic Growth IS NOT Bearish for U.S. Stocks - 24th May 18
What if This Week’s Rally in Gold is Already Over? - 24th May 18
EUR/USD – Reward for Bears - 24th May 18
5 Terrible Trading Mistakes That Rookie Investors Keep Making - 24th May 18
More Clarity for the Short Term for Bitcoin Price - 22nd May 18
Study: A Rising and Strong U.S. Dollar Isn’t Consistently Bearish for the Stock Market - 22nd May 18
Gold, Silver & US Dollar Updates with Review of Latest COTS - 22nd May 18
Upside DOW Stock Market Breakout May Be Just the Beginning - 22nd May 18
5 Reasons Why Forex Trading Is Becoming Such A Big Deal In SA - 22nd May 18
Fibonacci And Elliot Wave Predict Stock Market Breakout Highs - 21st May 18
Stock Market Ideal Cycle Low Near - 21st May 18
5 Effects Of Currency Fluctuations On The Economy - 21st May 18
Financial Conditions are Still too Easy for the Stocks Bull Market to End - 21st May 18
US Stock Market Elliott Wave Predictions for 2018 and Beyond - 20th May 18
Are You Still Fearful of Cryptos? - 20th May 18
US Stocks - Why I am Short-term Bearish, Medium-term Bullish - 20th May 18
Looking for a Turn in Gold Price - 20th May 18
GDX Gold Mining Stock Fundamentals 2018 - 19th May 18
Semiconductor Stock Market Canaries: Chirp, Warble… Soon a Croak and Silence? - 19th May 18
Three Drivers of Gold Price - 18th May 18
Gold Market in First Tertile of 2018 - 18th May 18

Market Oracle FREE Newsletter

Trading Lessons

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.


© 2005-2018 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

6 Critical Money Making Rules