Best of the Week
Most Popular
1.Gold Price Trend Forecast, Where are the Gold Traders? - Bob_Loukas
2.Stocks Bear Market of 2017 Begins? Shorting the Dow At its Peak! - Nadeem_Walayat
3.Betting on President Trump Leaving Office Early, Presidency End Date - Betfair Market - Nadeem_Walayat
4.Why Stock Market Analysts Will be Wrong About 2017 - Clif_Droke
5.Is This The Best Way For Investors To Play The Electric Car Boom - OilPrice_Com
6.Silver Price 2017 Trend Forecast Update - Video - Nadeem_Walayat
7.Gold Price Set For Very Bullish 2017, Trend Forecast - Austin_Galt
8.10 Things I learned From Meetings With Trump’s Transition Team - - John_Mauldin
9.How Investors Can Profit From Trumps Military Ambitions - OilPrice_Com
10.Channel 4 War on 'Fake News', Forgets Own Alt Reality Propaganda Broadcasting - Nadeem_Walayat
Last 7 days
Brent Crude Oil Price Technical Update: Low Volatility Leads to High Volatility - 20th Feb 17
Trump’s Tax System Could Spark The Wave Of Self-Employment - 20th Feb 17
Here’s How to Stay Ahead of Machines and AI - 20th Feb 17
Warning Signs Of Instability In Russia - 20th Feb 17
Warning: This Energy Investment Could Wreak Havoc On Your Portfolio - 20th Feb 17
The Mother of All Financial Bubbles will be Unimaginably Destructive when it Bursts - 19th Feb 17
Gold’s Fundamentals Strengthen - 18th Feb 17
The Flynn Fiascom, the Trump Revolution Ends in a Whimper - 18th Feb 17
Not Nearly Enough Economic Growth To Keep Growing - 18th Feb 17
SPX Stocks Bull Market Continues to make New Highs - 18th Feb 17
China Disaster to Trigger Gold Run, Trump to Appoint 5 of 7 Fed Governors - 18th Feb 17
Gold Stock Volume Divergence - 17th Feb 17
Gold, Silver, US Dollar Cycles - 17th Feb 17
Inflation Spikes in 2017, Supporting Gold Prices Despite Increased Odds of March Rate Hike - 17th Feb 17
Roses Are Red... and So's Been EURUSD's Trend - 17th Feb 17
Gold Trade Note Sighted - 17th Feb 17
Gold Is Undervalued Say Leading Fund Managers - 17th Feb 17
NSA, CIA, FBI, Media Establishment 'Deep State' War Against Emerging 'Trump State' - 16th Feb 17
Silver, Gold Stocks and Remembering the Genius of Hunter S. Thompson - 16th Feb 17
Maps That Show The US’ Strategy In Asia-Pacific - 15th Feb 17
The Trump Stock Market Rally Is Just Getting Started! - 15th Feb 17
Tesco Crisis - Fake Prices, Brexit Inflation Tsunami to Send Food Prices Soaring 10% 2017 - 15th Feb 17
Stock Market Indexes Appear Ready to Roll Over - 15th Feb 17
Gold Bull Market? Or was 2016 Just a Gold Bug Mirage? - 15th Feb 17
Here’s How Germany Buys Time From China - 15th Feb 17
The Stock Trader’s Actionable Guide to Trump - 15th Feb 17
Trump A New Jacksonian Era? The Fourth Turning (2) - 14th Feb 17
Stock Market Yet Another Wall Street 'Witch's Brew' - 14th Feb 17
This Is Why You Don’t Own A Lot Of Stocks - 14th Feb 17
Proposed Tax Reforms Face Enormous Headwinds - 14th Feb 17
BBC Inside Out Tesco Rip off Offers - Determined to Lose Big Spend Customers! - 13th Feb 17
Is the UK An Economy Built on Debt? - 13th Feb 17
Stock Market VIX Cycles set to Explode in March/April 2017 – Part 2 - 13th Feb 17
Stocks At Record Highs - Will Uptrend Accelerate? - 13th Feb 17
US Dollar: 'Rumors of My Death are Greatly Exaggerated' - 13th Feb 17
Is This The Top Commodity Play For 2017? - 13th Feb 17
Trump a New Jacksonian Era? - 13th Feb 17
Stock Market at High Tide - 13th Feb 17
Channel 4 War on 'Fake News' Ends - The New News Age - 12th Feb 17

Market Oracle FREE Newsletter

State of Global Markets 2017 - Report

The Fed’s Role in the Stock Market Slide

Stock-Markets / Stock Markets 2016 Jan 21, 2016 - 04:39 PM GMT

By: Mike_Whitney

Stock-Markets

When the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) and S&P peaked in May 2015, investors were still confident that the Fed “had their back” and that any steep or prolonged downturn in stocks would be met with additional liquidity and a firm commitment to maintain zero rates as long as necessary. But now that the Fed has started its long-awaited rate-hike cycle, investors aren’t sure what to expect.


This growing uncertainty coupled with flagging earnings reports have factored heavily in Wall Street’s recent selloff. Unless the Fed is able to restore confidence by promising to take steps that support the markets, stocks are going to continue get hammered by economic data that’s bound to deteriorate as 2016 drags on.

For the last few years, investors have relied on the so called “Bernanke Put” to prevent significant stock losses while the real economy continued to sputter and underperform. The moniker refers to the way the Fed adds liquidity to the markets during periods of stress to put a floor under stocks. Investors have been so confident in this safety-net system that they’ve dumped trillions of dollars into equities even though underlying fundamentals have remained weak and the economy has sputtered along at an anemic 2 percent per year. Investors believed the Central Bank could move stocks higher, and they were right.

The Dow Jones has more than doubled since it touched bottom on March 9, 2009 while the S&P soared to a new-high (2,130 points) on May 21, 2015, tripling its value at the fastest pace on record. These extraordinary gains are the direct result of the Fed’s not-so-invisible hand in the financial markets. Betting on the Fed’s ability to move markets higher has clearly been a winning strategy.

So why are stocks crashing now?

Because everything has changed. Up to now, “bad news has been good news and good news has been bad news”. In other words, for the last few years, every time the economic data worsened and the media reported flagging retail sales, bulging business inventories, shrinking industrial production, anemic consumer credit, droopy GDP or even trouble in China–stocks would rally as investors assumed the Fed would intensify its easy money policies.

Conversely, when reports showed the economy was gradually gaining momentum, stocks would drop in anticipation of an early end to the zero rates and QE. This is how the Fed reversed traditional investor behavior and turned the market on its head. Stock prices no longer had anything to do with earnings potential or prospects for future growth; they were entirely determined by the availability of cheap money and infinite liquidity. In other words, the market system which, in essence, is a pricing mechanism that adjusts according to normal supply-demand dynamics–ceased to exist.

This topsy-turvy “good is bad, bad is good” system lasted for the better part of six years buoying stocks to new highs while bubbles emerged everywhere across the financial spectrum and while corporate bosses engaged in all manner of risky behavior like stock buybacks which presently exceed $4 trillion.

The Fed’s commitment to begin a cycle of rate hikes (aka–“normalization”) threatens to throw the financial markets into reverse which will slash stock prices to levels that reflect their true market value absent the Fed’s support. The question is: How low will they go? No one really knows the answer, but given the sharp slide in corporate earnings, the stormy conditions in the emerging markets, the unprecedented decline in oil prices, and the buildup of deflationary pressures in the global economy; the bottom could be a long way off.

One thing is certain, the Fed will do everything in its power to prevent stocks from dropping to their March 2009-lows. Unfortunately, further meddling could be extremely risky which might explain why the Fed has not yet responded to the recent equities-plunge. As I see it, the greatest risks to the system fall into three main categories:

1) Asset bubbles

2) Danger to the US Dollar

3) Threat to US Treasuries market

It could be that the Fed is afraid that any additional easing will burst the bubble in stocks and bonds triggering a wave of defaults that could lead to another financial crisis. Or it could be that another round of QE (QE4?) could weaken the dollar at the precise moment that foreign rivals are threatening to topple the USD as the world’s reserve currency which would greatly undermine Washington’s global power and prestige.

Or it could be that more easing could constrict the flow of foreign capital into UST’s. With petrodollar recycling at its lowest ebb in three decades and China already selling its cache of Treasuries to prop up its currency, a significant selloff of US debt could raise long-term interest rates sharply pushing the US economy deep into recession and forcing fiscal cutbacks that would leave the economy in the doldrums for years to come.

Whatever danger the Fed sees on the horizon, it’s clear that the road to normalization is going to involve more than a few speed-bumps along the way. As for stocks; the extreme volatility and downward movement can be expected to intensify as the markets shake off seven years of rate-suppression and monetary “pump priming”.

And while its still too early to know whether the recent turbulence signals the onset of another financial crisis, it certainly appears that Wall Street and the Fed are edging ever closer to their inevitable day of reckoning.

By Mike Whitney

Email: fergiewhitney@msn.com

Mike Whitney lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at fergiewhitney@msn.com.

© 2015 Copyright Mike Whitney - All Rights Reserved Disclaimer: The above is a matter of opinion provided for general information purposes only and is not intended as investment advice. Information and analysis above are derived from sources and utilising methods believed to be reliable, but we cannot accept responsibility for any losses you may incur as a result of this analysis. Individuals should consult with their personal financial advisors.

Mike Whitney Archive

© 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