Disclaimer. After nearly 40 years managing money for some of the largest life offices and investment managers in the world, I think I have something to offer. These days I'm retired, and I can't by law give you advice. While I do make mistakes, I try hard to do my analysis thoroughly, and to make sure my data are correct (old habits die hard!) Also, don't ask me why I called it "Volewica". It's too late, now.

BTW, clicking on most charts will produce the original-sized, i.e., bigger version.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Jackson's Hole

Yep.  It really is called that.  Every year at about this time, the heads and support staff of the world's major Central Banks retreat here to discuss the problems facing the world economy and what they should do about it.  Ben Bernanke said a day or so ago that he was very concerned about the unemployment rate in the US and how slowly it's fallen this year.  And he said that the Fed would if it was necessary do something about it.  On the strength of this, share markets rallied, and the bulls swished around all excited.  Delicious animals.

The problems with o'erweening optimism are these:

  • Major markets are at previous highs (see charts).  To rise through these highs will require either much better economic data and/or serious, credible stimulatory measures in the US and China and Europe. Comforting words from Ben are not enough. Not any more.
  • The Chinese share market, though, isn't at previous highs.  It's slumped.  And that's because the Chinese leadership is embrangled in a leadership struggle, one that happens every five years, but which has had the bad taste to happen now when the Chinese economy is slowing sharply.  No one wants to make key decisions until they know who's going to be boss.  This is complicated by a shift in the Chinese growth model from export-led growth.  Lots of big decisions and no one to make them, probably until November.
  • The US (20% of the world economy) is still facing a "fiscal cliff" in January, when the rolling back of previous tax cuts and mandatory expenditure cuts will slice 4 or 5% from GDP.  We've all seen the result of swingeing austerity in Europe.
  • And, talking of Europe, even though a dim awareness that deep expenditure cuts and tax increases are counterproductive seems to be percolating through even to the Germans, so much needs to happen to generate a recovery -- an end to fiscal austerity; a common bank oversight model for the whole Euro zone; massive quantitative easing; and rate cuts.  They will happen in time, but while we await, markets could get very skittish.  Not so good, kitty malloona.  

I'm taking some money off the table and watching sectoral swings like a ... fund manager should.   Perhaps share markets will just go sideways for a while and then resume their uptrends.  And perhaps not.

1 comment:

  1. I stand corrected: It Jackson Hole, not Jackson's Hole. Poor Jackson.