2016 is shaping up to be the year that everyone finally comes to terms with the fact that the monetary emperors truly have no clothes.
To be sure, it’s been a long time coming. For nearly 8 years, market participants and economists convinced themselves that the answer was always “more Keynes.” Global trade still stagnant? Cut rates. Economic growth still stuck in neutral? Buy more assets.
It was almost as if everyone lost sight of the fact that if printing fiat scrip and tinkering with the cost of money were the answers, there would never be any problems. That is, policy makers can always hit ctrl+P and/or move rates around. But in order to resuscitate anemic aggregate demand and revive inflation, you need to tackle the core problems facing the global economy – not paper over them (and we mean “paper over them” in the most literal sense of the term).
Well late last month, central banks officially lost control of the narrative. Kuroda’s move into negative territory reeked of desperation and given the surging JPY and tumbling Japanese stocks, it’s pretty clear that the half-life on central bank easing has fallen dramatically.
And so, as the market wakes up from the punchbowl party with a massive hangover, everyone is suddenly left to contemplate “quantitative failure.” Below, courtesy of BofA’s Michael Hartnett is a bullet point summary of 8 years spent chasing the dragon… and a list of the disappointing results.
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Whether the recent tipping point was the Fed hike, negative rates in Europe & Japan, or simply the growing market dislocations and macro misallocation of resources and wealth, the deflationary theme of “Quantitative Failure” is stalking the financial markets. A multi-year period of major policy intervention & “financial repression” is ending with weak economic growth & investors rebelling against QE.
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