“I have been passing my life in guessing what I might meet with beyond the next hill, or around the next corner.” Wellington, the British military commander who defeated Napoleon in the battle of Waterloo (“Dictionary of Military and Naval Quotations”, ed. Robert Heinl, Jr.)
Cultural observers differ in their subjective perspectives, arguments, and conclusions regarding economic phenomena, including the prices of and variables relating to interest rate, stock, foreign exchange, commodity, real estate, and other marketplaces. They consequently develop and express a variety of personal views as to whether a given financial price or price relationship level (or trend), or an economic (commercial; business) or political situation substantially relevant to them, has reached or soon will attain a very important point or stage. Thus figuratively speaking, a marketplace (its level and trend) or an economic (or political scene) is or shortly will be at a crossroads. For example, the S+P 500, inflation, Federal Reserve policy, or the American federal fiscal situation can arrive at a crossroads.
Looking forward, people ask “what will happen from here?” People devotedly select, review, and weigh information to ascertain (develop personal opinions regarding) probabilities for a range of potential outcomes in the aftermath of this key situation. They differ in their views of “the” past and “the” present. In their forecasting (risk evaluation) process, some sentinels analyze the distance and duration a given price move has traveled or eventually (potentially) may move. In various fashions, prophets assess perceived interrelationships between interest rate, stock, foreign exchange, and other marketplaces.
Hence competitive financial arenas fill with diverse and enthusiastic bulls and bears (and neutral players) talking and acting in a variety of ways. Arrays of investors and speculators and traders and hedgers and risk managers ardently promote and behave according to competing viewpoints and probability assessments. Typically, each player views its own subjective analysis and outlook as “reasonable”, and probably at least as reasonable (intelligent, rational) as that of others. Consequently, we hear fervent rhetoric and see artful pictures relating not only to probabilities, but also patterns and trends, support and resistance, critical levels and turning points, breakout and breakdown, continuation and reversal, convergence and divergence, and lead and lags.
Many believe that some cultural situations are more difficult to predict than others. In any case, imagine future hypothetical (potential) events regarding a given marketplace (such as the S+P 500 or the United States Treasury 10 year note) or a particular economic or political battlefield (such as “the” US or global economy; American political wars). For some particular potential outcomes (including a related process creating it), many marketplace warriors will label the result as unlikely or very unlikely or unusual (against the odds; having little chance), or even unreasonable, irrational, extraordinary, incredible, unbelievable, astounding, surprising, crazy, impossible, and so forth.
Nevertheless, cultural history, including that of marketplaces, of course evidences that what many (or even the great majority of) clairvoyants viewed as very unlikely to occur indeed has happened. So in practice, many scouts look out for and consider so-called “tail risks” (subjectively highly unlikely outcomes) to some degree. A trader once said: “In commodities, the impossible happens at least once a year.” Besides, what will be highly unlikely or surprising to one cultural observer may not be so to another.
Let’s review several financial marketplaces which appear to be at or near a crossroads.
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Marketplace Crossroads (9-4-23)