Statistics and stories constantly bombard marketplaces. In today’s marketplace environment, and especially when an especially enthralling news item bursts into view, many gurus and coaches scream about current or prospective crises, panics, and bubbles (overvaluation).
Recent debt-related troubles in Greece and Puerto Rico and the collapse in the Chinese stock battleground are not isolated or entirely unique (special) marketplace events. They are signs and symptoms of widespread and intertwined marketplace phenomena. They are examples of and interconnected with current problems and related (linked) marketplace price movements around the globe.
It is a truism that times change, but that does not mean that times necessarily are entirely or substantially different. Some historians may hearken back to the 2007-09 worldwide economic disaster; the United States real estate catastrophe and the demise of Lehman Brothers were not mere flare-ups. They did not stand alone. Debt, leverage, and credit problems were worldwide, even if they varied to some extent from place to place; their consequences erupted around the globe.
The Federal Reserve, European Central Bank, Bank of Japan, Bank of England, and China’s central bank have engaged for many years in highly accommodative monetary programs. Despite lax policies such as sustained yield repression and massive quantitative easing (money printing), international debt, leverage, and credit problems did not disappear. They persisted and have reappeared. These central bankers have provided cosmetic fixes, not permanent ones, to such difficulties. Remarkably easy money policies, aided by political deficit spending, have helped to spark and sustain worldwide GDP growth since around early 2009.
Yet that past success does not guarantee future triumphs. Is worldwide growth decelerating? Probably. Note the downward growth revisions in recent months for 2015 for the United States by the International Monetary Fund (Article IV Consultation, released 6/4/15) and the Fed (Economic Projections, 6/17/15). Indications of a Chinese slowdown preceded its recent stock tumble. There have been concerns about the property marketplace, shadow (and other) banking, and increasing debt. “China orders banks to keep lending to insolvent provincial projects” declares the front page of the Financial Times (5/16-17/15, p1). Note the continued bear marketplace trend in base metals in general. Through May 2015, China’s year-on-year electricity output was about flat, up only .2pc (National Bureau of Statistics).
Some issues obviously matter more to some traders (and marketplace sectors) than others. But in today’s interconnected global marketplaces, various key stock, interest rate, currency, and commodity playgrounds intertwine in diverse and often-changing fashions. Moreover, these arenas are never separate from the “real” economy. So flashy economic stories about one marketplace or nation can spark or accelerate modest and sometimes even dramatic price travels in numerous venues.
And regardless of which exciting tales currently capture substantial trading and media attention, they usually reflect and interconnect with crucial (and so-called “underlying”) economic (financial, commercial) and political phenomena. These noteworthy variables, issues, trends, and opinions regarding them not only capture the attention of many marketplace players, but also necessarily remain major factors for Wall Street price action and Main Street prosperity.
The debt and leverage (credit) problems in the United States and elsewhere which developed prior to yet culminated in the Goldilocks Era arguably remain unsolved, or have appeared in related forms. For example, America in general has a love affair with debt. The overall consumer debt burden has lightened somewhat since the darkest nights of the 2007-09 crisis. However, federal debt has jumped up. Thus America’s overall indebtedness remains quite significant. See the essay, “America’s Debt Culture” (4/6/15).
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Marketplace Fireworks (7-6-15)