Monetary policy is the mechanism through which the supply of money is controlled by monetary authorities. The goal of almost every monetary authority around the world is stability of prices. If prices are unstable—either too high or, in some circumstances, decreasing—this causes unforeseen and unwanted consequences for the economy as a whole. Monetary authorities usually enact changes to interest rates for the purpose of changing the demand for money. Monetary policy can be either expanding, when interest rates are lowered and more money is available at a cheaper, or contracting, when interest rates are raised to make money more expensive to slow price increases.
The S&P 500 may be entering bubble-like territory: that’s what I’ve been writing for the past few months.
Now, it appears as though I’m not the only one who’s worried about asset classes beginning to form bubbles from the excess money printing. 2013 Nobel Prize-winner Robert Shiller also recently stated that he is concerned that prices have risen far too quickly across many asset classes, from real estate to stocks.
As I’ve written several times over the past couple of months, investing in stocks at these elevated levels is quite risky. My belief is that much of the upward move in the S&P 500 has been primarily based on the liquidity (money printing) being pumped by the Federal Reserve.
Investing in stocks with this premise can only work for the very short-term trader who’s quick enough to get out when the tide begins to turn.
Because people are not investing in stocks based on actual fundamentals right now, one can’t expect the value in the S&P 500 to remain elevated once there’s a change in monetary policy, since much of the move has been artificially supported.
Let’s take a look at how the S&P 500 has been affected by monetary policy over the past few years, and how investing in stocks at the current level is becoming increasingly risky.
Chart courtesy of www.StockCharts.com
The first quantitative easing program by the Federal Reserve lasted from December 2008 until March 2010. This period is not shown on the chart above, as one could argue that the S&P 500 became extremely oversold and that investing in stocks for the long-term made sense at … Read More
Reflecting on this past Thanksgiving weekend, there was a lot to be thankful for, especially if you have been long in the stock market for the past four years. Now is a time for reflection.
The advance in the stock market has been stellar following the bottom in March 2009. The S&P 500 is up 171% since March 6, 2009 for a four-year annualized gain of about 38%.
In Japan, the Nikkei 225 is at a six-year high and over in Germany, the benchmark DAX is also at a record high.
However, the records in the stock markets are falling, not just in good old America, but worldwide. Of course, there are the exceptions, such as China, which I still consider to be undervalued and worth a look for investors searching for growth in foreign stock markets. In China, you can play almost anything due to the country’s insatiable appetite for goods and services. Some of the top areas for growth in China are the technology, health care, travel, and financial services sectors.
Yet while all of the stock market records are being set, I wonder if this is simply the new reality for stocks, or are we just setting ourselves up for a massive hangover when stocks fall?
The Russell 2000, for instance, is a play on the economy. The idea is that small companies tend to fare better when the economy recovers, as these companies tend to be more flexible. The index is up over 35% this year and more than 40% year-to-date. That’s a great advance, but the index is also trading at over 70 times its … Read More