Now, we are all starting to suffer for the central banks mistake in adopting Bernanke Theory. The bubbles they created are finally starting to burst as interest rates return to more normal levels. This will be very painful for all those who trusted them to manage the economy.
Chemicals and the Economy
Nobody knows how markets will develop. But past performance is the best guide that we have. This is why our Sentiment Index is my Chart of the year for 2022.
Since January, investors have begun to realise that the FAANG stocks were just as over-valued in December as during the dotcom bubble. Of course, hope springs eternal as we saw this month. History suggests we will see several ‘false dawns’ before the market finally bottoms.
Buyers’ confidence has been key to the rise in house prices over the past decade. But that is now disappearing as central banks are forced to refocus on inflation risks, and interest & mortgage rates start to return to more normal levels.
US inflation was last at 8.3% in January 1982. And then, the 10-year yield was 14.6. History may not be a perfect guide, but it is the best we have. So it might be worth planning for rates to go much higher than most “experts” expect, now that they have broken out of their downtrend.
The history of the 1929 and 2000 downturns suggests the real pain is yet to come. Housing markets look terribly over-valued around the world, as I noted last month. And US consumer sentiment is at all-time lows. So most company earnings seem set to fall, with more than 60% of US CEOs now expecting to see a recession.
The Fed might change its mind and rush to support asset markets again. But that seems unlikely today. If it doesn’t, then debt, divorce and death will force an increasing number of people to sell their home. And if buyers continue to disappear, then sellers will have to continue cutting prices in order to try and achieve a sale, as the bubble finally bursts.
Markets have returned to the 1970s. They have to cope with “Putinflation”, recession, rising interest rates and energy prices – as well as geopolitical and nuclear risk. Unfortunately, today’s traders do not even have the experience of the 1960s as a guide, having lived in a different world for 20 years.
Problems in the housing market aren’t just confined to the US, UK, Germany and China. The average house price/income ratio is now back to the highest level since records began. And the problem for homeowners is that potential buyers are already starting to disappear as mortgage rates rise – and affordability reduces.
The central banks are now abandoning the ‘Bernanke Doctrine’ set out in November 2010 – that what was good for markets, was good for the economy.