Everybody is waiting for Jay Powell, the new Fed Chair, to set out his vision this week. The main question is: will there be a “Powell Put” just as there has been a Greenspan put, a Bernanke put and a Yellen put?
What a week last week was for stock markets, and especially for one particular indicator. The Bank of America Bull/Bear indicator, which the week before last came within a whisker of the Sell signal, last week went above it, for the first time in five years.
The Bank of America Merrill Lynch Bull/Bear indicator last week hit the highest level since its last sell signal, just as U.S. President Donald Trump took credit, once again, for the surge in the stock market.
Well, wasn’t last week a bit of a cold shower for investors. European stock markets closed lower and US ones were flat last Friday, after nonfarm payrolls badly missed expectations in March.
In fact, it’s a surprise the markets declined so little. Investors had other things to worry about, too: President Trump’s surprise airstrike on Syria was a big one. The president, who until not long ago was making positive noises about his Syrian and Russian counterparts, changed his mind after a chemical weapons attack that killed many children.
The first quarter of 2017 is over, Brexit has been finally triggered and a period of political turmoil in Europe is ahead, with elections in France and Germany, and perhaps Italy too.
So far, it seems like nothing has been serious enough to give investors reason to pause the rally in stock markets. Both the US and the UK indices hit record highs — this could be a sign of confidence, but it could also mean the central banks’ easy monetary policies are still inflating asset prices.
There is a widespread view that the Federal Reserve will have to raise interest rates at a steady pace this year, because it cannot afford to fall behind the curve.
I would argue that it has already fallen behind the curve and has no choice but to remain there. And it is not the only one in this situation. All major central banks are playing the same game; they have no choice.
The air came out of the bond bubble last month, when bond funds recorded the highest five-week outflows in three years and a half, according to capital flows data analysed by Bank of America Merrill Lynch economists.