Monday, January 11, 2010

Oh no!!! Not another bubble!!!

Says the Economist:
It seems likely that, if developed countries keep interest rates low for a long time, bubbles will emerge somewhere. The argument against tightening policy now is a strong one, given the fragile state of the economic recovery. But to central banks it always is, whether the economy is healthy or not.
It is hard to imagine any circumstances in which the authorities will have the foresight (or the courage) to prick a bubble. It cannot be done when the economy is weak. And when the economy is strong, as it was in the late 1990s, central banks argue that higher asset prices are justified (back then, by the productivity improvements brought by the internet). Central bankers tend to see higher asset prices as a validation of their policies and to shy away from “second guessing” the markets. ...
The markets are beset by a series of contradictions. They are dependent on extraordinary amounts of government stimulus. But that stimulus is in turn ultimately dependent on the willingness of markets to finance governments at low rates. They should be willing to do so only if they believe that growth prospects are poor and inflation will stay low. But if they believe that, investors should be unwilling to buy equities and houses at above-average valuations. At some time—maybe in 2010—those contradictions will have to be resolved. And that will trigger another nasty bout of volatility.

No comments: