“Fraud generates risk, and risk eventually breaks out in the “safest” parts of the financial plumbing, the ones nobody gives a second thought to because they’re “low risk.”” – C H Smith
Let’s go all the way back to the last time a central banker actually spoke the truth in public: December 5, 1996, 18 long years ago. It was on that day that Federal Reserve Chair Alan Greenspan gave a typically dry speech that hinted stocks could actually become overvalued (gasp!) due to irrational exuberance and subsequently plummet when rational valuations returned:
Clearly, sustained low inflation implies less uncertainty about the future, and lower risk premiums imply higher prices of stocks and other earning assets. We can see that in the inverse relationship exhibited by price/earnings ratios and the rate of inflation in the past. But how do we know when irrational exuberance has unduly escalated asset values, which then become subject to unexpected and prolonged contractions as they have in Japan over the past decade?
Global stock markets promptly sold off hard at the shocking revelation that stocks might actually become subject to unexpected and prolonged contractions. This sharp reaction to a fundamental truth about markets–that they are prone to the irrational exuberance of participants, and the computer trading programs keyed to this momentum magnify the irrationality–caused central bankers to avoid any upsetting truth from then on. Continue reading