Sunday, August 23, 2015

The Markets Swoon

Stocks seem to be acknowledging the global economic slowdown, dramatically illustrated by the collapse in oil prices.   The debate over the Fed is beside the point.  The Fed is not the issue.  Rates will climb only when either inflation appears or increases in the"real" rate occur.  Neither seems likely now, so forget the Fed for the moment.  Inflation is a serious threat longer term but with western economies doomed to perpetual stagnation, it is hard to see much of an increase in the real interest rate.

Even the technology stocks are beginning to reflect the extremely short shelf life of even the most widely adapted new technologies.  Apple stock is a case in point.  How do you hold on to market share in an ever-innovating world?

[Imagine if schools for low income children could be created by the free market to address the current nightmare that the poor face when making their way into today's public schools.  But, the government, by law, forbids innovation that could improve the lives of poor children whose education seems to be going back in time, instead of forward.  By outlawing free markets in the provision of K-12 education for poor people by forbidding a voucher system, no innovation is possible for the poorest of the poor.  Only the wealthy are permitted to have private schools in the modern liberal dream world.]

Stocks have done about as much as they can in the face of bureaucratic hostility like Sarbanes-Oxley, Dodd-Frank, and arbitrary Obama executive orders.  It's a surprise the rally lasted this long with the main themes of the current administration focused on how to penalize successful entrepreneurs and reward those who have nothing but contempt for capitalism.

It will take long periods of stagnant economic growth (remember the 1970s) before even the bureaucratic elites resort to free markets to restart the economy, as happened in the 1980s.  Free market success breeds guilt syndromes that lead to a war on free markets.  That's what has happened.  Now we have to suffer the indignities of economic stagnation before the future versions of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher rescue us from this dungeon.

So don't expect much from stocks for years to come.

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