Central bankers in both the U.S. and Europe disappointed most investors this week by failing to announce any additional monetary stimulus. But that doesn’t mean they won’t. What Wall Street fails to understand is that governments do things in their own time and pace.
Actually, this week’s sell-off was simply another buying opportunity for those, like me, who are convinced that additional easing is in the cards. How can I be so sure?
The U.S. Federal Reserve in the minutes of its FOMC meeting this week, acknowledged that the economy and unemployment was a disappointment. They said it “will provide additional accommodation as needed to promote a stronger economic recovery and sustained improvement in labor market conditions.”
So it doesn’t take rocket science to figure out that most of the recent economic data is quickly moving from bad to worse, but the real kicker is the unemployment rate. Despite Friday’s welcome gain of 163,000 jobs, the overall rate ticked up to 8.3%. That was not an anomaly. The number of new jobs created over the last few months has been falling and this week’s number does not appreciatively change that. That, my dear reader, should really concern the Fed. To me, I’m betting the Federal Reserve Bank is going to act. Evidently the markets agree since stocks soared after the unemployment data was released.
Next, we move to European Central Bank President Mario Draghi. After last week’s comments that he would “do whatever it takes” to defend the Euro, investors immediately expected him to launch some new bond –buying program this week. When that failed to happen, markets sold off.
I have often reminded readers that prior to accomplishing anything significant in European financial policy; a consensus needs to be built among at least the largest players in the European Union. That does not occur in a week. Draghi is looking for ways to reduce Spanish and Italian sovereign bond rates that will also enlist the cooperation of Germany, France and other nations. He will accomplish that because in the end all the key players have shown that they too will defend the Euro with whatever it takes.
In the meantime, ignore all the wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth by the markets and their commentators. Increasingly, world markets act like children: they want instant gratification and as little pain as possible. If they don’t get it, they throw a tantrum.
The Fed has a number of opportunities to announce further monetary initiatives. Although they could technically take action at any time, they normally wait for a forum of sorts to make this type of announcement. The closest is their annual meeting in Jackson Hole, Wyoming at the end of the month. But the Fed might want to wait until they see more economic data, in which case it could be September before they move. They could also synchronize their actions with other central banks. That happened in October, 2008 and again in November, 2011.
The point is that further stimulus is coming both in Europe and in the U.S. If the past is any guide to how the stock market will react, it behooves readers to be invested and stay invested until those events occur. QE II was announced in Jackson Hole, Wyo. on August 27, 2010. The S&P 500 Index rallied 20.9%. The next stimulus program, “Operation Twist” was launched on September 21, 2011 resulting in a gain of 21.7% in the S&P.
It is also noteworthy that in both cases the stock market averages experienced a “V” shaped recovery in the immediate days and weeks after the announcements. Those who were not invested already were forced to chase the markets. Experienced money managers who waited for a pullback before investing were disappointed time after time. Is it any wonder that this time investors who believe more stimuli are forthcoming are buying on any dips?
There are those who argue that because the markets are climbing ahead of the event, much of the gains will already be discounted once the stimulus occurs. “Not so”, say I, as I look back to May 18, 2012, (which was the S&P low for this year). To date, the markets have gained about 7.5%. Let’s say the markets climb another 3% before the end of August. If the expected gains are similar to the rallies of the last two QE’s (20%), that would still leave another 10% between the end of August and the November elections. That’s more than enough for me. How about you?