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'Stalling Markets': The Last Time This Happened Was October 1929

•, by Alasdair Macleod

Meanwhile, investors still believe more extreme monetary policies will stabilise economies and that the ultra-low interest rate environment will persist without renewed price inflation. As Samuel Johnson reputedly said of a second marriage, it represents the triumph of hope over experience.

There is a moment just after the top of every credit cycle where positive momentum stalls before a new reality emerges. When the stall begins, as appears to be the case today, everything is still read positively. Perennial bulls say "Don't worry, the central bank will reduce interest rates and inject enough money into the banking system to ensure any recession will be minor and growth will resume". With interest rates falling, confidence in the final outcome means stocks continue to rise. With this mindset, bad news for the economy is always good news for stocks.

This investors' paradise is populated by devotees of the new economics, supporting progressively increased state intervention. They don't actually believe that free markets should set stock prices anymore and have become hooked on central banks pursuing inflationary policies. In their minds, the relationship between monetary inflation and rising stock prices amounts to a financial equivalent of perpetual motion. However, their enduring belief in the might of central banks and the importance they place on maintaining asset prices makes inflationists blind to the message from stalling markets.

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