Fed taper, or when the Fed will begin to slow its $85 billion asset purchase program intended to lower long-term interest rates, is all the buzz in markets these days.
In a new note, Bob Janjuah, Nomura’s uber-bearish strategist writes that the taper will happen but that it will be “gentle”.
He also writes that it won’t have anything to do with the strength of the economy or wage inflation.
“The Fed also knows that it was held at least partially responsible for creating and blowing up the bubble that burst spectacularly upon us all in 2007/2008. But very importantly, the Fed now has explicit and pretty much full responsibility for regulation of the banking and financial sector…
“This means first and foremost that while growth, inflation and unemployment all matter a great deal, the Fed cannot now either allow, or be perceived to allow, the creation of any kind of excessive leverage driven speculative (asset) bubbles which, if they collapse, go on to threaten the financial stability of the US. Imagine if this Fed were to allow a major asset bubble to blow up and then burst anytime soon (say within the next two or three years). This time round Congress and the people of the US would be able to place the entire blame on the Fed – probably with some justification – and, if the fallout approached anything like that seen in 2008, then it would mean, in my view, the end of the Fed as we currently know it…
“So for me, ‘tapering’ is going to happen. It will be gentle, it will be well telegraphed, and the key will be to avoid a major shock to the real economy. But the Fed is NOT going to taper because the economy is too strong or because we have sustained core (wage) inflation, or because we have full employment – none of these conditions will be seen for some years to come. Rather, I feel that the Fed is going to taper because it is getting very fearful that it is creating a number of significant and dangerous leverage driven speculative bubbles that could threaten the financial stability of the US. In central bank speak, the Fed has likely come to the point where it feels the costs now outweigh the benefits of more policy.”
But he doesn’t expect markets to heed the Fed’s message. In fact Janjuah thinks a delayed market reaction could see a few dips before the final market turn that could see a -25% to -50% bear market in late 2013 or early 2014. He also thinks cash will become King again.
“We can certainly see a dip or two between now and the final top/the final turn. But it may take until 2014 (Q1?) before we get the true onset of a major -25% to -50% bear market in stocks. We also need to be cognisant of the Abe/BoJ developments. Along with the Fed, ‘Japan’ is one of the two major global risk reward drivers. The ECB response to (core) deflation and the German elections, and weakening Chinese & EM growth and the indebtedness of China & EM, will also matter a great deal.
“As of today, my best guess is at least one major dip around Q2/Q3 (we may be in the middle of it now) as we seek more clarity around all of these drivers. My initial line in the sand for this dip is around S&P at 1530 and my major line is at S&P at 1450. A weekly close below 1450 S&P, in particular, would be extremely bearish. But I expect at least one more major buying of the dip come (late) Q3/Q4.I would not be surprised if we saw the S&P not just back up in the high 1600s, but perhaps even a 100 points higher (close to 1800!) before the next major bear market begins.”
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