Stocks have catapulted through recovery.
Among the things that have driven the expansion, a key factor has been the role of the Federal Reserve.
In market commentary on Wednesday, Blackstone’s Byron Wien pegs a number on this: $US3 trillion.
Even though we’ve seen company earnings more than double between 2009 and 2014, there’s been concern that the market rally has largely been driven by ‘easy money’ the Fed supplied through its bond buying program, or quantitative easing.
Wien quantifies its contribution:
“It took the Fed 95 years to build up a balance sheet of $US1 trillion and only six years to go from there to the present level. The Federal Reserve was providing this stimulus to improve the growth of the economy, but it is my view that three quarters of the money injected into the system through the purchase of bonds went into financial assets pushing stock prices up and keeping yields low. If I am right, the Fed contributed almost $US3 trillion (some may have gone into bonds) to the $US13 trillion rise in the stock market appreciation from the 2009 low to the current level, earnings increases explained $US9 trillion (1.5 x $US6 trillion) and other factors accounted for $US1 trillion. You could argue that the monetary stimulus financed the multiple expansion in this cycle.”
Wien also sees an increased likelihood that we could be headed for a 10% correction, something the market hasn’t seen in over 3 years.
“It has been three years since the last one. Sentiment among investors is optimistic or complacent, not a condition conducive to a sustained upward market move. I still maintain a positive outlook for the S&P 500 for 2015, but perhaps we have to endure a little pain first.”
It is possible, however, that stocks will rise another 10% before the end of the year, Wien says. But they will have to achieve that without the Fed’s help.
Recently, there’s been a focus on liquidity in the markets — how easily investors will be able to buy or sell securities at a given price.
And with the Fed getting ready to tighten monetary policy, some commentators have said we may see wild price swings as investors rush for the exits.