ARTICLE

Broken Pattern, Token RiskDuncan Davidson - Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011

I appreciate all the concern in the comments on my transit back through Narita, but it came and went and I still have my hair. I spent about an hour in transit, and the food on the return was worse than normal, telling me that it was not sourced from Japan. 

 

The risk I took was very low. I wrote about it in my other travel blog: Bananas Are Radioactive Too. The risk I took was about the risk of a daily commute. You guys who commuted for the six working days I was gone were taking on much more risk.

 

Investing trades in risk and investors get it wrong all the time. Right now the bet is not to fade the Fed, to believe QE Infinity will continue to pump this market. The calls to end both QE and the zero interest rate policy (ZIRP) are increasing. Andy Kessler just explained in the WSJ how ZIRP crushes capital formation and stifles the recovery. Risk on.

 

The other bet is that the four-year re-election cycle will pump the market. This is the most predictable cycle, and its causation is clear. Yet Obama shot this bullet early, right away in fact, and the Stimulus is already fading to the point it is acting as a drag on GDP. He is facing political headwinds from the grumpy Republican House, and if he loses QE, he is left with only a war to pump the economy. Libya? Yet another Middle Eastern war threatens to keep oil prices high, acting as a bigger drag than war-spending. 

 

You can see the impact of this in this chart showing the current market vs. the normal re-election market. Now, "normal" here is an average of many years, so we should not expect any one market to actually match the curve; also, the curve is not combined with statistical variability (eg. Bollinger Bands), so cannot we easily assess if this one is still within the bands of "normal". The key, though, is the extent the recent dive has taken this market off the normal pattern. Broken pattern betokens bigger risk.

 

This article appears as part of a content sharing arrangement with Planet Yelnick.

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