Most economists and investors readily acknowledge that the current period of central bank activism, characterized by extended bouts of quantitative easing and zero percent interest rates, is a newly-blazed trail in economic history. And while these policies strike some as counterintuitive, open-ended, and unimaginably expensive, most express comfort that our extremely educated, data-dependent, central bankers have a pretty good idea as to where the trail is going and how to keep the wagons together during the journey.
But as it turns out, there really isn't much need for guesswork. As the United States enters its eighth year of zero percent interest rates, we should all be looking at a conveniently available tour guide along the path of perpetual easing. Japan has been doing what we are doing now for at least 15 years longer. Unfortunately, no one seems to care, or be surprised, that they are just as incapable as we have been in finding a workable exit. When Virgil guided Dante through Hell, he at least knew how to get out. Japan doesn't have a clue.