As the Dow flirts with hitting 20,000 for the first time ever, having risen more than 8 percent since the election, I am left thinking – SERIOUSLY?
The single biggest factor behind the market's rise over the last decade has been central bank support. That is now either being removed, or ineffective. Even if you think yields are rising for the right reasons, to expect a totally smooth and uneventful transition is hugely optimistic.
The "right reasons" would be moderate and stable inflation caused by sustainable growth. Even in the rosiest of outlooks, where we now transition to that, I would expect there to be bumps (and we are surely at the crest of one after the recent run). But I am also dubious that a significant and sustainable uptick in growth is imminent either way.
Interest rates going up do not have to be a bad thing. However, the world is MORE indebted today than it was coming into the crisis ten years ago. Yes some nations including the U.S. have cut their deficits since 2008 – but this merely slows the pace at which the national debt is increasing each year – it is still rising. In that regard, rising rates are a major headwind, and begs the added question of whether Trump's proposed fiscal expansion is coming too late (something that the low unemployment rate also suggests).
And in certain places leverage has not just continued to tick up but actually soared. China is the clear example. Last week was a great example – retail, manufacturing and fixed asset investment numbers were all encouraging. And then the following day we saw why – lending data shot up. The Chinese economy is propped up on loose policy and credit more than ever.