Opinion

Nine Reasons Why the Stock Markets Are Far Too Optimistic

Nouriel Roubini

By Nouriel Roubini

The financial-market buzz has seized on the possibility of a “reflation trade”, in the hope that the recent global slowdown will be followed in 2020 by accelerating growth and firmer inflation (which helps profits and risky assets).

By Nouriel Roubini

This past May and August, escalations in the trade and technology conflict between the US and China rattled stock markets and pushed bond yields to historic lows. But that was then: since then, financial markets have once again become giddy. US and other equities are trending towards new highs, and there is even talk of a potential “melt-up” in equity values. The financial-market buzz has seized on the possibility of a “reflation trade”, in the hope that the recent global slowdown will be followed in 2020 by accelerating growth and firmer inflation (which helps profits and risky assets).

The sudden shift from risk-off to risk-on reflects four positive developments. First, the US and China are likely to reach a “phase-one” deal that would at least temporarily halt any further escalation of their trade and technology war. Second, despite the uncertainty surrounding the UK’s election on 12 December, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has at least managed to secure a tentative “soft Brexit” deal with the EU, and the chances of the UK crashing out of the bloc have been substantially reduced.

Third, the US has demonstrated restraint in the face of Iranian provocations in the Middle East, with President Donald Trump realising that surgical strikes against that country could result in a full-scale war and a severe oil-price spike. And, lastly, the US Federal Reserve, the European Central Bank, and other major central banks have gotten ahead of geopolitical headwinds by easing monetary policies. With central banks once again coming to the rescue, even minor “green shoots” – such as the stabilisation of the US manufacturing sector and the resilience of services and consumption growth – have been taken as a harbinger of renewed global expansion.

Read the full article in The Guardian.

___
Nouriel Roubini is a Professor of Economics and International Business and the Robert Stansky Research Faculty Fellow.