The Fed Is Calling the Shots in Markets
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- The coronavirus pandemic has led to a historic economic collapse, both here and around the world. The Federal Reserve responded by slashing rates to zero and vowing to buy trillions of dollars in new assets. What will be the impact of these Fed actions is the question that this week's guest on Masters in Business, Jim Bianco, president of Bianco Research, tries to answer.
Some expect a rapid recovery and spike in inflation; others see a long, slow recovery, more in the shape of a swoosh than a V.
Bianco, a former fixed-income analyst who covers equities, comes at it a bit differently. He says the present economic debate is over whether the economy is experiencing a supply or demand shock. Has the economy crashed because of the mandated business closures, hurting the supply side? Or have consumers, wary of leaving their homes, been the main factor, crushing demand? One thing seems certain: consumer reluctance to resume pre-pandemic activity will play a big part in determining how long the coronavirus hangover lasts.
All of this makes establishing fair value for markets difficult, he says. The Fed's actions have put a floor under stocks, preventing them from falling more than they otherwise might. In contrast with the financial crisis, the Fed has been more aggressive, which also contributed to the sharp rally from the March lows.
Bianco's record is worth noting: He was one of the first analysts who explained the impact of the Fed’s quantitative easing and zero interest-rate policies in 2009.
This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.
Barry Ritholtz is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist. He is chairman and chief investment officer of Ritholtz Wealth Management, and was previously chief market strategist at Maxim Group. He is the author of “Bailout Nation.”
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