Friday, 28 August 2020

 

A Love Letter to the Fed From the Adoring Stock Market

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PHOTO ILLUSTRATION: 731
Bloomberg Businessweek

Dear Fed,

Hey there! It’s me, the stock market. I know it’s weird to write you like this, but I felt like I needed to drop a quick thank-you note for everything you’ve done for me this year. I mean, your big ol’ balance sheet is almost $3 trillion larger since early March! You’re backing up the truck and loading it with Treasuries and corporate bonds and bond ETFs, all to keep the competition to stocks from fixed-income yields as limited as Jim Cramer’s understanding of me. It’s been a dream come true, honestly. I mean, fess up: Have you been reading my diary?!

Maybe you’ve noticed, but everything else is a royal mess. Covid-19 is still killing people. Parents are dreading the beginning of “school.” U.S. unemployment is still above 10%, higher than it’s been since the 1980s. The country is facing the biggest economic contraction in its history. Corporate profits are plunging. The recession is forecast to continue at least through the first quarter of next year. And me? I’m soaring! Have you seen these record highs I’ve been setting?

To be honest with you, it’s getting kind of wild—and I’ve seen plenty of weirdness before. I’m more popular with sports fans than March Madness! Of course, there was no March Madness this year, so that’s not really a fair comparison—kind of like comparing my dividend payouts to yields in the bond market. Amirite, or amirite? LOL!

But I’m not kidding when I say things are getting REALLY weird. Have you heard of Dave Portnoy, aka Davey Day Trader, yet? He was just some middling internet celebrity until suddenly he’s going viral for using Scrabble tiles to pick stock ticker symbols. The Robinhood set thinks he’s smarter than Warren Buffett! This probably isn’t going to end well, I’ll tell you that much.

Speaking of Robinhood, that whole Hertz saga was about as weird as it gets. A rental car company was trying to sell new shares while in bankruptcy court, because its stock price was on a tear? Let me repeat that: Hertz. Sold. Shares. While. In. Bankruptcy. I can’t even! You’re sure keeping your pals over at the SEC busy! I mean, it’s so weird out there, Bloomberg Businessweek is resorting to cringeworthy satire to make sense of it all.

Speaking of cringey, what was up with the minutes from your last meeting? Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t actually read them. If I had the attention span for that type of stuff, you’d call me the bond market. Of course, the bond market did read the minutes, and it thinks you’re being a little rude for not wanting to keep the party going. Look, I learned this lesson the hard way—and I sort of thought you did, too—so it bears repeating: Just do whatever the bond market says, OK? It’s bigger, better educated, and a sharper dresser than the both of us.

So please do me a solid and keep this thank-you note in mind when you host your virtual Jackson Hole summit. No cowboy stuff, OK? If I hear anybody mutter something about “irrational exuberance,” I swear I’m gonna blow my top and hurt a few of these Robinhood types, you got that? The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away. It’s what I do—and I’m good at it! But right now, this is still a lot of fun for me … and when I do end up burning folks, do you really want to be the one who gets thrown under the bus? I mean, you know you’re going to catch all the blame, right?

C’mon, Fed. We both know you’re smarter than that. What’s another few trillion?

With sincere and deepest gratitude,

The Stock Market

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