Bill Blain: “Throughout My Career, Years Ending In 7 Haven’t Been Good”

While we wish one of our favorite market commentators’, Mint’s Bill Blain, all the best as he recovers from his recent heart attack, we would like to share with readers his inaugural for 2017 note, which lays out his current concerns about the state of the markets, and the global economy.

From the January 10 edition of Blain’s Mid-Morning Porridge

Let me start by stating the issues causing me some worry:

Throughout my career, years ending in 7 haven’t been good.

1987 saw a massive stock market crash, in 1997 we got the Asian Financial Crisis, and 2007 saw the start of the Global Financial Crisis and consequences we’re still struggling with today. In the case of year 7s, the trend is not our friend.

I’m told by my stock picking chartists there is a 10-yr stock cycle that looks to have peaked. Many factors about this succession of market turnaround moments worry me – firstly, the scale of crisis seems to be multiplying as each 10-yrs event. A simple stock market rout in 1987 became near global catastrophe in 2007.

Thankfully we haven’t ever had the kind of absolute global market meltdown doomsters say will happen, but it does strike me that market moves – whether caused by an evil conjunction of rogue algorithims and Hi-Speed-Trading, or simple human foolishness – are becoming increasingly chaotic, thus raising the scale of crashes.

The second aspect is how financial crisis are solved. Each is new – but it worries me the efforts made to ensure the last crisis doesn’t happen again may contribute to the causes the next one. I certainly don’t believe the deluge of regulatory tat since 2008 has made the world safer. It has not… it has made it more.. difficult. It’s a game of consequences…

And change is definitely coming…

I’ve been looking at the dismal science of Economics. It’s proper name is political economy and its not a proper science. It’s a language for understanding complex events and responding to them,rather than mathematical rules. Over the past 10-years we’ve seen a massive economic experiment in monetary economics. It’s hasn’t gone well. It strikes me the legions of central bank economists are akin to the ancient alchemists looking to change base metal into gold….

The piper will soon want paid. The next phase – underway already – will be a reversal back to fiscal economics. That one potentially positive reality for the US and UK, but yet another minefield for Europe. It’s a big if to see whether Trump delivers the fiscal boost the market expects, or whether the continued weakness of sterling continues to push the FTSE into the stratosphere. I have my doubts…!
In Europe a swing towards Fiscal policy spells crisis.

The fact that France and Italy could be steaming towards fiscal stimuli will break the current ECB monetary consensus, while Germans become increasing strident about the need for higher rates and an end to QE. Add to that a hefty dose of European politics. Dutch Elections, French Elections and the Germans.. its all much to worry about.