Like All Bubbles, This One Will End Badly
Like All Bubbles, This One Will End Badly by
Stock market crashes always seem to come out of nowhere. But, in hindsight, we realize that all the elements for a crash were in place months before prices fell. There will, of course, be another crash, and we can already see many of the black swans lining up to cause the crash.
A black swan is a rare event that no one seems to be able to predict. It could be a housing crash after prices soar to unsustainable levels and are propped up by lax mortgage-underwriting standards. Or a black swan could be a surge in inflation or a geopolitical crisis.
When we study the black swans after the fact, they seem obvious. There were clues, but investors ignored the clues because they were caught up in “irrational exuberance.” Sometimes, investors can remain irrational for years. That’s what happened in 1996, the last time Alan Greenspan issued a warning.
Greenspan was chairman of the Federal Reserve at the time. He famously asked: “How do we know when irrational exuberance has unduly escalated asset values, which then become subject to unexpected and prolonged contractions as they have in Japan over the past decade?”
Analysts at the time thought Greenspan was warning of a stock market bubble. He was, but the bubble lasted until early 2000, and the S&P 500 more than doubled before the bubble popped. Internet stocks recorded even bigger gains.
This time, Greenspan thinks we’re in a different kind of bubble…
The Bubble Will Burst
For now, Greenspan thinks the stock market is in good shape. But he believes higher interest rates will cause a bear market someday.
Greenspan recently spoke to Bloomberg and confirmed what almost everyone who isn’t in the Fed believes: “By any measure, real long-term interest rates are much too low.”