Let’s see. Manufacturing in the world’s biggest economy ground to a halt in January. The benchmark Treasury yields is at its lowest in three months and stock indexes can’t hold onto earlier signs of a rally. So then that likely puts the CBOE Volatility Index at a sky high reading of 20.0.
Even after five years of the Fed’s most aggressive accommodative policy in history, there is still a lack of hoped for quality credit creation in the economy, which could be a sign that the greatest deleveraging of the U.S. economy since the Great Depression is still not complete. The Fed’s unrelenting dovish policy appears to support this concern.
The U.S. Federal Reserve decided to withdraw $10 billion from its monthly purchases in spite of the global concerns and the slowdown in emerging markets and that concerned investors are now left “wondering” what the next “shoe to drop” will be.
In December the Federal Reserve saw enough evidence of economic strength to begin tapering its Quantitative Easing (QE3) program and markets are adjusting to this new reality. So far it has been a tough pill to swallow with emerging markets being the first to feel the pains of withdrawal.
Politically, 2013 was the year of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. First the GOP followed the direction of Junior Senator Ted Cruz (R Tex.) down a dark alley in a fight they were guaranteed to lose, and, then with the GOP on the ropes, the President and his team botched the roll-out of the Affordable Care Act website. In the markets all eyes were on Federal Reserve mainly because Congress abdicated all responsibility for moving the economy forward to Ben Bernanke, who finally signaled the beginning of the end of QE3.
2013 was a year of anticipation and perhaps disappointment. For those hoping the 2012 election would have settled some of the dysfunction in Washington, that did not happen. In fact, we doubled down on fights already settled as if there were no new business. Equity markets impressed, but few saw it as anything other than the hand of the Fed. Mercifully, the Fed signaled the beginning of the end of QE3 by year-end.
The advent of electronic trading brought an infatuation with for-profit exchanges, while Dodd-Frank brought hope of regulatory protection for the little guys. Neither delivered in 2013 — will 2014 be any different?