Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Wealth Effect

You might expect Fed chief Ben Bernanke to laud QE2 because of its effect on stock prices: Easy money fuels the “wealth effect”… people feel flush as their brokerage accounts grow… and then go out and spend money.

Of course, it’s a dopey notion — based on the idea that consumption grows the economy, not savings and production. But it is what it is.

At yesterday’s close, the S&P 500 is only 70 points away from where the whole QE2 process started nearly a year ago — when Bernanke winked and said it was all but a done deal during his annual speech in Jackson Hole, Wyo.

When Bernanke indicated during his first news conference on April 27, 2011 that QE2 would wind down as scheduled at the end of June, the market topped two days later. The market then entered a holding pattern until the circus over the debt ceiling concluded… then, well, the last week of July through this morning tells the rest of the story.

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