Daniel Lacalle (Madrid, 1967). PhD Economist and Fund Manager. Author of bestsellers "Life In The Financial Markets" and "The Energy World Is Flat" as well as "Escape From the Central Bank Trap". Daniel Lacalle (Madrid, 1967). PhD Economist and Fund Manager. Frequent collaborator with CNBC, Bloomberg, CNN, Hedgeye, Epoch Times, Mises Institute, BBN Times, Wall Street Journal, El Español, A3 Media and 13TV. Holds the CIIA (Certified International Investment Analyst) and masters in Economic Investigation and IESE.
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One of the most repeated sentences in the financial media is: “do not fight central banks”, making the argument that you have to be invested in equities and especially in the most cyclical part because central banks increase money supply and support risky assets.
Reality shows us otherwise. Following the central bank only works in the United States and particularly in technology companies. In Europe, following the central bank is not only a bad idea. It is counterproductive.
The balance sheet of the European Central Bank has expanded more than 147% since 2014 and the Stoxx 600 index, which includes the 600 most important companies in Europe, has appreciated just over a paltry 4%. There is a similar story in emerging markets. Global money supply has soared to all-time highs and the Emerging Market MSCI Index has barely appreciated by 5%. In fact, investors are taking significantly more risk only to follow monetary policy for weaker results.
The rise in Covid-19 cases in countries like France and Spain has increased the risk of new lockdowns. Governments should understand by now that shutting down the economy is highly inefficient and devastating for jobs and business solvency. However, as we have seen in Spain, many governments simply decide to start new lockdowns in order to show that they are taking aggressive measures, even knowing that these generate more negative effects and have no real impact on preserving health. Instead of looking at the examples of South Korea, Taiwan, Sweden or Austria, where simple but effective measures have resulted in better management of the health crisis, some European governments are ignoring the economic and social long-term disaster that closing down the economy has created and seem prepared to repeat the past mistakes.
The Economic Sentiment Index of the European Commission for August shows that the recovery of the European economy is slowing down. Not only has the pace of recovery slowed significantly, but the data for Spain reflected evidence of being the only economy in the euro area where the index fell compared to July. If we look at the OECD leading indicator index, the evolution is also worrying. 60
Bloomberg also tracks the daily activity in most economies and the evidence points to a deceleration in August in most developed and emerging economies. Only the United States seems moderately better in comparison, although the slowdown in the recovery process is also evident.
The employment recovery in the United States is as impressive as the collapse due to the lockdowns.
In April I wrote a column stating that “The U.S. Labor Market Can Heal Quickly” and the improvement has been positive. Very few would have expected the unemployment rate at 8.4% in August after soaring to almost 15% in the middle of the pandemic. This means that the unemployment rate is in August 2020 lower than what analysts projected for the end of 2020. Even the measure of underemployment (U-6) has fallen from 22.8% to 14.2%.