Market Commentary - May 2016

A lot of critics, myself included, have argued that a majority of the monetary policies instituted by central banks have helped to boost asset prices. While this isn't necessarily a bad thing, the issue is many argue this helps those who already have money and ignores those who do not. For example, the big banks who are sitting on large cash piles but unwilling to lend to those who want a loan. To put things in perspective, the richest 62 people are as wealthy as HALF of the worlds population. This wealth inequality gap has been widening since 2009. As we see a continuance of zero (and even negative) interest rates this issue could only get worse. 

The term "Helicopter Money" was coined by economist Milton Friedman in 1969. Of course it doesn't literally mean helicopters dropping money from the sky but the idea is basically just that.  If the goal of a central bank is to raise inflation and economic output, one idea is to directly give citizens either a lump sum of cash or grant a universal tax rebate. The hope is this would lead to increased spending, small business creation and lead to economic expansion to kickstart economic growth. This would bypass the banks who have largely just sat on all the money supply created by quantitative easing. 

I don't see this every happening but I also didn't think negative interest rates would be something we would ever have to address either. I am very intrigued by the idea if for no other reason than to see the economic ramifications. On the flip side I feel like most Americans have received a rebate in the form of cheap prices at the gas station and this hasn't really lead to increased spending and economic growth. The cheap gas prices also are only felt by those with cars who drive a lot. It doesn't necessarily help people who live in cities and may not drive much if ever. 

Despite the recent rise in the US markets, the last 24 months shows very little progress in terms of economic growth. In fact Q1 of 2016 was about what we expected....a seemingly slowing economy. Interesting times for sure.