Nouriel Roubini has officially left the “hedging your bets on the economy” camp. He has declared the markets to be frothy because super low dollar borrowing rates have turned the greenback into the funding currency for the carry trade.
Far more important than the peppy rally in the stock market is the resumption of early 2007 style risk taking in the credit markets. As Gillian Tett of the Financial Times noted last week:
Earlier this month, I received a sobering e-mail from a senior, recently-retired banker. This particular man, a veteran of the credit world, had just chatted with ex-colleagues who are still in the markets – and was feeling deeply shocked.
“Forget about the events of the past 12 months … the punters are back punting as aggressively as ever,” he wrote. “Highly leveraged short-term trades are back in vogue as players … jostle to load up on everything from Reits [real estate investment trusts] and commercial property, commodities, emerging markets and regular stocks and bonds.
“Oh, I am sure the banks’ public relations people will talk about the subdued atmosphere in banking, but don’t you believe it,” he continued bitterly, noting that when money is virtually free – or, at least, at 0.5 per cent – traders feel stupid if they don’t leverage up.
“Any sense of control is being chucked out of the window. After the dotcom boom and bust it took a good few years for the market to get its collective mojo back [but] this time it has taken just a few months,” he added. He finished with a despairing question: “Was October 2008 just a dress rehearsal for the crash when this latest bubble bursts?”
In other words, everyone seems to be in on this bubble except most borrowers in the real economy. But that wasn’t the main objective…it was to reflate asset prices to save the global banking system…by rerunning the same movie that drove it off the cliff in the first place (well, this is a sequel, so there are some minor plot changes, like the dollar rather than the yen as the basis for the carry trade).