There are no asset bubbles – not in equity markets, not in the housing market.
That’s according to Federal Reserve chair nominee Janet Yellen, who was asked about bubbles in her confirmation hearing before the Senate Banking Committee Thursday.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Yellen, citing valuations, told lawmakers, “Stock prices have risen pretty robustly…[but] you would not see stock prices in territory that suggest…bubble-like conditions.”
The S&P 500 (^GSPC) is up 25% this year, hasn’t had a pullback of 10% since fall 2011 and has hit a series of all-time-highs this year, including on Thursday. (This came after Yellen’s “dovish” remarks in the hearing indicating she supports the Fed’s easy money policies, as expected.)
Yellen also deconstructed the housing bubble argument saying, for example, that private investors are buying homes in some of the markets that were hardest hit, which is “logical” and something the Fed is watching.
Some disagree with Yellen's view of market bubbles. In the accompanying video, former Reagan budget director and author of The Great Deformation David Stockman argues that “we have bubbles everywhere" -- in junk bonds, stocks, and a housing market “riddled with speculators.”
He blames the Fed for “dripping monetary morphine into Wall Street” and creating these bubbles, and he calls for the Fed to stop its easy money policies immediately.
David Kotok, chairman and chief investment officer of Cumberland Advisors, argues you can only identify a bubble "in retrospect,” and he doesn’t think we have one currently in stocks or housing.
“Do we have prices rising? Do we have leverage being applied? Yes," Kotok tells The Daily Ticker. "So if that continues it creates a bubble.” And after the fact, he says, you can point to it and say “aha.”
“If the Fed persists in the [current] policy and doesn’t get to some tapering, then the Fed would contribute to it and exacerbate it,” he adds.
The debate is over how to wind down these policies – quickly or slowly (so as to not disrupt the economic recovery). Ripping the band-aid off quickly is self-explanatory; for a version of the “slow” scenario check out the video above.
If you would like to see the entire David vs David clip please click here.
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