This blog post originally appeared on RealMoney Silver on Aug. 20 at 9:11 a.m. EDT.
On Friday night, I appeared on CNBC's "Fast Money" and was asked a critical question: Why fight the Fed in maintaining a cautious market view? After all, the markets soared after the Fed eased in response to the Long Term Capital Management (LTCM) bailout in 1998.
I'll answer that question now.
Back in 1990-1992 and 2001-2003, the Fed lowered interest rates 100 basis points, secure in the belief that it had thwarted a recession. Both times, the Fed was wrong: A recession commenced, and a bear market in equities followed. For example, the DJIA soared nearly 3% with the surprise January 2001 interest rate cut. Three months later, the markets made new lows and ultimately fell 20% from the highs.
Seven years ago, the economy was soaring with real gains of about 4%, productivity was unprecedented, technology was in the midst of a renaissance, and the consumer was in fine shape. The LTCM issue was fairly contained; it was an isolated liquidity crisis in a hedge fund that was forced by the misuse of leverage and the insolvency of a relatively small economy, Russia.The result was a 75-basis-point reduction in the fed funds rates, which restored calm in the financial markets in a matter of weeks. Things are far different today.