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Danger Ahead: Easy Money Is No More

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Even after "tapering" has begun, Fed officials have made it clear that monetary policy will remain extraordinarily accommodative for a long period of time. In this sense, "easy money" is going to remain with us for quite a while.

However, the agonizing by financial market participants over the timing and rate of monetary tightening has begun. The "tapering" genie is out of the bottle and it is pretty clear that it will not go back into it without a major accident to the U.S. economy.

So, any way one looks at it, when it comes to speculative profits in financial markets, the "easy money" is no more. Financial markets investors are in for a very volatile ride in the next few months: Either the economy tanks and rates fall/stabilize at a low level, or the recovery proceeds and rates normalize.

The problem with the latter more optimistic scenario is that given the current rate of inflation as well as the stage of the recovery that the U.S. economy is in, a "normal" yield on the 10Y Treasury note should be in the neighborhood of 5.00% vs. the roughly 2.16% rate that prevails currently. Thus, ironically, "normalization" of interest rates led by the Fed implies a severe shock to financial markets as fixed income instruments such as iShares Barclays 20+ Year Treasury Bond (TLT) , and SPDR Barclays High Yield Bond (JNK) decline sharply in price as yields rise.

Markets are not going to wait for tapering to occur; markets will become highly volatile as investors anticipate this prospective interest rate shock and its perceived consequences for the economy and financial markets.

It is far from clear how this massive anticipatory adjustment that will be played out in financial markets is going to turn out. The path ahead is highly unpredictable, and potentially treacherous.


On the one hand, the financial markets adjustment could go badly. Credit market dislocations caused by rising interest rate expectations could become so severe that the economic recovery in the US becomes derailed. In this scenario, broad stock indices represented by ETFs such as SPDR S&P 500 (SPY) will decline severely.

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