Presenting The Liquidity Bubble

Tyler Durden's picture

Ask anybody to chart the trajectory of the S&P500 over the past 10 years and you will get this chart.

And while the tech boom of the late 1990's was driven by some very real secular shifts caused by unique technological innovation which, aside from the exuberance associated with some of the dot com names, brought a marked benefit to the global economy, how does one explain the subsequent ramp up as the credit bubble was being inflated and subsequently imploded?

Simple - it was all liquidity driven.

The best way to visualize it is to take the SPX and to divide it by the sum of domestic reserves and foreign custodial holdings (a topic discussed on Zero Hedge previously here). The result is that represented on this relative basis, the underlying market did absolutely nothing for the duration of the entire credit bubble. This should come as no surprise to anyone who has been following the theme of the Fed's balance sheet expansion and why the market has been ramping up markedly even, or specifically because of, the Fed's balance sheet growing over the past decade and recently hitting unprecedented levels in the $2 trillion+ range. One can play with the denominator and add other money aggregates such as MZM, but the result would not change materially.

And the scariest part of the chart is the tail end: even with the unleashed dam of liquidity, the market still has a massive retracement ahead of it before it can recover the adjusted losses it has suffered since the last credit bubble. Ironically a 50% run up in the S&P has not been enough to offset on an apples-to-apples basis the unprecedented liquidity efforts let lose by Chairman Ben.

The bottom line is that when viewed from the perspective of liquidity fueling the market, the S&P 500 has never been in a worse situation. And alas, as the Fed's balance sheet climbs to $4 trillion +, absent a multi-year parabolic rise in stocks, liquidity will increasingly lose its power to sustain markets to historical overbloated levels. But Ben Bernanke will go down in flames, and take down America with him, trying to disprove this hypothesis.

h/t Philidor