Bank Of England Admits "Stocks Don't Reflect Economic Reality"

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The Bank of England's Financial Policy Committee (BoEFPC) warns there is "evidence of the re-emergence of... behavior in financial markets not seen since before the financial crisis," citing the increased issuance of synthetic products and added that banks have "little margin for error against a backdrop of low growth in the advanced economies," despite what we are told about their 'fortress balance sheets. Bloomberg Businessweek adds that the BoE were careful not to scare the public, they add, events currently "did not appear indicative of widespread exuberance in markets. But developments would need to be monitored closely." This following the Fed's warnings of 'froth' in the credit markets suggests central bans are considerably more concerned at blowing bubbles than they want to admit in public. ECB's Weber recently commented that he feared, "the recent rally in financial markets could be a misleading signal," which appears confirmed by the BoEFPC noting that equity performance since mid-2012, "in part reflected exceptionally accommodative monetary policies by many central banks... But market sentiment may be taking too rosy a view of the underlying stresses."

 

Via Bloomberg BusinessWeek,

The Bank of England said rising equity markets don’t reflect the underlying economic situation and warned that investors may be underestimating risks in the financial system.

 

Gains by equities since mid-2012 “in part reflected exceptionally accommodative monetary policies by many central banks,” the BOE’s Financial Policy Committee said today in London in the minutes of its March 19 meeting. “It was also consistent with a perception among some contacts that the most significant downside risks had attenuated. But market sentiment may be taking too rosy a view of the underlying stresses.”

 

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The FPC’s comments on the advance in equity markets echo remarks last month by UBS AG Chairman Axel Weber, who said the economy hasn’t kept up with investor sentiment.

 

“I fear the recent rally in financial markets could be a misleading signal,” Weber, a former European Central Bank Governing Council member, said at an event in London with BOE Governor Mervyn King and Federal Reserve President Ben S. Bernanke. “We’re not really out of the woods yet.”

 

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In their discussion, the FPC members noted the potential threats to the financial system from increased risk appetite among investors.

 

This was evident in the re-emergence of some elements of behavior in financial markets not seen since before the financial crisis, including a relaxation in some U.S. credit markets of non-price terms and increased issuance of synthetic products,” the committee said. “At this stage, they did not appear indicative of widespread exuberance in markets. But developments would need to be monitored closely.”

 

The FPC also said that banks’ leverage ratios, a measure of their debt to equity level, would remain “very high” even after the new recommendations were met. It said there would be “little margin for error against a backdrop of low growth in the advanced economies.”

 

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