The post Lehman decade was defined by the Federal Reserve’s “lender of the last resort” strategy to stabilize the global banking system. The American central bank expanded its balance sheet from $900 billion to $4.5 trillion. This led to a collapse in money market rates, Treasury bond yields and asset market volatility. Bull markets are born in panic and die in a frenzy of greed. So it was no coincidence that the S&P 500 index rose more than fourfold since President Obama’s inauguration in January 2009, led by a spectacular bull market in Silicon Valley tech shares.
However, the rules of the global money game changed in October 2018. The eighth-rate hike by the Federal Reserve at the September FOMC led to a rise in the two-year Treasury note yield to 2.9% and ten-year US Treasury note yield to 3.25%. The US dollar surged against the Euro on Italy’s budget woes, against sterling on Brexit fear and against emerging market currencies on systemic debt horror stories. The tensions between Beijing and Washington have escalated into a trade war. Russia is a geopolitical pariah in the West due to the Kremlin’s annexation of the Crimea, cyber espionage and military interventions in Syria and Ukraine.