…[take] the human being out of the market entirely, then we should have a proper, effective and efficient market…?
So might go the refrain of Neo-liberal economics, or at least a slightly different take on the Neo-liberal ideal of ‘every interaction should be a market transaction‘.
That Neo-liberal economic refrain is part of the inspiration behind the creation of the ‘Soul of the Market’ or rather theMarketSoul and this site.
With this last post of 2013, we thought a bit of reflection and a reminder of our inspiration and founding philosophy might be in order.
In order for a market to be effective, there has to be a few ripples in the ebbs and flows of the transactions and interactions making up the market processes. Therefore, we have to be able to tolerate human frailties and flaws, or else the market becomes too mechanistic and dare we say it preordained. This can naturally not be an effective outcome for any market. Human failings and market failure are two sides of the same coin. However, we should work together in order to limit the inevitable damage and negative consequences of both human and market failure. This does not necessarily translate into more regulation, might we add at this juncture.
Let us never forget this and celebrate process frailty, failure, learn to develop and embrace tolerance, persistence and perseverance; basic elements of human nature…
We should never forget our inspiration, put it to aspiration and strive to achieve our own unique and specific dreams.
What can clearly be observed from the Yield Curve for Treasury Bills (T-Bills) dated 30 days is that the spread between 30 September 2013 (at 0.10%) to the rate at 11 October 2013 (0.26%) has significantly increased and that the Yield Curve has become inverted. Normally the sign of a recession or other financial calamity to come.
Will Thursday 17 October 2013 be D-Day (for Disaster or Domino-day) when the whole lot starts tumbling down again?
The problem of getting too distracted by constantly fire-fighting in business settings
We might have heard it referred to as phrases such as “blinkered vision, short-term thinking”, possibly even “tunnel vision” or something similar; however the challenges of Immediacy is (1) the hidden cost and (2) damage it does to our organisations and culture within those organisations.
This is a behavioural consequence of a much more deep rooted problem. It could possibly be insecurity or ‘over’ control, mistrust or some other behavioural issue.
However, we would like to make a bold statement that the problem is one of an over commented emotional connection to what we do. Too much passion and care in other words. This is not a bad thing in itself, but it must be tempered and balanced by its opposite twin, namely logic and deliberation.
Pure logical would dictate that (and indeed a convex demand curve) that as you ‘slide’ down the curve, the price / cost would become lower. Yet in practice, this hardly ever happens? Big Question mark…
Is this because the further we slide down the Experience Curve, the more utilitarian (fancy economic term we used there!) the benefit becomes? Yet, it also adds to the overall risk of the Experience or Value being added.
Is this a counter intuitive argument or are we just getting plain confused by the inverse relationship?
As economists (assuming that most of our readers have a vague interest in the subject matter we keep on harping on about most of the time) we should all be aware of, if not au fait with Opportunity Cost.
As a one line refresher: Opportunity Cost is the cost or value forgone by choice. Choosing one option or outcome over another, automatically leads to an alternative opportunity forgone, hence the cost element.
So the real challenge is to extract the ‘right’ amount of value or benefit from the chosen option versus the forgone option. This is the real difficulty when the counter-party does not share the same or a similar risk profile.
What is the answer then?
Well as vaguely competent economists our stock answer is: It depends!
Lets peal this back one level and start with the this position: the very fact that you had a choice in the first place is a very good thing. A lot or market participants are never really afforded the luxury of this or any choice. They just have to lump it and get on with whatever activity keeps them sustained. Therefore, from this extreme position an answer might be that we should count our blessings and just accept the inevitable and get on with choosing and working through the consequences.
However, in a world driven by value maximisation, the fact that we have to make the optimum choice does become more significant and important. What tools can we employ in a world of Information overload, yet still Information Asymmetry to come up with the optimal solution?
When the Euro zone Debt driven financial crises – yes, it has been dragging on for a little while now; lurching from one convulsion to the next tremor – is headline news across most traditional newspapers in Britain, it is worth pausing briefly to consider the overall ‘management efforts’ of the European leadership and senior bureaucratic establishment and the potential outcomes.
The interesting point to observe today is the development of the crises from one of ‘consolidated rhetoric’ to save the Euro zone and Euro project, to a slow and it now seems inevitable conclusion that certain ‘none performing’ members will have to leave the Euro monetary union. This ‘orderly exit’ is now overdue because the political will, fiscal consolidationand Euro zone wide risk sharingnecessary to ensure continued membership, on an equal footing, has been and is being rejected by the electorate as incumbent political leaders and governments stumble and fall as each political reflection point at the ballot box looms.
What is not being openly discussed?
What is currently not part of the popular discourse is the fact that the risk has moved on from a political, credit and market risk to one of a social or socio-economic dimension. Because ‘austerity proper‘ has not yet begun to bite and embed itself firmly in the economies of most European countries, as part of the process of climbing the stairway on the upward leg of addressing the mountain of sovereign debt built up over the last few years, nobody has really, except for Greece (and a blip in August 2011 in Britain), had to deal with large-scale and continued civil unrest. Yet, this is exactly the scenario we need to prepare for as a few conversations we have been having with analysts and pundits has openly started raising this spectre as another risk factor to add to the volatile cocktail we are already expected to swallow.
The next step?
Is a full-scale exit by the weaker Euro zone nation states on the cards and the possibility of a wholesale devaluation of the Euro? Well, that depends on where the financial and fiscal power and discipline lies and we believe that most observers of the European Debt Crisis known the instinctive answer to that question…
A final thought is to start preparing yourself for debates and contingency planning around a disorderly exist by weaker Euro zone members. And have large-scale civil unrest as part of the scenarios you need to consider…
We take a brief look at two interesting Treasury Yield curves today.
The first Yield Curve takes a snapshot view of the yield curves at the end of Q1 2011 and Q1 2012.
What is very noticeable is the fact that the overall yields for the end of Q1 2012 is significantly lower than a year ago. Taking a look at the at the 5 year T-Note yields as an example, the spread between the end of March 2011 (5Yr T-Notes at 2.24% ) and the end of March 2012 (5Yr T-Notes at 1.04%) was 1.20% down. The question is what factors drove down the ‘risk-free’ rate on US Treasuries?
However, turning our attention to the second graph below, indicates a slightly different perspective; and hence the title of this post. Has and is risk returning to the capital and stock markets to levels we previously experienced?
Not quite, is the short answer, because the spread between 31 December 2011 (0.83%) versus the 1.04% rate at the end of March 2012, only indicates an uptick of 21 basis points in the yield rate. The significance is not the percentage spread, but rather the direction of movement and we will continue our analysis at the end of Q2 2012 to establish whether the direction in Q1 2012 will be maintained into Q2 and beyond.
The final question to ponder is this:
Are we finally seeing the corner turned, or are there still significant risks in the global economy and sovereign debt markets to cause a few further after shocks in the months to come?