Robert Greifeld, CEO of Nasdaq OMX Group Inc, had an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal earlier this week that was subtitled, tellingly,
Moving too quickly amid signs of global economic trouble could damage growth and send stock and bond markets into turmoil.
December’s Fed Open Market Committee meeting minutes indicated, he said,
that the Fed believes US economic growth, which continues its long climb back, could trigger a change in monetary policy [toward raising interest rates off their near-zero levels].
This is problematic, Greifeld said:
Moving too quickly, amid persistent signs of global economic trouble, could have a damaging effect on economic growth and investors by sending stock and bond markets into turmoil.
These are two separate questions, though. The thing is, the stock markets only anticipate the underlying economy; they are not at all the underlying economy. What’s good for the markets is not at all the proper metric for assessing economic policy.
The concern about the impact of central banks raising interest rates on economies is one worth exploring in depth. The concern about the impact on the stock and bond markets (and yes, these markets have been good to me) is fluff, and should be put aside.
It’s certainly true that, aside from pure investors, the markets also are where companies get capital for expansion, R&D, and the like, whether by selling new ownership shares or by borrowing. “Turmoiled” markets can interfere with that. But with a sound economy, which consists of us ordinary citizens getting about our daily business, that turmoil resolves quickly.
The current artificially low and suppressed interest rates are future inflation waiting to explode, to the detriment of all of us. They are current suppression of income for all of us—in particular, the retired of us—who depend on fixed income instruments (read: interest paying bonds). They are an impediment to increased hiring for expansion that otherwise seems ready to start because businesses can’t borrow to fund their expansion—not because interest rates are too low for the businesses to pay, but because interest rates are too low for lenders to lend—whether those lenders be banks or company bond buyers.
It’s time to start raising interest rates to normal levels. The economy will benefit. Investors like me will take our lumps, but we’ll also do well in the longer run from that growing economy.