Central Banks, Interest Rates, and Fear

The Fed is looking to start raising its benchmark interest rates “real soon now.” This is expected to inject fear into investors used for so long to being coddled and protected from uncertainty by an interventionist central bank.

Christine Lagarde, head of the IMF,

warned Tuesday that markets could be heading for a repeat of the 2013 “taper tantrum,” in which stocks fell and interest rates rose around the world as the Fed considered winding down its “quantitative easing” bond-buying program.

She went on:

I am afraid this may not be a one-off episode. The timing of interest-rate liftoff and the pace of subsequent rate increase can still surprise markets.

This is just foolishness. In a free market environment, surprise not only is normal, it’s the stuff of profit-making. It’s also how enterprises steal a march on their competitors and how startups successfully break into a heretofore stable market. It’s how consumers benefit from the newly available additional choice, the better product, the new idea, ….

Even the “taper tantrum” concern is foolishness. The only ones hurt by that were the investors throwing their tantrum. The stock market quickly returned to its longer term trend, and the tantrum didn’t last long enough to hurt the actual economy.

Surprise in the markets is not a problem for us investors; it’s only a problem for government bureaucrats so dependent on their precious rules. And for crony capitalists fearful of competition.

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