The world economy is on a recovery track. But every time I read this graph (or similar ones) below, it makes me feel very uneasy.
Stare at this graph for a minute, you will immediately tell what might be the problem: every time after a big market crash, the relative valuation metric (PE ratio) touched the extreme on the downside. You may call it “overshoot on the downside”. But not this time.
Government and central bank succeeded in avoiding an armageddon scenario, but does it only postpone the inevitable? I am still posing the question, whether we will be headed into a long secular bear market.
Economist magazine warns against asset bubble, especially in emerging markets.
THE effect of free money is remarkable. A year ago investors were panicking and there was talk of another Depression. Now the MSCI world index of global share prices is more than 70% higher than its low in March 2009. That’s largely thanks to interest rates of 1% or less in America, Japan, Britain and the euro zone, which have persuaded investors to take their money out of cash and to buy risky assets.
For all the panic last year, asset values never quite reached the lows that marked other bear-market bottoms, and now the rally has made several markets look pricey again. In the American housing market, where the crisis started, homes are priced at around fair value on the basis of rental yields, but they are overvalued by almost 30% in Britain and by 50% in Australia, Hong Kong and Spain.
Stockmarkets are still shy of their record peaks in most countries. The American market is around 25% below the level it reached in 2007. But it is still nearly 50% overvalued on the best long-term measure, which adjusts profits to allow for the economic cycle, and is on a par with two of the four great valuation peaks in the 20th century, in 1901 and 1966.
Central banks see these market rallies as a welcome side- effect of their policies. In 2008, falling markets caused a vicious circle of debt defaults and fire sales by investors, pushing asset prices down even further. The market rebound was necessary to stabilise economies last year, but now there is a danger that bubbles are being created.