It’s hard to believe that as recently as February, when I first brought up the concept of a new economic model that was poised to radically alter the world we’re living in, MMT was as obscure as an extra in an old Cecil B. DeMille bible film. Yet, a mere two months later, you have to try extremely hard to ignore Modern Monetary Theory and its swelling number of disciples.
John Maynard Keynes, an English economist and author, has been held in high esteem for several decades thanks to his groundbreaking work in economics in the early 20th century. The theory he popularized in an attempt to better understand the Great Depression, aptly named Keynesian theory, revolutionized demand-side economic policy at the time.
Over the last decade, many investment professionals have been tested by two simultaneously occurring phenomena: the rise of passive investing and the stronger performance of growth stocks relative to value.
For those rare workers who actually took advantage of the national holiday at the beginning of the week, worries of a global economic slowdown loomed in the periphery. On Monday, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) released a report stating that China’s official growth rate for 2018 was 6.6%, or the slowest it has been since 1990.
This week started on another low note, as US equities tumbled on weakness in energy and tech. On Tuesday, the S&P 500 temporarily slid 10% below its record September close, while the Nasdaq fell to nearly 14% below its August high. In an equity market that has skated by whimsically on the back of relaxed monetary policy and historically low interest rates for nearly 10 years, trouble has not oft been on the mind of the fully-invested, US-concentrated, passively-exposed, large-cap investor. It seems as if we might have reached a breaking point.