Okay. Okay. If you’ve been trekking through Siberia or Patagonia for about a year, then maybe it surprised you to hear the minutes from the Federal Reserve Open Market Committee meeting showed it expects to begin tapering Quantitative Easing (QE) in the coming months.
However, since the Fed has been telling anyone who will listen – telling them over and over and over again – that its intent is to slow the pace at which it buys bonds as the U.S. economy strengthens (and since most people haven’t been exploring the hinterlands where the convenience of modern communications may not be readily available), it’s difficult to understand why that information was so surprising that it pushed stock and bond markets significantly lower.
It might have been easier to understand market declines if they had occurred on Tuesday after the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) released its revised economic outlook. In his speech, OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría said:
“The recovery of the global economy is progressing at a moderate and uneven pace. World GDP growth, which averaged about 4 percent per year in the decade up to the onset of the global crisis, is expected to reach only 2.7% in 2013, the lowest rate since 2009. While we expect global growth rates to move again towards 4 percent in 2015, the world will continue to be affected by the harsh social legacy of the crisis… The recovery itself is exposed to potential downside risks, including fiscal brinkmanship in the United States, unresolved banking problems in the euro area, the high debt burden in Japan, and financial vulnerabilities in some large emerging-market economies.”
Gurría also said, in the OECD’s long-term view, economic weakness was the result of investment remaining anemic, credit growth remaining subdued, trade growth gaining sluggishly, and growth in emerging economies faltering.
Regardless, the markets’ downward foray was short-lived. On Friday, the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index closed above 1800 for the very first time, and the FTSE All-Share hit a high of 3609 at the end of October 2013.