It’s when markets are running hot that flags need raising

Agustin Cartens in this speech:

At first glance, the skies above financial markets look sunny, notably for credit markets. Term and credit spreads as well as volatility are very low by historical standards, while valuation and asset prices are high. But, as we argue in our just-released BIS Annual Economic Report, clouds are gathering on the horizon.

Indeed, showers have already dampened spirits in some emerging markets. And worse could come if a further rise in the US dollar tightened financial conditions around the world: after all, post-crisis, companies in emerging economies and elsewhere have been all too eager to tap markets, while investors have been all too eager to oblige them.

Will the stresses remain isolated? Or should we be worried about a more intense and widespread build-up of pressure? 

Central banks still find it hard to forecast financial markets, just as meteorologists are not always successful in predicting the weather. At the BIS, we have come to appreciate how unrewarding it can be to flag risks when markets are running hot. Yet that is precisely when risks tend to be highest.

Indeed, our analysis indicates that the risks ahead are material. A decade of unusually low interest rates and large-scale central bank asset purchases may have left many market participants unprepared, and have contributed to a legacy of overblown balance sheets. Financial conditions are easier than before the financial crisis, when many investors, households, corporations and sovereigns were caught out in the rain with no umbrella. And there is no denying that the room for manoeuvre in terms of monetary and fiscal policies is narrower today than at that time.

Hmm..

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