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Central bank monetary stimulus

August 2019

Monetary taps: not so wide open

In positioning for huge central bank stimulus investors have put themselves in a tight spot.

An opening of the monetary taps. This is what stock markets have come to expect whenever global growth stumbles.

But this time round, it would take a truly monumental effort for the world's major central banks to deliver the kind of monetary easing equity investors are hoping for.

According to our model, the S&P 500’s current valuation implies a monetary stimulus of as much as USD1.5 trillion over the coming 12 months, or 2.5 per cent of global GDP.1

If investors are right, this would represent a sharp reversal of the current trend. The amount of new liquidity provided by central banks has been contracting at a rate of 0.5 per cent in the past six months.

Yet there is a strong chance investors could be wrong – not least because the gap between the expected and current volume of liquidity provision as a proportion of GDP is at its widest in a decade.

expectation vs reality

Major 5 central bank policy liquidity flow, 6-month rolling, % of GDP

Major 5 central bank policy liquidity flow

Source: Pictet Asset Management, Refinitiv

We think central banks will press on the monetary accelerator again – but with far less force than markets are discounting.

Supersized bond buying from the European Central Bank – likely to be announced in September – should add EUR600 billion of fresh stimulus. Yet even when we add to that another four interest rate cuts from the US Federal Reserve – a liquidity injection worth USD200 billion – and the Swiss National Bank’s currency intervention – euro zone bond buying worth CHF10 billion in the past four weeks – monetary authorities will struggle to meet the market’s lofty expectations.

Investors should, then, brace themselves for disappointment.