The correction rolled on in June for the major asset classes, echoing May’s widespread retreat. Everything suffered a loss last month, with a steep 6.4% decline for emerging market equities leading the way down. With no place to hide among risky assets, the Global Market Index took another hit in June and tumbled 2.0%–its first run of back-to-back monthly losses in a bit more than a year.
Quite a lot of the selling was related to fears that the Federal Reserve would soon begin tapering its liquidity-biased monetary policy that’s kept US and foreign markets bubbly. But the market overreacted, or so Fed officials argue, inspiring the central bank to issue clarifying comments, including last week’s observation from NY Fed president William Dudley: “If labor market conditions and the economy’s growth momentum were to be less favorable, I would expect that the asset purchases would continue at a higher pace for longer.”
With a new month of trading set to begin, the crowd is left to ponder if the recent rout in global markets is a sign of deeper troubles to come or just a temporary bit of turbulence on the road to recovery. Any way you look at it, there’s a damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don’t backdrop to the current climate. If the Fed keeps its liquidity engines humming as usual, that’s a sign that the economic outlook remains shaky. Alternatively, if the tapering begins sooner rather than later, that’s a reflection that the macro trend is improving. But as we’ve seen lately, a better economic climate can come with some bloodletting for asset markets.