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from Breakingviews:

S&P 500 at 2,000 invites “new normal” thinking

By Martin Hutchinson

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Beware new paradigms. The S&P 500 Index’s first trades above 2,000 on Monday invite the idea of a new normal in markets. The price-to-earnings ratio is under 20, only moderately above average, and interest rates remain low. But U.S. earnings are at a peak relative to GDP. Assume they adjust back to the long-term norm, and the stock benchmark would be a third lower.

The average PE ratio for the S&P since its inception has been just above 15. The current valuation multiple is higher, but still well short of past peaks. That suggests there could be further to run, though a reversion to the long-term average would leave the index only slightly above 1,500, down almost a quarter from the current level.

Low interest rates also support continued share-price buoyancy. One theory known as the Fed model postulates that the earnings yield on stocks should be equal to the long-term Treasury bond yield. The model largely held during the 1990s, although it hasn’t looked particularly accurate since. The implication at today’s 2.4 percent 10-year bond rate would be for the S&P Index to trade at around 4,200.

from Breakingviews:

Dollar set to take pound’s strong currency title

By Swaha Pattanaik

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are her own.

Sterling emerged as the currency market strongman over the past year because investors grew increasingly confident the UK would be the first big economy to raise interest rates. The dollar now looks set to wrest the title from the pound.

from Breakingviews:

Deutsche/UBS: there’s life in EU bond trading yet

By Dominic Elliott

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Deutsche Bank and UBS have shown there is life in Europe’s bond traders yet. The two banks and Credit Suisse have been losing share to Wall Street since last year, but in the second quarter they hit back. Fixed-income revenue at Deutsche was flat year-on-year, and down just 2 percent at UBS – against a 9 percent average fall at American banks.

from Anatole Kaletsky:

Yellen’s remarkably unremarkable news conference – and why it’s a good thing

Yellen holds a news conference following two-day Federal Open Market Committee meeting at the Federal Reserve in WashingtonJohn Maynard Keynes famously said that his highest ambition was to make economic policy as boring as dentistry. In this respect, as in so many others, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen is proving to be a loyal Keynesian.

Yellen’s second news conference as Fed chair conveyed no new information about the timing of future interest rate moves. She gave no hints about an “exit strategy” for the Fed to return the $3 trillion of bonds it has acquired to the private sector. She told us nothing about the Fed’s expectations on inflation, employment and economic growth -- not even about the board’s views on financial volatility, regulation, asset prices or bank credit policies.

from Breakingviews:

Hurrah for low volatility, a sign of saner markets

By Edward Hadas

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Traders are moaning about the extraordinary calm which has beset financial markets. Everyone else should be happy at what looks like an inadvertent outbreak of common sense. If only it could last.

from Breakingviews:

Future financiers condemned to repeat sins of past

By Jeffrey Goldfarb

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Future financiers are condemned to repeat the mistakes of the past. Nearly 150,000 wannabe investment advisers, bankers, risk managers and analysts around the world will sit for the CFA exam this weekend. Success hinges on their understanding of the capital asset pricing model and return on equity. Knowledge of disasters like the South Sea Bubble and the Great Crash, though, are not required. Widespread ignorance of financial history is an overlooked systemic risk.

from Breakingviews:

Rob Cox: The worry now is a brewing M&A bubble

By Rob Cox
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Stop worrying about the tech bubble – there may be an even bigger one inflating beyond the confines of Silicon Valley. The corporate urge to merge has gone into global hyper-drive this year. Deal activity has surged as investors egg companies on and bid up the shares of acquirers well beyond mathematical explication, or prudence. As new metrics from interested parties are trotted out to justify the irrational, it’s time to exercise caution.

from Breakingviews:

Review: A crisis-like evaluation of “Stress Test”

By Breakingviews columnists
The authors are Reuters Breakingviews columnists. The opinions expressed are their own.

To judge the merits of Tim Geithner’s crises reflections in “Stress Test,” six Breakingviews columnists digested different pieces of the book in a short amount of time. Like the regulators who often lacked broader context, the assessments vary. Yet there’s also consensus it’s a useful tome for the financial library.

from Anatole Kaletsky:

Behind Wall Street’s anxiety

The recent economic news has been about as investor-friendly as anyone could imagine.

It started with last week’s strong U.S. employment figures; continued through Tuesday’s reassuring International Monetary Fund forecasts, which put the probability of avoiding a global recession this year to 99.9 percent, and culminated in dovish Federal Reserve minutes, which soothed concerns about an earlier than expected  increase in U.S. interest rates.

from Breakingviews:

Jamie Dimon hits final stage of grief: acceptance

By Rob Cox
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

In coping with the tragedy of the financial crisis, no Wall Street executive has exhibited the five stages of grief like Jamie Dimon. The JPMorgan chief executive has passed through phases of denial, anger, bargaining and depression. His latest annual letter to shareholders finally shows a desire to accept what’s happened and move on.

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