- Laurence Copeland is a professor of finance at Cardiff University Business School and a co-author of “Verdict on the Crash” published by the Institute of Economic Affairs. The opinions expressed are his own. -
Before the credit crunch, we had what I called a Prozac market. Investors on both sides of the Atlantic seemed to be in denial, as irrational as the people who end up in the bankruptcy court because for years they have kept on smiling while the bills piled up unopened.
Last Fall, reality caught up in the shape of the worst banking crisis in history, and we have now had to mortgage our earnings for decades to come in order to bail out the banks. Not surprisingly, by mid-March this year, the Dow had fallen by well over 50 percent from its peak level at the start of October 2007, and the FTSE by nearly as much. In the last three months, however, the FTSE has risen by 20 percent and the Dow by nearly 30 percent. What has happened to justify the recovery?
The best that can be said is that there have been signs that the economic situation is deteriorating more slowly than in the second half of last year.
For example, the fall in house prices may be slowing. But in both UK and the U.S., they remain a long way above their long run levels by most yardsticks. Moreover, in the early 1990s, after the last British house price bubble popped, it took almost a decade for prices to recover, against a background of far higher inflation and a much more robust economy than today – and of course without an accompanying banking collapse.