The rhythmic rise and fall of market sentiment has become depressingly familiar; so much so that I feel like I'm stuck in some sort of time loop, with the same string of events repeating itself over and over again.
On the first Thursday of September 2012 Mario Draghi, the president of the European Central Bank, announced plans for the Frankfurt-based bank to buy an unlimited amount of short term national debt. The premise of the plan goes as follows: if you buy lots of sovereign debt specifically that of Spain and Italy, sovereign borrowing costs will go down, as will the associated market volatility.
As expected, all leading economic indices reacted favourably and broader market sentiment was buoyed considerably by the central bank's intervention into the markets.
Then on the second Thursday of September Ben Bernanke, the head of the America's central bank, announced plans for the New York-based bank to buy an open-ended amount of housing debt. The premise of the plans goes as follows: if you buy lots of housing debt, the real estate market will rise which in turn will push up consumer sentiment, demand and the wider economy.
Again as expected, and like in Europe a week earlier, all major economic indices reacted favourably.
But I've been here before, and my senses are telling me that the market optimism will soon give way to pessimism.
Since September 2008 the US and European economies have been chronically depressed. This drone of economic depression has been punctuated by a regular spike in economic optimism, which has quickly been followed by pessimism.
Each time the spike in economic confidence has been triggered by a central bank decision to intervene in the markets. But when the central bank stimulus wears off the realities of the economy dictate that things slump.
The reason: central banks are facilitators who can temporarily improve economic conditions; however they cannot address the structural problems that are at the heart of the slump. That is the responsibility of governments, businesses and the ingenuity of man.
And because the latest bond buying initiative of the US and European central bank is much the same as those which have gone on in the past, the real issues that have caused the economic difficulties will not be addressed.
No amount of central bank creativity will address the underlying issues which trouble the global economy, so for as long as policy makers ignore this it looks like the cycle of slump and rally will continue and I'll continue to feel like I'm living in a real life version of Groundhog Day.
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