Once again the irrational fundamentals on which the stock market is based have come to the surface with today ‘s over 4 % fall so far in the value of the Dow Jones index.At one point the market was down over 5 %. This is a significant one day drop in the Dow but by no means anywhere near the largest one day drop in its history. Previous shocking drops were of the order of 11 % or more at various unstable times in the history of the markets. Post Keynesians generally understand that markets are driven up and down by irrational exuberance followed by irrational fear. The irrational exuberance since President Trump was elected has been followed now by irrational fears that inflation is about to break out.
There is no credible evidence of that at this time though it may possibly become a problem if accelerating economic growth drives the unemployment rate below 2-3 %. The likelihood of that however is small because the Fed has foolishly signalled it leans toward interest rate increases when in reality none are necessary. Instead if the Fed becomes obstinately opposed to growth and low unemployment by shifting to a more monetarist policy approach then it will reinforce fear rather than continued optimism. Also the nature of wage setting under conditions imposed by globalization and Neo-con agenda setting make it difficult for workers to raise their wage. Of course as part of this spread of irrational fear there are also hysterical claims being made about the American public sector deficit and debt. The debt is easily managed in a growing economy and its burden is vastly exaggerated. The most recent figure for the gross federal debt to GDP statistic was for Quarter 3 2017. The value was 103.8%. Well below its historical maximum. Furthermore this is the figure for gross debt while the better more meaningful data point is for net debt to GDP which is smaller. To arrive at this value you subtract from gross debt: financial assets corresponding to debt instruments, monetary gold and special drawing rights, currency and deposits, debt securities, loans, insurance, pensions, standardized guaranteed schemes and other accounts receivable.