Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Signs of irrationality

I've been sitting on some of these links that discuss anomalies economists are having trouble explaining:

1. From Energy Bulletin (circa 12/17/08) on why oil prices are low with respect to fundamentals:
Today's NYMEX WTI oil price, about $45/barrel, is dangerously, outrageously low. Crude oil is not some "inconsequential penny stock" as Clive Maund pointed out, but that's how it's been priced (321Energy, November 19, 2008). I am going to talk about how oil prices get set in a futile attempt to understand what future prices might look like. I find little reason for optimism regarding the market's ability to provide a coherent oil price signal reflecting future scarcity of this precious non-renewable resource.

2. On The Bernanke Rally (circa 2/24/09) on the rally in the stock market:

Tuesday's stock market rally was pretty impressive. But can the mere words of the Federal Reserve Chair actually produce a 4% increase in the value of the U.S. capital stock?

... OK, so if it wasn't reassurances from Bernanke, do I have a better explanation for what could have produced such a big move in stock prices? No I don't, other than to suggest that perhaps we were in pretty much the same situation Tuesday afternoon as we had been on Friday morning.

3. On the anomalous Fed Funds Market (circa 11/16/08):

... we entered a brave new world on November 6 when the Fed began paying banks 1% interest on those deposits, the same rate as the target itself. This should have ensured that the effective fed funds rate never falls below the target. And yet the effective rate has never been above 35 basis points since the new policy of paying 100 basis points in interest on excess reserves was implemented.

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