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Cool Video: A Tentative Answer to the Low Vol Question

I had the privilege of joining the set of anchors Julia Chatterley, Scarlet Fu, and Joe Weisenthal on the set of “What’d You Miss” today. The unrehearsed discussion took an unexpected turn when Joe asked about the low volatility.

The anchors were patient and gave me time to provide a sketch of the thesis of my book, Political Economy of Tomorrow, where I suggest a under appreciated factor in the low price of capital is its excess supply.     I draw on the ideas of an employee at Brown Brothers, Charles Conant, who writing at start of the 20th century, argued that the main challenge of capital is not its weaknesses, which reformers of various persuasions go about with great enthusiasm to address.  Rather, Conant argued the main problem grew out of the success of the market economy.  It could not absorb the wealth it created.  There was too much capital so the return on it fell.

I suggest in the clip here that QE may be understood as the central bank warehousing surplus capital on its balance sheet in the same way that governments buy surplus corn or soy from farmers. Check the video out here, and don’t forget the book.




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Marc Chandler
He has been covering the global capital markets in one fashion or another for more than 30 years, working at economic consulting firms and global investment banks. After 14 years as the global head of currency strategy for Brown Brothers Harriman, Chandler joined Bannockburn Global Forex, as a managing partner and chief markets strategist as of October 1, 2018.
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