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Bursting bubbles

| Posted by: Paul Donovan | Tags: Paul Donovan

  • The US employment report for January is due. An opportunity for journalists and some politicians to send excited tweets about data that will be revised a lot. The basic story is not going to change. The US consumer is supported by a strong labor market, with good wage growth (although wage growth won't be part of today's data). Life is generally good for the US consumer.
  • Unless the US consumer gambled on Bitcoin, of course. The collapse of the cryptocurrencies can probably now be considered a bursting of the bubble. Loss aversion will kick in. Even if the gambler bought at USD 7,000 (as of 0530 GMT, still in profit), they will focus on the losses from USD 19,000.
  • Bubbles transfer wealth from the many to the few. However, bursting the cryptocurrency bubble presents few systemic risks. The bubble was not large enough for negative wealth effects to have a major economic impact – with a few exceptions (Korea) where participation was high.
  • Bond holders have losses too, but bond markets are a little different. Most holders of US Treasuries are not willing bond buyers, but captive investors. A large part of the captive investor group is central banks, with different reaction functions to ordinary investors.