Europe has staved off an imminent financial crisis and fears of a U.S. double-dip recession may have been overblown. With the Federal Reserve already lowering long-term interest rates through Operation Twist, it seems QE3 is not going to happen.
However, what investors may have ignored is the possibility that quantitative easing (QE1 and QE2) could have played a role in stabilizing the U.S. and European market.
The chart below from Deutsche Bank strategists Alan Ruskin and Daniel Brehon is telling.
It shows the price of the S&P 500 Index and the (inverted) U.S. dollar Traded Weighted Index for the periods spanning QE1 and QE2, which spans much of the post-financial crisis period.
During QE1 and QE2, the U.S. stock market performed well and investors moved away from the U.S. dollar into riskier assets. Moreover, the market's QE-like behavior from Sept. 21 until the beginning of QE2 can be attributed to the anticipation of QE2.
When the QE spigots turned off, however, equities prices stagnated, the U.S. dollar rallied, and the European debt crisis erupted.
For the U.S. stock market, a major takeaway from the chart is that its substantial net upward movement occurred almost exclusively during QE1 and QE2.
While Ruskin and Brehon did not claim any causation relationship among QE, the U.S. stock market, the U.S. dollar, and the European debt crisis, the evident correlation shown through their chart cast doubt on the ability of global risk assets to go up another leg without the support of the Federal Reserve's money printing QE operations.