The headline from today’s Drudge Report:
CNBC and other stock market tabloids are notorious for making simplistic linkages between the stock market and gross domestic product (GDP). They tell us that any event that stimulates GDP growth inevitably drives stock prices up, and any event that hurts GDP growth pushes stocks down.
Since the largest share of GDP is consumption, consumer demand becomes the all-important figure driving growth. When the consumer gets too excited, the Fed must step in to cool them down with interest-rate hikes. When the consumer isn’t spending, Fed interest-rate cuts stimulate demand.
The tragedy currently occurring in Zimbabwe completely contradicts this sort of logic. Zimbabwe is in the middle of an economic disintegration, with GDP declining for the seventh consecutive year, half what it was in 2000. Ever since President Mugabe’s disastrous land-reform campaign (an entire article in itself), the country’s farming, tourism, and gold sectors have collapsed. Unemployment is said to be near 80%.
Yet something odd is happening.
The Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (the ZSE) is the best performing stock exchange in the world, the key Zimbabwe Industrials Index up some 595% since the beginning of the year and 12,000% over twelve months. This jump in share prices is far in excess of increases in consumer prices. While the country is crumbling, the Zimbabwean share speculator is keeping up much better than the typical Zimbabwean on the street…
…If, as the Austrian theory states, money enters the economy at certain points, it is likely that a nation’s stock market will become a prime beneficiary of any monetary expansion. Fresh money enters the economy first through banks and other financial entities who may invest it in shares, or lend it to others who buy shares. Thus stock prices rise relative to prices of things like food and clothes and will outperform as long as this monetary process is allowed to continue…