All the hullaballoo about Fed tapering, quantitative easing and artificially low interest rates is silly. If "anything will shake my faith" in efficient markets, this is it, famed finance professor Eugene Fama told attendees at IMCA's annual conference in Chicago, although his explanation for his belief left some advisors asking for more detail.
"Why do people care?" asked Fama, who is known as the father of modern finance. To the amazement of some attendees, Fama maintained the Fed had little influence at all over interest rates.
Conventional wisdom holds that the Fed can determine short-term interest rates but has limited control over longer-term rates. Fama wasn't buying into it. "Short interest rates went down despite the Fed, not because of it," Fama said.
It's true that Fed activity has made the term structure of the yield curve a little steeper than usual. As for the potential for tapering, Fama called it a neutral activity. The central bank would simply be selling one kind of bond to buy another.
If the fears of all the hysterical folks wringing their hands over Fed activity were justified, we'd already have hyperinflation, Fama said.
So what does Fed activity imply for portfolio decisions? Not much. "You're stuck with it," he said.