Like the Enigmatic Title Role in the Play Waiting for Godot, a Resolution Regarding Global Monetary Policies Remains Elusive. But Perhaps We’re Waiting in the Wrong Place.

I last used Waiting for Godot as an analogy in my “Message to Shareholders” dated January 4, 2013. Waiting for Godot, which premiered in 1953, is a play by Samuel Beckett who wrote about characters caught in hopeless situations. Beckett’s brand of existentialist fiction was often referred to as the “Theatre of the Absurd.”

My message in 2013 said, “Godot, in the form of resolution [referring to whether our economy was going to expand further or tip over into recession], will not arrive for a long time, if ever.” Here we are almost four years later, and Godot still hasn’t arrived.

Back in 2013 when I wrote about Godot, the U.S. Federal Reserve (Fed) had already instituted zero interest rates and had already tried three rounds of massive bond purchases known as “quantitative easing”—QE1, QE2 and QE3—all in futile attempts to spur rapid economic growth. But gross domestic product (GDP) growth has actually declined in the face of these and other monetary experiments.

As if zero interest rates in the U.S. weren’t crazy enough, the Bank of Japan and the European Central Bank have instituted negative interest rates. So hiding cash under the mattress would produce better returns. And as I pointed out last quarter, some homeowners in Denmark are actually being paid money back on their mortgages via negative interest rates. Talk about a real-life Theatre of the Absurd!