5 of the Biggest Financial Stories From 2019

According to the Chinese Zodiac Calendar, 2019 was the Year of the Pig. Investors and traders, I believe, will likely also remember it as the year of the bull.

Every asset type, it seems—from large-caps to small-caps, from foreign to domestic, from gold to oil—finished not just up for the year, but up.

multiple asset types ended the year up in 2019

A significant share of the appreciation—in equity prices anyway—occurred in the second half of the year, following the Federal Reserve’s first rate cut in more than a decade. Coupled with signs that trade tensions between the U.S. and China were finally beginning to cool (or at least not escalate), a third annual downward adjustment in October was enough to convince some investors that we were looking at not just a pause in monetary policy, as Fed Chair Jerome Powell insists, but full-blown quantitative easing (QE).

This has helped the market soar to new record highs, debunking persistent calls that the more than 10-year-old bull run was getting short of breath.

What else happened in 2019? To answer that question, I looked back at my five most visited articles from the year that was, ranked below starting with number five.

5. How to Unrig the Gold Market, According to GATA’s Chris Powell

Over the years, I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing some of the most fascinating and knowledgeable figures in the gold sector. Among them is Chris Powell, secretary/treasurer at the Gold Anti-Trust Action Committee (GATA). For more than 20 years, Chris and others at GATA have sought to expose the actions of central banks, which are believed to have intervened, or are still actively intervening, in the gold market in an effort to suppress prices.

My May interview with Chris is a must-read for anyone seeking information on the gold market that traditional financial news agencies won’t touch. It’s an eye-opening conversation, and Chris remembers to bring receipts.

4. Is the Fed Gearing Up for a New Round of Quantitative Easing?

All the signs seem to point to a new round of Fed easing right now. The bank not only trimmed rates three times this year, most recently in October, but it also began to expand its balance sheet at the fastest pace since the financial crisis.

Even if you believe Fed Chair Powell that this is simply a pause in monetary normalization, there’s no denying that most of the rest of the world is in easing mode. That includes developed as well as emerging markets. November, in fact, marked the 10th straight month of net rate cuts among a group of 37 developing economies. That’s the longest-running cycle easing cycle since 2013.

net number of emerging market central banks in rate cutting mode
click to enlarge