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And here is how and why it failed this year, visualized and quantified. One of my favorite subjects to write about when it comes to markets is how “buy the dip” went from a derisive meme aimed at maligning purportedly uninformed retail investors for their propensity to view any decline in equity prices as an “opportunity”, to a viable strategy underwritten somewhat explicitly by monetary authorities. I always have to preface it by saying that I do not subscribe to wild conspiracy theories about central banks and stocks. But the whole “plunge protection team” narrative has taken on an absurd life of its own over the past decade or so, and I think it’s important that people retain some perspective. Yes, markets are sometimes manipulated both by authorities and by bad actors who are not authorities. Sometimes, things just happen – that’s what a “fat finger” is and you should get used to that, because thanks to modern market structure, dominated as it is by algos, it’s going to happen more and more often.
Allow me one quick caveat to those points. In China, there is a literal plunge protection team. It’s called “the national team” and it does indeed step in to support markets at key junctures in order to, among other things, keep stocks stable around important political events. That’s not a secret, nor is it a conspiracy. So having said all of that, there has of course been an ongoing, coordinated effort by developed market central banks to inflate the prices of risk assets since the crisis.