Stocks are near records, but people are worried. Not about valuations, or earnings, or even the resurgent virus, going by price action in the last week. What’s bothering people is Federal Reserve policy, which separate surveys named as the market’s biggest bugaboo at the end of the year.
That’s new. Seemingly forever, central banks have stood as one of the staunchest allies of equity bulls. They stepped in in 2020 when markets plunged. They reversed course in 2019 after a brutal quarter. They’ve rushed to the scene of virtually every bout of volatility for more than a decade, underpinning a bull market that has helped the S&P 500 rise ninefold, dividends included.