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Macaskill on markets: The self-driving market arrives on Wall Street

Wall Street is turning into a self-driving market, long before automation transforms the physical experience of transportation.


The steady rise in the S&P500 is beginning to feel inexorable, with the index up by almost 10% this year and by more than 16% in the last 12 months. The rally will enter its second decade if it lasts until March next year. 

Investors in US shares are increasingly adopting the view that all is for the best in the best of all possible markets. 

This allows them to ignore signs of distress abroad, such as the collapse of the Turkish lira or the risk of a no-deal Brexit. It also lets them look past the potential effect of a prolonged trade war between the US and China, and tune out the bizarre twists of American domestic politics.

A side effect of the oddly uneventful rise in stock prices has been the downgrading in status of traders on Wall Street. After all, there is little need for dealing skills if markets simply rally steadily.

Goldman Sachs remains the barometer of changing conditions on the Street, and its recent management changes have been widely interpreted as validation of a new era.