China, oil, a new year, and an aging rebound are the narratives governing the markets.

Technical patterns and tons of data may be the best tools analysts have to guess where the financial markets are headed, but they don't ever add up to certainty.

At least, not according to Nobel Prize winning Yale University economist Robert Shiller, whose long-held theory is that narratives and psychologies have as much influence on market waves and behavior as do measurable supply and demand balances and imbalances.

In his latest contribution to the New York Times, Shiller writes of China, the New Year myth, the oil meltdown, and the long-in-the-tooth stock rebound as tell-tale stories around which behavior orbits:

Consider that United States exports in goods to China have recently accounted for only six-tenths of 1 percent of our gross domestic product. (United States imports in goods from China, though about four times bigger, are still relatively small as an overall proportion.) But once story-based thinking gets started, there is comparatively little public interest in such numbers.

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