>So all these restrictions encourage continual increases in stock prices
>not surprisingly, speculators jump in and take advantage of that. And
>politicians can use this to claim the economy is wonderful, all the while
>just creating a hideous bubble which will eventually collapse.
It looks that way to me too. The market has become a casino where insiders get the best odds. Education and real estate seem much better long term investments. Short term: warm clothes and some edible house plants. The longer market indices go up, the harder they will fall.
OTOH, who could in good conscience argue against market efficiency? After all, an inefficient casino only irritates the gamblers.