On the last day of an extremely volatile first quarter, following the latest torrid push higher in risk assets over the past two days following Yellen's dovish Tuesday comments, today has seen a modest pull back in risk, whether because the market is massively overbought, because someone finally looked at what record multiple expansion that has taken place in Q1 as earnings are set to collapse by nearly 10%, or simply due to fears that tomorrow's payrolls number will show an abnormal amount of minimum wage waiters and bartenders added.
"Preservation of capital is first, everything else comes second."
The stock markets of the so-called PIIGS are breaking down on an absolute and relative basis – not a positive development for global markets.
The real enemy of investors is not these fairly routine 10 or 20% downturns. The real enemy is the bear market that is associated with a recession or crisis, the one that knocks your equity block down by 40 or 50%. And actually it isn’t even the depth that is the real enemy. For most investors the enemy is time.
The global economy has had its artificial boom and CapEx frenzy already and years of deflationary liquidation and correction lie ahead. Money printing has failed. Any effort by the central banks to double down on another $20 trillion of bond purchases would blow the world’s financial casinos sky high. Contemporary central bankers function like a team of monetary wranglers, herding the retail cattle toward the asset gathers. At the end of the day, the asset gathers will profoundly regret what they are clamoring for.
The blue chip Major Market Index failed to recapture a key breakdown level. Recently, amid the sharp post-September rally, the XMI returned to “kiss” the underside of the broken trendline. This was no happy reunion, however, as the result was a clear and precise rejection of price by the trendline.
Follow the plunge protection.
Yesterday we showed a chart demonstrating that while the top 10 "Unicorn" startups have a private valuation of $156 billion on just $4 billion in revenue, what caught readers' attention is that the average employee among these 10 companies is worth a whopping $8 million. But what about the "value" of employees at public companies, and especially at the blue chips, names such as MSFT, XOM, JPM, MCD and, the more recent trailblazers, AAPL and FB? The answer is shown below.
Having gazed ominously at the extreme monetary policy smoke-and-mirrors intervention in bond markets, and previously explained that "the stock market is to important to leave to the vagaries of an actual market." While the rest of the world's central banks' direct (BoJ) and indirect (Fed, ECB) manipulation of equity markets, nobody bats an eyelid; but when PBOC steps on market volatility's throat (like a bull in a China bear store), people start complaining... finally. There is no difference - none! And no lesser Asian expert than Stephen Roach warns that we should be afraid, very afraid as he states, the great irony of manipulation, he explains, is that "the more we depend on markets, the less we trust them."
There could be trouble ahead....
We love reading quotes from Hussman in 2000 and 2007. The air is getting pretty thin up here. A stock market driven by Google, Apple, Netflix and a few other tech darlings with no earnings does not make a market. Time is running out for the bulls. The same morons on CNBC ridiculed and scorned his facts then and they scorn and ridicule him now. Do we trust Jim Cramer and Steve Liesman or John Hussman? Guess.
If one steps back from the adjusted, non-GAAP EPS "beats" reported by companies this earnings season which benefit from what is set to be a record quarter of stock buybacks and an unprecedented drop in consensus expectations, Q1 earnings season for the "blue chips" so far has truly "blown", with revenue declines announced at IBM (12th in a row), McDonalds, Coke, and earlier today Procter & Gamble also reporting that its sales have fallen for fifth straight quarter. And then moments ago "diversified global tech" bellwether 3M reported that its sales declined 3.2% year-on-year to $7.6 billion. The company also missed its EPS, and adding insult to injury, "the company now expects earnings to be in the range of $7.80 to $8.10 per share versus $8.00 to $8.30 per share previously."
Financial markets and investing reflect the same characteristics as my attempt at keeping fit
- Yellen Inherits Greenspan’s Conundrum as Long Rates Sink (BBG)
- West African Mining Projects Take Hit From Ebola Crisis (WSJ)
- Saudi oil policy uncertainty unleashes the conspiracy theorists (Reuters)
- Senate Rejection of Keystone XL Measure Sets Up 2015 Showdown (BBG)
- Ferguson, Missouri, remains on edge ahead of grand jury report (Reuters)
- Putin Said to Stun Advisers by Backing Corruption Crackdown (BBG)
- Italian ‘Invasion’ Has Swiss Fuming as Immigration Vote Looms (BBG)
- Apple and Others Encrypt Phones, Fueling Government Standoff (WSJ)