Dow Jones Industrial Average
The irony of maintaining a veneer of authenticity over a fundamentally inauthentic market is rich: the more the authorities manipulate the market to maintain high valuations and suppress turbulence, the greater the odds of a collapse of trust as inauthentic markets cannot self-correct or discover the price of assets, capital and risk. Once risk has been effectively hidden by perception management, participants lack the essential information they need to make informed decisions. And so their decisions will be catastrophically mis-informed. This is how declines morph into crashes.
This weekend’s “Things To Ponder” is comprised of a variety of readings that cover a fairly broad spectrum from educational to informative and even a little bit sarcastic.
Obviously, this weekend's reading list is focused on what to do now. Is this just another "dip" that investors should buy into? OR, is this the beginning of the long overdue intermediate term correction or a "mean reverting" process?
Although the NYSE was closed between July 30 and December 12 of 1914, stocks were quoted by brokers and traded off the exchange. Global Financial Data has gone back and collected stock prices during the closure of the NYSE to recreate the Dow Jones Industrial Average while the NYSE was closed. We collected the data for the 20 stocks in the new DJIA 20 Industrials and calculated the average of the bid and ask prices from August 24, 1914 to December 12, 1914. This enabled us to discover that the 1914 bottom for stocks actually occurred on November 2, 1914 when the DJIA hit 49.07, over a month before the NYSE reopened. Few people realize that stocks in the US had already bottomed out and were heading into a new bull market when the NYSE reopened on December 12, 1914. The DJIA did not revisit this level until the Great Depression in 1932.
After all this time Greenspan still insists on blaming the people for the economic and financial havoc that he engendered from his perch in the Eccles Building. Indeed, posturing himself as some kind of latter day monetary Calvinist, he made it crystal clear in yesterday’s interview that the blame cannot be placed at his feet where it belongs:
"I have come to the conclusion that bubbles, as I noted, are a function of human nature."
The MH-17 tragedy could mark a pivotal moment in the worst crisis between Russia and the West since the Cold War. Geopolitical risk is extremely high today. As it was in 1914. With the U.S. seeking to impose tough new sanctions on Russia, we appear to be on the verge of a new and more intense phase of currency wars and indeed of an economic war. Indeed, a millitary confronatation with all that entails cannot be ruled out ...
Wall Street analysts are "already throwing in the towel" on 3Q, 4Q revenue growth with forecasts for the 30 Dow Jones Industrial Avg. companies of 2.5%, 1.6% versus predictions of 3% or more just 2 months ago. ConvergEx's chief market strategist Nicholas Colas explains these lowered forecasts fly "in the face of a general consensus from the economic community, the Federal Reserve included, that the back half of 2014 will be better than the Polar Vortex-damaged first half of the year." As Colas warns, rather ominously, "we aren’t pricing 1.6% revenue growth for Q4 2014 with price/earnings multiples at 17-18x. If you are buying Dow 17,000 or S&P 1980, you expect better. Now, companies and the macro economy have to deliver."
With Gen-X and Gen-Y out as buyers, who's left to scoop up the tens of trillions of dollars of Boomer assets at bubblicious prices? Given that other nations face the same demographic dilemma, the answer appears to be: no one.
Timing matters, as fundamentals have no impact in a euphoric blow-off top or in a panic-driven, bidless crash. It's possible to be right about the fundamentals and lose money trying to trade those fundamentals. It's also possible to be wrong about the fundamentals and make a boatload of money trading Central Planning interventions. Our own advice that we try to live is: "invest in yourself, not Wall Street."
While the last 2 weeks have seen numerous Fed heads, most vociferously Bill Dudley, warning of 'complacency' in markets, fearsome of low volatility and worried about low risk spreads. Of course, investors don't care - don't fight the fed unless the fed tells you to sell, appears the mantra-du-jour. Fed communications are not working... and so they have left it to their mouthpiece - WSJ's Jon Hilsenrath - to explain that they are indeed concerned at just how risk-free markets have become..."Federal Reserve officials, looking out at mostly calm financial markets, are starting to wonder whether tranquility itself is something to worry about."
These two charts depict the same index over the same time frame, but they reflect two stories and two economies.
ConvergEx's monthly review of analysts' revenue expectations for the 30 companies in the Dow finds a ray of sunshine (let's call them 'sweet dreams') to counter the current humdrum market action. First, the 'good' news: analysts expect the current quarter to post some of the best top line growth in over 2 years. The 'meh' news: that’s still only a 2.5% comp to last year, and 2.9% excluding financials. Still, that is better than the 0.3-0.5% growth of Q1 2014. That acceleration, such as it is, continues into Q3 2014, where analysts have revenue growth pegged at 3.9%. The 'bad' news: brokerage analysts have been spectacularly wrong in forecasting revenues of late. In Q1 2014 the Street expected 4-5% growth in May of last year, only to whittle those numbers down month after month and still prove too optimistic on earnings day. Still, things might work out this time and Q2 will actually see a rebound. At current valuation levels, the bulls better hope they do.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) Index is the only stock market index that covers both the second and the third industrial revolution. Calculating share indexes such as the Dow Jones Industrial Average and showing this index in a historical graph is a useful way to show which phase the industrial revolution is in. Changes in the DJIA shares basket, changes in the formula and stock splits during the take-off phase and acceleration phase of industrial revolutions are perfect transition-indicators. The similarities of these indicators during the last two revolutions are fascinating, but also a reason for concern. In fact the graph of the DJIA is a classic example of fictional truth, a hoax.
“If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on it, I would use the first 55 minutes determining the proper question to ask, for once I knew the proper question, I could solve the problem in less than five minutes.” - Albert Einstein
Measuring the cost of anything in currency can be misleading. As we know, inflation can be gamed by authorities to appear low, and supposedly low inflation is actually high inflation if wages are declining while prices rise. Priced in gold and stocks, wheat is near multi-decade lows. That may not last. Technically the trend has reversed, suggesting much higher prices--in dollars, gold or stocks--for wheat and indeed, by extension, for all food.