M.C. Escher’s famous painting “Ascending and Descending”, and recent market trends have a lot in common. They both portray a lot of up and down movement and what many may perceive to be trends. However, when studied closely, they both show little to no absolute change in direction.
Despite much hope that the current breakout of the markets is the beginning of a new secular “bull” market – the economic and fundamental variables suggest otherwise. Valuations and sentiment are at very elevated levels which are the opposite of what has been seen previously. Interest rates, inflation, wages and savings rates are all at historically low levels which are normally seen at the end of secular bull market periods, not the beginning of one.
The key economic releases this week include industrial production on Monday, CPI on Tuesday, and housing starts on Wednesday. There are several scheduled speeches from Fed officials this week. The Beige Book for the November FOMC period will be released on Wednesday.
Political risks in Europe are on the rise as the once prosperous middle class are forgotten, both financially (cannot compete with low cost Chinese workers) and culturally (if you do not like what is happening to your neighborhood you are a deplorable and irredeemable racist bigot and we do not need to listen to you). Losing life savings as deposits are bailed in left and right will be the straw that bring down any pretense of political correctness.
More than a third of all Americans can’t pay their debts. This is happening during the “economic recovery” that the mainstream media keeps touting. If this many Americans are having trouble paying their bills right now, what are things going to look like when the economy becomes extremely unstable once again?
The economy has gone suicidal. It is working against the very people who need its energy to survive. It is collapsing on its own weight, and the weight of literally incalculable levels of toxic debt. And it is going to create the greatest disaster of our time, if the warnings from the world’s most powerful bankers are any indication.
“The average man doesn’t wish to be told that it is a bull or a bear market. What he desires is to be told specifically which particular stock to buy or sell. He wants to get something for nothing. He does not wish to work. He doesn’t even wish to have to think.”
"...debt is simply everywhere, at least to the extent we can see and measure it. Corporate and sovereign debt, of both the developed world and emerging market varieties, are at record levels. China’s debts certainly add to that record but who really knows to what extent? It’s the ultimate black box of leverage on Planet Earth... You cannot NOT worry about the Fed in this world...The simple truth is ending reinvestment would bring the bond market to its knees.”
The big day has finally arrived: starting today, many prime money market mutual funds (those that invest in non-government issued assets such as short-term corporate and municipal debt) to float their net asset value. More importantly, these prime MMFs are allowed to delay client withdrawals under adverse market conditions.
There no longer seems to be a rational alignment between economic cost and value. This means questioning so-called conventional wisdom and critically considering whether or not to invest in stocks, own property, or even to go to college.
One day after a slump in Chinese trade sparked a global market selloff on concerns the world's second biggest economy had once again hit a downward inflection point, overnight China surprised once again, this time to the upside when the latest inflationary data printed hotter than expected, sending European and Asian stocks higher and pushing the yen lower after China’s producer price index rose for the first time since March 2012.