The problem with being a contrarian is the determination of where in a market cycle the “herd mentality” is operating. The collective wisdom of market participants is generally “right” during the middle of a market advance but “wrong” at market peaks and troughs. There are plenty of warning signals that suggest that investors should be getting more cautious with portfolio allocations. However, the “herd” is still supporting asset prices at current levels based primarily on the “fear” of missing out on further advances.
For the first time in history, yesterday saw VXX (the VIX ETF) traded more volume than the most-traded stock in the S&P 500. With speculative positioning at record shorts (extreme levered long stocks) and volume soaring beyond Aug 2015's previous record, we suspect this will not end well...
While Put-Call ratios, VIX curves, and Fear-Greed Indicators are better known, the so-called "Complacency" Index - comparing real profitability of companies to their risk - has never been more complacent. In fact, markets are more 'exuberant' than at the peak in 2000 and 2007...
Just as there’s a scheme to pay old investors with new investors money (aka a Ponzi.) There’s another part of the scheme that rarely gets talked about: i.e.,The narrative that fuels the scheme to begin with.Much like the original structure which involves money, this too needs an ever-growing amount of gullible, willing participants. However, the currency here is narrative.
Polls, to put it plainly, are propaganda - and have been for decades - but one particular election handily evidences this, and offers chilling insight into this year’s presidential race: the 1980 election between incumbent President Jimmy Carter and challenger Ronald Reagan.
China's massive credit growth in March (and $1 trillion surge in total social financing in Q1) is a "warning sign" according to billionaire George Soros, "because it shows how much work is needed to stop the slowdown." Speaking at an event in new York this evening, Soros commented on "troubling developments" in China, the anti-corruption drive's impact on capital outflows and the real-estate bubble "feeding on itself." His conclusion, rather ominously, was that despite all the naysayers and fiction-peddlers, China "resembles US in 2007-8," before credit markets seized up and spurred a global recession.
The Winter of 2015-2016, which came to an end a few weeks ago, has been officially designated as the mildest in the U.S. in 121 years according to NOAA. While this fact will certainly add a major talking point in the global warming debate, it should also be front and center in the current economic discussion. The fact that it isn’t is testament to the blatantly self-serving manner in which economic cheerleaders blame the weather when it’s convenient, but ignore it when it’s not.
It is common knowledge by now that Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan oversaw, enabled and approved of, a major transition in the US economy. Following markets on the escalator up and taking the elevator down together set a precedent that created a Frankenstein monster, which socialised losses through the printing press while privatizing profits. Such a system was and still is unsustainable as it more or less ensures valuations decouple from underlying fundamentals.
As has become increasingly obvious to many, unconventional central bank policies have resulted in an unprecedented level of crowding– a "herd mentality" to trade positioning on the basis of a similar theme – throughout global equity markets. UBS quant team guages the "barometric pressure of developing investment bubbles" across various factors and looks for the inflection points with the dollar, oil, and politics as the main catalysts.
Individuals are consistently promised that investing in the financial markets is the only way to financial success. After all, it’s so easy. Financial pundits across the country state the one simply buys a basket of mutual funds and they will make 8, 10 or 12% a year. Don’t confuse genius with a bull market. It’s not hard to make money in a roaring bull market. Keeping your gains when the bear comes prowling is the hard part.
A report on China's stock market crash authored last year by former senior officials, including former central bank vice governor Wu Xiaoling, said Chinese retail investors are short-sighted, have a weak investment philosophy and a herd mentality.
If you believe the global economy is doing great and stocks are cheap, stop reading now; this post is not for you. We promise to write one for you at some point when stocks are cheap and the global economy is breathing well on its own - we just don’t know when that will be. But if you believe that stocks are expensive - even after the recent sell-off - and that a global economic time bomb is ticking because of unprecedented intervention by governments and central banks, then keep reading.