Equity markets have not priced a meaningful slowdown in global corporate earnings. They are still pricing in central banker commentary... for now. History teaches us that equity turbulence accompanied by meaningful economic softness often marks the turn from a secular bull market in to a bear market.
"While it is human nature to think and expect along linear lines, our World just doesn’t work that way. Instead, everything moves in cycles, some short and shallow, while other cycles are long and deep. What we are experiencing today is the likely turning point in a very long cycle of borrowing, borrowing and then borrowing some more."
One of the primary arguments by the more "bullish" media is that the current setup is much like that of 2011 following the "debt ceiling" debate and global economic slowdown caused by the Tsunami in Japan. While there are certainly some similarities, such as the weakness being spread from China and a market selloff, there are some marked differences.
When you tell people in self denial the market could drop 40% in a few months, they think you are crazy. They declare this could never happen. They would get out of the market before it would fall vertically. Their memories are conveniently short as their normalcy bias and cognitive dissonance blind them to what happened over three months in 2008/2009. We wonder how many willfully ignorant investors can handle a 50% to 70% haircut in their 401k, especially if they are over 50 years old. We wonder how much angrier the populace will become when the current recession results in more job losses, bankruptcies and revelations of Wall Street malfeasance. Beware of the bear.
The world is in the waning days of a historic multi-decade experiment in unfettered finance. International finance has for too long been effectively operating without constraints on either the quantity or the quality of Credit issued. From the perspective of unsound finance on a globalized basis, this period has been unique. History, however, is replete with isolated episodes of booms fueled by bouts of unsound money and Credit – monetary fiascos inevitably ending in disaster. We see discomforting confirmation that the current historic global monetary fiasco’s disaster phase is now unfolding.
We are our own worst enemies...
The discussion of why "this time is not like the last time" is largely irrelevant. Whatever gains that investors have garnered during the recent bull market advance will be wiped away in a swift and brutal downdraft. However, this is the sad history of individual investors in the financial markets as they are always "told to buy" but never "when to sell."
With corporate profits falling, margin debt at all-time highs, the Fed preparing to raise rates, China’s fake economic system imploding, currency wars breaking out across the globe, emerging markets in turmoil, oil dependent countries in the Middle East seeing budgets go deeply in the red, Greece and the other insolvent southern European countries nearing collapse and tensions rising between Russia, Europe and the U.S., there is plenty to fear in this central banker created debt bubble world. History teaches us this isn’t over. It’s only just begun. The bubblevision assertions that the worst is behind us is false. They will insist all is well until you’ve lost half your net worth. When fear overtakes greed, neither monetary easing, propaganda, nor acts of desperation by politicians, government bureaucrats, or central bankers will turn the tide.
"You take the blue pill, the story ends. You wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes." - Morpheus, The Matrix
By starving investors of safe return, activist Fed policy has promoted repeated valuation bubbles, and inevitable collapses, in risky assets. On the basis of valuation measures having the strongest correlation with actual subsequent market returns, we fully expect the S&P 500 to decline by 40-55% over the completion of the current market cycle. The only uncertainty has been the triggers.
From our perspective, the fundamental reason for economic stagnation and growing income disparity is straightforward: Our current set of economic policies supports and encourages a low level equilibrium by encouraging debt-financed consumption and discouraging saving and productive investment. We permit an insular group of professors and bankers to fling trillions of dollars about like Frisbees in the simplistic, misguided, and repeatedly destructive attempt to buy prosperity by maximally distorting the financial markets.
This series reached an extremely skewed -462 yesterday (18 New Highs minus 480 New Lows). If this reading gets any worse, it will be one indication that the uptrend since 2009 is in jeopardy.
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.
There is an argument to be made that this could indeed be a "new market" given the continued interventions by global Central Banks in a direct effort to support asset prices. However, despite the coordinated efforts of Central Banks globally to keep asset prices inflated to support consumer confidence, there is plenty of historic evidence that suggest such attempts to manipulate markets are only temporary in nature.
Today will go down in history as one of the worst times in history to be invested in the stock market. Virtually no one believes this statement. That is why it will prove to be true. Every valuation method known to mankind is flashing red. A crash is baked in the cake. Will the trigger be Greek default, a Chinese market crash, a Fed rate increase, a derivative bet going boom, a Middle East event, someone doing something stupid in the South China Sea, a Ukrainian eruption, or a butterfly flapping its wings? When greed turns to fear, for whatever reason, the house of cards will collapse for the 3rd time in 15 years. Thank the “brilliant” bankers at the Federal Reserve.