Unfortunately, when central-planners "drag forward" future consumption today, you leave a "void" in the future that must be filled. That future "void" continues to expand each time activity is dragged forward until, inevitably, it can not be filled. This is currently being witnessed in the overall data trends as seen in the deterioration in corporate earnings and revenues. The only question is whether Central Banks can continue to support asset prices long enough for the economic cycle to catch up. Historically, such is a feat that has never been accomplished.
QE3 ended 17 months ago and shockingly the S&P 500 is exactly where it was 17 months ago. How many bull markets go flat for 17 months? As John Hussman accurately points out, we are experiencing a topping formation in the third and biggest bubble of the last 16 years. It’s a long way down from here.
“The McKenzie study also noted that on average “analysts’ forecasts have been almost 100% too high” which leads investors to make much more aggressive bets on the financial markets. “
Despite ongoing Central Bank interventions which boost asset prices and acts as a huge wealth transfer tax from the middle class to the rich, corporate earnings are a direct reflection of what is happening in the actual economy. Wall Street has always extrapolated earnings growth indefinitely into the future without taking into account the effects of the normal economic and business cycles. This was the same in 2000 and 2007. Unfortunately, the economy neither forgets nor forgives.
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.
“Let me be clear with you. YES, it is time to worry, and it may be time to worry a lot. ...something wicked this way comes.”
Retail investors generally buy an off-the-shelf portfolio allocation model that is heavily weighted in equities under the illusion that over a long enough period of time they will somehow make money. Unfortunately, history has been a brutal teacher about the value of risk management.
"... there is presently an enormous chasm between the point where self-reinforcing selling pressure by speculators is likely to emerge, and the much lower point where balancing buying pressure by value-conscious investors is likely to support the market. Because every seller necessarily requires a buyer, the enormous gap between the two represents substantial crash risk."
When markets begin a "bear" cycle, they can remain in an oversold condition for extended periods. There is an important 'truism' to remember - "Markets crash when they’re oversold."
An angry bear has been released after nearly seven years in hibernation, and the entire world is going to be absolutely shocked by what happens next.
The reckless herd has been in control for the last few years, but their recklessness is going to get them slaughtered. Corporate profits are plunging. Labor participation continues to fall. A global recession is in progress. The strong U.S. dollar is crushing exports and profits of international corporations. Real household income remains stagnant, while healthcare, rent, home prices, education, and a myriad of other daily living expenses relentlessly rises. The world is a powder keg, with tensions rising ever higher in the Middle East, Ukraine, Europe, and China. The lessons of history scream for caution at this moment in time, not recklessness. 2016 will be a year of reckoning for the reckless herd.
“Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, one by one.”
"Security prices are not low. I wouldn’t say high, but full. So people are thinking cautiously but they’re acting bullish and they’re behaving in a pro-risk fashion. While investor behavior hasn’t sunk to the depths seen just before the crisis, in many ways I feel it has entered the zone of imprudence... The market is not an accommodating machine. It will not go where you want it to go just because you need it to go there."
There are many half-truths perpetrated on individuals by Wall Street to sell product, gain assets, etc. However, if individuals took a moment to think about it, the illogic of many of these arguments are readily apparent. The index is a mythical creature, like the Unicorn, and chasing it has historically led to disappointment. Investing is not a competition, and there are horrid consequences for treating it as such.