As a reminder, this kind of market action is neither normal or healthy longer term and has only seen near historical major market peaks. Of course, timing is everything. With the current influx of liquidity coming to an end in October, combined with a plan to start to increasing interest rates in 2015, the Fed has clearly begun to signal the end of 5 years of ultra-accommodative policies. The question that remains to be answered is whether or not the economy is actually strong enough to be removed from "life support?" This weekend's "Things To Ponder" is just a smattering of interesting articles cover a wide range of topics that I hope you will find interesting, informative and contemplative.
One of the biggest mistakes that investors make is falling prey to cognitive biases that obfuscate rising investment risks. Here are 5 counter-points to the main memes in the market currently...
According to a paper by economists at UC Northwestern University and UC Berkeley, Anna Cieslak and Adair Morse and Annette Vissing-Jørgensen, another, even more surprising trading pattern using FOMC announcement has emerged. Specifically, anyone who engaged in the simple "even" strategy of buying the stocks of the S&P 500 on the day before a Fed policy announcement, selling them a week later, then buying them again the following week and sticking with the pattern until the subsequent Fed meeting generated a whopping 650% return since 1994, far outperforming the inverse "odd" strategy which shocking had a negative return over the past two decades years, and jsut as surprisingly, outperforming the market's own 505% return during this period.
We recently noted that the average Russell 2000 stock is down over 22% and the majority of the broad equity market is well into correction territory as the rally is supported by fewer and fewer names (cough AAPL cough). However, as FBN's JC O'Hara notes, looking at the percent of stocks above their 200 day moving average in the S&P 500 vs the percent of stocks above their 200 day moving average for the Russell 2000, we find the spread is at its widest point in the history of our database. While we find breadth is not a proper market timing tool, a heightened reading often forewarned of troubles ahead. It was more common to alleviate a wide spread by the S&P pulling back to the Russell rather than the Russell playing catch up.
Renowned for something, Dennis Gartman has outdone himself once again (again). After explaining that bonds are rallying on pension fund rebalancing but stocks should not be lower and shorting bonds never works; the bearded market-timing philosopher gives a glimpse of the kind of insight that can only be purchased for $29.95: "the market will stop when it stops; not a moment before."
Today's short squeeze, EM-is-fixed, Fed-hope-fueled relief rally (in the face of compounding errors in earnings expectations and outlooks) we thought reminiscing on what happened the last time stocks were this high and over-levered and debt-bloated entities were rapidly revealed for what they were would be useful. While the 'just three charts' we showed two weeks ago provide plenty of concern, when the NYSE Composite, which accounts for 1,900 companies representing 61% of the world's publicly traded stock market capitalization, shows eery similarities to the tipping point in 2007 as NewEdge's Brad Wishack pointed out earlier, we thought it worth sharing.
These names can fall farther than investors ever think once the downside momentum kicks in......
All that glitter is not gold.
When I heard Kyle Bass discussing one of the reasons he was investing in Herbalife is because of possible future stock buybacks at all-time highs – I just shake my head as this isn`t going to end well folks!
Don`t fall in love with market exposure as even Wall Street Sharks get eaten alive in financial markets.
The stock market. Source of unknown riches - but not necessarily for investors. So-called "professional" investors offer to manage your money. However, their fees are based on the level of assets managed, not performance. Hence their goal is to maximize assets, not performance, and prey for markets to behave. You will never hear a bad word about stocks from a professional money manager. the by-laws of many mutual funds do not allow the manager to have cash levels above 5% of assets. He has to be invested at least 95% at all times. On one hand, it is probably right to force money managers to concentrate on stock picking, not market timing. On the other hand, this puts the onus of market timing onto the inidiviual investors. Lighthouse's Alex Gloy's excellent presentation below proves finance doesn't have to be complex (people make it complex). Gloy goes on to discuss the link between GDP and Profits, performance, valuation, inflation, and war and their effect on all markets.
The correlation between stock prices and margin debt continues to rise (to new records of exuberant "Fed's got our backs" hope) as NYSE member margin balances surge to new record highs. Relative to the NYSE Composite, this is the most "leveraged' investors have been since the absolute peak in Feb 2000. What is more worrisome, or perhaps not, is the ongoing collapse in investor net worth - defined as total free credit in margin accounts less total margin debt - which has hit what appears to be all-time lows (i.e. there's less left than ever before) which as we noted previously raised a "red flag" with Deutsche Bank. Relative to the 'economy' margin debt has only been higher at the very peak in 2000 and 2007 and was never sustained at this level for more than 2 months. Sounds like a perfect time to BTFATH...
There comes a time in every bubble's life when participants who have a stake in its continuation have to employ ever more tortured logic to justify sticking with it. We have come across an especially amusing example of this recently. “Good news!” blares a headline at CNBC “Bubble concern is at a 5-year high”. Ironically, since at least 1999 if not earlier, the source of this headline has been referred to as 'bubble-vision' by cynical observers (or alternatively as 'hee-haw'). It definitely cannot hurt to be aware of market psychology and sentiment. However, the argument that a surge in searches for the term 'bubble' on Google can be interpreted as an 'all clear' for a bubble's continuation seems to have things exactly the wrong way around. The misguided behavior of financial market participants that can be observed during bubbles is merely mirroring the clusters of entrepreneurial error monetary pumping brings about.
What is important to understand is that, despite rhetoric to the contrary, "record" earnings or profits are generally fleeting in nature. It is at these divergences from the long term growth trends where true buying and selling opportunities exist. Are we currently in another asset "bubble?" The answer is something that we will only know for sure in hindsight. However, from a fundamental standpoint, with valuations and profitability on a per share basis well above long term trends it certainly does not suggest that market returns going forward will continue to be as robust as those seen from the recessionary lows.