Importantly, while the "bias" of the market is to the upside, primarily due to the psychological momentum that "stocks are the only game in town," the mounting risks are clearly evident. From economic to earnings-related weakness, the "bullish underpinnings" are slowly being chipped away.
No professional or successful investor every bought and held for the long-term without regard, or respect, for the risks that are undertaken. If the professionals are looking at "risk" and planning on how to protect their capital from losses when things go wrong - then why aren't you? Exactly how many warnings do you need?
"It looks to me a bit like a bubble again with essentially a tripling of stock prices since 2009 in just six years and at the same time people losing confidence in the valuation of the market."
Over the last five years, we have developed an unhealthy obsession with the Federal Reserve, in particular, and central banks, in general, and there is plenty of blame to go around. Investors have abdicated their responsibilities for assessing growth, cash flows and value, and taken to watching the Fed and wondering what it is going to do next, as if that were the primary driver of stock prices. The Fed has happily accepted the role of market puppet master, with Federal Bank governors seeking celebrity status, and piping up about inflation, the level of stock prices and interest rate policy. We don't know what will happen at the FOMC meeting, but we hope that it announces an end to it's "interest rate magic show."
"...it is time to be shot of the long end of the US bond market and we wish this morning to sell the September T-note future at or near to 126 3/4. We can imagine the front month future trading to 118-119 over the course of the next several months..."
It's true that “the authorities” want the price of financial assets (stocks, bonds) to go up, and the price of hard assets (commodities) to go down… which is exactly what has happened. So do governments and central banks ever lose? In the old days, they lost all the time. In one extreme example, an individual hedge fund took out the entire Bank of England. But central banks are currently on a massive winning streak. So to answer the question, “Will we ever have a crisis,” you need to answer the question, “Will we ever be allowed to have one?”
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.
Stock buybacks have been in the news lately, as their growing size has lead to criticism, especially from politicians who believe they contribute to economic inequality. But the simplest critique of the practice of buybacks can be made on economic grounds, in terms of value created or destroyed.
Whether, or not, a Greek exit from the Eurozone or a potential debt default is "the thing" that sparks the next major correction in the markets is unknown. Historically, such a widely "known" event is generally already factored into the markets and has much less of an impact when that event eventually comes to fruition. As Art Cashin suggested this morning: "I think China may be more important than Greece. Stick with the drill – stay wary, alert and very, very nimble."
At present, John Hussman notes that market losses that may seem like “worst case” scenarios are actually quite run-of-the-mill expectations. As Santayana wrote, “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it." In other words, "panic before everyone else."
U.S. companies announced $141 billion of new stock buyback programs last month and $243 billion of new M&A deals. Both figures are all-time records, and according to bubblevision are further evidence that CEOs are bullish on their companies and the economic outlook. You might say that. Then, again, it might put you in mind of swarming moths heading for a light bulb. The baleful truth is this. In its arrogant and misbegotten seizure of all financial power, the nation’s central bank has turned the C-suite of corporate America into a destructive agent of bubble finance. That’s ‘dumb money’ with a vengeance.
Dear Mr Hilsenrath and your Central Bank Team,
This is Joe from the disappearing Middle Class in America. You asked me the other day to drop you a note if I felt that something was wrong. What I’m having trouble with is “why” you’re asking me if anything is wrong!?
So let me explain.
"If, as the ECB's Coeuré said, you are concerned about the rapidity of the market moves, it seems odd, in our view, to give everyone an incentive to get longer today only to sell again tomorrow."
It's not a bubble. Until it is...