What goes up, comes down considerably faster...
"We had a hard landing in the stock market already. We had a hard landing in commodities. [So yes], we could have a hard landing in the economy. China has a colossal credit bubble and no one knows how it's going to unwind."
With the market now back to oversold conditions and redemptions complete, it is now or never for the traditional “Santa Rally.” Statistically speaking, the odds are high that the market will muster a rally over the next couple of weeks. While the short-term trends are indeed still bullishly-biased, the longer-term analysis (monthly) reveals a more dangerous picture emerging.
If there is one chart that tells the 'truth' about the US equity 'market' it is this. Not only has breadth collapsed back to Black Monday lows (despite elevated index prices) but yesterday's exuberant rip higher diverged dramatically from a very significant drop (3 decliners for every advancer) in overall market breadth. Yes, it's Fed week, and OPEX, but the underlying support for the ponzi is waning rapidly.
Government interference by both central banks and regulators (the latter are desperately fighting the “last crisis”, bolting the barn door long after the horse has escaped, thereby putting into place the preconditions for the next crisis) has created an ever more fragile situation in both the global economy and the financial markets. As the below charts and data show, price distortions and dislocations have been moving from one market segment to the next and they keep growing, which indicates to us that there is considerable danger that a really big dislocation will eventually happen.
"Deteriorating market breadth and herding into an ever-narrower number of stocks is classic market top behavior. Currently, there are many other warning signs that are also being ignored. The merger mania, the stock buyback frenzy, the year-over-year declines in corporate sales and falling earnings for the entire S&P 500 index, the plunges this year in the high-yield and leveraged loan markets, the topping and rolling over of the massive (record) level of stock margin debt... and I could go on."
The mainstream media is increasingly suggesting that we have once again entered into a 'Goldilocks Economy.' The problem is that in the rush to come up with a 'bullish thesis' as to why stocks should continue to elevate in the future, they have forgotten the last time the U.S. entered into such a state of 'economic bliss.' You might remember this: "The Fed's official forecast, an average of forecasts by Fed governors and the Fed's district banks, essentially portrays a 'Goldilocks' economy that is neither too hot, with inflation, nor too cold, with rising unemployment." - WSJ Feb 15, 2007. Of course, it was just 10-months later that the U.S. entered into a recession followed by the worst financial crisis since the 'Great Depression.'
It’s quite easy to get carried away with the drawing of conclusions based on a few technical chart patterns (and we are not doing that here!), but this chart is just too ugly to at least go unmentioned.
When it comes to 2016, Goldman says that it is "deja vu all over again", and that the S&P 500 index will tread water for a second consecutive year. Specifically Goldman says that its "year-end 2016 target of 2100 represents a 1% price gain from the current index level (2089), which itself is just 1% above the year-end 2014 level of 2059." Here are the reasons why Goldman expects all the main themes from 2015 to be repeated in the coming year, and why the one can just sell on December 31, 2015 and go away for the next year:
"From July through October, hedge fund favorite stocks posted their worst relative returns outside of 2008."
- US dollar sell-off: Nov’15 Global FMS shows “long dollar” most crowded trade
- EM rally: China deval complicates rally but humiliated EM ripe for bounce as Fed hike expectations peak
- Positioning less "bearish": risk rally is "narrow" and vulnerable to quick profit-taking in event-rich December: deteriorating RSP/SPY ratio
"Clients are quick to point out similarities between the current low breadth environment and the narrow breadth regime that emerged during the tech bubble in the late 1990s. Our Breadth index currently equals 1, one of the lowest levels in the 30- year series. The typical episode lasted four months, with past episodes ranging from two months in 2007 to a high of 14 months during the tech bubble."
As Strategas notes "any way we look at it, market breadth remains narrow," but, as Dana Lyon's details, everyone's favorite high-beta squeeze index - Nasdaq - is perhaps the most troubling. Since the initial spike off the September lows, rally participation among all stocks has been lackluster; the Nasdaq provides us with more evidence of this... In fact, over the past month, the cumulative number of daily advancing stocks minus declining stocks on the Nasdaq is actually negative.