Tag Archives: Stock Market

The S and P Is A Bloated Corpse, by Raúl Ilargi Meijer

The money sentence: “The S&P is a bloated corpse increasingly filling up with gases that will eventually cause it to explode, with guts and blood and body parts and fluids flying all around.” SLL does not disagree. From Raúl Ilargi Meijer at theautomaticearth.com:

According to Hyman Minsky, economic stability is not only inevitably followed by instability, it inevitably creates it. Complacent humans being what they are. If he’s right, and would anyone dare doubt it, we’re in for that mushroom cloud on the financial horizon. We know that because market volatility, as measured for instance by the VIX, the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE)’s volatility index, is scraping the depths of the Mariana trench.

Two separate articles at Zero Hedge this weekend, one by NorthmanTrader.com and one by LPLResearch.com, address the issue: it is time to be afraid and wake up. And that is not just true for investors or traders, it’s true for ‘everyone out there’ perhaps even more. Central bank policies, QE and ultra low rates, have distorted the financial system to such an extent -ostensibly in an attempt to save it- that the depressed, compressed volatility these policies have created can only come back to life with a vengeance.

Feel free to picture zombies and/or loss of heartbeat as much as you want; it’s all true. Financial markets haven’t been functioning for years, and there have been no investors either, only gamblers and profiteers, as savers and pensioners have been drawn and quartered. Central bankers have eradicated price discovery, nobody knows what anything is really worth anymore, be it stocks, bonds, housing, gold, bitcoin, you name it.

If you make interest rates ‘magically’ disappear anyone can spend any amount of money on anything they fancy buying. And it’s not just traders and investors either. Scores of people think: look, I can buy a house, others think they can buy a bigger house, many will get into stocks and/or bonds, because prices just keep going up. Even savers and pensioners are drawn into the central bank Ponzi, often in an effort to make up for what they lose when their accumulated wealth no longer pays them any returns. Shoeshine boys are dishing out market tips.

To continue reading: The S&P Is A Bloated Corpse

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Good Thing Jesse Isn’t Around To See This, by Kevin Muir

If the first precondition for a stock market top, especially one of epic proportions, is that nobody believes it can happen, we’re pretty much there. From Kevin Muir at macrotourist.com:

Think back six months. Do you remember all the warnings from the legendary hedge fund managers about the impending stock market doom? Paul Tudor Jones, Scott Minerd, Larry Fink, Seth Klarman, the list is long but distinguished. At the time I penned It’s too easy to write bearish pieces. Even in late summer, gurus like Gundlach were bragging about the 400% he would make on his S&P 500 put purchases – Billionaire Bears. Given the atmosphere, I knew posts about the coming collapse would be greeted with tons of words of encouragement. Yet if I wrote something about the stock market continuing higher, crickets… Or worse yet, remarks about my cluelessness regarding the problems in the global financial system. I didn’t think stocks were going higher because everything was roses, no in fact just the opposite. Stocks were being pushed higher because everything was so FUBAR’d. Central Bank balance sheet expansion was pushing risk assets higher, and for the longest time, everyone wanted to fade it.

Fast forward to today. Even the most ardent bears have given up and embraced the idea Central Bank buying will push stocks higher. Investors that were previously doom and gloomers are now speaking of blow off-tops. I can hear the capitulation in their voices. No more brave predictions of the coming collapse. Instead, meeker forecasts of a high volume runaway euphoria. There are no bears left. None. Not a soul.

The bears have been replaced by gloating bulls that are openly bragging about how high the S&P 500 futures will gap up Sunday night. They are mocking the bears with taunts of how much money will they lose fighting the rally. They joke about buying the dip, which increasingly is becoming more and more nothing more than a couple of downticks.

I might not know much, but I know the Market Gods do not take kindly to that sort of behaviour. What was that quote from Bernard Baruch? “The main purpose of the stock market is to make fools of as many men as possible.”

Ask yourself what would embarrass most investors right now? Would it be a continuing rally? Not a chance. Given the white flag waving by the bears, and the over-enthusiasm of the bulls, there is little doubt in my mind that a stock market decline is what would hurt most. That wasn’t the case six months ago. Heck, it wasn’t even the case two months ago. But that’s where we are today.

 

To continue reading: Good Thing Jesse Isn’t Around To See This

21st Century Shoe-Shine Boys, by Pater Tenebrarum

This article is pretty much chapter and verse on why the stock market should head down soon. It’s a good primer for those blissfully unaware of downside risk. From Pater Tenebrarum at acting-man.com:

Anecdotal Flags are Waved

“If a shoeshine boy can predict where this market is going to go, then it’s no place for a man with a lot of money to lose.”

– Joseph Kennedy

It is actually a true story as far as we know – Joseph Kennedy, by all accounts an extremely shrewd businessman and investor (despite the fact that he had graduated in economics*), really did get his shoes shined on Wall Street one fine morning, and the shoe-shine boy, one Pat Bologna, asked him if he wanted a few stock tips. Kennedy was amused and intrigued and encouraged him to go ahead. Bologna wrote a few ticker symbols on a piece of paper, and when Kennedy later that day compared the list to the ticker tape, he realized that all the stocks on Bologna’s list had made strong gains. This happened a few months before the crash of 1929.

 

Joseph Kennedy in 1914, at age 25 – at the time reportedly “the youngest ever bank president in the US”

Photo credit: John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston.

Kennedy sold all his stock market investments over the next several months and put the money in what he considered the safest banks. He had already made a fortune in the bull market, and reportedly augmented it later by going short in the bear market. We are pretty sure his meeting with the market-savvy shoe-shine boy wasn’t the only reason for which he decided to sell. He did mention the anecdote later in life though and the experience served to solidify a conclusion he had already arrived at: It was very late in the game and the market was likely to  crack badly fairly soon.

We felt reminded of this story when a good friend (who invests for a living) visited us this summer. He inter aliatold us about an acquaintance of his, whom he described as an autopilot investor who only very rarely looks at the market and has a record of getting the wrong ideas at the wrong time. His latest idea was noteworthy: he thought it would be a good idea to “sell volatility” (by writing puts, if memory serves). This was in July, just before the VIX reached a new all time low.

To continue reading: 21st Century Shoe-Shine Boys

Why Trump Claiming Ownership Of “Markets” May Not Be As Crazy At It Seems, by Mark St.Cyr

As Trump heralds each new high in the stock indices, he has predictably been warned that he’s setting himself up for a fall when the averages do. That may not be as self-evident as it seems. From Mark St. Cyr at markstcyr.com:

I want to pose something which I know currently flies in the face of what many (and of those many, many I respect immensely) are currently cautioning the President against. i.e., Claiming credit for the current rise and new lifetime highs in the “markets.”

As of this writing the Dow™ is within spitting distance of (once again) topping the previous never-before-seen-in-human-history-all-time-high, setting the new benchmark at 22,000. (By the time I publish it may be a fate accompli)

Many are calling for caution when it comes to the President taking credit implying this seemingly great “win” could end up being nothing more than a “boat anchor” around his reputation should the “markets” falter, turning a once worthy accolade into the proverbial “kiss of death” signaling the scapegoating to begin in earnest.

Not only is there a lot of merit in that argument, I would also agree with it wholeheartedly if not for just one thing. The President himself, and his long history of how he frames both arguments for accolades, as well as eschews (as in publicly lambaste) those who question his perceived accomplishments.

All one has to do is look at his past performances on both TV, and in public, and it’s there. Again, the clues are everywhere, and he’s been doing it for decades. i.e., I believe this is nothing new. It’s only new to the current political mayhem.

Why I bring this up is in respect to one of the President’s most recent tweets. To wit:

I would like to bring your attention to the one thing in which he is absolutely both defining, as well as being correct with. And it is this: “Was 18,000 only 6 months ago on Election Day. Mainstream media seldom mentions!”

At first blush this appears to be a “Well…Duh!” type statement. However, if you think about how one would use the above as to frame that “Duh” observation into a sword-and-shield for defense against the possible torch-and-pitchfork bearing hordes should the “markets” falter? Defining the message, terms, all while taking credit in a believable construct – isn’t as crazy as it first appears. Especially if you can not only evade the “horde”, but possibly redirect their anger away from you – and onto another. i.e., Welcome to Machiavelli 101.

To continue reading: Why Trump Claiming Ownership Of “Markets” May Not Be As Crazy At It Seems

The Next Stock Market Crash Will Be Blamed On Donald Trump But It Will Be The Federal Reserve’s Fault Instead, by Michael Snyder

Actually, the Federal Reserve won’t be responsible for the next stock market crash; a dramatic change in social mood will. However, Michael Snyder makes the important point that President Trump will not be responsible. From Snyder at theeconomiccollapseblog.com:

A stock market crash is coming, and the Democrats and the mainstream media are going to blame Donald Trump for it even though it won’t be his fault.  The truth is that we were headed for a major financial crisis no matter who won the election.  The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up a staggering 230 percent since the lows of 2009, and no stock market rally in our history has ever reached the 10 year mark without at least a 20 percent downturn.  At this point stocks are about as overvalued as they have ever been, and every other time we have seen a bubble of this magnitude a historic stock market crash has always followed.  Those that are hoping that this time will somehow be different are simply being delusional.

Since November 7th, the Dow is up by about 3,000 points.  That is an extremely impressive rally, and President Trump has been taking a great deal of credit for it.

But perhaps he should not have been so eager to take credit, because what goes up must come down.  The following is an excerpt from a recent Vanity Fair article

According to Douglas Ramsay, chief investment officer of the Leuthold Group, Trump administration officials will come to regret gloating about the market’s performance. That’s because Trump enters the White House during one of the most richly valued stock markets in U.S. history. The last president to come in at such valuations was George W. Bush, and the dot-com bubble burst soon afterward. Bill Clinton began his second term in a more overvalued stock market in 1997, and exited unscathed. But if his timing were different by just a year, he would have been blamed for the early-aughts market crash.

This stock market bubble was not primarily created by Barack Obama, Donald Trump or any other politician.  Rather, the Federal Reserve was primarily responsible for creating it by pushing interest rates all the way to the floor during the Obama era and by flooding the financial system with hot money during several stages of quantitative easing.

To continue reading: The Next Stock Market Crash Will Be Blamed On Donald Trump But It Will Be The Federal Reserve’s Fault Instead

 

Is It March of 2000? by Karl Denninger

Financial markets are never rational, but sometimes they are especially irrational. From Karl Denninger at theburningplatform.com:

There was a little company called “Micro Strategy” (by the way they still exist.)

In the first week of March the stock had skyrocketed by over 50%.  The next week it “checked back” most of those gains.

The following week the stock collapsed.

A couple of weeks later, the Nazdaq cracked big.  I was house-shopping, in a hotel, woke up to CNBC full of crying babies and chuckled.

I will note that MicroStrategy was a little dogsqueeze company.  In terms of market cap it was a nothing – literally.  Even today, 17 years later, it’s a little $2 billion firm — granted, much smaller today in market cap than it was then.

In the run-up of the previous weeks and months there had been plenty of indications of trouble.  Many companies had reported slashing prices, increasingly-saturated markets were well-understood and of course there was the “burn rate” nonsense of the period.

It’s arguable that it was that MSTR collapse that upset the apple cart.  You see, when people are buying stocks of companies that have nothing but negative free cash flow as far as the eye can see or sky-high P/Es of 60, 80, 100 or more they’re betting with their eyes taped over on exactly one thing: Indefinite exponential growth of the business and, of course down the line, profits.

The problem is that this is an impossible premise.  There is no way for that to ever happen because it is mathematically impossible.

Today we have Amazon, Facebook and Apple all priced in this way.  Of the three only Apple has some argument for its valuation, but even there given the recent run of almost 50% it’s priced for indefinite exponential growth of a saturated product — iPhones.

To continue reading: Is It March of 2000?

Stock Markets Sit Blithely on a Powerful Time Bomb, by Wolf Richter

Speculators on margin add to stock market volatility, because their creditors can force them to either cut their positions or cough up more money when prices go against them. From Wolf Richter at wolfstreet.com:

No one knows the full magnitude, but it’s huge.

How big is margin debt really, and how much of a threat is it to the stock market and to “financial stability,” as central banks like to call their concerns about crashes? Turns out, no one really knows.

What we do know: Margin debt, as reported monthly by the New York Stock Exchange, spiked to another record high of $528 billion. But it’s only part of the total outstanding margin debt – which is when investors borrow money from their broker, pledging their portfolio as collateral.

An example of unreported margin debt: Robo-advisory Wealthfront, a so-called fintech startup overseeing nearly $6 billion, announced that it would offer its clients loans against their portfolios.

“The dream house. The dream wedding. The dream kitchen. The dream vacation.” That’s how it introduced it in a blog post this week. “We want you to have your cake and eat it too,” it said.

Instant debt “without the hassle of paperwork,” it said. “We want our clients to be able to borrow what they need, when they need it, directly from their smartphones.” Secured by “your own investments.”

It’s a great deal as long as stocks are soaring. Clients with at least $100,000 in their account can borrow up to 30% of the account value. It’s seductive: No required monthly payments and no payoff date, though interest accrues and is added to the monthly balance. The rate is as low as 3.25%. “How’s that for flexibility?” it says.

That’s how margin debt is being pushed at the end of the cycle.

This borrowed money can be drawn out of the account to fund vacations or a down-payment of a house. But when stocks spiral down, as they’re known to do in highly leveraged markets, and fall below the margin requirement, clients get a margin call. They either have to put cash into the account to make up for the losses or they have to start liquidating their portfolio at the worst possible time.

To continue reading: Stock Markets Sit Blithely on a Powerful Time Bomb