Tag Archives: stocks

Powell ain’t Yellen, by the Northman Trader

The timing of the recent stock sell off was propitious from one point. It came as Yellen exited, so she won’t be blamed, and as Jerome Powell became the Chairperson of the Federal Reserve. You can’t blame it on him, he probably hadn’t found the coffee machine when the plunge began. So nobody at the Fed can be blamed! From the Northman Trader at northermantrader.com:

When police try to solve a crime one of the key tasks is to determine who benefits from the crime. The beneficiary of a crime is not necessarily the perpetrator, but motive goes a long way to narrow the circle of potential suspects.

Who benefitted from this sudden aggressive sell-off aside from anyone who was positioned short?

Certainly not hedge funds that capitulated long in January with their highest long exposure in 3 years literally right before the sell-off.

And certainly not retail that went full balls long on the aura of optimism:

This trend continued right into February 1 following the FOMO train. Remember Ray Dalio?

Now this:

Panic selling with record outflows. In record time no less:

From greed to panic in less than 2 weeks.

People got hammered big time as price gave back months of gains in a matter of days:

That’s a lot of trapped supply and will present a challenge for future rallies.

So benefits from all this? One man. One man in particular:

Jerome Powell.

From his vantage point the timing of all this has to be perfect. Absolutely perfect. And from Yellen’s position it’s perfect too actually. But it is Powell I want to hone in on in particular.

To continue reading: Powell ain’t Yellen


So What Do I Think about the “Crash” in Stocks? by Wolf Richter

So far, despite the pyrotechnics, markets have not crashed. From Wolf Richter at wolfstreet.com:

A lot more will have to happen before this turns into a crash; and markets are not there yet.

With all this wailing in the media about stocks, you’d think there’s at least some blood in the streets. But no. Not a drop.

The Dow fell 4.6% today to 24,345. This 1,175-point drop, as it was endlessly repeated, was the biggest point-drop in history – but irrelevant given how relentlessly inflated the industrial average had become. The percentage drop today, combined with the drops of last week, took the Dow down just 8.5% from its all-time high on January 26.

For the year, the Dow is down merely 1.5%. I mean, what horror. The last time this sort of debacle happened was way back in ancient history of January and early February 2016.

The Dow is not even in a correction (defined as -10% from its recent high). But that messy Friday and Monday, following a record 410-day streak without a 5% decline, did break the recently pandemic illusion that you cannot lose money in stocks.

When the Dow gained 1,000 points in the shortest time ever, after having already booked the fastest-ever 1,000-point gains in prior months and years, no one was complaining about it. These rapid-fire 1,000-point-gains had become the new normal. So today, one of those 1,000-point gains has been unwound.

The S&P 500 dropped 113 points, or 4.1%, to 2,648. This took the index back to December 8, 2017. The past six trading days were the worst decline since … well, since the weeks leading up to February 7, 2016, at which point the S&P 500 was off 19%, not quite enough for a dip into an official bear market.

The Nasdaq fell 272 points today, or 3.8%, to 6,967, below 7,000 for the first time since the end of December, but remains, if barely, in positive territory for the year.

What’ll happen next? Dip buyers will come in, maybe at this very moment, or maybe later, and some of them will likely get plowed under, but there is way too much cash lined up in hedge funds specifically set up to profit from sell-offs. And dip-buyers have been rewarded relentlessly over the past eight years, and it’s not until the dip buyers get massively destroyed and stop dip-buying that the market is in real trouble.

Because nothing goes to heck in a straight line.

To continue reading; So What Do I Think about the “Crash” in Stocks?

“It’s The Turning Point” – Bond, Stock Slump Sparks Worst Week For ‘Risk-Parity’ Since 2013 Tantrum, by Tyler Durden

Sometimes a few graphs are worth thousands of words. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

Yesterday’s US equity market collapse and simultaneous bond market bloodbath was the biggest combined loss since December 2015, but perhaps more ominously, the week’s combined loss in bonds and stocks was the worst since Feb 2009.

Many suggested that Friday’s slump was GOP-memo-related, and it may well have removed some froth, but judging by the major correlation regime shift between stocks and bonds that started on Monday, we suspect this is something considerably more worrisome for investors.

Even JPMorgan admits that the bond market sell-off gathered pace over the past week raising concerns about its impact on equity markets. This is especially because the bond-equity correlation, which has been predominantly negative since theLehman crisis, has started creeping up towards positive territory.

The 90-day correlation between stock (SPY) and bond (TLT) markets has surged ominously in the last few weeks…

In turn this raises concerns about de-risking by multi-asset investors who depend on this correlation staying in negative territory such as risk parity funds and balanced mutual funds? How worried should we be about de-risking by these two types of investors?


Judging by the impact on Risk-Parity funds yesterday (worst single-day performance since August 2015’s flash-crash)…

And this week (worst weekly drop in Risk-Parity funds since June 2013’s Bernanke Taper Tantrum)

As mentioned above, these types of investors benefit from the structurally negative correlation between bonds and equities as this negative correlation suppresses the volatility of bond/equity portfolios allowing these investors to apply higher leverage and thus boost their returns. But, as JPMorgan points out, the opposite takes place when this correlation turns positive: the volatility of bond/equity portfolios increases, inducing these investors to de-lever.

In the past, just as we have seen this year, these risk-parity-correlation tantrums have been cushioned by equity market inflows, and we note that, in particular, YTD equity ETF flows have surpassed the $100bn mark, a record high pace.

If these equity ETF flows, which JPMorgan believes are largely driven by retail investors, start reversing, not only would the equity market retrench, but the resultant rise in bond-equity correlation would likely induce de-risking by risk parity funds and balanced mutual funds, magnifying the eventual equity market sell-off.

To continue reading: “It’s The Turning Point” – Bond, Stock Slump Sparks Worst Week For ‘Risk-Parity’ Since 2013 Tantrum

Punch-Drunk Investors & Extinct Bears, Part 1: by Pater Tenebrarum

The age old question: if everybody’s bullish (or bearish) who’s left to buy (or sell)? From Pater Tenebrarum at acting-man.com:

The Mother of All Blow-Offs

We didn’t really plan on writing about investor sentiment again so soon, but last week a few articles in the financial press caught our eye and after reviewing the data, we thought it would be a good idea to post a brief update. When positioning and sentiment reach levels that were never seen before after the market has gone through a blow-off move for more than a year, it may well be that it means something for once.

Sloshed as we are…   a group of professional investors prepares for a day of hard work on Wall Street. The tedium of a market that goes up a little bit every day, day in day out, is taking its toll.

Interestingly, the DJIA has fully participated in the blow-off this time, contrary to what happened at the end of the 1990s bull market and the first echo boom that ended in 2007. On the monthly chart the venerable Dow Industrials Average now sports on RSI of roughly 90, which is really quite rare.


The “slightly overbought” DJIA sports an RSI of 89.59 on its monthly chart in the wake of the blow-off move over the past year.

If you think this looks like the exact opposite of what we have seen at the lows in 2009, you are entirely correct – it is indeed the opposite in every conceivable respect. In 2009 the news were uniformly bad; nowadays, we are flooded with good news on the economy and corporate earnings. In 2009 stocks were cheap  – if not really historically cheap – now they are in many ways at their most expensive in history, particularly if one considers the median stock rather than  just the capitalization-weighted indexes.

Singing From the Same Hymn Sheet

We recall that the reading of the Daily Sentiment Index of S&P futures traders stood at just 3% bulls on the day of the March 2009 low. Looking at sentiment data today, there are probably 3% bears left. What prompted us to take a closer look at the data was an article at Marketwatch about the positioning of Ameritrade customers – in other words, self-directed retail investors. The article is ominously entitled “Retail investor exposure to stock market is at an all-time high”. An all time high? Isn’t this supposed to be the “most hated” bull market ever? That hasn’t been true for quite a while actually. Ameritrade helpfully provided a chart of its “Investor Movement Index” (IM Index), which measures the aggregate stock market exposure of its clients.

At the height of the Fed’s QE3 operation in 2014, retail investors were almost “pessimistic” compared to today. The Ameritrade IM Index is currently above 8, but it already established a new record high when it crossed 7.0 for the first time last summer.

To continue reading: Punch-Drunk Investors & Extinct Bears, Part 1:

How the Asset Bubble Could End – Part 1, by Pater Tenebrarum

Bullishness about financial asset prices, especially cryptocurrency prices, has reached that a peak of insanity that always gives way to market busts. From Pater Tenebrarum at acting-man.com:

Another Shoeshine Boy Moment

We recently pondered the markets while trying out our brand-new electric soup-cooling spoon (see below). We are pondering the markets quite often lately, because we believe tail risk has grown by leaps and bounds and we may be quite close to an important juncture, i.e.,  the kind of pivot that can generate both a lot of excitement and a lot of regret all around. Provided one manages to grasp the nettle with the proper combination of preparation and luck, the emphasis may be on excitement rather than regret.

Modern soup-cooling spoon for the sophisticated gourmet. We are not the gentleman in the picture, we don’t even know him, we just wanted to show this nifty spoon in operation. Once you have one, you will wonder how civilized life was even possible before it.

Photo credit: Hans Reinhart / Getty Images

We let all the bits and pieces of data and information at our disposal parade before our mind’s eye, hoping they would confess under its stern gaze. Of course no such confession could be obtained, but eventually, a thought occurred to us. This is known to happen from time to time.

Before we get to that, we wanted to report on another “shoeshine boy” moment a good friend related to us a few days ago via e-mail:

“Saturday I was waiting in the line at a battery store… a kid behind me asked me if I was in Bitcoin and Google and a few other of the hot ones…”

“I’m not kidding. Then later after he left, another guy asked me what stock he was talking about…”

 Complete strangers standing in a line at a battery store striking up conversations about bitcoin and FANG stocks out of the blue? That is definitely a signal of sorts. It is of course a good bet that whatever speculation caught their fancy, has probably already made them more money within just the past few days than the yields investors in government bonds can hope to earn over the the entire next century (+/-).

To continue reading: How the Asset Bubble Could End – Part 1

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Being an Idiot, by MN Gordon

MN Gordon instructs how to make what will probably prove to be idiotic trades. From Gordon at economic prism.com:

There are many things that could be said about the GOP tax bill.  But one thing is certain.  It has been a great show.

Obviously, the time for real solutions to the debt problem that’s ailing the United States came and went many decades ago.  Instead of addressing the Country’s mounting insolvency, lawmakers chose the expedient without exception.  They kicked the can from yesterday to today.

Presently, there are no good options left to fix the mathematics bearing down on us all.  Hence, in the degenerate stage of an overburdened nation-state, style over substance is what counts.  Without question, Congress and President Trump played their parts to push the bill with much bravura.

On Tuesday, for example, President Trump, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and House Speaker Paul Ryan held a White House meeting with two empty chairs.  Apparently, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi didn’t want to participate in a “show meeting.”  Thus, they made a spectacle of themselves and ditched the meeting.

Indeed, their absence was all part of the show.  Moreover, the entire episode was show; nothing more.  At the time of this writing (Thursday night), the show continues on.  The last we heard, the Senate vote had been delayed until Friday.  By the time you read this it may be a done deal – or maybe not.

Regardless, the tax bill is all quite meaningless when you have a fiat currency that’s been stretched out like silly putty.  No doubt, this has propagated immense financial speculation while outrunning actual economic growth.  The effect has manifested in strange and unexpected ways.

Decentralized Cryptocurrencies

Incidentally, following Fed Chair nominee Jay Powell’s confirmation hearing before the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday, Senator Elizabeth “Pocahontas” Warren remarked that the Fed had the same regulatory attitude going into the crash of 2008 because they haven’t intervened in bitcoin.

Naturally, it never occurred to Warren that bitcoin could be a barometer of the Fed’s extreme intervention into credit markets.  Without artificially suppressed interest rates and Fed asset purchases, bitcoin would’ve never become the recipient of such speculative fervor.  Attempting to regulate it now is like assigning price controls by edict to address a Fed induced bout of consumer price inflation.

To continue reading: The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Being an Idiot

The Delirious Dozen of 2017, by David Stockman

There’s a 1999 tang in the stock market air. From David Stockman at davidstockmanscontracorner.com:

Yesterday we noted the massive market cap inflation and then stupendous collapse of the Delirious Dozen of 2000. The latter included Microsoft, Cisco, Dell, Intel, GE, Yahoo, AIG and Juniper Networks—plus four others which didn’t survive (Lucent, WorldCom, Global Crossing and Nortel).

Together they represented a classic blow-off top in the context of a central bank corrupted stock market. When the bubble neared its asymptote in early 2000, the $3.8 trillion of market cap represented by these 12 names was capturing most of the oxygen left in the casino. That is, the buying frenzy had narrowed to a smaller and smaller group of momo names.

That severe concentration pattern was starkly evident during the 40 months between Greenspan’s December 1996 “irrational exuberance” speech and April 2000 (when he told the Senate no bubble was detectable). In that interval, the group’s combined market cap soared from $600 billion to $3.8 trillion.

That represented, in turn, a virtually impossible 75% per annum growth rate for what were already mega-cap stocks. As it happened, in fact, $2.7 trillion or 71% of the group’s bubble peak market cap vanished during the next two years.

What we didn’t mention yesterday, however, is that this bubble top intumescence never really came back. In fact, the market cap of the eight surviving companies—all of which have continued to grow—-today stands at just $1.3 trillion or 34% of the 17-years ago peak.

Needless to say, that’s because the market no longer affords the Delirious Dozen of 2000 valuation multiples that are even remotely in the same bubblicious zip code.

Thus, the eight survivors posted combined net income of $52.3 billion during the LTM period ending in September 2017. On the far side of the 1999-2000 tech bubble, therefore, current earnings turn out to be worth 25X—not the 75X recorded back then.

We revisit the rise and fall of these turn of the century high flyers because we believe the same process of market narrowing into a diminishing number of momo names is exactly what is happening again as we reach the asymptote of this latest and greatest central bank fueled bubble.

To continue reading: The Delirious Dozen of 2017