Tag Archives: stocks

If Michael Burry Is Right, Here Is How To Trade The Coming Index Fund Disaster, by Tyler Durden

Michael Burry was one of the heroes of Michael Lewis’s book The Big Short. Now he’s got another big short. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

Last week, the Big Short’s Michael Burry sparked a fresh wave of outrage among the Gen-Z and algo traders (if not so much the handful of humans who have actually witnessed a bear market) on Wall Street, by calling the darling of modern capital markets – passive, or index/ETF, investing – the next CDO bubble. Echoing what many skeptics before him have said, Burry argued that record passive inflows, coupled with active fund outflows which suggest passive equity funds will surpass active by 2022 according to BofA…

… are distorting prices for stocks and bonds in much the same way that CDOs did for subprime mortgages. Eventually, the flows will reverse at some point, and when they do, “it will be ugly.”

This nascent passive bubble is also why Burry had avoided large caps and was focusing entirely on small-cap value stocks: to Burry, they tend to be underrepresented in index funds, or left out entirely, which is why they are i) cheap and also why ii) when the passive bubble bursts, they will be the few names left standing.

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The Economic Bubble Bath, by Jeff Thomas

Bubbles, bubbles everywhere. Pop one and the rest will burst, too. From Jeff Thomas at internationalman.com:

At the end of a long, tiring day, we may choose to treat ourselves to a soothing bubble bath. Surrounded by steaming water and a froth of sweet-smelling bubbles, it’s easy to forget the cares of everyday life.

This fact is equally true of economic bubbles. When the markets are up, we’re inclined to feel as though life is rosy. Unfortunately, it does seem to be the norm that investors fail to recognize when a healthy up-market transforms into a dangerous bubble. We tend to be soothed into overlooking the fact that we’re in hot water, and economically, that’s not an advantageous situation to be in.

Periodically, any economy will experience bubbles. It’s bound to happen. Human nature dictates that, if the value of an asset is on the rise, the more success it experiences, the more we want to get in on the success.

Sadly, the great majority of investors have a tendency to fail to educate themselves on how markets work. It’s easier to just trust their broker. Unfortunately, our broker doesn’t make his living through our success; he makes it through brokering transactions. The more buys he can encourage us to make, the more commissions he enjoys.

It’s been said that a broker is “someone who invests your money until it’s gone,” and there’s a great deal of truth in that assessment.

And so, we can expect to continue to witness periodic bubbles in the markets. They’ll occur roughly as often as it takes for us to forget the devastation of the last one and we once again dive in, only to be sheared once again.

But we’re presently seeing an economic anomaly – a host of bubbles, inflating dramatically at the same time.

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The Freak Chart, by the Northman Trader

Long-term stock market charts are perhaps sending a message that US equity markets may in for a lengthy period of consolidation at best, and perhaps a long bear market. From the Northman Trader at northmantrader.com:

I got a freak chart for you that’s stunning, but bear with me here because it requires some background and patience. Most of us are focused on the daily or weekly action and it’s easy to lose sight of big cyclical trends. We don’t think of them as they take a long time to unfold and the daily noise is so much more dominant.

With the advent of permanent central bank intervention sparked by the financial crisis all of us have come accustomed to markets always going up with the occasional correction in between and the timing of corrections have seemingly become shorter and shorter. Big fat bottoms that happen after just a few days of temporary terror. We haven’t seen a true bear market since the financial crisis and even that one lasted barely more than a year as central banks stepped in. The last longer term bear market came after the technology bust in 2000 when markets bottomed in 2002 and 2003 and then proceeded onto the next bull market.

It didn’t always used to be this way. Going back to 1900 there were multiple extended periods of stock markets going nowhere and trading in wide chop ranges:

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Is All Lost? Record Share Buybacks But Stocks Get Crushed, by Wolf Richter

One thing that happens when stocks go into bear markets and the economy heads south is that practices that were overlooked when rising markets were lifting all boats get intense scrutiny. If the current downtrend continues, count on Congressional hearings on share buybacks, especially those funded with debt. From Wolf Richter at wolfstreet.com:

The vengeance of share buybacks: buyback queen Apple plunges.

In the third quarter, share buybacks by S&P 500 companies totaled $203.8 billion, according to S&P Dow Jones Indices today. These are actual buybacks, not hyperventilated announcements of possible future share buybacks:

  • Share buybacks in Q3 jumped 57.7% from a year earlier.
  • This was the third quarter in a row of record share buybacks.
  • For the first three quarters this year, buybacks totaled a mind-bending $583 billion.
  • This $583 billion was up 34% from the same period in 2017.
  • This $583 billion was within a hair of beating the full-year all-time record of $589 billion set in 2007 before it all collapsed.
  • Since Q1 2012 — in less than seven years — all share buybacks combined totaled an even more mind-bending $3.54 trillion.

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Misdiagnosing The Risk Of Margin Debt, by Lance Roberts

Margin debt helps keep stock markets afloat. From Lance Roberts at realinvestmentadvice.com:

This past week, Mark Hulbert wrote an article discussing the recent drop in margin debt. To wit:

“Plunging margin debt may not doom the bull market after all, reports to the contrary notwithstanding.

Margin debt is the total amount investors borrow to purchase stocks, which historically has risen during bull markets and fallen during bear markets. This total fell more than 6% in October, according to a report last week from FINRA. We won’t know the November total until later in December, though I wouldn’t be surprised if it falls even further.

A number of the bearish advisers I monitor are basing their pessimism at least in part on this plunge in margin. It’s easy to see why: October’s sharp drop brought margin debt below its 12-month moving average. (See accompanying chart.)”

“According to research conducted in the 1970s by Norman Fosback, then the president of the Institute for Econometric Research, there is an 85% probability that a bull market is in progress when margin debt is above its 12-month moving average, in contrast to just a 41% probability when it’s below.

Why, then, do I suggest not becoming overly pessimistic? For several reasons:

1) The margin debt indicator issues many false signals
2) There is insufficient data
3) Margin debt is a strong coincident indicator.”

I disagree with Mark on several points.

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Notice How Quickly Market Psychology Changed? by John Rubino

Two financial market truisms: markets can change on a dime, and they go down quicker than they go up. From John Rubino at dollarcollapse.com:

“How did you go bankrupt?”
“Two ways. Gradually, then suddenly.”
― Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises

On the surface, nothing much changed last week. The Fed, as expected, raised short-term interest rates very modestly, the US, Canada and Mexico cut a new NAFTA deal (kind of a pleasant surprise), unemployment fell again, Trump continued to tweet while Democrats and Republicans continued to express their mutual disdain via dirty tricks and contrived insults. Business as usual, in other words, in our dysfunctional new normal.

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The 30-Year Has “Broken Out” – Jeff Gundlach Warns Stocks And Bonds Are Going Lower Together, by Tyler Durden

US interest rates are breaking out to multi-year highs. It’s hard to see how that will be good for the stock market. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

Having broken above its multi-decade trendline, 30Y Yields are starting to levitate faster than even the equity markets can handle…

Following this week’s bond-market rout, DoubleLine’s Jeff Gundlach noted that the 30 Year Treasury yield “has broken above its multi-year base” which “should lead to significantly higher yields for investors.”

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