Tag Archives: bubble

A “Perfect” Stock Market Year; a Good Thing?

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By 2024, global risks from flagrant financial bubbles in 2017 will have been recognized. For today, one can only seek to influence those willing to think outside the conventional, “‘they’ will take care the big problems” view.

As 2017 comes to an end, the “perfect” stock market has been drilled into the minds of the American investor like none that has existed in the 121-year history of the Dow Jones Industrials.  The chart below, developed by Deutsche Bank, is yet one more example of how 2017 has not only been bullish for stocks but has been at a level of “perfection” not seen before.

Is this a good thing? I think not if one considers the long history of cycles and credit in history. Let me illustrate.

In 1981, I began work on my Master’s degree. Americans would see the national debt top $1 trillion for the first time. If your money market was not paying double digits, you moved your money.

Yields on 10 Year US Treasuries reached 15.84% in October 1981. In January 1983 the Dow closed above 1,000 for an entire month, a first in its history after reaching 995 for the first time in February 1966.

Yes, the money world of the early 1980s differed greatly from 2017.

If someone told us that 36 years later we would see the US national debt climb $1 trillion in a year to cross $20 trillion, money markets at the biggest banks paying less than 0.50% for deposits under 100,000 (a trend since 2014), and the Dow leap 7,000 points over 14 months to almost 25,000…. would we have believed them? Not based on the experience from 1966 to 1981.

So is it hard for us to believe the period ahead might not produce an additional $19 trillion in debt alongside another 24,000 increase in the Dow, WHILE interest rates plunge even LOWER than their LOWEST in American history as seen in 2016?

[Source – Is This the Most Important Chart in the World, Zero Hedge, Dec 27 ‘17]

Cycles have come and gone in history. Bubbles and come and gone in history.

One thing history has taught investors willing to learn from world events since the Dutch Tulip Bulb in the early 1600s is that the more “perfect” any investment theme has captured the minds of the public, the more disastrous the period following when money flowing from the herd changes directions.

The panic to keep from missing out stopped. The panic to get out began.

In the fall of 1981, the cost to borrow money for US government reached its highest in American history.

In the summer of 2016, the cost to borrow money for the US government reached its lowest in American history.

Has this 35-year bond market bull (interest rates coming down, bond prices moving higher) ended?

Could investors learn from the 35-year period leading up to 1981 as we start through 2018?

“The great bear market lasted some thirty-five years, by far the longest duration for a bear bond market in U.S. history. If a constant maturity thirty year 2 ½% bond had been available throughout this second bear market of the century, its price would have declined from 101 in 1946 to 17 in 1981, or 83%. In contrast, in the first bear bond market of the century, 1809 to 1920, the same bond would have declined 35% in price. The recent bear bond market seemed to have much more social and economic significance than that of all earlier bear bond markets. In all the others, bond yields stayed within the traditional band that had prevailed for centuries. This time they broke decisively out of that band.” [A History of Interest Rates, Third Edition Revised (1996), Sidney Homer and Richard Sylla, page 367]

“An entirely new and revolutionary phase of bond market history began in 1965. The Great Society program was underway, and business was assured that never again would even the smallest recession be permitted. Many believed just this. There seemed to be no more risk…..Then suddenly the (bond) market collapsed, led by a sharp decline in the bellwether, the recently issued 4 1/4s of 1987-1992…Market psychology, which had clung to traditional benchmarks was shattered, and the stage was set for a major bear market.”  [Ibid, pg 379]

 

Still thinking,

 

A Curious Mind

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A New Holiday: Central Bankers’ Day

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Today is September 21, 2016.  Two of the largest central banks in the world gave press releases after their regularly scheduled two day meetings. It is not normal for two major central banks to do this on the same day, but this is what took place today.

The reason I am calling it a “holiday” is because the most common theme across investment markets at the management or trading level has become “central banks run the show”. Free markets? What’s that? We now are centrally planned with constant intervention by the state (i.e. major central banks) to make certain the public is happy with their 401k statements and rising real estate prices.

Will this grand illusion end very badly and powerfully? Could it be very soon?

Cheap Oil Has Killed Nearly 200,000 Jobs, CNN Money, August 4, 2016

Vancouver Average Detached Home Prices See Worst Slide in 39 Years, Huffpost British Columbia, Sept 2, 2016

Have we reached a place in history where more central planning, greater the debt levels, and more “assisted” markets become week by week, the MORE confident we can become that this is a much better path than when we had a more free market structure, far less debt, and “assistance” was occasional rather than constant?

Read on. Keep thinking.

The Sept 21st View Looking Back

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Once again, the computer algos with some “assistance” kicked off another hard run back up. Will it last long? Go to a new all time high again? What is important is that we all remember that the image of central bankers bring happiness was issued on this new “holiday”.

Of course, all is not rosy for central bankers. The Bank of Japan continues having troubles getting the yen to go down according to their plans, and their stock market to climb much before stalling. Now yields on its debt have been climbing from their lowest levels in history.

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Holiday Happiness?

As you look at the chart of the NASDAQ 100 above, ask yourself, “Are stocks reflecting the comments and data that brought us into this “holiday”? Do financial markets at all time high levels reflect the REAL economy? If not, should every investor have an exit plan?

Most of the comments and charts below were pulled today, Sept 21st.

The first two tweets are by Lawrence Summers, former US Treasury Secretary and Chief Economist at the World Bank.

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I thought these bankers “always” had another scheme to fix the problem? With the NASDAQ producing its highest levels ever today, it would appear that “the crowd” is certainly not thinking about a “shock at a fragile moment”. This NASDAQ image is of extreme confidence.

On this “holiday”, are there any “gloom and doom” naysayers who just can’t understand all the optimism central bankers have brought stock investors?

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But what does world trade have to do with a stock market?

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If business investment has been slowing, why should that possibly impact our 401k statements and retirement plans?

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Yes, I know there are things called Credit Default Swaps which rise in price sharply if these big investors believe a company or country is on the verge of default, but why worry that one of the largest banks in Europe could be on the verge of default or nationalization by the German government? Besides, that only happens in times like September 2008 when Lehman’s filed bankruptcy and AIG was nationalized and stocks were getting clobbered.

Stocks certainly don’t seemed phased by such news today.

Could Germany Allow Deutsche Bank To Go Under, Zero Hedge, Sept 21

Meet the Riskiest Bank in the World, Business Insider, Sept 21

As we can see, central bankers have made sure at that millions of stocks investors sitting in stock funds at all time high levels will not impacted by something that happens in Europe…right?

sept21_corporatedebtdoubledsince2008

The doubling of corporate debt since 2008? That doesn’t look good? What if corporate stock prices start falling, wouldn’t the company still have all this debt on its books?

If debt were climbing faster than earnings and had reached the highest levels since 2000 this seems like something that would impact all time high stock prices, doesn’t it?

sept21_debttoearnings-highsincentury

Well, I am not going to worry or be concerned about this silly old data. My experience from trusting central bankers for the last few years has come out okay. The brokerage statement is fine. Besides, what could some manager who oversees a couple hundred billion in investments know that I don’t know? Why do I need to even think about making changes now, especially since today is a central banker’s “holiday”?

$195 Billion Asset Manager: “The Time Has Come To Leave The Dance Floor”, Zero Hedge, 9/21

One things is for certain. Central bankers have been at this a very long time. They know what they are doing. This is certainly no “experiment”, and they would never artificially push up prices to trick us into thinking we were wealthy from trillions in new debt.

World Seeing Greatest Monetary Experiment in History, Jacob Rothschild, RT, August 17, 2016

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The six months under review have seen central bankers continuing what is surely the greatest experiment in monetary policy in the history of the world. We are therefore in uncharted waters and it is impossible to predict the unintended consequences of very low interest rates, with some 30 percent of global government debt at negative yields, combined with quantitative easing on a massive scale,” Rothschild writes in the company’s semi-annual financial report.

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Fed Seeking To Create Wealth, Not Just Cut Rates, Yahoo News, Sept 14, 2012

The Federal Reserve wasn’t just trying to drive down interest rates when it announced a third round of bond purchases Thursday.

 

It also wants to make people feel wealthier – and more willing to spend.

 

The idea is for the Fed’s $40 billion-a-month in bond purchases to lower interest rates and cause stock and home prices to rise, creating a ‘wealth effect’ that would boost the economy.

 

And “if people feel that their financial situation is better because their 401(k) looks better or for whatever reason – their house is worth more – they’re more willing to go out and spend,” Chairman Ben Bernanke told reporters. “That’s going to provide the demand that firms need in order to be willing to hire and to invest.”

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Thank goodness we can have these holidays in celebration of our central bankers. Why would anyone be foolish enough to think these central planners of our financial markets and global economy would ever face limits in markets?

Bank of Japan Risk: Running Out of Bonds To Buy, WSJ, Sept 9, 2016

ECB Fast Exhausting German Bonds for QE Buying As Yields Tumble, Bloomberg, July 19, 2016

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Now I am having doubts? Maybe having an “unlimited punch bowl” is not such a good idea? Maybe I should stop betting with an “all in” approach, never selling or reducing my junk bond and stock positions at these all time high levels?

Just not today. It’s a holiday.

A tired but curious mind

 

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