Was last week a preview of things to come? There are quite a few people out there that believe that the stock market would begin to decline in July, and that appears to be precisely what is happening. Last week, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell by more than 530 points. It was the biggest one week decline that we have seen so far in 2015, and some are suggesting that this could only be just the beginning. By just about any measurement that you might want to use, the stock market is overvalued. But we have been in this bubble for so long that many people have come to believe that this is “the new normal”. In fact, earlier today someone that I know dropped me a line and suggested that our financial overlords may be able to use the tools at their disposal to get this current bubble to persist indefinitely. Unfortunately, the truth is that no financial bubble ever lasts forever, and right now some very alarming things are starting to happen behind the scenes. Over the past couple of weeks, the smart money has been dumping stocks like crazy, and the lack of liquidity in the bond markets is beginning to become acute. Could it be possible that another great financial crisis is just around the corner?
Last week took a lot of investors by surprise. The following is how Zero Hedge summarized the carnage…
-Russell 2000 -3.1% – worst week since Oct 2014 (Bullard)
-Dow -2.8% – worst week since Dec 2014
-S&P -2.1% – worst week since Jan 2015
-Trannies -2.8% – worst week since Mar 2015
-Nasdaq -2.2% – worst week since Mar 2015
The talking heads on television were not quite sure what to make of this sudden downturn. On CNBC, analysts mainly blamed the usual suspects…
“I think the market’s very much concerned about the commodity (decline),” said John Lonski, chief economist at Moody’s. “The contraction in China manufacturing activity is gaining momentum and the credit market has yet to signal that rates are not about to go higher.”
He also noted a surprising decline in new home sales and continued lack of revenue growth in earnings. Nearly all the commodities are in a bear market and gold and crude settled at lows Friday.
“You’ve got some major growth concerns and that is what’s weighing on investors minds,” said Peter Boockvar, chief market strategist at The Lindsey Group.
And without a doubt, there are some new numbers that are deeply troubling for Wall Street. For example, it is being projected that S&P 500 companies will collectively report a 2.2 percent decline in earnings for the second quarter of 2015. If this comes to pass, it will be the first drop that we have seen since the third quarter of 2012.
The biggest reason for this decline in earnings is the implosion of U.S. energy companies due to the crash in oil prices. The following comes from CNBC…
Thanks to a collapse in the price of oil, the energy sector is slated to report a monster 54 percent drop in earnings and 28 percent swoon in revenue, compared to the second quarter in the year prior.
Hmm – unlike what so many others were saying initially, it turns out that the oil crash is bad for the U.S. economy after all.
But just like at this time of the year in 2008, most people fully expect that everything is going to be just fine. So many of the exact same patterns that we witnessed the last time around are playing out once again, and yet most of the “experts” refuse to see what is happening right in front of their eyes.
When things crash this time, it won’t just be stocks that collapse. As I have been writing about so frequently, we are also headed for an implosion of the bond markets as well. The following comes from Dr. David Eifrig…
In the U.S. Treasury securities market, financial-services giant JPMorgan Chase estimates that five years ago, you could move about $280 million worth of Treasury securities before your trades moved the market’s price. Now, that’s down to $80 million… a decline of more than 70%.
When a panic sets in, reduced liquidity can cause big swings in market prices.
There is that word “liquidity” again. This is something that I have repeatedly been taking about. Just check out this article from a little over a month ago. A bond is only worth what someone else is willing to pay for it, and if the market runs out of buyers that can cause seismic shifts in price very rapidly. Here is more from Eifrig…
In a run-of-the-mill bear market, you just have a downward trend… When enough investors are selling bonds, it drives down prices. Falling prices lead more investors to start selling. We see that all the time.
A liquidity crisis goes even further. It’s like a classic run on a bank… Without sufficient liquidity, the sellers don’t just see lower prices… they see no prices. Since no one wants to buy bonds at this particular time, the price for them effectively becomes zero.
There has been a lot of speculation about what will happen in the second half of 2015.
We only have a little over five months to go in the year, so it won’t be too long before we see who was right and who was wrong.
Our perceptions of the future are very much shaped by our worldviews. All the time, I get “Obamabots” that come to my website and leave comments on my articles telling me how Barack Obama has “turned the economy around” and has set the stage for a new era of prosperity in America.
Despite all the evidence to the contrary, they choose to believe that things are in great shape because that is what they want to believe. Just check out the results from one recent survey…
While 55 percent of Democrats reported feeling positive about the economy, for example, just 25 percent of Republicans felt the same from March 25 to May 27.
When asked if they thought the economy would improve over the next 12 months, 53 percent of Democrats said yes. Only 23 percent of the Republicans in the survey agreed.
The same perception gap extends to the far future, with 41 percent of Democrats believing that the next generation will be better off than their parents, and just 24 percent of Republicans saying the same.
To me, those numbers are quite striking.
Many Democrats very much want to believe that things are getting better because Barack Obama is in the White House.
Many Republicans very much want to believe that things are totally falling apart because Barack Obama is in the White House.
So who is right and who is wrong?
Please feel free to share what you think by posting a comment below…
Have you heard of the saying “sell in May and go away”? Traditionally, the period from May through October has been a time of weakness for stocks. In fact, on average stocks hit their lowest point of the year on October 27th. And most people don’t remember this, but the Dow Jones Industrial Average actually began plunging right at this time of the year just prior to the financial crisis of 2008. Most people do remember the huge stock crash that happened in the fall of that year, but the market actually started to slide in May. Throughout the first four and a half months of 2008, stocks moved up and down in a fairly narrow range, and the Dow closed at a short-term peak of 13,028.16 on May 19th. From there it was all downhill for the rest of the year. So will a similar thing happen in 2015 as we approach the next great financial crisis? Since March 20th, the Dow Jones Transportation Average has already fallen by almost 800 points. So will the Dow Jones Industrial Average soon follow? Well, only time will tell, but the Dow was down 190 points on Tuesday. Signs of trouble are popping up all over the place, and the “smart money” is getting out while the getting is good.
The chart that I have posted below shows how the Dow Jones Industrial Average performed during 2008. As you can see, stocks began plummeting long before the financial crisis in the fall. From May 19th through early July, the Dow fell by about 2,000 points. Should we expect to see a similar pattern this summer?…
Like I stated earlier in this article, red flags and warning signs are starting to pop up all over the place. The following are just a few of the trouble signs that we have seen this week…
-On Tuesday, the VIX (a closely watched measure of market volatility) jumped by the highest percentage that we have seen so far in 2015. As I have explained so often before, markets tend to go up in calm markets and they tend to go down in volatile markets. So the fact that volatility is on the rise is not a good sign.
-The U.S. dollar index is surging again. In fact, we just witnessed the largest seven day rise in the U.S. dollar index since the collapse of Lehman Brothers. This is another indication that big trouble is ahead. For much more on this, please see my previous article entitled “Guess What Happened The Last Time The U.S. Dollar Skyrocketed In Value Like This?…”
-Thanks to the ongoing Greek crisis, the euro is falling again. It just hit a fresh one-month low, and if I am right it is going to go quite a bit lower as the European financial crisis intensifies.
-In the U.S., orders for durable goods have fallen year over year for four months in a row. When orders for durable goods start going negative for a few months, it is usually a signal that we are entering a recession.
-After rebounding a little bit, the price of crude oil is falling again. It just hit a new one-month low, and the number of oil rigs in operation has declined for 24 weeks in a row. Once again, this is highly reminiscent of what happened back in 2008.
-Unfortunately, it isn’t just oil that is declining. A whole host of other commodity prices are going down right now as well. This happened just prior to the financial crisis of 2008, and it is a sign that we are heading into a deflationary economic slowdown.
The reason why I talk so much about what happened the last time around is that we should be able to learn from it.
Looking back, there were so many warning signs leading up to the financial crisis of 2008 but most people totally missed them. Now, so many of those exact same signs are appearing once again, but they are being ignored.
Only this time the global financial system is in far worse shape than it was back in 2008. Debt levels all over the planet have absolutely exploded over the past seven years, and the debt to GDP ratio for the entire world is now up to a mind blowing 286 percent. In the United States, our national debt has approximately doubled since just prior to the last recession, and at this point it is mathematically impossible to pay it off. We are in the midst of the greatest stock market bubble of all time, the greatest bond bubble of all time (76 trillion dollars) and the greatest derivatives bubble of all time. Anyone that cannot see the trouble that is approaching is willingly blind.
In the western world, we have extremely short attention spans and we suffer deeply from something called “normalcy bias”. The following is how “normalcy bias” is defined by Wikipedia…
The normalcy bias, or normality bias, is a mental state people enter when facing a disaster. It causes people to underestimate both the possibility of a disaster and its possible effects. This may result in situations where people fail to adequately prepare for a disaster, and on a larger scale, the failure of governments to include the populace in its disaster preparations.
The assumption that is made in the case of the normalcy bias is that since a disaster never has occurred then it never will occur. It can result in the inability of people to cope with a disaster once it occurs. People with a normalcy bias have difficulties reacting to something they have not experienced before. People also tend to interpret warnings in the most optimistic way possible, seizing on any ambiguities to infer a less serious situation.
That is such a perfect description of what is happening in the western world today. But just because things have always been a certain way in our past does not mean that they will continue to be that way in the future. A great economic storm is rapidly approaching, and the signs of the times are all around us.
Hopefully more people will start listening to the warnings, because we have almost run out of time to prepare.
If a major financial crisis was approaching, we would expect to see the “smart money” getting out of stocks and pouring into government bonds that are traditionally considered to be “safe” during a crisis. This is called a “flight to safety” or a “flight to quality“. In the past, when there has been a “flight to quality” we have seen yields for German government bonds and U.S. government bonds go way down. As you will see below, this is exactly what we witnessed during the financial crisis of 2008. U.S. and German bond yields plummeted as money from the stock market was dumped into bonds at a staggering pace. Well, it is starting to happen again. In recent months we have seen U.S. and German bond yields begin to plummet as the “smart money” moves out of the stock market. So is this another sign that we are on the precipice of a significant financial panic?
Back in 2008, German bonds actually began to plunge well before U.S. bonds did. Does that mean that European money is “smarter” than U.S. money? That would certainly be a very interesting theory to explore. As you can see from the chart below, the yield on 10 year German bonds started to fall significantly during the summer of 2008 – several months before the stock market crash in the fall…
So what are German bonds doing today?
As you can see from this next chart, the yield on 10 year German bonds has been steadily falling since the beginning of last year. At this point, the yield on 10 year German bonds is just barely above zero…
And amazingly, most German bonds that have a maturity of less than 10 years actually have a negative yield right now. That means that investors are going to get back less money than they invest. This is how bizarre the financial markets have become. The “smart money” is so concerned about the “safety” of their investments that they are actually willing to accept negative yields. I don’t know why anyone would ever put their money into investments that have a negative yield, but it is actually happening. The following comes from Yahoo…
The world’s scarcest resource right now is safe yield, and the shortage is getting more extreme. Most German government bonds that mature in less than 10 years now have negative yields – part of some $2 trillion worth of paper with yields below zero.
This is what happens when the European Central Bank begins a trillion-euro bond-buying binge with rates already miniscule.
Yesterday, ECB boss Mario Draghi – unfazed by the protest stunt at his press conference – reaffirmed his plan to keep bidding for paper that yields more than -0.2% – that’s minus 0.2%.
Yes, the ECB is driving a lot of this, but it is still truly bizarre.
So what about the United States?
Well, first let’s take a look at what happened back in 2008. In the chart below, you can see the “flight to safety” that took place in late 2008 as investors started to panic…
And we have started to witness a similar thing happen in recent months. The yield on 10 year U.S. Treasuries has plummeted as investors have looked for safety. This is exactly the kind of chart that we would expect to see if a financial crisis was brewing…
What makes all of this far more compelling is the fact that so many other patterns that we have witnessed just prior to past financial crashes are happening once again.
Yes, there are other potential explanations for why bond yields have been going down. But when you add this to all of the other pieces of evidence that a new financial crisis is rapidly approaching, quite a compelling case emerges.
For those that do not follow my website regularly, I encourage you to check out the following articles to get an idea of what I am talking about…
-“Guess What Happened The Last Time The Price Of Oil Crashed Like This?…”
-“Not Just Oil: Guess What Happened The Last Time Commodity Prices Crashed Like This?…”
-“10 Key Events That Preceded The Last Financial Crisis That Are Happening Again RIGHT NOW”
-“Guess What Happened The Last Time The U.S. Dollar Skyrocketed In Value Like This?…”
-“7 Signs That A Stock Market Peak Is Happening Right Now”
-“Guess What Happened The Last Two Times The S&P 500 Was Up More Than 200% In Six Years?”
Of course no two financial crashes ever look exactly the same.
The crisis that we are moving toward is not going to be precisely like the crisis of 2008.
But there are similarities and patterns that we can look for. When things start to get bad, investors act in predictable ways. And so many of the things that we are watching right now are just what we would expect to see in the lead up to a major financial crisis.
Sadly, most people are not willing to learn from history. Even though it is glaringly apparent that we are in a historic financial bubble, most investors on Wall Street cannot see it because they do not want to see it. They want to believe that somehow “things are different this time” and that stocks will just continue to go up indefinitely so that they can keep making lots and lots of money.
And despite what you may think, I actually want this bubble to continue for as long as possible. Despite all of our problems, life is still relatively good in America today – at least compared to what is coming.
I like to refer to this next crisis as our “third strike”.
Back in 2000 and 2001, the dotcom bubble burst and we experienced a painful recession, but we didn’t learn any lessons. That was strike number one.
Then came the financial crash of 2008 and the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. But we didn’t learn any lessons from that either. Instead, we just reinflated the same old financial bubbles and kept on making the exact same mistakes as before. That was strike number two.
This next financial crisis will be strike number three. After this next crisis, I don’t believe that there will ever be a return to “normal” for the United States. I believe that this is going to be the crisis that unleashes hell in our nation.
So no, I am not eager for that to come. Even though there is no way that this bubble of debt-fueled false prosperity can last indefinitely, I would like for it to last at least a little while longer.
Because what comes after it is going to be truly terrible.
All of a sudden, the Nasdaq is absolutely tanking. On Monday, it fell more than 1 percent after dropping 3.6 percent on Thursday and Friday combined. At this point, the Nasdaq is off to the worst start to a year that we have seen since 2008, and we all remember what happened back then. So why is this happening? In recent years, the Nasdaq has been ground zero for “dotcom bubble 2.0”. The hottest stocks in the entire world are on the Nasdaq – we are talking about stocks like Yahoo, Netflix, Apple, Tesla, Google and Facebook. Those stocks have gone to absolutely incredible heights, but now they are starting to fall. Some are blaming insider selling, and without a doubt the “smart money” is starting to flee the stock market. Just check out this chart. Others are blaming low expectations for first-quarter earnings or the tapering of quantitative easing by the Federal Reserve. But whatever is causing this decline, it is starting to get alarming. The Nasdaq just experienced its largest three day fall since November 2011.
No stock can resist gravity forever. What goes up must eventually come down. This is especially true for stock prices that become grotesquely distorted.
On Wall Street, a price to earnings ratio of 20 to 25 is usually considered fairly normal. In recent years, the price to earnings ratios for many of these “hot tech stocks” have gone way, way beyond that. For example, posted below is a screen capture from Bloomberg TV that was featured in a recent Zero Hedge article…
There is no way in the world that such valuations are justified.
We have been living in another dotcom bubble, and it was inevitable that it was going to burst at some point.
The following is how one financial industry insider described the carnage that we have seen on the Nasdaq over the past few days…
Gary Kaltbaum, president of money-management firm Kaltbaum Capital Management, describes the carnage of once high-flying “growth” names in the Nasdaq composite, that have come crashing down to earth: “The best we can describe what we have been recently seeing in ‘growth-land’ is a 50-car pileup,” Kaltbaum told clients in a morning research note. “Call them what you want … risk areas, growth stocks, froth areas … they are melting away.“
And of course it isn’t just the Nasdaq that has been seeing declines over the past few days. On Monday, some of the biggest names on the Dow also fell precipitiously…
Visa, Goldman Sachs and Boeing are among the biggest drags on the Dow Monday, falling 2.1%, 2.9% and 1.4% respectively. Weakness in these stocks is especially problematic since the Dow gives greatest weight to the stocks with the highest per-share prices. And at $203.41, $158.56 and $125.59 respectively, Visa, Goldman and Boeing are the stocks that really matter to the measure.
And the trouble in these stocks isn’t just today. So far this year, Visa is down 8.7%, Goldman is off 10.5% and Boeing is down 8.0%.
This recent decline has many analysts groping for answers.
Some believe that it is simply a “rotation” as investors leave growth stocks that have become overvalued and move into safer, more traditional stocks.
Others are pointing their fingers at the Federal Reserve…
Peter Boockvar, chief market strategist at Lindsey Group, believes it’s all about the Fed. “I’m still amazed at the complacency with the Fed taper, and a lot of people still don’t think it’s a big deal,” he said. “I just don’t think it’s a coincidence that the high-fliers are getting popped when the Fed is half way done with QE. We’ve got tightening smack in front of your face with the taper.”
In fact, some believe that the really big stock market decline will happen later this year when the Fed starts to wrap up quantitative easing completely…
Once the Fed begins to truly reduce its massive bond buying program later this year, markets could see a quarter of their value wiped off the books, a private equity pro told CNBC on Friday.
Jay Jordan, founder of the Jordan Company, issued the dire warning during an interview on CNBC’s “Squawk Box,” saying a 25 percent drop could extend to all asset classes. He blames the monetary policies of former Fed chair Ben Bernanke for artificially inflating asset prices through super-low interest rates.
Yet others point to the fact that we are now moving into earnings season, and it is being projected that corporate earnings will come in at very poor levels. In fact, it is being estimated that overall earnings for companies in the S&P 500 for the first quarter will be down 1.2 percent.
So what should we expect to see next?
Whether it happens this month or not, at some point a massive stock market correction is coming. In recent years, the financial markets have become completely and totally divorced from economic reality, and that is a state of affairs that cannot last indefinitely.
Many have compared the current state of affairs to 2008, but to me what is happening right now is eerily reminiscent of 2007. The Dow soared to record heights quite a few times that year, but there were constant rumblings of economic trouble in the background. Stocks began to drop steadily late in the year, and 2008 ultimately turned out to be an utter bloodbath.
I believe that what is happening right now is setting the stage for another financial bloodbath. I truly believe that we will look back on this two year time period and regard it as a major “turning point” for America.
And as I have written about previously, we are in far worse shape as a nation than we were back in 2008. We have far more debt, the “too big to fail banks” have a much larger share of the banking industry, the derivatives bubble has gotten completely and totally out of control, and our overall economy is far weaker than it was back then.
In other words, we are now even more vulnerable. When the next great financial crisis strikes us, it is going to be absolutely crippling.
Now is not the time to get complacent.
Now is the time to get prepared, because time is running out.
If wonderful times are ahead for U.S. financial markets, then why is so much of the smart money heading for the exits? Does it make sense for insiders to be getting out of stocks and real estate if prices are just going to continue to go up? The Dow is up about 17 percent so far this year, and it just keeps setting new record high after new record high. U.S. home prices have risen about 11 percent from a year ago, and some analysts are projecting that we are on the verge of a brand new housing boom. Why would the smart money want to leave the party when it is just getting started? Well, of course the truth is that the “smart money” is regarded as being smart because they usually make better decisions than other people do. And right now the smart money is screaming that it is time to get out of the markets. For example, the SentimenTrader Smart/Dumb Money Index is now the lowest that it has been in more than two years. The smart money is busy selling even as the dumb money is busy buying. So precisely what does the smart money expect to happen? Are they anticipating a market “correction” or something bigger than that?
Those are very good questions. Unfortunately, the smart money rarely divulges their secrets, so we can only watch what they do. And right now a lot of insiders are making some very interesting moves.
For example, George Soros has been dumping almost all of his financial stocks. The following is from a recent article by Becket Adams…
Everyone’s favorite billionaire investor is back in the spotlight, and this time he has a few people wondering what he’s up to.
George Soros has dumped his position with several major banks including JPMorgan Chase, Capitol One, SunTrust, and Morgan Stanley. He has reduced his exposure to Citigroup and decreased his stake in AIG by two-thirds.
In fact, Soros’ financial stock holdings are down by roughly 80 percent, a massive drop from his position just three months ago, according to SNL Financial.
So exactly what is going on?
Why is Soros doing this?
Well, there is certainly a lot to criticize when it comes to Soros, but you can’t really blame him if he is just taking his profits and running. Financial stocks have been on a tremendous run and that run is going to end at some point. Smart investors lock in their profits while they still can.
And without a doubt, stocks have become completely divorced from economic reality in recent months. For example, there is usually a very close relationship between corporate earnings and stock prices. But as CNBC recently reported, that relationship has totally broken down lately…
That trend disrupted a formerly symbiotic relationship between earnings and stock prices and is indicating that the bluechip average is in for a substantial pullback, according to Tom Kee, who runs the StockTradersDaily investor web site.
“They’ve been moving in tandem since 2009, until recently. Earnings per share for the Dow Jones industrial average have flatlined and the price has taken off,” Kee said. “There is something happening here that defines a bubble.”
At some point there will be a correction. If the relationship between earnings and stock prices was where it should be, the Dow would be around 13,500 right now. That would be a fall of nearly 2,000 points from where it is at the moment.
And we appear to be entering a time when revenues at many corporate giants are actually declining. As I noted in a previous article, corporate revenues are falling at Wal-Mart, Proctor and Gamble, Starbucks, AT&T, Safeway, American Express and IBM.
Of course a stock market “correction” can turn into a crash very easily. Financial markets in Japan are already crashing, and many fear that the escalating problems in the third largest economy on the planet will soon spill over into Europe and North America.
And things in Europe just continue to get steadily worse. In fact, the New York Times is reporting that the European Central Bank is warning that the risk of a “renewed banking crisis” in Europe is rising…
The European Central Bank warned on Wednesday that the euro zone’s slumping economy and a surge in problem loans were raising the risk of a renewed banking crisis, even as overall stress in the region’s financial markets had receded.
In a sober assessment of the state of the zone’s financial system, the E.C.B. said that a prolonged recession had made it harder for many borrowers to repay their loans, burdening banks that had still not finished repairing the damage caused by the 2008 financial crisis.
And there are many financial analysts out there that are warning that their cyclical indicators have peaked and that we are on the verge of a fresh global downturn…
“We see building evidence of a cyclical downturn,” said Fredrik Nerbrand, HSBC’s global asset guru. “We find it highly troubling that the eurozone is still marred in a recession at the same time as our cyclical indicators appear to have peaked.”
In the United States, a lot of the smart money has also decided that it is time to bail out of the housing market before this latest housing bubble bursts. The following is one example of this phenomenon that was discussed in a recent Businessweek article…
Hedge fund manager Bruce Rose was among the first investors to coax institutional money into the mom and pop business of single-family home rentals, raising $450 million last year from Oaktree Capital Group LLC.
Now, with house prices climbing at the fastest pace in seven years and investors swamping the rental market, Rose says it no longer makes sense to be a buyer.
“We just don’t see the returns there that are adequate to incentivize us to continue to invest,” Rose, 55, chief executive officer of Carrington Holding Co. LLC, said in an interview at his Aliso Viejo, California office. “There’s a lot of — bluntly — stupid money that jumped into the trade without any infrastructure, without any real capabilities and a kind of build-it-as-you-go mentality that we think is somewhat irresponsible.”
So what does all of this mean?
Is there a reason why the smart money is suddenly getting out of stocks and real estate?
It could just be that the insiders are simply responding to market dynamics and that many of them are just seeking to lock in their profits.
Or it could be something much more than that.
What do you think?
Why are so many insiders heading for the exits right now?
Feel free to post a comment with your thoughts below…