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The Dow Falls 274 Points As ‘Eclipse Fever’ Hits The Financial Markets

Have we now entered a time of major financial shaking?  On Thursday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 274 points.  The was the largest decline for the Dow since May, and high yield bonds were down dramatically as well.  Many are blaming the terror attack in Barcelona and “instability in the White House” for the downturn, but could “eclipse fever” also be a factor?  The closer that we get to the solar eclipse on August 21st, the weirder people seem to be getting.  You will see what I am talking about below.

But first let’s talk about the financial markets.  I have been warning that stocks are massively overvalued for quite a while now, and it turns out that the Federal Reserve very much agrees with me

“Since the April assessment, vulnerabilities associated with asset valuation pressures had edged up from notable to elevated, as asset prices remained high or climbed further, risk spreads narrowed, and expected and actual volatility remained muted in a range of financial markets.”

Even the Fed is warning that we are in a bubble, and it is just a matter of time until that bubble bursts.

And anyone that is paying attention should be able to see the red flags all around us.  In fact, we have just witnessed the most “Hindenburg Omens” that we have seen since November 2007.  The technical indicators are absolutely screaming that a major downturn is dead ahead, and John P. Hussman is encouraging everyone to be cautious and to “consider watching from a safe location”…

Given obscene valuations, lopsided bullishness, and (importantly) clearly deteriorating internals, consider watching from a safe location.

We shall see what happens, but I tend to very much agree with Hussman.

Meanwhile, the closer that we get to August 21st, the crazier people seem to be getting.  The following comes from USA Today

As citizen scientists collectively nerd-out ahead of Monday’s total solar eclipse, rogue observers of the spooky and weird are generating theories that the celestial event could usher in aliens, boost sightings of “interdimensional” creatures and perhaps even plunge us toward world destruction.

None of those things are going to happen, but there are some very odd things about this eclipse that are definitely worth noting.

In a previous article, I noted that the first major city in the United States that the eclipse will cross is named Salem.  Well, it turns out that the eclipse will actually cross a total of seven cities named Salem, and of course “Salem” is short for “Jerusalem”.

I also find it very interesting how much the number “33” is associated with this eclipse.  The following are just a few examples

This solar eclipse is highly unusual for so many reasons and it occurs just 33 days before what may very well be the Great Sign.  It begins in the 33rd state, ends at the 33rd parallel, and occurs on the 233rd day of the year, which is 33 weeks and 2 days into 2017.  The eclipse will take 1 hour and 33 minutes to cross the country and occurs 133 days (inclusive) before the end of 2017.

And of course this solar eclipse begins a period of 40 days which will end with Yom Kippur on September 30th.  The following is an excerpt from a Charisma News article authored by Ron Allen which I think has some really good insights…

Teshuvah, the 40-day Jewish season of repentance, literally means to return to the presence of God, and is a time of introspection and a reminder of judgment. It begins on the first day of the sixth month known an Elul, and the solar eclipses that occur on Teshuvah add to the meaning of Teshuvah. The Teshuvah eclipses are signs of coming judgment, like the Trumpets eclipses, but they are also signs of unity in the presence of God. Thus, the Teshuvah eclipses are both an invitation to return to God and a warning of judgment.

During the totality of the eclipse, the sky will become dark and the stars will become visible. Right next to the eclipse, only 1.5 degrees away, the brightest star in the judgment constellation Leo (the lion), Regulus (treading under foot) reminds us that Christ, the lion of Judah, will put His enemies under His feet (1 Cor. 15:25). Southeast of the eclipse, the planet Mercury, the morning star laid low symbolic of Satan, will appear under the feet of Leo, adding to the warning of judgment.

So is this solar eclipse actually a warning that America should repent?

Many Christian leaders all over the nation believe that this is the case.  In fact, Billy Graham’s own daughter, Anne Graham Lotz, is one of them

In light of Ezekiel 33:1-6 that commands a watchman to be faithful to warn others of the danger coming against the land, I feel compelled to issue the warning once again. The warning is triggered by the total solar eclipse of Aug. 21, 2017, nicknamed “America’s Eclipse.” For the first time in almost 100 years, a total solar eclipse will be seen from coast to coast in our nation. People are preparing to mark this significant event with viewing parties at exclusive prime sites. The celebratory nature regarding the eclipse brings to my mind the Babylonian King Belshazzar, who threw a drunken feast the night the Medes and Persians crept under the city gate. While Belshazzar and his friends partied, they were oblivious to the impending danger. Belshazzar wound up dead the next day, and the Babylonian empire was destroyed.

I do not know what will happen before, during or after the eclipse, but I do know that America is in very deep trouble.

If we continue on the path that we are currently on, there is no future for our nation.

Unfortunately, most Americans aren’t listening to the warnings.  Most people simply assume that America is far too powerful to ever fall, and they see absolutely no reason why we need to change our ways.

Hopefully we can get America to wake up, because time is rapidly running out.

Michael Snyder is a Republican candidate for Congress in Idaho’s First Congressional District, and you can learn how you can get involved in the campaign on his official website. His new book entitled “Living A Life That Really Matters” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.

The Dow Closes At A Record High For The 9th Straight Time But Experts Warn That A Stock Market Crash Could Be Imminent

The bigger they come, the harder they fall.  On Monday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at a record high for the ninth straight session.  It has been a remarkable run, but many experts are pointing out that big trouble is brewing under the surface.  As you will see below, 79 components of the S&P 500 have already dropped more than 20 percent below their 52-week highs, and it is mostly just a handful of high flying tech stocks that are still propping up the market at this point.  Over the past several weeks, I have been documenting so many of the prominent voices that are loudly warning about an imminent stock market crash, and in this article you will hear some more of these warnings.  There is no way that stock prices can keep going up like this, and when the inevitable correction does arrive it is going to be exceedingly painful for millions of investors.

When the market is about to turn in a major way, one of the key things to watch is market breadth, and according to Brad Lamensdorf market breadth has now turned “exceedingly negative”

Market breadth, a measure of how many stocks are rising versus the number that are dropping, has turned “exceedingly negative,” according to Brad Lamensdorf, a portfolio manager at Ranger Alternative Management. Lamensdorf writes the Lamensdorf Market Timing Report newsletter and runs the AdvisorShares Ranger Equity Bear ETF HDGE, -0.70% an exchange-traded fund that “shorts” stocks, or bets that they will fall.

“As the indexes continue to produce a series of higher highs, subsurface conditions are painting an entirely different picture,” Lamensdorf wrote in the latest edition of the newsletter.

When Lamensdorf uses the phrase “exceedingly negative”, he is not exaggerating at all.  As I mentioned above, 79 components of the S&P 500 are already in a bear market

According to an analysis of FactSet data, 79 components of the S&P 500 are trading at least 20% below their 52-week high; a bear market is typically defined as a 20% drop from a peak.

Another key measure that I like to keep my eye on is Robert Shiller’s cyclically adjusted price-to-earnings ratio.  At this point, it is roughly at the same level as it was just before the stock market crash of 1929, and the only time it has been higher was during the peak of the dotcom bubble.

This is why so many investors are making extremely large bets that a major correction is imminent.  History tells us that stocks are likely to only go down from here.  And when stocks do start falling, the price action could become quite violent.  In fact, Barry James is comparing this current market to the Yellowstone supervolcano

Warning: A correction in the market is “inevitable” and there are three key factors that could spark chaos on Wall Street, according to James Advantage Fund president Barry James.

The investor likened the market to Yellowstone National Park’s famous supervolcano, which many believe is close to eruption.

Of course not everyone agrees with James.  Michael Wilson of Morgan Stanley insists that everything is just fine and that “there continues to be a level of skepticism that seems out of whack with what is actually happening”.

In the end, we will see how the coming months play out.

Over the past several years, there have been two primary trends that have been relentlessly driving up stock prices.  One of these trends has been an unprecedented level of stock buybacks.  And so far this year, hundreds of billions of dollars worth of stock buybacks have already been announced

Through May, some $390 billion in buybacks have been announced this year, $13 billion more than at this time in 2016, according to figures compiled by Jeffrey Yale Rubin at Birinyi Associates, a stock market research firm.

June 28 was the biggest single buyback announcement day in history. That was when 26 banks disclosed buybacks worth $92.8 billion, largely a response to having just passed the stress tests administered by the Federal Reserve Board. That figure blew past the previous record of $56.4 billion announced on July 20, 2006.

Secondly, central banks have been pumping trillions upon trillions of dollars into the global financial system, and this has perhaps been the biggest reason for the surge in stock prices.  But now central banks are starting to pull back, and that could mean big trouble very soon.  The following comes from Matt King

With asset prices displaying a high degree of correlation with central bank liquidity additions in recent years, that feedback loop makes the economy, upon which both corporate profitability and bank net interest margins depend, more reliant on central banks holding markets together than almost ever before. That delicate balance may well be sustained for the time being. But with central banks beginning to move, however gingerly, towards an exit, is it really worth chasing the last few bp of spread from here?

Throughout our history we have seen financial bubbles come and go, but we never seen to learn from our mistakes.  Right now, Warren Buffett is sitting on nearly 100 billion dollars in cash in anticipation of being able to buy up financial assets for a song after a crash happens, but meanwhile multitudes of ordinary Americans continue to pour vast quantities of money into stocks even at such absurd valuations.

Despite all of the warnings, many will be caught unprepared when the music stops playing.  Just like all of the other financial manias in our history, this one will come to a bitter end too.  The following comes from the New York Times

In the late 1960s the mania was for the “nifty 50” American companies like Disney and McDonald’s, which had been the “go-go” stocks of that decade. In the late 1970s it was for natural resources, from gold to oil. In the late 1980s it was stocks in Japan, and in the late 1990s it was the dot-com boom. Last decade, investors flocked to mortgage-backed securities and big emerging markets from Brazil to Russia. In every case, many partygoers were still in the market when the crash came.

In life, timing is everything, and those that got out of the market in time are going to end up being very happy that they did so.

But those that stay in too long are going to see their “paper wealth” disappear in a blinding flash, and there won’t be any way to get it back once it is gone.

Michael Snyder is a Republican candidate for Congress in Idaho’s First Congressional District, and you can learn how you can get involved in the campaign on his official website. His new book entitled “Living A Life That Really Matters” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.

Remember This Milestone: The Dow Jones Industrial Average Hits 22,000 For The First Time In U.S. History

The Dow hit the 22,000 mark for the first time ever on Wednesday, and investors all over the world greatly celebrated.  And without a doubt this is an exceedingly important moment, because I think that this is a milestone that we will be remembering for a very long time.  So far this year the Dow is up over 11 percent, and it has now tripled in value since hitting a low in March 2009.  It has been quite a ride, and if you would have told me a couple of years ago that the Dow would be hitting 22,000 in August 2017 I probably would have laughed at you.  The central bankers have been able to keep this ridiculous stock market bubble going for longer than most experts dreamed possible, and for that they should be congratulated.  But of course the long-term outlook for our financial markets has not changed one bit.

Every other stock market bubble of this magnitude in our history has ended with a crash, and this current bubble is going to suffer the same fate.

But many in the mainstream media are still encouraging people to jump into the market at this late hour.  For example, the following comes from a USA Today article that was published on Wednesday…

“It’s still not too late to get in,” says Jeff Kleintop, chief global investment strategist at Charles Schwab, based in San Francisco. “The gains are firmly rooted in business fundamentals, not false hopes.”

I honestly don’t know how anyone could say such a thing with a straight face.  We have essentially been in a “no growth economy” for the past decade, and signs of a new economic slowdown are all around us.

But even though price/earnings ratios and price/sales ratios are at some of the highest levels in history, some analysts insist that the stock market still has more room to go up

On the flip side, investors with time to ride out any short-term market storm should not rule out getting in the market now. Economies around the globe are improving and are boosting the profitability of corporations in the U.S. and abroad, says Chris Zaccarelli, chief investment officer at Cornerstone Financial Partners in Charlotte, N.C.

Zaccarelli won’t even rule out Dow 25,000 by the end of 2018.

Personally, I believe that it is far more likely that we would see Dow 15,000 by the end of 2018, but over the past couple of years the bulls have been right over and over again.

But the only reason why the bulls have been right is because of unprecedented intervention by global central banks.

Today, the Swiss National Bank owns more than a billion dollars worth of stock in each of the following companies: Apple, Alphabet, Microsoft, Amazon, Exxon Mobil, Johnson & Johnson and Facebook.

So where does a central bank like the Swiss National Bank get the money to purchase all of these equities?

It’s easy – they just print the money out of thin air.  As Robert Wenzel has noted, they simply “print the francs, exchange them for dollars and make the purchases”.

If I could create as much money as I wanted out of thin air and use it to buy stocks I could relentlessly drive up stock prices too.

Our financial markets have become a giant charade, and central bank intervention is the biggest reason why FAANG stocks have vastly outperformed the rest of the market.  The following comes from David Stockman

Needless to say, the drastic market narrowing of the last 30 months has been accompanied by soaring price/earnings (PE) multiples among the handful of big winners. In the case of the so-called FAANGs + M (Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Google and Microsoft), the group’s weighted average PE multiple has increased by some 50%.

The degree to which the casino’s speculative mania has been concentrated in the FAANGs + M can also be seen by contrasting them with the other 494 stocks in the S&P 500. The market cap of the index as a whole rose from $17.7 trillion in January 2015 to some $21.2 trillion at present, meaning that the FAANGs + M account for about 40% of the entire gain.

Stated differently, the market cap of the other 494 stocks rose from $16.0 trillion to $18.1 trillion during that 30-month period. That is, 13% versus the 82% gain of the six super-momentum stocks.

If global central banks continue to buy millions of shares with money created out of thin air, they may be able to keep this absurd bubble going for a while longer.

But if the Fed and other central banks start pulling back, we could see a market tantrum of epic proportions.  In fact, almost every single time throughout history when the Federal Reserve has attempted a balance sheet reduction it has resulted in a recession

The Fed has embarked on six such reduction efforts in the past — in 1921-1922, 1928-1930, 1937, 1941, 1948-1950 and 2000.

Of those episodes, five ended in recession, according to research from Michael Darda, chief economist and market strategist at MKM Partners. The balance sheet trend mirrors what has happened much of the time when the Fed has tried to raise rates over a prolonged period of time, with 10 of the last 13 tightening cycles ending in recession.

“Moreover, outside of the 1920s and 1930s, there is no precedent for double-digit annual declines in the balance sheet/base that will likely begin to occur late next year,” Darda said in a note.

President Trump is going to get a lot of credit if the stock market keeps going up and he is going to get a lot of blame if it starts going down.

But the truth is that he actually has very little to do with what is really going on.

This stock market bubble was created by the central banks, and they also have the power to kill it if they desire to do so.

And once this bubble bursts, we may be looking at a crisis that makes 2008 look like a Sunday picnic.

Goldman Sachs and others are already warning that this stock market rally is on borrowed time.  Let’s hope that it can continue at least for a little while longer, but in the end there is no possible way that this story is going to end well.

Michael Snyder is a Republican candidate for Congress in Idaho’s First Congressional District, and you can learn how you can get involved in the campaign on his official website. His new book entitled “Living A Life That Really Matters” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.

Goldman Sachs Says That There Is A 99 Percent Chance That Stock Prices Will Not Keep Going Up Like This

Analysts at Goldman Sachs are saying that it is next to impossible for stock prices to keep going up like they have been recently.  Ever since Donald Trump’s surprise election victory in November, stocks have been on a tremendous run, but this surge has not been matched by a turnaround in the real economy.  We have essentially had a “no growth” economy for most of the past decade, and ominous signs pointing to big trouble ahead are all around us.  The only reason why stocks have been able to perform so well is due to unprecedented intervention by global central banks, but they are not going to be able to keep inflating this bubble forever.  At some point this absolutely enormous bubble will burst and investors will lose trillions of dollars.

The only other times we have seen stock valuations at these levels were just before the stock market crash of 1929 and just before the dotcom bubble burst in 2000.  For those that think that they can jump into the markets now and make a lot of money from rapidly rising stock prices, I think that it would be wise to consider what analysts at Goldman Sachs are telling us.  The following is from a CNBC article that was published on Monday…

Investors may be in for disappointing market returns in the decade to come with valuations at levels this high, if history is any indication.

Analysts at Goldman Sachs pointed out that annualized returns on the S&P 500 10 years out were in the single digits or negative 99 percent of the time when starting with valuations at current levels.

Do you really want to try to fight those odds?

Unfortunately, it appears that is precisely what a lot of investors are planning to do.  In fact, Schwab says that they are opening new accounts “at levels we have not seen since the Internet boom of the late 1990s”

New accounts are at levels we have not seen since the Internet boom of the late 1990s, up 34% over the first half of last year. But maybe more important for the long-term growth of the organization is not so much new accounts, but new-to-firm households, and our new-to-firm retail households were up 50% over that same period from 2016.

And a different survey found that Millennial investors in particular are eager to pour money into the stock market

Furthermore, according to a June survey from Legg Mason, nearly 80% of millennial investors plan to take on more risk this year, with 66% of them expressing an interest in equities. About 45% plan to take on “much more risk” in their portfolios.

One of the fundamental tenets of investing is to buy low and sell high.  Those that are getting in at the peak of the market are going to get absolutely slaughtered.  Trillions of dollars of paper wealth will be completely wiped out by the coming crash, and I wish that I could get more people to understand what is about to happen.

I recently wrote about how some really big investors are betting millions upon millions of dollars that a major stock market crash is going to happen in the very near future.  The financial markets are far more primed for a crash than they were in 2008, and there are certainly a lot of potential “black swan events” that could push us over the edge.  In his most recent article, Simon Black listed some of the things that he is currently watching…

– North Korea is threatening to nuke the US
– Donald Trump is firing his entire cabinet
– The Federal Reserve has dropped interest rates to record lows and drowned the world in trillions of dollars of cash
– Debt levels are at record highs
– Entire banking systems, especially in Europe, are in need of massive bailouts
– The US government will run out of money in less than 90-days and hit the debt ceiling once again

You only make money in the stock market if you get out in time.  And since just before the crisis of 2008 I have never seen so many prominent names in the financial community warn about a coming stock market crash as I have over the last 90 days.  For example, legendary investor Jim Rogers is warning that there will almost certainly be a crash “this year or the next”, and that it will be “the worst in your lifetime and my lifetime”

The best-selling author expects the next financial crisis to be the “worst” he has ever seen.

“We’ve had economic problems in the U.S. or in North America every four to eight years since the beginning of the Republic so to say that we’re going to have a problem is not unusual,” he told Kitco News from the Freedom Fest conference in Las Vegas.

“I would expect it to start this year or the next…and it’s going to be the worst in your lifetime and my lifetime.”

What goes up must come down, and markets tend to go down a whole lot faster than they go up.

And in the environment that we are in today, caution is a very good thing.  I really like how billionaire Howard Marks put this the other day…

I think it’s better to turn cautious too soon (and thus perhaps underperform for a while) rather than too late, after the downslide has begun, making it hard to trim risk, achieve exits and cut losses.

Perhaps this will be the first giant financial bubble in our history to end smoothly, but I wouldn’t count on it.

In the end, I expect this one to end just like all of the others.  And I anticipate that the coming crisis will ultimately be worse than anything we have ever faced before because this current bubble has been artificially inflated for so long.

Hopefully stock prices will go up again tomorrow, but it would be exceedingly foolish to ignore all of the warnings.  Goldman Sachs says that there is a 99 percent chance that stocks cannot continue surging like this, and in this case I believe that Goldman Sachs is entirely correct.

Michael Snyder is a Republican candidate for Congress in Idaho’s First Congressional District, and you can learn how you can get involved in the campaign on his official website. His new book entitled “Living A Life That Really Matters” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.

A Mystery Investor Has Made A 262 Million Dollar Bet That The Stock Market Will Crash By October

One mystery trader has made an extremely large bet that the stock market is going to crash by October, and if he is right he could potentially make up to 262 million dollars on the deal.  Fortunes were made and lost during the great financial crisis of 2008, and the same thing will happen again the next time we see a major stock market crash.  But will that stock market crash take place before 2017 is over?  Without a doubt, we are in the midst of one of the largest stock market bubbles in U.S. history, and many prominent investors are loudly warning of an imminent stock market collapse.  It doesn’t take a genius to see that this stock market bubble is going to end very badly just like all of the other stock market bubbles throughout history have, but if you could know the precise timing that it will end you could set yourself up financially for the rest of your life.

I want to be very clear about the fact that I do not know what will or will not happen by the end of October.  But one mystery investor is extremely convinced that market volatility is going to increase over the next few months, and if he is correct he will make an astounding amount of money.  According to Business Insider, the following is how the trade was set up…

  • To fund it, the investor sold 262,000 VIX puts expiring in October, with a strike price of 12.
  • The trader then used those proceeds to buy a VIX 1×2 call spread, which involves buying 262,000 October contracts with a strike price of 15 and selling 524,000 October contracts with a strike price of 25.
  • For reference, bullish call spreads are used when a moderate rise in the underlying asset is expected. Traders buy call options at a specific strike price while selling the same number of calls of the same asset and expiration date at a higher strike.
  • In a perfect scenario, where the VIX hits but doesn’t exceed 25 before October expiration, the trader would see a whopping $262 million payout.

I will be watching to see what happens.  If this mystery investor is correct, it will essentially be like winning the lottery.

But just because he has made this wager does not mean that he has some special knowledge about what is going to happen.

For example, just look at what Ruffer LLP has been doing.  They are a $20 billion investment fund based in London, and they have been betting tens of millions of dollars on a stock market crash which has failed to materialize so far.  But even though they have lost so much money already, they continue to make extremely large bearish bets

As of earlier this week, Ruffer had spent $119 million this year betting on a stock market shock, $89 million of which had expired worthless, according to data compiled by Macro Risk Advisors. The investor has gradually amassed holdings of about 1 million VIX calls through three occasions so far in 2017, and each time a significant portion expired at a loss.

Blame a subdued VIX for the futility. The fear gauge was locked in a range of 10 to 14 for the first three months of 2017, and while it has since climbed to as high as 15.96, it has been stuck well below 14 since a single-day plunge of 26% nine days ago. Earlier this week, the index closed at its lowest level since February 2007.

But that doesn’t mean Ruffer is giving up. Already loaded up on May contracts, the firm has continued to buy cheap VIX calls expiring later in the year — wagers costing about 50 cents.

I can understand why Ruffer has been making these bets.  In a rational world, stocks would have already crashed long ago.

The only way that stock prices have been able to continue to rise is because of unprecedented intervention by global central banks.  They have been pumping trillions of dollars into the financial markets, and this has essentially completely destroyed normal market forces.  The following comes from David Stockman

The Fed and its crew of traveling central banks around the world have gutted honest price discovery entirely. They have turned global financial markets into outright gambling dens of unchecked speculation.

Central bank policies of massive quantitative easing (QE) and zero interest rates (ZIRP) have been sugar-coated in rhetoric about “stimulus”, “accommodation” and guiding economies toward optimal levels of inflation and full-employment.

The truth of the matter is far different. The combined $15 trillion of central bank balance sheet expansion since 2007 amounts to monetary fraud of epic proportions.

In the “bizarro world” that we are living in today, many companies are trading at prices that are more than 100 times earnings, and some companies are actually trading at prices that are more than 200 times earnings.

Stock prices have become completely and totally disconnected from economic reality.  As I discussed the other day, U.S. GDP has only risen at an average yearly rate of just 1.33 percent over the past 10 years, but meanwhile stock prices have been soaring into the stratosphere.

Nobody in their right mind can claim that makes any sense at all.  Just like in 2000, and just like in 2008, this absolutely ridiculous stock market bubble will have a horribly tragic ending as well.

Once again, I don’t know what the exact timing will be.  Stocks could start crashing tomorrow, but then the Swiss National Bank could swoop in and buy 4 million shares of Apple just like they did during the months of January, February and March earlier this year.

The biggest players in this ongoing charade are the global central banks.  If they decide to keep pumping trillions of dollars into global financial markets, they may be able to keep the bubble going for a little while longer.

But if at any point they decide to withdraw their artificial assistance, those that have placed huge bets against the market are going to make absolutely enormous piles of cash.

Michael Snyder is a Republican candidate for Congress in Idaho’s First Congressional District, and you can learn how you can get involved in the campaign on his official website. His new book entitled “Living A Life That Really Matters” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.

Our Disneyland Economy

Disneyland is known as a place “where dreams come true” and where every story always has a happy ending.  But there is going to be no happy ending for the U.S. economy.  Wishful thinking has resulted in one of the greatest stock market rallies in history in recent months, but like all childhood fantasies, it won’t last.  The real economy continues to deteriorate, and we can see this even right outside of the gates of Disneyland.  Every night growing numbers of homeless people sleep on the pavement just steps away from “the happiest place on Earth”.  It can be fun to “play make believe” for a while, but eventually reality always catches up with us.

Without a doubt, the stock market has been on a tremendous run.  Since Donald Trump’s stunning election victory in November, the market has been setting record high after record high, and it is now up a total of 17 percent

The Dow Jones Industrial Average recorded its 23rd all time high of 2017 yesterday closing at 21,532.  There have been a total of 120 days where the markets have closed since President Trump’s inauguration on January 20th.  The ‘DOW’ has closed at all time highs 23 of those days for nearly 20% or one-fifth of the days the market has been open.  The market is up 9% since the inauguration. 

Since the election on November 8th the DOW has closed at record highs an amazing 40 times!   Nearly one-fourth or 24% of the 168 days the markets have closed have been record highs since the November 8th election.  The market is up 17% since the election!

If this surge was supported by hard economic data, that would be something to greatly celebrate, but that has not been the case at all.

Instead, stock prices have become completely disconnected from economic reality, and now we are facing one of the greatest stock bubbles of all time.  As Graham Summers has pointed out, stocks are now trading at price to sales ratios that we haven’t seen since the very height of the dotcom bubble…

Earnings, cash flow, and book value are all financial data points that can be massaged via a variety of gimmicks. As a result of this, valuing stocks based on Price to Earnings, Price to Cash Flow, and Price to Book Value can often lead to inaccurate valuations.

Sales on the other hand are all but impossible to gimmick. Either money came in the door, or it didn’t And, if a company is caught faking its sales numbers, someone is going to jail.

So the fact that stocks are now trading at a P/S ratio that matches the Tech Bubble (the single largest stock bubble in history) tells us that we’re truly trading at astronomical levels: levels associated with staggering levels of excess.

There is no possible way that this is sustainable, and just like before the 2008 crisis a whole host of experts are warning that disaster is imminent.  One of them is John Mauldin

Looking with fresh eyes at the economic numbers and central bankers’ statements convinced me that we will soon be in deep trouble. I now feel that it’s highly likely we will face a major financial crisis, if not later this year, then by the end of 2018 at the latest. Just a few months ago, I thought we could avoid a crisis and muddle through. Now I think we’re past that point. The key decision-makers have (1) done nothing, (2) done the wrong thing, or (3) done the right thing too late.

Having realized this, I’m adjusting my research efforts. I believe a major crisis is coming. The questions now are, how severe will it be, and how will we get through it?

And even though the stock market has been surging deeper and deeper into bubble territory in recent months, the middle class has continued to shrink and poverty has continued to grow all over the country.  In fact, because so many homeless people have been sleeping at bus shelters across from Disneyland lately authorities decided to completely remove the benches that they had been sleeping on

The vanishing benches were Anaheim’s response to complaints about the homeless population around Disneyland. Public work crews removed 20 benches from bus shelters after callers alerted City Hall to reports of vagrants drinking, defecating or smoking pot in the neighborhood near the amusement park’s entrance, officials said.

The situation is part of a larger struggle by Orange County to deal with a rising homeless population. A survey last year placed the number of those without shelter at 15,300 people, compared with 12,700 two years earlier.

But simply removing benches will not make the problem go away.

Homelessness has been growing so rapidly in Los Angeles that the the L.A. City Council actually asked Governor Jerry Brown to formally declare a state of emergency.

And in New York City, street homelessness is up 39 percent over the past year.

This is where the real economy is heading, but a rising stock market makes for much happier headlines.

Many major cities around the nation are passing laws to essentially make it illegal to be homeless.  Forcing homeless people to go somewhere else may mask the problem for a while, but it certainly doesn’t do anything to solve it.  In my new book entitled “Living A Life That Really Matters”, I talk about how real love is not just about loving those that are just like us.  Rather, real love is about caring for people no matter what they look like and no matter what they are going through.

Unfortunately, the economic suffering that we are seeing right now is just the beginning.

Just like in 2008, the major financial crisis that is coming is going to greatly accelerate our economic problems.  And just like last time, millions of people are going to lose their jobs, and millions of people are going to lose their homes.

Homelessness is already worse in many parts of the nation that it was during the depths of the last recession, and what we are going to see during the next economic downturn is going to be absolutely unprecedented.

So don’t look down on those that need a helping hand, because in the not too distant future you may find yourself needing some help.

Michael Snyder is a Republican candidate for Congress in Idaho’s First Congressional District, and you can learn how you can get involved in the campaign on his official website. His new book entitled “Living A Life That Really Matters” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.

Legendary Investor Jim Rogers Warns That The Worst Stock Market Crash In Your Lifetime Is Coming ‘This Year Or Next’

If Jim Rogers is right, the worst stock market crash that any of us has ever seen is right around the corner.  For the past 15 years, Rogers has been a frequent guest analyst on CNBC, Fox News and elsewhere, and he is immensely respected for the depth of knowledge and experience that he brings to the table.  So the fact that he is warning that we are about to see the worst stock market crash in any of our lifetimes is making a lot of waves in the financial community.  And of course Rogers is far from alone.  Previously, I have written about several other prominent experts that are warning that a new financial crisis is imminent, and I have also discussed how a number of big investors are quietly positioning themselves to make an enormous amount of money when the markets crash.  Could it be possible that all of these incredibly sharp minds could be wrong?  Yes, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

I was actually quite stunned when I first learned what Jim Rogers had told Henry Blodget of Business Insider during a recent interview.  Rogers has built up a tremendous amount of credibility, but now he is putting that credibility on the line by warning that a great stock market crash will happen by the end of next year.  Here is the key portion of the interview

Blodget: Well, yeah, TV ratings do seem to go up during crashes, but then they completely disappear when everyone is obliterated, so no one is hoping for that. So when is this going to happen?

Rogers: Later this year or next.

Blodget: Later this year or next?

Rogers: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Write it down.

There is no backing out of a statement like that.

If Rogers is wrong, he will never hear the end of it.

Subsequently, Blodget and Rogers also discussed how severe the coming crisis would be…

Blodget: And how big a crash could we be looking at?

Rogers: It’s going to be the worst in your lifetime.

Blodget: I’ve had some pretty big ones in my lifetime.

Rogers: It’s going to be the biggest in my lifetime, and I’m older than you. No, it’s going to be serious stuff.

So that means that Rogers is convinced that the coming crisis is going to be even worse than what we went through in 2008.

Of course this is something that I have been warning about for quite a while, but for Jim Rogers to make a statement like this is a really, really big deal.

Later in the interview, Rogers shared more details about what he believes the coming crisis will look like…

You’re going to see governments fail. You’re going to see countries fail, this time around. Iceland failed last time. Other countries fail. You’re going to see more of that.

You’re going to see parties disappear. You’re going to see institutions that have been around for a long time — Lehman Brothers had been around over 150 years. Gone. Not even a memory for most people. You’re going to see a lot more of that next around, whether it’s museums or hospitals or universities or financial firms.

That definitely sounds like an “economic collapse” to me.  Of course the truth is that the U.S. economy is already in the midst of a slow-motion economic collapse that stretches back for decades, but this coming crisis that Rogers is talking about is going to great accelerate matters.

Let us hope that it is put off for as long as possible, but at some point we are simply going to run out of time.

And when markets do start falling, they can move very, very rapidly.  Just look at what happened on Friday.  Technology sector stocks were down 2.7 percent, and the FAANG stocks were some of the biggest movers

Facebook fell $5.11, or 3.3%, to $149.60.

Apple fell $6.01, or 3.9%, to $148.90.

Amazon fell $31.96, or 3.2%, to $978.31 now demoted from the elect group for 4-digit stocks back to the large group of 3-digit stocks.

Netflix plunged $7.85, or 4.7%, to $158.20.

Alphabet – the G in FAANG – fell $33.58, or 3.4%, to $952.23, moving further away from everyone’s dream of closing at $1,000.

If we are indeed moving toward a new crisis, one of the things that we will want to watch for is an inverting of the yield curve.

We saw this happen in 2000 and in 2006, and on both occasions it foreshadowed that a huge stock market crash was coming in the not too distant future.

Unfortunately, CNBC says that a new inversion of the yield curve could happen “by the end of this year”…

The bounce in Treasury yields witnessed after the election of Donald Trump is now decaying in the D.C. swamp. If the Federal Reserve continues to ignore this slow growth and deflationary signal from the bond market and continues along its current rate hiking path, the yield curve will invert by the end of this year and an equity market plunge and a recession is sure to follow.

An inverted yield curve, which has correctly predicted the last seven recessions going back to the late 1960’s, occurs when short-term interest rates yield more than longer-term rates. Why is an inverted yield curve so crucial in determining the direction of markets and the economy? Because when bank assets (longer-duration loans) generate less income than bank liabilities (short-term deposits), the incentive to make new loans dries up along with the money supply. And when asset bubbles are starved of that monetary fuel they burst. The severity of the recession depends on the intensity of the asset bubbles in existence prior to the inversion.

Another key indicator is the growth of commercial and industrial loans. According to Zero Hedge, this indicator has correctly foreshadowed every single recession since 1960…

While many “conventional” indicators of US economic vibrancy and strength have lost their informational and predictive value over the past decade (GDP fluctuates erratically especially in Q1, employment is the lowest this century yet real wage growth is non-existent, inflation remains under the Fed’s target despite its $4.5 trillion balance sheet and so on), one indicator has remained a stubbornly fail-safe marker of economic contraction: since the 1960, every time Commercial & Industrial loan balances have declined (or simply stopped growing), whether due to tighter loan supply or declining demand, a recession was already either in progress or would start soon.

So considering the fact that this indicator has been so accurate, it is extremely alarming that we could see our “first negative loan growth” since the last financial crisis “in roughly 4 to 6 weeks”

After growing at a 7% Y/Y pace at the start of the year, which declined to 3% at the end of March and 2.6% at the end of April, the latest bank loan update from the Fed showed that the annual rate of increase in C&A loans is now down to just 1.6%, – the lowest since 2011 – after slowing to 2.3% and 1.8% in the previous two weeks.

Should the current rate of loan growth deceleration persist – and there is nothing to suggest otherwise – the US will post its first negative loan growth, or rather loan contraction since the financial crisis, in roughly 4 to 6 weeks.

And when you throw in all of the other signs that the U.S. economy is slowing down, a very clear picture begins to emerge.

It has been said that those that do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.  As a society, we certainly didn’t learn much from the horrible financial disaster of 2008, and now so many of the exact same patterns are repeating once again.

An unprecedented financial crisis is most definitely heading our way, and the only thing left to be answered is how soon it will get here.

Why Are So Many Big Investors Positioning Themselves To Make Giant Amounts Of Money If The Stock Market Crashes?

I keep hearing from people that think that the stock market is going to crash by the end of the year.  Hopefully that will not happen, but the ridiculous stock prices that we are seeing right now certainly cannot last forever.  On Sunday, I was chatting with a friend that had just been to a financial conference.  He was quite surprised that one of the things being taught to the attendees of this conference was how to position themselves to make an enormous amount of money when the stock market crashes dramatically in the near future.  Markets tend to go down a lot faster than they go up, and so when the inevitable market crash does take place those that have made large bets against the market will make huge fortunes.  It happened in 2008, and it will happen again.  But it was unsettling to my friend Robert that there were so many people that were gleefully looking forward to this.

Of course some of the biggest names in the investing world are also anticipating a major downturn very soon.  I have previously written about how Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. is sitting on a pile of 86 billion dollars in cash right now.  Nobody ever knows exactly what Buffett is thinking, but it isn’t too hard to figure out that he plans to use those billions to buy up stocks for a song after a big market crash happens.

I have also previously written about many other big names throughout the financial world that are warning that a new financial crisis is imminent.  The last time I saw so many prominent investors sounding the alarm was just before the market crash of 2008, but most people didn’t listen that time around either.

And of course those that believe that a market crash is coming are doing a lot more than just talking about it.  According to Zero Hedge, there are now more short positions betting against the Russell 2000 than we have seen at any time in the last six years…

The Russell 2000 Index posted a 2.2% decline in May, its worst month since October, and it appears a large swath of investors is now betting it has further to fall.

As Bloomberg notes, hedge funds and other major speculators have a combined net short position of 73,030 contracts in the small-cap index’s futures, according to the latest data from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

Russell 2000 sentiment has sharply declined since January, when future contract positioning reached record bullishness. It’s now the most short since May 2011.

The last time investors were this short the Russell 2000, it fell by almost 30 percent.

Can we expect something similar this time?

We will just have to wait and see.

Meanwhile, there has also been a surge in the number of investors betting that we will soon see increased market volatility

As Bloomberg notes, with the VIX down more than 30% this year through the end of last week, investors have been using options to bet on volatility.

As the chart above shows, the volume of contracts wagering on a resurgence of market turmoil has reached its highest level since last February relative to those calling for a drop in price movements.

Because markets tend to go down much faster than they go up, most of those that bet on increased volatility are typically doing so because they believe that a stock market crash is coming very soon.

And it is also interesting to note that hedge funds are jumping into gold at a rate that we have not seen since 2007

Hedge funds are jumping back into gold.

Money managers boosted their long positions in U.S. futures by the most in almost a decade in the week ended May 23, Commodity Futures Trading Commission data show.

Gold is a safe haven asset, and it is a very good place to be during a major financial crisis.  So if hedge funds are anticipating that we are on the verge of a major market downturn, it would make sense for them to be piling into gold.

All of the moves that I have discussed above will end up looking quite foolish if stocks just keep going up and up and up.

But if the market crashes, those that have positioned themselves ahead of time will end up making a killing.

Today the stock market bears absolutely no resemblance to economic reality, but at some point that will change.  And with each passing day we just continue to get more bad economic news.

Yesterday, I showed that according to official U.S. government figures there are 102 million working age Americans that do not have a job right now.  Today, we got more confirmation that the U.S. economy is slowing down.  We learned that new vehicle sales fell on a year-over-year basis for the fifth month in a row in May, and we learned that factory orders and new orders for durable goods both declined last month.  And for a lot more numbers just like those, please see this article.

The U.S. economy is not “healthy” and it hasn’t been for a very long time.  Because we have shipped so many jobs overseas, manufacturing’s share of U.S. employment has fallen to an all-time record low.  The middle class is shrinking, and somewhere around two-thirds of the country is living paycheck to paycheck.  We have been able to maintain our national standard of living by going on the greatest debt binge of all time, but every additional dollar of debt that we take on makes our long-term outlook even worse.

Just because he is living in the White House does not mean that Donald Trump can automatically turn things around.  Without the help of Congress, he cannot cut taxes, repeal Obamacare, eliminate unnecessary federal agencies or implement many of the other items on his economic agenda.

And the truth is that because of the way that our system is structured, the Federal Reserve actually has much, much more power over the economy than Donald Trump does.  When the financial markets crash and we officially enter the next recession, most of the blame will be placed on Trump, but it won’t be his fault.  Instead, it will be primarily the Federal Reserve’s fault, and we need to educate the American people about this ahead of time.

What goes up must come down, and this irrational stock bubble has been living on borrowed time for quite a while now.

It isn’t going to take much to push things over the edge, and there are all sorts of candidates for what the next “trigger event” will be.

House Of Cards: Netflix Is One Of The Poster Children For Tech Bubble 2.0

How can a company that is going to generate $2,000,000,000 in negative free cash flow in 2017 be worth 70 billion dollars?  Netflix has soared in popularity in recent years, but so have their financial losses.  Just like during the original tech bubble, investors are ignoring basic fundamentals and are greatly rewarding firms that are bleeding giant mountains of cash year after year just because they are trendy “tech companies”.  But somewhere along the line you actually have to quit losing money if you are going to survive.  Just ask tech bubble 1.0 victims Pets.com, Webvan and Etoys.com.  The investors that poured enormous amounts of money into those companies ended up losing everything, and similar tragedies will play out as tech bubble 2.0 bursts.

So far in 2017, the S&P 500 is up about 8 percent, but FANG stocks (Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google) are up a whopping 30 percent.

But at least Facebook, Amazon and Google are making money.

Netflix is not.

So why in the world has the stock shot up by more than 30 percent so far this year?  It just doesn’t make any sense at all.  According to CNBC, during the first quarter Netflix had $423 million in negative free cash flow, and for the entire year it is being projected that it will have $2 billion in negative free cash flow…

The California-based company is now dumping cash into original content to maintain its dominance over its growing field of rivals. The company’s had $423 million negative free cash flow during the quarter, wider than the $261 million negative free cash flow a year ago. Netflix expects to have $2 billion in negative free cash flow this year.

The bleeding of cash at Netflix only seems to be accelerating.  The number for the first quarter of 2017 was 62 percent worse than the number for the first quarter of 2016, and it was more than twice as bad as the number for the first quarter of 2015.

It is hard to imagine that Netflix will ever be more popular than it is right now.

So if Netflix is not making a profit at this point, when will it ever make a profit?

Similar things could be said about Twitter.  This is a company that has never made a yearly profit and that is actually starting to see revenues decline.  But somehow the stock just continues to go up.  Since the last time I wrote about Twitter, the market cap has shot up another 1.5 billion dollars.

At this point, the market values Twitter at 13 billion dollars, but in the entire history of the company it has actually lost 2 billion dollars.

What we are witnessing is a modern day version of “tulip mania”, and at some point this irrational euphoria will come to a sudden end.  In fact, there are already some signs that tech bubble 2.0 may be in a significant amount of trouble.  The following is an excerpt from a Bloomberg article entitled “Investors Go All-In on Tech Giants”

The tech-powered rally has catapulted the sector to a price-to-earnings ratio of 24.4, or 41 percent above the 10-year average. But as Google and Amazon stretch to nearly $1,000 a share, not everyone is comfortable with the valuations. Investors pulled more than $716 million from the most popular technology exchange-traded fund last week — the $17.4 billion Technology Select Sector SPDR Fund, or XLKits largest weekly outflow in over a year, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

“Most everybody remembers 2000, so they might be getting a little nervous with this development,” said Maley. “I just wonder how many people have said to themselves, ‘If AMZN gets to $1,000, I’m going to take at least some profits.’”

All over the financial world, prominent voices are warning that the enormous financial bubbles that we see all around us are not sustainable and that a major crisis is heading our way.  I wrote about some of these voices yesterday, and today we can add Paul Singer to the list…

Given groupthink and the determination of policy makers to do ‘whatever it takes’ to prevent the next market ‘crash,’ we think that the low-volatility levitation magic act of stocks and bonds will exist until the disenchanting moment when it does not. And then all hell will break loose (don’t ask us what hell looks like…), a lamentable scenario that will nevertheless present opportunities that are likely to be both extraordinary and ephemeral. The only way to take advantage of those opportunities is to have ready access to capital.

When the financial markets collapse, Donald Trump will likely get most of the blame.

But Donald Trump did not create the stock market bubble, and he will not be responsible for ending it either.

Since the Federal Reserve was created in 1913, we have seen this same story play out over and over again.  There have been 18 distinct recessions or depressions since the Fed was established, and the more the Fed interferes in the marketplace the larger the booms and busts tend to be.

And it could be argued that this time around the Fed has manipulated financial markets more than ever before.  Interest rates were pushed as low as possible and trillions of dollars were pumped into the financial system during the Fed’s quantitative easing programs.  Of course those actions were going to create a huge bubble, and of course that bubble is going to inevitably burst.

Unfortunately, this is not just a game.  Real people with real hopes and real dreams are going to be absolutely devastated.  Millions of Americans that were carefully saving for retirement are going to be financially crippled, and pension funds all over the nation are going to be wiped out.

I don’t know why we can’t seem to learn from history.  And I am not talking about events that happened decades ago.  The build up to this coming crisis is so similar to what we witnessed just before the crashes of 2000 and 2008, but we just keep getting fooled over and over again.

But once things fall apart this time, I think that the American people will finally be fed up.  I think that they will be sick and tired of an unelected, unaccountable central bank that creates endless booms and busts, and I think that they will finally be ready to push Congress to shut the Federal Reserve down for good.

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