The post-election stock market rally is officially over. After hovering near record highs for the past couple of weeks, U.S. stocks had their worst day in six months on Tuesday. For quite some time it has been clear that the momentum of the post-election rally had been exhausted, and a pullback of this nature was widely anticipated. But even though stocks fell by more than 1 percent during a single trading session for the first time since last September, it is going to take a whole lot more than that to bring stock prices back into balance. In fact, stocks are so overvalued at this point that it would take a total decline of about 40 to 50 percent before key stock valuation measures return to their long-term averages.
So we are still in a giant stock market bubble. All Tuesday did was shave about one percent off of that bubble.
Let’s review some of the numbers from the carnage that we witnessed…
-The Dow was down 237.85 points (1.14 percent)
-The S&P 500 was down 1.2 percent on the day
-The Nasdaq was down 1.8 percent at the closing bell
-Financial stocks were down more than 2.5 percent
-Overall, it was the worst day for banking stocks since the Brexit vote
-Bank of America is now down more than 10 percent since Trump’s speech to Congress
-The Russell 2000 (small-cap stocks) dropped about 2 percent
Some prominent names on Wall Street were warning ahead of time that this was coming. Marko Kolanovic was one of those voices…
Marko Kolanovic has done it again.
Last Thursday, one day ahead of the massive quad-witching where over $1.4 trillion in options expired in relatively tame fashion, the JPM quant warned of “near-term market weakness” and suggested “reducing US equity exposure. And, sure enough, JP Merlin’s Gandalf timed it impeccably yet again. To be sure, the jury is still out on what caused the selloff – lack of votes to repeal Obamacare, fears about Trump’s fiscal policy agenda, the market’s sudden realization that it is at 30 CAPE, or just a technical revulsion – what matters is that once again, like clockwork, Kolanovic called a key inflection point just days in advance.
Of course the mainstream media is telling everyone not to worry. They are insisting that this is just a temporary blip and that a market “correction” is highly unlikely. The following comes from CNN…
Few experts are predicting a correction — which is a 10% pullback from a market high. Even fewer see a bear market, a 20% drop or more, on the horizon.
Hopefully CNN is correct.
But it should be noted that experts such as Kolanovic are warning that more panic selling may be coming in the days ahead…
Furthermore, the modest but rising uptick in realized volatility is starting to cause outflows from volatility-sensitive investors the JPM quant calculated and, as a result, the break in short-term momentum may cause modest equity selling by trend following strategies.
In other words, in the absence of a positive catalyst over the next few days – and with uncertainty ahead of the Thursday Trumpcare vote only growing by the hour we fail to see one emerging – the double whammy of gamma positioning and the CTA momentum “flip” will be the catalyst for the next, extremely overdue, move lower.
It is going to take quite a few more days like today before we can talk about the kind of “financial crisis” that I have been warning about for a long time, but we may have already reached a key turning point.
So much of the post-election stock market rally was based purely on hope, and meanwhile the underlying economic numbers have continued to deteriorate. Corporate earnings are down, it is being projected that U.S. GDP growth will be about one percent during the first quarter, and used vehicle prices are dropping for the first time since the last recession…
In its March report, the National Association of Auto Dealers (NADA) reported an anomaly: dropping used vehicle prices in February, which occurred only for the second time in the past 20 years. It was a big one: Its Used Car Guide’s seasonally adjusted used vehicle price index plunged 3.8% from January, “by far the worst recorded for any month since November 2008 as the result of a recession-related 5.6% tumble.”
The index has now dropped eight months in a row and hit the lowest level since September 2010. The index is down 8% year over year, and down 13% from its peak in 2014.
When the Federal Reserve raised rates, that was very bad news for stocks, and if Donald Trump cannot get his Obamacare replacement through Congress that will be more bad news for stocks.
But even if there was no bad news, it is inevitable that stock prices would decline at some point anyway.
It is simply not rational to have price-earnings ratios up around 30. The only other times when price-earnings ratios have become so bloated were right before the stock market crash of 1929, right before the stock market crash of 2000 and right before the stock market crash of 2008.
Whenever it ultimately happens, the truth is that stocks always eventually return to their historical averages. And if a “black swan event” or two are thrown in, that could push stocks well below their historical averages.
Never before has there been this much debt in the world, and not even in 2008 were global financial markets so primed for a crash.
Many people get caught up in trying to predict what month or what day the markets will crash, and if you could predict that accurately you could make a lot of money.
But that is not the point.
What everyone should be able to agree on is that this temporary stock market bubble that has been fueled by reckless intervention from the Federal Reserve is not sustainable and that it is inevitable that stock prices will be a lot lower in the future than they are right now.
We should be thankful that this bubble has lasted much longer than it should have, because what is going to come after this bubble bursts is going to be absolutely horrible.
Markets tend to go down a lot faster than they go up, and when the coming crash finally occurs it is going to make 2008 look like a Sunday picnic.
So whatever you need to do financially, you should think about doing it soon, because the alarm bells on Wall Street are starting to ring.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average provides us with some pretty strong evidence that our “stock market boom” has been fueled by debt. On Wednesday, the Dow crossed the 20,000 mark for the first time ever, and this comes at a time when the U.S. national debt is right on the verge of hitting 20 trillion dollars. Is this just a coincidence? As you will see, there has been a very close correlation between the national debt and the Dow Jones Industrial Average for a very long time.
For example, when Ronald Reagan took office in 1991, the U.S. national debt had just hit 994 billion dollars and the Dow was sitting at 951. And as you can see from this chart by Matterhorn.gold via David Stockman, roughly that same ratio has held true throughout subsequent presidential administrations…
During the Clinton years the Dow raced out ahead of the national debt, but an “adjustment” during the Bush years brought things back into line.
The cold hard truth is that we have been living way above our means for decades. Our “prosperity” has been fueled by the greatest debt binge in the history of the world, and we are greatly fooling ourselves if we think otherwise.
We would never have gotten to 20,000 on the Dow if Barack Obama and Congress had not gotten us into an extra 9.3 trillion dollars of debt over the past eight years.
Unfortunately, most people do not understand this, and the mainstream media is treating “Dow 20,000” as if it is some sort of great historical achievement…
The average began tracking the most powerful corporate stocks in 1896, and has served as a broad measure of the market’s health through 22 presidents, 22 recessions, a Great Depression, at least two crashes and innumerable rallies, corrections, bull and bear markets. The blue chip reading finally cracked the 20,000 benchmark for the first time early Wednesday.
During the current bull market, the second longest in history, the Dow has more than tripled since March 2009.
Since Donald Trump’s surprise election victory, the Dow has now climbed by approximately 2150 points.
And it took just 64 calendar days for the Dow to go from 19,000 to 20,000. That is an astounding pace, and financial markets around the rest of the planet are doing very well right now too. In fact, global stocks rose to a 19 month high on Wednesday.
So where do we go from here?
Well, if Donald Trump wants to see Dow 30,000 during his presidency, then history tells us that he needs to take us to 30 trillion dollars in debt.
Of course that would be absolute insanity even if it was somehow possible. Each additional dollar of debt destroys the future of our country just a little bit more, and at some point this colossal bubble is going to burst.
But you can’t tell most of the “financial experts” these things. Most of them simply believe that the “market always goes higher over time”…
The “market always goes higher over time,” Todd Morgan, chairman of Bel Air Investment Advisors. “The lesson here is that through wars, recessions, elections, impeachments, financial crises, and on and on, investing for the long term in high-quality stocks is the key to building wealth. … We are telling our clients that you can’t time the market. Think long term. Stay the course. We expect the market to see Dow 30,000 in my lifetime, and for my grandchildren to see Dow 50,000 in their lifetime.”
My hope is that the market will continue to go up. But nobody can deny that valuations are already at absurdly high levels, and the only way that this party can keep going is to continue to fuel it with more and more debt.
But for the moment, there is a tremendous amount of optimism out there, and most experts expect the Dow to continue to set new highs. In fact, CNBC says that whenever the Dow crosses a new threshold like this it usually means good things for investors…
CNBC looked at market data from the past 30 years and zeroed in on the times when the Dow has crossed levels like 2,000, 3,000, 4,000 … all the way up to the 19,000 level it hit in November. At those times, investors can typically expect traders to push it up even higher, according to data from Kensho. Not only does the Dow go up, but it outperforms the S&P 500 index along the way.
But as USA Today has explained, not all Americans are benefiting from this stock market rally…
The breakthrough came just four trading days into Trump’s presidency, a whirlwind in which the billionaire has reaffirmed his commitment to strengthen the U.S. economy and create more jobs and higher wages for workers. Still, nearly half of Americans have not benefited from the so-called “Trump Rally,” which has generated more than $2.2 trillion in paper gains for the Wilshire 5000 Total Stock Index since Election Day. The reason: only 52% of Americans polled by Gallup last April said they “have money invested in stocks” — the lowest stock ownership rate in the 19 years Gallup has tracked the data and down sharply from 65% in 2007 before the financial crisis.
Hopefully the good times will continue to roll for as long as possible.
But there is no possible way that they can keep going indefinitely.
For decades, our debt has been growing much faster than our GDP has. By definition, this is an unsustainable situation. At some point we will have accumulated so much debt that our financial system will no longer be able to hold up under the strain.
Many were convinced that we would reach that point before the U.S. national debt hit 20 trillion dollars, and yet here we are.
So how much higher can we go before the bubble bursts?
That is a very good question, and I don’t know if anyone has the right answer.
But for President Trump, this is going to present him with quite a dilemma.
Either he can keep the debt party going for as long as possible, or he can try to get us to take some tough financial medicine right now.
If an attempt is made to deal with our debt problems now, we will experience severe economic pain almost immediately.
But if the can keeps being kicked down the road, our long-term prognosis is just going to keep getting worse and worse.
And if we try to delay the inevitable indefinitely, at some point the laws of economics are going to make our hard choices for us.
So let us celebrate “Dow 20,000”, but let us also understand that it is far more likely that we will see “Dow 10,000” again before we ever see “Dow 30,000”.
Will the financial bubble that has been rapidly growing ever since Donald Trump won the election suddenly be popped once he takes office? Could it be possible that we are being set up for a horrible financial crash that he will ultimately be blamed for? Yesterday, I shared my thoughts on the incredible euphoria that we have seen since Donald Trump’s surprise victory on November 8th. The U.S. dollar has been surging, companies are announcing that they are bringing jobs back to the U.S., and we are witnessing perhaps the greatest post-election stock market rally in Wall Street history. In fact, the Dow, the Nasdaq and the S&P 500 all set new all-time record highs again on Thursday. What we are seeing is absolutely unprecedented, and many believe that the good times will continue to roll as we head into 2017.
What has been most surprising to me is how well the stocks of the big Wall Street banks have been doing. It is no secret that those banks poured a tremendous amount of money into Hillary Clinton’s campaign, and Donald Trump had some tough things to say about them leading up to election day.
So you wouldn’t think that it would be particularly good news for those banks that Trump won the election. However, we seem to be living in “Bizarro World” at the moment, and in so many ways things are happening exactly the opposite of what we would expect. Since Trump’s victory, all of the big banking stocks have been skyrocketing…
Financial stocks in particular have been on fire. Citigroup (C) and JPMorgan Chase (JPM) are up about 20% since Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton — and that makes them laggards!
Morgan Stanley (MS) has gained more than 25%. So has troubled Wells Fargo (WFC), despite the lingering fallout from its fake account scandal. Bank of America (BAC) is up more than 30%.
And so is Goldman Sachs (GS) — the former employer of both Treasury Secretary nominee Steven Mnuchin and Trump chief strategist Steve Bannon.
But are these stock prices justified by the fundamentals?
Of course not, but during times of euphoria the fundamentals never seem to matter much. Stocks were incredibly overvalued before the election, and now they are ridiculously overvalued.
Earlier today, a CNBC article pointed out that the cyclically-adjusted price to earnings ratio has only been higher than it is today at three points in our history…
“The cyclically adjusted P/E (CAPE), a valuation measure created by economist Robert Shiller now stands over 27 and has been exceeded only in the 1929 mania, the 2000 tech mania and the 2007 housing and stock bubble,” Alan Newman wrote in his Stock Market Crosscurrents letter at the end of November.
Newman said even if the market’s earnings increase by 10 percent under Trump’s policies “we’re still dealing with the same picture, overvaluation on a very grand scale.”
And of course a historic stock market crash immediately followed each of those three bubbles.
So are we being set up for a huge crash in early 2017?
There are some out there that believe that this is purposely being orchestrated. For example, Mike Adams of Natural News believes that the markets “will be deliberately and destructively imploded under President Trump”…
Right now, the U.S. stock market is surging, with the Dow leaping toward 20,000, a number rooted in fiscal insanity and delusional expectations. There are no fundamentals that support a 20,000 Dow, but fundamentals have long since ceased to matter in a financial world hyperventilating on debt fumes while hallucinating about utopian economic models that will soon prove to generate fools instead of real wealth.
Today I’m going on the record with a prediction that I’ll offer with near absolute certainty: The rigged markets that now seem to defy gravity will be deliberately and destructively imploded under President Trump for all the obvious reasons. There will be financial chaos like we’ve never seen before: Investors leaping off tall buildings, banks declaring extended “holidays” that freeze transactions, and California pensioners slitting their wrists after they discover their promised pension funds were just vaporized by incompetent bureaucrats.
On the other hand, there are others that believe that Trump is just walking into a very bad situation and that a crash would be inevitable no matter who was president.
History tells us that there is no possible way that stock prices can stay at this irrational level indefinitely. But for now a wave of optimism is sweeping the nation, and many of those that are caught up in it will get seriously angry with you if you try to inject a dose of reality into the conversation.
But like I said yesterday, let’s hope that the optimists are correct. A survey that was just taken of 600 business executives found that 62 percent of them were optimistic about the U.S. economy over the next 12 months.
Incredibly, that number was sitting at just 38 percent the previous quarter.
For the moment, business leaders seem to be quite thrilled that we have a business executive in the White House.
Hopefully Donald Trump’s business experience will translate well to his new position. And it is certainly my hope that he is as successful as possible.
But even during the campaign Trump talked about how stocks were in a giant bubble, and the euphoria that we have seen since his election victory has just made that bubble even larger.
Throughout U.S. history, every giant financial bubble has always ended very badly, and this time around will not be any exception.
Trump may get the blame for it when it bursts, but the truth is that the conditions for the coming crisis have been building for a very, very long time.
We have seen this story before, and it never ends well. From mid-March until early May 2008, a vigorous stock market rally convinced many investors that the market turmoil of late 2007 and early 2008 was over and that happy days were ahead for the U.S. economy. But of course we all know what happened. It turned out that the market downturns of late 2007 and early 2008 were just “foreshocks” of a much greater crash in late 2008. The market surge in the spring of 2008 was just a mirage, and it masked rapidly declining economic fundamentals. Well, the exact same thing is happening right now. The Dow rose another 222 points on Tuesday, but meanwhile virtually every number that we are getting is just screaming that the overall U.S. economy is steadily falling apart. So don’t be fooled by a rising stock market. Just like in the spring of 2008, all of the signs are pointing to an avalanche of bad economic news in the months ahead. The following are 11 signs that the U.S. economy is rapidly deteriorating…
#1 Total business sales have been declining for nearly two years, and they are now about 15 percent lower than they were in late 2014.
#2 The inventory to sales ratio is now back to near where it was during the depths of the last recession. This means that there is lots and lots of unsold stuff just sitting around out there, and that is a sign of a very unhealthy economy.
#3 Corporate earnings have declined for four consecutive quarters. This never happens outside of a recession.
#4 Profits for companies listed on the S&P 500 were down 7.1 percent during the first quarter of 2016 when compared to the same time period a year ago.
#5 In April, commercial bankruptcies were up 32 percent on a year over year basis, and Chapter 11 filings were up 67 percent on a year over year basis. This is exactly the kind of spike that we witnessed during the initial stages of the last major financial crisis as well.
#6 U.S. rail traffic was 11 percent lower last month than it was during the same month in 2015. Right now there are 292 Union Pacific engines sitting idle in the middle of the Arizona desert because there is literally nothing for them to do.
#7 The U.S. economy has lost an astounding 191,000 mining jobs since September 2014. For areas of the country that are heavily dependent on mining, this has been absolutely devastating.
#8 According to Challenger, Gray & Christmas, U.S. firms announced 35 percent more job cuts during April than they did in March. This indicates that our employment problems are accelerating.
#9 So far this year, job cut announcements are running 24 percent above the exact same period in 2015.
#10 U.S. GDP grew at just a 0.5 percent annual rate during the first quarter of 2016. This was the third time in a row that the GDP number has declined compared to the previous quarter, and let us not forget that the formula for calculating GDP was changed last year specifically to make the first quarter of each year look better. Without that “adjustment”, it is quite possible that we would have had a negative number for the first quarter.
#11 Barack Obama is poised to become the first president in U.S. history to never have a single year during his time in office when the economy grew by more than 3 percent.
But you never hear Obama talk about that statistic, do you?
And the mainstream media loves to point the blame at just about anyone else. In fact, the Washington Post just came out with an article that is claiming that the big problem with the economy is the fact that U.S. consumers are saving too much money…
The surge in saving is the real drag on the economy. It has many causes. “People got a cruel lesson about [the dangers] of debt,” says economist Matthew Shapiro of the University of Michigan. Households also save more to replace the losses suffered on homes and stocks. But much saving is precautionary: Having once assumed that a financial crisis of the 2008-2009 variety could never happen, people now save to protect themselves against the unknown. Research by economist Mark Zandi of Moody’s Analytics finds higher saving at all income levels.
So even though half the country is flat broke, I guess we are all supposed to do our patriotic duty by going out and running up huge balances on our credit cards.
What a joke.
Of course the U.S. economy is actually doing significantly better at the moment than almost everywhere else on the planet. Many areas of South America have already plunged into an economic depression, major banks all over Europe are in the process of completely melting down, Japanese GDP has gone negative again despite all of their emergency measures, and Chinese stocks are down more than 40 percent since the peak of the market.
This is a global economic slowdown, and just like in 2008 it is only a matter of time before the financial markets catch up with reality. I really like how Andrew Lapthorne put it recently…
On the more bearish slant is Andrew Lapthorne, head of quantitative strategy at Societe Generale. To him this profit downturn is a sign that stocks are far too overvalued and the economy is weaker than you think.
“MSCI World EPS is now declining at the fastest pace since 2009, losing 4% in the last couple of months alone (this despite stronger oil prices),” wrote Lapthorne in a note. For the S&P 500 specifically, the year on year drop in profit drop was the most since third quarter of 2009.
“Global earnings are now 14% off the peak set in August 2014 and back to where they stood five years ago. Equity prices on the other hand are 25% higher. Gravity beckons!”
I couldn’t have said it better myself.
Look, this is not a game.
So far in 2016, three members of my own extended family have lost their jobs. Businesses are going under at a pace that we haven’t seen since 2008, and this means that more mass layoffs are on the way.
We can certainly be happy that U.S. stocks are doing okay for the moment. May it stay that way for as long as possible. But anyone that believes that this state of affairs can last indefinitely is just being delusional.
Gravity beckons, and the crash that is to come is going to be a great sight to behold.