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.
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 XLK — its 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.
If everything is going to be “just fine”, why are so many big names in the financial community warning about an imminent meltdown? I don’t think that I have seen so many simultaneous warnings about a market crash since just before the great financial crisis of 2008. And at this point, you would have to be quite blind not to see that stocks are absurdly overvalued and that a correction is going to happen at some point. And when stocks do start crashing, lots of fingers are going to start pointing at President Trump, but it won’t be his fault. The Federal Reserve and other central banks are primarily responsible for creating this bubble, and they should definitely get the blame for what is about to happen to global financial markets.
My regular readers are quite familiar with my thoughts on where the market is headed, so today let me share some thoughts from five highly respected financial experts…
#1 When Altair Asset Management’s chief investment officer Philip Parker was asked if a market crash was coming to Australia, he said that he has “never been more certain of anything in my life”. In fact, he is so sure that the investments that his hedge fund is managing are going to crash that a decision was made to liquidate the fund “and return ‘hundreds of millions’ of dollars to its clients”…
While hardly a novel claim – in the past many have warned that Australia’s housing and stock market are massive asset bubbles (which local banks have been forced to deny as their fates are closely intertwined with asset prices even as the RBA is increasingly worried) – so far few if any have gone the distance of putting their money where their mouth was. That changed, when Australian asset manager Altair Asset Management made the extraordinary decision to liquidate its Australian shares funds and return “hundreds of millions” of dollars to its clients according to the Sydney Morning Herald, citing an impending property market “calamity” and the “overvalued and dangerous time in this cycle”.
“Giving up management and performance fees and handing back cash from investments managed by us is a seminal decision, however preserving client’s assets is what all fund managers should put before their own interests,” Philip Parker, who serves as Altair’s chairman and chief investment officer, said in a statement on Monday quoted by the SMH.
#2 Seth Klarman leads one of the biggest hedge funds in the United States, and he believes that U.S. investors are greatly underestimating the amount of risk in the market right now…
“When share prices are low, as they were in the fall of 2008 into early 2009, actual risk is usually quite muted while perception of risk is very high,” Klarman wrote. “By contrast, when securities prices are high, as they are today, the perception of risk is muted, but the risks to investors are quite elevated.”
Klarman oversees one of the US’s largest hedge fund firms, with some $30 billion under management. He has a huge following on Wall Street — investors named his book, “Margin of Safety,” their favorite investment book in a recent SumZero survey.
#3 Bill Blain is a strategist at Mint Partners, and he is actually specifically pointing to October 12th as the date when things will start to get “horribly interesting”…
But…. Catch a falling knife, why don’t you… I shall spend the summer wondering just how long the Stock Market games continue. When, not if.
At the moment, my prediction is October 12th. Around that day its going to get horribly interesting..
Why that particular day?
Gut feel and knowing how the Bowl of Petunias felt in Hitchhikers. (“Not again.”)
There are just too many contradictory currents out there. The unsustainability of burgeoning consumer debt, unfeasibly tight credit spreads, the sandcastle foundations of student loans, autos, housing and the CLO market, China, Trump, politics.. worries about what follows Brazil in the EM market, and whatever… The risks of a massive consumer sentiment dump..
#4 David Stockman has also been warning about what may happen this fall. According to Stockman, this current stock market bubble “is the greatest sucker’s rally we have ever seen”…
“The market is insanely valued right now. They were trying to tag, the robo machines and day traders, they were trying to tag 2,400 on the S&P 500. They ended up at 2,399, I think, but the point is that represents about 25 times trailing earnings for 2016. We are at a point in the so-called recovery that has already lasted 96 months. It’s almost the longest one in history. What the market is saying is we have reached the point of full employment forever. There will never be another recession or any kind of economic surprise or upset or dislocation. The market is pricing itself for perfection for all of eternity. This is crazy. . . . I think the market could easily drop to 1,600 or 1,300. It could drop by 40% or even more once the fantasy ends. When the government shows its true colors, that it’s headed for a fiscal bloodbath when this crazy notion that there is going to be some Trump fiscal stimulus is put to rest once and for all. I mean it’s not going to happen. They can’t pass a tax cut that big without a budget resolution that incorporated $10 trillion or $15 trillion in debt over the next decade. It’s just not going to pass Congress. . . . I think this is the greatest sucker’s rally we have ever seen.“
#5 Last but certainly not least, David Kranzler seems quite certain “that the stock market bubble is getting ready to pop”…
Anyone happen to notice that several market commentators have argued that is a bubble but the same stock “experts” look the other way as the U.S. stock market becomes more overvalued by the day vs. the deteriorating underlying fundamentals? Bitcoin going “parabolic” triggers alarm bells but it’s okay if the stock price of Amazon.com Inc (NASDAQ:) is hurtling toward parity with the price of one ounce of . Tesla (NASDAQ:) burns a billion per year in cash. It sold 76,000 cars last year vs. 10 million worldwide for General Motors (NYSE:). Yet Tesla’s market cap is $51.7 billion vs. $48.8 billion for GM.
This insanity is the surest sign that the stock market bubble is getting ready to pop. If you read between the lines of the the comments from certain Wall Street analysts, the only justification for current valuations is “Central Bank liquidity” and “Fed support of asset values.” This is the most dangerous stage of a market top because it draws in retail “mom & pop” investors who can’t stop themselves from missing out on the next “sure thing.” There will be millions of people who are permanently damaged financially when the Fed loses control of this market. Or, as legendary “vulture” investor Asher Edelman stated on CNBC, “I don’t want to be in the market because I don’t know when the plug is going to be pulled.”
Could all of these top experts be wrong?
It’s possible, but I wouldn’t bet on it.
Every stock market bubble of this magnitude in U.S. history has ended in a spectacular crash, and this one will not be any different. We can certainly have some good arguments about the exact timing of the next crash, but what everyone should be able to agree on is that a crash is coming.
You only make money in the stock market if you get out at the right time. Many of those that timed things well have made a tremendous amount of money, but most investors will be entirely caught off guard by the market implosion that is rapidly approaching.
As I have explained to my readers repeatedly, markets tend to go down a whole lot faster than they go up, and in the not too distant future we are going to see trillions of dollars of investor wealth wiped out very, very quickly.
Let’s hope that the coming crisis will not be as bad as 2008, but I have a feeling that it is going to be much worse.
We didn’t learn our lessons the last time around, and so now we are going to pay a very high price for our stubbornness.
A stock market crash is coming, and the Democrats and the mainstream media are going to blame Donald Trump for it even though it won’t be his fault. The truth is that we were headed for a major financial crisis no matter who won the election. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up a staggering 230 percent since the lows of 2009, and no stock market rally in our history has ever reached the 10 year mark without at least a 20 percent downturn. At this point stocks are about as overvalued as they have ever been, and every other time we have seen a bubble of this magnitude a historic stock market crash has always followed. Those that are hoping that this time will somehow be different are simply being delusional.
Since November 7th, the Dow is up by about 3,000 points. That is an extremely impressive rally, and President Trump has been taking a great deal of credit for it.
But perhaps he should not have been so eager to take credit, because what goes up must come down. The following is an excerpt from a recent Vanity Fair article…
According to Douglas Ramsay, chief investment officer of the Leuthold Group, Trump administration officials will come to regret gloating about the market’s performance. That’s because Trump enters the White House during one of the most richly valued stock markets in U.S. history. The last president to come in at such valuations was George W. Bush, and the dot-com bubble burst soon afterward. Bill Clinton began his second term in a more overvalued stock market in 1997, and exited unscathed. But if his timing were different by just a year, he would have been blamed for the early-aughts market crash.
This stock market bubble was not primarily created by Barack Obama, Donald Trump or any other politician. Rather, the Federal Reserve was primarily responsible for creating it by pushing interest rates all the way to the floor during the Obama era and by flooding the financial system with hot money during several stages of quantitative easing.
But now the economy is slowing down. Economic growth on an annual basis was just 0.7 percent during the first quarter, and yet the Federal Reserve is talking about raising interest rates anyway.
The Federal Reserve also raised interest rates in a slowing economy in the late 1930s, and that had the effect of significantly extending the economic problems during that decade.
As I noted in my article entitled “The Federal Reserve Must Go”, there have been 18 recessions or depressions since the Federal Reserve was created in 1913, and now we stand on the precipice of another one.
After this next crisis, hopefully Congress will finally understand that it is time to shut the Federal Reserve down for good, and I am going to do all that I can to make that happen.
Ron Paul is someone that I look up to greatly, and he also agrees that the blame for the coming crisis should be placed on the Federal Reserve instead of on Trump…
“There are some dire predictions that say in the next year, or 18 months, we have something arriving worse than 2008 and 2009, the downturn is much worse,” Paul said in a recent interview with liberty-minded anti-globalist radio host Alex Jones. “They’ll say, ah, it’s all Trump’s fault. No. It wasn’t. 08 and 09 wasn’t Obama’s fault. It was the fault of the Federal Reserve, it was the fault of the Keynesian economic model, the spending too much, the deficit. So, unfortunately, there’s nothing he can do — Trump can’t do it.”
Paul, a medical doctor who took a keen interest in economics throughout his celebrated career as a constitutionalist in Congress, said Trump could “help” the situation by pursuing good policies. “But you can’t avoid the correction, the correction is locked in place, because the deficits are there, the malinvestment, everybody agrees interest rates have been too low too long,” he said in the late January interview. “The only thing he can do is allow the recession to come, get it over with, liquidate the debt. Politically, nobody wants that, so you’re going to see runaway inflation before you see this country wake up.”
Over the past decade, the U.S. economy has grown at an average rate of just 1.33 percent, and there is no possible way to put a positive spin on that.
And now the economy appears to be entering a fresh slowdown. A couple of months ago, banking giant UBS warned about “a sudden slowdown in new credit”…
There’s been a sudden slowdown in new credit extended to businesses over the last year, one that strategists at UBS are calling “drastic” and “highly uncommon outside of economic downturns.”
And since that time, lending has tightened up even more. The following comes from Zero Hedge…
According to the latest Fed data , the all-important C&I loan growth contraction has not only continued, but over the past two months, another 50% has been chopped off, and what in early March was a 4.0% annual growth is now barely positive, down to just 2.0%, and set to turn negative in just a few weeks. This was the lowest growth rate since May 2011, right around the time the Fed was about to launch QE2.
At the same time, total loan growth has likewise continued to decline, and as of the second week of May was down to 3.8%, the weakest overall loan creation in three years.
This is exactly what we would expect to see if we were entering a new recession. Neil Howe, one of the authors of The Fourth Turning, recently warned that “winter is coming” and I have to admit that I agree with him.
So when the stock market finally crashes, how bad could it be?
Well, one analyst that spoke to CNBC said that other historic market crashes have averaged “about 42 percent”…
“If you look at the market historically, we have had, on average, a crash about every eight to 10 years, and essentially the average loss is about 42 percent,” said Kendrick Wakeman, CEO of financial technology and investment analytics firm FinMason.
And as I have explained many times in the past, stocks would have to fall about 40 to 50 percent from current levels just for the stock market to get back to “normal” again. The valuations that we are seeing today are absolutely insane, and there is no possible way that they are sustainable.
When the crash happens, many people will be pointing their fingers at Trump, but it won’t be his fault.
Instead, it will be the Federal Reserve that will be at fault, and hopefully this coming crisis will convince the American people that it is time to end this insidious debt-based central bank for good.
Have you ever wondered how tech companies that have been losing hundreds of millions of dollars year after year can somehow be worth billions of dollars according to the stock market? Because I run a website called “The Economic Collapse“, there are naysayers out there that take glee in mocking me by pointing out how well the stock market has been doing. This week, the Dow is flirting with 21,000 and the Nasdaq crossed the 6,000 threshold for the first time ever. But a lot of the “soaring stocks” that have been fueling this rally have been losing giant mountains of money every single year, and just like the first tech bubble this madness will eventually come to an end in a spectacular fiery crash in which investors will lose trillions of dollars.
Anyone that cannot see that we are in the midst of an absolutely insane stock market bubble simply does not understand economics. Every valuation indicator that you can possibly point to says that we are in a bubble of epic proportions, and history teaches us that all bubbles inevitably come to an end at some point.
Earlier today, I came across an article by Graham Summers in which he persuasively argued that the price to sales ratio indicates that stock prices are far more inflated than they were just prior to the great stock market crash of 2008…
Sales cannot be gimmicked. Either money comes in the door, or it doesn’t. And if a company is caught messing around with its sales numbers, someone is going to jail.
For this reason, Price to Sales is perhaps the single most objective and clear means of measuring stock valuations.
This metric, above all others, you can point to and say, “this is definitively accurate and has not been messed with.”
On that note, as Bill King recently noted, today the S&P 500 is sporting a P/S ratio that is massively higher than it was in 2007 and is only marginally lower than it was during the Tech Bubble (the single largest stock bubble of all time for most measures).
To me, looking at profitability is even more important than looking at sales.
Large tech companies such as Twitter certainly have lots of revenue coming in, but many of them are deeply unprofitable.
In fact, Twitter has never made a yearly profit, and over the past decade it has actually lost more than 2 billion dollars.
But despite all of that, investors absolutely love Twitter stock. As I write this article, Twitter has a market cap of 11.5 billion dollars.
How in the world is that possible?
How can a company that has never made a single penny be worth more than 11 billion dollars?
Twitter is never going to be more popular than it is now. If it can’t make a profit at the peak of its popularity, when will it ever happen?
And guess what? ABC News says that Twitter actually just reported a decline in revenue for the most recent quarter…
Twitter has never turned a profit, and for the first time since going public in 2013, it reported a decline in revenue from the previous year. Its revenue was $548.3 million, down 8 percent.
Net loss was $61.6 million, or 9 cents per share, compared with a loss of $79.7 million, or 12 cents per share, a year earlier.
The only reason why financial black holes such as Twitter can continue to exist is because investors have been willing to pour endless amounts of money into them, but now that bubble is starting to burst.
In his most recent article, Simon Black discussed how Silicon Valley investors are starting to become more cautious because so many of these “unicorns” are now going bust. One of the examples that he cited in his article was a company called Clinkle…
(Given that investing in an early stage company is high-risk, investors might provide a few hundred thousand dollars in funding, at most. Clinkle raised $25 million.)
The company went on to burn through just about every penny of its investors’ capital.
There were even photos that surfaced of the 21-year old CEO literally setting bricks of cash on fire.
At the end of the farce, Clinkle never actually managed to build its supposedly ‘world-changing’ product, and the website is now all but defunct.
Most of you may have never even heard of Clinkle, but I bet that you have definitely heard of Netflix.
Netflix has revolutionized how movies are delivered to our homes, and that revolution helped drive movie rental stores to the brink of extinction.
There is just one huge problem. It turns out that Netflix is losing hundreds of millions of dollars…
Netflix might be my favorite example.
The company’s most recent earnings report for the period ending March 31, 2017 shows, yet again, negative Free Cash Flow of MINUS $422 million.
Not only is that a record loss, it’s 62% worse than in Q1/2016, and over twice as bad as Q1/2015.
Netflix just keeps losing more and more money.
But even though Netflix is losing money at a pace that is exceedingly difficult to imagine, investors absolutely love the company.
I just checked, and at this moment Netflix has a market cap of 68.4 billion dollars.
Sometimes I just want to scream because of the absurdity of it all.
Companies that are losing hundreds of millions of dollars a year at the peak of their popularity should not be worth billions of dollars.
Nobody can possibly argue that these enormously inflated stock prices are sustainable. Just like with every other stock market bubble in our history, this one is going to burst too, and I have been warning about this for quite a long time.
But for the moment, the naysayers are having their time to shine. Despite the fact that U.S. consumers are 12 trillion dollars in debt, and despite the fact that corporate debt has doubled since the last financial crisis, and despite the fact that the federal government is 20 trillion dollars in debt, they seem to be convinced that this irrational stock market bubble can keep inflating indefinitely.
Perhaps they can all put their money where their mouth is by pouring all of their savings into Twitter, Netflix and other tech company stocks.
In the end, we will see who was right and who was wrong.
Have you ever thought about what comes after the bubble? In 2008 we got a short preview of what life will be like, but most Americans seem to have come to the conclusion that the last financial crisis was just a minor bump in the road toward endless economic prosperity. But of course the truth is that the ridiculously high debt-fueled standard of living that we are enjoying now is not sustainable, and after this bubble bursts it will be an extremely painful adjustment for our society.
Since the last financial crisis, the U.S. national debt has nearly doubled, corporate debt has doubled, stock valuations have reached exceedingly ridiculous extremes, the student loan debt bubble has surpassed a trillion dollars, we are facing the largest unfunded pension crisis in U.S. history, and in many parts of the country (particularly the west coast) we are facing a housing bubble that is even worse than the one that burst in 2007 and 2008.
And even with all of these bubbles, U.S. GDP growth has been absolutely anemic. Even if you believe the grossly manipulated numbers that the federal government puts out, the U.S. economy grew at a “miserably low” rate of just 1.6 percent in 2016…
In terms of GDP, the fourth quarter was revised up slightly, but there were adjustments for prior quarters, and overall GDP growth for the year 2016 remained at a miserably low 1.6%. We’ve come to call this the “stall speed.” It’s difficult for the US economy to stay aloft at this slow speed. As Q4 gutted any hopes for a strong finish, GDP growth in 2016 matched the worst year since the Great Recession.
And corporate profits, despite a stock market that has been surging for years, are even worse. A lot worse. They’ve declined for years. In fact, they declined for years during the prior two stock market bubbles, the dotcom bubble and the pre-Financial-Crisis bubble. Both ended in crashes.
Things have continued to get even worse early in 2016. At this point, it is being projected that U.S. GDP will grow at an annual rate of just 0.9 percent during the first quarter of 2017.
So anyone that tries to tell you that the U.S. economy is in good shape is simply not being honest with you.
But even though things don’t look great now, they are going to look far, far worse after the biggest debt bubble in human history bursts.
For example, what do you think that America will look like after half of all stock market wealth disappears? In a recent note to his clients, John P. Hussman stated that his team is projecting that by the end of this current market cycle “roughly half of U.S. equity market capitalization – $17 trillion in paper wealth – will simply vanish”.
And of course that projection lines up perfectly with what I have been saying for quite a while. In order for key measures of stock market valuation (such as CAPE, etc.) to return to their long-term averages, stocks are going to have to fall at least 40 to 50 percent from their current levels.
As this coming crisis unfolds, other asset classes will experience astounding downturns as well. This week, Morgan Stanley (one of the too big to fail banks) released a report that said that used car prices “could crash by up to 50%” over the next several years…
For months we’ve been talking about the massive lending bubble propping up the U.S. auto market. Now, noting many of the same concerns that we’ve highlighted repeatedly, Morgan Stanley’s auto team, led by Adam Jonas, has just issued a report detailing why they think used car prices could crash by up to 50% over the next 4-5 years.
Housing prices are primed for a major plunge as well. This is especially true on the west coast where tech money and foreign purchasers from Asia have pushed home values up to dizzying levels. Half a million dollars will be lucky to get you a “starter home” in San Francisco, and it was being reported that one poor techie living there was paying $1400 a month just to live in a closet. Many believe that some cities on the west coast will be quite fortunate if home values only go down by 50 percent during the coming crash.
Everywhere you look there are bubbles. In a recent piece, Daniel Lang pointed out some more of them…
- Eric Rosengren, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, recently made a startling tacit admission. We may be in the midst of yet another real estate bubble. Major financial institutions in this country are in possession of over $14 trillion worth of residential real estate loans. That’s well over $40,000 for every man woman and child in America.
- Low interest rates have fueled a bubble in subprime auto loans, and that bubble appears to be reaching its limits. There are now over 1 million ordinary and subprime auto loans that are delinquent, a number that hasn’t been this high since 2009.
- There is now well over a trillion dollars worth of student loan debt in this country; much of it owned by low income families. And there’s little hope that these students will ever see a return on their investment. That’s why at least 27% of student loans are in default. While more than one in four students are in default now, that number was one in nine a decade ago. And if current trends continue, there could be $3.3 trillion of student loan debt by the end of the next decade.
At some point the imbalances become just too great and the system collapses in upon itself.
In other words, we are heading for a massive implosion.
And once the implosion happens, people are going to go absolutely nuts. Anger and frustration are already rising to the boiling point all over the country, and it isn’t going to take much to push millions of Americans completely over the edge.
In a recent interview with Greg Hunter, author James Rickards warned that when things get really bad in America we could actually see what he refers to as “money riots”…
So, could we be facing a “Mad Max” world if the financial system totally crashes? Rickards says, “In ‘Road to Ruin,’ I talk about what I call the money riots. There is a lot of reasons for rioting. When you start shutting banks and the stock exchange and they say you can’t get your money, it’s only temporary, trust us, people will go out and start to burn down banks. The government is ready for that also with emergency response and martial law. . . . Governments don’t go down without a fight. . . . You can see the shutdown coming because they will try to buy time until they come up with a solution, whether it’s gold, Special Drawing Rights (SDR), guarantees or whatever it might be. There are only two or three possibilities here, but all of them will take time, and they will have to shut down the system. . . . People will not sit for that. So, that means people will riot. They’ll burn down banks. They will smash windows, but what is the reaction to that? The answer is martial law, militarized police, actual military units and you get something that looks like fascism pretty quickly.”
I very much agree with his assessment.
All it is going to take is another major financial crisis and this nation will go completely and utterly insane.
Unfortunately, all of our long-term economic problems have proceeded to get a lot worse since the last time around, and so when things fall apart this time we will likely be looking at a scenario that is absolutely unprecedented in American history.
A lot of people have become very complacent out there these days, but that is a huge mistake.
Just because a crisis is delayed does not mean that it is canceled. And because our leaders have kept making this economic bubble larger and larger, that just means that the coming crisis will be even more painful than it otherwise could have been.
Current stock market valuations are not sustainable. If there is one thing that I want you to remember from this article, it is that cold, hard fact. In 1929, 2000 and 2008, stock prices soared to absolutely absurd levels just before horrible stock market crashes. What goes up must eventually come down, and the stock market bubble of today will be no exception. In fact, virtually everyone in the financial community acknowledges that stock prices are irrationally high right now. Some are suggesting that there is still time to jump in and make money before the crash comes, while others are recommending a much more cautious approach. But what almost everyone agrees on is the fact that stocks cannot go up like this forever.
On Tuesday, the Dow, the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq all set brand new record highs once again. Overall, U.S. stocks are now up more than 10 percent since the election, and this is probably the greatest post-election stock market rally in our entire history.
But stocks were already tremendously overvalued before the election, and at this point stock prices have reached a level of ridiculousness only matched a couple of times before in the past 100 years.
Only the most extreme optimists will try to tell you that stock prices can stay this disconnected from economic reality indefinitely. We are in the midst of one of the most outrageous stock market bubbles of all time, and as MarketWatch has noted, all stock market bubbles eventually burst…
The U.S. stock market at this level reflects a combination of great demand, great complacency, and great greed. Stocks are clearly in a bubble, and like all bubbles, this one is about to burst.
If corporations were making tremendous amounts of money, rapidly rising stock prices would make logical sense.
But that is not the case at all. Corporate earnings for the fourth quarter of 2016 were actually quite dismal, and this disconnect between Wall Street and economic reality is starting to really bug financial analysts such as Brian Sozzi…
The S&P 500 has gone 89 straight sessions without a 1% decline. Considering that Corporate America didn’t exactly light up on the top and bottom lines during the fourth quarter, such a streak is rather troublesome. Granted, the stock market is a forward-looking mechanism that appears to be trading on hopes that Trump’s unannounced stimulus and tax plans will be lifting economic growth in 2018. Even so, the inability of investors to at least acknowledge persistent struggles among companies and ongoing chaos in Washington is starting to become disturbing.
It is a basic fact of economics that stock prices should accurately reflect current and future earnings.
So if corporate earnings are at the same level they were at in 2011, why has the S&P 500 risen by 87 percent since then? The following comes from Wolf Richter…
The S&P 500 stock index edged up to an all-time high of 2,351 on Friday. Total market capitalization of the companies in the index exceeds $20 trillion. That’s 106% of US GDP, for just 500 companies! At the end of 2011, the S&P 500 index was at 1,257. Over the five-plus years since then, it has ballooned by 87%!
These are superlative numbers, and you’d expect superlative earnings performance from these companies. Turns out, reality is not that cooperative. Instead, net income of the S&P 500 companies is now back where it first had been at the end of 2011.
The cyclically adjusted price-to-earnings ratio was originally created by author Robert Shiller, and it is widely regarded as one of the best measures of the true value of stocks in existence. According to the Guardian, there have only been two times in our entire history when this ratio has been higher. One was just before the stock market crash of 1929, and the other was just before the bursting of the dotcom bubble…
Traditionally, one of the best yardsticks for whether shares are over-valued or under-valued has been the cyclically adjusted price earnings ratio constructed by the economist Robert Shiller. This ratio is currently at about 29 and has only twice been higher: in 1929 ahead of the Wall Street Crash, and in the last frantic months of the dotcom bubble of the late 1990s.
We can definitely wish for the current euphoria on Wall Street to last for as long as possible, but let there be absolutely no doubt that it is going to end at some point.
It would take a market decline of 40 or 50 percent to get the cyclically adjusted price-to-earnings ratio back to a level that makes economic sense. Let us hope that the market does not make such a violent move very rapidly, because that would likely be absolutely crippling for our financial system.
Markets tend to go down a lot faster than they go up, and every other major stock market bubble in U.S. history has ended very badly.
And this bubble is definitely overdue to burst. The bull market that led up to the great crash of 1929 lasted for 2002 days, and this week the current bull market will finally exceed that record.
Trying to pick a specific date for a market crash is typically a fruitless exercise, but market watchers are becoming very concerned about some of the signs that we are now seeing. For example, the “CCT indicator” is currently showing “the lowest bullish energy ever”…
The first factor is the CCT indicator. This indicator is a proprietary internal measurement of the general volume of the New York Stock Exchange. The measurements take into account the institutional participation as a ratio of the overall volume. Also measured is the duration of heavy block buying in rallies.
The sum total of all the measurements now shows the lowest bullish energy ever — even lower than in 2008, just before the market crash.
In other words, this current bull market appears to be completely and utterly exhausted.
The laws of economics cannot be defied forever. Traditionally, commodity prices and stock prices have tended to move in unison. And this makes perfect sense, because commodity prices tend to rise when economic conditions are good, and in such an environment stock prices are typically going to move up.
But now we are in a time when commodity prices and stock prices have become completely disconnected. In order to bring this ratio back into line, the S&P 500 would need to fall by about 1000 points, and such a decline would cause a level of financial chaos that would be absolutely unprecedented.
This current stock market bubble has lasted much longer than many of the experts originally anticipated, but that just means that the eventual crash will likely be that much more devastating.
In the end, you don’t need to know all of the technical details in this article.
But what you do need to know is that current stock market valuations are not sustainable and that a great crash is coming.
It may not happen next week or next month, but it is going to happen. And when it does happen, it is likely to make what happened in 2008 look like a Sunday picnic.