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.
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.
Are we about to witness one of the largest stock market crashes in U.S. history? Swiss investor Marc Faber is the publisher of the “Gloom, Boom & Doom Report”, and he has been a regular guest on CNBC for years. And even though U.S. stocks have been setting new record high after new record high in recent weeks, he is warning that a massive stock market crash is in our very near future. According to Faber, we could “easily” see the S&P 500 plunge all the way down to 1,100. As I sit here writing this article, the S&P 500 is sitting at 2,181.74, so that would be a drop of cataclysmic proportions. The following is an excerpt from a CNBC article that discussed the remarks that Faber made on their network on Monday…
The notoriously bearish Marc Faber is doubling down on his dire market view.
The editor and publisher of the Gloom, Boom & Doom Report said Monday on CNBC’s “Trading Nation” that stocks are likely to endure a gut-wrenching drop that would rival the greatest crashes in stock market history.
“I think we can easily give back five years of capital gains, which would take the market down to around 1,100,” Faber said, referring to a level 50 percent below Monday’s closing on the S&P 500.
Of course Faber is far from alone in believing that the market is heading for hard times. Just recently, I wrote about how legendary investor Jeffrey Gundlach is warning that “stocks should be down massively” and that he believes this is the time to “sell everything“.
And on Tuesday, Donald Trump told Fox News that the stock market is “a big bubble”…
“If rates go up, you’re going to see something that’s not pretty,” the billionaire businessman told Fox News during a Tuesday morning phone interview. “It’s all a big bubble.”
Worries that the Fed has created a market bubble have shadowed the second-longest bull market in history as the central bank has kept its key rate near zero and expanded its balance sheet by $3.8 trillion in order to pump liquidity into the financial system.
Trump actually has a vested interest in seeing the stock market go down, because that would help his chances in November.
In a previous article on The Most Important News, I explained that the stock market has indicated who would win the presidential election 86 percent of the time since 1928. During the final three months before election day, if the stock market goes up the incumbent party almost always wins. But if the stock market goes down, the incumbent party almost always loses. The only times this correlation has not held up since 1928 were in 1956, 1968 and 1980.
For the moment, the stock market is defying the laws of economics, and that is a very good thing for Hillary Clinton. But if this bubble suddenly bursts and the market starts catching up with economic reality, that is going to turn out to be very favorable for Donald Trump.
And without a doubt, the fundamental economic numbers just continue to get worse. Earlier today, we learned that productivity in the U.S. has now been falling for three quarters in a row…
Productivity, a sore spot for the U.S. economy over the past few years, has now declined in three straight quarters, according to data released Tuesday.
Productivity in the second quarter unexpectedly fell 0.5%, well below expectations, the Labor Department said. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch had forecast a 0.3% gain in productivity in the quarter.
Productivity is down 0.4% from a year earlier, the first year-over-year decline since the second quarter of 2013.
On Tuesday we also learned that real estate sales in Las Vegas were down about 10 percent in July compared to the same period a year ago, and things are not looking so good in San Francisco either. Just check out what has been going on at Twitter…
Twitter is shaking up San Francisco. It’s the city’s 10th largest employer, and second largest tech employer, after Salesforce. But it hasn’t yet figured out, despite a decade of trying, how to make money. Last October, it announced that it would lay off 8% of its workforce. A couple of weeks ago, it reported a second-quarter net loss of $107 million along with disappointing user metrics and lousy projections. Its shares have lost 74% since their miracle-IPO-hype peak at the end of December 2014.
And now Twitter is dumping nearly one third of its total office space on the San Francisco sublease market.
Las Vegas and San Francisco are both prone to huge “booms” and “busts”. So the fact that it appears that both cities are starting to move into the “bust” end of the cycle is a very ominous sign.
Conditions are changing, and now is the time to position yourself for the exceedingly challenging times that are coming. As I end this article today, I want to share with you something written by Jim Quinn. He recently went out to visit his son Kevin in Colorado for a couple of weeks, and the following is how he ended his article about that trip…
After spending a week in this stunning paradise, it’s tougher than you know to go back to my two and half hour daily round trip commute into the slums of West Philly. John Muir’s words were right 100 years ago and they are right today. I am losing precious days and my days are spent trying to make money. I’ve got responsibilities. I’ve got bills to pay. I’ve got kids to get through college. We’ve got aging parents to help. I work because I have to.
I’m not learning anything in this trivial world of distractions and iGadgets. I don’t fit into this materialistic society. I don’t do small talk. I have no patience for fools. I prefer solitude. If I can survive this despicable rat race for seven more years, I’ll be joining Kevin in Colorado and living the life I’d like to live. The sun is setting and time is slipping away. Those mountains are calling me home.
I can definitely identify with what Jim is going through, because I once experienced similar emotions.
To Jim and everyone else that hopes that someday in the future they will be able to live the lives that they would like to be living right now, I would say this…
Don’t put it off.
Seize the day and find a way to make your dreams a reality.
Things are rapidly changing in this country, and if you keep putting off the life you want to be living for too long it may end up slipping away for good.
The Dow and the S&P 500 both closed at all-time record highs on Tuesday, and that is very good news. You might think that is an odd statement coming from the publisher of The Economic Collapse Blog, but the truth is that I am not at all eager to see the financial system crash and burn. We all saw what took place when it happened in 2008 – millions of people lost their jobs, millions of people lost their homes, and economic suffering was off the charts. So no, I don’t want to see that happen again any time soon. All of our lives will be a lot more comfortable if the financial markets are stable and stocks continue to go up. If the Dow and the S&P 500 can keep on soaring, that will suit me just fine. Unfortunately, I don’t think that is going to be what happens.
Of course I never imagined we would be talking about new record highs for the stock market in mid-July 2016. We have seen some crazy ups and downs for the financial markets over the last 12 months, and the downs were pretty severe. Last August, we witnessed the greatest financial shaking since the historic financial crisis of 2008, and that was followed by an even worse shaking in January and February. Then in June everyone was concerned that the surprising result of the Brexit vote would cause global markets to tank, and that did happen briefly, but since then we have seen an unprecedented rally.
So what is causing this sudden surge?
We’ll get to that in a moment, but first let’s review some of the numbers from Tuesday. The following comes from USA Today…
All three major indexes gained 0.7% apiece, as the Dow jumped 121 points to a new all-time closing high and the S&P 500 built upon its record close notched Monday. The blue chips now stand at 18,347.67, about 35 points above the previous record set May 19, 2015.
The new mark for the S&P 500 is 2,152.14, a 15-point improvement on its Monday close.
Overall, we have seen stocks shoot up more than eight percent over the last two weeks. Normally, a rise of 10 percent for an entire year is considered to be quite healthy…
Interior Minister Theresa May is set to become the U.K.’s prime minister on Wednesday. Stock markets across the globe have risen sharply, after a steep sell-off, following the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union.
“In the past two weeks, post Brexit, the S&P 500 has vaulted over 8 percent,” said Adam Sarhan, CEO at Sarhan Capital. “Typically, a 10 percent move for the entire year is considered normal.”
What makes all of this even stranger is the fact that investors have been pulling money out of stocks as if it was 2008 all over again. In fact, Zero Hedge tells us that on balance investors have been taking money out of equity funds for 17 weeks in a row.
So why are stocks still going up?
If your guess is “central bank intervention”, you are right on the nose.
Across the Pacific, the Bank of Japan has been voraciously gobbling up assets, and the architect of “Abenomics” just won a major electoral victory which has fueled a huge market rally over there…
Meanwhile, in Japan, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe ordered new stimulus after his coalition won an election in Japan’s upper chamber by a landslide. Japan’s Nikkei 225 rose nearly 2.5 percent overnight, while the yen erased all of its post-Brexit gains against the dollar.
“In the short term, I think it’s going to help, but in the long term, we’ll see,” said JJ Kinahan, chief strategist at TD Ameritrade. “I feel like a lot of people are getting themselves into situations that they can’t get out of.”
In Europe, the ECB has feverishly been pumping money into the financial system, and the result of the Brexit vote seems to have lit a renewed fire under the central bankers in Europe. Collectively, intervention by the Japanese and the Europeans has created “a surge in net global central bank asset purchases to their highest since 2013″…
Fast forward six months when Matt King reports that “many clients have been asking for an update of our usual central bank liquidity metrics.”
What the update reveals is “a surge in net global central bank asset purchases to their highest since 2013.”
And just like that the mystery of who has been buying stocks as everyone else has been selling has been revealed.
So now you know the rest of the story.
The economic fundamentals have not changed. China is still slowing down. Japan is still mired in a multi-year economic crisis. Much of Europe is still dealing with a full-blown banking crisis. Much of South America is still experiencing a full-blown depression.
Here in the United States, just about every indicator that you can think of says that the economy is slowing down. If you doubt this, please see my previous article entitled “15 Facts About The Imploding U.S. Economy That The Mainstream Media Doesn’t Want You To See“.
The artificially-induced rally that we are witnessing right now can be compared to a “last gasp” of a dying patient.
But my hope is that this “last gasp” can last for as long as possible. Because as much as I warn people about it, I am not actually eager to see what comes next.
The economic and financial suffering that are coming are inevitable, but they are not going to be pleasant for any of us. So let us all hope that we still have a little bit more time before the party is over and it is time to turn out the lights.
It looks like it is going to be another chaotic week for global financial markets. On Sunday, news that Iran plans to dramatically ramp up oil production sent stocks plunging all across the Middle East. Stocks in Kuwait were down 3.1 percent, stocks in Saudi Arabia plummeted 5.4 percent, and stocks in Qatar experienced a mammoth 7 percent decline. And of course all of this comes in the context of a much larger long-term decline for Middle Eastern stocks. At this point, Saudi Arabian stocks are down more than 50 percent from their 2014 highs. Needless to say, a lot of very wealthy people in Saudi Arabia are getting very nervous. Could you imagine waking up someday and realizing that more than half of your fortune had been wiped out? Things aren’t that bad in the U.S. quite yet, but it looks like another rough week could be ahead. The Dow, the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq are all down at least 12 percent from their 52-week highs, and the Russell 2000 is already in bear market territory. Hopefully this week will not be as bad as last week, but events are starting to move very rapidly now.
Much of the chaos around the globe is being driven by the price of oil. At the end of last week the price of oil dipped below 30 dollars a barrel, and now Iran has announced plans “to add 1 million barrels to its daily crude production”…
Iran could get more than five times as much cash from oil sales by year-end as the lifting of economic sanctions frees the OPEC member to boost crude exports and attract foreign investment needed to rebuild its energy industry.
The Persian Gulf nation will be able to access all of its revenue from crude sales after the U.S. and five other global powers removed sanctions on Saturday in return for Iran’s curbing its nuclear program. The fifth-biggest producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries had been receiving only $700 million of each month’s oil earnings under an interim agreement, with the rest blocked in foreign bank accounts. Iran is striving to add 1 million barrels to its daily crude production and exports this year amid a global supply glut that has pushed prices 22 percent lower this month.
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out what this is going to do to the price of oil.
The price of oil has already fallen more than 20 percent so far in 2016, and overall it has declined by more than 70 percent since late 2014.
When the price of oil first started to fall, a lot of people out there were proclaiming that it would be really good for the U.S. economy. But I said just the opposite. And of course since that time we have seen an endless parade of debt downgrades, bankruptcies and job losses. 130,000 good paying energy jobs were lost in the United States in 2015 alone because of this collapse, and things just continue to get even worse. At this point, some are even calling for the federal government to intervene. For example, the following is an excerpt from a CNN article that was just posted entitled “Is it time to bail out the U.S. oil industry?“…
America’s once-booming oil industry is suddenly in deep financial trouble.
The epic crash in oil prices has wiped out tens of thousands of jobs, caused dozens of bankruptcies and spooked global financial markets.
The fallout is already being felt in oil-rich states like Texas, Oklahoma and North Dakota, where home foreclosure rates are spiking and economic growth is slowing.
Now there are calls in at least some corners for the federal government to come to the rescue.
Is it just me, or is all of this really starting to sound a lot like 2008?
And of course it isn’t just the U.S. that is facing troubles. The global financial crisis that began during the second half of 2015 is rapidly accelerating, and chaos is erupting all over the planet. The following summary of what we have been seeing in recent days comes from Doug Noland…
The world has changed significantly – perhaps profoundly – over recent weeks. The Shanghai Composite has dropped 17.4% over the past month (Shenzhen down 21%). Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index was down 8.2% over the past month, with Hang Seng Financials sinking 11.9%. WTI crude is down 26% since December 15th. Over this period, the GSCI Commodities Index sank 12.2%. The Mexican peso has declined almost 7% in a month, the Russian ruble 10% and the South African rand 12%. A Friday headline from the Financial Times: “Emerging market stocks retreat to lowest since 09.”
Trouble at the “Periphery” has definitely taken a troubling turn for the worse. Hope that things were on an uptrend has confronted the reality that things are rapidly getting much worse. This week saw the Shanghai Composite sink 9.0%. Major equities indexes were hit 8.0% in Russia and 5.0% in Brazil (Petrobras down 9%). Financial stocks and levered corporations have been under pressure round the globe. The Russian ruble sank 4.0% this week, increasing y-t-d losses versus the dollar to 7.1%. The Mexican peso declined another 1.8% this week. The Polish zloty slid 2.8% on an S&P downgrade (“Tumbles Most Since 2011”). The South African rand declined 3.0% (down 7.9% y-t-d). The yen added 0.2% this week, increasing 2016 gains to 3.0%. With the yen up almost 4% versus the dollar over the past month, so-called yen “carry trades” are turning increasingly problematic.
Closer to home, the crisis in Puerto Rico continues to spiral out of control. The following is an excerpt from a letter that Treasury Secretary Jack Lew sent to Congress on Friday…
Although there are many ways this crisis could escalate further, it is clear that Puerto Rico is already in the midst of an economic collapse…
Puerto Rico is already in default. It is shifting funds from one creditor to pay another and has stopped payment altogether on several of its debts. As predicted, creditors are filing lawsuits. The Government Development Bank, which provides critical banking and fiscal services to the central government, only avoided depleting its liquidity by halting lending activity and sweeping in additional deposits from other Puerto Rico governmental entities. A large debt payment of $400 million is due on May 1, and a broader set of payments are due at the end of June.
It isn’t Michael Snyder from The Economic Collapse Blog that is saying that Puerto Rico is “in the midst of an economic collapse”.
That is the Secretary of the U.S. Treasury that is saying it.
Those that have been eagerly anticipating a financial apocalypse are going to get what they have been waiting for.
Right now we are about halfway through January, and this is the worst start to a year for stocks ever. The Dow is down a total of 1,437 points since the beginning of 2016, and more than 15 trillion dollars of stock market wealth has been wiped out globally since last June.
Unfortunately, there are still a lot of people out there that are in denial.
There are a lot of people that still believe that this is just a temporary bump in the road and that things will return to “normal” very soon.
They don’t understand that this is just the beginning. What we have seen so far is just the warm up act, and much, much worse is yet to come.
It’s official – 2015 was a horrible year for stocks. On the last day of the year, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down another 178 points, and overall it was the worst year for the Dow since 2008. But of course the Dow was far from alone. The S&P 500, the Russell 2000 and Dow Transports also all had their worst years since 2008. Isn’t it funny how these things seem to happen every seven years? But compared to other investments, stocks had a relatively “good” year. In 2015, junk bonds, oil and industrial commodities all crashed hard – just like they all did just prior to the great stock market crash of 2008. According to CNN, almost 70 percent of all investors lost money in 2015, and things are unfolding in textbook fashion for much more financial chaos in 2016.
Globally, over the past 12 months we have seen financial shaking unlike anything that we have experienced since the last great financial crisis. During the month of August markets all over the world started to go haywire, and at one point approximately 11 trillion dollars of financial wealth had been wiped out globally according to author Jonathan Cahn.
Since that time, U.S. stocks rebounded quite a bit, but they still ended red for the year. Other global markets were not nearly as fortunate. Some major indexes finished 2015 down 20 percent or more, and European stocks just had their second worst December ever.
I honestly don’t understand the “nothing is happening” crowd. The numbers clearly tell us that a global financial crisis began in 2015, and it threatens to accelerate greatly as we head into 2016.
Actually, there are a whole lot of people out there that would be truly thankful if “nothing” had happened over the past 12 months. For example, there are five very unfortunate corporate CEOs that collectively lost 20 billion dollars in 2015…
Five CEOs of companies in the Russell 1000 index, including Nicholas Woodman of camera maker GoPro (GPRO), Sheldon Adelson of casino operator Las Vegas Sands (LVS) and even the famed investor Warren Buffett of Berkshire Hathaway (BRKA), lost more money on their companies’ shares than any other CEOs this year, according to a USA TODAY analysis of data from S&P Capital IQ.
These five CEOs were handed a whopping collective $20 billion loss on their company stock in 2015. Each and every one of these CEOs lost $1 billion or more – based on the average number of shares they’ve owned this year.
The biggest loser of the group was Warren Buffett.
He lost an astounding 7.8 billion dollars in 2015.
Do you think that he believes that “nothing happened” this past year?
And if “nothing happened”, then why are hedge funds “dropping like flies” right now? The following comes from Zero Hedge…
Two days, ago we noted that hedge funds are now dropping like flies in a year in which generating alpha has become virtually impossible for the majority of the vastly overpaid 2 and 20 “smart money” out there (and where levered beta is no longer the “sure thing” it used to be when the Fed was pumping trillions into stocks) when we reported that Seneca Capital, the $500 million multi-strat hedge fund belonging to Doug Hirsh (of Sohn Investment Conference fame), is shutting down.
And just within the last 24 hours, another very prominent hedge fund has collapsed. SAB Capital, which once managed more than a billion dollars, is shutting down after huge losses this year. Here is more from Zero Hedge…
It turns out that despite our intention, the question was not rhetorical because just a few hours later Bloomberg answered when it reported that the latest hedge fund shutdown casualty was another iconic, long-term investor: Scott Bommer’s SAB Capital, which as of a year ago managed $1.1 billion, and which after 17 years of managing money and after dropping roughly 11% in the first eight month of 2015, has decided to return all outside client money, and converting the hedge fund into a family office (after all one has to preserve one’s offshore tax benefits).
Overall, 674 hedge funds shut down during the first nine months of this year, and the final number for 2015 will actually be far higher because the rate of closings has accelerated as we have approached the end of this calendar year. When the final numbers come in, I would not be surprised to hear that 1,000 hedge funds had closed up shop in 2015.
Meanwhile, underlying economic conditions continue to deteriorate.
Corporate profits are steadily falling, the bond distress ratio just hit the highest level that we have seen since September 2009, and corporate debt defaults have risen to the highest level that we have seen since the last recession.
And this week we got a couple of new numbers that indicate that the U.S. economy is slowing down much faster than anticipated.
The first big surprise was the Dallas Fed’s general business activity index…
The Dallas Fed’s general business activity index plunged to -20.1 in December from -4.9 in November. This was much worse than the -7.0 expected by economists.
Any reading below 0 signals contraction, and this index has been below 0 all year.
The next big surprise was the Chicago purchasing manager index…
The Chicago purchasing manager index unexpectedly plunged to 42.9 in December, its lowest reading since July 2009.
Any reading below 50 signals a contraction in business activity.
This was down from 48.7 in November and much worse than the 50.0 expected by economists.
When the final numbers for the fourth quarter are in a few months from now, I believe that they will show that the U.S. economy officially entered recession territory at this time.
And the truth is that deep recessions have already started for some of the other biggest economies on the planet. For example, I recently wrote about the deep troubles that Canada is now experiencing, and things have already gotten so bad in Brazil that Goldman Sachs is referring to that crisis as “an outright depression“.
Many people seem to assume that since I have a website called “The Economic Collapse Blog” that I must want everything to fall apart. But that is not true at all. I love my country, I enjoy my life, and I would be perfectly content to spend 2016 peacefully passing the time here in the mountains with my wonderful wife. The longer things can stay somewhat “normal”, the better it is for all of us.
Unfortunately, for decades we have been making incredibly foolish decisions as a society, and the consequences of those decisions are now catching up with us in a major way.
Jonathan Cahn likes to say that “a great shaking is coming”, and I very much agree with him.
In fact, I think that it is going to be here a lot sooner than most people think.
So buckle up, because I believe that 2016 is going to be quite a wild ride.
On Monday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average plummeted 588 points. It was the 8th worst single day stock market crash in U.S. history, and it was the first time that the Dow has ever fallen by more than 500 points on two consecutive days. But the amazing thing is that the Dow actually performed better than almost every other major global stock market on Monday. In the U.S., the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq both did worse than the Dow. In Europe, almost every major index performed significantly worse than the Dow. Over in Asia, Japanese stocks were down 895 points, and Chinese stocks experienced the biggest decline of all (a whopping 8.46 percent). On June 25th, I was not kidding around when I issued a “red alert” for the last six months of 2015. I had never issued a formal alert for any other period of time, and I specifically stated that “a major financial collapse is imminent“. But you know what? As the weeks and months roll along, things will eventually be even worse than what any of the experts (including myself) have been projecting. The global financial system is now unraveling, and you better pack a lunch because this is going to be one very long horror show.
Our world has not seen a day quite like Monday in a very, very long time. Let’s start our discussion where the carnage began…
For weeks, the Chinese government has been taking unprecedented steps to try to stop Chinese stocks from crashing, but nothing has worked. As most Americans slept on Sunday night, the markets in China absolutely imploded…
As Europe and North America slept on Sunday night, Chinese markets went through the floor — the Shanghai Composite index of stocks fell by 8.49%, the biggest single-day collapse since 2007.
It wasn’t alone. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fell 5.17%, and Japan’s Nikkei fell 4.61%. Stocks in Taiwan, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand also tumbled.
Things would have been even worse in China if trading had not been stopped in most stocks. Trading was suspended for an astounding 2,200 stocks once they hit their 10 percent decline limits.
Overall, the Shanghai Composite Index is now down close to 40 percent from the peak of the market, and the truth is that Chinese stocks are still massively overvalued when compared to the rest of the world.
That means that they could very easily fall a lot farther.
The selling momentum in Asia carried over into Europe once the European markets opened. On a percentage basis, all of the major indexes on the continent declined even more than the Dow did…
In Europe, the bloodbath from Friday continued unabated. The German Dax plunged 4.7%, the French CAC 40 5.4%, UK’s FTSE 100 dropped 4.7%. Euro Stoxx 600, which covers the largest European companies, was down 5.3%.
But wait… Europe is where the omnipotent ECB and other central banks have imposed negative deposit rates. The ECB is engaged in a massive ‘whatever it takes” QE program to inflate stock markets. But it’s not working. Omnipotence stops functioning once people stop believing in it.
Even before U.S. markets opened on Monday morning, the New York Stock Exchange was already warning that trading would be halted if things got too far out hand, and it almost happened…
The thousands of companies listed by the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq Stock Market will pause for 15 minutes if the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index plunges 7 percent before 3:25 p.m. New York time. The benchmark got close earlier, falling as much as 5.3 percent.
There were other circuit breakers in place for later in the day if too much panic selling ensued, but fortunately none of those were triggered either. Here is more from Bloomberg…
Another circuit breaker kicks in if the S&P 500 extends its losses to 13 percent before 3:25 p.m. If the plunge reaches 20 percent at any point during today’s session, the entire stock market will shut for the rest of the day.
When the U.S. markets did open, the Dow plunged 1,089 points during the opening minutes of trading. If the Dow would have stayed at that level, it would have been the worst single day stock market crash in U.S. history by a wide margin.
Instead, by the end of the day it only turned out to be the 8th worst day ever.
And in case you are wondering, yes, investors are losing a staggering amount of money. According to MarketWatch, the total amount of money lost is now starting to approach 2 trillion dollars…
As of March 31, households and nonprofits held $24.1 trillion in stocks. That’s both directly, and through mutual funds, pension funds and the like. That also includes the holdings of U.S.-based hedge funds, though you’d have to think that most hedge funds are held by households.
Using the Dow Jones Total Stock Market index DWCF, -4.21% through midmorning trade, that number had dropped to $22.32 trillion.
In other words, a cool $1.8 trillion has been lost between now and the first quarter — and overwhelmingly, those losses occurred in the last few days.
Unfortunately, U.S. stock prices are still nowhere near where they should be. If they were to actually reflect economic reality, they would have to fall a lot, lot lower.
For example, there is usually a very strong correlation between commodity prices and the S&P 500, but in recent times we have seen a very large divergence take place. Just check out the chart in this article. At this point the S&P 500 would have to fall another 30 to 40 percent or commodities would have to rise 30 or 40 percent in order to close the gap. I think that the following bit of commentary sums up where we are quite nicely…
“Markets are afraid of further economic weakness in China, further pain in global commodity markets and uncertain about Fed and PBoC policy — what they will do and what the impact will be,” Societe Generale’s Kit Juckes wrote on Monday. “The divergence between global commodity prices and equities is not a new theme but the danger now is that they begin to re-correlate – as they did when the dotcom bubble burst in 2000 and what had previously been an emerging market crisis became a US recession.”
And commodities were absolutely hammered once again on Monday.
For instance, the price of U.S. oil actually fell below 38 dollars a barrel at one point.
What we are watching unfold is incredible.
Of course the mainstream media is bringing on lots of clueless experts that are talking about what a wonderful “buying opportunity” this is. Even though those of us that saw this coming have been giving a detailed play by play account of the unfolding crisis for months, the talking heads on television still seem as oblivious as ever.
What is happening right now just doesn’t seem to make any sense to the “experts” that most people listen to. I love this headline from an article that Business Insider posted on Monday: “None of the theories for the Black Monday market crash add up“. Yes, if you are willingly blind to the long-term economic and financial trends which are destroying us, I guess these market crashes wouldn’t make sense.
And if stocks go up tomorrow (which they probably should), all of those same “experts” will be proclaiming that the “correction” is over and that everything is now fine.
But don’t be fooled by that. Just because stocks go up on any particular day does not mean that everything is fine. We are in the midst of a financial meltdown that is truly global in scope. This is going to take time to fully play out, and there will be good days and there will be bad days. The three largest single day increases for the Dow were right in the middle of the financial crisis of 2008. So one very good day for stocks is not going to change the long-term analysis one bit.
It isn’t complicated. Those that follow my writing regularly know that I have repeatedly explained how things were setting up in textbook fashion for another global financial crisis, and now one is unfolding right in front of our eyes.
At this point, everyone should be able to very clearly see what is happening, and yet most are still blind.
Why is that?
Are we watching a replay of the last financial crisis? Over the past six months, the price of oil has collapsed, the U.S. dollar has soared, and a whole bunch of other patterns that we witnessed just before the stock market crash of 2008 are repeating once again. But what we have not seen yet is the actual stock market crash. So will there be one this year? In this article, I am going to compare the performance of the Dow Jones Industrial Average during the first three months of 2008 to the performance of the Dow Jones Industrial Average during the first three months of 2015. As you will see, there are some striking similarities. And without a doubt, we are overdue for a major market downturn. The S&P 500 has risen for six years in a row, but it has never had seven up years consecutively. In addition, there has not even been a 10 percent stock market “correction” is almost three and a half years. So will stocks be able to continue to defy both gravity and the forces of economic reality? Only time will tell.
Below is a chart that shows how the Dow Jones Industrial Average performed during the first three months of 2008. It was a time of increased volatility, but the market pretty much went nowhere. This is typical of what we see in the months leading up to a market crash. The markets start getting really choppy with large ups and large downs…
This next chart shows how the Dow Jones Industrial Average has performed during the first three months of 2015. Once again, we are witnessing a time of increased volatility, but the market is not really going anywhere. In fact, after falling about 200 points on Tuesday (not shown on this chart) it is just barely below where it started the year…
When the market becomes quite restless but it doesn’t really move anywhere, that is a sign that we have reached a turning point. The following is what a recent CNN article had to say about the rising volatility that we have been witnessing…
The Dow fell nearly 3.7% in January, surged 5.6% in February and is down about 2% this month. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq have gone through similar sentiment swings. The Dow ended the quarter slightly in the red while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq were up a little bit.
Charles Schwab chief investment officer Liz Ann Sonders summed up this volatility the best — with a nod to U2. “Running to Stand Still: Wild Swings Taking Market Nowhere” is the title of her most recent market commentary.
What can investors expect for the rest of 2015? Probably a lot more of the same.
Now let’s look at a chart for the entire year of 2008. After peaking for the year in early May, the Dow started to slide. Things started to get really crazy in September, and by the end of the year the U.S. economy was plunged into the greatest crisis since the Great Depression…
Will the rest of 2015 follow a similar pattern?
A lot of investors are actually betting that this will be the case.
Right now, hundreds of millions of dollars are flowing into VXX – an ETF that makes money when the Chicago Board Options Exchange Volatility Index goes up. In other words, these investors are betting that we are going to see a lot more stock market volatility in the weeks and months to come.
And as I have said so many times before, stocks tend to rise in calm markets and they tend to fall when the markets become volatile.
So essentially these investors are betting that we are headed for a stock market crash.
The following is more on the massive inflow of money into VXX that we have been seeing from the Crux…
Ways to speculate on how noisy the stock market will be have exploded in the last decade with the advent of products tied to the Chicago Board Options Exchange Volatility Index. Strategies include relatively simple hedges against equity losses, such as owning a security that aims to mimic the VIX.
VXX, one of the most popular ways to bet on bigger market swings, has absorbed $715 million in seven consecutive weeks of inflows, its longest streak of inflows since one ending in July 2012. The infusion of fresh cash has continued this week, swelling its market value to $1.5 billion, the highest since September 2013.
At the same time, short-sellers in VXX — people effectively betting the bull market will persist — have dropped out. Short interest has slid 35 percent since October, falling to the lowest in more than seven months last week, data compiled by Markit Ltd. show.
And many of the exact same people that warned us about the financial crisis of 2008 in advance are warning that another crisis is rapidly approaching. For example, check out the following quote from Ann Pettifor that recently appeared in an article in the Guardian…
As Janet Yellen’s Federal Reserve prepares to raise interest rates, boosting the value of the dollar, while the plunging price of crude puts intense pressure on the finances of oil-exporting countries, there are growing fears of a new debt crisis in the making.
Ann Pettifor of Prime Economics, who foreshadowed the credit crunch in her 2003 book The Coming First World Debt Crisis, says: “We’re going to have another financial crisis. Brazil’s already in great trouble with the strength of the dollar; I dread to think what’s happening in South Africa; then there’s Malaysia. We’re back to where we were, and that for me is really frightening.”
Pettifor is right on two counts – another major financial crisis is approaching, and it is going to be global in scope.
Before I end this article, there are two more items that I would like to share with you.
Firstly, it is being reported that the IPO market has really cooled off in 2015. When the number of companies going public starts to decline, that is a clear sign that a stock market bubble is on borrowed time. The following comes from Business Insider…
The number of US companies going public has really dropped off lately.
“After a record year in 2014, the IPO market slowed dramatically in the first quarter of 2015,” Renaissance Capital analysts said.
The first quarter of 2015, which ended Tuesday, was the slowest quarter for IPOs since the first quarter of 2013. While stock prices have been near all-time highs, market volatility has been escalating, turning companies off from trying to unload shares onto the public markets.
Secondly, the San Francisco housing market has been a pretty reliable indicator of previous economic booms and busts. The San Francisco housing market started to cool off before the dotcom bubble burst, it started to cool off before the stock market crash of 2008, and now it is cooling off once again. The following chart comes from Zero Hedge…
The warning signs are there.
But as with so many other things in life, most people are going to end up believing precisely what they want to believe.
So what do you believe about what the rest of the year will bring? Please feel free to share your thoughts by posting a comment below…
The parallels between the false prosperity of 2007 and the false prosperity of 2014 are rather striking. If we go back and look at the numbers in the fall of 2007, we find that the Dow set an all-time high in October, margin debt on Wall Street had spiked to record levels, the unemployment rate was below 5 percent and Americans were getting ready to spend a record amount of money that Christmas season. But then the very next year the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression shook the entire planet and everyone wondered why most people never saw it coming. Well, now a similar pattern is unfolding right before our eyes. The Dow and the S&P 500 both hit record highs on Monday, margin debt on Wall Street is hovering near record levels, the unemployment rate has ticked down a little bit and Americans are getting ready to spend more than 600 billion dollars this Christmas season. The truth is that the economy seems pretty stable for the moment, and most people cannot even imagine that an economic collapse is coming. So why are so many really smart people forecasting economic disaster in the near future?
For example, just consider what the Jerome Levy Forecasting Center is saying. This is an organization with a tremendous economic forecasting record that goes all the way back to the Great Depression. In fact, it predicted ahead of time the financial trouble and the recession that would happen in 2008. Well, now this company is forecasting that there is a 65 percent chance that there will be a global recession by the end of next year…
In 1929, a businessman and economist by the name of Jerome Levy didn’t like what he saw in his analysis of corporate profits. He sold his stocks before the October crash.
Almost eight decades later, the consultancy company that bears his name declared “the next recession will be caused by the deflating housing bubble.” By February 2007, it predicted problems in the subprime-mortgage market would spread “to virtually all financial markets.” In October 2007, it saw imminent recession — the slump began two months later.
The Jerome Levy Forecasting Center, based in Mount Kisco, New York, and run by Jerome’s grandson David, is again more worried than its peers. Its half-dozen analysts attach a 65 percent probability of a worldwide recession forcing a contraction in the U.S. by the end of next year.
Could they be wrong?
It’s certainly possible.
But I wouldn’t bet against them.
John Hussman is another expert that is warning of financial disaster on the horizon. He believes that we are experiencing a massive stock market bubble right now and that stocks are approximately double the value that they should be…
If you look at corporate profits and especially corporate profit margins, they’re one of the most cyclical and mean-reverting series in economics. Right now, we have corporate profits that are close to about 11% of GDP, but if you look at that series you will find that corporate profits as a share of GDP have always dropped back to about 5.5% or below in every single economic cycle including recent decades, including not only the financial crisis but 2002 and every other economic cycle we have been in.
Right now stocks as a multiple of last year’s expected earnings may look only modestly over valued or modestly richly valued. Really if you look at the measures of valuation that are most correlated to the returns that stocks deliver over time say over seven years or over the next 10 years the S&P 500 in our estimation is about double the level of valuation that would give investors a normal rate of return.
Could you imagine the chaos that would ensue if stocks really did drop by 50 percent?
Well, Hussman says that this is precisely what must happen in order for stock prices to return to historical norms…
Right now, like I say, we are looking at stocks that have been pressed to long-term expected returns that are really dismal. But more important than that, in every market cycle that we’ve seen with the mild exception of 2002, we’ve seen stocks price revert back to normal rates of return. In order to get to that point from here, we would have to have equities drop by about half.
If that does happen, it will make the crisis of 2008 look like a Sunday picnic.
Meanwhile, other very prominent thinkers are also warning that an economic nightmare is rapidly approaching.
Economic cycle theorist Martin Armstrong foresees major economic problems in 2015 which will ultimately lead to “civil unrest” in 2016…
It looks more and more like a serious political uprising will erupt by 2016 once the economy turns down. That is the magic ingredient. Turn the economy down and you get civil unrest and revolution.
And of course there are a whole lot of other economic cycle theorists that are forecasting that we are about to experience a massive economic downturn as well. For much more on this, please see this article and this article.
What is truly frightening is that we have never even come close to recovering from the last economic crisis. One poll that was taken just prior to the recent election found that only 28 percent of Americans said that their families were doing better financially. In addition, here are some more survey numbers about how Americans are feeling about the economy…
According to voter exit polls conducted by CNN, 78% said they are worried about the economy, with 69% saying that, in their view, economic conditions are not good. 65% responded that the country is on the wrong track vs. only 31% who believed that it is headed in the right direction.
Even though we are repeating so many of the same patterns that we experienced back in 2007, we are doing so with a fundamentally weaker economy. The last crisis did a tremendous amount of permanent damage to us. For an extensive look at this, please see my previous article entitled “12 Charts That Show The Permanent Damage That Has Been Done To The U.S. Economy“.
And there are lots of signs that much of the planet is already entering another major economic slowdown. In a recent article, Brandon Smith summarized some of these. He says that we are currently witnessing “the last gasp of the global economy“…
Global exports, and thus consumer demand, are plunging. Germany, the only pillar left to prop up the failing European Union, has experienced a severe decline in exports not seen since 2009.
China, the largest exporter and importer in the world, and Chinese companies, have been caught in a number of instances using fraudulent invoices to artificially inflate their own export numbers, in some cases reporting 50% more exported goods than had actually existed.
China’s manufacturing has also declined for the past five months, exposing the nature of its inflated export stats and indicating a global slowdown.
The Baltic Dry Index, a measure of global shipping rates for raw goods, and thus a measure of demand for shipping, continues to drag along near historic lows.
The U.S. consumer (the only economic asset the U.S. has besides the dollar’s world reserve status), has seen declines in spending as well as wages.
In the meantime, long term jobless Americans continue to fall off welfare rolls by the millions, making unemployment numbers look good, but the overall future picture look terrible as participation rates dissolve into the ether of government statistics.
How is such poverty being hidden? Foodstamps. Plain and simple. Nearly 50 million Americans now subsist on food stamp programs today, and this number shows no signs of dropping. In states like Illinois, two people sign up for food assistance for every citizen that happens to find a job.
From time to time, I get accused of “spreading fear” and of being obsessed with “doom and gloom”.
But that is not the case at all.
I actually want our economy to stay stable for as long as possible. Many Americans don’t realize this, but even the poorest of us live in luxury compared to much of the rest of the world. It would be wonderful if we could all live out our lives in peace and quiet and safety.
Unfortunately, it is simply not going to happen.
And it does not take an expert to see what is coming.
Anyone with half a brain should be able to see the economic disaster that is approaching.
There is hope in understanding what is happening and there is hope in getting prepared. Millions of Americans that are willingly blind to our problems are going to have their lives absolutely destroyed when they get blindsided by the coming crisis. So please use this brief period of relative stability to get prepared and to warn others.
Once this false bubble of hope runs out, all of our lives are going to dramatically change.