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.
Is Ebola going to cause another of the massive October stock market crashes that Wall Street is famous for? At one point on Wednesday, the Dow was down a staggering 460 points. It ultimately closed down just 173 points, but this was the fifth day in a row that the Dow has declined. And of course Ebola is one of the primary things that is being blamed for this stunning stock market drop. Since September 19th, we have seen the S&P 500 fall about 7 percent and the Nasdaq fall nearly 10 percent. The VIX (the most important measure of volatility on Wall Street) shot up an astounding 22 percent on Wednesday. So many of the ominous signs for the markets that I wrote about on Tuesday are now even worse. If a handful of Ebola cases in the United States can cause this much panic in the financial world, what would a full-blown pandemic look like?
Of course Ebola is not the only reason why stocks are declining. Just look at what is happening over in Europe. The European Stoxx 600 index is already down a whopping 11.4 percent from the high that it hit just 18 days ago. That is officially considered to be “correction” territory.
And Greece experienced a full-blown stock market collapse on Wednesday…
As if the world didn’t have enough to be worried about (ISIS, Ebola, slowing China, Ukraine, slowing Germany, Fed tightening, etc.) now look what’s back: Greece. And in a big way.
The stock market is down over 9% on Wednesday, which is about as big as crashes come.
And the banks are getting absolutely smashed.
In general, markets tend to fall faster than they rise.
When there is a sudden downturn, the price action can be violent. And just like we saw back in 2008, financial stocks are leading the way. Just check out what happened to some of the biggest banks in America before the final bell sounded…
Volume leader Bank of America, down 5%, Citigroup, off 5.5%, and JP Morgan, down 4.6%, were particularly hard hit.
And thanks to Ebola fears, airline stocks plummeted as well…
Airline stocks were roiled by the prospects of curtailed travel due to the spreading Ebola virus. United Continental fell 4% and American Airlines was off 4.3%. Among tech stocks, Intel lost 3.3%. Apple fell 1.7% and Microsoft slipped 2.3%.
An increasing number of voices are concerned that we could be on the verge of a repeat of what happened back in 2008.
For example, Professor Steve Keen, the head of Economics, History & Politics at Kingston University in London, wrote the following in a piece for CNN entitled “Brace yourself for another financial crash“…
My acceleration indicator has been flagging that the stock market was due for a fall since mid-2013.
It’s a tribute to the power of the Fed’s Quantitative Easing that the market continued to defy the gravity of decelerating debt for so long. QE was really a program to inflate asset prices since, as my colleague Michael Hudson puts it, “the Fed’s helicopter money fell on Wall Street, not Main Street”.
But with QE being unwound, the stock market is now back under the control of the not so tender mercies of excessive private debt.
So welcome to the New Crisis — same as the Old Crisis. The roller coaster ride is likely to continue.
Others are even more pessimistic. For example, just check out what Daniel Ameduri of Future Money Trends recently told his readers…
“If it drops below 15,000 points I would suggest people start buying food and ammo, because this depression is about to turn nasty.”
However, keep in mind that not that much has really changed from a month or two ago.
Yes, we now have had three confirmed cases of Ebola in the United States, but this could be just the beginning.
At first, the fear of Ebola will be worse than the disease.
But if a worst-case scenario does develop in the United States where hundreds of thousands of people are getting the virus, the fear such a pandemic will create will be off the charts.
In the midst of a full-blown Ebola pandemic, we wouldn’t just be talking about a 10 percent, 20 percent or 30 percent stock market decline.
Rather, we would be talking about the greatest stock market collapse in the history of stock market collapses. In essence, there would not be much of a market at all at that point.
And if Ebola does start spreading wildly in this country, we would have a credit crunch that would make 2008 look like a Sunday picnic.
During times of extraordinary fear, financial institutions do not want to lend money to each other or to consumers. But our economy is entirely based on debt. If credit were to stop flowing, we would essentially not have an economy.
That is why we need to pray that this Ebola crisis stops here. But thanks to the incompetence of Barack Obama and the CDC, there has been a series of very grave errors in trying to contain this disease. This display of incompetence would be absolutely hilarious if we weren’t talking about a disease that could potentially kill millions of us.
Let us hope for the best, but let us also prepare for the worst. That means stocking up on the food and supplies that you will need to stay isolated for an extended period of time. As we have seen so many times in the past, basic essentials fly off of store shelves during any type of an emergency. During an extended Ebola pandemic, those essentials would be in very short supply and prices on the basics would absolutely skyrocket. Those that have taken the time to get prepared now will be way ahead of the game.
And if there were dozens or hundreds of people in your community that were contagious, you would definitely not want to go to a grocery store or anywhere else where large numbers of people circulate.
The key during any major pandemic is to keep yourself and your family isolated from the virus. This is basic common sense, but it is something that Barack Obama does not seem to understand. As I write this, he still has not done anything to restrict air travel between the United States and West Africa. Hopefully this very foolish decision will not result in scores of dead Americans.
Is the stock market about to crash? Hopefully not, and there definitely have been quite a few “false alarms” over the past few years. But without a doubt we have been living through one of the greatest financial bubbles in U.S. history, and the markets are absolutely primed for a full-blown crash. That doesn’t mean that one will happen now, but we are starting to see some ominous things happen in the financial world that we have not seen happen in a very long time. So many of the same patterns that we witnessed just prior to the bursting of the dotcom bubble and just prior to the 2008 financial crisis are repeating themselves again. Hopefully we still have at least a little bit more time before stocks completely crash, because when this market does implode it is going to be a doozy.
The following are 9 ominous signals coming from the financial markets that we have not seen in years…
#1 By the time the markets closed on Monday, we had witnessed the biggest three day decline for U.S. stocks since 2011.
#2 On Monday, the S&P 500 moved below its 200 day moving average for the first time in about two years. The last time this happened after such an extended streak of success, the S&P 500 ended up declining by a total of 22 percent.
#3 This week the put-call ratio actually moved higher than it was at any point during the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008. This is an indication that there is a tremendous amount of fear on Wall Street right now.
#4 Everybody is watching the VIX at the moment. According to the Economic Policy Journal, the VIX has now risen to the highest level that it has been since the heart of the European debt crisis. This is another indicator that there is extraordinary fear on Wall Street…
US stock market volatility has jumped to the highest since the eurozone debt crisis, according to a closely watched index, the the CBOE Vix index of implied US share price volatility.
It jumped to 24.6 late on Monday and is up again this morning. On Thursday, it was as low as 15.
That’s a very strong move, but things have been much worse. At height of the recent financial crisis – the Vix index peaked at 80.1 in November 2008.
Could we get there again? Yeah.
#5 The price of oil is crashing. This also happened in 2008 just before the financial crisis erupted. At this point, the price of oil is now the lowest that it has been in more than two years.
#6 As Chris Kimble has pointed out, the chart for the Dow has formed a “Doji Star topping pattern”. We also saw this happen in 2007. Could this be an indication that we are on the verge of another stock market crash similar to what happened in 2008?
#7 Canadian stocks are actually doing even worse than U.S. stocks. At this point, Canadian stocks have already dropped more than 10 percent from the peak of the market.
#8 European stocks have also had a very rough month. For example, German stocks have already dropped about 10 percent since July, and there are growing concerns about the overall health of the German economy.
#9 The wealthy are hoarding cash and precious metals right now. In fact, one British news report stated that sales of gold bars to wealthy customers are up 243 percent so far this year.
So what comes next?
Some experts are saying that this is the perfect time to buy stocks at value prices. For example, USA Today published a story with the following headline on Tuesday: “Time to ‘buy’ the fear? One Wall Street pro says yes“.
Other experts, however, believe that this could represent a major turning point for the financial markets.
Just consider what Abigail Doolittle recently told CNBC…
Technical strategist Abigail Doolittle is holding tight to her prediction of market doom ahead, asserting that a recent move in Wall Street’s fear gauge is signaling the way.
Doolittle, founder of Peak Theories Research, has made headlines lately suggesting a market correction worse than anyone thinks is ahead. The long-term possibility, she has said, is a 60 percent collapse for the S&P 500.
In early August, Doolittle was warning both of a looming “super spike” in the CBOE Volatility Index as well as a “death cross” in the 10-year Treasury note. The former referenced a sharp move higher in the “VIX,” while the latter used Wall Street lingo for an event that already occurred in which the fixed income benchmark saw its 50-day moving average cross below its 200-day trend line.
Both, she said, served as indicators for trouble ahead.
So what do you think?
Are we about to witness a stock market crash and another major financial crisis?
Or is this just another “false alarm” that will soon fade?
Please feel free to share what you think by posting a comment below…
Wall Street banks are getting hit by cyber attacks every single minute of every single day. It is a massive onslaught that is not highly publicized because the bankers do not want to alarm the public. But as you will see below, one big Wall Street bank is spending 250 million dollars a year just by themselves to combat this growing problem. The truth is that our financial system is not nearly as stable as most Americans think that it is. We have become more dependent on technology than ever before, and that comes with a potentially huge downside. An electromagnetic pulse weapon or an incredibly massive cyberattack could conceivably take down part or all of our banking system at any time.
This week, the mainstream news is reporting on an attack on our major banks that was so massive that the FBI and the Secret Service have decided to get involved. The following is how Forbes described what is going on…
The FBI and the Secret Service are investigating a huge wave of cyber attacks on Wall Street banks, reportedly including JP Morgan Chase, that took place in recent weeks.
The attacks may have involved the theft of multiple gigabytes of sensitive data, according to reports. Joshua Campbell, supervisory special agent at the FBI, tells Forbes: “We are working with the United States Secret Service to determine the scope of recently reported cyber attacks against several American financial institutions.”
When most people think of “cyber attacks”, they think of a handful of hackers working out of lonely apartments or the basements of their parents. But that is not primarily what we are dealing with anymore. Today, big banks are dealing with cyberattackers that are extremely organized and that are incredibly sophisticated.
The threat grows with each passing day, and that is why JPMorgan Chase says that “not every battle will be won” even though it is spending 250 million dollars a year in a relentless fight against cyberattacks…
JPMorgan Chase this year will spend $250 million and dedicate 1,000 people to protecting itself from cybercrime — and it still might not be completely successful, CEO Jamie Dimon warned in April.
“Cyberattacks are growing every day in strength and velocity across the globe. It is going to be continual and likely never-ending battle to stay ahead of it — and, unfortunately, not every battle will be won,” Dimon said in his annual letter to shareholders.
Other big Wall Street banks have a similar perspective. Just consider the following two quotes from a recent USA Today article…
Bank of America: “Although to date we have not experienced any material losses relating to cyber attacks or other information security breaches, there can be no assurance that we will not suffer such losses in the future.”
Citigroup: “Citi has been subject to intentional cyber incidents from external sources, including (i) denial of service attacks, which attempted to interrupt service to clients and customers; (ii) data breaches, which aimed to obtain unauthorized access to customer account data; and (iii) malicious software attacks on client systems, which attempted to allow unauthorized entrance to Citi’s systems under the guise of a client and the extraction of client data. For example, in 2013 Citi and other U.S. financial institutions experienced distributed denial of service attacks which were intended to disrupt consumer online banking services. …
“… because the methods used to cause cyber attacks change frequently or, in some cases, are not recognized until launched, Citi may be unable to implement effective preventive measures or proactively address these methods.”
I don’t know about you, but those quotes do not exactly fill me with confidence.
Another potential threat that banking executives lose sleep over is the threat of electromagnetic pulse weapons. The technology of these weapons has advanced so much that they can fit inside a briefcase now. Just consider the following excerpt from an article that was posted on an engineering website entitled “Electromagnetic Warfare Is Here“…
The problem is growing because the technology available to attackers has improved even as the technology being attacked has become more vulnerable. Our infrastructure increasingly depends on closely integrated, high-speed electronic systems operating at low internal voltages. That means they can be laid low by short, sharp pulses high in voltage but low in energy—output that can now be generated by a machine the size of a suitcase, batteries included.
Electromagnetic (EM) attacks are not only possible—they are happening. One may be under way as you read this. Even so, you would probably never hear of it: These stories are typically hushed up, for the sake of security or the victims’ reputation.
That same article described how an attack might possibly happen…
An attack might be staged as follows. A larger electromagnetic weapon could be hidden in a small van with side panels made of fiberglass, which is transparent to EM radiation. If the van is parked about 5 to 10 meters away from the target, the EM fields propagating to the wall of the building can be very high. If, as is usually the case, the walls are mere masonry, without metal shielding, the fields will attenuate only slightly. You can tell just how well shielded a building is by a simple test: If your cellphone works well when you’re inside, then you are probably wide open to attack.
And with electromagnetic pulse weapons, terrorists or cyberattackers can try again and again until they finally get it right…
And, unlike other means of attack, EM weapons can be used without much risk. A terrorist gang can be caught at the gates, and a hacker may raise alarms while attempting to slip through the firewalls, but an EM attacker can try and try again, and no one will notice until computer systems begin to fail (and even then the victims may still not know why).
Never before have our financial institutions faced potential threats on this scale.
According to the Telegraph, our banks are under assault from cyberattacks “every minute of every day”, and these attacks are continually growing in size and scope…
Every minute, of every hour, of every day, a major financial institution is under attack.
Threats range from teenagers in their bedrooms engaging in adolescent “hacktivism”, to sophisticated criminal gangs and state-sponsored terrorists attempting everything from extortion to industrial espionage. Though the details of these crimes remain scant, cyber security experts are clear that behind-the-scenes online attacks have already had far reaching consequences for banks and the financial markets.
In the end, it is probably only a matter of time until we experience a technological 9/11.
When that day arrives, will your money be safe?
How would you feel if you went to the store to buy something, and someone rushed ahead of you and purchased it first and then sold it to you at a higher price? Well, in the financial world this happens millions upon millions of times. In fact, this practice has become so popular that it has spawned an entire industry known as “high frequency trading”. At this point, high frequency trading makes up about half of all trading volume on Wall Street, and it is costing the rest of us billions of dollars a year. And the funny thing is that this is all perfectly legal. High frequency trading firms are exploiting a glitch in the system, and by allowing this to go on, the authorities have essentially given them a license to steal from the rest of us. Sadly, this is just another example that shows that the odds are never in our favor. The “little guy” never seems to be able to win, and those at the top of the food chain like it that way.
Making money in the stock market is supposed to be about making wise investment decisions. It isn’t supposed to be about finding a glitch in a video game and exploiting it. But that is essentially what these high frequency traders have done. They have spent an extraordinary amount of time and energy figuring out ways to make pennies (or sometimes just fractions of a penny) on the trades that the rest of us make.
Fortunately, this practice was exposed in front of the entire world by 60 Minutes the other night. Steve Kroft interviewed a former trader named Michael Lewis that just released a new book entitled “Flash Boys” that is all about the evils of high frequency trading. The following is an excerpt from that interview…
Steve Kroft: And this is all being done by computers?
Michael Lewis: All being done by computers. It’s too fast to be done by humans. Humans have been completely removed from the marketplace.
“Fast” is the operative word. Machines with secret programs are now trading stocks in tiny fractions of a second, way too fast to be seen or recorded on a stock ticker or computer screen. Faster than the market itself. High-frequency traders, big Wall Street firms and stock exchanges have spent billions to gain an advantage of a millisecond for themselves and their customers, just to get a peek at stock market prices and orders a flash before everyone else, along with the opportunity to act on it.
Michael Lewis: The insiders are able to move faster than you. They’re able to see your order and play it against other orders in ways that you don’t understand. They’re able to front run your order.
Steve Kroft: What do you mean front run?
Michael Lewis: Means they’re able to identify your desire to, to buy shares in Microsoft and buy ‘em in front of you and sell ‘em back to you at a higher price. It all happens in infinitesimally small periods of time. There’s speed advantage that the faster traders have is milliseconds, some of it is fractions of milliseconds. But it”s enough for them to identify what you’re gonna do and do it before you do it at your expense.
Steve Kroft: So it drives the price up.
Michael Lewis: So it drives the price up, and in turn you pay a higher price.
You can watch the entire interview right here. Unlike most mainstream media news reports, this one is actually worth your time. I have watched the entire thing, and I highly recommend it.
Of course there have been many that have been screaming about high frequency trading for many years. Zero Hedge is just one example. This practice has gone on year after year and the federal government has looked the other way.
These high frequency trading firms do not add anything to society. As Barry Ritholtz noted recently, one of these firms has an average holding period for stocks of just 11 seconds, and at one point it stated that it had “not had a losing day of trading in four years“…
The only surprising thing about Lewis’s assertion was that anyone could be even remotely surprised by it.
The math on trading is simple: It is a zero-sum game. One trader’s gain is another trader’s loss. Only in the case of HFT, the losers are the investors — by way of their pension funds, retirement accounts and institutional funds. The HFT’s take — the “skim” — comes out of these large institution’s trade executions.
The technology behind HFT may be complex, but the math is that simple. Once the Securities and Exchange Commission allowed stock exchanges to share with traders all of the unexecuted incoming orders, it was hard not to make money by skimming a few cents or fractions of a cent from each trade. Several years ago, the founder of Tradebot, one of the biggest high-frequency firms, had said that the firm had “not had a losing day of trading in four years.” The firm’s average holding period for stocks is 11 seconds.
How in the world does that kind of behavior add any value to society?
They are just skimming money that should be going to others. Billions of dollars is essentially being stolen from pension funds and retirement accounts, and it is time that people started getting outraged about this.
Unfortunately, even if this practice is outlawed, the truth is that the odds will still never be in our favor.
There are millions of Americans that dream of getting ahead, but they never seem to be able to get there. They work incredibly hard, but the more they earn, the more the government taxes them. If somehow you do manage to scrape together a little bit of money to invest in the financial markets, any profits that you make will be endlessly eroded by fees, commissions and even more taxes.
And it is important to remember that in the financial world, the “little guy” is regarded as easy prey by the hungry wolves that are all too eager to find a way to transfer your money into their own pockets. If you don’t know what you are doing, it is all too easy to get absolutely slaughtered.
On Wall Street, there are winners and there are losers.
Most of the time, “the little guys” end up losing.
But at least they could try to have a system that at least has the appearance of fairness. As long as high frequency trading exists, that will never be the case.
Why has Goldman Sachs chosen this moment to publicly declare that stocks are overpriced? Why has Goldman Sachs suddenly decided to warn all of us that the stock market could decline by 10 percent or more in the coming months? Goldman Sachs has to know that when they release a report like this that it will move the market. And that is precisely what happened on Monday. U.S. stocks dropped precipitously. So is Goldman Sachs just honestly trying to warn their clients that stocks may have become overvalued at this point, or is another agenda at work here? To be fair, the truth is that all of the big banks should be warning their clients about the stock market bubble. Personally, I have stated that the stock market has officially entered “crazytown territory“. So it would be hard to blame Goldman Sachs for trying to tell the truth. But Goldman Sachs also had to know that a warning that the stock market could potentially fall by more than 10 percent would rattle nerves on Wall Street.
This report that has just been released by Goldman Sachs has gotten a lot of attention. In fact, an article about this report was featured at the top of the CNBC website for quite a while on Monday. Needless to say, news of this report spread on Wall Street like wildfire. The following is a short excerpt from the CNBC article…
A stock market correction is approaching the level of near certainty as Wall Street faces a major paradigm shift in how to achieve price gains, according to a Goldman Sachs analysis.
In a market outlook that garnered significant attention from traders Monday, the firm’s strategists called the S&P 500 valuation “lofty by almost any measure” and attached a 67 percent probability to the chance that the market would fall by 10 percent or more, which is the technical yardstick for a correction.
Of course Goldman Sachs is quite correct to be warning about an imminent stock market correction. Right now stocks are overvalued according to just about any measure that you could imagine…
The current valuation of the S&P 500 is lofty by almost any measure, both for the aggregate market as well as the median stock: (1) The P/E ratio; (2) the current P/E expansion cycle; (3) EV/Sales; (4) EV/EBITDA; (5) Free Cash Flow yield; (6) Price/Book as well as the ROE and P/B relationship; and compared with the levels of (6) inflation; (7) nominal 10-year Treasury yields; and (8) real interest rates. Furthermore, the cyclically-adjusted P/E ratio suggests the S&P 500 is currently 30% overvalued in terms of (9) Operating EPS and (10) about 45% overvalued using As Reported earnings.
There is a lot of technical jargon in the paragraph above, but essentially what it is saying is that stock prices are unusually high right now according to a whole host of key indicators.
And in case you were wondering, stocks did fall dramatically on Monday. The Dow fell by 179 points, which was the biggest decline of the year by far.
So is Goldman Sachs correct about what could be coming?
Well, the truth is that there are many other analysts that are far more pessimistic than Goldman Sachs is. For example, David Stockman, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Reagan, believes that the U.S. stock market is heading for “a pretty rude day of awakening”…
“This (2014) is the year of the end game. The party is over. We are now just at the point where they are rounding up the Wall Street drunks who are swilling on the fifth consecutive seasonally maladjusted phony recovery. That will become evident in the weeks and months ahead. Then I think the markets are going to have a pretty rude day of awakening.”
For many more forecasts that are similar to this, please see my previous article entitled “Dent, Faber, Celente, Maloney, Rogers – What Do They Say Is Coming In 2014?”
There are also some other signs that we are rapidly heading toward a major “turning point” in the financial world in 2014. One of those signs is the continual decline of Comex gold inventories. Someone out there (China?) is voraciously gobbling up physical gold. The following is a short excerpt from a recent article by Steve St. Angelo…
After a brief pause in the decline of Comex Gold inventories, it looks like it has continued once again as there were several big withdrawals over the past few days. Not only was there a large removal of gold from the Comex today, the Registered (Dealer) inventories are now at a new record low.
And of course the overall economy continues to get even weaker. The Baltic Dry Index (a very important indicator of global economic activity) has fallen by more than 40 percent over the past couple of weeks…
We noted Friday that the much-heralded Baltic Dry Index has seen the worst start to the year in over 30 years. Today it got worse. At 1,395, the the Baltic Dry index, which reflects the daily charter rate for vessels carrying cargoes such as iron ore, coal and grain, is now down 18% in the last 2 days alone (biggest drop in 6 years), back at 4-month lows. The shipping index has utterly collapsed over 40% in the last 2 weeks.
So does this mean that tough times are just around the corner?
Or perhaps things will stabilize again and this little bubble of false prosperity that we have been enjoying will be extended for a little while longer.
The important thing is to not get too caught up in the short-term numbers.
If you look at our long-term national “balance sheet numbers” and the long-term trends that are systematically destroying our economy, it becomes abundantly clear that a massive economic collapse is on the way. Our national debt is on pace to more than double during the Obama years, our “too big to fail” banks are now much bigger and much more reckless than they were before the financial crash of 2008, and the middle class in America is steadily shrinking. In other words, our long-term national “balance sheet numbers” are worse than ever.
We consume far more wealth than we produce, and our entire nation is drowning in a massive ocean of red ink that stretches from sea to shining sea.
This is not sustainable, and it is inevitable that the stock market will catch up with economic reality at some point.
It is just a matter of time.