The Stock Market

     

 

 

Past the Point of No Return

Adventures in depravity are nearly always confronted with the unpleasant reality that stopping the degeneracy is much more difficult than starting it.  This realization, and the unsettling feeling that comes with it, usually surfaces just after passing the point of no return.  That’s when the cucumber has pickled over and the prospect of turning back is no longer an option.

 

Depravity and bedlam through the ages. The blue barge of perdition in the lower middle ferries the depraved and degenerate to their final destination, a small slice of which can be glimpsed above… [PT]

 

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Anecdotal Flags are Waved

 

“If a shoeshine boy can predict where this market is going to go, then it’s no place for a man with a lot of money to lose.”

– Joseph Kennedy

 

It is actually a true story as far as we know – Joseph Kennedy, by all accounts an extremely shrewd businessman and investor (despite the fact that he had graduated in economics*), really did get his shoes shined on Wall Street one fine morning, and the shoe-shine boy, one Pat Bologna, asked him if he wanted a few stock tips. Kennedy was amused and intrigued and encouraged him to go ahead. Bologna wrote a few ticker symbols on a piece of paper, and when Kennedy later that day compared the list to the ticker tape, he realized that all the stocks on Bologna’s list had made strong gains. This happened a few months before the crash of 1929.

 

Joseph Kennedy in 1914, at age 25 – at the time reportedly “the youngest ever bank president in the US”

Photo credit: John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston.

 

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Introductory Remarks by PT

Below we present a recent article by the Mole discussing a number of technical statistics on the behavior of AAPL over time. Since the company has the largest market cap in the US stock market (~ USD 850 billion – a valuation that exceeds that of entire industries), it is the biggest component of capitalization-weighted big cap indexes and the ETFs based on them. It is also a component of the price-weighted DJIA. It is fair to say that the performance of AAPL is not unimportant for the broad market.

 

AAPL, weekly over the past 5 years. The stock has recently hit new highs. In a way this is  quite funny, as it happens just as the company enters maturity; its revenue and earnings growth rates are fated to enter a long term phase of decline from here on out no matter what – this is a mathematical certainty. Many of the darlings of the late 1990s tech bubble eventually faced a similar problem (in early 2000 we patiently explained to a fellow investor why Cisco could not possibly maintain an annual revenue growth rate of 50% for another decade, or even for another few years). This is beside the fact that the company hasn’t introduced any particularly successful innovative products since the iPhone, which remains its biggest revenue generator by far (the times when new generations of the iPhone offered genuine advances in terms of design and technological capability are but a distant memory as well; these days updated versions at best tend to offer a handful of tweaks). We don’t want to detract from the company’s undeniable entrepreneurial success and well-deserved reputation for quality, reliability and cool design. We merely question its current stock market valuation and the sense of timing of those buying the stock here and now. Admittedly, given the market’s effortless climb up the rungs of the greater fools ladder hitherto, recent buyers may well make a profit. We only know that someone will eventually end up holding the proverbial bag. A side note: the blue dotted lines on the chart serve to highlight a typical momentum divergence between RSI and price. The divergence is even more glaring on a daily chart. Sometimes  such divergences turn out not to mean anything, but more often than not they are a short term warning sign worth heeding – click to enlarge.

 

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Recurring Phenomena

Many market participants believe simple phenomena in the stock market are purely random events and cannot recur consistently. Indeed, there is probably no stock market “rule” that will remain valid forever.

However, there continue to be certain statistical phenomena in the stock market – even quite simple ones – that have shown a tendency to persist for very long time periods.

 

This chart illustrates a “rule that changed” – for eight decades (actually longer, but on this chart we can see the final eight decades during which the rule applied) the dividend yield on the S&P 500 Index would never fall much below 3%. Whenever that level was reached, everybody knew a correction or a bear market was imminent. This changed profoundly in the mid 1990s. The culprit: massive monetary inflation. [PT] – click to enlarge.

 

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Suspicion Asleep

You have probably noticed it already: stock market volatility has recently all but disappeared. This raises an important question for every investor: Has the market established a permanent plateau of low volatility, or is the current period of low volatility just the calm before the storm?

 

All quiet on the VIX front… what can possibly happen? [PT] – click to enlarge.

 

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Better than Goldilocks”

“Markets make opinions,” goes the old Wall Street adage.  Indeed, this sounds like a nifty thing to say.  But what does it really mean?

 

The bears discover Mrs. Locks in their bed and it seems they are less than happy. [PT]

 

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Historians of the Future

Every investor makes trading decisions based on what happened in the past – there is no other way. What really interests us is the future though. After all, what happens in the future ultimately determines investment success.

 

When in doubt, you can always try to reach the pasture…  In Human Action, Ludwig von Mises described stock market speculators as akin to “historians of the future”. This is without a doubt the most trenchant definition of speculators anyone has ever come up with. What Mises wanted to convey is that the skills of speculators are of a thymological nature, i.e.,  similar to historians, they have to be aware of the data and have to be able to apply “understanding” in order to be successful in their task. The meaning of understanding in this context is probably best explained by an example: a historian may look at the historical data known about an important historical figure, such as e.g. Quintus Fabius Maximus Verrucosus,  best known by his nickname Cunctator (“the delayer” – this was originally meant to be an insult). One could simply list all the battles the Cunctator avoided, the guerrilla-type tactics he employed to harass Hannibal’s troops, the battles he decided to join, and so on. But a mere listing of these facts would do little to help us grasp his motives, his personality, the pressures he was subject to, his political goals, his influence on posterity, etc. This is where the historian’s real task begins. If he has the ability to impart a proper understanding of the man and his times, he has succeeded as a historian. The job of speculators is very similar: they have to know the data (which necessarily describe the past) and use understanding in order to so to speak paint an image of the market’s future history before their mind’s eye. And while this future-oriented faculty of understanding is a sine qua non for successful speculation (note that “speculation” actually encompasses all types of entrepreneurial activity, no negative connotation is implied by the term), it could not possibly be applied without knowledge of the data and patterns of the past. [PT]

 

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Old Truism

Readers are surely aware of the saying “sell in May and go away”. It is one of the best-known and oldest stock market truisms.

And the saying is justified. In my article “Sell in May and Go Away – in 9 out of 11 Countries it Makes Sense to Do So” in the May 01 2017 issue of Seasonal Insights I examined the so-called Halloween effect in great detail. The result: in just two out of eleven international stock markets does it make sense to invest during the summer months.

 

October meetings after you forgot to sell in May [PT]

 

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Some Things Actually Go Up Before and During the Fall…

In recent issues of Seasonal Insights I have discussed two asset classes that tend to suffer  performance problems in most years until the autumn, namely stocks and bitcoin.

I thought you might for a change want to hear of an asset that will be in a seasonal uptrend over coming months.

 

Many things, including bitcoin, stocks and leaves tend to fall in the aptly named fall… but some things actually start to fly…

 

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[Ed. note: we are republishing the original Frank Roellinger article on the Modified Ned Davis Method with an up-to-date performance chart]

Introduction and Disclaimer

An earlier version of this article was submitted to Seeking Alpha but was rejected because it contained no “in-depth, fundamental analysis”. A brief search of the SA website disclosed references to fundamentally based articles on the Acting Man website. So I sent Pater a note claiming knowledge of a fairly accurate, purely mechanical method to identify significant long-term turning points in the market. I offered to tell him a few days in advance the target point of the next signal. He graciously offered to publish my article here. If it can be arranged, I will post its buy and sell signals as they occur in the future. This information is for educational and entertainment purposes only, it will never be a recommendation to buy or sell anything. But I believe that it will prove interesting to consider and watch over time.

 

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Down the Rabbit Hole

“The hurrier I go, the behinder I get,” is oft attributed to the White Rabbit from Lewis Carroll’s, Alice in Wonderland.  Where this axiom appears within the text of the story is a mystery.  But we suspect the White Rabbit must utter it about the time Alice follows him down the rabbit hole.

 

Pick a rabbit to follow…

 

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Don’t Be Fooled by These Calm Markets

What is happening in the world of money? Well – the most striking thing is: nothing.

It doesn’t seem to matter what happens. Dysfunction in Washington. Meltdown of the techs. No matter how rough the seas get, the markets glide along… scarcely noticing the storm-tossed waves below.

 

Thankfully the world’s central planners are so well-versed in egging on the creation of an ever greater mountain of debt and seemingly limitless asset price inflation with their “scientific” monetary policy that a complete blow-up of the the financial system only threatens now and then… most of the time we are in “moderation” mode. Nowadays we are in something that feels like a Valium-induced waking dream. It couldn’t be better… volatility has just served up its greatest disappearance act since the end of the last “moderation”.  What could possibly go wrong? – click to enlarge.

 

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