The Stock Market

     

 

 

A Shift in Expectations

When discussing the outlook for so-called “risk assets”, i.e., mainly stocks and corporate bonds (particularly low-grade bonds) and their counterparts on the “safe haven” end of the spectrum (such as gold and government bonds with strong ratings), one has to consider different time frames and the indicators applicable to these time frames. Since Donald Trump’s election victory, there have been sizable moves in stocks, gold and treasury bonds, as the election result has strongly boosted certain market expectations.

 

 

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A Soaring Market

On January 20 2017 Donald Trump will be sworn in as the new president of the United States. On the stock market his victory has triggered a lot of advance cheer already: the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose by a sizable 7.80 percent between the election and the turn of the year.

 

Two big winners: the DJIA and Donald Trump – click to enlarge.

 

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Bad Monday

Some Monday mornings are better than others.  Others are worse than some.  For one Amazon employee, this past Monday morning was particularly bad.

No doubt, the poor fellow would have been better off he’d called in sick to work.  Such a simple decision would have saved him from extreme agony.  But, unfortunately, he showed up at Amazon’s Seattle headquarters and put on a public and painful display of madness.

 

jumpGood-bye cruel world! On this our planet, ignoring air friction, wind and other buoyancy-enhancing obstacles for the sake of this example, someone jumping off a building that is high enough will eventually attain a terminal velocity of 122 miles per hour. The acceleration is 32.2 feet per second², which is why one has to start from an appropriate height (a skydiver in a spread-eagle position will typically reach terminal velocity after about 12 seconds, traversing a distance of 1,483 feet). Jumping without a parachute may provide an especially pronounced adrenaline high, but is generally not advisable; more often than not it will be a one-off experience.

 

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Pre-Election Market Movers – Mr. Comey and the Trio Infernal

Before this Monday, the S&P 500 Index went down nine days in a row. While this was almost unprecedented (or in any case, a very rare event) the decline was quite small overall. The timing of the pullback and the subsequent strong rebound on Monday suggests that Mr. Comey’s letters to Congress regarding the FBI investigation into official emails by Hillary Clinton – which have found their way unto a computer owned by Anthony Weiner (the former husband of Clinton’s right-hand woman Huma Abedin) –  were the “trigger” for these moves.

 

comey-and-the-trio-infernalFBI chief Comey and the Trio Infernal: Huma Abedin, Anthony Weiner and Hillary Clinton. Weiner is embroiled in a rather unsavory scandal – allegedly he has inter alia mailed pictures of his unclothed reproductive organs to a minor. The FBI has detected some 650,000 emails on his computer that seem to have come from Ms. Clinton’s private email server, which she in turn used in her official capacity as Secretary of State (her use of this device violated regulations and testified to her lack of sound judgment).

Image credit: Robyn Beck, Don Emmert / AFP / Getty Images

 

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Is Stagflation a Potential Threat?

The Incrementum Fund held its quarterly advisory board meeting on October 3 (the transcript can be downloaded below). Our regular participants – the two fund managers Ronald Stoeferle and Mark Valek, advisory board members Jim Rickards, Frank Shostak and yours truly –  were joined by special guest Grant Williams this time. Many of our readers probably know Grant; he is the author of the bi-monthly newsletter “Things That Make You Go Hmmm…”, as well as one of the founders of Real Vision TV.

 

1-stagflationCharacteristics of stagflation: economic growth goes into reverse, but price inflation rises  anyway. This scenario was completely unexpected by the Keynesian consensus when it hit the economy in the 1970s. Keynesian theory ended up discredited for a while as a result. Not surprisingly though, as a theory that provides a “scientific” fig leaf for statism and interventionism, it has been resurrected since then. Today it once again is an important part of mainstream economic orthodoxy; the monetarist school has retained a certain degree of influence as well, but its policy prescriptions are just as misguided in our opinion.

 

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Only Sell Stocks in Recessions?

We were recently made aware of an interview at Bloomberg, in which Tony Dwyer of Cannacord and Brian Wieser of Pivotal Research were quizzed on the recently announced utterly bizarre AT&T – Time Warner merger. We were actually quite surprised that AT&T wanted to buy the giant media turkey. Prior to the offer, TWX still traded 50% below the high it had reached 17 years ago.

 

1-twx-tThe merger of AT&T and TWX simply doesn’t appear to make much sense. It certainly is a symptom of loose monetary policy though – click to enlarge.

 

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So Far a Normal Correction

In last week’s update on the gold sector, we mentioned that there was a lot of negative sentiment detectable on an anecdotal basis. From a positioning perspective only the commitments of traders still appeared a bit stretched though, while from a technical perspective we felt that a pullback to the 200-day moving average in both gold and gold stocks shouldn’t be regarded as anything but a normal – and in this case actually long overdue – event.

 

1-goldGold has pulled back to its now rising 200 dma (the fact that it is rising differentiates this pullback from declines during the pre-2016 bear market period) – click to enlarge.

 

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Iffy Looking Charts

The stock market has held up quite well this year in the face of numerous developments that are usually regarded as negative (from declining earnings, to the Brexit, to a US presidential election that leaves a lot to be desired, to put it mildly). Of course, the market is never driven by the news – it is exactly the other way around. It is the market that actually writes the news. It may finally be time for a spanking though.

 

spankinggoodtimeTime for some old-fashioned disciplining… (a. D. 1891)

Photo credit: Littleton View Co.

 

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Sentiment and Positioning

When we last discussed the gold sector correction (which had only just begun at the time), we mentioned we would update sentiment and positioning data on occasion. For a while, not much changed in these indicators, but as one would expect, last week’s sharp sell-off did in fact move the needle a bit.

 

gold_bullionGold – just as nice to look at as it always is, but slightly cheaper since last week.

Photo via The Times Of India

 

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Flash-Crashed

Earlier this morning the British Pound suddenly found itself on the receiving end of a 6% flash crash during Asian trading hours. Some of the losses have been recouped since then, but that will be of little consolation to anyone who may have been long the GBP overnight.

 

london_ww2Oops.

Photo credit: Time & Life Pictures / Getty Images

 

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The Long Term Outlook for the Asset Bubble

Due to strong internals, John Hussman has given the stock market rally since the February low the benefit of the doubt for a while. Lately he has returned to issuing warnings about the market’s potential to deliver a big negative surprise once it runs out of greater fools. In his weekly market missive published on Monday (entitled “Sizing Up the Bubble” – we highly recommend reading it), he presents inter alia the following eye-popping chart:

 

1-wmc161003cThe median price-sales ratio of S&P 500 component stocks – click to enlarge.

 

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John Hussman on Recent Developments

We always look forward to John Hussman’s weekly missive on the markets. Some people say that he is a “permabear”, but we don’t think that is a fair characterization. He is rightly wary of the stock market’s historically extremely high valuation and the loose monetary policy driving the surge in asset prices.

 

1-spx-vs-nyse-ad-lineThe S&P 500 Index and the NYSE advance-decline line. Most market internals weakened steadily until early February 2016, but strengthened noticeably thereafter. The a/d line is just one of many examples. A major reason for this was that market participants reassessed the likely future path of the Fed’s monetary policy – click to enlarge.

 

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