INVESTOR’S first read.com – Daily edge before the open
S&P 500: 2,797
Friday, Apri1 24, 2020 8:58 a.m.
November 15, 2019 (DJIA – 28,004) My blog headline: “Bear Market…Why?” Here I Called for a bear market to start in January, that the initial plunge would be 12%-18% – “straight down.” It started mid-February.
December 17 (DJIA: 28,235) I repeated that projection.
January 20, 2020 (DJIA:29,348) My blog, “INSANITY,” projected a bear market decline of 30% – 45%. We are already down 30%.
On March 10, 2009 (DJIA: 6,800) I issued a SPECIAL BULLETIN “BUY” a day after the Great Bear Market (2007-2009) ended.
Currently, I see an attempt to base out until May then another slide into October with a total bear market decline of 45% to 55%.
A game changer would be a sharp reversal in the growth of COVID cases and the lifting of measures designed to counter it. Additionally, the ability of people and businesses to adapt and innovate.
Brief bio: In investment business 57 years, writing about stock market for 52 years, including investment publishers, brokers, research firms, investment bankers, plus my own investment advisories, mostly as independent contractor to maintain independence of analysis. “In the trenches” for every bear/bull market since 1962. Started before quote machines as a tape reader/trader, posting charts by hand. Primarily a technical analyst, but research includes fundamental, monetary, economic, psychological factors. Research recommendations/profiles of hundreds small companies.
Love rough and tumble… telling the story. CNBC-TV, Been writing investors first read.com daily before the open for 11 years. ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..
Coronavirus pricked a very inflated, Fed-enabled bull market bubble in February, but the market was absurdly overvalued and both the economy and stock market in their 11th year were ready for a major correction.
For this to happen institutions must stop or seriously reduce buying. That would enable the stock market to plunge again to the March 23 lows.
While out of character, institutional money managers would then begin to sell in size, triggering new lows and a precipitous plunge below DJIA 10,000, the S&P 500 below 11,500 and Nasdaq below 3,400.
Money managers are human. Not only can they be driven by fear of a cascading economy, but they have a fiduciary responsibility to their clients to preserve capital. It would be a stampede by many to exit a small door.
The Fed can do little more, the U.S. government is dysfunctional and the Street’s exchange circuit breakers unable to stop the crunch.
Historically, bear markets end 3 to 6 months before recessions end. The problem here is this recession is just getting started and the numbers are horrifying.
If the February/March flash crash low on March 23 was the bear market bottom, that suggests an economic recovery starting this summer or fall.
Clearly we should get a bump in business when people emerge from their homes and businesses open. The press will feature feel good and overnight success stories, but the debt driven consumer binge will undergo a vast change as shoppers will be cutting back to basics, and the purchase of big-ticket items delayed.
Uncertainty and fear will prevail. News of a treatment and/or vaccine for COVID-19 will be encouraging, but so much damage has been done to CONFIDENCE.
WHAT IS HAPPENING IS HISTORIC IN THE UGLIEST SENSE,
EVERYTHING IS COMING APART AT ONCE, SOME OF IT A HANGOVER FROM THE 2007-2009 GREAT RECESSION WHERE WE LEARNED LITTLE. DOMINOS CAN TUMBLE ENDLESSLY.
The Street has been spoiled by 11 years of bull market and a far too accommodating Federal Reserve.
WHEN WILL THE NEXT LEG DOWN START ? At any time, but May is a good bet.
The following has been added for enlightenment for those in denial:
On April 22, re-nowned economist and publisher of INSIGHT, A. Gary Shilling, emailed readers with a warning ahead of next month’s issue, “It looks like the pattern of 1929 is holding.”
On the same day, Bloomberg columnist, Noah Smith headlined, How Bad Might It Get ? Think the Great Depression.”
On April 14, CNN Business analyst, Charles Riley headlines, “The world hasn’t seen a recession this bad since the 1930s. The recovery is far from certain.”
Yahoo’s Aarthi Swaminathan, reported St. Louis Federal Reserve’s Charles Gascon noted that 66 million U.S. jobs are at high risk (46% of working Americans). Macy’s is furloughing 125,000 employees.
St.Lous Fed President, James Bullard, told Bloomberg unemployment could reach 42%.
Senior economist and policy director for the Economic Policy Institute, Heidi Shierholz, told Yahoo she has never seen graphs like this that this is absolutely unprecedented.
Yesterday the Labor Department reported filings for unemployment benefits on April 18 hit 4.4 million which combined with the last five weeks equals 26.45 million, 2.6 times the unemployment rate in the Great Recession and far exceeding the 22.4 jobs added to payrolls since November 2009..
AXIOS Markets’ Dion Rabouin reports, “Coronavirus puts farmers in a “catastrophic situation,” explaining that American farms are the backbone of so many businesses with anticipated losses far exceeding the $2 trillion the industry will receive from the $2 trillion CARE Act.
This is just a sampling of what is happening, how many and for how long the dominos will tumble defies analysis.
Doom and gloom is crushing everyone and everything except the stock market, which is only down 17.6 % from its February bull market top. In terms of valuation now and projected valuation a year from now, the market is every bit as overvalued as in February. The hit to earnings will NOT be temporary as the Street claims. What gives ? A dramatic economic recovery ? Or the stock market ? Odds favor the latter, and it will get nasty. In the interim: One more move up can occur before a big slide. Resistance would then start at DJIA 24,617; S&P 500: 2,894; Nasdaq Comp.: 8,817.
Thursday April 23, 2020 (DJIA: 23,475) “CONFIDENCE Drives Bull Markets and Economic Expansions – It Has Been Shattered – an “L” – not a “V” Recovery
Why is the stock market only down 17.5% when the U.S. is in a recession that no one truthfully knows will end any time soon.
Is the Street betting a return to business as usual will accompany a lift on measures designed to flatten the C-curve ?
The bear market rally that started March 24 and recouped 50% of the flash crash loss was fueled by expectations that the Fed and US government will rescue the economy, as well as by institutional bargain hunters confident that the 21-day February/March bloodbath in the market offered a chance to offset portfolio losses, maybe make a buck or two going forward .
CONFIDENCE drives bull markets, CONFIDENCE drives economic expansions.
But confidence in both has been shattered and that will lead to an “L” recovery rather that the “V” recovery that have accompanied bear markets and recessions in the past.
Without question, we are in a global recession, but based on all I am reading from reliable sources, we are on the threshold of a depression.
So why is the S&P 500 only down 17.5% ?
It’s called a bear market rally based on hope the worst is behind us that an economic recovery awaits us this summer.
Granted, a return to work for some and fewer restrictions on people out in the public will trigger a spurt in optimism and some business data, but the damage wrought by COVID-19 on an 11-year old economic expansion and vastly overvalued bull market is irreparable.
The rally that started on March 23 that has logged in gains of 28% in the major market averages is not a new bull market but a rally in a bear market.
In my opinion, the stock market did not even discount the damage that has been done at the March 23 lows, that another leg down looms starting soon or sometime in May.
One more run is possible with some unexpected good news or just intensified (desperate) hype by the Fed, the Administration and Wall Street. That push would find major resistance at DJIA: 24,617, S&P 500: 2,894 and Nasdaq Comp.: 8,807.
Anyone who responded to my March 23 and 24 alert to an imminent bear market rally should consider taking profits. Anyone who wished they had a greater cash reserve when the market was hitting new lows can consider this rally as an opportunity to raise cash to the comfort level.
Wednesday April 22, 2020 (DJIA: 23,018) “Economic Recovery …an “L” not a “V”
Today will start out on the upside probably because Q1 earnings will hit full stride and the Street will hype good ones and spin bad ones as a temporary COVID-19 blip.
That’s what the Street does. It gains little from bear markets, since it loses clients and is forced to re-build books for a good chunk of the ensuing bull market.
Corporate buybacks have taken a hit which is a surprise since the name of the game seems to be buy low and sell high.
Then too, investment banking relationships must be retained and a research “sell” is at the bottom of all major firm’s “to-do” list.
Institutions own 80% of the S&P 500 ($18 trillion) and the Russell 3000 index ($22 trillion). Basically, they are buyers on balance, selling mostly in order to switch to another stock.
What would cause these behemoths to sell ? It would have to be the realization that what is happening now will negatively impact the economy for a year or two. What may accelerate their selling would be if other institutions suddenly begin to sell.
So far, it looks like the 35%+ Feb./Mar. drop in stocks was enabled by a deferral in purchase by institutions during this period with selling by other sources accounting for most of the damage.
Measures to flatten the COVID curve are showing signs of succeeding, but the economic impact is severe.
Washington keeps cranking out bailouts and assistance for individuals and businesses. While this will help, the key is, can it stop the dominos from tumbling ?
What I have been reading suggests a major-league recession or depression. There does not appear to be any way out of this – it is going to get uglier than the Great Recession/bear market of 2007-2009 because the recovery will be more like an “L” rather than a “V.”
Look for a big open with the DJIA up 700-900 points by noon. This is normal, but a 19% decline in the market averages to-date does not discount what lies ahead. Easy Does it.
Tuesday April 21, 2020 (DJIA: 23,650) “S&P 500 is 17% Off All-Time Highs That Does Not Nearly Discount What Lies Ahead”
Be fearful when others are greedy, and greedy when others are fearful”
– Warren Buffett.
This goes hand-in-hand with the old bromide– “Buy low and Sell high.”
The problem has always been pinpointing the low and the high.
In February we saw the “high” with all market averages hitting new highs and everyone, including some of the biggest analysts at the biggest firms on Wall Street ignoring the dire warnings of coronavirus and sticking to their buys.
There was absolutely no excuse for being bullish in early February prior to a 38.4% plunge in the DJIA, a 35.4% plunge in the S&P 500, and a 32.6% crunch in the Nasdaq Comp. The bull market was 11 years old and the S&P 500 more overvalued than at any time ever, excepting the dot-com bubble 1999-2000.
Obviously, the market averages were not high enough for most pros to be bearish.
After the 21-day flash crash, the market rebounded and the question now is, was that the “low.”
The DJIA and S&P 500 have recouped one-half of the February-March sell off, the Nasdaq Comp. two-thirds.
Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan are bullish.
But, I’m bearish. The same thing troubles me now that caused me to call for a bull market top in January – excess VALUATION.
If conventional, time-tested measures of value are important, the stock market is as overvalued now as it was in February. The Shiller price/earnings ratio for the S&P 500 was 31 times earnings in February, 86% above its mean and is 26.4 now, 58% above its mean.
But corporate earnings are tanking and no one in this environment knows how far and for how long that will last. All that is certain is that by that measure of value, the market is getting more and more overvalued.
So, let’s use another metric for value – Warren Buffet’s favorite, the ratio of the stock market capitalization (shares x price) to the U.S. GDP. It is tracking 138% now higher than the 133% when the dot-com/Internet bubble burst in 2000 which led to a 58% plunge in the S&P 500 and 78% plunge in the Nasdaq Comp.
Bottom Line: I concede the market can edge higher with news of people and businesses emerging from seclusion and the usual Fed, Administration and big-name Wall Street hype, but the damage done presently and into the future is immeasurable.
Why the rush ? Afraid of missing something ?
Granted, the economic news is horrendous, the problem is it will get worse.
This is a presidential election year and we will be lied to, manipulated, muscled and conned. If this was a post-election year, less would be done and the stock market would be off 50% by now
A 17% drop in the S&P 500 does not discount what is happening and its consequences. Dominos will tumble and tumble and tumble.
On March 23 the S&P 500 was down 35% from its all-time high on February 19. At that time, most investors were wishing they had sold and raised cash. This is an opportunity to do that.
Monday April 20, 2020 (DJIA: 24,242) “The “Greater” Recession 2020-2021 To Be Worse Than “Great Recession” 2007-2009: Technically, the DJIA and S&P 500 broke out on the upside Friday indicating the market can go higher this week. The Nasdaq Comp. is on a tear.
Futures point to a decline at the open. If buyers reverse that before 11 a.m. odds favor a rally.
Recent strength in stocks is due to bailout news, “Buys” by major Wall Street analysts, stock buybacks and bargain hunters/ short covering.
The Great Recession/bear market was ugly…BUT did not have the reach this one has. I believe this stock market strength is a bear market rally, and on track to suck investors back before another plunge, starting in May.
If conventional market valuations matter anymore, this market was ridiculously overvalued in February before the flash crash and is even more so now. Prices are going up, earnings are going down. The Street can conveniently ignore this unless 1) earnings don’t recover for years and bankruptcies across the board surge. 2) BIG money sees a disaster and sells with institutions following. With no buyers in sight and sellers scrambling to get out, it spells flash crash II.
Short selling has surged which has been bullish in the past. However, today’s market is dominated by institutions rather than the public investor so the shorts may be more sophisticated today. Also, this may be shorting against the box to protect positions.
According to Axios, both Congress and the Federal Reserve have committed more than $6 trillion to counter the devastating impact of measures needed to prevent widespread infection of COVID-19. More aid on the way.
InvesTech Research estimates the U.S. Federal Budget Deficit as a percent of GDP will soar to 18.7% up from 10% in 2009’s Great Recession.
Prior to COVID-19, The U.S. budget deficit has ballooned to $1 trillion and is on track to pass $4 trillion as great relative to the economy as during World War II.
Axios also reports Goldman Sachs is forecasting unemployment will reach 15% this summer, even 30% according to researchers at Columbia University as a worst case.
Bloomberg estimates more that $5 trillion of growth has been wiped out over the next two years.
All this on top of elevated individual, corporate and governmental DEBT.
After 11 years of economic expansion and bull market no one wants the party to end. I don’t, but it is time to step back and take a hard “politically unbiased” look at what is going on.
It isn’t pretty. In fact its freaking UGLY.
Friday April 17, 2020 (23,537) “The Great Hustle….Lambs Being Lead to the Slaughter Market Manipulated – Strength An Opportunity to Raise Cash” I think the market has to go a lot lower in order to discount the known damage done to our economy, worse yet, what won’t be known for many months.
When does next leg down start ?
It will spike in response to the most dramatic news on re-starting the economy, but possibly on news of a medical treatment/vaccine. That can be any time, but generally May – July.
How low ? DJIA 14,250 (S&P 500: 1,575) Worst case ? DJIA: 12,850 (S&P 500: 1,495)
The Street is desperately trying to jack up prices after a flash crash of 35%+ in February/March.
WHY ? the November elections ?, corporate clients ? corporate stock buybacks ? naivete ?
Why should I go against the opinion of the Street’s powerhouses ?
Because they were clueless in February about the market’s overvaluation, its vulnerability, and the fact the Fed delayed a recession in January 2019 with promises of a QE type injection of money into the system and promises of rate cuts which actually came in August. It was their rhetoric and actions that created to huge bubble between December 2018 and February 2020.
The impact of COVID-19 and measures necessary to counter it will have lasting consequences far greater than is currently known.
What is overlooked is the fact all this happened on top of a bull market that was 11 years old (132 months) and an economic recovery several months short of that. The average of 11 economic expansions since 1945 (excl. 2009 – 2020) is 58.4 months (4.9 years). If COVID didn’t end it, something else would have, just not as fast and severely.
A recession was overdue. Consumers, corporations and local, state and federal governments had racked up too much debt, the economy was essentially “tired” and it was time for a pullback. The U.S. was in the early stages of a recession/bear market in Q4, 2018, but the Fed delayed it.
While the U.S. and global economies will rebound post-COVID-19, significant longer term damage has been done. No one knows yet how much, but what has happened since February is unprecedented.
The stock market was vastly overvalued in February before the crash and still is.
It is more overvalued now than it was in February when the Shiller price/earnings ratio spiked above 32, topped only by the dot-com/Internet bubble 1999-2000, more than in 2007, more than 1987, more than 1929.
I don’t think a drop of 20.4% (S&P 500: -17.5%, Nasdaq Comp.: -12.8%) adequately discounts what has happened since February and its consequences going forward.
What has happened will change consumer buying patterns. Consumer spending accounts for 70% of the nation’s GDP. The policies employed to counter COVID-19 will convince individuals they can get by on less. They will become more frugal, they have to since debt (home, auto, student loan, credit card) is too high approaching $14 trillion. That does not include additional debt incurred for survival this year.
Investors must decide how much of a cash reserve they need as a reserve against another decline in prices. The market will spike up in face of news of re-starting the economy and hype by the Fed, Administration and powerhouses on the Street. It will be hard to resist jumping in with both feet.
Thursday April 16, 2020 (DJIA: 23,504) “Wall Street Smoking Something….Though It Isn’t Reality” The bear market rally that started March 24 and logged in a 32% run in the DJIA may be over. The bulls are now faced with the reality that COVID-19 and the shutdown of businesses and normal activity of people has taken a severe toll on the US economy and may continue for longer than expected..
The stock market HAS NOT DISCOUNTED WHAT LIES AHEAD. I have experienced 14 bear market bottoms, and in terms of market valuations and outright “fear” all were much gloomier than this one.
March retail sales plunged 87%, well below projections and industrial production at a minus 5.4% was the worst since the demobilization after World War II. The Empire State manufacturing Index at 78.2 was the worst ever.
The small company Russell 2000 was off 4.3% yesterday after Wells Fargo downgraded it to “most unfavorable” from unfavorable.
The dominos are tumbling. While the economy should rebound sharply when the country is officially re-opened and the stock market jump, long-term damage has been done, we simply don’t know how much yet.
The Street may have gotten ahead of the recovery curve with its “all clear” analyses, prodding the market higher after it already had a good run enabling the bear market rally to recoup 50% of the bear market’s freefall.
What absolutely baffles me is the rush to buy stocks over the last three weeks at levels that were clearly overvalued BEFORE the bear market. With prices going up and earnings going down, the market is even more overvalued now.
What on earth are they thinking ?
Have these decisionmakers ever experienced a bear market ? Have they so much as walked around the block to see what is happening today ?
No one knows where this is going, or when the dominos will stop tumbling.
After this shock, and more to come, individuals, corporations and government at all levels
will cut back on spending. For one, debt at all levels is too high. For another, willingness to spend has decreased. People will be more frugal going forward.
They are discovering they DON’T NEED TO SPEND SO MUCH TO BE HAPPY, AND THEREIN LIES THE PROBLEM. THE BUYING BINGE IS OVER FOR CONSUMERS AND THE PARTY IS OVER FOR Wall Street.
If you are still reading, you must hate me. I hate me. I would rather be screaming “buy” like I did in March 2009. But, in markets like this I am trying to help readers avoid getting decimated.
YES ! the market will rally when the country is re-opened, but it will be rallying from overvalued levels becoming more and more overvalued. The Fed, Administration and Wall Street will hype a new bull market. Bubble II may be orchestrated before November.
Then reality will sink in….. What investors don’t want is to be caught without a cash cushion this time around ……fool me once…..
Wednesday April 15, 2020 (DJIA: 23,949) : “Market Has Not Begun To Discount The Damage Done. Still Overvalued – DJIA 14,250 by October”
I don’t think what is happening can be dismissed overnight with a rapid return to life-as-usual when people are allowed to emerge from their homes without masks and mix with friends and family, attend ball games, theaters, etc. and find the necessities of life on store shelves and not have to cleanse all they buy when they get home.
Obviously, managements of corporations are now busy running the price of their company’s stock back up with help from Fed, Administration and Wall Street hype.
This gives individual investors a chance to raise the cash they wished they had when the market was hitting new lows.
The flash crash that took the DJIA down 38% in 21 days happened after an 11-year economic expansion and an orchestrated bull market bubble that reached a level of overvaluation seen only once except for the absurd dot-com/Internet fiasco in 1999-2000 that led to the bear market that clipped 50.5% off the S&P 500 and 78% off the Nasdaq Comp.
Dominos are falling, COVID, and its debilitating global impact on economies cannot be dismissed as an aberration to be treated in future analyses with an asterisk, noting it didn’t happen.
Yesterday I questioned whether “Bubble II” was possible. While it shouldn’t happen, this is a presidential election year and the Fed, Administration and power brokers on Wall Street will stop at absolutely nothing to orchestrate a rebound in the stock market before November.
I have no problem with the market rising. I called for a bear market rally on March 24 with the DJIA at 18,581 and subsequently targeted it to end at DJIA 24,000. While it hit 24,002 Friday and again Tuesday, hype by the Street (Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley) could push it a bit higher to DJIA 24,617, S&P 500: 2,894, and Nasdaq Comp.:8,463 – a stretch.
For the record, my April 24 “buy” to take advantage of a bear market rally is off. Yes, “they” can run it higher but risks have increased dramatically as stock prices have soared.
Have these institutions no shame ?
Investors were decimated in February and March, do they deserve a “repeat. In a February 3 CNBC article, “Street strategists stick by their bullish 2020 market forecasts despite coronavirus fears,” analysts from Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan, UBS and Credit Suisse failed to see the risk of impact of a rogue virus on an vastly overpriced stock market.
I called a bull market top for January, not based on Coronavirus but overvaluation and the fact an 11-year old economic expansion and bull market were overdue for a setback.
A return to February’s levels would only set up another plunge with a lot of investors getting hurt all over again.
How much denial of reality can the system take ?
All of what we are seeing now is about the November elections. If this was a post-election year, the market would be down another 25%-35% with no hope of recovery.
Will the big houses/money managers panic again ? Under most circumstances – NO !
But if several big hitters break ranks and sell aggressively, the stampede begins.
Again, the stock market is overvalued by historic standards and valuation metrics under these circumstances defy analysis.
I continue to see a decline to DJIA 14,250 (1,875) starting in May and ending in October
At these levels, investors are getting a chance to raise cash they were wishing they had when the market was hitting new lows in March.
Monday April 13, 2020 (DJIA: 23,719) “Opportunity to Raise Some Cash”
Bubble II ? Could happen, it’s a presidential election year. We saw what happened in 2019 when the economy was on the threshold of a recession and the stock market down 20%.
The Fed did an about face on policy, goosing the market relentlessly throughout the year, thus inflating a stock market bubble that had to be burst by something, and COVID-19 did the job in mid-February.
I am sure corporate buybacks are humming after managements of all public companies took a nasty hit to their net worth. Add to that, hype by the Fed, the Administration, and big houses on Wall Street and odds of an orchestrated rebound before November improve.
However, after such a sudden brutal hit, investors are only too happy to see a bear market rally erase some of these losses.
At the depth of the 35% + plunge in late March, investors were wishing they sold at higher levels.
But a bear market rally recouping half of the bear market loss has given battered investors a chance to sell at least to the sleeping level.
While, it’s only human to want to hang in there to recoup all of one’s losses, a lot of damage has been done to the economy much of which is not easily assessed at this time.
Worse yet, the market is still historically very overvalued. The Fed, Street and Administration will attempt to treat this bear market, and devastating economic debacle as an aberration, something to be ignored and referred to with an asterisk in future descriptions of this era.
Prior to the plunge, the S&P 500 sold at a P/E only surpassed by the dot-com/Internet bubble in 1999-2000.
In mid-February, it sold at 31 times earnings, 82% above its mean. It now sells 26 times earnings, 53% above its mean and we do not know what the earnings will be in any quarter over the next year.
Can that be ignored ?
I don’t think the risk justifies it, besides, selling down to the sleeping level makes a lot of sense. It will make more sense if we have a test of the March lows (DJIA: 18,213 (S&P 500: 2,993).
In it for the long-term ? Most investors didn’t think that when the market hit its low March 23.
BOTTOM LINE: It’s a presidential election year, everything is on the line, every effort will be employed to get stock prices up before November. The DJIA can be bumped up to 24,617, the S&P 500 to 2,894 and Nasdaq Comp. to 8,463 with enough hype.
I see a test of the March lows at a minimum and risk for new lows to DJIA 14,250.
If new negatives hit, prices will go lower.
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Investor’s first read, is a Game-On Analysis, LLC publication for which George Brooks is sole owner, manager and writer. Neither Game-On Analysis, LLC, nor George Brooks is registered as an investment advisor. Ideas expressed herein are the opinions of the writer, are for informational purposes, and are not to serve as the sole basis for any investment decision. References to specific securities should not be construed as particularized or as investment advice as recommendations that you or any investors purchase or sell these securities on their own account. Readers are expected to assume full responsibility for conducting their own research pursuant to investment in keeping with their tolerance for risk.