I think it’s time to heed Arnold’s famous words. EVERYONE QUICK! TO THE CHOPPAS!
No not that one! That’s the Fed’s helicopter! The other one!
OH the burning choppa, that’s much better (sarcasm).
So there you have it. You can either get in a burning helicopter or one that runs on hopes and dreams. Those are the choices you are left with. That is, if you follow the Fed’s logic.
Of course there is an alternative. I’m talking about the secret, hidden helicopter that your semi-romantic interest has found and remains patiently waiting for you, the hero, to make a daring escape to.
Now that’s the helicopter I will be taking.
Investors are like Arnold Schwarzenager’s character, Dutch, at the end of the movie Predator. Having defeated the coolest alien ever (sorry aliens but laser cannon + invisibility + heat vision beats acid blood any day), they stand over the creature triumphantly as it utters its last words.
It appears to be some alien language that contradicts itself at every turn. Nothing it is says makes sense.
“Short term bonds are too low.” Before finishing its next breath, it let’s out a painful scream, “Corporate debt and small caps stocks are overvalued and banks are still too big to fail!”
“But why”, the US investor asks. “Where do I put my money if not bonds, stocks and banks? Why do you say these things!? ANSWER ME!”
The answer is simple.
Unbeknownst to the US investors, the alien has secretly set off a ticking time bomb that will obliterate them all, The Taper.
The predator continues to talk, as it buys time for the inevitable explosion. When it will occur, who knows? I mean can you read those numbers? I sure as hell can’t, but I can sure as hell see the countdown has accelerated.
Enough predator metaphors, let’s get sort of serious. The Fed is on the verge of bursting the biggest bubbles in modern history. It has no idea what it’s doing, and it is doing an amazing job conveying that. First they tell people rates are going up (US 10 year yield just hit a 13 month low), which means it’s time to get out of bonds and into stocks, but just recently Yellen Capital has recently announced it is holding a myriad of short positions on small caps and corporate debt. So I guess it’s time to get out of stocks and back into bonds?
Yeah, I’m confused too.
Rewind nine months, it’s the December before the most bitter economic winter we’ve had in years and yet the Fed, feeling all powerful by the US stock market’s meteoric rise, higher inflation and rising interest rates, decides to wean the market off its “something for nothing” policy. Since then the stock market has barely moved, yields have fallen and the Fed has made the ultimate mistake…
They looked down and saw the vast open canyon that lies below. No, not literally. But it’s clear with their recent announcements that they are panicking like a five year old boy who has just got caught with his hand in the cookie jar, trying to blame everyone including the jar itself for jumping onto his hand. The newest target of Fed Finger pointing are the banks who are apparently still Too Big To Fail.
Let’s try and follow the Fed’s “logic”. They are trying to raise short term interest rates next year after tapering by the end of this year. At the very least, this will cause the bond market to contract considerably, but the Fed at least wants to do it gradually (the feasibility of this is a topic of debate). Currently, they are indicating that the rate hike may happen “sooner than expected”. The idea being, if they scare enough people away from treasuries, they can get the rates to rise before ever having to raise the federal funds target rate and fuel the stock bubble at the same.
Now that makes sense. It does. Well except for the fact that they are tapering into weakness rather than strength which is exactly what happened in 2007 and I think everyone knows how that ended… Well except for the Fed because they seem to have a rather short and selective memory.
But say I’m wrong, and the market isn’t weakening but strengthening. The Fed has saved us all! All will now bow before our might masters, the lords of all things, the guardians of gallantry, the stewards of responsibility, the mother of dragons.
So the Fed is tapering into strength. That’s what we just assumed. So if that’s true then why does Fed think that biotech and social media stocks as well as corporate debt are overvalued? Social media and biotech are growth stocks! If they are overvalued that means the growth isn’t there, and if the growth isn’t there then the economy isn’t strengthening so then why the hell is the Fed tapering?
Even more ridiculous, the Fed calls out the corporate debt market, which is the very mechanism that’s been propping up our ludicrous stock bubble. Just look at corporate buybacks which are approaching all pre-recession highs as indicated in the chart below.
Let me make this clear, our market is weaker than it was pre-recession. So whenever something approaches pre-recession highs, I get teenage girl in a horror movie scared because it simply is not sustainable.
As of right now, we have near unlimited demand for corporate debt. This is a HUGE problem. Bad companies CANNOT default on their debt even if they tried because there is always a bigger fool around the corner lined up to buy it. But, it gets worse. Much much worse. When you look at the charts below it’s no wonder the Fed thinks corporate debt is overvalued.
The corporate debt market has never been higher and less liquid. Dealer inventories as a percentage of the total market have fallen from a peak of 15% in 2007 to a mere 1.5% today. It doesn’t get much uglier than this, and yet this is exactly what is propping up the stock market, and yet the Fed is trying to force investors out of bonds and into stocks.
DO NOT! I repeat DO NOT buy into this. The Fed won’t be able to save you once the market does turn, which will be sooner rather than later. At best, a few investors may flee bonds into stocks to allow the market to retrace its most recent fall, but it won’t create lasting stock market growth.
So let’s recap: Banks, bad. Small caps, bad. Corporate debt, bad. Bonds, bad. Nothing, good. The Fed has now publicly painted itself into a corner by pointing out that all US markets are overvalued, the Dow Jones is negative for the year, corporate debt is starting to crack, volatility is rising and…
I think. I think… I think now may be time to get the HELL OUT OF THE MARKETS! RUN DO NOT WALK TO THE NEAREST EXIT! GET TO THE CHOPPA! STOP READING THIS AND RUN!
This is not a joke. Well it kind of is, because if you take this to it’s logical end point you find nothing remotely good. It’s more depressing than an episode of HBO’s The Leftovers. I can’t tell if that show is trying to make me depressed or not. Nothing good happens, ever! The purpose of the show it seems is to beat its characters into submission and that is exactly where our world is headed.
If you find my argument compelling, I’d like to point out that I did not once mention ANY of the geopolitical crises taking place around the world. War in Ukraine, Russian sanctions, Isis in Iraq, Syrian Conflict, Gaza Shit Sandwich, South China Seas Pissing Contest, The Euro Debt Contest, Japan’s Screwed, Italian Recession, Ebola Epidemic, I’m not even trying anymore I’m literally just putting random words together and naming a world crisis. That’s how many of these things there are right now!
Anyone of these crises is enough to send our fragile economy into a free fall and yet I didn’t even mention any of the demographic or political problems in the our society, but those are for another equally bleak post.
If you as an investor can look into your crystal ball, past all of this and see growth then c flip the damn thing over, read the bottom label and find out who made it because my guess is Charles Ponzi.
Hell, forget your crystal ball and look the hell around. The only people buying this market are machines, corporations and bigger fools.
Source: Deutsche Bank (July 2014)
And I leave you with that.