The United States: US railcar loadings (an indicator of economic activity) are still well above the levels we saw in previous years. However, railcar loadings of cyclical cargo have slowed more than they did in 2017 for this time of the year.
China: Lower government bond yields should support the housing market next year.
Trillions of dollars in equity lost. Silicon Valley stocks down 40%, 50%, 70%, or more. Dejected and disillusioned millennials. The smoldering ruins of the failed cryptocurrency industry.
I’m honestly not sure how much more happiness I can take. On top of it all, Slope traffic is going absolutely apeshit (which is kind of bad news, in a way, since we’re frantically trying to keep up with the demand of our suddenly very, very popular website).
And to think this is just the start of a multi-year, global bear market that is going to bring utter ruin to so many. I can hardly stand the excitement. Thus, I thought we’d catch up on my short term “Omega” prediction, which I’ve discussed before, most recently here.
Specifically, where do things stand with respect do the conjectural pattern I suggested?
Well, if this is to transpire, this is kind of what’s next:
Most warnings about large increases in government indebtedness revolve around future repayment obligations. For example, there is the concern that greatly increasing the government debt in the present will necessitate much higher taxes in the future. For another example, there is the concern that if the debt load is cumbersome at a time of very low interest rates, then as interest rates rise the interest expense will come to dominate the budget and lead to an upward debt spiral as more money is borrowed to pay the interest on earlier debt. Although these concerns are valid they miss two critical points, including the main problem with government borrowing.
The first of the missed points is that there is no intention to repay the debt or even to reduce the total amount of debt. This is one way that government debt is very different to private debt. Nobody would ever lend money to a private organisation unless there was a good reason to believe that the debt eventually would be repaid, but when it comes to the government the plan is for the total debt to grow indefinitely. It will grow faster during some periods than other periods, but it will always grow. Therefore, it makes no sense to agonise over how the debt will be repaid. It simply won’t be repaid or even reduced.
I love the ocean which is ironic as I live on a Great Lake more than 1,500 kilometers from the Atlantic. But you put me anywhere near an ocean and I guarantee it – I am jumping in. It doesn’t matter if the water is 15 degrees, I have to go for a dip.
Not having grown up with all the ocean-life, I try to rationalize my slight fear of sharks by convincing myself that my apprehension is like many other people’s fear of bears. Having spent many weekends at a cottage in the Canadian wilderness, I probably have an overly casual attitude towards bears. To me, they are just big raccoons. Yeah, a hungry grizzly deserves your complete and total respect, but most black bears want absolutely nothing to do with humans. After seeing dozens upon dozens in the wild, you realize they are not so scary. And this logic is what I use when thinking about sharks. Most of them want nothing to do with you.
However, I recently stumbled upon this research group that tracks different sharks, but specializes in Great Whites.
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away we wrote a series of articles arguing that bitcoin is not money and is not sound. Bitcoin was skyrocketing at the time, as we wrote most of them between July 30 and Oct 1 last year.
Back in those halcyon days, volatility was deemed to be a feature. That is, volatility in the upward direction was loved by everyone who said that bitcoin is money, in their desire to make money. In the first instance of the word, the term money refers to bitcoin. In the second, it refers to the dollar. The same problem we see with gold:
bitcoin is money
bitcoin is going up
buy bitcoin now
sell bitcoin later at a higher price
to make money
From what we remember from a logic class in the philosophy department back in university (in the halcyon days long before the halcyon days of bitcoin skyrocketing), there may be a fallacy or two in here that have Latin names.
Anyways, in our bitcoin articles, we were careful not to get into the game of setting price targets. We didn’t know (and no one else did either, as it turned out) where the price would go. Other than, we did say that bitcoin has no firm bid and its price will drop when the speculators turn. Bitcoin had just hit $3000 when our series began. We were careful to say that the price could go a lot higher, and we made no prediction as to how high or when it would turn.
The time around Thanksgiving has shown some strong tendencies over the years – both bullish and bearish. I have discussed them a number of times over the years. In the updated table below I show SPX performance results based on the day of the week around Thanksgiving. The bottom row is the Monday of Thanksgiving week. The top row is the Monday after Thanksgiving.
Monday and Tuesday of Thanksgiving week do not show a strong, consistent edge. But the data for both Wednesday and Friday looks quite strong. Both of those days have seen the S&P 500 rise over 70% of the time between 1960 – 2017. The average instance managed to gain about 0.3% for each of the 2 days. (This is shown in the Avg Profit/Loss column where $300 would equal a 0.3% gain.) That is a hearty 1-day move. Meanwhile, the Monday after Thanksgiving has given back over half the gains that the previous 2 days accumulated. It has declined 66% of the time and the average Monday after Thanksgiving saw a net loss of 0.37%.
[biiwii comment: it’s a Slope of Hope 2-fer this morning… ]
A Santa Claus rally. A trade deal between China and the U.S. A straight shot to 3,200 on the S&P 500. The bullish stories are flooding the airwaves. After all, the vast majority of “traders” and “investors” have never experienced a bear market before. Equities dipped a little in October, and people don’t like it. So they’re trying to wish it away.
Maybe they will. Maybe the won’t. We remain at a crucial juncture. Last week was largely a waste of time. We did get a nice selloff on Monday, but after that, it was a circle jerk, with desperate rumors from D.C. about a trade deal attempting to prop things up.
On the ES, the two tinted areas are all I care about right now. If, God forbid, we cross above the yellow tint at about 2757, the bulls are going to grab the baton. It wouldn’t take much in the way of news to make it happen. Another plausible rumor about China would do the trick, although the way Pence is handling it, maybe I shouldn’t worry so much. A failure of the green line at 2711 would shove a silver stake through the pattern’s heart.
This is a cautionary tale. A tale of a fund of nearly 300 clients and nearly $80 million which blew up in the span of hours from a market move that was, in the grand scheme of things, not that big a deal. It illustrates how excessive leverage can completely torch the risk-taker (and, in this case, his clients). And it just happened.
The person in question is James Cordier, who is a bestselling author of books about options. One glance at Amazon, and you can see the myriad of volumes he’s written on the topic:
He parlayed his knowledge and media appearances into a thriving fund named, appropriately enough, OptionSellers.com which, until quite recently, had a beautifully-crafted website touting the virtues and profitability for selling options for high net worth investors. Here is what the site used to look like:
What ever happened to “Six Sigma”? GE was one of the most beloved and hyped S&P500 stocks during the late-nineties Bubble Era. With “visionary” Jack Welch at the helm, GE was being transformed into a New Age industrial powerhouse – epitomizing the greater revolution of the U.S. economy into a technology and services juggernaut.
GE evolved into a major financial services conglomerate, riding the multi-decade wave of easy high-powered contemporary finance and central bank backstops. GE Capital assets came to surpass $630 billion, providing the majority of GE earnings. Wall Street was ecstatic – and loath to question anything. GE certainly had few rivals when it came to robust and reliable earnings growth. Street analysts could easily model quarterly EPS (earnings per share) growth, and GE would predictably beat estimates – like clockwork. Bull markets create genius.
It’s only fitting. With a multi-decade Credit Bubble having passed a momentous inflection point, there is now mounting concern for GE’s future. Welch’s successor, Jeffrey Immelt, announced in 2015 that GE would largely divest GE Capital assets. These kinds of things rarely work well in reverse. Easy “money” spurs rapid expansions (and regrettable acquisitions), while liquidation phases invariably unfold in much less hospitable backdrops. Immelt’s reputation lies in tatters, and GE today struggles to generate positive earnings and cash-flow.
[biiwii comment: We disclaim all political views in this essay because frankly, they interfere with effective market management. But we’ve committed to publishing Bob Hoye, so here he is in all his politically infused glory.]
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