Recession or Not – the Market Keeps Rising – How is this Possible?
Something very interesting happened last week on CNBC. President Obama did a "town hall" style meeting the very same day the NBER came out and said: "The recession ended in June of 2009". Now, this is only interesting because CNBC also interviewed Warren Buffet and by his own "common sense" definition, said that the United States is "still in a recession. I think we're in a recession until real per capita GDP gets back to where it was before. We're not gonna be out of ‘this recession’ for awhile." But wait this gets even better. Jack Welch (who was the CEO of General Electric for years and CNBC’s parent company) also comes on CNBC and says: “High unemployment may last for a long time because of the sluggish economy, bad politics, and advances in technology. President Barack Obama's administration has an anti-business bias, which manifests itself through intimidation, trade, taxes and regulation. The facts are in most businesses there's 20 to 25 percent excess capacity that they can fill in without adding any new people.” Now – who do you believe?
If you’re in a 10-foot hole, and you climb up 4 feet, you’re still 6 feet under – yes? With the economy, because of TARP, War spending, Cash for clunkers, etc. – we climbed up the hole a bit, but we never got out. Jobs never came back, work weeks never expanded, and capacity utilization never grew. All we did was pump up some economic activity (purchasing) and get a few quarters of sub par growth. BUT, despite the horrid headlines of increased first time unemployment claims, more banks being taken over in Florida – the market keeps going higher – AND – Gold and Silver are also climbing. How is this possible?
Normally gold goes up for protection from inflation. So if gold is going up because people are afraid of inflation, should stocks be going up too? Some will say - because inflation raises the prices of everything, including assets – stocks should be going up as well. Well, after listening to David Tepper on Friday – over the next 3 months – we’ll either recover on our own, or Bernanke is going to unleash a lot more quantitative easing. Which is simply another word for "print (and spend) a lot more money". When you print more money - it lowers the value of the existing dollars in circulation, and what we see is the dollar falling against other major currencies. The single biggest reason Gold is going up – is because the dollar is becoming worthless. Gold does not create wealth; it simply preserves the purchasing power of your currency. My son pointed out that there are ATM machines in Dubai that will now exchange currency for gold – right there – on the spot! The reason gold is going up, is that people the world over know that our administration and our Federal Reserve are going to effectively devalue the dollar – and effectively inflate away our debt burden.
But is the falling dollar any good for stocks? Now some will say it helps our export situation. When we were a manufacturing powerhouse and exported more than we imported, then yes, devaluing the dollar made tremendous sense. But today what really happens is that every working person is (in essence) getting taxed for our over-spending. For example: If you are currently making $1,000 per month (on somewhat of a fixed income) – and are making ends meet on that – and due to inflation – you need $1,500 to make ends meet – aren’t you going to cut back on what you might spend on TV's, clothes, etc – of course you will. Therefore – because we have a large number of people on fixed incomes (at least in proportion to those that will benefit due to increased exports) - the net net is that "we" lose purchasing power as the dollar falls. Now because China pegs their currency right below ours – believe me when I tell you – the currency wars are just BEGINNING.
The destruction of the dollar is sure. The currency wars are going to rage. And gold will probably just quietly keep rising. Stocks are the real "wild card". You see - two weeks ago the ratio of company insiders that were selling their shares, compared to those buying their shares was an astounding 650 to 1. So they are signaling that the stocks are going down. And, we’re also showing 22 consecutive weeks of mutual fund draw downs equaling $38 Billion. So with insider selling, the public selling, the news hitting new lows daily, high unemployment, lousy prospects – how does the market rise? Well, in Bernanke’s last FOMC statement he said: "We are prepared to provide additional accommodation if needed to support the economic recovery and return inflation, over time, to levels consistent with it's mandate." What this means is that QE2 (
Quantitative Easing #2) is in the ‘on-deck’ circle – warming-up. The idea behind QE2 (printing money) is that you push a lot of cash into the system, banks fill up and decide they'd better lend it out, and soon our credit economy will bloom and we're back to party mode. Unfortunately in the past the banks – hoarded the cash – borrowed more from the Fed at (0.2%) and lent it right back to the US Gov’t for 3.2% and were very happy making the 3% guaranteed. Well, if you shift your attention to stocks – and you’re able to buy so much stock that it forces the market higher – then you again get free money with no risk AND market gains. So the banks and Wall Street want QE2.
But again, no matter how much money they print, it still lowers the value of the money in circulation. So we have this "Gold". People are buying it because all the currencies of the world are being simultaneously taken down - on purpose. So, just as Mr. Tepper said: “It's real easy – if we recover stocks go up, if we get QE2 – stocks go up, and gold goes higher as well.” And (oh) Silver will tag along for the ride.
I tend to think the over riding difference however is that with stocks, you have to assume the underlying companies are going to be making money. Just bidding up the price of stocks will not last, if indeed the company’s earnings don't match the stock price with a P/E that is at least reasonable. There comes a tipping point, where prices exceed valuations to such an extreme we will crash. With Gold however, the price will only rise in relation to the destruction of the currency, "for the most part".
- The market has shrugged off the dreaded "death cross" (when the 50-day moving average and the 200-day moving average cross).
- The market has shrugged off the mighty "head and shoulders" pattern that many said would plunge us lower.
- The market has shaken off the repeated "Hindenberg Omens" and Europe's sovereign debt.
- Free money will do that.
I think I know that at "some point" they're going to manufacture a pull down and take a lot of money from the people that are jumping onto this bandwagon. But, after that – do we just turn up and run higher again – if the Free Money spigot is open – probably. There’s a “smack-down” lurking out there – because nothing goes straight up (like this market has) without the wise guys yanking the rug now and again to "shake out the weak hands".
Everyday – my finger creeps closer and closer to that sell button.
Let’s review our holdings:
GDXJ – a basket of gold miners
GG – IAG – NG – individual gold miners
GLD – PHYS – pegged to the price of Gold itself
SLW – SSRI – silver miners and indexes
All are up nicely from our original purchase – in fact I recently purchased more NG thinking that it could run to $10 if it can get over $9 – and we’re thinking of putting ‘trailing stops’ on these – so that we don’t lose all of our gains.
We’re still in VXX for the long haul.
We’re in and out (mostly out these days) of TZA, DXD and SDOW on a daily basis (these are ETF’s that allow you to invest directly in the market going ‘down’ – for those that do not like to ‘short’).
If you’d like to view my actual stock trades - feel free to sign up as a twitter follower – “taylorpamm” is my nickname on Twitter – fyi.
If you’d like to see me in action – teaching people about investing – please feel free to view the TED talk that I gave a 4 months or so ago now:
Remember the Blog:
Until next week – be safe.