This Week in Barrons – 7-17-2016:
“Déjà vu all over again”… Yogi Berra
I remember September 1998. My friend and I had just sold a company, and every day we watched stocks go higher – despite most of the companies not having any revenues or earnings. We were told that it was a new paradigm where earnings didn’t matter. It was a melt-up like I had never seen before. Then it flattened out for about a year, and in October of 1999 it started up higher and faster than before. The similarities are Yogi Berra’esque. From 2009 to 2015 the market has relentlessly moved higher. But for the past year, the market has moved sideways, and in the past month is exploding higher.
Following the October 1999 move, we crashed hard. By 2002 the market was down 60%, fortunes were lost, and over 200 stocks that had traded over $100/share were either gone or trading for under $1. Yes, I think this is “Déjà vu all over again”. I don’t know how high or how long this run up will last, but I'm fairly certain that a black swan event will end it abruptly.
WHY are we at all time highs?
- #1 Corporate Buybacks – Last week the WSJ reported that the total number of shares outstanding in S&P 500 companies actually fell below 2011 levels. In Q1 2016, Companies repurchased the 2nd largest amount of their own stock ($161.39B) in history. With fewer shares for sale, a smaller number of buyers can manipulate the markets.
- #2 Retail Investors are Gone – Last week was the 18th consecutive week of money flows leaving the equity markets, and ETF money flows are also down 20% year over year. With fewer retail investors, it’s easier for the Central Banks and the FED to manipulate the markets.
- #3 Insiders ‘KNOW’ – If the ‘elites’ want to push us to 2,500 on the S&P, I’ll go along kicking and screaming. Friday night in Australia, Mr. Mester (a Cleveland FED member) suggested that ‘helicopter money’ could be the next step for our FED. Maybe the insiders know that such insanity is coming, and are just front running its implementation.
Given the FED can print money, and use those ‘printed dollars’ to buy real stocks – you can make the case that this market goes up until it doesn’t. After all, today’s Central Banks and their affiliates own $21 Trillion of government bonds and related securities – most of it purchased since the 2008 crisis. In Europe, Mario Draghi is buying up 90 Billion Euro's a month of corporate bonds. So what STOPS the market from going up forever?
- #1 Bad Investments – As you can imagine, companies that are on the ropes are more than willing to sell corporate bonds to stay afloat. Therefore, a lot of what the Central Bankers are purchasing is toxic.
- #2 No Safe Zone – Following the recent BrExit vote, the pound sterling went into ‘free fall’ with lows against the dollar not seen since 1985. With the pound sterling falling this low this quickly, there is a strong chance that a British recession could be right around the corner. And with almost all of the $60 Trillion global sovereign debt trading at yields of less than 1 percent, there are no longer any long term, safe cash-flow returns for investors.
- #3 Bank Defaults – Two of the largest banks in the world Deutsche Bank (German), and Credit Suisse Bank (Swiss) are under EXTREME financial stress. This circumstance can be linked to the entire Italian banking system that is in desperate need of a capital infusion. The Italian banks alone have $400 Billion (one-third) of all of the Eurozone non-performing loans. Unfortunately Eurozone rules preclude the Italian government from backstopping their banks with Italian taxpayer funding. The recent BrExit vote has highlighted the EU banking institutions as being the Achilles heel of the entire global financial system.
- #4 Political Unrest – Between October 2016 and May 2017, there will be elections in Italy, Germany, Netherlands, and France. If a political party hostile to the EU claims victory in any one of these elections, then in all probability that country will dump the Euro.
A political event or a failure by any major bank in Germany, Switzerland, or Italy could easily end the EU and the Euro. This toppling would most assuredly collapse the world into a global depression. Even with all of this, the remaining two canaries in the coalmine are:
- #1 Terrorism – When the California and Orlando shootings took place, everyone jumped on gun control – forgetting that it’s the evil person behind the weapon that’s the problem.
- #2 Price of Gold – After a five-year correction off the 2011 high, the current price trend is solidly up. This is often an indication that the world’s economic positions are shifting again.
- The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that real average hourly earnings DECREASED by 0.2% in June.
- If you believe the headlines, Alcoa reported earnings this week that beat their estimates on robust Chinese demand. However, if you examine the numbers, the actual quarterly revenue is DOWN -15% year-over-year, and quarterly earnings were DOWN -91.80%. Even earnings per share came out in the red at -$0.45.
- The number of job openings in the U.S. FELL in May to its lowest level of the year, and the largest decline since August 2015. This is potentially a sign that the spike in hiring in June was an exaggeration.
Information was released earlier this week proclaiming Toria Nuland (Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs) as the mastermind behind the Feb. 22, 2014 regime change in the Ukraine. Toria was responsible for plotting the overthrow of the democratically elected government of President Viktor Yanukovych while convincing the U.S. mainstream media that the coup wasn't really a coup but a ‘Victory for Democracy’. We (the U.S.) spent $5B to pull this coup off. And after trying to pin OUR Ukrainian coup on Vladimir Putin, we then tried to cripple him economically with sanctions.
The reason I’m bringing this up is on Friday afternoon, I learned that a military coup had taken place in Turkey. Supposedly, the military had shut down the bridges, blown up helicopters, and turned off satellite antennas, Facebook and Twitter. Even President Ergodan was in hiding. The first thing I wondered was whether the U.S. was behind the coup. Why – because Turkey is a NATO nation, and any small action by a NATO ally could trigger a massive missile launch toward Russia and a corresponding retaliatory effort. Listen to this 90-second video as Vladimir Putin pleads to journalists to wake up. He talks of the U.S. spreading lies and leading the world toward a nuclear war that may be irreversible. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8PgSX-WD96Q. Coincidentally, when people ask me how we are going to ‘globally’ get ourselves OUT of this economic disaster, my answer is: WAR.
In terms of next week, it was my guess that after our most recent two week melt up we might see a bit of a pause this coming week. However, with the Turkey situation being somewhat fluid, the picture is a bit warped. The markets could take it pretty hard. But in the most recent past, our markets have feasted on terrorism without blinking. We even survived the BrExit, and have gone on to all time highs. If there is a take over, and it is deemed to be good for the overall region, we could actually see Europe trade higher Sunday night and come into a green market on Monday.
Otherwise, please be careful.
#1 – If you were with me on the play in AG, you have seen your $20k turn into about $250,000 in about 8 months. I’m still sitting on my AG call options – so no changes there just yet.
#2 If you played NGD with me, you have seen it go from $3.75 to $4.67 (a 25% increase) in about 2 months. My plan is to buy more NDG options, once it breaks through $5.00.
#3 I’m lightly shorting Alcoa (AA) at these levels. It’s common for AA to experience an almost 30% retracement over the next 4 weeks following earnings. That means it would drop from $10.92 to $7.64 by late August. AA was down to $6.10 just a few months back. My short target is its recent support at $9.88.
#4 My attraction to the metals continues to grow. There are dozens of good mining companies that will do well if gold and silver continue higher – such as: FFMGF, NAK, BAA, AUMN, EGO, and FSM. Silver is presently around $20 per ounce, and I think it has a date with $70/ounce. I’m looking at January 2018, $7 calls in SAND. I’m waiting to buy them for $1. SAND was a $14 stock in 2012 – so buying a good company with an underlying commodity that’s increasing in value is a good bet in my book.
So go the miners – so go my weeks. Last week was a good week. I’m keeping it simple by being:
- Long various mining stocks and their respective call options: AG, AUY, CDE, FCX, FFMGF, FSM, HL, NGD, PAAS, and PGLC.
To follow me on Twitter.com and on StockTwits.com to get my daily thoughts and trades – my handle is: taylorpamm.
Please be safe out there!
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