Productivity from technology and labor cost restraints along with absurdly low capital costs and now out of the ball park low energy cost inputs could continue to power corporate profits and equity markets in the US–but to think that equities are permanently dislocated from their former relationship to nominal and real economic activity is an absurdity on top of the surreal. Financial crony capitalism is doomed as it exists today, capitalism is not, but the form and architecture of the current system derived out of leveraged excess financial capital in all of its non-real money forms will crash and burn. The inevitable happens. It also does bear to remember, for those that have a brain, that ultimately Cassandra was proven correct.
If you do not believe that we are heading directly toward another major financial crisis, you need to read this article. So many of the exact same patterns that preceded the great financial collapse of 2008 are happening again right before our very eyes. History literally appears to be repeating, but most Americans seem absolutely oblivious to what is going on. The mainstream media and our politicians are promising them that everything is going to be okay somehow, and that seems to be good enough for most people. But the signs that another massive financial crisis is on the horizon are everywhere. All you have to do is open up your eyes and look at them.
Bill Gross,( not so much anymore as he crewed the pooch over the past few years!!, But I do agree with him now–if things stay as they are.) considered by many to be the number one authority on government bonds on the entire planet, made headlines all over the world on Tuesday when he released his January Investment Outlook. I don’t know if we have ever seen Gross be more negative about a new year than he is about 2015. For example, just consider this statement…
“When the year is done, there will be minus signs in front of returns for many asset classes. The good times are over.” ( Agree )
And this is how he ended the letter…
And so that is why – at some future date – at some future Ides of March or May or November 2015, asset returns in many categories may turn negative. What to consider in such a strange new world? High-quality assets with stable cash flows. Those would include Treasury and high-quality corporate bonds, as well as equities of lightly levered corporations with attractive dividends and diversified revenues both operationally and geographically. With moments of liquidity having already been experienced in recent months, 2015 may see a continuing round of musical chairs as riskier asset categories become less and less desirable.
Debt supercycles in the process of reversal are not favorable events for future investment returns. Father Time in 2015 is not the babe with a top hat in our opening cartoon. He is the grumpy old codger looking forward to his almost inevitable “Ides” sometime during the next 12 months. Be cautious and content with low positive returns in 2015. The time for risk taking has passed.
– The Daily X-Change – As We Enter 2015, Charts “Bulls” Should Consider
As we enter into 2015, analyst calls for a continued “bull market” advance have never been louder. There have been a litany of articles written recently discussing how the stock market is set for a continued bull rally. The are some primary points that are common threads among each of these articles which are: 1) interest rates are low, 2) corporate profitability is high, and; 3) the Fed’s monetary programs continue to put a floor under stocks. The problem is that while I do not disagree with any of those points – they are all artificially influenced by outside factors. Interest rates are low because of the Federal Reserve’s actions, corporate profitability is high due to accounting rule changes following the financial crisis and the Fed’s liquidity program artificially inflates stock prices.
However, while the promise of a continued bull market is very enticing it is important to remember that we have only one job: “Buy Low/Sell High.” It is a simple rule that is more often than not forgotten as “greed” replaces “logic.” However, it is also that simple emotion of greed that tends to lead to devastating losses. Therefore, if your portfolio, and ultimately your retirement, is dependent upon the thesis of a continued bull market you should at least consider the following charts.
It is often stated that valuations are still cheap. The chart below shows Dr. Robert Shiller’s cyclically adjusted P/E ratio. The problem is that current valuations only appear cheap when compared to the peak in 2000. In order to put valuations into perspective, I have capped P/E’s at 25x trailing earnings as this has been the level where secular bull markets have previously ended. (I have notated the peak valuations in periods that have exceeded that level.)
An oldy but a goody!