Lockdown Tsunami

Lockdown Tsunami

Lockdown Tsunami #2 has just begun, and that is really bad news for the U.S. economy.

Lockdown Tsunami #1 resulted in the permanent closing of more than 100,000 U.S. businesses, colossal lines at food banks around the nation, and the loss of tens of millions of jobs.  Needless to say, this new wave of lock-downs will make things even worse, and some are speculating that this is precisely what Democrats want.

If the U.S. economy continues to fall apart as we approach the election in November, the thinking is that this will make President Trump look bad and will make it more likely that people will cast votes for Democrats.  But there is also the possibility that this could backfire in a huge way for the left.  If millions of Americans start to identify the Democrats as “the party of the lock-downs”, that could actually greatly help President Trump in November.

At this point, the battle lines are becoming quite clear.  President Trump and other top Republicans are strongly against more lockdowns, but Democratic politicians in many areas of the country are starting to institute them anyway.  In fact, we just learned that all schools in Los Angeles, San Diego, Atlanta and Nashville will be closed at the beginning of the new school year…

“Resisting pressure from President Donald Trump, three of the nation’s largest school districts said Monday that they will begin the new school year with all students learning from home. Schools in Los Angeles, San Diego and Atlanta will begin entirely online, officials said Monday. Schools in Nashville plan to do the same, at least through Labor Day.”

Other major cities are expected to follow suit.  Of course considering the quality of the education in most of our public schools, most of those kids won’t exactly be missing too much.

Ultimately, closing the schools won’t have too much of an economic impact, but shutting down most of the businesses in our largest state certainly will.  On Monday, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced a comprehensive lock-down for 30 California counties which account for “about 80 percent of California’s population”

“Newsom, a Democrat, announced during a press briefing that all bars across the state must close up shop and that restaurants, wineries, tasting rooms, family entertainment centers, zoos, museums and card rooms must suspend indoor activities.The governor also announced that all gyms, places of worship, malls, personal care services, barbershops, salons, and non-critical offices in counties on the state’s “monitoring list” had to shut down under the new order. The order affects more than 30 counties which are home to about 80 percent of California’s population.”

Newsom is a political opportunist, and I guarantee you that he wouldn’t be doing this unless he truly believed that it would help Democrats in November.

But I think that Newsom and other top Democrats have greatly underestimated how much the American people detest COVID-19 restrictions at this point.  We have been witnessing a huge backlash all over the country, and even though California is far more liberal than most other states, a backlash has been brewing there as well.

If the Democrats are not very careful, they are going to lose an election that they could have very easily won.

First of all, they should have never nominated Joe Biden.  It is obvious to everyone that he is physically and mentally declining at a very rapid pace, and videos of him “acting creepy” will be viewed millions upon millions of times over the coming months.  Democrats have known about Biden’s creepy behavior for many years, but they decided to give the nomination to him anyway.

Secondly, most top Democrats have refused to strongly denounce the rioting, looting and violence that have happened around the nation, and this is going to push a whole lot of people toward the Republicans.

Thirdly, the backlash against these new lockdowns is going to be directed primarily toward Democrats.  If Democratic politicians push too far, this will be an issue that deeply hurts them in November.

But despite all of these mistakes, it is possible that the Democrats could still come out on top, because Trump and the Republicans are making lots of political mistakes as well.

If Trump wants to make a comeback in the polls, he really needs to fully embrace an anti-lock-down message, because that would strongly resonate with tens of millions of voters.

The first wave of lockdowns certainly didn’t stop the spread of the virus, and more lockdowns will not stop it from spreading either.  And now three separate scientific studies have shown that COVID-19 antibodies disappear very, very rapidly, and that means that a vaccine is not going to end this crisis and we will never reach a point of “herd immunity”.  So we are going to have to find a way to function effectively as this virus circulates around the globe year after year, because it isn’t going to go away.

We simply cannot shut down the economy every time the number of cases starts to surge again.  The damage that we have already done to the U.S. economy has been incalculable, and now these new lockdowns will do even more damage.

But the WHO continues to insist that more restrictions are needed in Lockdown Tsunami #2…

“Let me be blunt, too many countries are headed in the wrong direction, the virus remains public enemy number one,” WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a virtual briefing from the U.N. agency’s headquarters in Geneva. “If basics are not followed, the only way this pandemic is going to go – it is going to get worse and worse and worse.”

What would the WHO have us do?

Would they like us to all lock ourselves in our homes indefinitely?

The WHO keeps touting a future vaccine, but if COVID-19 antibodies disappear after just a few months, there is no way that a vaccine is going to end this pandemic.

And many Americans will never, ever take any COVID-19 vaccine under any circumstances.

As I discussed in an article that I posted earlier, it looks like we are just going to have to accept the fact that COVID-19 is going to be around year after year.

It is easy for the “experts” to tell us that everyone should just stay home, but the price tag for the first wave of lockdowns was astronomical.  Thanks to all of the emergency measures that Congress passed, the U.S. government ran a budget deficit of 864 billion dollars in the month of June…

The US budget deficit surged to a record-breaking $864 billion in June, the Treasury Department said on Monday. The increase is the product of the federal government’s efforts to combat the corona-virus pandemic and its economic fallout. The government collected about $240 billion in tax revenue in June, the Treasury said, and federal spending overall reached $1.1 trillion.

To put that in perspective, it took from the founding of our nation until 1980 for the U.S. government to accumulate a total of 864 billion dollars of debt.

And now we have added that much to the national debt in just one month.

We simply cannot keep doing this.

No matter what we do, COVID-19 is going to keep spreading, and we are going to have to learn how to deal with this virus for a very long time to come.

Lockdown Tsunami #2 is definitely not the answer, but unfortunately many of our politicians are convinced otherwise. So U.S. economic conditions will continue to deteriorate, and the economic depression that began earlier this year will continue through the end of 2020 and beyond. We encourage wealth and retirement account protection immediately because when the economy turns down, your retirement account will get wiped out but you family can be safe from collapse.

Source Contributor

How The V Became W

How The V Became W

A possible change in near-term trend is likely as we approach this month in S&P 500 established back during March. Normally, this implies that the next turning point should be a reaction high. Technical resistance stands at 3393.76 and it will require a closing above this level to signal a breakout of the upside is going to unfold. Our technical support lies at 2271.03 which is still holding at this time. which is still holding at this time,” stated Livio S Nespoli of InterAnalyst.us.

Some caution is necessary since the last high 3393.52 was important given we did obtain three sell signals from that event established during February. Nonetheless, this market is trading below that high by more than 5 percent. Critical support still underlies this market at 2532.68 and a break of that level on a monthly closing basis would warn a further significant decline ahead becomes possible.

The market has consolidated for the past 2 Months and only 3393.54 would suggest a reversal in the immediate trend. The previous low of 219186 made during March only a break of 244749 on a Monthly closing basis would warn of a technical near-term change in trend.

With recent spikes in coronavirus cases and fluctuations in the economic data, the market seems to be stuck in a range amid elevated volatility and how the V became a W.

“For now, volatility and choppy markets remain our base case as an uneven economic recovery likely unfolds, the stock market was suggesting a V-shaped recovery, but the more likely scenario is rolling Ws with a sideways to downward bias.” Liz Ann Sonders, chief investment strategist at Charles Schwab, said in a note.

The central bank unleashed another weapon in its arsenal this week, saying it will start buying individual corporate bonds. As comforting as it is to have the Fed’s support, the central bank can only do so much to ease investor fears.

“The Fed can’t prevent the volatility we’re seeing in stocks, and tt will likely take years for the economy to fully recover and there remain other uncertainties on the path ahead. As such, investors may continue to struggle with this mismatch between markets and the economy before seeing the case for new highs.”

Fed Chairman Jerome Powell reminded investors again in his semiannual testimony before Congress that “significant uncertainty remains about the timing and strength of the recovery.”

Where The Stock Market Goes Now?

Where The Stock Market Goes Now?

Where The Stock Market Goes Now…

With the Rails index back to all-time highs this seems like an especially appropriate question considering the fundamental data which is…. well, see for yourselves.

Consider where rail stocks are trading:

Do fundamentals justify this price? Here is the chart of total carload and intermodal traffic for 2018, 2019 and 2020.

Total U.S. carload traffic for the first five months of 2020 was 4,713,757 carloads, down 14.7 percent, or 815,413 carloads, from the same period last year; and 5,186,630 intermodal units, down 11.3 percent, or 661,703 containers and trailers, from last year.

And another way to see the unprecedented divergence tells us Where The Stock Market Goes Now:

U.S. railroads originated 740,171 carloads in May 2020, down 27.7 percent, or 282,965 carloads, from May 2019. U.S. railroads also originated 912,922 containers and trailers in May 2020, down 13 percent, or 136,241 units, from the same month last year. Combined U.S. carload and intermodal originations in May 2020 were 1,653,093, down 20.2 percent, or 419,206 carloads and intermodal units from May 2019.

In May 2020, one of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by the AAR each month saw carload gains compared with May 2019. It was farm products excl. grain, up 324 carloads or 10.6 percent.

Meanwhile, commodities that saw declines in May 2020 from May 2019 were coal, down a record 127,201 carloads or 40.7%; Coal carloads are down 26.1% so far this year and have declined on an annual basis for 13 straight months.

In short, lowest rail traffic in years, and that was based on a trend even before the coronavirus, and yet rails stocks are at all time high.

Here is why:

As BMO rates strategist Ian Lyngen writes in “Jay’s Market, Just Trading in it“, a core theme of trading has been “the remarkable resilience of the equity market despite a shuttered economy, historic job losses and civil unrest across the US.”

So to get to the bottom of the question on every trader’s mind – just who is behind this rally – BMO sent out a poll to its clients where the first question showed a clear consensus for the driver behind the move; “73% offered the Fed as the inspiration behind the S&P 500’s impressive rally”, vastly more than those who cited labor market recovery/reopening optimism (6%) greater fiscal stimulus (5%), and progress on Covid-19 treatment (6%). And now that Powell owns this rally, he better not allow to reverse.

1. What is driving the swift recovery of equities?

a) Fed – 73%
b) Earnings Optimism – 0%
c) Labor market recovery – 6%
d) Further fiscal stimulus – 5%
e) Progress in treating/preventing Covid-19 – 6%
f) Other (please specify) – Reopening Optimism/ All of the Above/ Underinvestment

Less relevant to the market’s ramp but just as interesting in terms of what markets expect for the Fed to unveil next in the central bank’s creeping nationalization of capital markets, were responses to BMO’s second special question – when, or even if the FOMC will roll out yield curve control – which were not nearly as clear cut with a wide variety of opinions. 3-6 months was the most common answer with 33%, which points to the September, November, or December meeting as the most probable venue for the introduction of the new policy tool. Within ‘3 months’ or ‘not this cycle’ both took a roughly equal share as the second most frequent reply, so as Lyngen notes, “clearly investors are split on whether YCC needs to be deployed rapidly, or not at all given the state of the economy and recovery. 6-9 months and 9+ months both rounded out the replies with 14% and 12%, respectively.”

2. When will the Fed announce yield curve control?

a) Within 3 months – 21%
b) 3-6 months – 33%
c) 6-9 months – 14%
d) 9+ months – 12%
e) Not this cycle – 20%

Finally, an interesting snapshot on how investors respond to data is BMO’s question how respondents will react to tomorrow’s jobs report: In the event of a disappointment and a Treasury market rally, the clearest takeaway was a reluctance to take profits – only 25% would sell versus a 37% average and the lowest read since October 2019. Meanwhile 11% would join the rally and buy and 64% would do nothing compared to respective averages of 7% and 56%.

The other meaningful takeaway was a positive skew on the belly of the curve as 36% thought the next 15 bp in 5-year yields will be higher; well below the 45% average and matching last month’s figure as the lowest since November 2019.

Watch out below.  The International Monetary Crisis Is Starting, and you will witness precisely where the stock market goes now. Will you avoid the pain.

Velocity Of Financial Collapse

Velocity Of Financial Collapse

The velocity of money is like blood pressure. If it is too high or too low, it can be the Velocity Of Financial Collapse. Too high indicates inflationary pressures are building and/or the presence of speculative bubbles. If too low, deflationary pressures are growing, presaging a dangerous collapse. (eLearning)

The velocity of money reached its high during the 1990s dot.com bubble. After it collapsed in 2000, low-interest rates (2002-2007) fueled another bubble, the US property bubble, and when it collapsed in 2008, the velocity of money again plunged and never recovered.

Despite trillions spent by central banks after 2009, the velocity of money has continued to fall. Today, in 2020, the velocity of money reached an all-time low. In Q1, the average velocity was only 1.37. Q2 will be even lower.

To offset the historic plunge in demand caused by COVID-19, central banks resorted to money printing on an unprecedented scale. While the money printing will stave off starvation for the vast majority at the bottom of the economic food chain and ensure profits for the few still at the top; today’s money printing will turn fiat money into little more than food stamps and give the economic elites little incentive to do otherwise.

Despite central banks’ excessive money printing, hyperinflation may not occur, at least not immediately. In capitalist economies, because currencies are circulating coupons of credit and debt, when credit disappears, so, too, does “money”; and, today, money is disappearing into deflation’s waiting paw even faster than the Fed can print it.

The mandate of the Fed in 1913 was to create a system of debt-based fiat money that insured bankers profited, i.e. “made bank”, off all societal productivity, a never-before-seen form of economic parasitism.

Since that time, the Fed has done admirably with that mandate, given the problems they’ve had to deal with, e.g. a dangerously low gold/fiat ratio in the 1920s, the 1929 stock market crash, the 1930s collapse of world trade, the loss of gold reserves due to US overseas military spending, the serial collapse of bubbles beginning in 2000 triggering “the great recession of 2008, the amuse-bouche to what is now about to happen, 

America the Frog

AMERICA THE FROG

The frog is frozen still 

In water now so hot 

The water’s almost boiling 

But the frog knows it not

Quickly it must jump

To avoid a boiling death

The Fates themselves are watching

With collective bated breath

Will America survive?

Or will it now succumb

Its heritage abandoned

Its future now undone

By its own hand it’s threatened

Itself its great threat

The frog continues sitting still

In denial ignorant yet

The water’s getting hotter

The heat’s turned up to high

And it’s an even money bet

That the frog is gonna die

It is June 2020. The water’s boiling. The frog’s still in the pot. The velocity of financil collapse it closer than we might imagine.

Protect yourself now.

Market Support Is Deteriorating Fast

Market Support Is Deteriorating Fast

Market Support Is Deteriorating Fast as the market rally to date has been defined by the five largest stocks in the index. Via Goldman Sachs: 

Market Support Deteriorating

“Broader participation in the rally will be needed for the aggregate S&P 500 index to climb meaningfully higher. The modest upside for the largest stocks means the remaining 495 constituents will need to rally to lift the aggregate index.”

Such also becomes problematic when corporations are issuing debt at a record pace to supplant liquidity needs to offset the economic crisis rather than repurchasing shares. It’s worth remembering that over the last decade, buybacks have accounted for almost 100% of net stock buying.

Market Support Deterioration 2

Overbought & Extended

Besides the supportive underpinnings, the technical backdrop is also conducive for corrective action in the short-term. Here is something that is more compelling:

“The number of stocks above the 50-dma is pushing record levels. Historically, whenever all of the overbought/sold indicators have aligned, along with the vast majority of stocks being above the 50-dma, corrections were close.”

Market Support Deterioration 3

Such doesn’t mean a “bear market” is about to start. It does suggest, at a minimum, a correction back to support is likely.

Markets Are Way Ahead Of Reality

Markets Are Way Ahead Of Reality

If the 35% surge in the S&P in the past two months seems too good to be true as even hard-core optimists like JPM’s Marko Kolanovic now admits, announcing that he is “dialing down” his optimism while Goldman sees little upside for stocks from here…

Markets Are Way Ahead Of Reality

… it’s probably because it is, as the latest Wall Street professional to join the chorus of naysayers and skeptics including such luminaries as David Tepper and Stanley Druckenmiller, claims.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Manolo Falco, Citigroup’s co-head of investment banking said that financial markets were “way ahead of reality” with tougher times to come, and is warning corporate clients that they should raise as much money as they could before the pandemic’s true cost is factored in by investors.

We definitely feel that the markets are way ahead of reality. We really are telling every client to tap the market if they can because we think the pricing now couldn’t get any better,” Falco said, adding that “as the second quarter comes along and we start seeing the pain, and the collateral effects of that, we think this is going to be much tougher than it looks.”

manolo falco
Manolo Falco, Citigroup’s co-head of investment banking.

His comments came at the end of a week when stock markets largely rallied even as relations between the US and China just hit rock bottom, as riots were about to break out across the US which now has more than 40 million unemployed, and as millions of businesses around the world remained shut and economies lurched towards their worst recessions in memory.

“Markets are pricing a V [shaped recovery], everyone’s coming back to work, and this is going to be fine,” Mr Falco said. “I don’t think it’s going to be that easy quite frankly” said the investment banking icon who just made Robinhood’s shitlist.

Investors’ optimism led investment grade companies to raise a record $1 trillion of debt in the first five months of the year, putting investment banks such as Citi on course for a surge in debt capital markets revenues in the second quarter of the year compared with 2019.

Citi is not the only bank to take advantage of the bond issuance feast, which has been explicitly backstopped by the Fed which as we learned last week has been busy buying up over a dozen ETFs.

Last week senior bankers predicted another strong quarter for trading. This was especially true at JPMorgan Chase, whose investment bank boss Daniel Pinto said trading revenues in the second quarter could be up as much as 50% compared with a year earlier.

Falco was more circumspect on the prospect of a wave of activist investment in the aftermath of the coronavirus crisis. Low asset prices can tempt activist investors to buy into companies on the cheap and then look for ways to make them more profitable, often by cutting costs and jobs, but mostly issuing more debt (although with corporate leverage now at even record-er levels than just 2 months ago it is unclear just who has the capacity for even more debt).

“You gotta be careful though because an activist can become very quickly a focus of governments if they really step in too hard at a time when people, what they want is to protect employment and to actually get things going in the economy,” Falco said. “We’ve got to be careful because in some cases . . . maybe those [investments] are at the wrong time and could create a lot of anger.”

We doubt that: in fact, if activist investors step up and end up causing millions more to be fired, it will simply mean that the government’s free handouts will have to be extended even further, Congress will have to pass even more stimulus bills, and the Fed will have to monetize even more debt bringing us that much closer to the period of runaway inflation so eagerly sought by the Federal Reserve.

In other words, more layoffs mean win, win, wins for everyone, except those who still believe in working hard and saving, of course.

Has The U.S. Economy Plunged Into A Depression?

Has The U.S. Economy Plunged Into A Depression?

“Face reality, and that means admitting that “the U.S. economy has plunged into a depression.”

This is already the worst economic downturn that America has experienced since the Great Depression of the 1930s, and we are right in the middle of the largest spike in unemployment in all of U.S. history by a very wide margin.

Of course, it was fear of COVID-19 that burst our economic bubble, and fear of this virus is going to be with us for a very long time to come.  So we need to brace ourselves for an extended economic crisis, and at this point, even Time Magazine is openly referring to this new downturn as an “economic depression”.

Needless to say, there will be a tremendous amount of debate about how deep it will eventually become, but everyone should be able to agree that our nation hasn’t seen anything like this since before World War II.

In order to prove my point, let me share the following 10 numbers with you…

#1 According to a study that was just released by the National Bureau of Economic Research, more than 100,000 U.S. businesses have already permanently shut down during this pandemic, and that represents millions of jobs that are never coming back.

#2 The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta is now projecting that U.S. GDP will shrink by 42.8 percent during the second quarter…

“A new GDP forecast from the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta for the three months through June estimates an unprecedented drop of 42.8 percent. The bank describes the data as a “nowcast” or real-time, compared with the official government report of GDP, which is dated. The first-quarter preliminary data, which showed a 4.8 percent dip, included a limited period of impact from COVID-19.”

#3 On Friday we learned that U.S. retail sales were down 16.4 percent during the month of April, and that is a new all-time record.

#4 U.S. factory output was down 13.7 percent last month, and that was the worst number ever recorded for that category.

#5 U.S. industrial production fell 11.2 percent last month, and that represented the worst number in 101 years.

#6 On Thursday, we learned that the number of Americans that have filed initial claims for unemployment benefits during this pandemic has risen by another 2.9 million, and that brings the grand total for this entire crisis to 36.5 million.  To put that number in perspective, at the lowest point of the Great Depression of the 1930s only about 15 million Americans were unemployed.

#7 According to the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, the real rate of unemployment in the U.S. is now 30.7 percent.

#8 According to a survey Fed officials just conducted, almost 40 percent of Americans with a household income of less than $40,000 a year say that they have lost a job during this crisis.

#9 One study has concluded that 42 percent of the job losses during this pandemic will end up being permanent.

#10 According to a professor of economics at Columbia University, the U.S. homeless population could rise by up to 45 percent by the end of this calendar year.

We have never seen economic numbers this horrifying, and more awful economic numbers are coming in the months ahead.

At this point, things are so bad that even Fed Chair Jerome Powell is openly admitting that he doesn’t really know how long this new economic downturn will last…

“This economy will recover…We’ll get through this. It may take a while. It may take a period of time. It could stretch through the end of next year,” Powell said during a rare televised interview that aired on “60 Minutes” Sunday night. “We really don’t know. We hope that it will be shorter than that, but no one really knows.”

In the months ahead, there are a few sectors that you will want to keep a particularly close eye on, and one of them is the commercial real estate market.  The following comes from Zero Hedge

“Fast forward to today, coronavirus outbreak, and the ensuing lockdown, has essentially frozen the commercial real estate market. Buildings that were once used for restaurants, offices, hotels, spas, and or anything else that is classified non-essential have seen soaring vacancies.

This is single handily sending the commercial property market into chaos. As vacancies soar, tremendous downward pressure is being put on almost every asset class tied to commercial real estate.

The latest TREPP remittance data compiled by Morgan Stanley showed a quarter of all commercial mortgage-backed securities (CMBS) could be on the verge of default.”

I am personally convinced that we are on the precipice of the greatest commercial real estate implosion in American history.

As the dominoes tumble, it is going to send wave after wave of devastation through the financial industry, and it is going to make the subprime mortgage meltdown of 2008 look like child’s play.

But at least bankruptcy lawyers will have plenty of work.  Last week we learned that J.C. Penney filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, and of course the bankruptcies that we have seen so far will just be the tip of the iceberg.

I think that politicians all over America are going to deeply regret overreacting to COVID-19, because nobody is going to be able to put the pieces back together now that our economic bubble has burst.

Sadly, very few people understood how shaky our debt-fueled economic “boom” was, and ultimately it didn’t take that much to push us into a new economic depression.

And now every additional crisis that comes along is just going to escalate our economic troubles.  This is going to be one very long nightmare, and there will be no waking up from it any time soon.

Even before COVID-19 came along, homelessness had become a massive problem in many of our major cities, and now tent cities are rapidly multiplying in size.

There is going to be so much economic pain in the months ahead, and it could have all been avoided if we had made much different choices as a nation.

But we didn’t, and so now we all get to pay the price.

Mr. Snyder wrote this article and I respect his opinion. I am not taking issue with his story, but he is a respected conservative voice in a world of noise.

So, I ask you, what if he is correct in his judgment and collapse is coming sooner than later?

Are you prepared for what is going to happen to your retirement and investment account values?

Are you sheltered from those accounts declining 40%? 50%, 60%, or more.

The Wealth Preserver Membership can protect your account from any stock market collapse. Please know that until it does collapse, your investments continue to grow as usual. 

Why Mark Mobius says the stock market hasn’t seen an ‘absolute bottom’ yet

Why Mark Mobius says the stock market hasn’t seen an ‘absolute bottom’ yet

Emerging-markets investing pioneer Mark Mobius made those remarks Tuesday in an interview with CNBC, putting him in the investing camp that expects an inevitable cascade of brutal economic data and corporate earnings hasn’t been fully discounted by investors.

Mobius, who founded Mobius Capital Partners in 2018 after a three-decade run at Franklin Templeton Investments, said corporate earnings would be “pretty bad” and that while some bargains have emerged, investors should keep some cash ready to deploy in the event of a further market downturn.

U.S. stocks hit all-time highs in February, then plunged into a bear market as the global spread of COVID-19 forced the U.S. and countries around the world to largely lock down their economies in an effort to contain the outbreak. Stocks have taken back a large chunk of lost ground since March 23, however, with recent gains tied to expectations the pandemic is near its peak, turning attention to efforts to reopen economies.

Market bulls have argued that the unprecedented nature of the shock and the massive response from the Federal Reserve, other central banks, and governments have rendered most comparisons to past bear markets debatable.

Others have cautioned that stocks are largely sticking to the bear market script.

“Although there are some opportunities to buy, I would say it’s probably a good idea to keep some powder dry for another downturn,” he said. “We might see a double bottom.”

Is The Dead Cat Bounce Over?

Is The Dead Cat Bounce Over?

March 2020 saw one of the quickest bear markets in history as coronavirus shook the world and the S&P 500 dropped 34% in about five weeks.

Since then, the market has reversed and rallied about 24% from its low meaning it’s now down only 19% from the February peak.

The market is now trading at the same level it did in June 2019 despite all the carnage surrounding COVID-19. It’s also approaching a key resistance area around $2800.

Although there are some positive signals for bulls we think the market could move back towards its recent lows short-term. A bear put spread gives a good opportunity to play this view.

Relief Rallies Are Common In Bear Markets

The recent rally is encouraging for bulls but if we look back at previous market crashes it’s obvious to see that relief rallies are a common occurrence in bear markets. They have been called Dead Cat Bounces.

During the 2008 crash, there were two relief rallies of over 15% before the March 2009 low.

During the dotcom crash, stocks rallied more than 15% three times before the market finally bottomed. 

And during the 1973-74 bear market there were three relief rallies of over 10% which preceded a long period of choppy trading.

Meanwhile, during the Great Depression, there were numerous relief rallies and it took the market 26 years to regain it’s all-time high.

It’s worth noting that the 1987 and 2011 bear markets saw no relief rallies but remember that neither of these bear markets actually coincided with an economic recession.

At this point, not only is a recession nailed on but it’s likely to be a severe recession with some saying it could be on a par with the Great Depression. 

Given this, it seems appropriate that there is more pain to come and that the stock market is not going to simply rebound in a straight line over the next few weeks and months.

How Much Should The Market Fall?

Historically, the average bear market has lasted around 22 months and the average drawdown has been -39%. 

If we are to believe that this current crisis is worse than average (which it appears to be) then the current drawdown of -19% (albeit a pullback from -34%) seems mild.

If that’s true, then the question becomes how much damage is enough?

Answers come in many different forms. None are perfect but they can all be taken into account. 

Citigroup analysts say that a good rule of thumb is for stocks to fall roughly the same as corporate earnings. They are forecasting falls in US earnings of around 50%, therefore the stock market is capable of falling by that amount as well. (FT)

Another answer is to look at the cost of the virus in terms of lost GDP. Unsurprisingly there is a wide range and a lot of uncertainty here too.

Estimates from Bloomberg put the cost at $2.7 trillion while the UN predicted only $1 trillion in a report from early March.

To put that in perspective, the 2008 crisis (which saw markets dive by 57% from their peak) is said to have cost the US about $2 trillion in lost economic output according to Moody’s Analytics. (WP).

In terms of dollar value, the coronavirus crisis could end up as costly as the 2008 crisis and some of the recent data has been right up there with the Great Depression. 

US jobless claims, for example, have been truly abysmal.

Some economists think unemployment could surge to 20% which would be much higher than in the 2008 crisis when unemployment peaked at around 10%.

Several economists are forecasting an economic contraction of between 6-8 per cent which would make it worse than the 4 per cent contraction seen in 2008/9.

However, a lot of the forecasting depends on the impact of social distancing and there is still a great deal of uncertainty.

Furthermore, putting a dollar value on the cost of a crisis is difficult when any cost necessarily depends on the reaction of the stock market resulting in a vicious cycle.

The financial crisis lingered for a long time but the coronavirus crisis could be short-lived if social distancing proves effective.

If the virus is contained effectively then it could end up costing only a fraction of the GDP that was lost in the 2008 crash.

On the other hand, if estimates do not account for second and third waves of the virus (or numerous knock-on effects caused by financial stress) then they could miss the mark.

The only data we have really seen so far are the jobs numbers. We are yet to see companies report earnings and the truth is that we are about to see a tidal wave of terrible earnings reports.

Central Banks Have Our Backs Faster This Time

That said there is still the case that central banks have moved quickly to inject stimulus into the market to avoid financial contagion. Much more quickly than they did in 2008.

This stimulus has been large and so far been effective at keeping the financial system ticking over and helping to reduce volatility in the stock market.

Health-wise, testing has been ramped up and new virus cases have definitely been flattening.

So there is definitely a case to be made for bulls that the -34% drop represents the bottom and that investors are now looking ahead towards a recovery in 2021.

However, even if the market did hit a bottom last month there are bound to be some big bumps along the way to a recovery and there is simply too much uncertainty right now to say that the damage is done.

What’s A Fair Price?

Howard Marks said in his recent memo that the market is probably fairly priced for an optimistic view of the crisis and I think that sounds about right.

In other words, if you believe that cases are coming down, the virus is on the way out and the economy can reopen in a few weeks time, then stocks are probably fairly priced.

But if you believe that the virus is not under control and the lockdown will go on longer than expected (or that there will be future waves with more lockdowns) then stocks are expensive and have some room to fall.

At this point, it’s worth remembering that the last serious pandemic we had was the Spanish Flu which lasted about 18 months from March 1918 to the summer of 1919. In that period the virus came in three waves with the second wave being the deadliest. (TIME).

It seems unlikely that this current virus is going to just blow over and things are going to go back to normal any time soon. Especially considering the poor handling that governments have shown so far. This thing could drag on for months with second and third waves.

With that being the case, I think there is a strong argument that the market will at least move back towards it’s recent low even if it doesn’t lurch too far below it.

Where Is The Risk?

In times like these I find it helps to think simply and consider ‘where is the risk’?

Is it riskier now to buy, after a 20% rally off the low, or is it riskier to short, with the possibility of a V-shaped recovery?

For me, the risk here is clearly to the downside.

With so much uncertainty about the staying power of the virus and so much bad news yet to come, it would be risky to dive into the market when it is only 19% from it’s all-time high.

Given the gravity of the current crisis and the fact sharp rallies often occur in bear markets, I’d say the chance of us moving back to the recent low is perhaps 30% to 50%.

Final Thoughts

The bottom line is that this is a nasty environment for investors with unprecedented economic shutdowns.

This rally has the hallmarks of a dead cat bounce. It is likely to be a complicated mix of short covering, mechanical buying and optimism that the Fed has everything under control.

We will recover from this crisis eventually but I think it will be a while before the Slingshot will be ready. 

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