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Weekly Commentary: Mania 

Weekly Commentary: Mania 

This might be the most fascinating market backdrop of my career. Not yet as dramatic as 1987, 1990, 1994, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2007, 2008, 2009 or 2012 – but, heck, we’re only two weeks into 2018 trading.

In the first nine trading sessions of the year, the DJIA tacked on almost 500 points. The S&P500 has advanced 4.2%, the Dow Transports 7.2%, the KBW Bank Index 6.0%, the Nasdaq100 5.7%, the Nasdaq Industrials 5.7%, the Nasdaq Bank Index 5.7%, the Nasdaq Composite 5.2%, the New York Arca Oil index 7.1%, the Philadelphia Oil Service Sector Index 9.8%, the Semiconductors (SOX) 5.5%, and the Biotechs (BTK) 6.3%.

It’s synchronized global speculation unlike anything I’ve witnessed. Italian stocks are up 7.2%, French 3.9%, Spanish 4.2%, German 2.5%, Portuguese 4.0%, Belgian 4.7%, Austrian 5.2%, Greek 6.1% and Icelandic 4.1%, European Bank stocks (STOXX600) have gained 5.4%, with Italian banks up double-digits. Hong Kong financials have gained 5.9%. Japan’s Topix Bank index is up 5.6%. Japan’s Nikkei has gained 3.9%, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng 5.0%, and China’s CSI 300 4.8%. Stocks are up 7.2% in Russia, 6.7% in Romania, 4.8% in Bulgaria and 5.8% in Ukraine. In Latin America, major equities indexes are up 3.9% in Brazil, 3.0% in Chile, 4.0% in Peru and 8.8% in Argentina.

It’s evolved into a full-fledged speculative Bubble and intense Mania. This type of euphoria, while fun and captivating, comes with unfortunate consequences. But there will be no worry for now. None of that. Once things have regressed to this point, negative news and troubling developments are easily disregarded. Speculation detached from reality.

I recall the speculative market that culminated in manic trading in the summer of 1998 – just weeks before the global system convulsed with the collapses of Russia and Long-Term Capital Management. There was the first quarter 2000 technology stock speculative melt-up – right in the face of deteriorating industry fundamentals. And how can we forget the fateful “subprime doesn’t matter” speculative run to all-time highs in the Autumn of 2007.

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