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UNIDOS HACIA EL FUTURO

“The markets are the product of 1999 & 2007 hooking up for a one night stand.”
Tweet by Danielle DiMartino Booth (@DiMartinoBooth), 25th August 2020.

“In the middle of the journey of our life, I came to / Myself in a dark wood, for the straight way was lost.”
Dante, Inferno.

“Zoom is now worth more than IBM.”
“I don’t know if that says more about Zoom or IBM.”
Tweets by Morgan Housel (@morganhousel), 31st August 2020.

By the mid 1970s, film director William Friedkin was on a roll. 1971’s The French Connection bagged him an Oscar and widespread critical acclaim; 1973’s The Exorcist became the highest grossing Warner Bros film of all time. How did Friedkin follow up on all this monstrous success ? He decided to adapt Georges Arnaud’s novel The Wages of Fear (Le Salaire de la peur), in which down-on-their-luck truck drivers in Latin America attempt to ferry nitroglycerine across a treacherous mountain range in order to extinguish an oil well fire. The resultant 1977 release was called Sorcerer. It sank more or less with all hands.

Which is a shame, because Sorcerer – or Wages of Fear as it was somewhat unimaginatively titled in the UK (see poster below) – has moments that are pure cinema. The sequence where Roy Scheider and Francisco Rabal pilot their ramshackle truck over a threadbare rope bridge across a river in flood is one of the most extraordinary in film history (and very Werner Herzog). All of which vindicates screenwriter William Goldman’s assessment that in the movie business, nobody knows anything.

Source: https://www.originalfilmart.com/products/sorcerer-quad

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Weekly Commentary: Moral Hazard Quagmire

Weekly Commentary: Moral Hazard Quagmire

The Nasdaq100 jumped another 3.5% this week, increasing 2020 gains to 32.3%. Amazon gained 4.3% during the week, boosting y-t-d gains to 77.8% – and market capitalization to $1.626 TN. Apple surged 8.2% this week, increasing 2020 gains to 69.4%. Apple’s market capitalization ended the week at a world-beating $2.127 TN. Microsoft rose 2.0% (up 35.1% y-t-d, mkt cap $1.612 TN). Google rose 4.8% (up 18.2% y-t-d, mkt cap $1.073 TN), and Facebook gained 2.2% (up 30.1%, mkt cap $761bn). The Nasdaq100 now trades with a price-to-earnings ratio of 37.4.
This era will be analyzed and debated for decades to come – if not much longer. Market Bubbles, over-indebtedness, inequality, financial instability and economic maladjustment – festering for years – can no longer be disregarded as cyclical phenomena. Ben Bernanke has declared understanding the forces behind the Great Depression is the “Holy Grail of economics”. It’s ironic. That the Fed never repeats its failure to aggressively expand the money supply in time of crisis is a key facet of the Bernanke doctrine – policy failing he asserts was a primary contributor to Depression-era financial and economic collapse. Yet this era’s unprecedented period of monetary stimulus is fundamental to current financial, economic, social and geopolitical instabilities.

August 18 – Bloomberg (Craig Torres): “The concentration of market power in a handful of companies lies behind several disturbing trends in the U.S. economy, like the deepening of inequality and financial instability, two Federal Reserve Board economists say in a new paper. Isabel Cairo and Jae Sim identify a decline in competition, with large firms controlling more of their markets, as a common cause in a series of important shifts over the last four decades. Those include a fall in labor share, or the chunk of output that goes to workers, even as corporate profits increased; and a surge in wealth and income inequality, as the net worth of the top 5% of households almost tripled between 1983 and 2016. 

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Peter Schiff: We’re Heading for Recession No Matter What the Fed Does With Rates

Peter Schiff: We’re Heading for Recession No Matter What the Fed Does With Rates

Jerome Powell took center stage last week and the Federal Reserve chair didn’t do anything to dampen expectations of a rate cut. His comments sent both stocks and gold higher.

Peter Schiff recently appeared on RT Boom Bust with University of Amherst economics professor Richard Wolff to talk about the Fed and its impact on the markets. Pete said no matter what the Fed does, a recession is coming.

Peter opened the interview saying the main reason the Fed is cutting rates is to try to keep the air from coming out of the stock market bubble.

The other reason is they’re trying to keep this so-called expansion going. There they’re going to fail. I think we’re headed for recession regardless of what the Fed does with rates. The only thing the Fed is going to succeed in doing is reviving inflation. The Fed claims inflation is too low and they want to make sure the rate goes up. Well, that’s going to be their only success. But unfortunately, that’s also going to be their biggest failure.”

Wolff agreed with Peter’s view that a downturn is coming, noting that we are overdue for a recession. He said the sudden dovish turn by the Fed is a “desperate move” by to try to postpone the downturn until after the 2020 election.

The host mentioned a tweet Peter put out during Powell’s trip to Capitol Hill.

Peter said he never heard the question asked, but it would have been a great way to put Powell on the spot and ask him if he agrees with the president.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Did The Nasdaq Bubble Just Burst?

Regular readers will recall when back in March, Bank of America cautioned that after the tech bubble in 2000, the housing bubble in 2006, we were witnessing the third biggest bubble of all time: the e-Commerce bubble.

Well, after several weeks of sharp volatility which has hammered tech stocks, slammed momentum trades and hurt growth factors, the tech sector is once again sharply lower after hours largely on the back of disappointments from Google and Amazon, with the  ETF which tracks the Nasdaq 100 dropping about 2%, and threatening to slide back into a bear market.

The reason for this latest weakness in the QQQs may be that investors are finally realizing that the latest Nasdaq bubble may have popped, if for no other reason than what is shown in the Bloomberg chart below: namely revenue growth at the two e-commerce titans, Google and Amazon, appears to have finally peaked.

Granted, the decline is not in revenue but in revenue growth, however when investors are already beyond skittish about peak earnings, a slowdown in the second derivative may be all they need to sell now and ask questions later. Which may explains why FANG stocks are all sharply lower after hours as the market begins to reasses just how much longer the “e-commerce bubble” as defined by Bank of America has left before it pops…

The Myth Of The Eternal Market Bubble And Why It Is Dead Wrong

The Myth Of The Eternal Market Bubble And Why It Is Dead Wrong

Economic collapse is not an event — it is a process. I’ve been saying this since the initial 2008 crash, and I suppose I will keep saying it until it burns into people’s minds because I don’t think that it is a widely understood concept. When alternative analysts talk about financial collapse, we are not talking about something that suddenly happens out of the blue, we are talking about an ongoing decline that occurs in stages. This decline is happening today in the U.S. and around the world, and it has been accelerating since the chaos of 2008. When we bring up the reality of collapse, we are referring to something that is happening NOW, not something waiting on the distant horizon.

The reason why some analysts can see it and others cannot is most likely due to the delusions surrounding market bubbles. These fiscal fantasy worlds are artificially created by central bank intervention and represent an attempt to mislead the populace on the true health of the system — for a limited time. People with foresight see beyond the false data of the bubble to the core economic reality; other people see only the bubble and nothing else.

When it comes to stock markets, bond markets, forex markets and the general casino economy, much of the public has a terrible inability to look beyond the next month let alone the next year. If the markets appear good now, the assumption is that they will always be good. If the central banks have intervened for the past 10 years, the assumption is they will intervene for the next 10 years.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

When The US’s Stock Market Bubble Bursts, Inevitable Disaster Will Follow

When The US’s Stock Market Bubble Bursts, Inevitable Disaster Will Follow

Complete and utter disaster will be inevitable and unavoidable when the United States’ stock market bubble bursts. Unfortunately, too many think the high stock market is evidence of a stable economy, but it’s actually an artificial bubble that will end in a disastrous crisis.

This unusual market strength is not evidence of a strong, organic economy, but of an extremely unhealthy, artificial bubble economy that will end in a crisis that will be even worse than we experienced in 2008, reported Forbes.  The current market is highly unstable due to an artificially low interest rate.

Forbes writer Jesse Colombo explained it well. Ultra-low interest rates help to create bubbles in the following ways:

  • Investors can borrow cheaply to speculate in assets (ex: cheap mortgages for property speculation and low margin costs for trading stocks)
  • By making it cheaper to borrow to conduct share buybacks, dividend increases, and mergers & acquisitions
  • By discouraging the holding of cash in the bank versus speculating in riskier asset markets
  • By encouraging higher rates of inflation, which helps to support assets like stocks and real estate
  • By encouraging more borrowing by consumers, businesses, and governments

Another Federal Reserve policy (aside from the ultra-low Fed Funds Rate) that has helped to inflate the U.S. stock market bubble since 2009 is quantitative easing or QE.  Many have warned about the negative effects of QE only to be told by leftists that it was “necessary.” When executing QE policy, the Federal Reserve creates new money “out of thin air” in digital form and uses it to buy Treasury bonds or other assets. That action pumps liquidity into the financial system. QE helps to push bond prices higher and bond yields/interest rates lower throughout the economy. QE has another indirect effect as well. It causes stock prices to surge because low rates boost stocks, wrote Colombo.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Here We Go Again: Our Double-Bubble Economy

Here We Go Again: Our Double-Bubble Economy

The bubbles in assets are supported by the invisible bubble in greed, euphoria and credulity.

Well, folks, here we go again: we have a double-bubble economy in housing and stocks, and a third difficult-to-chart bubble in greed, euphoria and credulity.

Feast your eyes on Housing Bubble #2, a.k.a. the Echo Bubble:

Here’s the S&P 500 stock index (SPX): no bubble here, we’re told, just a typical 9-year long Bull Market that has soared from a low in 2009 of 666 to a recent high of 2802 in January of this year:

Here’s a view of the same bubble in the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA):

Is anyone actually dumb enough not to recognize these are bubbles? Of course not. Those proclaiming that “these bubbles are not bubbles” know full well they’re bubbles, but their livelihoods depend on public denial of this reality.

And so we’re inundated with justifications of bubble valuations, neatly bound with statistical mumbo-jumbo: forward earnings (better every day in every way!), P-E expansion, and all the rest of the usual blather that’s spewed by status quo commentators and fund managers at the top of every bubble.

The problem with bubbles is they always pop. The market runs out of Greater Fools and/or creditworthy borrowers, and so sellers overwhelm the thinning ranks of buyers.

Those dancing euphorically, expecting the music will never stop, are caught off guard (despite their confidence that they are far too clever to be caught by surprise), and the panic-driven crowd clogs the narrow exit, leaving a ballroom of bag-holders to absorb the losses.

The other problem with bubbles is that we’ve become dependent on them as props holding up a rotten, corrupt status quo. Since the economy can no longer generate sufficient prosperity to go around via actual increases in productivity and efficiency, those skimming most of the gains rely on “the wealth effect” generated by expanding asset bubbles to create a dreamy illusion of prosperity.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Morgan Stanley: The Tech Bubble “Can Burst At Any Moment, Without Warning”

Earlier this week, Goldman Sachs, whose market-timing calls leave much to be desired, declared that tech stocks are “not a bubble”, and went so far as to predict that the secular increase in tech names could continue for decades, spawning vivid memories of Goldman’s May 2008 prediction of $200 oil just months before the start of the second great depression, and before oil crashed more than $100/barrel, wiping out a generation of muppets.

However, it is now safe to say that with the exception of some truly naive individuals, virtually nobody believes Goldman any more, and thus Goldman’s “all clear” may be just the top-tick so many had been waiting for.

One skeptic is Bank of America’s Michael Hartnett who back in March, just as the tech sector suffered its first big rout of 2018, had the gall to tell the truth and observe that the “e-Commerce” sector, which consists of AMZN, NFLX, GOOG, TWTR, EBAY, FB, was now up 617% since the financial crisis, making it the 3rd largest bubble of the past 40 years, and at this rate – assuming no major drop in the 6 constituent stocks – was set to become the largest bubble of all time over the next few months.

Hartnett followed up this this week by noting that while so far Tech stocks have seen record inflows as they have emerged as the “defensive growth” sector of the late market cycle…

… the “big risk” is “as in 1998, that credit tremors spread and investors forced to deleverage from risk assets, raise cash”, while the “biggest risk” is a “quick, deep tech selloff.  Or, as Bloomberg’s Andrew Cinko put it on Friday it, “if the times get tough and investors must delever they will sell “what they own,” and that “those who are rotating to financials and banks this week and away from tech may simply be trading the frying pan for the fire.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Trump Trade Wars A Perfect Smokescreen For A Market Crash

Trump Trade Wars A Perfect Smokescreen For A Market Crash

First, I would like to say that the timing of Donald Trump’s announcement on expansive trade tariffs is unusual if not impeccable. I say this only IF Trump’s plan was to benefit establishment globalists by giving them perfect cover for their continued demolition of the market bubbles that they have engineered since the crash of 2008.

If this was not his plan, then I am a bit bewildered by what he hopes to accomplish. It is certainly not the end of trade deficits and the return of American industry. But let’s explore the situation for a moment…

Trump is in my view a modern day Herbert Hoover. One of Hoover’s first actions as president in response to the crash of 1929 was to support increased tax cuts, primarily for corporations (this was then followed in 1932 by extensive tax increases in the midst of the depression, so let’s see what Trump does in the next couple of years).  Then, he instituted tariffs through the Smoot-Hawley Act.  His hyperfocus on massive infrastructure spending resulted in U.S. debt expansion and did nothing to dig the U.S. out of its unemployment abyss. In fact, infrastructure projects like the Hoover Dam, which were launched in 1931, were not paid off for over 50 years. Hoover oversaw the beginning of the Great Depression and ended up as a single-term Republican president who paved the way socially for Franklin D. Roosevelt, an essential communist and perhaps the worst president in American history.

This is not to say Hoover was responsible for the Great Depression.  That distinction goes to the Federal Reserve, which had artificially lowered interest rates and then suddenly raised them going into the economic downturn causing an aggressive bubble implosion (just like the central bank is doing right now).

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

It’s Looking A Lot Like 2008 Now…

It’s Looking A Lot Like 2008 Now…

Did today’s market plunge mark the start of the next crash?

Economic and market conditions are eerily like they were in late 2007/early 2008.

Remember back then? Everything was going great.

Home prices were soaring. Jobs were plentiful.

The great cultural marketing machine was busy proclaiming that a new era of permanent prosperity had dawned, thanks to the steady leadership of Alan Greenspan and later Ben Bernanke.

And only a small cadre of cranks, like me, was singing a different tune; warning instead that a painful reckoning in our financial system was approaching fast.

It’s fitting that I’m writing this on Groundhog Day, as to these veteran eyes, it sure has been looking a lot like late 2007/early 2008 lately…

The Fed’s ‘Reign Of Error’

Of course, the Great Financial Crisis arrived in late 2008, proving that the public’s faith in central bankers had been badly misplaced.

In reality, all Ben Bernanke did was to drop interest rates to 1%. This provided an unprecedented incentive for investors and institutions to borrow, igniting a massive housing bubble as well as outsized equity and bond gains.

It’s worth taking a moment to understand the mechanism the Federal Reserve used back then to lower interest rates (it’s different today). It did so by flooding the banking system with enough “liquidity” (i.e. electronically printed digital currency units) until all the banks felt comfortable lending or borrowing from each other at an average rate of 1%.

The knock-on effect of flooding the US banking system (and, really, the entire world) in this way created an echo bubble to replace the one created earlier during Alan Greenspan’s tenure (known as the Dot-Com Bubble, though ‘Sweep Account’ Bubble is more accurate in my opinion):

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Bubble That Could Break the World

The key to bubble analysis is to look at what’s causing the bubble. If you get the hidden dynamics right, your ability to collect huge profits or avoid losses is greatly improved.

Based on data going back to the 1929 crash, this current bubble looks like a particular kind that can produce large, sudden losses for investors.

The market right now is especially susceptible to a sharp correction, or worse.

Before diving into the best way to play the current bubble dynamics to your advantage, let’s look at the evidence for whether a bubble exists in the first place…

My preferred metric is the Shiller Cyclically Adjusted PE Ratio or CAPE. This particular PE ratio was invented by Nobel Prize-winning economist Robert Shiller of Yale University.

CAPE has several design features that set it apart from the PE ratios touted on Wall Street. The first is that it uses a rolling ten-year earnings period. This smooths out fluctuations based on temporary psychological, geopolitical, and commodity-linked factors that should not bear on fundamental valuation.

The second feature is that it is backward-looking only. This eliminates the rosy scenario forward-looking earnings projections favored by Wall Street.

The third feature is that that relevant data is available back to 1870, which allows for robust historical comparisons.

The chart below shows the CAPE from 1870 to 2017. Two conclusions emerge immediately. The CAPE today is at the same level as in 1929 just before the crash that started the Great Depression. The second is that the CAPE is higher today than it was just before the Panic of 2008.

Neither data point is definitive proof of a bubble. CAPE was much higher in 2000 when the dot.com bubble burst. Neither data point means that the market will crash tomorrow.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Fascinating Psychology of Blowoff Tops

The Fascinating Psychology of Blowoff Tops

Central banks have guaranteed a bubble collapse is the only possible output of the system they’ve created.

The psychology of blowoff tops in asset bubbles is fascinating: let’s start with the first requirement of a move qualifying as a blowoff top, which is the vast majority of participants deny the move is a blowoff top.

Exhibit 1: a chart of the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJ-30):

Is there any other description of this parabolic ascent other than “blowoff top” that isn’t absurdly misleading? Can anyone claim this is just a typical Bull market? There is nothing even remotely typical about the record RSI (relative strength index), record Bull-Bear ratio, and so on, especially after a near-record run of 9 years.

The few who do grudgingly acknowledge this parabolic move might be a blowoff top are positive that it has many more months to run. This is the second requirement of qualifying as a blowoff top: the widespread confidence that the Bull advance has years more to run, and if not years, then many months.

In the 1999 dot-com blowoff top, participants believed the Internet would grow at phenomenal rates for years to come, and thus the parabolic move higher was fully rational.

In the housing bubble’s 2006-07 blowoff top, a variety of justifications of soaring valuations and frantic flipping were accepted as self-evident.

In the present blowoff top, the received wisdom holds that global growth is just getting started, and corporate profits will soar in 2018. Therefore current sky-high valuations are not just rational, they clearly have plenty of room to rise much higher.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Greatest Bubble Ever: Why You Better Believe It, Part 2

The Greatest Bubble Ever: Why You Better Believe It, Part 2

During the 40 months after Alan Greenspan’s infamous “irrational exuberance” speech in December 1996, the NASDAQ 100 index rose from 830 to 4585 or by 450%. But the perma-bulls said not to worry: This time is different—-it’s a new age of technology miracles that will change the laws of finance.

It wasn’t. The market cracked in April 2000 and did not stop plunging until the NASDAQ 100 index hit 815 in early October 2002. During those a heart-stopping 30 months of free-fall, all the gains of the tech boom were wiped out in an 84% collapse of the index. Overall, the market value of household equities sank from $10.0 trillion to $4.8 trillion—-a wipeout from which millions of baby boom households have never recovered.

Likewise, the second Greenspan housing and credit boom generated a similar round trip of bubble inflation and collapse. During the 57 months after the October 2002 bottom, the Russell 2000 (RUT) climbed the proverbial wall-of-worry—-rising from 340 to 850 or by 2.5X.

And this time was also held to be different because, purportedly, the art of central banking had been perfected in what Bernanke was pleased to call the “Great Moderation”. Taking the cue, Wall Street dubbed it the Goldilocks Economy—-meaning a macroeconomic environment so stable, productive and balanced that it would never again be vulnerable to a recessionary contraction and the resulting plunge in corporate profits and stock prices.

Wrong again!

During the 20 months from the July 2007 peak to the March 2009 bottom, the RUT gave it all back. And we mean every bit of it—-as the index bottomed 60% lower at 340. This time the value of household equities plunged by $6 trillion, and still millions more baby-boomers were carried out of the casino on their shields never to return.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Greatest Bubble Ever: Why You Better Believe It, Part 1

The Greatest Bubble Ever: Why You Better Believe It, Part 1

During the 40 months after Alan Greenspan’s infamous “irrational exuberance” speech in December 1996, the NASDAQ 100 index rose from 830 to 4585 or by 450%. But the perma-bulls said not to worry: This time is different—-it’s a new age of technology miracles that will change the laws of finance forever.

It wasn’t. The market cracked in April 2000 and did not stop plunging until the NASDAQ 100 index hit 815 in early October 2002. During those heart-stopping 30 months of free-fall, all the gains of the tech boom were wiped out in an 84% collapse of the index. Overall, the market value of household equities sank from $10.0 trillion to $4.8 trillion—-a wipeout from which millions of baby boom households have never recovered.

Likewise, the second Greenspan housing and credit boom generated a similar round trip of bubble inflation and collapse. During the 57 months after the October 2002 bottom, the Russell 2000 (RUT) climbed the proverbial wall-of-worry—-rising from 340 to 850 or by 2.5X.

And this time was also held to be different because, purportedly, the art of central banking had been perfected in what Bernanke was pleased to call the “Great Moderation”. Taking the cue, Wall Street dubbed it the Goldilocks Economy—-meaning a macroeconomic environment so stable, productive and balanced that it would never again be vulnerable to a recessionary contraction and the resulting plunge in corporate profits and stock prices.

Wrong again!

During the 20 months from the July 2007 peak to the March 2009 bottom, the RUT gave it all back. And we mean every bit of it—-as the index bottomed 60% lower at 340. This time the value of household equities plunged by $6 trillion, and still millions more baby-boomers were carried out of the casino on their shields never to return.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The ghost of Gann: Another crash is coming

The original wizard of Wall Street, W.D Gann was a finance trader and wealthy speculator that spent decades investigating cyclical trends in equity market patterns and found that prices could be predicted long in advance. He successfully predicted the crashes in the 1929 and Dot-Com stock market bubbles.  And according to his analysis, the US stock market is due for another crash in 2020.

Every movement in the market is the result of a natural law and of a Cause which exists long before the Effect takes place and can be determined years in advance. The future is but a repetition of the past, as the Bible plainly states…

After suffering through the worst economic and financial crisis since the 1930s depression when the real estate and stock markets crashed in 2007, the United States’ bubble economy is back into full swing. Residential and commercial real estate prices are growing strongly, along with equities.

The US stock market, as defined by the S&P500 index, has boomed after collapsing to a trough in 2009. The market ‘recovered’ more quickly than anyone thought it would, and has continued surging from thereon in.

This has led to a lot of commentary and media coverage that the S&P500 is in the thrall of yet another bubble that will burst. Despite the many predictions of collapse, the bubble has powered on unhindered.

Like all asset bubbles, the primary cause is speculators taking on debt to bid up prices to ever-higher levels, generating a stream of greater fools willing to purchase at inflated valuations. In the case of equities, the type of debt used is margin debt.

The trends in the S&P500 index and margin debt are obvious. The name of the game is capital gains; income is increasingly sidelined as yields become compressed to record lows.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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