The stock market is surging again to new highs and I’m asking myself, “who the hell is buying right now? Are investors insane?”
Let me explain. Fundamentals are deteriorating; technically, stocks remain in an uptrend but there are red flags (divergences) everywhere; greed is off the charts; and the macro/structural backdrop is no longer supportive of risk taking. Still investors just can’t seem to keep their “extreme greed” in check and the divide between price and reality is getting more massive every day.
It seems the only reason to buy stocks right now is because others are buying (the trend remains in place) which is fine. As always, this works until it doesn’t. Trend following is a valid investment process but don’t delude yourself into thinking there is any other reason to buy right now. And the longer this goes on, buying only because others are buying, the more painful the reckoning will be.
Wall Street insiders understand this all too well. That’s why they’re all lining up to sound the alarm. The Fed gets it, too. And they’re also openly expressing their worries. Still, investors clearly don’t give a s*** as they continue to pour money into the market.
Oh, you don’t buy the idea that Joe Retail is in the market? Then how to you explain the fact that only one point in the past 75 years has seen retail investors hold a larger allocation to the stock market? (Coincidentally, stocks have only been this overvalued once during that span, as well.) The fact is investors have never embraced risk to the degree that they are doing today, right now.
And they’re doing it by buying leveraged ETFs and Junk Bonds like there’s no tomorrow. Problem is there is a tomorrow. And when investors try to get out of these things they’re going to realize that they took on WAY more risk than they ever imagined when they first bought them.
The great irony is they are once again doing all of this at exactly the wrong time. Not only did the economy contract in Q1, more data coming out suggest the corporate profits bubble could finally be bursting. Not only did margins decline in the first three months of the year, all that cash on corporate balance sheets that the bulls keep talking about (and which Stephanie Pomboy reminds us resides at only a handful of firms, anyway) actually contracted, as well.
Aside form corporations, consumers are now telling us they are worried about they’re ability to keep up their spending going forward. And I think most of these folks are unaware that those HELOCs they took out during the real estate bubble are about to kick them in the ass.
To top it off the Fed is tightening! Yes, tapering = tightening. And if QE was bullish then the removal of QE is bearish. Period.
So call it a blowoff. Call it a Wile E. Coyote moment. Call it a divergence, a disconnect, a lapse of judgement. Call it whatever you want; I’ll call the “Honey Badger” market because this is one “crazy, nastyass” stock market. And I can’t believe I’m watching it happen all over again.