Posts Tagged ‘rally’

Is this a bear market rally or a turning point?

Sunday, May 17th, 2009

The global stock market has been rallying for the past couple of months already. There have been talks of “green shoots” of economic recovery. There are hopes that China’s stimulus spending will bring out renewed demand for Australian commodities. Already, there are reports of record Chinese demand for commodities (see China on buying spree).

We heard of many retail investors piling into the stock market, not wanting to miss out in the turning point. Since the stock market tends to be a leading indicator of future economic activity, many are seduced by the idea that this rally is predicting a turning point in the global economy. Unfortunately, as with many cliché ideas, this is only half-true. This is an example of a mental pitfall called lazy induction (see Mental pitfall: Lazy Induction).

To be more precise, the stock market anticipates but not predicts turning points. What this means is that economic recoveries are followed from recoveries in the stock market, but a stock market rally does not necessarily indicate an economic recovery. A very good example will be the number of bear market rallies in the chart of the Dow Jones from 1929 at Bear market rally on the works?.

Now, let’s take a read at what Marc Faber says about this rally in his latest market commentrary:

The economic news in the world is hardly getting any better, but the rate of economic contraction has slowed down somewhat as the  governments? stimulus packages begin to have some impact and as some replacement demand is starting to support consumption. However, to talk  already now about a sustainable economic recovery seems premature because whereas some sectors (autos) and regions may be stabilizing, others are still in a steep decline.

The global economy are declining, but the speed of decline is not as fast as the second half of 2008. Therefore, this stock market rally is anticipating that this reduction in speed is a turning point.

The next question to ask is this: will the stock market be lower or higher in 2010? Even Marc Faber admitted not knowing the answer to this question. Indeed, it is certainly possible to see another bout of breathtaking crash that can rival the panic of 2008. There can be many possible triggers for that, including:

  1. Collapse of a major European bank. Many big European banks lent so much money to Eastern Europe that their asset books are even bigger in size than the GDP of some European nations! Meanwhile, many Eastern European economies are in serious trouble, which means there will be many gigantic bad debts floating around. The European Union is an economic union but not a political union. Therefore, the European Central Bank (ECB) does not have the same level of authority and political support as the US Federal Reserve. Individual nations using the Euro as their currency cannot simply print money to bail out their financial system because they have surrendered their economic sovereignty to an intra-national authority. To do that, there can be a situation whereby taxpayers of say, Germany, are asked to bail out the taxpayers of say, Spain. Politically, this is too much to ask. Therefore, if a banking crisis is to hit Europe, the political deadlock can result in another panic in financial markets.
  2. Swine flu
  3. Collapse of Pakistan

At the same time, governments are already embarking in massive money printing (quantitative easing), stimulus and bailouts spree. As we said before in Marc Faber vs Steve Keen in inflation/deflation debate- Part 2: Marc Faber?s view,

… while the deflationary pressures will continue, it can be slowed down via unconventional monetary policies (see ?Bernankeism and hyper-inflation?), gigantic fiscal policies, bailouts and even government fraud. The result will be a long drawn out affair, akin to a grinding trench warfare and a war of attrition on the real economy as credit contraction (IOU destruction) collide head on with money printing, massive government spending, stimulus and bailouts.

If government pumps so much money into the financial system, it is only a matter of time before asset prices rise again, not because of improving economic outlook but because of the sheer weight of money. The problem will be massive consumer price inflation once the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) is over, which is a problem for the next generation to solve. The outcome will be what we wrote in Zimbabwe: Best Performing Stock Market in 2007?.

In any case, no matter what happens, the peak of economic boom in 2006/2007 is over and will not be back soon. Investors who are expecting that will be disappointed.

Marc Faber: Asset Markets May Rebound Within 3 Months

Tuesday, November 25th, 2008

Back in Bear market rally on the works?, we explored the possibility of a stock market rally in the context of a bear market. We wrote,

At such extreme levels, it is very possible that we will see a counter-trend rally soon. But please note two things:

  1. It does not mean that prices cannot go down further in the short-term. Who knows, perhaps there will be more panic selling in the days to come, thus bringing the technical indicators into even more extreme levels?

More than a month had passed and everyone could see that the panic selling had intensified. It is only since a couple of days ago that there was some kind of bounce. Naturally, many investors are extremely wary of this. Many of them will take this opportunity to sell.

Interestingly, Marc Faber had this to say in this interview:

What you could see in the next three months is a very strong rebound in asset markets, in equities, followed by a selloff in bonds and eventually a sell-off in the dollar.

Why is the reasoning behind Marc Faber’s view?

Firstly, based on statistical probability, the market for stocks, non-government bonds and commodities are at a level that is even more oversold than the infamous 1987 crash. Therefore, based on history’s lessons, a rebound is likely to happen soon. As we mentioned before in Bear market rally on the works?, even during the infamous bear market of the Great Depression, there were many multi-month rebounds before stocks bottomed out in 1932. The only argument against this line of reasoning is the Black Swan argument (see Failure to understand Black Swan leads to fallacious thinking). Who knows, perhaps 2008 will go down in history as the worst ever bear market that is unprecedented in the entire history of human civilisation? In that case, as Marc Faber cautioned,

Statistically a rebound should happen, but if it doesn’t “the air is out” and the world faces an economy “worse than the depression of ’29 to ’32,” he said.

Next, the key to understand why a rebound can happen is that

But “I assure you if you throw enough money at the system, eventually you can reflate, especially in the United States,” Faber added.

What is happening is that despite the gigantic deflation in asset prices all over the world (around US$60 to $100 trillion of ‘value’ had gone up in smoke), governments are trying their hardest to pump liquidity (money and money substitutes) into the financial system and spending their way into budget deficits. Consequently, financial institutions are sitting on a huge pile of cash as they sell their assets and hoard it. The problem with ‘cash’ (the safest ‘cash’ is Treasury bills and government bonds) is that they have practically no return. Therefore, it is only a matter of time before the overwhelming volume of liquidity burst the seams and triggers a rally. As Marc Faber said,

If the market continues its sell-off, there will be more capital injections and more liquidity creation and one day it will trigger a huge rally where people rush out of cash into assets because they will become not concern about deflation but concern about the monetary impact of this liquidity injection on asset prices and so they rush in to hard assets whether it’s land or raw materials, in particular gold.

In such an environment, we will happen to the value investing philosophy? We will talk more about that soon.

In the mean time, what do you think will happen to the global equity market in 3 months time? Vote and express your thoughts here! (Today, we will do something a little different- we will close the comments for this post so that you can vote and comment here instead. You need to register first before you can comment and vote).

P.S. In 3 months time, we will re-visit this vote and see whether you, our dear readers, are right or not. 🙂 We will close the vote in 10 days time, so hurry with your votes.

Confidence back? Beware of bear market rally

Monday, March 24th, 2008

Last week, gold prices fell from a high of around US$1020 to around US$910 at the time of writing. Oil prices fell from a high of around $US110 to around US$100. Commodities from copper, zinc, nickel, wheat to corn also fell suddenly. The US dollar then rallied.

What is going on? Is inflation suddenly being suppressed and confidence in fiat money (chief among them is the US dollar) revived? The financial media even joined in the cheer-leading, as we see this nonsensical article from Bloomberg: Commodities Drop, Rally in Dollar, Stocks Vindicate Bernanke– it said,

The biggest commodity collapse in at least five decades may signal Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke has revived confidence in U.S. financial firms.

Investors who had poured money into gold, oil and corn, seeking a hedge against inflation and a weak dollar, sold commodities to raise cash or buy stocks.

So, this article is saying that in the span of less than a week, confidence is being revived and returned into the global financial system? Is it implying that ‘investors’ are suddenly seeing the light at the end of the tunnel and raised cash to buy stocks in anticipation of the glorious economic recovery that Bernanke is going to orchestrate? Indeed, this article should be put into the humour section.

One common explanation of such a sudden fall in commodity prices is that ‘investors’ have to liquidate their winning trades (e.g. gold, oil) to fulfil the margin call of their losing trades (e.g. stocks). Another way to look at this is that this is an example of deflation. Anyway, whatever the reason, we are hardly surprised by such developments. Our loyal readers should not be surprised too because we have warned about it even as early as 12 months ago (see Inflation or deflation first? and Warning: gold price can still fall significantly).

Anyway, do not be fooled, dear readers. This is a great example of a bear market rally. Such rallies are very common- even in the Great Crash of 1929, the stock market rallied for 6 months in 1930 before falling to its lowest point in 1932 (see Second lesson of ?29 crash?bear rebound).

In the next article, we will explain why such kind of price fluctuations happens, which should not perturb the long term investor. Keep tuned!