Friday, February 16, 2018

Marc Faber: Holding Cash Might be the Gun Powder You Need in the Next Collapse

First interview up, Louis Navellier of Navellier & Associates notes that the best corporate earnings in 6 years and tax cuts could spur forward the already lofty US equities markets in 2018. 

Dividend yielding stocks may be preferable in 2018, but caution is advisable before chasing high yields, which only magnifies risk / volatility. 

The host / guest concur that NVIDIA (NVDA) shares are appealing, due in part to record demand for their superior crypto-mining GPUs, a top holding of our guest. Louis Navellier also holds UCTT, Ultra Clean Holdings, and Chinese stocks in anticipation of the Morgan Stanley Chinese stock index update, including the Twitter of China, WEBCO, ticker WB. Another key holding, Align Technologies, ALGN, maker of the popular dental tool, Invisalign is in his portfolio. 

Outside of the equities markets, our guest is also adding copper and lithium contracts amid the auto battery revolution, including FMC corp and Sociedad Quimica Y Minera (SQM). Next up, globally renowned economist and editor of the GloomBoomDoom report, Dr. Marc Faber returns with his outlook on the financial markets for 2018. 

Due to excessive expansion, of central bank balance sheets, global equities prices may be overextended as robust economic conditions are heavily dependent on inflated asset prices, including real estate and cryptos. Investors will turn away from the bubble markets to the precious metals, which will likely be next to outperform competing asset classes. 

Although the Bitcoin mania reached a fevered pitch recently, approaching a total market cap for of $1 trillion (entire sector), Dr. Faber suggests that cryptos could continue to gain popularity after the current correction and increase another 20 fold to $10 trillion, rivaling the $7 trillion gold market, due in part to the limited supply of the top digital coins (figure 1.1.). Case in point, during the month long Bitcoin correction, Ethereum, arguably the silver to Bitcoin's gold, advanced over 100%, offsetting much of the selling - sector rotation is oftentimes viewed as a sign of bull market indication. 

The guest / host concur, investment portfolio diversification is key to navigating through record market volatility and impending bubble implosions. Dr. Faber finds cash the most neglected asset class; holding currency could yield the gun powder necessary to procure discounted investment assets, following imminent price plunges.

- Source, Gold Seek Radio

Monday, February 12, 2018

Marc Faber: Ages of Discord, Political and Financial Insecurity

According to Hugh Smith, "The core narrative of the Status Quo is that nothing fundamental needs to be changed: all the problems can be solved with more ‘free money’ (borrowed from the future at low rates of interest) and a few policy tweaks such as Universal Basic Income.

This core narrative is false: everything needs to change, from the bottom up. And that of course terrifies those gorging at the trough of status quo wealth and power."

Hugh Smith then discusses the theories of Peter Turchin. Peter Turchin is a Russian-American scientist, specializing in cultural evolution and the statistical analysis of the dynamics of historical societies.

His 2016 book Ages of Discord explains why we should be worried about the current course taken by American society and how we can use history to plan a better future. According to Turchin, "something happened to American society during the 1970s. Several previously positive social, economic, and political trends suddenly reversed their direction."

Turchin further explains that, "there were two periods in American history that were remarkably free of political violence: the Era of Good Feelings (the 1820s) and the post-war prosperity of the 1950s, which I termed the Era of Good Feelings II. After the quiet 1950s, however, incidents of political violence again became more frequent and now we may be in the middle of another wave of sociopolitical instability.

Waves of sociopolitical instability are characterized by:
  • 1. An over-supply of labor that suppresses real (inflation-adjusted) wages
  • 2. An overproduction of essentially parasitic Elites
  • 3. A deterioration in central state finances (over-indebtedness, decline in tax revenues, increase in state dependents, fiscal burdens of war, etc.)"
I love the expression of "overproduction of essentially parasitic elites," which includes an oversupply of bureaucrats.

Fortunately, The pace of new regulation has visibly slowed in the Trump administration. A search of OMB’s database reveals that, between January and December 2017, the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs concluded review of 21 ‘economically significant’ regulations - those with impacts (costs or benefits) expected to be $100 million or more in a year. There are indeed far fewer rules than previous presidents have issued in their first years.

The most impressive part is that some of these "significant" rules are actually designed to reduce red tape.

The S&P 500 has made history on a seemingly weekly basis with its record highs, but this unprecedented feat is about longevity. The index has gone for over 400 days without a 5% pullback, putting it at the longest streak on record, dating back to 1929, an infamous year no doubt.

But as Valerius observed in the first century A.D.
"The divine wrath is slow indeed in vengeance, but it makes up for its tardiness by the severity of the punishment."

- Source, Marc Faber

Friday, February 9, 2018

Market Conditions Are Set to Get Much Tougher For Investors

The Indian market may correct by 20-30 per cent, but it is attractive to stay invested in the country for long-term, said Marc Faber, editor & publisher of “The Gloom, Boom & Doom Report in an exclusive interview with Zee Business.

Faber also pointed out that India has the potential to become the second or third largest economy in the world. Edited excerpts:

Your thoughts on Indian budget and its impact on market?

Indian budget has been a mixed bag. I don't think stock market in India has fallen just on account of Budget. I think other factors are at play too.

What is your take on re-introduction of long-term capital gains (LTCG) tax in India?

I am against any kind of tax, be it LTCG, STCG, excise duty, or Value added tax (VAT). I think one should try to keep the government as small as possible. Best way to keep the government small is not increasing taxation, because the more money you give to the government, the bigger it will grow to be.

Do you believe the correction in India will prolong?

Everybody says it's a correction, but it's a premature statement. We don't know yet. It may be a correction of 5 per cent, 10 per cent or even 20 per cent, but it could also be a beginning of something more serious that may pull down the market much more.

What is the probability of that?

In US, a bull market started essentially nine years ago in March 2009. We are up close to 4 times since then, and in the last two years we never had a correction of more than 5 per cent. After these conditions, it is not unlikely that the market will face some tough time. Market may decline by 40 per cent. I'm not saying it will happen. I say it could happen.

Do you suspect globally markets may lighten up a bit and lead to adversely impact India?

Indian markets have now the yields removed. I had said two years ago that Indian markets will outperform US markets over the next 10 years. Two years are gone. But it doesn't mean that US markets can't have a significant correction. In 1987, we have had a 40% correction, followed by recession, then market continued to go up until 2000. My sense is we had a nirvana condition for financial assets over the last 8-9 years. Bonds, stocks and practically every sector has rallied. Dollar was firm. All these conditions will change. It will be more challenging for investors.

In the case of India, it has had a big rally, and a correction is overdue. But it's attractive to stay in India for long-term. India has the potential to become the second or third largest economy in the world, but at the same time, the benchmark may dip by 20-30 per cent but there will be shares that will move up.

If indeed market corrects by 20-30% in India, within EM basket, where will you place India?

A year ago, my top pick was Vietnam, but now it is also due a significant correction.

Your question is not easy to answer. Markets world over are being manipulated by central banks keeping interest rates low. In India, RBI's relatively tight monetary policy has resulted into rupee being strong and stable against dollar over the last two years. The RBI deserves some positive marks. I believe Indian economy may not be super healthy, but compared to others, it's a reasonably good bet to own.

Which pocket do you like in India?

I see a huge opportunity in real estate.

- Source, Zee Biz

Saturday, February 3, 2018

The Ghosts of Crashes Past, Recent, and Future

It’s not boasting to state plainly that you were right if you are equally direct about your errors. I have until now rightly predicted all of the stock market’s major downturns, starting with the one in 2007 that gave us the Great Recession. The first of those led to the writing of this blog. The next two were predicted and recorded as they happened on this blog, and the latest, whether it proves right or wrong, waits shortly in the future. Each time I made such a prediction here, I bet my blog on it. The blog is still here, but will it continue to be?

I am using the term “crash” loosely in this article because one time I clearly stated the impending plunge would not technically amount to a crash (a sudden drop of more than 20%) but it would be much more significant than just a correction (a decline of 10%) because of how drastically it would change the nature of the market. I’ll show here how it did. The next time, I predicted a “crash” that did not quite turn out as significant as I claimed it would be, but it was an historic event in that the Dow fell further in January than it had ever done in its entire history, and it did so exactly the timing (to the day) that I laid out in advance.

I let myself off easy on that one as being both a hit and a miss because, after all, getting timing of a major plunge right to the exact day as well as the counter-intuitive manner by which it would start on that day is not something one typically sees.

Now we are about to see whether I will survive the prediction I made many months ago for January 2018.
The ghost of crashes past

On September 3rd, 2014, I wrote an article titled “Will There be a 2014 Stock Market Crash?” In that article I predicted something big and wicked appeared to be coming right around the corner:

This [prediction] is coming from someone who has not been crying the sky is falling for some time….. I won’t go as far as I did with the housing market [back in ’07] by predicting a stock-market crash based on the evidence at the moment, but I will say it is looking like a significant risk this fall, should other events trigger panic in stock investors who know they are heavily leveraged and who know everyone else is, too.

That bet sounds a little hedged, but it was merely reiterating what I had predicted in the early spring of that year:

I’m not predicting economic collapse in 2014 any more than I did last year. Some well-known talking heads did for 2013, especially related to China, and I said they’d be wrong. Marc Faber, Nouriel Roubini, and Jim Rogers all predicted that 2013 would bring a great crash, and I said that I did not think that was likely. While I’m not forecasting calamity in my 2014 economic predictions, it certainly looks like a stormy fall ahead of us as these pressures start to build against the global economy. (“Strong Headwinds Face Global Economy“)

In keeping with that earlier prediction, I concluded my September update for the rapidly approaching autumn months as follows:

I avoid sensationalism or market pessimism, but unlike bullish market optimists I will predict doom when doom really is on the horizon, but not before. I would move the needle on my gauge that monitors the likelihood of an economic crash this year from yellow to solidly orange where I predicted in the spring that it would be come fall.…

The sad tale to be seen in the market today is that we have learned nothing from the economic crash of 2008 and less than nothing from the high-tech crash at the beginning of the millennium. The market is wildly speculative on dot-com stocks and highly leveraged. It has huge potential to fall rapidly if something goes wrong because the investing is so highly leveraged (built out of debt). The market looks exactly like it did before the last bust of the dot-com bubble.Because it is such an unstable situation and because the headwinds that I forecasted last March have grown, the likelihood of that market toppling in the fall has increased.

Every force mentioned in my March forecast has built up in the directions predicted, bringing the risk level for this fall to exactly the precarious level I predicted. Remember, I bet my blog on things taking that direction this past March, promising I’d stop making forecasts if I was wrong about the direction these headwinds were taking us….

I maintain that bet while nearly everyone else is saying the economy has improved this year, and superficially it appears it has; but I am looking at the teetering state of the market and the growing forces of the winds that whirl around us and saying that those who think, based on statistics that the economy is recovering, are all looking in the wrong direction. They are not paying attention to the foundations of this structure, and they are not looking at the sheer forces that are ready to knock it off its wobbly foundation. The economy is, in fact, precariously weak, and the forces that could knock it over have grown increasingly strong.

The area in the yellow box below shows what happened less than two weeks after if I reiterated those strong warnings that things were about to go very bad:

I wrote and published the article two weeks before the big dip that took us into the yellow box in the graph above — a time which the author who published this graph now refers to as “a stealth bear market.” I would later write that, as far as I was concerned, the events that happened that fall broke the spine of the bull market completely (the Trump rally that ended the period in the yellow box being an entirely new phenomenon built on a different basis of speculation). As with the author who published the graph, I disagree with those who say this has all been one long bull market of recovery.

I think I was right about that fall with the perspective one gets when looking back from a distance. If you took all your money out of the stock market at the start of that yellow box, you could have kept it out of the market for almost two years, and you would have missed nothing but a bumpy ride to nowhere. The bull clearly broke its back with that first big plunge in the fall of 2014, never to recover without massive intrusion by a new force in the market.

Technically, the S&P fell 19% by the time that break finished playing out, so it missed becoming an officially declared bear market by a mere nick; but I think it is clear the market broke like a hurricane that misses being named a hurricane by just one mile per hour. It’s a naming technicality that doesn’t change how bad the storm was. At any rate, I had been smart enough to stop myself short of saying the market would “crash” or that total calamity would hit the economy and had predicted, instead, that a market downturn of major significance was about to happen. Clearly it did, so I got to keep writing my blog.

Note that the massive change this event brought to the market was ONLY reversed by the momentous election of Donald Trump and the ensuing Trump Rally. You can see the exact point that happened near the end of the yellow zone above. Without that event, the market would still be churning sideways; but I never said the change I was predicting in 2014 would be apocalyptic or that the market would stay down forever.

As noted then, I also had not predicted anything dire for quite some time prior to that. (I’m not a permabear, always predicting doom and gloom until it happens.) It took a new major historic event to upset the country and extract us out of that seemingly endless sideways bounce and crawl of the “stealth bear” that had begun right when I said the market would break.
The ghost of a Christmas crash most recent

The next time I predicted a major downturn in the market was not until December of 2015 when I also bet my blog on the prediction coming true, and this time I was even more specific. Just a few hours before the Fed raised interest rates for the first time since the official part of the Great Recession, I wrote the following prediction:

Let me share something counter-intuitive. Whether the Fed raises interest rates or not, this Wednesday is D-day for the Fed’s economic recovery because the Fed is Damned if it does and Damned if it doesn’t. I’ll certainly show you why, but the counterintuitive part is that you can expect the market to crash upward as it leaves Wonderland and returns to reality.

Maybe I am a contrarian to contrarians because while I have taken the contrarian view that the recovery is an illusion, most contrarians appear to believe the stock market will crash as soon as the Fed raises rates. I take a counterintuitive view as being most likely. The market will most likely soar, even though raising rates definitely will cause its demise. How is that possible?

Fear of the Fed’s first rate increase is already priced in as the expectation for Wednesday’s Fed meeting. If the Fed raises rates, I would expect a momentary pause — a gasp of uncertainty — as investors quickly look around to see if the sky falls. Then when it doesn’t fall, they will breath a huge sigh of relief and take that as proof that the contrarians or bears were wrong. In sudden euphoric lightness of being they’ll proclaim, “We’re all right! We made it! We survived the day we have been told to fear, and the sky didn’t fall.” Worry will give way easily to euphoria, which wants to happen. The feeling of nothing can stop us now will take the day. The Fed’s plan worked; things didn’t fall apart as the prophets of doom and gloom said. We are well on our way!

But what do you know about euphoria and human beings? In my experience, euphoria is more often divorced from reality than based upon it. It skews perception of reality, and usually comes in a manic-depressive wave. First you are washed over by the crest of euphoria and then you are sucked down into the trough of despair….

The economy doesn’t crash because the Fed ends its free interest. The economy is already sinking. What crashes is the illusion of recovery. December 16, 2015, is D-day because it’s the day when reality starts to sink in….

[The market] may bounce in euphoria over the simple relief that it didn’t immediately crash when the fuel tap was shut off, but that death spasm can’t last long with nothing left to lift prices up…. you will very soon be able to look back and see that this day, Wednesday, December 16, was the turning point. (“The Epocalypse: What Will D-Day Look Like?”)

And what happened? You have to look no further than the yellow box in the graph above. I made my prediction in the period between the two deep plunges inside the yellow box. The market nudged up on December 15th right after the Fed’s announced its increase, then it shot up a lot more on the 16th; but then it stumbled and fell on the 17th – 19th. The bulls tried to rally one last time, then walked off a cliff in January in what became the biggest January plunge in market history.

But here is the part where I have to also say where I was wrong. While I was right to the day about the timing and about how the ups and downs would play out, I was greatly wrong in stating that it would lead into an economic calamity I called “the Epocalypse.” It did not.

I kept writing my blog, however, because most of it had happened exactly as I said it would, though not to the degree that I had predicted. It was more of an overstated hit than a miss. Unlike the first bet where I resisted the doom and gloom, this time I had gone too far into the glooming. Still, it was a record plunge that January, and it did become the lowest point in the period designated above as the “stealth bear market.” It was a lot closer than anyone else’s call had been.

The ghost of a crash soon to be

My final time in betting my blog (because I choose to put my money where my mouth is) was this year when I bet the economy would show serious signs of breaking down by summer and stated where the cracks would begin to show. In addition to laying out the exact fault lines that would show up in the summer, I predicted the stock market would crash in the fall or more likely in January of 2018, but no later than that.

Now it’s time for me to say, “Let’s watch what happens.” Things clearly aren’t looking good for me this time around, but hang around long enough to see how it plays out.

But first, about those major cracks that I said would show up in the summer. Three of the major cracks that I said were likely to emerge were the retail apocalypse, the beginning of a slow decline in the housing market and a crash in the auto market. All of those things became evident last summer, just when I said they would. Then, however, the hurricanes and wildfires hit. I noted the severity and spread of that destruction would probably turn the housing market and the auto market around for the next year or two.

Obviously, I cannot see hurricanes coming as rescue wagons that will thwart my predictions, but such is the risk of making economic predictions. There can be unexpected white swans, just as there can be black ones. I’m not suggesting those catastrophes are ultimately good for the nation in the long run; but just like a wartime economy, they can light the economy on fire by forcing all kinds of spending. Thus, they greatly accelerate the velocity of money as much as they accelerate the velocity of air.

I pointed out before any statistics came in that these would would postpone the events I had predicted and that had already begun to show. So, I didn’t wait to alter that prediction until after the fact. Simply put, you cannot wipe out or badly damage nearly a million houses and nearly a million automobiles without all of those having to be replaced as quickly as possible. As most were likely insured, so most would be replaced in the fall and winter and on into the spring of 2018. In fact, rebuilding so many houses will take a couple of years.

Some people would rebuild homes once the cleanup was over; as many as possible would soak up surviving houses that were already on the market (driving up the price of those limited available homes) because they needed something to live in right away. The supply of existing homes in those areas, however, would be very limited; so many people would have no choice but to relocate to other regions in order to find immediate housing. The hurricanes would create a lot of demand for both new and old homes and would fill up a lot of vacant apartments but would also press people into other states to find housing.

It’s hard, maybe impossible, to quantify how much of the housing resurgence throughout the US is due to the hurricanes as well as to the wildfires that have been destroying homes in California since last summer, but such vast swaths of destruction clearly has to have a major impact on the housing market when you are talking a sudden need for a million replacement homes and a million replacement cars. That will certainly drive up the prices for both new and used homes and cars. So, those industries, which did start to reveal signs of decline in the summer have been greatly shored up on the backs of insurance companies and US debt in the form of relief for now.

Nevertheless, a bet’s a bet. Events that were often described by the media as apocalyptic in scale swept in out of the blue and shook the whole economy by creating a need for all kinds of replacement goods beyond just houses and cars. They stirred the pot rapidly and turned up the heat by adding fire and air, forcing the velocity of money to heat up everywhere.

However, a major part of my bet was also that the stock market would crash in the late fall or January of 2018. If that turns out as predicted, I will claim I had a lot more significant hits than misses, given that the misses have reasonable justification, too. In which case, I’ll stay in the blog-writing business. If the market doesn’t crash, however, then then the balance tips in favor of the misses, and I’m out.

Of course, my market predictions look unlikely. Something else I did not see with any clarity (but then neither did anyone else) was that the Trump rally in the stock market would last so long or climb so breathlessly high. But here it is. The anticipatory phase of the rally is all in. That’s why we have a noticeable lull now that the Trump tax cuts have been approved at a time when we might normally expect a Santa-Clause rally. There is no more pricing in happening.

Those new tax breaks will start to come in just a few days from now, and I anticipate the market will fall when those breaks become the law under which people are selling stocks. If I could revise my bet, I’d be tempted to say that fall will no longer end the rally, but the first month’s transition from anticipating to experiencing life under the new laws will likely be rough. There is probably a lot of sea to move through this passage. I cannot revise my bet, of course; but I’m just saying the unforeseen strength of the Trump rally would cause me to take some of the direness out of the fall that I anticipated if I could.

The market experienced enormous overheating (like no one has ever seen before) during the long Trump Rally, which lasted much longer than I predicted it would (but, then again, much longer and higher than even the most optimistic bulls predicted). Trump’s tax changes will definitely stimulate the market in the year ahead; but Januaries are slump months more often than boom months, and there is good reason to think investors are ready to catch their breath and secure some profits out of the market after that long, exhilarating ride — a ride that at the time was entirely speculative because it was based on tax cuts that no one could be sure would happen.

Some profit taking at the end of a year with a rampage like this would make sense. Postponing that profit taking until it can happen under much better tax rules makes even more sense to me in a world that increasingly makes little sense because of how rigged markets have become due to central-bank manipulation. So, I expect January to be a month of profit-taking, but will that event become bearish enough to save my blog, given that I predicted a stock market crash that would most likely happen in January?

- Source, David Haggith via GoldSeek