Sunday, January 1, 2017

Some Market Watchers In Full "Cringe" Mode

Rising Risk Often Mean Diminished Rewards!
Believe it or not, some investors saw the crash of 2008 as a healthy reset. It was a pause that while painful was an opportunity to face and address structural problems that had grown apparent. It is now clear that opportunity has been squandered by leaders in both Washington and around the world. More than enough blame for the lack of financial responsibility exists to go around but looking back years from now upon the rally we are seeing central banks and governments without a doubt will be viewed as the main culprits. Before the last financial crisis, some rather unhealthy ways of doing business had worked their way into the markets and were infecting large sectors of the economy. Today we are seeing that again.

Some market watchers are now in full "cringe" mode. To cringe is a verb meaning to bend one's head and body in fear or in a servile manner. Synonyms include to cower, to shrink and to recoil, as to recoil in horror, and that may be what we should be doing rather than buying into the idea all is well. The market melt-up after the election when Donald Trump surprised almost all market watchers off-guard but what we see happening today has lifted this activity to a whole new level. Two decades ago Allen Greenspan who was the chairman of the Federal Reserve coined the term irrational exuberance, however, greed might have been just as appropriate. It should be noted that his comment was not made at the market high but things continued moving ever higher before crashing with a thud.

Investor On Left / Market On Right
While we have been conditioned to expect and accept markets to generally trend higher, the recent moves could be deemed "stupidity on steroids". Today we see faith in a system that has failed us so many times in the past given a green light to race forward into new territory. Little is being asked in the way of justifying many of these new valuations. Only time will tell but this may be the "blow off top" that often precludes a long harsh decline. 

Speculation rather than investing has become the norm and this is driven by low-interest rates and stacking more debt upon that which already exists. The disconnect between equities and stock prices from the realities of Main Street coupled with growing deficit spending by governments should give any prudent person pause. If the massive amounts of money fleeing across borders and leaving countries like China do not raise a grave concern I question what it will take to get the attention of the average investor. I'm very confident that we are not in a traditional bubble and that is what leaves me feeling very uncomfortable. Traditionally bubbles are contained within one country or area but this time a worldwide quality is very evident.

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