Stock Market Crash, Economic Collapse, Rigged Markets? How to invest rationally!

Good day fellow investors,

Last week I made the news on the topic how one should focus on the businesses he invests in and not so much on the macroeconomics.

I’ve got this interesting email discussing how I am missing many points:

Underlying factors that affect the metrics you used in your article:

  1. The role of the ESF in market ‘rigging’. – U.S. Treasury’s Exchange Stabilization Fund
  2. Stock buybacks from the new tax code (fudging the numbers you are working with).
  3. The key role the central banks are playing by keeping interest rates artificially depressed, thus not exposing the true cost of debt servicing.
  4. The sheer number of Zombie companies and historic high levels of BBB bonds.

Plus, how I should contact Peter Schiff, Gregory Mannerino and I would get quickly to 100k subscribers!

All the above is all correct, if I make a business analysis, I get 2k views, if I put stock market crash in the title, I get 4 times more views.

1 views

And in this article, I really want to put the topics of market rigging, buybacks, low interest rates, zombie companies into an investing perspective because I think there is a big difference between investing and protecting yourself from something that might happen but doesn’t have to happen.

2 keynes

When it comes to investing, the key is to achieve the best risk reward return and always remain solvent, no matter how irrational the market might seem.

Contents

Stock Market Fear and Irrationality

THE MAIN QUESTION IS HOW TO INVEST?

Market rigging!

Stock buybacks from the new tax code (fudging the numbers you are working with)

Artificially depressed interest rates

Corporate credit, zombie companies, government debt

How to invest keeping the risks in mind

THE MAIN QUESTION IS HOW TO INVEST?

One should think about HOW TO GET BOTH; good returns from businesses and protection from what might happen while taking advantage of possible market rigging. That is what I focus on and the message of this article is to try to give more balance to the possibly predominant message on YouTube regarding Stock market Crashes and Economic collapses etc.

We as investors have to focus on how to get the best risk reward return to reach our financial goals. Let’s say that gold explodes in 2034, I bet you that 98% of all those invested in gold at the moment, would not have the patience to wait till then to realize profits. That is one, plus, by 2034, if you have $1k now and you get a 15% return because you understand the market;

You know it is rigged,

You know buybacks are strong,

You know interest rates will remain low, or inflationary due to the huge debt,

You stay away from zombie companies, buy those that will do even better when the competition dissolves!

Your 1k become 8k thanks to the power of compounding, earnings and dividends that you don’t get if you buy insurance. Actually, insurance is a cost.

Let me put the things into perspective!

Market rigging!

The market has been rigged since ever – it is in the interest of most politicians, policy makers and people that stocks go up, pensions go up, everybody has more money, more confidence, spends more and even wages go up a bit – so it is in the interest of the current economies that markets go up, collaterals go down, and everybody is pushing for it to go up.

Take advantage of it.

On silver markets, gold markets, there are many speculators that make it look crazy and rigged because there is no rationality there. You can’t eat gold; no dividend and it doesn’t grow. In the 1980-s the Hunt brothers tried to rig the silver market. They owned 30% of global silver but regulations broke them.

Silver price:

silver price

Stock buybacks from the new tax code (fudging the numbers you are working with)

4 smart

Source: Reuters

$940 billion of buybacks expected in 2019, that is 3% of the market.

There will be ups and downs, but some buybacks are smart if made below book value, or replacement value or intrinsic value, and those values are in the eye of the beholder.

5 bubyacks

Source: Yardeni

Try to find buybacks that increase your value, your ownership and avoid those that destroy shareholder value. Compare many stocks and you will find the difference.

Artificially depressed interest rates

As long as it works, it does good in the short term while it is uncertain for the long term – again, as an investor you have to understand the game and play it wisely. The tide could change with a big inflation, but that is why I invest in businesses that would do well if there is inflation but that also do well in this environment. I get dividends, I get growth, expansion etc.

6 rate

Source: FRED

Corporate credit, zombie companies, government debt

Governments and corporations have increased their leverage as low interest rates allowed for lower borrowing costs. US government debt quadrupled in the last 20 years.

government debt

Source: FRED

However, this situation can be solved with inflation for the government and with bailouts for corporations. Plus, when zombie corporations finally fail, the environment will be healhier for good businesses. I’ll talk more about that in the next article discussing Archer Daniel Midlands (NYSE: ADM) where the CEO actually hopes for higher rates to limit the competition.

How to invest keeping the risks in mind

Now, what I just said, doesn’t mean I completely disregard it, I’m not stupid, I am not invested in companies that would go bankrupt in case interest rates go up, I am looking for both, both good businesses, that offer business returns and protection in case of any kind of crisis.

You have three options to invest your money!

The first option is to focus on protection: gold, put options, Treasuries (if you can call them protection). The second option is to focus on businesses, growth, business returns and investments.

Your $1k becomes $8k in 15 years with a 15% yearly return. If you own gold, and the dollar loses 50% of its value, you are at $2k, no dividends, no business, a lot of stress because you depend on what others are willing to pay, not on actual value.

I must say I did a lot of research on macro, especially when I was writing articles on a daily basis three years ago as that was my job, but my conclusion is, that one should be smart and take advantage of what is going on and not bet on something happening because it is logical to happen.

The situation was crazy in 2009, and many sold what they had fearing the macro voices, I was buying businesses in 2009, nice 5 baggers for me.

2 gdx

I took a loan 4 years ago, bought a house, and it was probably the best risk reward investment in my life. Fearing a crash would have me being without huge gains over the last 10 years.

The third investing option is to have it both. For example, a company I was heavily invested in 2018 was Nevsun Resources, a copper miner with a promising project in Serbia. However, what the market disregarded was that 30% of revenue from the project were from gold, not just copper. So, you can buy investments that give you a business return but also protection just in case some of the above mentioned risks materialize. I am now exposed to silver with my portfolio, but if you would take a look at my portfolio, you would never imagine it has a silver call option in it. That is because I like it both; give me business growth and give me the insurance part for free.

Think about it, although so rational, I reiterate my question, is it and will it actually be profitable to be scared or you should simply see how to get the best out of it all?

To put things into perspective, don’t focus on what should rationally happen due to text books or chicken littles, but put probabilities onto every conclusion. What will happen in the future is probably something unknown, be ready for it by investing in both.

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Prepare For A Currency Collapse

Good day fellow investors,

in the news last Friday, we discussed the earnings of various companies and how a long-term investor should approach those, check the video out if you haven’t. As promised, today we will discuss the economic environment, the FED’s shift in gears and how one should think about long-term investing in relation to what might happen.

I’ll explain how:

  • we are most probably going for a global currency collapse, that will happen sooner or later,
  • the economy doesn’t have to collapse, and
  • how stocks might better than other things.

Just before we start, I wish to thank you all for the great reviews on Amazon, we are in the company of greatness on the Amazon best seller list, with Nobel prize winners like Shiller, legendary investors like Lynch and great trading books like Market Wizards. I thank you all for your support.

18 books

The FED’s pause

Let’s start with the news, the last two weeks were filled with crucial news that is important to systematize and put it into context.

The key piece of information is the FED’s pause and change in rhetoric.

We can say the FED capitulated! The committee will be patient with rate hikes and adjust for whatever might happen.

2 the fed

3 new territory

Source: FOMC

Prior to the FED’s change in heart, there was this expectation that we are in for a global slowdown. After the FED changed its rhetoric, said they will pause to keep the economy up, stocks rallied after the bad end of the previous year.

So, a decline of 15% in the S&P 500 and a 100 basis points increase in the cost of borrowing for the US government, led the FED to stop with raising rates.

19 5 year trasury

Source: FRED

However, the FED capitulating means that the economy isn’t doing good at all because it cannot sustain small hikes!

6 end of cycle

Source: FRED

It is simple, corporations are too leveraged. US corporate debt has almost doubled over the last 10 years. The situation is similar across the globe.

7 coprorate debt

Source: FRED

Governments are too leveraged. Budget deficits are piling all over the place.

8 budet deficit

Source: FRED

Same situation across most of the modern world.

Now, you can tighten interest rates, but that will increase the cost of borrowing for governments, that will consequently force them to borrow more as no politician is going to save money and not spend.

Given the FED, ECB, BOJ and others are ready to do whatever it takes to keep things as those are, the only thing they know how to do is to give more of the same medicine, thus more debt.

NOW, let me make this simple – Q4 2018 – people were selling because of the FED, the economic data was good!

Q1 2019, people are buying because of the FED, the economic data is not that good!

2 truck orders

Source: Wolfstreet

3 italy recession

Source: Reuters

4 germany gdp

Germany

Source: The Independent

My conclusion is that there will be no more tightening, no more normalization because, over the last 10 years, politicians and central banks have seen that interest rates can be low and they are now like junkies on low interest rates.20 trump

Source: Twitter

How to invest and what to expect

I am looking at the data, I look at the FED’s and the politicians’ behaviour and I am thinking;

1) There will be more money printing, much more

The last recession unveiled a tool that hadn’t been really used before, it unveiled the possibility to use central banks’ balance sheets to help the economy. Before 2009, Central banks’ balance sheets had been mostly flat. After 2009, an explosion of money printing is what followed.

9 balance sheet

Source: FRED

We have already seen that governments and corporations went on a borrowing spree to take advantage of the low rates. As it is normal with both governments and corporations, there is never the intention to pay back the debt, their only goal is to make money on the spread between what they are earning from the capital used and the interest rate they have to pay. For example, Apple can borrow at an interest rate of 3% on a 10 year bond, if they use that capital and make 5% on it, they make a lot of money. Debt repayment? Don’t joke, you might kill someone with unstoppable laughter.

With governments, it is even worse. US interest expenditures had been stable as interest rates had been declining and stood low. However, as the FED started tightening, US interest expenditures exploded and given the current budged deficit, higher rates would make the payments unbearable. The usual definition of a Ponzi scheme is when one has to borrow just to pay the interest on the debt.

If interest rates increase by just another 100 or 200 basis points (1 or 2%), the interest payments of the US governments would make most of the budget’s deficit and would force the government to borrow to pay interest expenses.

10 government payments trasury

Source: FRED

What does this mean for the long-term? Well, the FED can control rates until a certain moment, at some point it all breaks down like a house of cards. Interest rates go up because who wants to lend money to a government or corporation that is borrowing just to pay the interest, inflation creeps in as people want to spend their money and the FED has to hike to stop the inflation while still printing to save the economy.

2) Be a debt owner, not a debt holder

Debt holders are the suckers, thus all diversified portfolios like my friend’s portfolio with an investment bank is, will see their values erode. Do you know that in the 1970s, bonds were called certificates of confiscation as inflation would eat up most of their yield?

news portfolio

Source: $13 Million Dollar Portfolio Analysis

Or, any other pension fund in the world will be in trouble too. While working in the Netherlands I did have a pension fund, ABP, where the top investments are government bonds, of course.

11 pension funds

Source: ABP – Dutch pension fund

3) Stocks might do well

However, the situation gets tricky with stocks as those are businesses and businesses, the good ones can transfer price increases, i.e. inflation to customers. A good example is the Argentinian stock market. From February 2008 the Argentinian stock market increased 17 times.

12 argentina

And you thought the S&P 500 did well?!?

However, the Argentinian Peso did almost the opposite against the dollar.

13 peso

So, prepare for a currency collapse down the road. It might happen tomorrow, it might happen in 2029. Whenever it happens, if you are not prepared, you are the sucker and you might lose it all.

4) The world will continue spinning

People often forget that the world will go on, the currency environment might be different but emails will still be sent. The cost might be different.

A good illustrative example is a normal postal stamp in Italy. The price in 1958 was 25 lire while in 1998 was 800 lire.

16 italy 2

The current price is EUR 0.95, thus 2000 lire. So, over 60 years, the price of sending a letter in Italy increased 100 times.

17 current price

The problem is that it will not be linear, it will be explosive so that will take many by surprise most. What to do? Well invest in great businesses, we will talk about one tomorrow, Disney, you can invest in commodities, we will talk about that on Monday with zinc, Glencore, Teck, Anglo American and you can make money on inflation, or at least stay protected as we discussed in the video on inflation this week.

My focus now is on businesses we can’t live without. That will give me protection over the long term, looking at margins of safety and healthy business returns.

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Brexit – An Objective Investing Perspective

  • Politics aside, it is important to have a clear investing perspective on how can our portfolio positions be affected by Brexit.
  • For now, markets are pricing in more pain for Europe, than Britain.
  • There are some stocks that should be avoided and some that shouldn’t be impacted at all, on the contrary.

Brexit is a very hot topic in Europe nowadays. However, it is important to separate your investing perspective from whatever might be your political views. I sit down with Niche Masters Fund with head investment manager, Peter Barklin, and discuss his very interesting, objective investing perspective, on the potential implications of Brexit for us as investors.

Just as an interesting note from the video, European stocks (VGK) (IEUR) have been hit harder than UK stocks (EWU). This shows that the Brexit isn’t just all bad for Britain and that we must carefully weigh the pros and cons.

Video content:

0:00 Introduction
1:40 Brexit for investors
3:27 What to own
5:08 Brexit benefits
7:04 Brexit and Europe
10:05 Portfolio positioning
11:29 Brexit risk perspective

Enjoy the video.

www.nichemastersfund.com

Sven Carlin Research Platform: https://sven-carlin-research-platform.teachable.com/

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How to invest in businesses with dr. Per Jenster

I recently had the privilege to interview dr. Per Jenster. He is a Fullbright scolar, author of many books, former dean of the Kopenhagen Business school, entrepreneur with more than 20 ventures of which many went public for hundreds of millions and he is an investor that has his own hedge fund. A person from whom we can learn very much. Enjoy the interview.

In case you want to reach Prof Jenster or know more about how he invests, please go to … http://nichemastersfund.com

Here is the video and you can find the discussion topics below the video.

0:27 Who is Per Jenster

1:33 What to look when investing in a business

3:59 Fund based on a niche strategy

6:01 Companies we are investing in

8:30 Management

10:00 HIGHER PE for HIGH ROIC

10:44 Index funds

13:10 Trading

14:24 Strategic focus

15:57 Current stock market

18:25 Diversification

20:31 Investing education

21:36 Modern investing

23:32 Learn to be better at investing

 

Nassim Taleb is warnings us – situation worse than in 2007

  • The US government has $21 trillion of debt, but few know and think about the $49 trillion in hidden debt.
  • The global economy is not stable because the core is cracking already, think Italy.
  • Taleb compares this debt environment with a Ponzi or Maddoff scheme.
  • The main message is to be protected (gold, real assets, puts).

In a recent Bloomberg video, Nassim Taleb, the author of Black Swan and probably one of the best estimators of risk, is warning us that the financial situation is worse than it was in 2007.

As Taleb doesn’t share much data in his interview, I have researched each of his statements and attached a few facts to them.

The topics he discusses and I dig deeper into are:

  • (0:00) Introduction
  • (1:23) The bigger debt pile that has just been transferred from housing to governments.
  • (4:16) The hidden debt few are taking into account.
  • (5:48) How the economy is already cracking in some places.
  • (6:32) The high probability of a global currency collapse.
  • (8:01) What will happen and how will it pan out? Inflation.
  • (9:36) 4 ways to protect yourself.

Enjoy the video.

ARE THE STOCK MARKET AND ECONOMY IN A BUBBLE? 7 FACTOR EXPLANATION

I recently summarized Dalio’s last book, Big DEBT CRISES and there he shares his questions, check list, to see whether the stock market or economy is in a bubble or not. In today’s article, in light of the FED’s tightening, we are going to go through his questions, to see whether we are in a bubble or not.

1 bubble questions

Source: Big Debt Crises

Good day fellow investors,

my name is Sven Carlin and I am an independent investor, independent thinker who doesn’t really like to follow the crowd, that has served me well in my life and, I have the feeling it will serve me well in the future too. Let’s go through Dalio’s questions one by one and then conclude with what to do, where Dalio’s option is to have an all-weather portfolio.

We are going to look at whether the US economy and stock market are in a bubble. As for Europe, I’ll make a special article about it due to the many economies.

  1. PRICES ARE HIGH RELATIVE TO TRADITIONAL MEASURES

The US stock market is expensive and prices are much higher than traditional measures.

2 stock market price

Source: Multpl

A look at the cyclically adjusted price to earnings ratio for the S&P 500 that takes into account 10 years of earnings, shows how stock prices were higher only during the dot-com bubble. But, let’s not focus only on stocks, let’s look at housing.

3 house price to income ratio

Source: Longtermtrends

The home price to income ratio is not higher than it was in 2007 but is getting close to it and it is much higher than it was in the past 50 years. Incomes were low in the 1950s so that isn’t really comparable.

To answer question one: yes, prices are high relative to historical measures.

2. PRICES ARE DISCOUNTING FUTURE RAPID PRICE APPRECIATION FROM THESE HIGH LEVELS

If we take a look at the S&P 500 and at S&P 500 forward expected earnings, all we can see is fast growth.

4 price and earnings

Source: FACTSET

So, huge growth is expected, S&P 500 actual earnings are at 116 points while the market expects them to be at 175 points in the next 12 months.

5 s&p 500 actual earnings

Source: Multpl

As for home prices, the huge run up in prices up to 2018 showed bubble characteristics but it has been cooling of as interest rates go up.

6 new home prices in the us

Source: FRED

So, perhaps what we have seen up to December of 2017 will again be called a bubble as higher interest rates inevitably put pressure on asset prices. Not yet on stocks as the sentiment is still strong but you can’t escape when it comes to housing.

ANSWER: YES, prices are discounting fast future price appreciation, certainly in stocks, whereas it might be over for housing.

3. THERE IS BROAD BULLISH SENTIMENT

Let’s see, Kudlow states the US economy is crushing it.

7 kudlow

Source: CNBC

While consumer confidence is close to record highs.

8 consumer confidence

Source: FRED

Answer: YES, sentiment is bullish! Even with stocks, the sentiment has been extremely greedy in 2018.

9 greed

Source: CNN

4. PURCHASES ARE BEING FINANCED BY HIGH LEVERAGE

This is not in a bubble, consumer credit is just 50% higher than where it was in 2008 and is just 10 times higher than where it was in 1980. (allow for some irony here)

10 consumer credit

Source: FRED

As for the stock market, margin debt is at historical highs. Just to mention as a comparative note, margin debt was $263 billion in February of 2010 and $314 billion in July of 2008.

11 margin debt

Source: FINRA

Answer: YES, purchases are increasingly being financed by debt.

5. BUYERS HAVE MADE EXTENDED FORWARD PURCHASES

If we look at the level of business inventories, those are 33% higher than in 2008 and I don’t think the economy grew 33% since 2008.

12 inventories

Source: FRED

Answer: a mild yes in this case.

6. NEW BUYERS HAVE ENTERED THE MARKET

Now, the percentage of Americans owning stocks didn’t really go up that much lately as millennials don’t invest that much in stocks.

13 people invested

Source: Gallup

The middle class left after 2008, typical behaviour, buying high and selling low. If we see another bump like in 2007 where the participation jumped from 61% to 65%, we will know it’s a bubble. Those aged 35 and above are investing a bit but not yet like it had been the case.

14 americans invested

Source: Gallup

However, not investing in stocks but definitely saving for a house. New buyers are rushing into the home market.

15 new mortgages

Source: Bloomberg

Answer: with stocks it is a no but with houses it is a yes. Also, it is important to note the widening wealth gap where those that have invest more and push stocks higher while those that don’t have, simply don’t have to invest.

7. STIMULATIVE MONETARY POLICY THREATENS TO INFLATE THE BUBBLE EVEN MORE (and tight policy to cause its popping)

Interest rates have been already tightening and we can expect more in December.

16 interest rate

Source: FRED

However, just take a look at historical interest rates.

17 historical interest rates

Source: FRED

On top of monetary stimulus, there is huge fiscal stimulus.

18 budged deficit

Source: FRED

On top of the already huge deficit, the deficit is expected to breach $1 trillion in 2019.

So, to summarize on the questions:

19 summary

WHAT TO DO:

Now, that depends on where you are in your life, about to retire or just starting, but in any case, an all-weather portfolio is the key as we are in the late part of the cycle.

debt dalio

Source: Big Debt Crises

We are at bubble top – so a lot of opportunities to diversify by selling what is in a bubble and buying what is in depression. In a global world you can do that today.

If you wish to check how am I building my portfolio as I cashed out of most my long investments during 2015-to 2018, the last being Nevsun – you might want to check my Stock market research platform where I am slowly building my model portfolio that should do very well in this environment.

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Ray Dalio – Big Debt Crises – Summary (video/audio)

Ray Dalio, the legendary hedge fund manager is out with a new book. After the success he achieved with his book on Principles, he has now summarized Bridgewater’s research on debt crises in a new book called Big Debt Crises.

Ray Dalio – Big Debt Crises

The book contains 48 case studies on inflationary and deflationary crises and the first 61 pages summarize the findings. I urge you to read at least the first 61 pages but if you want an intro for it and perhaps prefer listening, here is a summary:

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Should I Invest? It is a Positive Sum Game

Should I invest in stocks?

Investing in stocks is a positive sum game. By being careful in what you invest in, you can reap many positive returns just from how things work in this world. The economy, other people, trade and technology all work in your favor.

Stocks went up 280 times over the last 85 years. Take advantage of it.

stock market

What should I invest in?

The key is to invest in things that will do well over time no matter what. Stocks benefit from economic growth, their business earnings create your returns, and over the long term you are protected from inflation.

Why should I invest?

Except from protecting yourself from inflation, if you don’t invest, the value of your money is eaten away slowly day by day. You need $25 today to purchase what you could had bought with $1 back in 1913. On top of everything, the global economy will continue to grow and develop, stock earnings will grow and your dividends will grow.

How much should I invest?

That is personal, but even a small amount will develop a habit, which is the key for long term investing success.

What stocks should I invest in?

You can invest in mutual funds, which is a good option if you don’t want to think and look for better investment opportunities. If you are willing to put some effort, you can find better and better investments that protect your capital and give you higher returns over the long term.

Should I invest in bitcoin?

Investing in cryptocurrencies is the opposite of investing in stocks. Stocks have dividends which lead to positive returns, stocks are parts of businesses that own assets that generate profits. Those assets protect you from inflation. Cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and Ethereum only depend on whether somebody is willing to pay more for them and there is a hefty fee related to every transaction that makes it a negative sum game. This can be seen by the big swings in cryptocurrency prices, an example is the ripple price.

ripple priceWhat should I invest in 2018?

The key when investing is to create a portfolio of assets that are going to do the work for you but where you will also be diversified. This means that you should look to build your investment portfolio over time. More about that in tomorrow’s video about my portfolio.

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Here is a video about why should you invest in stocks: