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.

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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.

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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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