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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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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