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Have We Just Reached Peak Stock Market Absurdity? April 26, 2017

Have you ever wondered how tech companies that have been losing hundreds of millions of dollars year after year can somehow be worth billions of dollars according to the stock market?  Because I run a website called “The Economic Collapse“, there are naysayers out there that take glee in mocking me by pointing out how well the stock market has been doing.  This week, the Dow is flirting with 21,000 and the Nasdaq crossed the 6,000 threshold for the first time ever.  But a lot of the “soaring stocks” that have been fueling this rally have been losing giant mountains of money every single year, and just like the first tech bubble this madness will eventually come to an end in a spectacular fiery crash in which investors will lose trillions of dollars.

Anyone that cannot see that we are in the midst of an absolutely insane stock market bubble simply does not understand economics.  Every valuation indicator that you can possibly point to says that we are in a bubble of epic proportions, and history teaches us that all bubbles inevitably come to an end at some point.

Earlier today, I came across an article by Graham Summers in which he persuasively argued that the price to sales ratio indicates that stock prices are far more inflated than they were just prior to the great stock market crash of 2008…

Sales cannot be gimmicked. Either money comes in the door, or it doesn’t. And if a company is caught messing around with its sales numbers, someone is going to jail.

For this reason, Price to Sales is perhaps the single most objective and clear means of measuring stock valuations.

This metric, above all others, you can point to and say, “this is definitively accurate and has not been messed with.”

On that note, as Bill King recently noted, today the S&P 500 is sporting a P/S ratio that is massively higher than it was in 2007 and is only marginally lower than it was during the Tech Bubble (the single largest stock bubble of all time for most measures).

To me, looking at profitability is even more important than looking at sales.

Large tech companies such as Twitter certainly have lots of revenue coming in, but many of them are deeply unprofitable.

In fact, Twitter has never made a yearly profit, and over the past decade it has actually lost more than 2 billion dollars.

But despite all of that, investors absolutely love Twitter stock.  As I write this article, Twitter has a market cap of 11.5 billion dollars.

How in the world is that possible?

How can a company that has never made a single penny be worth more than 11 billion dollars?

Twitter is never going to be more popular than it is now.  If it can’t make a profit at the peak of its popularity, when will it ever happen?

And guess what?  ABC News says that Twitter actually just reported a decline in revenue for the most recent quarter…

Twitter has never turned a profit, and for the first time since going public in 2013, it reported a decline in revenue from the previous year. Its revenue was $548.3 million, down 8 percent.

Net loss was $61.6 million, or 9 cents per share, compared with a loss of $79.7 million, or 12 cents per share, a year earlier.

The only reason why financial black holes such as Twitter can continue to exist is because investors have been willing to pour endless amounts of money into them, but now that bubble is starting to burst.

In his most recent article, Simon Black discussed how Silicon Valley investors are starting to become more cautious because so many of these “unicorns” are now going bust.  One of the examples that he cited in his article was a company called Clinkle…

(Given that investing in an early stage company is high-risk, investors might provide a few hundred thousand dollars in funding, at most. Clinkle raised $25 million.)

The company went on to burn through just about every penny of its investors’ capital.

There were even photos that surfaced of the 21-year old CEO literally setting bricks of cash on fire.

At the end of the farce, Clinkle never actually managed to build its supposedly ‘world-changing’ product, and the website is now all but defunct.

Most of you may have never even heard of Clinkle, but I bet that you have definitely heard of Netflix.

Netflix has revolutionized how movies are delivered to our homes, and that revolution helped drive movie rental stores to the brink of extinction.

There is just one huge problem.  It turns out that Netflix is losing hundreds of millions of dollars

Netflix might be my favorite example.

The company’s most recent earnings report for the period ending March 31, 2017 shows, yet again, negative Free Cash Flow of MINUS $422 million.

Not only is that a record loss, it’s 62% worse than in Q1/2016, and over twice as bad as Q1/2015.

Netflix just keeps losing more and more money.

But even though Netflix is losing money at a pace that is exceedingly difficult to imagine, investors absolutely love the company.

I just checked, and at this moment Netflix has a market cap of 68.4 billion dollars.

Sometimes I just want to scream because of the absurdity of it all.

Companies that are losing hundreds of millions of dollars a year at the peak of their popularity should not be worth billions of dollars.

Nobody can possibly argue that these enormously inflated stock prices are sustainable.  Just like with every other stock market bubble in our history, this one is going to burst too, and I have been warning about this for quite a long time.

But for the moment, the naysayers are having their time to shine.  Despite the fact that U.S. consumers are 12 trillion dollars in debt, and despite the fact that corporate debt has doubled since the last financial crisis, and despite the fact that the federal government is 20 trillion dollars in debt, they seem to be convinced that this irrational stock market bubble can keep inflating indefinitely.

Perhaps they can all put their money where their mouth is by pouring all of their savings into Twitter, Netflix and other tech company stocks.

In the end, we will see who was right and who was wrong.

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What Is America Going To Look Like When Stocks, Home Prices And Even Used Cars All Crash By At Least 50 Percent? April 2, 2017

Have you ever thought about what comes after the bubble?  In 2008 we got a short preview of what life will be like, but most Americans seem to have come to the conclusion that the last financial crisis was just a minor bump in the road toward endless economic prosperity.  But of course the truth is that the ridiculously high debt-fueled standard of living that we are enjoying now is not sustainable, and after this bubble bursts it will be an extremely painful adjustment for our society.

Since the last financial crisis, the U.S. national debt has nearly doubled, corporate debt has doubled, stock valuations have reached exceedingly ridiculous extremes, the student loan debt bubble has surpassed a trillion dollars, we are facing the largest unfunded pension crisis in U.S. history, and in many parts of the country (particularly the west coast) we are facing a housing bubble that is even worse than the one that burst in 2007 and 2008.

And even with all of these bubbles, U.S. GDP growth has been absolutely anemic.  Even if you believe the grossly manipulated numbers that the federal government puts out, the U.S. economy grew at a “miserably low” rate of just 1.6 percent in 2016…

In terms of GDP, the fourth quarter was revised up slightly, but there were adjustments for prior quarters, and overall GDP growth for the year 2016 remained at a miserably low 1.6%. We’ve come to call this the “stall speed.” It’s difficult for the US economy to stay aloft at this slow speed. As Q4 gutted any hopes for a strong finish, GDP growth in 2016 matched the worst year since the Great Recession.

And corporate profits, despite a stock market that has been surging for years, are even worse. A lot worse. They’ve declined for years. In fact, they declined for years during the prior two stock market bubbles, the dotcom bubble and the pre-Financial-Crisis bubble. Both ended in crashes.

Things have continued to get even worse early in 2016.  At this point, it is being projected that U.S. GDP will grow at an annual rate of just 0.9 percent during the first quarter of 2017.

So anyone that tries to tell you that the U.S. economy is in good shape is simply not being honest with you.

But even though things don’t look great now, they are going to look far, far worse after the biggest debt bubble in human history bursts.

For example, what do you think that America will look like after half of all stock market wealth disappears?  In a recent note to his clients, John P. Hussman stated that his team is projecting that by the end of this current market cycle “roughly half of U.S. equity market capitalization – $17 trillion in paper wealth – will simply vanish”.

And of course that projection lines up perfectly with what I have been saying for quite a while.  In order for key measures of stock market valuation (such as CAPE, etc.) to return to their long-term averages, stocks are going to have to fall at least 40 to 50 percent from their current levels.

As this coming crisis unfolds, other asset classes will experience astounding downturns as well.  This week, Morgan Stanley (one of the too big to fail banks) released a report that said that used car prices “could crash by up to 50%” over the next several years…

For months we’ve been talking about the massive lending bubble propping up the U.S. auto market. Now, noting many of the same concerns that we’ve highlighted repeatedly, Morgan Stanley’s auto team, led by Adam Jonas, has just issued a report detailing why they think used car prices could crash by up to 50% over the next 4-5 years.

Housing prices are primed for a major plunge as well.  This is especially true on the west coast where tech money and foreign purchasers from Asia have pushed home values up to dizzying levels.  Half a million dollars will be lucky to get you a “starter home” in San Francisco, and it was being reported that one poor techie living there was paying $1400 a month just to live in a closet.  Many believe that some cities on the west coast will be quite fortunate if home values only go down by 50 percent during the coming crash.

Everywhere you look there are bubbles.  In a recent piece, Daniel Lang pointed out some more of them

  • Eric Rosengren, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, recently made a startling tacit admission. We may be in the midst of yet another real estate bubble. Major financial institutions in this country are in possession of over $14 trillion worth of residential real estate loans. That’s well over $40,000 for every man woman and child in America.
  • Low interest rates have fueled a bubble in subprime auto loans, and that bubble appears to be reaching its limits. There are now over 1 million ordinary and subprime auto loans that are delinquent, a number that hasn’t been this high since 2009.
  • There is now well over a trillion dollars worth of student loan debt in this country; much of it owned by low income families. And there’s little hope that these students will ever see a return on their investment. That’s why at least 27% of student loans are in default. While more than one in four students are in default now, that number was one in nine a decade ago. And if current trends continue, there could be $3.3 trillion of student loan debt by the end of the next decade.

At some point the imbalances become just too great and the system collapses in upon itself.

In other words, we are heading for a massive implosion.

And once the implosion happens, people are going to go absolutely nuts.  Anger and frustration are already rising to the boiling point all over the country, and it isn’t going to take much to push millions of Americans completely over the edge.

In a recent interview with Greg Hunter, author James Rickards warned that when things get really bad in America we could actually see what he refers to as “money riots”

So, could we be facing a “Mad Max” world if the financial system totally crashes? Rickards says, “In ‘Road to Ruin,’ I talk about what I call the money riots.  There is a lot of reasons for rioting.  When you start shutting banks and the stock exchange and they say you can’t get your money, it’s only temporary, trust us, people will go out and start to burn down banks.  The government is ready for that also with emergency response and martial law. . . . Governments don’t go down without a fight. . . . You can see the shutdown coming because they will try to buy time until they come up with a solution, whether it’s gold, Special Drawing Rights (SDR), guarantees or whatever it might be.  There are only two or three possibilities here, but all of them will take time, and they will have to shut down the system. . . . People will not sit for that.  So, that means people will riot.  They’ll burn down banks.  They will smash windows, but what is the reaction to that?  The answer is martial law, militarized police, actual military units and you get something that looks like fascism pretty quickly.”

I very much agree with his assessment.

All it is going to take is another major financial crisis and this nation will go completely and utterly insane.

Unfortunately, all of our long-term economic problems have proceeded to get a lot worse since the last time around, and so when things fall apart this time we will likely be looking at a scenario that is absolutely unprecedented in American history.

A lot of people have become very complacent out there these days, but that is a huge mistake.

Just because a crisis is delayed does not mean that it is canceled.  And because our leaders have kept making this economic bubble larger and larger, that just means that the coming crisis will be even more painful than it otherwise could have been.

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Have We Reached A Turning Point For Stocks? Tuesday Was The Worst Day For The Stock Market In 6 Months March 21, 2017

New York Stock Exchange Trading Floor - Public DomainThe post-election stock market rally is officially over.  After hovering near record highs for the past couple of weeks, U.S. stocks had their worst day in six months on Tuesday.  For quite some time it has been clear that the momentum of the post-election rally had been exhausted, and a pullback of this nature was widely anticipated.  But even though stocks fell by more than 1 percent during a single trading session for the first time since last September, it is going to take a whole lot more than that to bring stock prices back into balance.  In fact, stocks are so overvalued at this point that it would take a total decline of about 40 to 50 percent before key stock valuation measures return to their long-term averages.

So we are still in a giant stock market bubble.  All Tuesday did was shave about one percent off of that bubble.

Let’s review some of the numbers from the carnage that we witnessed…

-The Dow was down 237.85 points (1.14 percent)

-The S&P 500 was down 1.2 percent on the day

-The Nasdaq was down 1.8 percent at the closing bell

-Financial stocks were down more than 2.5 percent

-Overall, it was the worst day for banking stocks since the Brexit vote

-Bank of America is now down more than 10 percent since Trump’s speech to Congress

-The Russell 2000 (small-cap stocks) dropped about 2 percent

Some prominent names on Wall Street were warning ahead of time that this was coming.  Marko Kolanovic was one of those voices…

Marko Kolanovic has done it again.

Last Thursday, one day ahead of the massive quad-witching where over $1.4 trillion in options expired in relatively tame fashion, the JPM quant warned of “near-term market weakness” and suggested “reducing US equity exposure. And, sure enough, JP Merlin’s Gandalf timed it impeccably yet again. To be sure, the jury is still out on what caused the selloff – lack of votes to repeal Obamacare, fears about Trump’s fiscal policy agenda, the market’s sudden  realization that it is at 30 CAPE, or just a technical revulsion – what matters is that once again, like clockwork, Kolanovic called a key inflection point just days in advance.

Of course the mainstream media is telling everyone not to worry.  They are insisting that this is just a temporary blip and that a market “correction” is highly unlikely.  The following comes from CNN

Few experts are predicting a correction — which is a 10% pullback from a market high. Even fewer see a bear market, a 20% drop or more, on the horizon.

Hopefully CNN is correct.

But it should be noted that experts such as Kolanovic are warning that more panic selling may be coming in the days ahead

Furthermore, the modest but rising uptick in realized volatility is starting to cause outflows from volatility-sensitive investors the JPM quant calculated and, as a result, the break in short-term momentum may cause modest equity selling by trend following strategies.

In other words, in the absence of a positive catalyst over the next few days – and with uncertainty ahead of the Thursday Trumpcare vote only growing by the hour we fail to see one emerging – the double whammy of gamma positioning and the CTA momentum “flip” will be the catalyst for the next, extremely overdue, move lower.

It is going to take quite a few more days like today before we can talk about the kind of “financial crisis” that I have been warning about for a long time, but we may have already reached a key turning point.

So much of the post-election stock market rally was based purely on hope, and meanwhile the underlying economic numbers have continued to deteriorate.  Corporate earnings are down, it is being projected that U.S. GDP growth will be about one percent during the first quarter, and used vehicle prices are dropping for the first time since the last recession…

In its March report, the National Association of Auto Dealers (NADA) reported an anomaly: dropping used vehicle prices in February, which occurred only for the second time in the past 20 years. It was a big one: Its Used Car Guide’s seasonally adjusted used vehicle price index plunged 3.8% from January, “by far the worst recorded for any month since November 2008 as the result of a recession-related 5.6% tumble.”

The index has now dropped eight months in a row and hit the lowest level since September 2010. The index is down 8% year over year, and down 13% from its peak in 2014.

When the Federal Reserve raised rates, that was very bad news for stocks, and if Donald Trump cannot get his Obamacare replacement through Congress that will be more bad news for stocks.

But even if there was no bad news, it is inevitable that stock prices would decline at some point anyway.

It is simply not rational to have price-earnings ratios up around 30.  The only other times when price-earnings ratios have become so bloated were right before the stock market crash of 1929, right before the stock market crash of 2000 and right before the stock market crash of 2008.

Whenever it ultimately happens, the truth is that stocks always eventually return to their historical averages.  And if a “black swan event” or two are thrown in, that could push stocks well below their historical averages.

Never before has there been this much debt in the world, and not even in 2008 were global financial markets so primed for a crash.

Many people get caught up in trying to predict what month or what day the markets will crash, and if you could predict that accurately you could make a lot of money.

But that is not the point.

What everyone should be able to agree on is that this temporary stock market bubble that has been fueled by reckless intervention from the Federal Reserve is not sustainable and that it is inevitable that stock prices will be a lot lower in the future than they are right now.

We should be thankful that this bubble has lasted much longer than it should have, because what is going to come after this bubble bursts is going to be absolutely horrible.

Markets tend to go down a lot faster than they go up, and when the coming crash finally occurs it is going to make 2008 look like a Sunday picnic.

So whatever you need to do financially, you should think about doing it soon, because the alarm bells on Wall Street are starting to ring.

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