Bill Holter’s Commentary
Jim Grant with stark truth!
The World-Wide Suppression of Interest Rates Has Been Something Very Near to a Crime
April 3, 2019
Once again, the expedition to go back to normal has been postponed. After the big market scare at the end of 2018, central banks have abolished their plans to tighten interest rates further. Wall Street loves it. The first quarter has been the best one for risk assets in a decade, and after Lyft’s successful going public, a record year for IPOs seems to be in sight. Jim Grant observes the madding crowd from a sober distance. «Interest rates are the traffic signals of a market economy. Turn them all green, and errors and pileups abound», says the sharp thinking editor of the iconic Wall Street newsletter «Grant’s Interest Rate Observer. He states that a decade after the financial crisis, many companies are so heavily addicted to easy monetary policies that they wouldn’t be able to survive on their own. Consequentially, the proficient value seeker has a hard time to find attractive investments in today’s markets. Where he spots rare opportunities, he tells «The Market» in this extended interview.
Mr. Grant, once again, the Federal Reserve is giving investors the green light. US equities are off to their best start since 1998. What’s your take on the current state of the global financial markets?
Stocks are up, bond yields are down and economists are speaking of full employment: Everything seems perfect and improving. But I remain a non-believer in these modern monetary methods. If it were this easy, mankind would have solved the economic problems a long time ago.
For quite some time, you have been warning that extreme measures like negative interest rates and quantitative easing will get us into trouble. But so far, the central banks remain confident that their policies are working.
What we see is an attempt to make things smooth and to forestall crises through keeping interest rates very low. But central banks are arsonists and firemen. They are arsonists because they strike the matches which set off the fire. It’s like an underground fire in a coal mine: You can see the smoke seeping up out of the ground and the ground is warm under foot, but you can’t see the flames. Then, time passes and the fire spreads and becomes more fierce and hotter. Finally, it bursts out of the ground. That’s in some way what happens in the credit markets.
Bill Holter’s Commentary
Don’t miss this chart in John Hussman’s article.
“You Are Here…”
April 13, 2019
Excerpted from John Hussman’s Weekly Market Comment,
There are three principal phases of a bull market: the first is represented by reviving confidence in the future of business; the second is the response of stock prices to the known improvement in corporate earnings, and the third is the period when speculation is rampant – a period when stocks are advanced on hopes and expectations.
There are three principal phases of a bear market: the first represents the abandonment of the hopes upon which stocks were purchased at inflated prices; the second reflects selling due to decreased business and earnings, and the third is caused by distress selling of sound securities, regardless of their value, by those who must find a cash market for at least a portion of their assets.
– Robert Rhea, The Dow Theory, 1932
Charles Dow once wrote, “To know values is to know the meaning of the market.” That quote may surprise trend-followers and adherents of technical analysis, because Dow’s work is often squeezed into a caricature focusing on nothing more than confirmation and divergence across the Dow Jones Industrial and Transportation averages. But Dow’s actual views, best elaborated by writers like Robert Rhea and William Peter Hamilton, were actually about something much more fundamental: identifying the position of the market in its complete bull-bear cycle. That’s a concept that investors have forgotten, encouraged by the illusion that the Federal Reserve’s buying of Treasury bonds is capable of saving the world from any form of discomfort. That illusion is likely to prove costly.
Probably the most useful exercise we can do at present is to examine where the markets and the U.S. economy are in their respective cycles – with 19 charts and detailed analysis.
The recent bull market clocked in as the longest in history. Even if the September 20, 2018 peak in the S&P 500 was the final high, the preceding advance outlived the 1990-2000 bull market by nearly 8 weeks. Likewise, the current economic expansion is just 3 months shy of the record 10-year expansion that ended in early 2001, the unemployment rate is down to just 3.8%, the entire post-crisis gap between actual real GDP and the CBO estimate of potential real GDP has been eliminated, and the expansion has already outlived the previous runner-up, which ran from 1961 to the end of 1969.