Is A Massive Stock Market Reversal Upon Us?

Wednesday, February 7, 2018
By Paul Martin

Brandon Smith
Alt-Market.com
Wednesday, 07 February 2018

I have been saying it for years and I will say it again here — stocks are the worst possible “predictive” signal for the health of the general economy because they are an extreme trailing indicator. That is to say, when stock markets do finally crash, it is usually after years of negative signs in other more important fundamentals.

Of course, whether we alternative analysts like it or not, the fact of the matter is that the rest of the world is psychologically dependent on the behavior of stock markets. The masses determine their economic optimism (if they are employed) according to the Dow and the S&P and, to some extent, by official and fraudulent unemployment statistics. When equities start to dive, society takes notice and suddenly becomes concerned about fiscal dangers they should have been worried about all along.

Well, it may have taken a couple months longer than I originally predicted, but it would seem so far that a moment of revelation (that slap in the face I discussed a couple weeks ago) is upon us. In less than a few days, most of the gains in global stocks for 2018 have been erased. The question is, will this end up as a “hiccup” in an otherwise spectacular bull market bubble? Or is this the inevitable death knell and the beginning of the implosion of that bubble?

After I predicted the election of Donald Trump, I also predicted that central banks would begin pulling the plug on life support for equities markets. This did in fact take place with the Fed’s continued program of interest rate increases and the reduction of their balance sheet, which effectively strangles the flow of cheap credit to banking and corporate institutions that fueled stock buybacks for years. Without this constant and ever expansionary easy fiat, there is nothing left to act as a crutch for stocks except perhaps blind faith. And blind faith in the economy always ends up being smacked down by the ugly realities of mathematics.

I believe the latest extraordinary dive in stocks is NOT a “hiccup,” but a sign that “contagion” is still a thing, and also a trailing sign of instability inherent in our fiscal system. Here are some reasons why this trend is likely to continue.

Historic Corporate Debt Levels

As mentioned above, artificially low interest rates have allowed corporations incredible leeway to manipulate stock markets at will using stock buybacks and other methods. However, there are still consequences for this strategy. For example, corporate debt levels are now at historic annual highs; far higher even than debt levels just before the crash of 2008.

If this doesn’t illustrate the falseness of the so called “economic recovery”, I don’t know what does. Beyond that, what happens as the Fed continues to raise interest rates and all that debt held by the “too big to fails” becomes vastly more expensive? Well, I think we are seeing what happens. Over time, faith in the corporate ability to prop up equities will erode, and a considerable decline is built directly into the farce.

Price To Earnings Ratio

In some of her final statements upon stepping down as the head of the Federal Reserve, Janet Yellen had some choice comments about the state of equities markets. These included statements that stock market valuations were high and that the price-to-earnings ratio of the S&P 500 (the ratio of stock values versus actual corporate earnings per share) were at a historical peak. This fits exactly with the policy shift I warned about in 2017, and my assertion that Jerome Powell will be the Fed chairman to oversee the final crash of the post-bailout market bubble.

The spike in P/E ratios is not only taking place in U.S. markets. For example, the same trend can be observed in countries like India. Meaning, there are equities valuation problems around the world.

The issue here is that corporate earnings do not justify such high stock prices. Therefore, something else must be inflating those prices. That something was, of course, central bank stimulus, and now that party is almost over, whether the “buy the f’ing dippers” want to admit it yet or not.

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