By Bryan Rich

December 11, 5:00 pm EST

We’ve talked about the market volatility the past few days.

Let’s take a look at a chart of the many swings in stocks for the year.

You can see we’ve had seven significant declines this year.  A clear observation in this chart is that the declines are fast.  As they say, the market goes up on an escalator and down in an elevator.

We’ve had a 12% decline over six days.  A 5% decline in three days.  A 9% decline in thirteen days. An 8% decline in six days (to open October).  A 7.8% decline in eight days. A 6.8% decline in ten days.  And, this recent, 8.2% decline in five days (assuming yesterday was the bottom).

So, the seven declines of the year have averaged 8%, over a period of seven days. This argues that we probably have, indeed, seen the low on this recent sharp slide.

And that leaves us, at today’s close, with a stock market trading at 15 times earnings — among the cheapest valuation we’ve seen only two times in the past 26 years.

What stocks do you buy?  Join me here to get my curated portfolio of 20 stocks that I think can do multiples of what broader stocks do, coming out of this market correction environment.

By Bryan Rich

December 10, 5:00 pm EST

We had another big swing in stocks today, from down about 2%, to finish UP on the day.

On Friday we talked about the rise in market volatility, and what’s driving it.

It’s regime change.  For the better part of a decade we had an economy driven by monetary stimulus (and loads of central bank intervention to absorb any potential shocks to markets).  And since the election, we now have an economy driven by fiscal stimulus and structural reform.

With the idea that we now have a test to see if the economy will stand on its own two feet, without the benefit of central bank intervention, market volatility is up — an indicator of the uncertainty outcomes.

But as I said Friday, with dramatic change, the pendulum can often swing a little too far in the opposite direction at first (from little-to-no volatility to a lot, in this case).

As it stands, stocks are now down about 1% on the year.  In normal times you would see other alternative asset classes (to stocks) performing well.  Bonds would be the obvious winner — but if you owned 10-year notes you would be down about 3% on the year (about flat after the yield).  When stocks are down, and uncertainty is rising, gold tends to do well.  Not this year.  Gold is down 4.5% on the year.   What about real estate.  The Dow Jones Real Estate index is up, but small (+1.8%).  Among the best investments of the year is cash.  If you owned 1-month T-bills all year, you would be up close to 2%.  I suspect this dynamic of little-to-no return asset class alternatives will change very soon.

What stocks do you buy?  Join me here to get my curated portfolio of 20 stocks that I think can do multiples of what broader stocks do, coming out of this market correction environment.

By Bryan Rich

December 6, 5:00 pm EST

We had quite a reversal for stocks today.  It started with a plunge as the futures market re-opened yesterday, following the day of mourning for the 41st President. 

For perspective, the futures markets can be very illiquid outside of the New York trading day, especially in the transition between the end of business in New York and the opening of business for the new day in Asia.Consequently, that’s when some damage can be done in markets, if there is an overwhelming interest by someone to try to move the markets during that illiquid period. That’s what we had yesterday evening when the U.S. stock market futures re-opened. Within 2 minutes of the opening, the S&P futures were down 2%, after a barrage of large sell orders hit.  And with investor sentiment already vulnerable, that damage translated into more fear selling by broader market participants when volumes came into the cash market this morning.

But at some point this morning, after a 7% decline in three days, it became impossible to ignore the disconnect between what stocks have been doing and what the economy is doing.  We have an economy growing at 3+%, unemployment under 4%, inflation at 2%, a 10-year yield under 3%, gas at $2 a gallon, and a stock market trading at less than 15 times earnings.  Stocks are a buy, not a sell. 

What stocks do you buy?  Join me here to get my curated portfolio of 20 stocks that I think can do multiples of what broader stocks do, coming out of this market correction environment.

By Bryan Rich

December 3, 5:00 pm EST

On Friday, we closed the week with the view that a standstill agreement (at the very least) on the U.S./China trade war, resulting from the Trump/Xi meeting, may be enough to fuel a melt-UP to new highs on stocks by the end of December.  
Indeed, we got a standstill on the trade war.  And with that, we had a big gap UP on the opening for stocks on the week.  That puts us up around 5% on the year.  And I suspect we’ll continue to see stocks on the climb — moving back to the highs of the year, and possibly much higher.We have plenty of fuel for stocks.

From a valuation standpoint:  As of Friday’s close we had a stock market trading under 16 times earnings, on a 3% ten-year yield.  That’s very cheap for a low rate environment.  Expect that P/E multiple to expand.  As volume lightens up into the holidays, it’s not unusual to see markets make signficant moves on end-of-year light volume.

From a fundamentals standpoint:  Remember, last week we discussed the Goldilocks scenario created by the fall in oil prices.  The sharp adjustment in oil prices has taken the pressure off of the Fed, allowing them to signal a pause on their rate normalization program (i.e. rate hikes).  If they were worried about inflation accelerating above their favored 2% level, a 35% slide in oil has a way of calming those fears.  And today we get some data to support it.

The manufacturing data this morning showed a big downside surprise in the inflation data  — the lowest reading since June of last year.

dec3 prices paid2

Meanwhile, the manufacturing activity came in higher than was expected.  That means activity is hotter, while prices are tame.

So, as stocks have been in correction, the narrative from the media and Wall Street has been “slowdown” and “inflation pressures” (trying to fit a story to the price, as they usually do).  Meanwhile, the data today shows manufacturing activity running at the 12-month moving average, and with price data running well below the 12-month moving average.  Friendly reminder:  Things are good!

What stocks do you buy?  Join me here to get my curated portfolio of 20 stocks that I think can do multiples of what broader stocks do, coming out of this market correction environment.

By Bryan Rich

November 30, 5:00 pm EST

As we close the week and month, let’s take a look at some key charts.

Stocks have now bounced 5% since last Friday.

And that bounce was technically supported by this big long-term trendline we’ve been watching …

And, as of this week, stocks now have the additional fuel of a more stable outlook for interest rates.  

The surge above 3% on the ten-year yield sustained that level, even in the face of a stock market decline.  That signal created fears that the Fed might be on course to choke-off economic momentum.  But that has now been quelled by the Fed’s clear signal this week that they are near the end of their rate normalization program.  The 10-year ends the week well off the highs of the past two months, and at the important 3% level.

The dramatic adjustment lower in oil prices should also be additional fuel for stocks …

An overhang of risk to global markets has been the potential for sanctions on the Saudi government.  But the issue seems to be now settled, with the sanctioning of Saudi individuals which do NOT include the Saudi Crown Prince and/or government.  And as we’ve discussed, Trump has used the leverage over the Saudi Crown Prince to influence oil prices lower (for the moment).

With that above in mind, stocks finish the week well bid.  If we can get at least a standstill agreement on the U.S./China trade war from this weekends meetings between Presidents Trump and Xi, that may be enough to fuel a melt-UP to new highs on stocks by the end of December.  It may be time for Trump to get a deal done, and solidify economic momentum to get him to a second term, where he may then re-address the more difficult structural issues with China/U.S. relations.

What stocks do you buy?  Join me here to get my curated portfolio of 20 stocks that I think can do multiples of what broader stocks do, coming out of this market correction environment.

By Bryan Rich

November 29, 5:00 pm EST

Today I want to talk about the decline in Bitcoin. 

As we often see with markets, people tend to confuse forced capital flows with genius.We’ve seen it in the tech giants.  The “disrupters” in Silicon Valley were only able to  disrupt long-entrenched industries because of the hundred billion dollars that flowed from Washington to Silicon Valley as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.  When the government is pouring that kind of money into “new technologies”, private equity (i.e. pension fund money) will follow it.  Plenty of funding, regulatory advantage, and no pressure to (in some cases, ever) produce a profit turns out to be a recipe for destroying industries.  The entrepreneurs are credited for their genius, but they have those capital flows from Washington, at the depths of the economic crisis, to thank for it.

Bitcoin is another case of confusing capital flows with genius.  It’s no coincidence that the ascent of Bitcoin coincided perfectly with the crackdown on capital flight in China.  In late 2016, with rapid expansion of credit in China, growing non-performing loans, a soft economy and the prospects of a Trump administration that could put pressure on China trade, capital was moving aggressively out of China.  That’s when the government stepped UP capital controls — restricting movement of capital out of China, from transfers to foreign investment.

Of course, resourceful Chinese still found ways to move money.  Among them, buying Bitcoin. And that’s when Bitcoin started to really move (from sub-$1,000). China cryptocurrency exchanges were said to account for 90% of global bitcoin trading. Capital flows were confused with Silicon Valley genius.

But in September of last year China crackdown on Bitcoin – with a totalban.  A few months later, Bitcoin futures launched, which gave hedge funds a liquid way to short the madness. Bitcoin topped the day the futures contract launched.

With the above in mind, I want to copy in my Pro Perspectives note from last December where I discussed the Bitcoin bubble.

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 7, 2017

With all that’s going on in the world, the biggest news of the day has been Bitcoin.
 
People love to watch bubbles build. And then the emotion of “fear of missing out” kicks in. And this appears to be one.
 
Bitcoin traded above $16,000 this morning. In one “market” it traded above $18,000 (which simply means some poor soul was shown a price 11% above the real market and paid it).
 
As we’ve discussed, there is no way to value Bitcoin. There is no intrinsic value. To this point, it has been bought by people purely on the expectation that someone will pay them more for it, at some point. So it’s speculation on human psychology.
 
Let’s take a look at what some of the most sophisticated and successful investors of our time think about it…
 
Billionaire Carl Icahn, the legendary activist investor that has the longest and best track record in the world (yes, better than Warren Buffett): “I don’t understand it… If you read history books about all of these bubbles…this is what this is.”
 
Billionaire Warren Buffett, the best value investor of all-time: “Stay away from it. It’s a mirage… the idea that it has some huge intrinsic value is a joke. It’s a way of transmitting money.”
 
Billionaire Jamie Dimon, head of one of the biggest global money center banks in the world: “It’s not a real thing. It’s a fraud.”
 
Billionaire Ray Dalio, founder of one of the biggest hedge funds in the world: “Bitcoin is a bubble… It’s speculative people, thinking they can sell it at a higher price…and so, it’s a bubble.”
 
Billionaire investor Leon Cooperman: “I have no money in Bitcoin. There’s euphoria in Bitcoin.”
 
Billionaire distressed debt and special situations investor, Marc Lasry: “I should have bought Bitcoin when it was $300. I don’t understand it. It might make sense to try to participate in it, but I can’t give you any analysis as to why it makes sense or not. I think it’s real, as it coming into the mainstream.”
 
Billionaire hedge funder Ken Griffin: “It’s not the future of currency. I wouldn’t call it a fraud either. Bitcoin has many of the elements of the Tulip bulb mania.”
 
Now, these are all Wall Streeters. And they haven’t participated. But this all started as another disruptive technology venture. So what do billionaire tech investors think about it…
 
Billionaire Jerry Yang, founder of Yahoo: “Bitcoin as a digital currency is not quite there yet. I personally am a believer that digital currency can play a role in our society, but for now it seems to be driven by the hype of investing and getting a return, as opposed to transactions.
 
Mark Cuban: He first called it a “bubble.” He now is invested in a cryptocurrency hedge fund but calls it a “Hail Mary.”
 
Michael Novagratz, former Wall Streeter and hedge fund manager. He once was a billionaire and may be again at this point, thanks to Bitcoin: “The whole market cap of all of the cryptocurrencies is $300 billion. That’s nothing. This is  global. I have a sense this can go a lot further. He equates it to an alternative (or replacement) for the value of holding gold – which is an $8 trillion market… over the medium term, this thing is going to go a lot higher.” But he acknowledges it shouldn’t be more than 1% to 3% of an average persons net worth.
 
Now with all of this in mind, billionaire Thomas Peterffy, one of the richest men in America and founder of the largest electronic broker in the U.S., Interactive Brokers, has warned against creating exchange-traded contracts on Bitcoin. He says a large move in the price could destabilize the clearing organizations (the big futures exchanges), which could destabilize the real economy.
 
With that, futures launch on Bitcoin on Sunday at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. This is about to get very interesting.

That was the top.

What stocks do you buy?  Join me here to get my curated portfolio of 20 stocks that I think can do multiples of what broader stocks do, coming out of this market correction environment.

By Bryan Rich

November 27, 5:00 pm EST

Earlier this month, we talked about the big fall in oil prices.

If we look back over the past five years, the magnitude of that move is only matched (or exceeded) in cases where there was significant manipulation in the oil market and/or a systemically threatening oil price crash.

As we’ve discussed, the pressure on oil this time around seems to be about manipulation — and appears to have everything to do with Trump’s leverage over the Saudis (related to sanctioning the Kingdom over the Khashoggi murder).

But we’ve now traded down to the important $50 mark.  That’s 35% from the highs of just October 3.  And this is an inflection point where it could go bad, but it also could present a goldilocks scenario (a level that’s just right for the U.S. economy).

Sure, cheap oil is good for consumers.  You save a few extra bucks at the pump.  But in the current environment, it presents risks to the financial system.  The shale industry’s break-even point on producing oil is said to be $50.  Below that, they dial down production, lay off workers, stop investing and quickly become a default risk to their creditors (U.S. and global banks).  We saw it back in 2016.  The same can be said for those countries heavily dependent on oil revenues (i.e. they become default risks as oil prices move lower).

That’s the bad side. The good side to the oil price slide?  As we’ve discussed, it should relieve some pressure on the Fed. The Fed likes totalk about their inflation readings excluding effects of volatile oil prices.  But they have a record of acting on monetary policy when oil is moving.

The bottom line: Oil plays a big role in their view on inflation.  And given the quick drop in oil prices, the Fed’s concerns about inflation should be cooling. Again, this opens up the door for the Fed Chair, tomorrow, to take the opportunity in a prepared speech at the Economic Club of New York, to signal a pause coming in the Fed’s rate normalization program. That would be a positive catalyst for economic and market confidence.

What stocks do you buy?  Join me here to get my curated portfolio of 20 stocks that I think can do multiples of what broader stocks do, coming out of this market correction environment.

By Bryan Rich

November 26, 5:00 pm EST

After a down 7% October, the S&P 500 was down another 3% for November as we started the week.

But stocks had a nice day, continuing to bounce from this big trendline we’ve been watching over the past week.  

And the better news:  We have potential positive catalysts on the docket for this week that could put a final stamp on this correction.

Powell (Fed Chair) gives a prepared speech on Wednesday at the Economic Club of New York.  Remember, we were looking for some signal a couple of weeks ago that the Fed might take a pause normalizing rates.  We got it, but from the Atlanta Fed President.  This week, any indication from the Fed Chair that rate hikes are nearing an end would be a greenlight for stocks.

And then we get new information on U.S./China trade relations by the week’s end as Trump and Xi are scheduled for a sit down at the G20 meetings.  Among all of the concerns that might be curbing risk appetite (both in markets and the economy) this one is among the biggest.  Progress on that front should also trigger relief in stocks.

The combination of a more dovish Fed and some clarity on trade would set up for what could be a very aggressive bounce for stocks into the year end.

What stocks do you buy?  Join me here to get my curated portfolio of 20 stocks that I think can do multiples of what broader stocks do, coming out of this market correction environment.
By Bryan Rich

November 21, 5:00 pm EST

We looked at the below chart yesterday.  We’re continuing to get a bounce off of this big trend line that incorporates the lows of the oil price crash of 2016, and the election later that year. 

Importantly, as I said yesterday, the stock declines of this year appear to have everything to do with Saudi capital flows — and less to do with all of the hand-wringing issues you hear and read in the financial media.

As we discussed last month, the top for stocks in January and the top in October, both align perfectly with the timing of events in Saudi Arabia.

Let’s revisit that timeline from my October note: “Remember, last November the Saudi Crown Prince Salam, successor to the King, ordered the arrest of many of the most powerful Saudi Princes, country ministers and business people in Saudi Arabia on corruption charges. More than $100 billion in assets were claimed to be under investigation (a third frozen) in what was called the “Saudi purge.”

These subjects were detained for nearly three months. The timing of their release and the market correction of early this year is where it all begins to align.

They were released on Saturday, January 27. S&P futures open for trading on Sunday night. Stocks topped that night and proceeded to drop 12% in six days. And rallies in stocks were sold aggressively for the better part of the next seven months.

Fast forward to this month and we have the murder of the journalist who was a public critic of the Crown Prince Salam. As the details of story pointed back to Salam, on October 3, U.S. bond markets got hit (to the hour of news hitting the wires) and stocks topped that day, and have proceeded to drop by more than 8%.

Clearly, the destabilization in Saudi Arabia has put considerable assets in jeopardy. With that, those in control of those assets have likely been scrambling to protect them, as U.S. Congress pushes for sanctions, which could include freezing Saudi assets.”

Now, over the past few weeks, we’ve seen some back and forth onwhether or not the Saudi Crown Prince would be implicated in the Khashoggi murder and/or, most importantly, sanctioned.  And the moves in stocks have been reflecting that whipsaw.  Remember, the Saudi sovereign wealth fund is worth more than half a trillion dollars.  They’ve been heavily invested in the tech giants.  And those (the tech giants) have led the way down.  Any uptick in the probability that we see more U.S.-based Saudi assets frozen or threatened, has created selling in stocks.

But as we said yesterday, Trump seems to be settled on the sanctions that have already been levied (excluding the Crown Prince and broader government).  That’s a positive for stocks.

And he’s leveraging the Saudi crisis to get oil prices lower.  Remember, we talked about the oil bargaining chip earlier this month.  Here’s an excerpt from my November 9 note:  “It’s probably no coincidence that the slide in oil prices started the day that the Saudi Crown Prince was implicated in journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance. Remember, the bond market got hit, to the hour, of this headline hitting …
Stocks topped a few hours later, and that was the top for oil prices too.
When Trump spoke with the Saudi Crown Prince on the phone on October 16, oil was trading above $71. We haven’t seen that level since.
Trump‘s position on high oil prices is no secret. He doesn’t like it. And Saudi Arabia is well aware. Is it possible that Trump has leverage and is using it? Likely. Is it possible that the Crown Prince is willing play ball with U.S. demands (on oil production) in order to avoid sanctions (or worse).
Interestingly, Trump is now confirming the above with his statements over the past couple of days.
Bottom line:  When stocks decline for non-fundamental reasons, it’s a huge buying opportunity.  This is one of those moments.
What stocks do you buy?  Join me here to get my curated portfolio of 20 stocks that I think can do multiples of what broader stocks do, coming out of this market correction environment.
Have a great Thanksgiving!

By Bryan Rich

November 20, 5:00 pm EST

Stocks hit this big trendline today and bounced.

This line comes in from the oil price crash-induced lows of 2016.  And, as you can see, we have the bottom of the fallout in the futures market on election night, and the lows of last month. This area also puts the S&P 500 right at a 10% decline from the October highs.

Is it the bottom of this sharp two-day slide?  Maybe.

Let’s talk about why stocks have gotten hit, again, this week.

Last week, it looked like the fog had lifted.  We were looking for the Fed to signal a pause on rates.  We got it, to a degree, with the message that the ‘normalization phase’ for rates was in the “final days.”  We had the U.S. Treasury name those Saudis to be sanctioned in the Khashoggi murder.  The Crown Prince wasn’t one of them – which means the Kingdom was not being sanctioned.  And we had news that progress was being made on U.S. China trade.  That was all good news for stocks.

But the latter two of these hurdles for stocks was reversed over the weekend.

We had some confrontational talk from Pence and Xi.  And we had news that the CIA investigation would implicate the Crown Prince in the murder of Khashoggi.

Everyone is well aware of the U.S./China trade implications.  As for the Saudi, implications, it’s more complicated.  First, Trump has been trying to make the case for Saudi Arabia’s critical alliance in the fight to defeat ISIS and check of Iran.  Maybe more importantly, pushing Saudi Arabia toward an alignment with China and Russia in the long-game would be a grave danger for the U.S.

Taking action against the Crown Prince would jeopardize both.

So, as I suggested earlier in the month, Trump seems to be leveraging the Saudi crisis to get oil prices lower.  He said as much today. And to this point, it appears that he’s settled on the sanctions that have already been levied.

If that holds, that’s good for stocks.  The risk, given the amount of wealth Saudi Arabia has in U.S. capital markets, is any change in that stance that might mean broad sanctions on the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.  That’s where Saudi liquidations, in effort to secure assets, is dangerous for the stock market.

Join me here to get all of my in-depth analysis on the big picture, and to get access to my carefully curated list of “stocks to buy” now.