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Coming Bear Market Will Be the Worst Since the Great Depression!

Now is the time for investors to seek out information on how to identify the tell-tale signs of bear markets and how to profit from them, rather than being…

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This article was originally published by Munknee

With the S&P 500 at all-time highs and seemingly endless “free liquidity” being provided by the Fed, the last thing most investors can envision right now is a major bear market or recession — particularly ones that will be the worst since the Great Depression of the 1930s – but the facts we will detail in this article show that is highly likely to be the case!

We believe the next stock bear market and recession will be worse than the Great Recession of 2008-2009 (when the S&P 500 fell 58% and it took about six years to recover), which will make it the worst since the 1930s (when the S&P 500 fell 86% and it took about 25 years to recover).

Below are the five key reasons:

1.  Extremely high asset valuations

Virtually every major financial asset is overvalued and priced to deliver low – or even negative – long-term returns.

The Shiller P/E Ratio shown below is 30% higher than it was at the 1929 peak and is nearly as high as the all-time high in 2000. It is calculated as the price of the S&P 500 divided by the average past 10 years of earnings, adjusted for inflation in an attempt to smooth the cyclicality of earnings. Historically, high Shiller P/E Ratios have led to below-average long-term returns.

Source: Chart courtesy of Shiller PE Ratio, with annotations by Jon Wolfenbarger, CFA.

Warren Buffett’s favorite valuation measure – and the one that best predicts future long-term stock market returns – is the Stock Market Capitalization-to-GDP Ratio, which is shown below. Based on this measure, stocks are trading 30% higher than the prior all-time high at the Tech Bubble peak of 2000! Stocks would have to fall over 60% for this ratio to return to the levels it reached at the stock market bottom in March 2009.

Stock Market Capitalization To GDP RatioSource: Chart courtesy of FRED, with annotations by Jon Wolfenbarger, CFA.

US Treasury bills and bonds are [also] trading at historically low interest rates not far above zero (and some countries have negative interest rates), assuring very low returns until maturity. Also, corporate bond yields relative to Treasury bond yields are at historically low levels.

Real estate is also expensive, with REITs trading at historically low dividend yields and, as shown in the chart below of the S&P/Case-Shiller 20-City Home Price Index, home prices are currently 27% higher than they were at the housing bubble peak of 2006!

S&P/Case-Shiller 20-City Home Price IndexSource: Chart courtesy of FRED, with annotations by Jon Wolfenbarger, CFA.

Importantly, not only do high valuations lead to low long-term returns, but they also usually lead to devastating bear markets on the path to those low long-term returns.

2. Extraordinarily bullish investor sentiment

…When investors are very bullish, that is a bearish contrarian indicator…and an excellent sentiment indicator is the Equity Put/Call Ratio.

      • When investors are bearish, they buy Put options in anticipation of profiting from a fall in stock prices.
      • When they are bullish, they buy Call options in anticipation of profiting from a rise in stock prices.
      • When the ratio of Puts to Calls is very high, that shows investors are very bearish, which is a bullish contrarian indicator.
      • Conversely, when the ratio of Puts to Calls is very low, that shows investors are very bullish, which is a bearish contrarian indicator.

The chart below shows the Equity Put/Call Ratio, using the 100-day moving average to reduce short-term noise in this indicator. Over the past year, it has fallen to extremely low levels – well below those seen at the stock market peak in 2007.

Equity Put/Call RatioSource: Chart courtesy of StockCharts.com, with annotations by Jon Wolfenbarger, CFA.

The next chart is the Rydex Asset Ratio which is the ratio of investor assets in all Rydex bear and money market funds (bearish positioning) compared to investor assets in all Rydex bull funds (bullish positioning). As you can see, investors have been very bullishly positioned in U.S. stocks for over seven years! The last time investors approached this level of bullishness was around the Tech Bubble peak of 2000.

Rydex Asset RatioSource: Chart courtesy of StockCharts.com, with annotations by Jon Wolfenbarger, CFA.

When the majority of investors are already very bullish and “all in”, there is no one left to buy and lots of potential sellers when something changes, as it always does. Most investors will be shocked when their bullish expectations meet the harsh reality of a major bear market.

3. Weak economic fundamentals

The U.S. economy is not as strong as it used to be. That is certainly true in the wake of the Covid pandemic, but it has also been true for the past two decades. All of the taxes, regulations and other government interventions in the economy in recent decades have created a weaker and more fragile economy that will make the next recession even worse.

The chart below of Industrial Production shows it is only 8% higher than at the 2000 peak and is 1% lower than at the 2007 peak. It has nearly flatlined over the past two decades. That is much weaker than the 3.9% annual growth in Industrial Production from 1920 to 2000.

Industrial Production IndexSource: Chart courtesy of FRED, with annotations by Jon Wolfenbarger, CFA.

Total Nonfarm Employment, shown below, grew at a 2.5% annual rate from 1940 to 2000…but has increased only 10% since the 2000 peak and only 6% since the 2007 peak… [and] is still nearly 4% below the February 2020 peak.

Total Nonfarm EmploymentSource: Chart courtesy of FRED, with annotations by Jon Wolfenbarger, CFA.

4. Excessive debt levels

The chart below shows the US Total Debt To GDP Ratio is near recent all-time highs at 3.8 times (or 380%), even higher than the high levels preceding the Great Recession. Global Debt To GDP is also at record high levels over 300%, as is US Federal Debt To GDP at 125%.

Total Debt To GDP RatioSource: Chart courtesy of FRED, with annotations by Jon Wolfenbarger, CFA.

Excessive debt has been the problem with every financial crisis in history, due to prior money creation out of thin air, so the next one promises to be one for the history books given these unprecedented high debt levels. Debt liquidation and defaults will lead to deflation, particularly for asset prices, as we saw in the Great Recession and even more so in the Great Depression.

5. Limited policy options

The primary “bull case” for the stock market and economy over the past 12 years since the Great Recession ended has been “free liquidity” provided in seemingly endless amounts by the Federal Reserve. It is almost as though money really does grow on trees, but money created out of thin air does not create new goods and services that improve living standards…[but it] can flow into financial assets, which helps explain why valuation levels are so high.

The graph below shows “Austrian” Money Supply (AMS), the best measure of money supply that is consistent with the Austrian School of economics definition… AMS is up 40% since February 2020 and is up an astounding 225% since the Great Recession ended in June 2009!

"Austrian" Money SupplySource: Chart courtesy of FRED, with annotations by Jon Wolfenbarger, CFA.

This is well above the money supply growth that drove the Roaring ‘20s and ultimately led to the Great Depression of the 1930s…

All this money creation has enabled the Fed to target the Federal Funds Rate at only 0.1%…[but] it doesn’t leave much room for the Fed to cut rates to try to prevent a recession, particularly with inflation at over 5% now and, as the chart below shows, the Fed cut rates throughout the prior three recessions and bear markets and was not able to stop them...[and] this leaves the stock market and economy very vulnerable in the next downturn, with potentially no “safety nets” to protect them.

Federal Funds RateSource: Chart courtesy of FRED, with annotations by Jon Wolfenbarger, CFA.

Lastly, for the Keynesian economists who still believe the dogma that Federal budget deficits can prevent a recession – despite any evidence or logical theory to support it – the current Federal Budget Surplus/Deficit To GDP Ratio of -15% is the worst since World War II, as shown below. Given record-high government debt levels and deficits, how much more deficit spending will bond investors be willing to finance, and what good will it do, since deficits did not prevent the Great Recession?

Federal Budget Surplus/Deficit To GDP RatioSource: Chart courtesy of FRED, with annotations by Jon Wolfenbarger, CFA.

Implications For Investors

There is much more that can be said to prove our case, but hopefully, the facts provided in this article are sufficient for investors to understand the current risks in financial assets and the economy.

While the exact timing of the next bear market and recession is unknown and there are currently no signs of it with stocks at all-time highs, now is the time for investors to seek out information on how to identify the tell-tale signs of bear markets and how to profit from them, rather than being decimated by them, as the majority of investors, unfortunately, will be.

Editor’s Note:  The original article by Jon Wolfenbarger has been edited ([ ]) and abridged (…) above for the sake of clarity and brevity to ensure a fast and easy read.  The author’s views and conclusions are unaltered and no personal comments have been included to maintain the integrity of the original article.  Furthermore, the views, conclusions and any recommendations offered in this article are not to be construed as an endorsement of such by the editor. Also note that this complete paragraph must be included in any re-posting to avoid copyright infringement.

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Economics

US Hog Herd Hit By Largest Monthly Drop Since 1999

US Hog Herd Hit By Largest Monthly Drop Since 1999

US hog herds experienced the most significant monthly drop in two decades, according to…

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US Hog Herd Hit By Largest Monthly Drop Since 1999

US hog herds experienced the most significant monthly drop in two decades, according to new data from the USDA. The reason behind the drop is because farmers decreased hog-herd development over the last year due to labor disruptions at slaughterhouses plus high animal feed. 

USDA data showed the US hog herd was 3.9% lower in August than a year ago. It was the largest monthly drop since 1999 after analysts only expected a decline of about 1.7%, according to Bloomberg

On Monday, hog futures soared in Chicago after the news of tightening supply. Since contracts hit a seven-year high in June, they have plunged from $120 to $80 but have since recovered in recent days to $90. 

Supply chain woes at slaughterhouses, and declining cold pork storage in US warehouses, have pushed up pork consumer prices to record highs. 

Farmers are experiencing a challenging environment of skyrocketing feed prices and other commodity prices used to maintain and growing pig herds, along with the labor disruptions at slaughterhouses that sometimes force them to cull herds. 

Soaring supermarket meat prices have been devastating for working-poor families who allocate a high percentage of their incomes to basic and essential items. The Biden administration spent most of the year ignoring the dramatic increase in food prices and only addressed the issue earlier this month by blaming meatpackers. The administration even had the nerve to say that if meat prices are taken out of the equation, troubling grocery inflation would be lower. 

To sum up, shrinking hog herds means pork prices will stay high. 

Tyler Durden Tue, 09/28/2021 - 20:25
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Economics

Volatility Roars Back

The surging 10-Year Treasury yield spooks tech investors … watch out for Evergrande default volatility… another debt ceiling showdown

It’s like…

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The surging 10-Year Treasury yield spooks tech investors … watch out for Evergrande default volatility… another debt ceiling showdown

It’s like when you’re flying, feel a few jolts of turbulence, then see the “seatbelt” sign flash on.

Investors are experiencing some market turbulence – and buckling up is probably a good idea.

There are three things troubling markets right now. Let’s look at them to get a sense for how significant they might be.

As I write Tuesday morning, the markets are deep in the red thanks to the soaring 10-Year Treasury yield.

After falling under 1.2% in early August, the yield on the 10-Year Treasury has been pushing higher over the last two months.

That “push” turned into a full-blown “leap” last week, as the yield jumped from roughly 1.3% to over 1.5% as I write.

I’ve circled this one-week spike of about 18% on the chart below.

Source: MarketWatch.com

This is significant because the yield on the 10-Year Treasury is a major barometer for how traders are feeling about the market and inflation-risk.

A rising yield also serves as a major headwind for technology stocks. Given this, it’s no wonder that our hypergrowth tech expert, Luke Lango, has been monitoring this surge.

From Luke’s Early Stage Investor update yesterday:

The 10-year Treasury yield broke above 1.5% today, continuing its sharpest ascent since February.

Yields have now risen about 20 basis points since the Fed’s meeting last week, as investors are bracing for the Treasury market’s biggest buyer to become a seller before year-end.

This move makes sense, and more importantly, it’s nothing to worry about.

***Why Luke is urging a levelheaded response

Luke points out that while yields might have further to climb, they should return to lower levels due to a handful of reasons.

Back to Luke with those details:

The fact of the matter is that yields were too low, so now they’re correcting higher, but they won’t go much higher from here because there are structural forces in place that will keep them lower for longer.

For one, you have secular deflationary pressures via the expansion and improvement of productivity-boosting and cost-reducing technologies, like automation, artificial intelligence, and virtualization platforms.

For another, you have persistently strong demand for risk-free assets from risk-adverse funds like pension funds – in a market where “cash is trash” and valuations are a bit too stretched to attract major allocations from these risk-adverse funds.

You also have the fact that the labor market will face long-term headwinds from automation technology threatening to disrupt large swaths of the labor market. That will put a floor on how low the unemployment rate can go, which will keep the Fed on the sidelines.

Not to mention, the Fed serves the U.S. government, and the U.S. government has accumulated a lot of debt over the past few years (especially the past 24 months) … so, in order to keep interest payments low for its “boss,” the Fed is incentivized to keep rates lower for longer. Same with every other central bank in the world, for that matter.

Long story short, there are simply too many secular forces at play here for yields to rise much higher. Make no mistake. They will move higher. But at a very slow and gradual pace

The second reason why Luke isn’t alarmed by the yield spike is because he’s focusing on what matters – the long-term growth story, along with earnings.

Back to Luke:

Near-term movements in the yield curve will dictate near-term price action.

But the long-term value of our stocks will be driven by the long-term earnings growth trajectories of our companies.

So long as our companies produce lots of earnings over the next few years, our stocks will move higher – regardless of where yields end up.

Even though the long-term is what matters, for now, the short-term is volatile – and painful. But Luke stresses this is a temporary problem that’s actually an opportunity:

All in all, things look great.

Let the yield volatility resolve itself in the coming weeks. Let tech stocks chop around. Buy the dip when the volatility settles.

Let’s move on to the second source of today’s volatility.

***The threat of a broader fallout from Evergrande is also worrying investors

Let’s begin with yesterday’s update from our Strategic Trader team of John Jagerson and Wade Hansen:

The Evergrande situation in China is continuing to put traders on edge.

A default seems very likely, and most of the world’s major financial institutions have material direct or indirect exposure to that risk.

To make sure we’re all on the same page, Evergrande is an enormous Chinese real estate company that is failing to meet its debt payments.

Last Thursday, the troubled company missed an $84 million payment. It owes another $47.5 million tomorrow.

The broader fear is that this could be a “Lehman Brothers” meltdown for China. Real estate makes up roughly 30% of the Chinese GDP, so a collapse would have a very real impact on their broader economy. It’s reported that Evergrande alone helps sustain more than 3.8 million jobs each year (directly employing about 200,000).

Yesterday, legendary investor, Louis Navellier, also updated his Accelerated Profits subscribers on this situation. Here he is speaking to this broader fear:

A housing bust would have a pretty big impact on the Chinese economy.

Some economists are even predicting that if Evergrande fails, it could cause China to slip into a recession — and, of course, these fears are part of the reason why the stock market sold off hard last Monday.

The good news is neither Louis nor our Strategic Trader team believe significant economic contagion from a default will reach the U.S. However, we could be in for market volatility. Given this, it’s impacting where John and Wade will be looking for trade set-ups.

Back to their update on this note:

We should be cleareyed about the risks and potential for volatility as we get closer to 3rd quarter earnings season in October.

We expect volatility to rise, and we don’t plan on targeting any trades in energy or basic materials, but we also don’t see much risk of a major drawdown yet.

As I write Tuesday, the latest news is that Beijing is urging government-owned property developers to buy up some of Evergrande’s assets. So, it’s not a direct bailout, though it’s a bailout.

From Reuters:

Authorities are hoping, however, that asset purchases will ward off or at least mitigate any social unrest that could occur if Evergrande were to suffer a messy collapse, they said, declining to be identified due to the sensitivity of the matter.

We’ll update you as events unfold here, but don’t be surprised if markets suffer another mini-panic if we get bad news from China.

***Finally, partisan politics could upset markets

The debt ceiling deadline is this Friday.

Last night, Senate Republicans voted against a House-backed bill that would have suspended the debt limit. They objected to how the bill was attached to a broader spending bill pushed by Democrats.

From Bloomberg:

Without a shift in position by one of the two parties, the decision to combine the temporary funding measure and the debt ceiling leaves the U.S. on course for a government shutdown and defaults on federal payments as soon as next month.

According to the Bipartisan Policy Center, without a suspension or raising of the ceiling, there will be a risk of default between Oct. 15 and Nov. 4.

Moody’s Analytics suggests that a prolonged shutdown, were it to happen, would cause another recession, destroying approximately $15 trillion in household wealth and 6 million jobs.

Our politicians are aware of this and don’t want to be responsible, so what we’re seeing is partisan brinksmanship. However, the closer we get to Friday without that solution, the greater the risk of more market volatility.

But remember, we saw this in 2011, when the debt ceiling showdown led to a downgrade in U.S. AAA sovereign credit, and again in 2018 as U.S./China trade tensions were growing. Both times brought plenty of anxious hand-wringing, yet both times we moved past it.

Bottom-line, fasten your seatbelt as these three issues work themselves out. It could get worse before it gets better – but it will get better.

Have a good evening,

Jeff Remsburg

The post Volatility Roars Back appeared first on InvestorPlace.

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Economics

Owner-Equivalent Rent Shock On Deck As Actual Rents Surge By Most On Record

Owner-Equivalent Rent Shock On Deck As Actual Rents Surge By Most On Record

Another month, another record surge in US rents to a new all time…

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Owner-Equivalent Rent Shock On Deck As Actual Rents Surge By Most On Record

Another month, another record surge in US rents to a new all time high.

According to the Apartment List national index, US rents increased by 2.1% from August to September, and although month-over-month growth has slowed slightly from its July peak when the sequential growth rate was 2.6%, rents are still growing much faster than the pre-pandemic trend. Since January of this year, the national median rent has increased by a staggering 16.4%. To put that in context, rent growth from January to September averaged just 3.4% in the pre-pandemic years from 2017-2019.

While even the smallest cooldown in rent growth is a welcome change for renters, Apartment List's Chris Salviati notes that it’s important to bear in mind that prior to this year, the national index never increased by more than 0.9 percent in a single month, going back to 2017. "Furthermore, we have now entered the time of year when rents are normally declining due to seasonality in the market. In September of 2018 and 2019, for example, rents fell by 0.1 percent and 0.3 percent, respectively."

That said, we have a ways to go before US rent - where the median just rose above $1,300 for the first time ever - decline; and with rents rising virtually everywhere, only a few cities still remain cheaper than they were pre-pandemic, and even these remaining discounts are unlikely to persist much longer. At the other end of the spectrum, Apartment List finds 22 cities among the 100 largest where rents have increased by more than 25 percent since the start of the pandemic. That said, there are some early signals that tightness in the market may be beginning to ease: the vacancy index ticked up this month for the first time since last April. And in Boise, ID, which has seen the nation’s biggest price increase since the start of the pandemic, rents finally dipped slightly this month.

The chart below visualizes monthly rent changes in each of the nation’s 100 largest cities from January 2018 to September 2021. The color in each cell represents the extent to which prices went up (red) or down (blue) in a given city in a given month. Bands of dark blue in 2020 represent the large urban centers where rent prices cratered (e.g., New York, San Francisco, Boston), but those bands have quickly turned red as ubiquitous rent growth sweeps the nation in 2021. In 2020, 60 of these cities saw rent prices rise from August to September, but this year, 97 cities got more expensive in September.

In a glimmer of hope for Americans locked out of not only the housing but the rental market, one of the few markets where rents did not increase this month was Boise, ID. Since last March, rents in Boise are up by a staggering 39%, making the city the archetype for rental market disruption amid the pandemic. This month, however, the median rent in Boise fell by 0.1%. While such a small dip certainly doesn’t offer much relief to Boise renters, it may at least signal that the market is finally starting to stabilize. Spokane, WA, another city that has experienced skyrocketing rent growth this year, saw an even more notable decline this month, with rents down 1.8 percent.

Unfortunately, Boise and Spokane represent the exception rather than the rule -- in most of the cities where rents had been growing quickly, that growth is continuing. Tampa, for example, saw rents jump by another 3.9% this month, and the city now ranks 2nd for cumulative rent growth since the start of the pandemic at 36%. Excluding Boise and Spokane, the other eight cities in the chart above experienced rent growth of 3.5%, on average, from August to September, as affordable Sunbelt markets continue to boom. Of particular note, four of the ten cities with the fastest rent growth since last March are suburbs of Phoenix.

A more tangible indicator that demand destruction may be setting in, is that vacancy rates have posted their first increase since March. Indeed, as Apartment List notes, much of this year’s boom in rent prices can be attributed to a tight market in which more and more households are competing for fewer and fewer vacant units. The vacancy index spiked from 6.2% to 7.1% last April, as many Americans moved in with family or friends amid the uncertainty and economic disruption of the pandemic’s onset. Since then, however, vacancies have been steadily declining. For the past several months, the vacancy index has been hovering just below 4%, significantly lower than the 6% rate that was typical pre-pandemic.

This month, however, the vacancy index ticked up slightly, from 3.8 percent to 3.9 percent. Although this is a very minor increase, it represents the first increase of any magnitude since last April. While a few more months of data would be needed to confirm an inflection point, if vacancies are back on the rise again, it would signal that tightness in the rental market is finally beginning to ease and that rent growth will also continue to cool.

Finally, where there may be light at the end of the tunnel in real-time data, we have yet to see the pig even enter the python when it comes to the CPI's Owner Equivalent Rent data series. As shown below, the Apartment List data normally has a 4 month lead to the OER series, which means that as actual rents soar by over 15% Y/Y, OER is either going to skyrocket in the coming quarters or the BLS will have to come up with some very fancy hedonic adjustments why rental inflation should exclude, well, rental inflation.

Tyler Durden Tue, 09/28/2021 - 18:25
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