Do the Opposite

My friend Ben Carlson has a (typically) terrific piece up on how market action and sentiment impact us. It’s hilarious and true, especially on a day like today with oil and stocks desperately seeking a bottom. Here’s a taste.

Bull Markets: Fear of missing out.
Bear Markets: Fear of being in.

Bull Markets: I knew I should have had more of my portfolio in stocks.
Bear Markets: I knew I should have had more of my portfolio in bonds.

Bull Markets: That guy’s been calling for a crash for years — he’s an idiot.
Bear Markets: That guy just called the crash — he’s a genius.

I encourage you to read it in full.

I also encourage you to watch the video version below. Be careful out there.

Advertisements

Bear Territory

After every football victory, the California Golden Bears declare that the ground on which they stand is Bear Territory. “You know it! What? You tell the story! What? You tell the whole damn world this is Bear Territory!” Watch this particularly lively rendition after a win in The Big Game over Stanford (starting about 1:20 in; my youngest is at the top of the screen and was number 46 for Cal).

Lots of experts and alleged experts in recent days have been declaring that we’re in a different sort of “bear territory” as the market has gotten off to perhaps its worst start to a year ever. Continue reading

In Times Like These

“My Mama told me there’d be days like this.” – Van Morrison

Stock markets are in turmoil all over the globe. Monday was especially violent and what passes for financial television was awash in bluster, doom and gloom. Markets were gapping down in China, in London, in Japan and elsewhere. Emerging markets were getting crushed. Here in the States, the S&P 500 dropped about 4 percent, with the other major benchmarks performing similarly. The next day, on what appeared to be “Turnaround Tuesday,” a day-long rally was overcome by a major sell-off just before the close, pushing all the major indexes underwater for yet another day. Today has opened well, but (obviously) we don’t know what’s coming.

Over the previous six trading days, the benchmark S&P index has lost well over 200 points, or roughly 11 percent, putting it on track for its worst August in 17 years. But since the markets haven’t seen a significant correction (a loss of at least 10 percent) since 2011, we have been due for one. When financial markets are free-falling, and all correlations seem to converge on 1.0, analytically we move into the realm of the physics of landslides, where things are inherently complicated and unpredictable (which is not to say that more “normal” times are somehow simple and predictable). Continue reading

The Relentless (for now) Bid

Reformed BrokerJosh Brown has an interesting piece up this morning in which he outlines the dramatic shift within the investment industry from commission-based (suitability standard) selling to fee-based (fiduciary standard) management and uses that data as an explanation for the tremendous underlying bid seen in the equity markets of late. “It’s amazing that almost no one has connected these dots before.”

It’s not that I entirely disagree with Josh here (and we don’t disagree often). He is on to something noteworthy. But it’s a story I’ve heard before. Those dots have been connected, with a less-than-stellar outcome.  Continue reading