Thursday, September 28, 2023


The reign of complacency has continued to the end of September, despite the fact that the market peaked two months ago at the end of July. So as we enter the infamous month of October, it falls on those of us who can still fog a mirror to ask, what could go wrong?


Going back one year, stocks bottomed last October on the premise that the Fed was done or near done raising interest rates. There have been two rate pauses subsequently, but overall interest rates have continued to rise. 

Throughout the past year, consumers have continued to spend due to the inflationary impulse. In an inflationary paradigm, consumers believe that their increasing debts will be offset by rising wages. Unfortunately, interest rates have risen far faster than wages, which means that the debt burden has increased over the past year, NOT decreased. Which means that they are now trapped with higher debt levels AND higher interest rates at all time low unemployment. Once the deflationary impulse returns, they will be buried under a mountain of unaffordable debt. One can presume that they will not be happy to have been led to believe that the economy is strong. 

Meanwhile, the entire stock market rally has taken place under a backdrop of declining profits and rising real interest rates. The worst case scenario for stocks. 

Homebuilder stocks are a prime example of the mis-pricing of risk. One year ago, these stocks took off with yields at cycle high on the premise that bond rates were coming down. But since that time, bond yields have gone up.

WSJ: Rising Rates Finally Catch Up With Homebuilder Stocks

I've been showing this same chart all year, showing homebuilders rallying against the backdrop of Fed rate hikes, but nothing mattered.

Until they spontaneously exploded.

This positive correlation between homebuilders and interest rates doesn't seem to make any sense until we look back at the 2007 housing bubble. Then as now, home prices actually rose during the rate hiking cycle and then rolled over when rates came down. Why? Because the economy was imploding. 

We can expect the same thing to happen now.

This past week, Zerohedge posited that a "bounce" is due at any time. They also believe that non-Tech stocks will lead the rally from this point forward. I agree that an oversold bounce could occur at any time, but the experience of Y2K informs us that it won't last long. When the Dotcom bubble burst, "short duration" cyclicals outperformed growth stocks on a relative basis, but they still declined on an absolute basis. 

In other words, bulls are watching the Tech bubble implode and yet STILL making up excuses to own stocks.

In summary, anyone with amnesia can make up excuses to own stocks right now. But you don't have to just forget 2008 and Y2K, you also have to forget last year when that bear market started the exact same way it's resuming right now. I have yet to read one bullish pundit making year-over-year comparisons. Why? Because if they did they would be forced to conclude that we are heading for the first back to back yearly bear markets since the 1930s. And that their totally fabricated rate pause "bull market" has now reversed back to the breakout level.

So it is that I make a bold prediction. That by the end of October we are challenging the lows from last October as if nothing had even happened for the past year.

Because guess what, nothing did happen.

Thursday, September 21, 2023


The week after Lehman anniversary, and markets are doing what was unexpected of them...

Throughout this tightening cycle, global risk markets have been front-running the end of rate hikes. Each rally has proven to be a false dawn. It has never occurred to bulls that THEY are the reason this tightening cycle can never end. Recently, the oil market has been spiking in 100% correlation with every other global risk market. Which is why, as I said would happen, economists  are now saying that a higher CPI is assured in the coming weeks. Which, will put the Fed back on the tightening path after only one pause. Deja vu of what happened this past June:

"We already know that due to base effects, the roll-off of the CPI is going to lead to very likely inflation going back up"

On a global basis, recall that last week, the ECB was also hawkish. Today, the Bank of England paused for just the first time in almost two years. Next, we are waiting for the BOJ to render their decision tonight (Friday in Japan). 

Also leaning hawkish, Japan is now declaring victory over deflation while being on the cusp of the most deflationary market event since the 1930s.

"We won"

All of this hawkish tightening is finally catching up with markets. 

Or should I say, catching down.

Here we see the S&P Tech index has taken out the key support level from August, but we also see that the Nasdaq VIX still signals complacency.

In this chart we see that the Nasdaq (100) equal weight is below where it was in August, but the oscillator is above where it was in August. Which signals the market is not yet oversold.

Away from Tech, here we see that the Industrials rally was a bull trap.

In summary, the VIX has now closed below the 200 day moving average for 128 trading days in 2023. That is the longest streak of reduced financial anxiety since the END of the financial crisis. The only difference is that back then the VIX was coming down from 100. This time around, the VIX is coming down from the March level which was 30.

Which begs the question - do bulls even know what is the difference between the end of a financial crisis and the beginning?

And the answer is $Everything.


Tuesday, September 12, 2023


This week is the 15th anniversary of the Lehman collapse. Therefore, it falls on us to ask, "What could go wrong?"

Let's begin by assessing what is the same now relative to 15 years ago. Eerily, back then as well as now, the Fed was almost solely focused on inflation. At their September 2008 meeting they didn't raise rates, but they didn't cut them either. In other words, it was a "pause" meeting. Sound familiar?

The transcript for that meeting contains 129 mentions of “inflation” and five of “recession.”

"As late as August 2008, “there were no clear signs that many financial firms were about to fail catastrophically"


By August 2008, many financial firms had already failed, BUT most of them had been taken over by larger banks. Therefore, markets and pundits were not panicking. Similarly, this year, all of the firms that have failed got bought by larger banks AND were fully backstopped by the FDIC. Note the magnitude of unrealized gains that remain on U.S. bank balance sheets AND the massive liquidation volume. As two major negative divergences. 

Meanwhile, current bank exposure to commercial real estate is 3x subprime:

Among the differences however is the fact that the U.S. housing market has not fully cracked as it had back in 2007. Which is what we see in the chart below. Here we see that this decline resembles the initial decline off the top (red line) in 2007.

Notice that in 2007 as the housing market rolled over, the unemployment rate rose. Whereas this time the unemployment rate remains at a 50 year low. Are we to believe that this time correlation will be different? That is the bullish point of view - a new permanent plateau for over-valued asset prices while rate hikes implode the middle class.  

Fed policy, I mentioned above, is widely expected to be a likely pause next week. However, overall this Fed is still behind the curve on inflation relative to the last cycle. 

Here we see that when the Fed paused in 2008, inflation took off. This time if that happens, inflation will head back to 8%. 

Which means that we are always one too-strong data point away from meltdown. 

Another key divergence is the fact that the Fed is currently reducing their balance sheet. I believe that the Fed balance sheet is the primary source of today's inflation - mostly asset inflation. As we see, the balance sheet has only come down a small amount relative to where it was pre-pandemic. The current Fed policy of raising rates on the middle class while keeping the asset bubble inflated, is a disaster waiting to happen. 

It's merely a temporary plateau of rampant idiocy. 


Of course I've mentioned China many times as the locus of global collapse. Unlike 2009, China is in no condition to lead the world out of depression. This time, that country is leading the world INTO depression.

In summary, this week we learn that Americans have never been wealthier AND child poverty is soaring. 

September 11, 2023:

September 12th, 2023:

Anyone who doesn't see this coming, won't be bragging about it in the future. 

Thursday, September 7, 2023


For bulls, reality is no longer an option. It's totally unaffordable...

Today we got news that tied China directly to Tech stocks, which is a key warning to bulls as to which markets are at the locus of collapse. The headline stated that Chinese officials are banning the use of iPhones. The only problem is that it's old news.

"The government staff were given these instructions by their superiors in recent weeks"

It is unclear how many central government agencies have been impacted at this time, although Beijing has restricted iPhone usage among certain officials for years"

News? Bullshit. This is merely media pundits hunting around for headlines to attach to imploding markets. Note that this article came out after the close on Wednesday, however the stock tanked DURING the regular session on Wednesday. 

This September pattern is the same as August: A gap down at the beginning of the month. The August gap (black arrow) just got filled and now there is a new gap for September. Last month, Apple "beat" earnings, but the stock imploded. Pundits were at a loss for how that could happen. This time, they came prepared with stale headlines to explain what the chart was already saying. 

In other words, what is the bigger story here as it relates to U.S. Tech? Is it China economic meltdown, or is it the Chinese government extending a ban on iPhones? 

Nvidia is another good example of pundits at a loss to explain speculative capitulation. In May, Nvidia's earnings blowout was catalyst for a massive Tech rally. In August their earnings blowout was catalyst for Tech implosion.

This is what I mean, when I say "inside the crash zone". This is the first time semiconductors have failed a retest of the 50 dma and come straight back down. This is critical support. Notice what happened last time the 50 dma broke at this level. Look at the volume.

But the real warning came from the fact that semiconductor sales have only recovered back to the 2018 level. This new idea that  a "Magnificent Seven" Tech stocks could carry the entire market while the majority of Tech stocks imploded, was a hyper-moronic theory, hence it was consensus. 

Recall that during the pandemic, Cramer labeled the leading  Cloud/Work from home stocks, the "COVID-19". Those stocks soared and then they crashed -80%. The same fate awaits the Magnificent Seven. 

Back to the REAL story of continuing China meltdown, despite a record 54th consecutive currency intervention by the PBOC, the Yuan broke to a new 16 year low. The policy divergence between China and the U.S. grows wider every day. Now, all it would take is one more piece of strong economic data from the U.S. pointing to another rate hike, to implode China. 

In summary, bulls face a second consecutive yearly bear market for the first time since the 1930s. Bullish pundits continually point out THAT as their primary basis for continued optimism - i.e. that the market has never rallied this far off the bottom and then made a new low - except during the 1930s. During the 1930s, this up-down bull/bear sequence repeated 10 times, roughly once per year for a decade. Which is what I expect to happen now. The low of course back then was -90% from the all time high. Do I expect that now? Unlikely, due to central bank manipulation. But -60% is highly conceivable, because that's what happened to the Chinese market in 2015 amid non-stop intervention. Or, see their currency above for another example of policy clusterfuck. 

Be that as it may, today's bullish pundits will never predict a return to the 1930s, because under that scenario, no one needs their services.