Wednesday, December 27, 2023


Most pundits have already forgotten that the last major rally ENDED with that year's Santa Claus rally - 2021. They are too busy telling people this is the last chance to get IN, to realize it may once again be the last chance to get OUT...

I don't know exactly what combination of factors keeps stocks magically pinned to all time highs at this time of year, but we can be sure it's some quasi-criminal combination of low volume, low volatility, option market manipulation, and most importantly investors wanting to avoid taxes. That's right, all of the big winning stocks of 2023 - meaning mega cap Tech - will be held right up until the end of December and then dumped in January, so that those massive 95% gains are not taxed for another full year. That is the major factor holding this market higher, for now and it portends badly for a hyper-speculative market.

Meanwhile, this past week, we got news that housing prices accelerated in October to their fastest pace in 2023. Which adds  fuel to the ongoing policy disaster that I discussed in my last post. Real estate gamblers are betting that as soon as rates come down, there will be a mad rush to buy real estate. However, history informs us that the opposite occurs. The chart below clearly shows that home prices are positively correlated to interest rates, meaning they are pro-cyclical and massively levered to the ECONOMY, not deflation. In addition, consider what home prices were doing at this point in the last cycle when rates were falling - home prices were already going DOWN. However, even though the Fed has now raised rates an equivalent amount as 2007, home prices are still going up while the economy is already rolling over. Meaning, that housing liabilities are increasing even as the economy is weakening.

From the stock market perspective, the last time the stock market got the totally wrong message from a Fed pivot was Q4 2007. Which happened to be the market top, as we see below. 

Many pundits are saying the Fed is being political by not raising rates now due to the oncoming election in 2024. Which is reminiscent of Trump when he said we are in a big, fat, ugly bubble back in September 2016. Little did he know, the bubble would continue growing for ANOTHER seven years after that. Which in today's way of thinking means it has no possible end date. It's human history's first ever perpetual asset bubble. 

The real bet isn't whether markets are overbought and overdue for a correction - even bulls are hoping for a pullback so they can add leverage - the REAL question is whether or not central banks still have control over the monster they've created.

The real answer is unconditionally, no - which is the opposite of what almost every investment advisor, pundit and media mannequin in the business world is saying right now. Central banks no longer have the means by which to resuscitate the economy when their super bubble explodes. Monetary policy alone will not be sufficient. Which means that in 2024 politics will determine the state of the economy, and we are entering a period of MAXIMUM political acrimony. One in which neither party will want to be seen as ceding ground to the other party. One in which neither party will want to be seen as bailing out the wealthy. Which means the Fed can "monetize" debt as much as they want, but if there is no big stimulus to monetize then it will make no difference. Then there is the unresolved matter of the insolvent FDIC, as a result of the 2023 bailout. Which is already long forgotten.

We are now at the point in the super cycle when the Idiocracy finally realizes that they are NOT in control and they were never in control in the first place. They were merely making convenient assumptions while the level of unsustainable liabilities reached proportions that were finally beyond central bank control. 

They are the children of the bailout. And they have to learn once and for all that printed money is not the secret to effortless wealth. And they will all say, "who knew?".

Lastly, as far as the Santa Pause rally goes, this is now officially the longest daily overbought streak on record going back to 1970 (life of data).

Got low rates?

Thursday, December 21, 2023


Instead of joining every other pundit in predicting what won't happen in 2024, I would like to point out that 2023 is not over just yet...

This has been the largest % weekly gain to a 52 week high since 1998. The S&P 500 has been up 8 weeks in a row, counting this week. And yet we just learned that fund managers are the most bullish since the start of 2022. Which happens to be the last time the market peaked out and crashed from this exact same level. Can anyone explain why it is that media pundits can't check the charts to see what happened the last time fund managers were this bullish? Instead, they do the opposite and write as if it's a bullish fact that so many "experts" are bullish. 

Ok, so instead of explaining to bulls the difference between a hard landing and a soft landing - which would be gratuitous on my part - I will instead focus on the precarious technical indicators that attend this current market.

The market is now overbought on every metric - momentum, breadth, and volume. Which is why I am calling this the "Santa Pause" rally. We are now to believe that this record overbought condition will not only continue next week, but into 2024 as well. 

"Bank of America also found that 66% of the fund managers it polled expect the world economy to experience a so-called "soft landing" in 2024"

"The bank's own head of US equity strategy is expecting stocks to perform well in 2024"

Herein lies the problem - this is the FIRST time the Fed has "pivoted" to a dovish stance with the market already fully overbought. Prior to last week's FOMC, the market was already 6 weeks straight-line overbought because the market has been front-running this Fed pivot for ALL of 2023. However, when the FOMC turned inexplicably dovish, the market exploded higher to an even more overbought stance. At the beginning of December, Powell had called talk of rate cuts "premature". But then two weeks later, the FOMC put three rate cuts on the table for 2024. It's pure Idiocracy. 

What this means is that the Fed has over-lubricated an already over-heated market. It's unclear why they would do such a thing, except to continue their unbroken streak of policy errors which began in 2021 by saying they would be "lower for longer". And then in 2022 they raised rates by the most since 2007 while keeping their balance sheet still almost 2x pre-pandemic. And then now, with this ill-fated dovish "pivot".

All of which gets us back to the pre-pandemic conditions in which the Fed had already pivoted and was using QE to address the "repo" crisis. By the end of 2019, they had cut rates three times in what they called a "mid-cycle adjustment", which came ten years into the longest cycle in U.S. history. So, risk assets soared and yield spreads collapsed, while the average stock went nowhere. And then we all know what happened next.

Astute observers will note that pundits were calling it a "soft landing" in late 2019. Not as soft as this one apparently.

In addition to the S&P 500 shown above, none of the other major indices have joined the price-weighted Dow Industrials at new all time highs. Here we see the Nasdaq Composite is still far below its all time high while the volume oscillator is now rolling over.

Yesterday, markets experienced a day of extreme selling, which came as a shock to bulls who are not aware such a thing existed. Pundits were scratching their head and calling it "inexplicable" selling. However, a brief glance at the NYSE volume oscillator shows that the market has tanked every time from this level during this past year.

It's only inexplicable if you are Stevie Wonder.

Here is another crazy factoid, the FANG+ are now up 95% year-to-date. And yet the majority of fund managers remain long Tech stocks for 2024:

"The most crowded trades include being long on the 'Magnificent Seven' and short on China stocks"

In summary, the REAL *smart* money trade is to fade everything Wall Street is doing right now. 

And instead bet that Wall Street will explode in 2024 with extreme dislocation and the hardest landing since 1930.

At the latest. 

And know one thing with absolute certainty - they don't see it coming. 


Thursday, December 14, 2023


Once upon a time the Fed said they would cut interest rates. So Wall Street went ALL IN…

What we have learned since 2008 is that monetary policy does not have unlimited power over markets, but it does have unlimited power over the imagination of 8 billion gamblers. Therefore, until such time as the last fool is found, it can indeed appear as if monetary policy is unlimited. If the powers of monetary policy were unlimited, then China which has been easing all of 2023 would NOT have the weakest stock market in the world right now. And Japan which has been easing for the better part of three decades would not STILL be below the 1990 high.

Therefore, it's ironic that Japan is finally moving away from negative interest rates which have been in place since 2007, which will put to test my theory that monetary divergence - now going in the exact opposite direction - will cause the $3 trillion Yen carry trade which accumulated while U.S. rates were rising, to explode as it did in 1998.

Ignored Risk: Exhibit A.

In the U.S., the belief that only monetary policy matters and all risks should be ignored grew out of the 2008 bailout and the attendant ten year span of 0% interest rates. That faith in monetary policy was reinforced again during the pandemic. Central banks have magical powers to bail everyone out. Investors seem to forget that both of those events came along with explicit government assurances that all bank depositors  - insured or uninsured - would be made 100% whole. Something that the FDIC itself has already stated would be TOO EXPENSIVE to repeat in the future:

FDIC (May, 2023): Options for Deposit Insurance Reform

"Following the 2008–2013 banking crisis, the reliance by the U.S. banking system on uninsured deposits grew dramatically, both in dollar volume and as a proportion of overall deposit funding.20 From year-end 2009 through year-end 2022, uninsured domestic deposits at FDIC-institutions increased at an annualized rate of 9.8 percent, from $2.3 trillion to $7.7 trillion"

Ignored Risk: Exhibit B

Banks are now three wave corrective over the Spring (Feb '23) bank run. Shorts have covered on the belief that the worst is over. When in fact the worst has not even started yet. 

Another key risk factor that giddy investors seem to forget is that home prices usually decline when interest rates are coming down. Whether that is correlation or causation is up for debate. However, clearly declining interest rates attend a weakening economy and the housing market is highly sensitive to overall economic activity.

Ignored Risk: Exhibit C.

As a fourth risk I would point out that this is the SECOND Dow Theory Non-confirmation that investors are buying in three years. And we all know how the last one worked out. Essentially what happened was that investors became more bullish over the course of 2019 as the Fed moved from pivot to full on easing. Which is why when the pandemic struck, they were maximum levered to risk. 

The 2024 risks that are "invisible" now to bulls are invisible as the pandemic was in late 2019.

Ignored Risk: Exhibit D. Dow Theory confirmation requires that the Dow Transports make a new high to confirm the Dow Industrials new high. As we see, the Transports are a long way from confirming the Dow. In addition, the Nasdaq, S&P 500 and of course Russell 2000 have not confirmed the Dow either. As a reminder, the Dow is the ONLY price weighted index, so it is not representative of market cap. 

In summary, if you think that this divergence between investor fantasy and global reality has a happy ending in 2024, then indeed ignore all risk and go ALL IN. And then you will realize the hard way that in an Idiocracy, there is no strength in numbers.

"Check out the performance of the “Magnificent Seven” compared to the rest of the S&P 500 Index since the beginning of the year...the Mag 7 has done +71%, and the rest of the S&P 500 stocks have managed just 6%!"

These levels of concentration are unlike anything we’ve seen before — even the late ‘90s dot-com bubble doesn’t compare"

And it’s all happening because investors from all over the world keep chasing the same Big Tech higher and higher"

Ignored Risk: Exhibit E and F.

Thursday, December 7, 2023


2023 is coming to a close amid giddy optimism in markets. Pretty much every piece of junk that got bought in the past three years of pandemic asset bubble, is now hot again...

Dec. 1st, 2023:

Yahoo Finance:

"Stocks that got slammed amid fears of higher-for-longer interest rates caught a second wind during the roaring November market rally. The S&P regional bank index (KRE) rose more than 16% during the month...Cathie Wood's flagship Ark Innovation ETF (ARKK) gained more than 34%. Meme stocks are soaring too"

"Traders have decided that even though it’s still earning nearly 5%, cash is trash compared to quick profits in a wide variety of risk assets," Interactive Brokers chief strategist Steve Sosnick wrote in a research note on Wednesday"

Sosnick adds that the root of what he described as a fear of missing out, or "FOMO" rally, is the "expectation that rates will be coming down, and that is indeed a solid reason for a rise in risk assets."

This article came out on the exact same day that Powell warned that interest rates are not coming down any time soon:

Dec. 1st, 2023:

This is all very deja vu, because one year ago, stocks were rallying on the prospect of imminent rate cuts. Back then as well, the Fed was trying to tamp down expectations, but clearly they didn't do a good job of it because here we see that for over a year the Dow has been rising inversely to National Financial Conditions, since the lows of October 2022. Risk markets are unwinding the Fed's tightening.

Which means that the Fed is nowhere near cutting interest rates. 

Nowhere is there more interest rate cut FOMO than there is in the housing market. Recently we learned that pending home sales have collapsed to multi-decade lows, but homebuilder stocks are at all time highs and leading the market. This week, Toll Brothers reported that their unit home sales collapsed -27% year over year and yet the stock went vertical. They "beat" Wall Street's negative expectations. 

It's abject criminality on an epic scale. 


If there is a recession in 2024 - which most economists are now predicting - then it will be the first back-to-back recession since the early 1980s. A mere two years between recessions. Normally, in a recession there is de-leveraging of debt, however, during the pandemic initially there was de-leveraging, but central banks created such an instantly massive asset bubble that by the end  of the pandemic there was a massive RE-leveraging of debt.  Which is what we see in the graph below. That has never happened before in U.S. history.

Which is why we are now facing a second recession, but this time at astronomical levels of debt. And yet today's pundits are telling people to buy stocks ahead of this recession. It's fucking ridiculous. 


This week, Moody's downgraded China's sovereign debt from stable to negative. Which is the EXACT opposite of what happened a year ago when everyone widely expected China to lead the world in economic growth in 2023. 

And yet we see below via the ISEE call/put ratio that speculators are MORE euphoric going into 2024 than they were going into 2023. What it comes down to is that investors have been hearing about the China economic implosion for so long that they no longer fear it. Even when it's happening in real time. Why? Because they have been convinced over and over again since 2008 that they will always get bailed out by central banks.

But remind me again which is the only major central bank right now that's easing?

China. And they have the worst performing stock market in the world. A harbinger of what's coming for every other risk asset market IN THE WORLD.