Correcting faulty logic

Day three is now underway in this correction. Corrections are important to reign in animal spirits. Some faulty logic has been widely espoused along the following themes:
-a hope that less bad economic data means “green shoots” as in the economy will be back to healthy growth rates soon. Not quite.
-a hope that rising commodity and oil prices means manufacturing and industrial demand is on the rebound. Not yet. China and other countries with cash have been stock piling for anticipated demand later. See World Bank says China recovery hopes premature.
The world has also been showing an aversion to the US dollar again the past couple of months. This aversion has pumped up the value of U$ priced commodities like oil, gold and copper. But these price hikes don’t signify a rebound in demand or organic growth, just the same old hedging and speculative investment that we saw spike and then crash markets in 2008. Remember that commodities and energy are late cycle leaders. Price spikes there do not lead a sustained economic expansion—just the opposite. Price spikes in these sectors serve to thwart the new economic expansion everyone so desperately wants. The unfortunate consequence is then increased costs (inflation) with stagnant consumption demand.
-a hope that mortgage refi applications signify a consumer back in hot to shop mode. Not for quite a while. See Shift to thrift
We note that selling volume continues to overwhelm buying volume in the stock market. Wise money suspects the market has overpaid the past 2 months. This is where an appreciation of basic math comes in handy: the Shanghai stock market fell more than 70% 2007-2009. Year to date it is now up 46% in a few short months. Sounds great? only if you aren't good with numbers. A loss of 70% needs more than 230% to recoup capital values. 46% is a something but really just a drop in the bucket of the next cyclical expansion. Genuine expansion gains come in legs over many months. This past 2 months has been one excited leg, but ultimately too long means too vulnerable, too unrealistic.
If the market is able to test some important downside targets over the next few months and hold, that would be some green shoots worth noting. I continue to believe that March 2009 may well have been “the” low this cycle, but only the next few months will tell the tale. And this far above March 9 levels, downside risk is now front and center again.

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4 Responses to Correcting faulty logic

  1. Anonymous says:

    Hi Danielle,
    I keep hearing that this market will be much like a “W”. We are supposedly somewhere near or at the middle peak. I would like to know if you see more upside to this rally after a healthy correction? Also when or if we do have this retest later this year and do you think it will go to the March lows or the the November lows? Is there a chance that we go lower than the March lows?

  2. Anonymous says:

    It is narrative fallacy of the first order for any of us to state confidentally how this will go. W, V, L, the verdict will not be in until a few years from now. The best course is to prepare for all possibilities with a method that you define in advance. At this point, November lows will be the first big test zone. If it bounces there that could be a good sign. But there is no way to preclude the possibility of a further test back at the March lows or yes, even a lower low. The next few months will be the next chapter of this bottoming process. No one can afford to fall back to sleep with confident theories either way.

  3. Anonymous says:

    The final outcome as to the length and shape of the recession will most likely be determined by whether or not the world believes that this will all work. The US needs low interest rates to buy time while the enormous stimulus works its way through the global economy or the national budget will be overwhelmed by interest carrying costs on the additional debt. The next 6 months will be very interesting as those nations who have (China) surpluses begin to hoard resources in anticipation of higher prices later on. The nations that depended upon leverage to prop up their economies and standards of living will see the biggest adjustments whether or not this all really does work.

  4. Anonymous says:

    The market is definitely overbought and the so-called “green shoots” strike me as little more than wishful thinking. On the other hand, I keep hearing reports that there is tons of cash on the sidelines that investors are desperate to deploy regardless of the fundamentals. Danielle, ITA with your conclusion that “no one can afford to fall back to sleep with confident theories either way.”

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