Category Archives: Housing Market

Will The SNAP IPO Mark The Top?

The only aspect of the SNAP IPO that was more horrifying than the media attention given to monitoring SNAP’s first trade of the day is the valuation assigned to it by investors. Janet Yellen undoubtedly was not thinking about SNAP when she happened to mention in her Congressional testimony last week that “valuation metrics do appear…stretched.” That assertion is unarguably one of the most shameless understatements in history.

SNAP is being marketed by its financial promoters as “a camera company.” In reality it’s little more than a glorified social media business model. The product empowers the user to send photos and videos to friends rather than using a text message. Big deal. In 2016, SNAP generated $404 million in revenues and but lost $514 million. That’s the manipulated GAAP number for net income. The Company’s operation burned $611 million. Note: these are the numbers prepared by the Company that were used to generate the highest possible price for the IPO, which means the numbers are likely not accurate.

At IPO SNAP was valued at 54 times revenues. That’s the kind of multiple that a venture capital company would pay for a newly emerging company with a unique product that is still embedded with largely unquantifiable risks of the investment going to zero. SNAP is a newly emerging company which offers just another “flavor” of social medial. Mind you, this is a social media tool that is primarily used by millennials and “Gen Z’ers” who quickly tire of the latest cellphone app fad du jour. In fact, new user fatigue is already showing up in the number.   Over the last 4 quarters, the quarterly growth in growth “active daily users” has slowed considerably – just 4% from Q3 to Q4 – and its flat-lined in the rest of the world outside of the U.S. and Europe.

As a social media company, SNAP’s user growth-rate curve is already significantly below that of Facebook and Twitter in their early stages as public companies.  In truth, if SNAP wants to insist on being a “camera company,” then its stock likely will follow the same path as that of GoPro.  GoPro IPO’d in June 2014 at $24.   The first trade was at $30. The stock ran up to $98.  It currently trades at $9.40.

The overarching issue here is whether or not the grotesquely overvalued SNAP IPO will mark the top of this seemingly indefatigable rise in stocks.   Since closing above the 20k holy grail level on February 3rd, the Dow has risen another 1,100 index points in just 17 trading days, while the meatheads on financial bubblevision have been mindlessly cheering on the action with drool sliding down the sides of their mouths.   27.5% percent of this move occurred after Trump’s congressional address Tuesday night.  Conspicuously absent from the speech was any new policy ideas which might have been responsible for causing the ludicrous spike up in stocks.

David Stockman has called this action in the stock market “the greatest sucker’s rally of all time.”  In today’s episode of the Shadow of Truth, we discuss the insanity that has drawn mom and pop retail investors into the “warm water” with its Siren’s call.

Insanity Prevails In The Stock Market

The Dow and the S&P 500 stock indices are emblematic for the degree to which the U.S. economic, financial, political and social system has dislocated from reality.  Insanity prevails in a system that is corrupted to the core.   “Going down the rabbit hole” is a popular allusion in reference to the surrealism that has enveloped the American system.   I’d hazard to assert that it would take a few tabs of LSD to make today’s world believable. The fact that Donald Trump is President says it all…

With regard to the stock market, if you studied finance anytime from the 1950’s until the mid-1990’s, fell asleep for 20 years and woke up to today, you would conclude that the opposite of everything you learned is now the truth. It started in the late 1990’s when Greenspan coined the “new economy” mantra and scam artists like Henry Blodget got everyone to believe that “new economy” stock valuations could be derived from the number of “clicks and eyeballs” received by a company’s website. And I thought that was insane.

The market has never been more dislocated from fundamentals than now. Since when do stocks spike up on the threat of a rate hike?  Pretend rate hikes are now great for stocks and bad for gold even though historical evidence suggests that actual rate hikes have just the opposite effect on both asset classes.

I’m wondering if the hedge fund algos are already pricing in the move higher in stocks that occurs when the Fed fails to follow-thru on rate hike threats…While the Dow hits a new record every day, the amount of Government spending and debt hits a new record every 60 seconds. The rate of debt creation, public and private, dwarfs the rate of appreciation in general stock prices.

At the risk of being labeled a “conspiracy theorist,” it’s quite probable that the inside elite are gunning this stock market in order to bail out. Evidence? Insider selling has reached epic proportions. At some companies I analyze, the insider sell to buy ratio is over 1000:1. But the “purchases” are stock options exercised and then later sold. The purchases from cash out of pocket tend to be directors buying the gratuitous odd lot for sake of appearance.

One of my subscribers commented that, “I heard a guy on Fox Business say that Macy’s was a real estate play. As if re-purposing their real estate would happen and all would be wonderful.”  That’s the classic apology for a company sitting on a plethora of empty mall anchor space when big retailers start collapsing. Macy’s has been called a “real estate play” since the 1990’s. What is the actual value of empty mall anchor retail space? What do you put in there? Eventually they’ll be converted to homeless shelters and those are worth nothing other than “good will.”  Even this stock market doesn’t believe that one.  Here’s Macy’s stock:

Based on the graph above, the value of Macy’s “real estate” is about the same as the previous peak in real estate prices in 2007.   But real estate prices have been inflated to all-time highs on top of a helium-filled bubble of debt.  Macy’s certainly has more than its fair share of debt.  If this buffoon on Fox is correct, how come Macy’s stock is not at an all-time high?

A lot of eyeballs are fixated on March 15th, when the Treasury’s $20 trillion debt-ceiling limit becomes law.  But no one seems concerned other than those waiting for a Black Swan to appear and reset the system.  The reason no one on Wall Street or DC cares is that the solution simple.  Trump will sign an Executive Order mandating more Government borrowing.  With the stroke of a pen, Trump will obliterate the law.  Executive Orders will become the new de facto fiat currency that “backs” Treasury bonds and the dollar. Certainly a Trump EO is not any different than the current “full faith and credit” of the U.S. Government supported by the Fed’s de facto negative net worth.

The stock market is going parabolic on the back of the ideas Trump presented for making America great again.  Or at least so it seems.  But Trump’s plans do not have a snowball’s chance in hell of ever actually being implemented.  The country is already hopelessly broke – even pension funds are now starting to collapse (link) – and I doubt the entities designated to fulfill Trump’s spending dreams will accept Trump Executive Orders as payment in kind.

The entire system needs to be reset. The political system needs to be burned to the ground and rebuilt starting with the original Bill of Rights.  A good friend of mine told me that he was not buying stocks because the “forward ROR” when you buy stocks at a 30 p/e is 2%. But what is he using for “e” in the “p/e” equation:  adjusted-GAAP, non-GAAP or today’s fantasy GAAP?  The forward ROR for a system as corrupted and broke as the current one is zero.

When the elitists are done picking meat off the carcass, when the last crumbs of citizen wealth has been swept off the table, the  financial system will be reset and everyone will be starting from “ground zero.”    Until then, it’s unfortunate that only a few can see down into the deep abyss that has formed beneath the United States.  The rest have crawled down into that abyss and accept it as reality.

Retailing Is Bad And About To Get Worse

Americans are filing for bankruptcy at the fastest rate in several years. In January 2017, 55,421 individuals filed bankruptcy. That’s a 5.4% increase over January 2016. In December 2016, 4.5% more individual bankruptcies were filed than in December 2015. It’s the first time in 7 years that personal bankruptcies have risen in successive months on a year over year basis.

Also notable, in 2016 the number of U.S. Corporate bankruptcies jumped by 26% over 2015. U.S. Corporations have issued $9.5 trillion in bonds. That’s 61% more than they borrowed in the eight years leading up to the 2008 de facto financial system collapse (aka “the great financial crisis”).

The Financial Times reported that over 1 million U.S. consumers – prime and subprime – were behind on their car loans and that the overall delinquency rate had reached its highest level since 2009. The FT also stated that “lending to consumers with weak credit scores has been one of the fastest growing parts of the [banking] industry.” It’s starting to smell like early 2008 out there.

This is information and data that you will not hear on any of the “Bubblevision” financial “news” programs or read in the mainstream financial media. It’s also information that is not being factored at all by stock prices.

Americans are bulging from the eyeballs with mortgage, auto, credit card and student loan debt. The amount of outstanding auto debt hits a new record every month. Of the $1.2 trillion in auto loans outstanding, over 30% is considered subprime. In fact, I would bet good money that the number is closer to 40%, as the same type of non-documentation loans that infected the mortgage market in mid-2000’s has invaded the auto loan market. It was recently disclosed that the 61+ day delinquency rate on General Motors’ securitized subprime loans has soared to levels not seen since 2009.

To put the amount of subprime auto debt in context, assume 35% of total auto debt outstanding is now below prime (subprime and “not rated”). This equates to $420 billion of below prime debt. The total amount of below prime mortgage debt during the mid-2000’s housing bubble was about $600 billion. In other words, the subprime auto debt problem could easily precipitate another financial markets catastrophe.

Although the retail sales report for January earlier this month purported to show a 4.9% year/year increase in retail for January, the majority of the “gain” came from the rising price of gasoline during the month (the gasoline sales category showed a 13.9% gain over January 2016, most of which can be explained by higher prices). In fact, the .4% “gain” from December 2016 to January 2017 reported for the overall retail sales number lagged the Government’s measure of inflation. Real, inflation-adjusted sales from December to January declined by 0.20%. (Note also that the retail sales report is derived largely from Census Bureau “guesstimates” due to the supposed unavailability of real-time data. This explains why typically previous reports are revised lower – I detail this in my weekly Short Seller’s Journal).

Debt-squeezed Americans are spending less on discretionary items, especially clothing. This is why Walmart has launched a new price-war agenda aimed at the grocery industry, big-box retailers and Amazon.com.    The retail spending “pie” is shrinking and Walmart intends to do fight hard to maintain the size of its piece.  For all the attention focused on Amazon, Walmart’s annual revenues are nearly 4-times larger than Amazon’s.   And make no mistake, Walmart has plenty of room to fight, as its operating margin is nearly double AMZN’s – and that’s before we adjust AMZN’s highly misleading accounting, which would reduce AMZN’s margins.

Despite the Dow hitting new all-time highs for a record number of days in a row, The S&P retail ETF, XRT, is currently 10.4% below its 52-week high.   It’s 15% below its all-time high, which it hit in mid-July 2015:

Target (TGT) is today’s poster-child for the retail sector, as its Q4 earnings missed expectations badly and it warned for 2017.  Its quarterly revenues dropped 4.3% year over year and its full-year 2016 earnings fell nearly 6% vs. 2015.   Operating earnings were crushed, down 42.2% in Q4 2016 vs. Q4 2015.  The stock is down over 11% right now (mid-morning trading on Tuesday).

I would also suggest that the revised GDP  for Q4, reported to be 1.9%, is derived from Government statisticians’ manipulation because most of the gain is attributed to consumer spending.  Tell that to holders of XRT and RTH.

The economy is sinking further into a recession despite the propaganda coming from Wall Street, financial bubblevision “meat with mouths” and the mainstream media.  Real median household income continues to decline and the Fed/Government intervention in the stock market is helpless to prevent this fact from being reflected in many sub-sectors of the stock market “hiding” beneath the headline-grabbing Dow and S&P 500.

My Short Seller’s Journal presents analysis like this to subscribers every week.  There’s a big difference between what gets reported and what is really going on.  My journal looks “under the hood” of the headline economic reports in order detail what’s really going in in the economy.  Most of the analysis and assertions are backed up with actual data.  I also “de-construct” the game of “beat the earnings” which makes headlines and stocks pop, but also creates short-sell opportunities.  Each issue presents at least two short ideas, along with suggestions for using options and managing positions.  The retail sector has been fertile shorting ground and the housing market is next.  You can subscribe by clicking on this link:  Short Seller’s Journal – plus receive a discount link to my Mining Stock Journal.

Toll Brothers Stock Jumps On Declining Revenues And Earnings

Toll Brothers reported its Fiscal Q1 earnings this morning.  Year over for the quarter: Revenues declined nearly 1%, operating income plunged 46.8%, net income dropped 4.1%.   Net income was boosted by the reliable accounting management technique of reducing the estimated GAAP “effective” tax rate, which enables any management to goal-seek a specific net income number.  In this case the goal is to “beat” the Street.  Margins were down across the board.

Oh ya, TOL pulled another stunt that homebuilders use to pump up GAAP net income:  it increased the amount of interest it capitalized by $6 million dollars. This has the effect of boosting operating income by $6 million compared to the same quarter last year because it reduces the amount of GAAP interest expense by the amount that was capitalized. It did this despite a drop in sales.   Its net income would have missed the Street by a suburban mile if it had just maintained the same rate of interest expense capitalized.

For this, the stock jumped up 6% this morning at the open.

The Company blamed the drop in operating income and margins on inventory write-downs.  But these have been occurring every quarter recently and will of course continue going forward.  That write-down only explains $4 million of the $44 million plunge in operating income.

There’s so much more going in TOL’s numbers which point to the continued economic deterioration in its business model.  I will be reviewing this further in this week’s issue of the Short Seller’s Journal, including which put options TOL I bought this morning.

Too many layoffs and store closure news to mention but I’ve realized that there are a lot of school-district (including teachers) layoffs and colleges, or even hospitals staff layoffs. CSX just posted 1000 management level position cuts – link.  By the way, thanks for the Short Seller’s journal, very informative. – note yesterday from a subscriber

Demise Of The American Farmer Reflects The Demise Of The Middle Class

Too much debt, poor capital allocation decisions (McMansions, expensive leased cars, spending to “keep up with the Jones’) and declining disposable income.  It’s hitting the general middle class in America similarly to the way in which it is hitting the American family farmer.

The Wall Street Journal posted an article titled, “The Next American Farm Bust Is Upon Us” earlier this past week.  The bubble in farm land, just like the general real estate bubble, was precipitated by the Fed’s money printing and general easy money policies.  The cover story was that the policy was directed at stimulating economic activity.  But the actual result varies, with banks, corporations and ultra-wealth elitists benefiting to the detriment of the rest of the country.

A friend and colleague of mine who happens to be a wheat farmer shared with me his real life experience with trying to compete against the Monsanto-driven corporate farms in this country.  He’s working to move the production of his farm from wheat to industrial hemp but will need legislative help in his State to accomplish this:

Where some farmers get in trouble is spending too much for new equipment, and/or not fertilizing enough (or at all)… and/or not being good farmers in general.

For farmers carrying a high debt load, it’s challenging right now. Prices for wheat and corn will rebound eventually, but I’m not sure these grains are the best crops for farmers to grow going forward.

Russia is the world’s largest exporter of wheat, with Canada and the US tied for #2. Russia is also increasing their corn production (non-GMO) to be competitive with American farmers. Although demand for wheat and corn will never go away, these reasons are why I’m bearish on grain farming… and bullish on industrial hemp.

That’s why I’m cautiously optimistic about the industrial hemp bill becoming law in my State this year (fingers crossed).

Make no mistake, the plight of the farmer parallels that of the general middle class.  While some portion of the middle class is doing the proverbial celebratory end zone dance right now over the few thousands in paper profits they are making in the greatest stock bubble in U.S. history.   Most if not all of them will hang around too long and watch paper profits turn into paper losses when this historic equity bubble pops.

Meanwhile the Establishment elitists are coming out of the woodwork and warning the proletariat to take their profits out of the market and run, like these comments from James Tisch, CEO of Loews Corp, Tisch family scion, member of the Council on Foreign Relations and former director of the NY Fed.  In reference to the average retail investor.

In addition to Tisch, several other Establishment elitists have issued warnings, including Bill Gross, Larry Fink, Ray Dalio, George Soros and Sam Zell.   As my good friend and colleague, John Titus of Best Evidence Videos has said presciently:

One of the rules by which the elite aristocrats abide is they consider it rude to not issue a warning before they do something bad to us. They’re like criminals with manners. In other words, it’s gauche to flush the toilet while the serfs are taking a shower without giving a “heads up.”

 

Rare Honesty From A Corporate CEO

In my view, the mood of these markets is in stark contrast with the many unknown from our current economic and political landscape, both here and abroad. For me, it’s a major disconnect, and it concerns me.  – James Tisch, Loews CEO (call transcript sourced from from Seeking Alpha)

James Tisch shared some extraordinarily candid observations about the financial markets on Loews Corp’s Q4 earnings conference call on Monday.   I say “extraordinary” because I do not believe I have ever heard, in well over 30 years of capital markets experience, any corporate CEO – or any corporate officer – ever speak honestly about the condition of the financial markets.

With regard to the amount of capital and credit made available by the Fed:

In the credit markets, spreads on the high yield securities are approaching historically tight levels, while key credit metrics such as leverage and coverage ratios are showing signs of weakening. The leverage loan market has been overrun by such massive inflows of capital that you could probably get loan to buy a fleet of zeppelins at this point in time.

That statement references the flood cheap capital made available by the Fed that has facilitated the greatest mis-allocation of capital since Greenspan inflated the tech bubble and Bernanke inflated the housing/mortgage bubble.

The merger market is being driven by large pools of private and corporate buyers, the wave of private capital combined with the abundance of available leverage at remarkably low rates has enabled private equity firms to pay big prices for companies that haven’t already been gobbled up by strategic buyers.

That statement is quite remarkable.  Thinly veiled in diplomatic finesse, Tisch essentially acknowledges that the private equity investors have fomented a massive M&A bubble and are significantly overpaying for acquisitions.

And the coup de grace:

In my opinion, the markets are priced for perfection, and they have been that way for quite some time, complacency reign supreme. However, my experience has shown me that this state of affairs won’t go on indefinitely.

In short, the market is historically overvalued and it will not end well for those who continue to hold long positions in the stock market.

In 2000 Greenspan has created a tech bubble which he said he could not see.  In late 2007 there was a housing and mortgage bubble, the existence of which Bernanke denied.  And now there’s an “everything” bubble, to which Yellen is role-playing Hellen Keller.

Panera Bread stock is a text-book example of the insanity in the stock market right now. PNRA announced earnings yesterday and “beat” the Street.  But here’s a synopsis of its numbers:

System-wide same store sales increased just .7%.  Franchise SSS dropped 1.4%. Franchised stores are 55% of the store base. Operating margin dropped 40 basis points. Net income in Q4 dropped $22.8 million from $24.7 million in 2015. Company bought back nearly $400 million in stock during 2016. It just issued another $200 million in debt. If it wasn’t buying back shares, it would not have needed to issue that debt. The share buybacks make the EPS look better but the net income of operations fell quarter over quarter and year over year.  That’s how PNRA “beat:” financial engineering because its net income declined quarter over quarter (2016 vs. 2015) and year over year.  – excerpt from an email exchange with a Short Seller’s Journal subscriber

For that, PNRA stock is up 8.4% today.  A $4 million year over year drop in net income has generated a $400 million one-day jump in PNRA’s market cap. This stock is trading at 38x trailing income as its ability to generate profits.  No wonder insiders are selling stock more quickly than passengers jumped off the Titanic.

I look at dozens of companies every week and insiders are furiously shoveling their shares into the market at well over 90% of these companies.  They all understand the same problem in the capital markets to which Tisch addressed.  In that latter regard, it was as refreshing as it was unique to come across an insider who was honest.

The Apartment Glut Cometh – Adios Housing Market

Driving by the west-side border of downtown Denver (on I-25), I can count 9 cranes in air plus one semi-finished high-rise building.  What’s amusing about this is that there’s already an oversupply of rental apartments and condos as the 1-2 month free + free parking incentives reflect.   What will happen when all these new projects hit the market?

This is not unique to Denver.   I witnessed it first-hand in New York City over the holidays. Douglas Elliman, the high profile NYC real estate brokerage, issued a report which showed that NYC real estate prices plunged in Q4, with the median sales price dropping nearly 9% from Q3. Days on the market increased 14.6% and the number of sales dropped 3.7% I can recall from the demise of the big housing bubble that the impending housing bust started first in NYC.  I remember walking around NYC in late 2006 and seeing several apartment complexes under construction on which work had been abandoned. I would
suggest that the current bubble is already popping in several bubble areas per this canceled contract data: LINK.  I also am confident that the weakness that is developing in NYC will soon spread to the rest of the country.  – from the  Jan 15th Short Seller’s Journal

Miami was the leading indicator of the demise of the mid-2000’s housing bubble.  An apartment glut quickly appeared as speculators took almost free money and put deposits on apartments being built by reckless builders.  Builders always get reckless when other people’s money is cheap. Greenspan and Bernanke made sure there was plenty of cheap capital for developers.   Wolf Richter details the current apartment market implosion occurring in Miami – LINK – and coming to city near you soon.

Ditto for San Francisco/Bay Area, which was right behind Miami during the big housing bubble and is concomitantly blowing up with Miami.  The SF/Bay Area market was driven by big foreign money laundering and a massive private equity tech bubble in Palo Alto. The foreign money has dried up and the PE tech bubble is fading quickly.  It’s like the cheap money rug has been pulled out from under reckless speculators and developers.  Mark Hanson describes the situation here:  Adios SF Housing Market.

Even some of the industry associations are starting to report the truth -something we’ll NEVER get from the National Association of Realtors, as the National Multifamily Housing Council reported a week ago that, “weaker conditions are evident across all sectors of the apartment industry.”  Its sales volume index dropped for the second quarter in a row.

At the same time that a glut in apartment/condo buildings is appearing everywhere, the luxury high-end market is falling apart as well, the latter of which was also a leading feature of the demise of the big housing bubble. Douglas Elliman reported recently, “that prices in the Hamptons real estate market dropped nearly 30% in Q4, with sales volume down 14.5% But in the luxury end of the market – homes with an average price of $7 million – prices were down 42.6% in Q4. This is an all-out crash in housing in one of the most high-end areas of the country. This is exactly what began occurring in 2006/2007 in the Hamptons.

CNBC reported last week that “luxury home sales continued to slump in Q4.” It cited the
Hamptons but also Aspen and Beverly Hills. I reported in SSJ a few months ago that Aspen
was starting to go into a price freefall. Prices and volume started collapsing in the summer.
Apparently in Q4 sales volume fell another 25% and prices were down another 11%. Beverly Hills sales volume plummeted 33%, though prices were flat. Again, the affects of the bursting big mid-2000’s real estate bubble was first felt in these same markets.

Record low mortgage rates combined with the U.S. Government’s providing the easiest, most accessible borrowing terms and credit standards in the GSE program history has enabled the greatest misallocation of financial resources in history.  It’s been manifest in every asset class but is particularly prevalent in stocks and the housing market.  While it may be somewhat easy to unload stocks when they are dropping out of the sky, housing is a different matter.  It’s easy to sell a home when the buying frenzy is rampant.  But as the market begins to head south, the entire real estate becomes “offered with no bid,” meaning that everyone stuck with an “investment” is looking to dump and buyers scatter like cockroaches when the kitchen light is switched on.

The home construction market is over-ripe with short opportunities.  I have been focusing on the sector (plus retail and autos) in the Short Seller’s Journal.  Since August,  shorting the retailers has been a lay-up.

In the SSJ, I present in detail the ways in which the industry associations, Wall Street – with the help of mainstream media cheerleading – distort the facts about the housing and auto markets.    As the reality of what I described above sinks in to the market, the price path of least resistance for home builders, home construction suppliers and auto-related equities will be down.   The same is true for the companies that provide financing to these industries.

In every issue of the Short Seller’s Journal I provide what I believe somewhat unique market analysis and commentary along with dependable research sources to back-up my assertions.  I also typically provide at least 2 or 3 short ideas, accompanied by suggestions for using options (although I first and foremost recommend shorting stocks outright).  I also disclose when I’m trading an idea presented, including which options contract if applicable.   You can subscribe to the weekly newsletter with this link:  Short Seller’s Journal

You certainly do provide research and with that, Value. But also… YOU actually are there responding to emails which says a TON about you, your commitment to your products, company, and us….the subscribers. For that, I thank you.  – Subscriber, Larry

 

Here’s Why Dow 20,000 Is Meaningless

Central Bank intervention in the markets has completely destroyed the stock market’s value as a reflector of economic activity and business profitability. Rather, like the mainstream media, the stock market has become little more than propaganda tool used in an effort to manage public perception.

I was fooling around with some charts and discovered something interesting. Of the 30 stocks in the Dow index, 21 of them are below to well below their all-time highs despite the fact that Dow hit the 20k milestone and a new all-time high this past week. Only 9 of the stocks are pressing an all-time high along with the Dow:

The Dow index is price-weighted somewhat arbitrarily by Dow Jones & Company, which is now owned by News Corp (Rupert Murdoch). Each stock is assigned a weighting in the index. So for instance, Goldman Sachs – for whatever reason – has been assigned a weighting of 8.16%, which is by far the highest weighting. GE on the other hand has been assigned a weighting of 1.03%. What this means is that if both stocks move up in price by the same percentage, GS has a nearly 8x greater affect on the move in the Dow index than GE.

Of the nine stocks that are at their all-time high, the first four stocks listed are 4 of the 6 stocks with the highest index weightings (3 thru 6 and the numbers next to the symbols represent their respective weightings. Cumulatively these four stocks represent a 21.8% weighting in the Dow index. Goldman Sachs (GS) has the highest weighting in the Dow at 8.1%. IBM is 2nd highest at 6.08%.

In other words, primarily four stocks out of thirty are fueling the Dow’s move to 20,000. In addition, GS did most of the “heavy lifting” after the election, as it hit an all-time on January 13th. GS soared 27% for some reason between election night and December 8th. Think about how easy it would be for the Plunge Protection Team (Fed + Treasury Dept) to “goose” the four stocks on the right side of the list in order to induce hedge fund algos to chase the momentum.

The point of all of this is to show the insignificance of the Dow hitting 20,000. As discussed in a recent Short Seller’s Journal, the indices that represent the critical components of GDP – housing, autos and retail spending – are well below their all-time highs. In fact, the XRT S&P retail ETF is nearly 10% below its 52-week high hit in early December and 14.8% below its all-time high hit in April 2015.

You can read the rest of the accompanying commentary plus see the three short ideas presented in the last Short Seller’s Journal by clicking on this link:  Short Seller’s Journal subscription info.

I present compelling data and analysis of the public reports that explain why the housing and auto markets are getting ready to fall apart.   Just today an article was posted by Wolf Street that describes the impending collapse of the condo market in Miami.  Miami happened to be one of the first markets that cracked when the big housing bubble popped. What’s happening in Miami is also happening in NYC, San Francisco and several other cities (for sure Denver).  In the latest SSJ,  I describe several more indicators which are nearly identical to the pre-collapse signals that emerged in 2006-2007.

The Air Is Releasing From The Hope Bubble

The post-election run-up in stocks was fueled purely by “hope and change” energy.  Now that Trump has assumed the mantle, reality will hit like an icy shower.  The non-“alternative facts” about the economy continue to show contraction in real economic activity.   The retail sales report for December was an utter disaster, especially if you strip out gasoline and autos.

The price of gasoline rose in December, which raised the nominal level of gasoline sales but inflation-adjusted is another matter.  With autos, as it turns out based on measurable dealer inventories, a large portion of the auto “sales” were deliveries to dealers financed by “floor financing programs” and not actual sales to end-users.

I found a curious chart and commentary in today’s “Daily Shot.”  I love this report because the author wears rose-colored glasses and puts a positive spin on any and all U.S. data.  Today he had this graph:

This was presented as a positive. But let’s review the facts. It took $4 trillion in money printing – over $2 trillion of which went directly into the mortgage market – a few trillion in Government subsidies to the housing market including the bail-out of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the artificial imposition of record low interest rates and the re-stimulation of the subprime mortgage market in the form of Government-backed FHA and VHA mortgages in order to move the single-family home turnover rate back up to the “long run average.” Think about that for a moment:  it took several trillion dollars of direct housing market stimulus to move the needle on the home turnover rate up just a couple percentage points to its “long run average.”

But what happens now?  Now that interest rates are rising, the printed money has worked its way through the system and mortgage default, delinquency and foreclosure rates are beginning rise again, what will happen to the line on that graph?  Of course, it will head south – quickly and likely below the low it hit in 2010 –  unless the Fed re-ups its money printing and the Government throws even more subsidies behind housing.  But all that is going to do is put people into homes who otherwise can’t afford them.

The Philly Fed business outlook index hit a 2-year high, however, the prices paid sub-index drove a large part of this at it soared to its highest level since Feb 2012. In addition, the “expectations” for prices received dropped. This would imply that gross and profit margins are expected to drop. In addition, the average workweek sub-index dropped.

Now, there’s two big caveats with this reports, and of course the mainstream media and even ZH did not bother to peruse the entire report from the Philly Fed website but SSJ did bother. First, the survey used to construct the index measures primarily future expectations. There’s clearly a high degree of “hope” associated with the Trump stock market rally. I expect a big reversal of this sentiment over the next three months. Second, the Philly Fed incorporated “new seasonal adjustment factors” into the report. This was disclosed in the actual report for January. As with all seasonal adjustment calculations, the Philly Fed does not disclose its methodology for calculating the adjustments but they are likely designed to overestimate seasonal factors and therefore overestimate the index level calculations. – From the latest Short Seller’s Journal

In the latest Short Seller’s Journal, I take apart the latest economic hopium-infused economic reports and provide several short-sell ideas to take advantage of facts, which will eventually emerge and take stocks lower.  The “air” leaking out of the Trump bubble and it will translate into many profit-making trades in the stock market from shorting stocks or buying puts.  The SSJ is a weekly report dedicated to helping subscribers make money on the historically overvalued stock market.  You can subscribe using this link:  Short Seller’s Journal.  It’s monthly with no minimum time commitment.

Dave Kranzler provides excellent and indepth research in making his case to go long or short with options to play if you choose.  I look forward to getting his mining journal and short sellers journal in my inbox which include new ideas as well as updates on
previous ideas as market conditions change. I agree with his overall outlook on the market as my gut tells me something is wrong and since I’m not a market analyst I rely on Dave’s
experience to help me decipher what is really happening though his journals as well as his articles and interviews which are easily found on youtube. Thanks Dave for all you do and the personal attention and dedication to your subscribers.  – subscriber “Keith”

 

Trump Dump Coming To The Stock Market

The stock market shot up like a Roman candle for idiotic reasons after the election.    The candle may have reached its apex when the Dow hit 19,999.67 last week.   As I stated in my Short Seller’s Journal, I was “stunned that bank traders were unable to push the index up to the holy grail number of 20,000.   Of course, in and of itself, the “Dow 20k” watch was moronic.  Thirty stocks do not an economic system make.  Sorry Fox, CNBC, Bloomberg, CNN etc.

I also stated in my Short Seller’s Journal, in the issue two weeks ago,  and long before Zerohedge posted the comment from some guy named DeMark who predicted the Dow would never hit 20k, that 20k might not happen.  In fact, I titled the issue, “Is Dow 20,000 Now Out Of Reach?”

The “Dow 20,000” financial media promotion has bordered on vulgar.  Fox Business (which I keep on mute at all times) kept a “Dow 20,000 watch” banner at the bottom of its broadcast during the entire trading day for the last 2 weeks of 2016.  It disappeared last week.  In the context of the entire stock  market and the U.S. economy, it’s meaningless for the Dow to hit 20k other than as a powerful propaganda tool.

The housing market is one of the most important segments of the economy.  The DJ Home Construction Index is down 9.7% today from its 52-week high in July.  Retail spending may be even more critical to generating GDP than housing.  The XRT retail ETF is down 9% from hits 52-week on December 8th.    This stock index has literally tanked during a period of time that is supposed to be the best seasonal period of the year for retail sales.  There’s a serious message there.   THAT’S where the rubber meets the road – not from meaningless platitudes and soundbytes from a President-elect.

Essentially Trump promised on election night to spend trillions and cut taxes deeply and to pay for those  based on borrowing trillions. These are  policy proposals that are destined to fail from the moment the words left Trump’s mouth.  But the stock market went nuts to the upside, culminating in what I would argue – based on using “apples to apples” accounting comparisons – the most overvalued U.S. stock market in history.   Perhaps in the modern era only the Weimar German and Zimbabwe stock markets were more overvalued.  Stay tuned because I am very confident that the Fed is not done printing trillions.

This is not the kind of stock chart in which I would want to be invested:

Yes of course this stock market could break up or down. But since Christmas, every attempted assault on 20k has been rejected. And the Dow opens higher every morning only to sell off every afternoon into the close. Monday was a perfect example.

Today (Tuesday, January 11) it looked the Dow was going to make another assault on 20k. But during Trump’s highly anticipated press conference, the Dow sold down hard from 19,970 to 19,840.  That is a preview of what is likely coming in the months ahead, as the U.S. economic fundamentals continue deteriorate, notwithstanding the barrage of economic fake news coming from the Government and certain industry pimp associations.

If you like the analysis laid out above, you can get similar commentary with even more in-depth analysis and research by subscribing to my Short Seller’s Journal.   I also present at least two short sell ideas along with ideas for using options.

I am a subscriber to both of your journals. I just want to say “WOW” to this post on your site. Thank you for all your work. As a financial professional of 28 years’ experience, I can tell you why there is no churn in your journal subscriptions. Your work is extremely sound and well done even in a massively
manipulated environment. – subscriber “Kevin”