Tag Archives: market crash

Inching Toward The Cliff – Why Gold Is Soaring

The global economy is headed uncontrollably toward the proverbial cliff. Although the Central Banks will once again attempt to defer this reality with more money printing and currency devaluation, systemic collapse is fait accompli.

Gold and silver are behaving in a way I have not observed in over 18 years of active participation in the precious metals sector. It’s quite possible that the is being driven by the physical gold and silver markets, with the banks losing manipulative control over precious metals prices using derivatives.

Silver Doctors invited me to discuss a global economy headed for economic and financial disaster; we also discuss the likely reintroduction of gold into the global monetary system:

***************

You can learn more about  Investment Research Dynamics newsletters by following these links (note: a miniumum subscription period beyond the 1st month is not required):  Short Seller’s Journal subscription information   –   Mining Stock Journal subscription information

The Economy Is Starting To Implode

Regardless of the Fed Funds rate policy decision by the FOMC today, the economy is spinning down the drain. Lower rates won’t help stimulate much economic activity. Maybe it will arouse a little more financial engineering activity on Wall Street and it might give a temporary boost to mortgage refinancings. But the economic “recovery” of the last 8 years has been an illusion based on massive money printing and credit creation. And credit creation is de facto money printing until the point at which the debt needs to be repaid. Unfortunately, the system is at the point at debt saturation. That’s why the economy is contracting despite the Fed’s best efforts to create what it incorrectly references as “inflation.”

The Chicago PMI released today collapsed to 44.4, the second lowest reading since 2009 and the sharpest monthly decline since the great financial crisis. The index of business conditions in the Chicago area has dropped 5 out of 7 months in 2019. New orders, employment, production and order backlogs all contracted.

The Chicago Fed National Activity index for June remained in contraction at the -0.02 level, up slightly from the reading in May of -0.03. The 3-month average is -0.26. This was the 7th straight monthly decline for the index – the longest streak since 2009. This index is a weighting of 85 indicators of national economic activity. It thus measures a very wide range of economic activities.

The Richmond Fed manufacturing survey index fell off a cliff per last week’s report. The index plunged from 2 in June to -12. The June level was revised down from 3. Wall Street was looking for an index reading of 5. It was the biggest drop in two years and the lowest reading on the index since January 2013. Keep in mind the Fed was still printing money furiously in 2013. The headline index number is a composite of new orders, shipments and employment measures. The biggest contributor to the drop was the new orders component, as order backlogs fell to -26, the lowest reading since April 2009. The survey’s “business conditions” component dropped from 7 to -18, the largest one-month drop in the history of the survey.

Existing home sales for June declined 1.7% from May and 2.2% from June 2018 on a SAAR (seasonally adjusted annualized rate) basis. This is despite the fact that June is one of the best months of the year historically for home sales. Single family home sales dropped 1.5% and condo sales fell 3.3%.

On a not seasonally adjusted basis, existing home sales were down 2.8% from May and down 7.5% from June 2018. The unadjusted monthly number is perhaps the most relevant metric because it removes both seasonality and the “statistical adjustments” imposed on the data by the National Association of Realtors’ number crunchers.

The was the 16th month in a row of year-over-year declines. You can see the trend developing. June 2018 was down 5% from June 2017 (not seasonally adjusted monthly metric) and June 2019 was down 7.5% from June 2018. The drop in home sales is made more remarkable by the fact that mortgage rates are only 40 basis points above the all-time low for a 30-yr fixed rate conforming mortgage. However, this slight increase in interest expense would have been offset by the drop in PMI insurance charged by the Government for sub-20% down payment mortgages.

The point here is that pool of potential home buyers who can afford the monthly cost of home ownership is evaporating despite desperate attempts by the Fed and the Government to make the cost of financing a home as cheap as possible. 

New home sales for June were reported to be up 6.9% – 646k SAAR from 604k SAAR – from May. However, it was well below the print for which Wall St was looking (660k SAAR). There’s a couple problems with the report, however, aside from the fact that John Williams (Shadowstats.com) referenced the number as “worthless headline detail [from] this most-volatile and unstable government housing-statistic.” May’s original number of 626k was revised lower to 604k. Furthermore, the number reported is completely dislocated from mortgage application data which suggests that new home sales were lower in June than May.

The new home sale metric is based on contract signings (vs closings for existing home sales). Keep in mind that 90% of all new home buyers use a mortgage for their purchase.
Mortgage applications released Wednesday showed a 2% drop in purchase applications from the previous week. Recall, the previous week purchase apps were down 4%. Purchase apps have now been down 6 out of the last 9 weeks.

Because 90% of new home buyers use a mortgage, the new home sales report should closely correlate with the Mortgage Bankers Association’s mortgage purchase application data. Clearly the MBA data shows mortgage purchase applications declining during most of June. I’ll let you draw your own conclusion. However, I suspect that when July’s number is reported in 4 weeks, there will a sharp downward revision for June’s number. In fact, the Government’s new home sales numbers were also revised lower for April and May. The median price of a new home is down about 10% from its peak in November 2017.

The shipments component of Cass Freight index was down 3.8% in June. It was the seventh straight monthly decline. The authors of the Cass report can usually put a positive spin or find a silver lining in negative data. The report for June was the gloomiest I’ve ever read from the Cass people. Freight shipping is part of the “central nervous system” of the economy. If freight shipments are dropping, so is overall economic activity. Of note, the price index is still rising. The data shows an economic system with contracting economic activity and infested with price inflation.

The propagandists on Capitol Hill, Wall Street and the financial media will use the trade war with China as the excuse for the ailing economy. Trump is doing his damnedest to use China and the Fed as the scapegoat for the untenable systemic problems he inherited but made worse by the policies he implemented since taking office. Trump has been the most enthusiastic cheerleader of the biggest stock market bubble in history. This, after he fingered his predecessor for fomenting “a big fat ugly bubble” when the Dow was at 17,000. If that was a big fat ugly bubble in 2016, what is now?

Modern Monetary Theory, Centralized Control And Gold

My friend and colleague, Chris Powell, Treasurer of GATA, wrote a compelling essay on Modern Monetary Theory. MMT has been in operation by the western Central Banks since Bretton Woods. The “QE” program that began in 2008 is the most recent and blatant implementation of MMT. This is a must-read if you are interesting in understanding the hidden mechanism at work that is destroying the United States.

Modern Monetary Theory, which has been getting much attention lately, is so controversial mainly because it is misunderstood. It is misunderstood first because it is not a theory at all but a truism.

That is, MMT holds essentially that a government issuing a currency without a fixed link to a commodity like gold or silver is constrained in its currency issuance only by inflation and devaluation.

This is a very old observation in economics, going back centuries, even to the classical economist Adam Smith, and perhaps first formally acknowledged by the U.S. government with a speech given in 1945 by the chairman of the board of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Beardsley Ruml. The speech was published in 1946.

Ruml said:

“The necessity for a government to tax in order to maintain both its independence and its solvency is true for state and local governments, but it is not true for a national government. Two changes of the greatest consequence have occurred in the last 25 years which have substantially altered the position of the national state with respect to the financing of its current requirements.

“The first of these changes is the gaining of vast new experience in the management of central banks. The second change is the elimination, for domestic purposes, of the convertibility of the currency into gold. Final freedom from the domestic money market exists for every sovereign national state where there exists an institution which functions in the manner of a modern central bank and whose currency is not convertible into gold or into some other commodity.”

Ruml noted that in a fiat currency system such as the United States had adopted by 1945, government did not need to tax to raise revenue but could create as much money as it wanted and deploy it as it thought best, using taxes instead to give value to its currency and implement social and economic policy.

MMT does not claim that the government should create and deploy infinite money. It claims that money can be created and deployed as much as is necessary to improve general living conditions and eliminate unemployment until the currency begins to lose value.

The second big misunderstanding about MMT is that it is not a mere policy proposal but is actually the policy that has been followed by the U.S. government for decades without the candor of Ruml’s 1945 acknowledgment.

The problem with MMT is that, in its unacknowledged practice, it already has produced what its misunderstanding critics fear it for: the creation and deployment of infinite money and credit by central banks as well as vast inflation.

In accordance with MMT, this creation of infinite money and credit has necessitated central banking’s “financial repression” — its suppression of interest rates and commodity prices through both open and surreptitious intervention in bond and futures markets and the issuance of financial derivatives.

That is, since money creation in the current financial system is restrained only by inflation, this restraint can be removed or lessened with certain price controls, which, to be effective, must be disguised, lest people discern that there are no markets anymore, just interventions.

The British economist Peter Warburton perceived this in his 2001 essay, “The Debasement of World Currency — It Is Inflation, But Not As We Know It“:

“What we see at present is a battle between the central banks and the collapse of the financial system fought on two fronts. On one front, the central banks preside over the creation of additional liquidity for the financial system to hold back the tide of debt defaults that would otherwise occur. On the other, they incite investment banks and other willing parties to bet against a rise in the prices of gold, oil, base metals, soft commodities, or anything else that might be deemed an indicator of inherent value.

“Their objective is to deprive the independent observer of any reliable benchmark against which to measure the eroding value not only of the U.S. dollar but of all fiat currencies. Equally, they seek to deny the investor the opportunity to hedge against the fragility of the financial system by switching into a freely traded market for non-financial assets. [EMPHASIS ADDED.]

“Central banks have found the battle on the second front much easier to fight than the first. Last November I estimated the size of the gross stock of global debt instruments at $90 trillion for mid-2000. How much capital would it take to control the combined gold, oil, and commodity markets? Probably no more than $200 billion, using derivatives.

“Moreover, it is not necessary for the central banks to fight the battle themselves, although central bank gold sales and gold leasing have certainly contributed to the cause. Most of the world’s large investment banks have overtraded their capital so flagrantly that if the central banks were to lose the fight on the first front, then the stock of the investment banks would be worthless. Because their fate is intertwined with that of the central banks, investment banks are willing participants in the battle against rising gold, oil, and commodity prices.”

This “financial repression” and commodity price suppression have channeled into financial and real estate assets — the assets of property owners — the vast inflation resulting from the policy of infinite money creation, thereby diverting inflation from assets whose prices are measured by government’s consumer price indexes. Meanwhile those indexes are constantly distorted and falsified to avoid giving alarm.

As a result the ownership class is enriched and the working class impoverished. Of course this is exactly the opposite of what MMT’s advocates intend.

But while the monetary science conceived by MMT people well might develop a formula for operating a perfect monetary system with full employment and prosperity for all, the monetary system always will confer nearly absolute power on its operators, and as long as the operators are human, such power will always corrupt many of them — even MMT’s advocates themselves.

That’s why market rigging is the inevitable consequence of MMT as it is now practiced and why the world is losing its free and competitive markets to monopoly and oligopoly and becoming less democratic and more totalitarian.

So what is the solution?

Maybe some libertarianism would help: Let governments use whatever they want as money, but let individuals do the same and don’t mess with them. Gold, cryptocurrencies, seashells, oxen, whatever — leave them alone.

Most of all, require government to be completely transparent in whatever it does in the markets. If government wants to rig markets, require that it be done in the open and reported contemporaneously.

After all, the world can hardly know where to go when it isn’t permitted to know where it is.

ZIRP And QE Won’t Save The Economy – Buy Gold

It’s not that we’ll mistake them for the truth. The real danger is that if we hear enough lies, then we no longer recognize the truth at all…  – “Chernobyl” episode 1 opening monologue

I’ve been discussing the significance of the inverted yield curve in the last few of my Short Seller’s Journal. Notwithstanding pleas from the financial media and Wall Street soothsayers to ignore the inversion this time, this chart below illustrates  my view that cutting interest rates may not do much  (apologies to the source – I do not remember where I found the unedited chart):

The chart shows the spread between the 2yr and 10yr Treasury vs the Fed Funds Rate Target, which is the thin green line, going back to the late 1980’s. I’ve highlighted the periods in which the curve was inverted with the red boxes. Furthermore, I’ve highlighted the spread differential between the 2yr/10yr “index” and the Fed Funds target rate with the yellow shading. I also added the descriptors showing that the yield curve inversion is correlated with the collapse of financial asset bubbles. The bubbles have become systemically endemic since the Greenspan Fed era.

As you can see, during previous crisis/pre-crisis periods, the Fed Funds target rate was substantially higher than the 2yr/10yr index.  Back then the Fed had plenty of room to reduce the Fed Funds rate. In 1989 the Fed Funds Rate (FFR) was nearly 10%; in 2000 the FFR was 6.5%; in 2007 the Fed Funds rate was 5.25%. But currently, the FFR is 2.5%.

See the problem? The Fed has very little room to take rates lower relative to previous financial crises. Moreover, each successive serial financial bubble since the junk bond/S&L debacle in 1990 has gotten more severe. I don’t know how much longer the Fed and, for that matter, Central Banks globally can hold off the next asset collapse. But when this bubble pops it will be devastating. You will want to own physical gold and silver plus have a portfolio of shorts and/or puts.

The Fed is walking barefoot on a razor’s edge with its monetary policy. Ultimately it will require more money printing – with around $3.5 trillion of the money printing during the first three rounds of “QE” left in the financial system after the Fed stops reducing its balance sheet in October – to defer an ultimate systemic collapse.

But once the move to ZIRP and more QE commences,  the dollar will be flushed down the toilet. This is highly problematic given the enormous amount of Treasuries that will be issued once the debt ceiling is lifted (oh yeah, most have forgotten about the debt ceiling limit).  If the Government’s foreign financiers sense the rapid decline in the dollar, they will be loathe to buy more Treasuries.

The yellow dog smells a big problem:

It’s been several years since I’ve seen gold behave like it has since the FOMC circus subsided. To be sure, part of the move has been fueled by hedge fund algos chasing price momentum in the paper market. But for the past 7 years a move like the last three days would be been rejected well before gold moved above $1380, let alone $1400, by the Comex bank price containment squad.

While the financial media and Wall Street “experts” are pleading with market participants to ignore the warning signals transmitted by the various yield curve inversions (Treasury curve, Eurodollar curve, GOFO curve) gold’s movement since mid-August reflects underlying systemic problems bubbling to the surface. The rocket launch this week is a bright warning flare shooting up in the night sky.

…What can we do then? What else is left but to abandon even the hope of truth, and content ourselves instead…with stories. (Ibid)

**********

You can learn more about  Investment Research Dynamics newsletters by following these links (note: a miniumum subscription period beyond the 1st month is not required):  Short Seller’s Journal subscription information   –   Mining Stock Journal subscription information

“Dave mate. You’re making me rich. I don’t know what’s going on with Gold Fields but they’ve spiked up 33% and my calls are going ballistic.” – Mining Stock Journal subscriber in Australia

Something May Have Blown Up Already In The Financial System

The price of gold ran higher eight days in a row before today’s interventionist price smack. Technically, whatever that means, the gold price was likely due for a healthy pullback anyway. The price of gold is responding to what appears to be the Fed’s decision to begin cutting interest rates, though maybe not at the June meeting. Also, the Fed’s Jame Bullard commented that a $3 trillion Fed balance sheet should be considered the “new normal.” This means that close to 75% of the QE program was outright money printing.  Hello Weimar-style printing, so long U.S. dollar…

In 2007 the Eurollar futures curve was steeply inverted by late summer 2007. Back then Ben Bernanke assured the world that “subprime debt was contained.” In truth, it was already blowing up. Currently, the Eurodollar futures curve inversion is steeper now than it was in 2007 (graphic from Alhambra Investments, with my edits).

Silver Doctor’s James Anderson invited me to be his debut guest from his new perch in Panama. He had just set up his office rig and the internet connection was a bit choppy.  But we chatted about why the various inverted yield curves and the recent rise in the price of gold may be telling us that the brown stuff could already be connecting with the fan blades in the financial system. Here’s the link: Something Has Blow Up In The Financial System or click on the video below:

**********

You can learn more about  Investment Research Dynamics newsletters by following these links (note: a minimum subscription period beyond the 1st month is not required):  Short Seller’s Journal subscription information   –   Mining Stock Journal subscription information

But We Were Told “It’s Different This Time”

“U.S. Officials Meet in Secret Over Junk-Loan Frenzy as Recession Alarms Flash”

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Thursday led a secret meeting of top U.S. financial regulators on the risks to global markets from the recent surge in corporate borrowing…”No details were provided on the gist of the discussion, though according to the statement the panel heard an ‘update from Craig Phillips, a counselor to Mnuchin, on recent market developments involving corporate credit and leveraged lending'”. – Article link

Something(s) is(are) starting to melt-down “behind the scenes” in the global financial system.  The meeting referenced above is the “tell.”  Craig Phillips, “counselor to Mnuchin,” was formerly a managing director and member of the Global Operating Committee of BlackRock.   It’s quite likely that Phillips’ former colleagues have put Phillips on high alert about problems developing in the credit markets, both domestically and globally.

Even more interesting is that fact that Fed Chairman, Jerome Powell, gave a speech recently in which he denied that credits risks are mounting in the system:  “Business debt does not present the kind of elevated risks to the stability of the financial system that would lead to broad harm to households and businesses should conditions deteriorate.”

Powell’s assertion eerily echoes a similar comment made by then-Fed Head, Helicopter Ben Bernanke in mid-2007 about subprime mortgage risk being “contained.”  But Powells’ statement followed by a meeting convened by Treasury Secretary Mnuchin under the advisement of a former BlackRock hatchet-man is the silent scream of insiders who see the probability of another financial system tsunami forming…

Of course, the yield curve has been sending these warnings for about a year.  But they keep telling us it’s different this time…

Utter Insanity…

That’s the only way to describe this stock market. It won’t end well for the hedge funds whose algos are chasing price momentum nor for the retail daytraders playing the game of “greater fool.” Apparently CSCO and WMT’s “beat” triggered a multi-hundred point spike in the Dow on Thursday. Funny thing about that. CSCO’s one-cent “beat” has been routine since the late 1990’s.

Walmart also “beat.” But for Walmart, the numbers below the headline sucked. The 1.1% revenue growth was well below 1% if you strip out gasoline price inflation from Sam’s Club numbers. Speaking of Sam’s, membership revenue was down 7.9% (these are FY Q1 vs Q1 last year). Operating income was down 4.1%. The “beat” was manufactured by one-time “other gain” that was not defined in the 8-K. This enabled WMT to generate the headline “beat.” Cash flow provided by operations dropped from $5.1 billion last year to $3.5 billion this year – not good. Despite the deteriorating financial fundamentals, the stock market added over $7 billion to WMT’s market cap.

But that’s a tempest in a teapot compared to the the IPO valuations of companies like Lyft, Uber and WeWork. These companies not only have never made a dime of profit, but they bleed billions negative cash flow. Yet, a $50 billion stock market valuation set by the underwriters is greedily bought into by hedge funds. That’s your pension money at work, folks. It’s amusing to watch the hand-puppets on financial cable tv frown when stocks like Uber and Lyft drop a quick 20% from the IPO date.

The prized “jewels” in the stock market – i.e. the stocks with the best performance over the last 4 months – are the ones with escalating operating losses on increasing revenues. But the stocks soar when the earnings announcement hits the tape with the phrase “beat estimates” – which means the company lost slightly less money than forecast by Wall Street’s brightest.

But these companies all share a common trait: a tragically flawed business model in which the only way to grow revenues is to charge the end user a price that does not cover the all-in cost of producing the product or providing the service but which attracts end-users because the price is lower than the competition. Despite eventual financial doom from the start, the stock market currently values this type of business model over companies that generate bona fide cash/economic profits.

I’m reviewing a company in my next issue of the Short Seller’s Journal which trades at a price/sales multiple that is 15-times higher than the industry average. Its operating losses grow at a double-digit rate every quarter sequentially and double every quarter year-over-year. We can’t use any of the other tradition valuation metrics because the company has negative cash flow, massive net losses and negative forward earnings. This is all nothwithstanding the fact it operates in a highly cyclical industry with declining sales.

I mention this to illustrate just how far off the rails the stock market has traveled. The current stock market bubble is at an historical extreme. It’s worse than 1999 or 1929 – I don’t care what the manipulated GAAP p/e ratio comparison shows. I was trading tech stocks in the late-90’s bubble and this current one is worse. IT’s utterly insane…

Semiconductor Chips Are The Modern Dutch Tulip Bulbs

The semiconductor stocks continued melting up last week until Intel threw some cold water on the Dutch tulip bulb price-chasing party. TXN reported Tuesday after the close. Revenues declined 5% from the year-earlier quarter. The management stated that “demand continued to slow across most markets. TXN then said Q2 revenues would drop 10% from Q2 2018. It said earnings would be down 13%. Management also explained that historically down-cycles last 4-5 quarters. With the Company 2 quarters into a down-cycle, it would seem that the “green shoots” sighted by some companies in Q1 are nowhere in sight. TXN insiders have been very heavy sellers of the stock.

The chart below is a good example of how the hedge fund algo and retail daytrader momentum chasers operate:

TXN closed around $116.50 before it reported. On the headline “beat,” TXN stock spiked up $6 almost immediately. Price-discovery then set in, as the after-hours traders dumped shares in response to the fundamental reality of TXN’s earnings report. The stock closed after-hours at $113.70, down nearly $9 from the initial reaction to the headlines.

But then on Wednesday Dutch tulip-mania gripped TXN’s stock price. TXN opened green from Tuesday’s regular close and traded as high as $118.99. This is despite the Company’s lowered guidance for the next few quarters. The last time TXN experienced a two-quarter sequential decline in revenues was in 2001 during a recession.

The only news that might have affected TXN’s stock price on Wednesday was a warning about possible further deterioration in its business that accompanied Amphenol’s Q1 earnings report. But Amphenol’s report should have affected TXN’s stock negatively. This market action is exactly like the price-chasing action in late 1999/early 2000.

Semiconductor stocks are the 2019 version of Dutch tulip bulbs. Recall the price of Dutch tulip bulbs rose to insanely high levels during the mid-1630’s, as people chased the price of Tulip bulbs higher, hoping to re-sell them for a profit. With no warning, the price crashed in February 1637.

That’s how the dot.com bubble behaved, including the sudden sell-off that began in March 2000 without any prior warnings other than common sense. I expect that is the same path that the chip stocks will follow. The chip stocks are melting-up in price in complete divergence from the underlying fundamentals. Whereas previously several companies expressed hope for green shoots in the second-half of the year, the last few companies to report (Siltronics, Nanya, TXN and Amphenol) have not mentioned the possibility of a recovery in the sector for the second half of the year.

Xilinx (XLNX) reported a “miss” on Wednesday after the close. Its stock plunged 17% on Thursday. Prior to that, the stock was trading at an insane 12x sales. XLNX’s data center business was down 12% sequentially and 7% yr/yr (the cloud growth is slowing).

Intel reported an obligatory revenue and EPS “beat.” But the market finally payed attention to guidance. INTC cut full-year and Q2 guidance. Management said customers were becoming more cautious, especially in China. Data center inventories are larger than was commonly thought. INTC also said it expected a much more difficult flash memory market. These are chips used in consumer electronics, scientific instrumentation, robotics and medical electronics. INTC stock dropped 9% on Friday.

The chip stocks are setting up for an epic sell-off. Trump can slap the Fed around like a race-horse’s ass while making juvenile demands for lower rates and more money printing all he wants. At some point the collapsing underlying economic fundamentals will remove the termite-eaten legs from beneath the market’s barstool.

The commentary above is an excerpt from the latest Short Seller’s Journal. To learn about the semiconductor stocks I’m shorting and recommending to my subscribers, please visit this link: Short Seller’s Journal information.

The Stock Market’s Great Fool Theory

The current stock market is the most dangerous stock market I have seen in my 34+ year career as a financial markets professional. This includes 1987, 1999-2000 and 2007-2008. The run-up in stocks has been largely a product of momentum-chasing hedge fund algos on behalf of the large universe of sophisticated hedge funds which are desperate for performance. In the context of the obviously deteriorating economic fundamentals, the performance-chasing game has become a combination of FOMO – “fear of missing out” – and the Greater Fool Theory – praying someone else will pay more for the stock than you just paid. There’s also likely some official intervention going on as well per the chart below.

Most, if not all, of you are aware of the degree to which the Trump Administration – primarily The Donald and Larry Kudlow – are using the ongoing the trade negotiations to issue opportunistic headline statements about the progress of a potential deal at times when the market appears ready to drop off a cliff and for which Trump’s advisors know the hedge fund fund algos will respond positively. This chart shows this “positive trade war news” effect (from Northman Trader w/my edits):

The problem with relying on this device is that eventually the market will fatigue of “false-positive” news releases and revert to bona-fide price-discovery.

To see an example of the algos’ response to a headline report and the subsequent “price-discovery” action, let’s examine the release of Bed Bath and Beyond’s (BBBY – $17.99) earnings. BBBY announced its Q4 2018 earnings on Wednesday this past week after the close:

The initial headlines reported an earnings “beat.” The algos drove the stock from its $19.40 closing price to as high as $21.27 on those headlines. But in the real world, the details of BBBY’s financial statements showed that sales declined both in Q4 vs Q4 2018 and for the full-year 2018 vs 2017. Even adding back the large impairment charge which BBBY took in Q4 this year, operating income was still down 37% vs Q4 2017. The stock closed Wednesday’s extended hours trading session 18% below the headline-driven high-tick. This is what happens when reality gets its claws into the market.

The best example of the Greater Fool Theory right now is the semiconductor sector. Semiconductors are “hyper” cyclical. The companies mint money in a strong economy and come close to hemorrhaging to death in recessions. The SMH ETF has gone up 55% since the Fed/Trump began re-inflating the stock bubble. Some individual stocks have nearly doubled.

I’m sorry I missed the opportunity to get long this sector on December 26th. But, given that the move up has been in complete defiance of the actual industry fundamentals, would I have held onto a long position until today? Probably not. The momentum-junkies have been chasing the sector higher with fury based on the faith in the “second-half of 2019” recovery narrative currently preached by CEO’s who have to deliver bad results in Q1 and take a chain-saw to guidance for 2Q. But the message is: “trust me, there’s a huge recovery coming in Q3”

Semiconductor CEO’s are notorious for rose-colored forecasts for the market out in the future. Interestingly, a German wafer manufacturer issued stern, if not refreshingly honest, guidance for 2019 when it said that previous guidance was “under the condition that order intake would need to revive meaningfully in the second half of 2019.” The Company went on to explain that “because of the general economic slowdown and geopolitical uncertainties as well as ongoing inventory corrections in the whole value chain, the timing of a market rebound is not visible.”

Wafers are the building block for semiconductors and integrate circuits. Siltronic is a leading global wafer manufacturer. If Siltronic is seeing a meaningful decline in wafer orders, it means the companies that make the semiconductors and integrated circuits are flush with inventory that reflects lack of demand from companies that use chips to manufacture the end-user products.

The higher probability trade right now is to short the semiconductor sector (along with the overall stock market). Trading volume across the board is declining, standard market internals are fading and sentiment is back to extreme bullishness (Barron’s cover two weeks ago wondered, “is the bull unstoppable?”).

I can hear a bell in the distance signalling the top. I suspect a large herd of price-chasers will realize collectively all at once that there’s going to be a rush to find the next Greater Fool but the Greater Fool will be those stuck at the top.

The above commentary is an excerpt from my weekly subscription newsletter. I bought puts on a semiconductor stock today that has gone parabolic despite horrendous numbers for Q4.  I’ll be discussing that stock and a couple others this Sunday. To learn more, click on this link:  Short Seller’s Journal information

Gold And Silver May Be Setting Up For A Big Move

Gold and silver are historically undervalued relative to the stock and bond markets. The junior mining stocks overall are at their most undervalued relative to the price of gold since 2001. Gold’s relative performance during the quarter, when the stock market had its best quarterly performance in many decades, is evidence of the underlying strength building in the precious metals sector.

Furthermore, the stock market is an accident waiting to happen. By several traditional financial metrics, the current stock market is at its most extreme valuation level in history. This will not end well for those who have not positioned their portfolio in advance of the economic and financial hurricane that is beginning to “move onshore.”

Bill Powers invited on to his Mining Stock Education podcast to discuss the precious metals sector and the economy:

**********

You can learn more about  Investment Research Dynamics newsletters by following these links (note: a miniumum subscription period beyond the 1st month is not required):  Short Seller’s Journal subscription information   –   Mining Stock Journal subscription information