Optimism can be a very powerful thing. For a long time Americans believed that things would get better, and that caused them to take action to make things better, and that actually resulted in things moving in a positive direction. But now things have abruptly shifted. In late 2018, an increasing number of Americans believe that an economic downturn is coming, and they are taking actions consistent with that belief. As a result, they are actually helping to produce the result that they fear. And without a doubt, any rational person should be able to see that signs that the U.S. economy is slowing down are all around us. So it isn’t as if those that are preparing for the worst are being irrational. It is just that when large numbers of people all start to move in the same direction, it has a very powerful effect. We witnessed this in the stock market in recent years when people just kept buying stocks even though they were massively overvalued. The collective belief that there was money to be made in the stock market became a self-fulfilling prophecy which pushed stock prices up to absurd heights. But now that process is beginning to reverse as well, and ultimately the unwinding of that bubble will be quite painful.
We just witnessed the 5th largest single day stock market crash in U.S. history. On Thursday the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged 724 points, and many believe that this is just the beginning of another huge wave down for stock prices. After this latest dramatic decline, the Dow is now down 3.1 percent so far in 2018, and overall it is down 9.99 percent from the all-time high in January. A 10 percent decline is officially considered to be “correction” territory, and that means that we are just about there.
Many had been hoping that the financial shaking on Wall Street that we witnessed in February would subside in March, but so far that is definitely not the case. On Thursday, the Dow fell another 420 points as investors fretted about the potential for a trade war. Over the past month, we have seen many days when stock prices have been way down and other days when stock prices have been way up. This is precisely the sort of wild volatility that we would expect to see if a major financial crisis was brewing, and the truth is that our financial system is far more vulnerable today than it was back in 2008.
We haven’t seen this kind of a bloodbath on Wall Street since the great financial crisis of 2008. Prior to this week, the largest single day decline for the Dow Jones industrial average that we had ever seen was 777 points. That record was absolutely shattered on Monday when the Dow fell 1,175 points, and on Thursday the Dow dropped another 1,032 points. This was the third decline greater than 500 points within the last five trading days, and the Dow is poised to post its worst week since the dark days of October 2008. So is this just a “correction”, or has the financial crisis of 2018 officially arrived?
Seriously? We were expecting that Tuesday would be an unusual day on Wall Street, and that was definitely the case. At the low point, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 567 points, but at the closing bell it was up 567 points. That is a swing of more than 1000 points, but what is more surprising is the exact symmetry of those numbers. Is this just some sort of bizarre coincidence?
The mainstream media seems so surprised that the stock market is crashing, but the truth is that it isn’t a surprise at all. In fact, this crash is way, way overdue. If the Dow Jones industrial average fell another 10,000 points, stock prices would still be overvalued. I have been warning and warning and warning that this would happen, because stock valuations always return to their long-term averages eventually. On Monday, the Dow was down a staggering 1,175 points, which was the largest single day decline that we have ever seen by a very wide margin. In fact, it shattered the old record by nearly 400 points.
On Friday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 666 points (665.75 points to be precise), and many are pointing out that this was the 6th largest single day crash that we have ever seen. This decline happened on the 33rd day of the year, and it was the worst day for the stock market by far since President Trump entered the White House. I have been repeatedly warning that we are way overdue for a stock market crash, and many are concerned that we may be on the precipice of another great financial crisis. We shall see what happens on Monday, because that will set the tone for the rest of the week. If we see another huge decline early Monday morning, that could easily set off full-blown panic selling on Wall Street.
It isn’t going to be a surprise when U.S. stock prices fall 50, 60 or 70 percent from where they are today. The only real surprise is that it took this long for it to happen. Even after falling 362 points on Tuesday, the Dow Jones industrial average is still ridiculously high. In fact, the only two times in our entire history when stocks have been this overvalued were right before the stock market crash of 1929 and right before the dotcom bubble burst. Not even before the financial crisis of 2008 were stock valuations as absurd as they are right now.
We have never seen a better year for stocks in all of U.S. history. Just five days after Donald Trump entered the White House, the Dow Jones Industrial Average hit the 20,000 mark for the first time ever. On Monday, the Dow closed at 24,792.20, and there doesn’t seem to be any end to the rally in sight. Overall, the Dow Jones Industrial Average is up more than 5,000 points so far in 2017, and that absolutely shatters all of the old records. Previously, the most that the Dow had risen in a single year was 3,472 points in 2013.
The absurdity that we are witnessing in the financial markets is absolutely breathtaking. Just recently, a good friend reminded me that the Dow peaked at just above 14,000 before the last stock market crash, and stock prices were definitely over-inflated at that time. Subsequently the Dow crashed below 7,000 before rebounding, and now thanks to this week’s rally we on the threshold of Dow 24,000. When you look at a chart of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, you would be tempted to think that we must be in the greatest economic boom in American history, but the truth is that our economy has only grown by an average of just 1.33 percent over the last 10 years. Every crazy stock market bubble throughout our history has always ended badly, and this one will be no exception.