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.
Is the stock market bubble about to burst? I know that I have been touching on this theme over and over and over again in recent weeks, but I can’t help it. Red flags are popping up all over the place, and the last time so many respected experts were warning about an imminent stock market crash was just before the last major financial crisis. Of course nobody can guarantee that global central banks won’t find a way to prolong this bubble just a little bit longer, but at this point they are all removing the artificial support from the markets in coordinated fashion. Without that artificial support, it is inevitable that financial markets will experience a correction, and the only real question is what the exact timing will be.
Whenever we see an inverted yield curve, a recession almost always follows, and that is why many analysts are deeply concerned that the yield curve is currently the flattest that it has been in about a decade. In other words, according to one of the most reliable indicators that we have, we are closer to another recession than we have been at any point since the last financial crisis. And when you combine this with all of the other indicators that are screaming that a new crisis is on the horizon, a very troubling picture emerges. Hopefully this will turn out to be a false alarm, but it is looking more and more like big economic trouble is coming in 2018.
We have not seen a “leadership reversal”, a “Hindenburg Omen” and a “Titanic Syndrome signal” all appear simultaneously since just before the last financial crisis. Does this mean that a stock market crash is imminent? Not necessarily, but as I have been writing about quite a bit recently, the markets are certainly primed for one. On Wednesday, the Dow fell another 138 points, and that represented the largest single day decline that we have seen since September. Much more importantly, the downward trend that has been developing over the past week appears to be accelerating. Just take a look at this chart. Could we be right on the precipice of a major move to the downside?
The only other times in our history when stock prices have been this high relative to earnings, a horrifying stock market crash has always followed. Will things be different for us this time? We shall see, but without a doubt this is what a pre-crash market looks like. This current bubble has been based on irrational euphoria that has been fueled by relentless central bank intervention, but now global central banks are removing the artificial life support in unison. Meanwhile, the real economy continues to stumble along very unevenly. This is the longest that the U.S. has ever gone without a year in which the economy grew by at least 3 percent, and many believe that the next recession is very close. Stock prices cannot stay completely disconnected from economic reality forever, and once the bubble bursts the pain is going to be unlike anything that we have ever seen before.
One year ago we witnessed the greatest miracle in political history, and since that time we have also witnessed one of the greatest miracles in financial history. On November 8th, 2016 the Dow closed at 18,332.74. On Wednesday, it closed at 23,563.36. U.S. stocks have increased in value by about 5.4 trillion dollars since Donald Trump was elected, and I don’t think that we have seen anything quite like this ever before. So does Donald Trump deserve the credit for this unprecedented stock market run? Many experts are at least giving him part of the credit…
Why have stock prices risen so dramatically since the last financial crisis? There are certainly many factors involved, but the primary one is the fact that the Federal Reserve has been creating trillions of dollars out of thin air and has been injecting all of that hot money into the financial markets. But now the Federal Reserve is starting to reverse course, and this has got to be the greatest sell signal for financial markets in modern American history. Without the artificial support of the Federal Reserve and other global central banks, there is no possible way that the massively inflated asset prices that we are witnessing right now can continue.
Happy days are here again for the U.S. economy – at least temporarily. On Friday, U.S. stocks hit another brand new record high. It seems like we are saying that almost every day lately, and most investors are absolutely thrilled by this seemingly endless surge. Global stocks are surging too – today world stocks hit a new record high for the 4th consecutive day in a row. But of course it isn’t just stock prices that are rising. As the week ended, pretty much everything was up, and we also got some good news about consumer sentiment. According to the new University of Michigan survey that was just released, U.S. consumers are the most optimistic about the economy that they have been since 2004…