June 16, 2017 – Do you notice the Yield Curve narrowing?

Do you notice the Yield Curve narrowing?

Hi Folks,

As I’ve explained in my book, “Dow to Drop 80% Soon?” one of the best predictors of a recession is a negative yield curve.  The yield curve is inverted when long term yields are lower than short term yields. The yield curve inverted just prior to every U.S. recession in the past 50 years.


As of June 15, 2017, the yields between the 10-year and 30-year treasuries have been narrowing, i.e. 10-year is now 2.16% and 30-year is now only 2.78%.   See the government website below:


When the yield becomes negative or inverted, market sentiment suggests that the long-term outlook is poor and the yields offered by long-term fixed income will continue to fall. It also spells trouble for the financial sector as what started happening in late 2006.  The incentive for depositors to leave their money with the bank for longer periods of time, say 5 to 10 years is to earn a higher interest rate. If the interest rate of return is the same or less for 5 years compared to 1 year, this incentive is gone.   This means that profit margins fall for companies that borrow cash at short-term rates and lend at long-term rates, such as hedge funds, banks and mortgage companies.  Equity lines of credit and adjustable rate mortgages (ARMs) which are periodically adjusted usually go up since they are based on short-term interest rates.   Debtors who got stuck with these loans will need more money to pay for additional interest.  They will need to tighten their belts since they will have less money to spend on consumer goods that is why recessions follow an inverted yield curve.

Although we are at record high territories in the stock market, with the Dow trying to breach the new resistance level of 21,700, we live in dangerous times.  I see the Dow can quickly lose 3,000 in just a period of 10 to 20 days.  The reason for this stock market high is the pro-business stance of this administration even though not very much has come to fruition yet, i.e. the talk about curtailing burdensome regulations, lowering corporate, capital gains and repatriation taxes and increasing the defense and infrastructure budgets.  Investors are optimistic that Trump’s government technocrats will continue to develop policies that will increase our GDP which should keep recession farther away in the horizon.



Don’t mix investing with politics

November 22, 2016

As of today’s closing, all the U.S. stock market major indices reached record highs.  The Dow closed above the resistance level of 19,000.  In the short run, the stock market will not have a “stairway to heaven” type of climb. I guarantee there will be dips at the slightest whiff of any bad news. Remember the first quarter of this year when the price of crude dipped below $35 per barrel? Moreover, there will be profit taking by the Gnomes of Wall Street.

The new resistance level we are looking for on the Dow is 19,500.  There may be a 10% correction before reaching this resistance level.  The climate has suddenly changed with the election of Trump.  The Gnomes of Wall Street, or perhaps we should call them the shepherds leading the flock suddenly decided that a Trump presidency is good for the economy.  Does anyone even remember that the Dow futures were 800 points down on election night as Trump started winning the battleground states one by one?  What was that all about?  Even though the market opened higher on the day after Election Day, my friend Jake got out of the market as soon as it opened at 9:30, Wednesday morning and put his entire portfolio into a money market fund. He voted for Hillary and was afraid that Trump’s victory would precipitate a global equity sell-off because he believed that Trump is an unpredictable, unstable and unqualified leader who’s the laughing stock of the whole world.  Even after the Dow gained 1,000 points, my friend Jake is still out of the stock market.  He told me last night he “cannot believe why the market keeps going up”. Don’t mix investing with politics, folks. Happy thanksgiving!!

Consumer spending keeping the stock market up

The 3rd quarter earnings report of most of the reporting companies in the S&P 500 beat analysts’ estimates.  This is due to a combination of higher sales due to more consumer spending and reduction of expenses because companies have become more efficient.  This combination of more revenue and less expenses is giving many companies a healthy cash flow that should find its way into capital investments and stock purchase.

What is fueling consumer spending?  It seems that Americans are resigned to a Hillary Clinton presidency and they think it won’t be so bad.  There also has not been any terrible news lately. In addition to the good earnings reports, oil is holding at about $50 per barrel and copper price has been hovering around $2 per pound. The doom sayers are wrong again about the big stock market crash that they predicted would happen before the U.S. presidential elections.  The BIG CRASH will happen but it will not be before November 8.  Folks, it may not even happen until 2018.  I see the road to the next recession as a slow bleed not a heart attack. We are due for a 10-20% correction since the last correction was in the middle of February this year.  We will discuss this on the next blog.  Stand by.

Elections & the Stock Market, What Me Worry?

If you have been following my articles, you know too well that I am a fiscal conservative.  I had been tough on President Obama from the time he took office but I must admit that I made a lot money since 2009.  Many of my readers have written me emails asking how the stock market will react if Hillary wins, if Trump wins.  First of all I agree with Larry Kudlow that in the short run Trump’s tax plan of reducing individual, corporate and capital gains taxes is good for the economy and for stocks as was proven by JFK, Reagan and Bill Clinton.  Reducing tax on foreign capital is also great for the economy because repatriation of foreign earnings is money that will find its way into the stock market.  Folks, remember my example on the basics of the law of supply and demand which is again repeated below:

Imagine you are 1 of the 5 remaining finalists on the CBS show SURVIVOR.  You have not eaten any solid food in 5 days.  Jeff Probst, the host brings out a slice of pizza and gives each person $100.  He asks the players to bid an amount for the slice of pizza and the highest bidder wins.  Since there is only one slice, it is safe to say that each player would scramble to bid $100 for that single slice even though that slice normally costs only $2 in any fast food court because once that slice of pizza is gone, it’s gone.  What if there are 6 or 7 slices?  What if there are 20 slices?  Then the bidders will not have to bid so much because there are more than enough slices to go around. Everyone can get a slice even with a low ball offer.

How does this relate to the stock market?  Well, if billions of dollars keep entering the U.S. economy, where will it go?  Investments, new business ventures, real estate and yes the stock market.  Very little of it will go into treasuries, due to low interest and some of it will go into bonds.  But a great amount of it will find its way into the stock market.  Having said that, the polls indicate Hillary will win.  Hillary’s plan to increase taxes on those earning over $250,000 and increase tax on corporations from 34% to perhaps 40-50% and reduce estate tax exemption from $5 Million to $3.5 Million will have a negative effect on the economy in the short run.  In the long run, economists have long argued whether or not more money in the hands of the private sector is really better than more government spending.  Will $100 million in the hands of the board of directors of Procter and Gamble really be better than giving it to welfare recipients?  Procter and Gamble would probably invest the money on new equipment, increase hiring, salaries and bonuses and the recipients will spend the money thereby putting more money into the economy.  Welfare recipients would probably spend the money on food and household necessities thereby putting more money into the economy.  Your thoughts.




Countdown to the next stock market crash

We did it once before in 2007, we can do it again!  The countdown has begun to the next bear market, a 10% to 20% correction.  The Dow reached an all-time high on August 15, 2016 of 18,723.  Since then it has not breached that resistance level.  A 10% correction from this resistance level would bring the Dow down to 16,851 and a correction of 20% would bring the Dow down to 14,978.  Friends, I do not think we will experience a correction that will breach the 52-week low of 15,451.  It may breach this support level if the interest rate curve inverts which portends a recession in which case the Dow may lose 40-60% of its value.

I just don’t see it yet folks, no matter what the gloom and doomers say.  The interest rate curve is not flattening, the economy is sluggish and the Feds will not soon raise interest rates.  But even if the Feds raise the interest rate by 100 basis points right now, it is still sustainable in this current economic climate and it will not cause a negative yield curve.

Standby folks.  Those who made a lot of money in 2009 just by following my posts, will do it again when the next recession hits.  Meanwhile, be happy to be earning 4-8% with your money invested in VTSAX and other S&P 500 Index funds just like many other investors.  When the bear market that follows a recession hits, that is when we will make our real money.

Follow this blog and we will keep monitoring economic indicators that may cause the breach of the resistance and support levels in the Dow, S&P and NASDAQ.

Happy fishing!!!!


10% Unemployment not enough to derail recovery

When I wrote my article entitled “SLUGGISH RECOVERY, GOOD FOR INVESTORS” in July before I went on my summer vacation, many “gloom and doomers” thought I was crazy.  In fact I was bold enough to predict an 11,300 Dow for the end of September.  That was on July 21 when the DJIA closed at 10,120. We are not quite at 11,300 yet but the DOW closed up at 10,860 last Friday, September 24, 2010.

The direction of the market is really not hard to predict.  Now that the NBER has ruled out a double dip recession, stock prices will keep going up unless there is a new recession.  Yes there will be days when stocks will go up, down and sideways but investors will continue to be bullish if the economy is still expanding.  1% to 2% GDP growth is good enough to continue an upward trend in stock prices.  This statement is easily proven.  In the beginning of the year, many economists predicted the economy to grow 4% to 5% this year.  The projection had been revised downward several times and stocks tumbled each time the lower projection was announced.   The knee jerk reaction of investors is to dump equities in favor of bonds and tangible assets upon hearing a lower growth rate.  Then investors become accustomed to the sluggish growth, after which they start buying stocks again.  The bullish trend will not stop unless there is another recession.  Even if there is negative growth in one month, 2 months or even in an entire quarter if the economy recovers again in subsequent months to show growth in GDP, the market will come back.  There will be fluctuations and corrections in the market but the sophisticated investor will remain invested in equities unless signs point to another recession.  At the risk of repeating myself, commodity prices are up, corporate profits are up, many publicly held corporations including numerous financial institutions have resumed paying dividends because of their huge profits, many publicly traded stocks of companies in a wide assortment of industries have hit a 52-week high.  These are not signs that there is another recession just around the corner.  Another proof is that inflation is back.  It means that the deflationary period is gone and the economy is starting to heat up again.  Foreclosures are up and housing starts are down, but this is a normal cycle after homeowners enjoyed double digit increases in home prices for many years.

The not so rosy sector of the economy is the high unemployment rate.  1% to 2% GDP growth will only make a small dent in the unemployment.  We need 8% GDP growth like in the Reagan expansion years to reduce unemployment to 5%.  Many economists are of the opinion that the reason for the high unemployment rate is the reluctance of small businesses to invest and expand because of the uncertainty in taxes and new regulations.  I disagree with their opinion.  In a free market economy like ours, the desire to make money is so intense and the chance of success is so high compared to a government controlled economy that most smart entrepreneurs will not postpone their plan for growth and expansion just because of regulations and a few percentage increase in taxes.  However, I agree with Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc) that keeping the Bush Tax Cuts and reducing spending will accelerate business investments.  Paul Ryan who is a ranking member of the Congressional Budget Committee and Ways and Means Committee is a Reagan conservative who is touted as a rising star in the Republican Party and possible nominee for the 2012 presidential election.

Now that the “great recession” is over, it is wise to review what caused it.   The NBER, a historical recorder of past events declares the recession started in December 2007 and ended in June 2009.  The “great recession” was caused by the consumer who stopped spending, caused by worries of the stability of the banking and financial system, caused by massive default of derivatives issued by the financial institutions, caused by the housing bubble burst, caused by massive default of homeowners in payment of their mortgages, caused by increase in mortgage rates and high fuel prices. What could be so simple?

I went to a party last Saturday night.  The state of the economy became the dominant subject of conversation because many of the guests were sophisticated entrepreneurs and economists.  I found that the adage “ask 10 economists a question and you will get 10 different answers” is really true.  Most of them disagreed on the state of the economy and how to “fix” the nation’s economic problems.  However, the wife of the CEO of a popular restaurant chain offered her solution in the form of a question in between sips of mimosa.  She asked “why doesn’t Obama give every American citizen, man, woman, child $100,000 each?  If the population of America is now 350 million, wouldn’t one hundred thousand dollars for each person cost much less than the new stimulus of 50 billion dollars the Obama administration had been dangling about? “It suddenly became quite, although some of the party goers dismissed “her solution” with some condescending remarks.  I quickly excused myself, went to the men’s room, locked myself inside a stall and pulled my new iPhone which has a calculator. Lo and behold, $100,000 x 350 million is indeed $35 billion…less than the $50 billion Obama stimulus package. When I came out of the men’s room I was surprised that most of the guests continued to discuss and debate her solution.  A CFO of an oil refining company said her idea is great because those who deserve the money will find a way to legally take the money away from those who do not deserve it. To me, the idea of this lady, a trophy wife who is relegated to ribbon cutting ceremonies and home decorating made as much sense as ideas from her husband and the other guests.

This article is not intended to provide financial advice.  Please consult your financial advisor before acting on any advice provided herein. Any opinions and views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the writer

What causes stock market fluctuations?

Ken Little who authored 12 books on investing and personal finance gives the following reasons for the drop in stock prices:  Interest rates, inflation, earnings, oil and energy prices, war and terrorism, crime and fraud and serious domestic political unrest.  With all due respect to Mr. Little, what he pointed out are the symptoms of the disease rather than the disease itself.  The disease which causes the stock market to tumble significantly is recession.  Yes the stock market will fall at the onset of various bad news such as an increase in the interest rates and energy prices, instability of the Euro Banking system and the high jobless rate.  But if these factors do not lead to a recession, the stock market should quickly recover and continue to rise. Sudden market fluctuation is significant for short-term traders but should not be for long term investors because the market always recovers after a recession.  It would be nice if you can predict the highs and lows of the market because you could have made a killing if you had sold in October 2007 when the Dow Jones Industrial Average hit 14,000 and bought again in March 2009 when it plunged to a low of 6,600.  Therefore, the Eurozone problem, high jobless rate, the downgrading of Spanish bonds, North and South Korean conflict, Israeli’s deadly raid and the BP oil spill do not worry me as much as decrease in retail sales, reduction in hiring, declining commodity prices, industrial production and housing starts.  The day-traders may drive down the stock market purely on investor sentiment and emotion, and we may yet see a DJIA of 9,000 in just a few weeks, but it defies logic for a downward trend to continue if all leading economic indicators are pointing upwards.  This is all intricately connected because if stocks do not recover quickly, and we get into a prolonged bear market, consumer confidence may deteriorate resulting in reduced consumer spending.   Again, I do not see a protracted bear market unless we are heading for another recession.

We must go back to basics to enable us to assess where we are now in the economic recovery.  Recessions are a normal part of a business cycle.  Recession comes from the word “recess” which most of us know is the suspension of whatever we are doing in order to have fun and relaxation.  As in “let the children play during recess”.  However, in business lingo recession is a word that is feared by most people because it can be defined as the suspension of consumer spending or to put in milder terms, an intermission from spending.  In economic terms recession is often referred to as a “contraction” of the economy and the recovery which follows is commonly called an economic expansion.  Recession is feared by most people because it results in the reduction of wealth.

Historically, recessions are brief with this last one, dubbed “the great recession” being the most severe since the great depression.  It is the consensus of many economists that this last recession lasted 18 months.  Now that we know recessions are merely temporary suspension of consumer spending, we can be sure that economic growth will follow shortly unless a catastrophic event ensues, such as the collapse of the banking system leading to a depression, another bubble burst or some kind of a natural disaster.  It is the opinion of many economists that “the Great Recession” has not been followed by a “Great Recovery” because taxes and government spending have not been reduced by this administration.  Historically, tax cuts have always spurred economic growth.

But where are we now in the course of this economic expansion after the great recession?  I have a more optimistic outlook and I am hoping that we are halfway back up a “V” shape recovery and not in a “U” shape recovery.  The European Debt Crisis and the high unemployment rate alone should not cause the stock market to plunge. First, the European Debt Crisis has been alleviated by the commitment of the European Union Central Bank and the IMF (International Monetary Fund) to pledge almost $1 trillion in bail out money (Le Tarpe) for ailing Eurozone countries such as Greece, Spain and Portugal.  Le Tarpe has a great potential for success if used judiciously in buying junk bonds of troubled countries but The European Central Bank must continue to demand austerity measures from leaders of these countries.  Although Greece’s default is imminent, Le Tarpe should temper investors’ sentiment since the bail out money should tide Greece over for a year or two.  The stock market plunge this month, the worst May for stocks since 1940 was caused by investors’ panic and uncertainty about Le Tarpe.

Second, the high jobless rate of 10% is not enough to derail the recovery.  Even if the entire unemployed population stops spending, there is still the remaining 90% of the working population, which according to statistics, continues to consume.  If consumer spending is lower than forecast in May, that would worry me and I am sure it would worry stock market investors.  Despite the high jobless rate the private sector is still reporting robust increase in hiring through the end of April.  What would cause the stock market to plunge some more is bad economic news that could signal another recession.  And going back to basics again—what will erode consumer confidence and stop the consumer from spending?  For starters:  Reduction of income; job insecurity; debt increase due to higher interest rates; inflation; diminution of assets, of investments and other tangible property such as real estate.

This article is not intended to provide financial advice.  Please consult your financial advisor before acting on any advice provided herein.

Any opinions and views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the writer.

PIIGS: Too Big to Fail

The largest economy in the world, The United States of Europe, officially called the European Union is facing a financial crisis that could weigh down our own economic recovery.  The bears on Wall Street have outnumbered the bulls, focusing on the economic upheaval in Europe instead of the good economic news here at home.  Economic indicators here in the U.S. are still pointing upwards indicating the continuation of our recovery from the great recession.  Housing starts rose an estimated 5.8% in April to an annual rate of 672,000; retail sales were up 0.4% beating expectations; industrial production moved higher; 1st quarter earnings of 75% of companies in the S&P 500 have exceeded expectation and most notably, the private sector added 32,000 jobs according to ADP.  Various economists differ in their projection of job growth this year, from a low of 300,000 to a high of 1 million private sector jobs.  I believe that the extension of unemployment and health benefits is a disincentive for many unemployed workers to seek work, thereby contributing to the high unemployment rate which has been hovering around 10%.

The malaise in Europe is hard to ignore because our global economies are all inter-connected.  The failure of any of the EU’s most ailing economies, the PIIGS which is an acronym for Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain could send a tsunami of global economic woe: a financial meltdown much worse than the sub-prime mortgage crisis of 2008.  The PIIGS are less affluent countries than their northern neighbors such as Germany and France and there is such a disparity of wealth between member nations.  The IMF/European Debt Bailout of 750 billion Euros, which has been nicknamed “Le TARP”, pacified the market early last week so the bulls started running again driving up the Dow Jones Industrial Averages (DJIA) 500 points from the previous week’s low of 10,380.  As reality sank in, investors became jittery and gravitated towards tangible investments such as gold, driving up its price to $1220 an ounce.

Reality is that Greece will eventually default.  It is my educated opinion based on facts.  Greece is the second most corrupt developed country in the world according to Forbes Magazine.  It is easy to bribe Government officials.  It is a social democracy, a welfare state with generous entitlement programs which includes early retirement, state pensions, and huge bonuses for public employees and a generous cradle to grave health care system.   The wealthiest members of society, shipping magnates like Onassis, lawyers, doctors and other highly paid professionals have traditionally avoided paying direct taxes.  I do not think the Greek populace can swallow the austerity measures being currently debated by the Greek parliament.  Public anger in Greece will continue running at explosive levels. Why should the Greeks agree to do away with their entitlements which have been their way of life for such a long time?  Besides, most Greeks do not blame themselves nor their government for their predicament.  Rather, many Greeks would argue that the U.S. caused the financial meltdown leading to the severe world wide recession and banking crisis. Greece’s accumulated deficit is running 113% of GDP.  They have ran out of money to pay for their bonds that are coming due.  The solution is to issue more long term bonds to raise money but their government bonds have been downgraded making it impossible to sell them to continue to finance deficit spending.

Austerity measures being proposed include the freezing of government pay till 2014; dispensing with the 2-month bonus for public employees; increasing of the retirement age from 61 to 63; increasing VAT (Value Added Tax) from 19 to 23%.  It is reported that 1/3 of the Le TARP money or 250 Euros will come from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) out of which 10 billion Euros is the contribution of the U.S.

Volcker’s statement last week that the Euro may break up, points to the core of the problem of the European Union. The Euro has gone down from its high of $1.50 per Euro last November to a low of $1.24 this week.   The problem is that on one hand, member countries have become financially responsible for each other as magnified by this crisis.  On the other hand, member countries have very little influence on how another country is governed because each member is an indivisibly sovereign state. At least if Greece goes back to its own currency, the drachma, it will suffer on its own for its fiscal irresponsibility.  This current crisis is testing the EU if it can stay united and if the Euro will be preserved.

The 750 billion Euros may not be enough to rescue Greece.  It certainly will not be enough to bail out other PIIGS in case any of them defaults on their external debts.  If one falls, it would be followed by another and another and another.  And this is what worries me and makes me bearish on the market despite the good economic reports in this country.

This article is not intended to provide financial advice.  Please consult your financial advisor before acting on any advice provided herein.

Any opinions and views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the writer.

SEC’S Case vs. GS&CO: Weak, Most Experts Agree

Goldman Sach’s Chairman and CEO Lloyd Blankfein had to dumb it down for his interrogators during a 3-hour question and answer session of an 11-hour marathon hearing last month on Capitol Hill.  The hearing was about the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) civil case against GS.  Several members of the Permanent Senate Committee on Investigations asked similar questions different ways that Blankfein had to find the proper words in the hope of making himself understood by an audience of what appears clearly as a group of “investment banking neophytes”.  At one point he caught himself almost about to use the word “fiduciary”, stopped in time and had to struggle to describe what he meant in much simpler terms.

Lloyd Blankfein who received his business and law degrees from Harvard University and who was named “2009 Person of the Year” by the Financial Times, was probably the smartest person in the room during that senate hearing.  Blankfein had skillfully steered GS&Co. through the financial meltdown.  The company earned an impressive $13.4 billion last year and has not recorded a losing day from the first business day of 2010 through the end of the first quarter.  To acquiesce to political correctness, he announced compensation caps for his company last year despite the company’s huge profit.  Some report that GS received $10 billion of TARP money.  If true, they clearly did not need it and it must have been paid back with interest.  The Treasury Department used most of the TARP money to increase the capital of “too big to fail” banks and other financial institutions, such as GS whose assets have fallen when “mark to market” accounting method is applied.

As to the SEC’s suit, I see it as nothing more than a political move by the SEC which is composed of a decision-making body of 5 commissioners headed by a Chairman.  The commissioners are appointed by the President and their terms are 5 years each but are staggered so that each commissioner’s term ends on June 5 of each year.  To make the SEC non-partisan, no more than 3 commissioners may belong to the same party.  So much for that non-partisanism.  The decision to sue GS was not a unanimous decision but a 3-2 split along party lines which leads me to believe that this is all a political ploy, possibly to call attention to some kind of Financial Reform Bill which Obama and the Democrats have been trying to push through.  If the SEC had a stronger case, I would argue that they would have gone directly to the Justice Department for a criminal prosecution rather than file, what in my opinion is a frivolous civil case.

GS&Co. has nothing to fear from the SEC.  Goldman’s lawyers issued an initial statement indicating the allegations of “securities fraud” are completely unfounded in law and in fact.  I agree.  Let us briefly examine the allegations:  SEC alleges,  1) “GS&Co …made misleading statements and omissions in connection with a collateralized debt obligation (CDO-ABACUS 2007-ACI)) it structured and marketed to clients…”  Paraphrasing Blankfein’s reply, “If no one is willing to buy them, we cannot sell them.”  In other words, the buyers of the CDO’s were well aware of the risks as well as the high returns.  Says Blankfein, “We do this thousands of times a day.  We buy and sell securities”.  2) GS&Co. failed to disclose in their prospectus that ABACUS 2007-ACI, which was backed by sub-prime residential mortgage securities (RMBS) was partially structured by hedge fund, Paulson & Co.  Paulson shorted the portfolio it helped create by buying CDS (Credit Default Swap) securities from GS&Co. Paulson’s interests were sharply conflicting.  Here is my spin on this:  My understanding is that there is nothing in the law that requires the marketer of the securities to disclose that a selector of the securities in the portfolio took an adverse position by hedging against the portfolio. If Congress wants to introduce a law for that specific disclosure, let them do it right after the resolution of this case.  Second, the SEC alleges that investors in ABACUS lost over $1 billion and Paulson’s opposite CDS yielded him approximately $1 billion.  John Paulson is not God.  The market could have gone against him.  If anyone knew what we know now, in 2007 no one including Warren Buffet would have bought ABACUS.  As it is, GS&Co. sold 10 billions of dollars in ABACUS stocks to mostly savvy investors.  Would it have made a difference if those savvy investors knew that the selector of the funds took an opposite position?  I don’t think so.  Not when Chris Dodd and Barney Frank kept assuring us as late as June 2008 that there was nothing wrong with the housing market and that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were still good investments.  Before the sky fell, ABACUS was highly rated and yielded an annualized double digit return.

This article is not intended to provide financial advice.  Please consult your financial advisor before acting on any advice provided herein.

Any opinions and views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the writer.

BUSH-OBAMA Recession, No Different from the Rest

Many economists, prognosticators, financial pundits, stock brokers and financial planners have committed a big blunder or a big hoax by proclaiming this recession different from the rest and the worst since the great depression.  The fact is I believe this recession is no different from the previous post war recessions.  Those who share my belief have made a lot of money in the stock market during this recession.  In the first quarter of this year, the majority of financial pundits I watched on TV advised investors, some of whom have already lost 50% of their savings at that time,  “to stay out of the market” unless they have 10 or more years to go before retirement.  Who knows how many took their advice and got out of the market, thereby missing the bull market that started in March and is still going strong as of this minute.   In January and February, many financial experts were predicting the Dow Jones Averages to go down to 5,000.  In “DIDOSPIN-11,000 DOW, August 7, 2009” when DJIA was 9,370, I predicted the Dow to climb to 10,000 before the end of the year and to 11,000 before the end of next year.  It already reached 10,000 last week. Most of the financial experts I watched on the Lou Dobbs and Larry Kudlow shows collectively stated that “it may take 10 years to recover losses in retirement plans…”   Shame on them for being so incompetent or for perpetrating a hoax!   Those investors who stayed put have already gained back most of what they have lost and I believe this bull market still has legs before the next significant market correction.

In “DIDOSPIN- Obama’s Recession, March 8, 2009”, I said “Recessions are part of a normal economic cycle.  Soon consumers will come back and resume buying necessities such as refrigerators, TVs, computers, furniture, cars…”  How true!  A lower than expected contraction in GDP at 1% in the 2nd quarter is believed to have been followed by a small positive increase in GDP in the 3rd quarter, although official stats have not yet been released.  I predicted a much bigger increase in GDP the 4th quarter.  The increase in GDP is an indication of an increase in consumer spending.  One thing to remember is that GDP stats do no even take into consideration business to business consumption, only the consumption of the ultimate consumer or end-user.  This is something that many people are not aware of. 

I secretly scoffed at my boss in January when he told me in a panic that we must dig in our heels in this “worst ever recession”.  I told him, “We’ve seen this before, the last one in 2001….” “No, no, no”, he adamantly replied, “this is different”.  How wrong he was!  The only difference between this recession and the previous ones is its nickname.  This one will probably be known by several nicknames such as “Sub prime Mortgage Crisis, aka Housing Bubble Burst, aka Auto Industry Crisis Recession”.  The various nicknames of the 3 previous recessions according to Bloomberg News were:  Dot-Com Bubble Burst – 2000 to 2001; S&L Crisis, 1990 to 1991 and the Energy Crisis Recession, 1981 to 1982.

I concede that this will prove to be the longest recession since the Great Depression.  But its severity and misery index pales in comparison to the Carter-Reagan recession.  According to Bloomberg News, during the 1981-1982 recession, the national unemployment rate was 10.8% at its highest; inflation was 14% and the prime rate went up to 20.5%.  In this current recession, inflation is almost non-existent and the prime rate is the lowest it has been in 50 years (source:  http://www.wsjprimerate.us/wall_street_journal_prime_rate_history.htm).

Obama predicted the unemployment rate will continue to increase and will exceed 10% before the year is over but I will go with my prediction in “DIDOSPIN- Recession Over, June 27, 2009” that it would peak at 9.8%.  This means that more than 90% of the working population is employed and is poised to go back into the “buying mode”. It is a cycle and consumers eventually buy what they need or want. The stock market rally is a big factor in consumer spending.  If a consumer sees his portfolio going up in value, he will have more confidence spending his discretionary income as opposed to saving it for a rainy day.  Fortunately, the behavior of the stock market follows a free market pattern that is predictable.  The stock market does not like government intervention in the free market economy.  It does not like redistribution of wealth; tax increases; government take over of health care, the banking system and other private industries; cap and trade; interest hikes and increase in deficits.  One of the reasons the market is doing so well is that Obamacare and Cap and Trade appear to be in trouble.  There are different versions of Obamacare bills that are still under discussion in the congressional committees, and although Cap and Trade bill passed the house, it is not expected to pass the senate.  If these two bills regain traction, it is almost guaranteed that the market will take a plunge, perhaps causing a double dip recession.

This article is not intended to provide financial advice.  Please consult your financial advisor before acting on any advice provided herein.

Any opinions and views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the writer.