On “overvalued, overbought, overbullish” markets. By Hussman Funds.
As of Friday, the S&P 500 was within 1% of its upper Bollinger band at virtually every horizon, including daily, weekly and monthly bands. The last time the S&P 500 reached a similar extreme was Friday April 29, 2011, when I titled the following Monday’s comment Extreme Conditions and Typical Outcomes . I observed when the market has previously been overbought to this extent, coupled with more general features of an “overvalued, overbought, overbullish, rising yields syndrome”, the average outcome has been particularly hostile:
“Examining this set of instances, it’s clear that overvalued, overbought, overbullish, rising-yields syndromes as extreme as we observe today are even more important for their extended implications than they are for market prospects over say, 3-6 months. Though there is a tendency toward abrupt market plunges, the initial market losses in 1972 and 2007 were recovered over a period of several months before second signal emerged, followed by a major market decline. Despite the variability in short-term outcomes, and even the tendency for the market to advance by several percent after the syndrome emerges, the overall implications are clearly negative on the basis of average return/risk outcomes.”
When we look at broad measures of jobs and population, then the beginning of 2012 was one of the worst months in US history, with a total of 2.3 million people losing jobs or leaving the workforce in a single month. Yet, the official unemployment rate showed a decline from 8.5% to 8.3% in January – and was such cheering news that it set off a stock rally.
How can there be such a stark contrast between the cheerful surface and an underlying reality that is getting worse?
The true unemployment picture is hidden by essentially splitting jobless Americans up and putting them inside one of three different “boxes”: the official unemployment box, the full unemployment box, and the most obscure box, theworkforce participation rate box.
As we will explore herein, a detailed look at the government’s own data base shows that about 9 million people without jobs have been removed from the labor force simply by the government defining them as not being in the labor force anymore. Indeed – effectively all of the decreases in unemployment rate percentages since 2009 have come not from new jobs, but through reducing the workforce participation rate so that millions of jobless people are removed from the labor force by definition.
What if the Greek mess is NOT fixed? What will happen if the drachma is reinstated? What if the LTRO has NOT fixed the European mess? Remember that the financial crisis did not end by JPM acquiring Bear Sterns? Insight by PIMCO’s Neel Kashkari.
JP Morgan acquired Bear Stearns over a weekend in mid-March 2008 with emergency rescue financing provided by the U.S. government. The financial crisis that first flared nine months earlier had been getting more intense. Did the near-failure of Bear Stearns mark a new, heightened phase of the crisis, or did it mark the bottom?