Investment Contrarians

interest rates


Should You Stay in Stocks When Fed Finally Tapers?

By for Investment Contrarians | Dec 6, 2013

Fed Finally TapersFor me, trading has always revolved around economic fundamentals and stock market analysis. And if you’re like me, you’re getting somewhat irritated with the recent trading in the stock market by investors who seem more inclined to trade on what economists at the Federal Reserve do with their quantitative easing strategy than on what’s really important—the underlying fundamentals of the economy and corporate America’s financial health.

The reality is that corporate America is struggling to grow revenues. This means that companies and consumers aren’t spending at levels that make me comfortable with the economy. Of course, the stock market doesn’t really seem to care; it simply wants the flow of cheap money to continue.

In my view, it’s the same old thing that continues to engulf the trading in the stock market, and it’s annoying. For instance, if we see strong non-jobs economic data, the stock market edges higher. If we see signs of strengthening in the jobs market, the stock market sells off.

Of course, that’s because the Fed has made it clear that jobs creation is the focal point that will dictate when the central bank will begin to taper its monthly bond buying program, an unprecedented policy that has added trillions of dollars of debt to the bank’s balance sheet.

While all eyes will be on the non-farm payrolls reading today, November’s ADP Employment Change reading released last Wednesday showed that 215,000 new jobs were created last month, which is well above the consensus estimate of 173,000 and the upwardly revised 184,000 jobs created in October. How did the stock market react to the good news? Negatively, … Read More


Did You Give Thanks this Weekend for the Fed’s Easy Money Policy?

By for Investment Contrarians | Dec 2, 2013

021213_IC_leongReflecting on this past Thanksgiving weekend, there was a lot to be thankful for, especially if you have been long in the stock market for the past four years. Now is a time for reflection.

The advance in the stock market has been stellar following the bottom in March 2009. The S&P 500 is up 171% since March 6, 2009 for a four-year annualized gain of about 38%.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 is at a six-year high and over in Germany, the benchmark DAX is also at a record high.

However, the records in the stock markets are falling, not just in good old America, but worldwide. Of course, there are the exceptions, such as China, which I still consider to be undervalued and worth a look for investors searching for growth in foreign stock markets. In China, you can play almost anything due to the country’s insatiable appetite for goods and services. Some of the top areas for growth in China are the technology, health care, travel, and financial services sectors.

Yet while all of the stock market records are being set, I wonder if this is simply the new reality for stocks, or are we just setting ourselves up for a massive hangover when stocks fall?

The Russell 2000, for instance, is a play on the economy. The idea is that small companies tend to fare better when the economy recovers, as these companies tend to be more flexible. The index is up over 35% this year and more than 40% year-to-date. That’s a great advance, but the index is also trading at over 70 times its … Read More


Online Retailer Surging 70% on IPO Debut Example of Market Euphoria

By for Investment Contrarians | Nov 20, 2013

Online Retailer SurgingSound the bull horns, folks! Stocks are sizzling on the chart, and Wall Street is partying like there’s no tomorrow. Kind of sounds like late 1999/early 2000, doesn’t it? And we all know what happened when the party ended then, with the NASDAQ having surged to a ridiculous 5,132 and subsequently crashing.

On Monday, the S&P 500 broke 1,600 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average invaded 16,000 for the first time. There have been five new records broken over the past six sessions. And while the NASDAQ is still eyeing 4,000, there will likely be a move soon.

With about 30 trading days remaining in the year, stocks appear to be heading higher.

While the creation of stock market wealth is fantastic for market participants, I’m growing more wary with each record and feel the stock market is vulnerable to selling.

As I have commented on numerous occasions, you can thank the Federal Reserve and central bankers around the world for the stock market advance.

And with the dovish Janet Yellen expected to be approved as the next Chair of the Fed, the easy money will likely linger going forward.

The buying in the stock market will likely continue to be driven by expectations that the Fed will maintain its bond buying until at least the first quarter of 2014 and low interest rates for a few years.

The obvious reaction to the new records is the reference to a bubble. Now while I don’t think the stock market will crash like it did in early 2000 (that was not fun to watch), I continue to believe the S&P 500 … Read More


When Foreign Investors Pull Out of U.S. Bonds…

By for Investment Contrarians | Nov 5, 2013

U.S. BondsAs everyone is celebrating the market at record highs, another record was just broken and no one appears to be celebrating it.

Of course, I’m talking about the fact that the U.S. government debt total has just exceeded $17.0 trillion.

No one should be really surprised, since we continue running deficits each year. This just means that our government debt will continue to climb, with no end in sight.

Government debt totaling $17.0 trillion is a staggering amount of money. That equates to almost $149,000 per taxpayer. Of course, this doesn’t include unfunded liabilities. When you add in Medicare, Social Security liabilities, and a vast assortment of other levels of government debt, the total is well over $100 trillion.

Again, this may not be much of a surprise to our readers, as most of you are aware of our government debt problem; what may be a surprise to many, however, is the continued global demand for U.S. bonds.

Because we have been able to sell U.S. bonds for so long to investors around the world, this has enabled us to keep spending and to procrastinate when it comes to getting our house in order.

However, I don’t believe this can go on forever. At some point, foreign investors are going to start getting worried that all those trillions of dollars they pumped into U.S. bonds might be worth a whole lot less in the future.

This political circus that we are witnessing in Washington just barely scratches the surface of how much work really needs to get done to solve our government debt problem.

Because the rest of the world … Read More


BlackRock CEO Reports QE Causing Bubbles in Markets

By for Investment Contrarians | Nov 1, 2013

Bubbles Forming in MarketsAs most readers know, I have been calling for a reduction in the Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing (QE) program for some time. My worry has been that the current level of quantitative easing is not doing much to help Main Street, and it is building potentially dangerous risks to our economy over the long term.

I’m worried about the future of this country, and yes, even my investments. I don’t want my hard-earned wealth to disappear due to mistakes made by the Federal Reserve in continuing to pump quantitative easing.

And I’m obviously not alone in this sentiment, as recently the CEO of BlackRock, Inc. (NYSE/BLK), Laurence Fink, stated that the Federal Reserve’s current quantitative easing policy is creating bubbles in various markets. (Source: Bloomberg, October 29, 2013.)

Fink’s opinion that the Federal Reserve should begin tapering quantitative easing immediately comes from the long-term viewpoint of the overall economy and the damage that is being done. Even though money managers like Fink might benefit from quantitative easing over the short term from the boost in asset prices, if bubbles get bigger, the damage over the long term could be extremely serious.

This has been my viewpoint for some time. Sure, it’s great that the market has gone up recently, but if it’s not sustainable, what’s the point?

Much like real estate a decade ago, we all enjoyed the party on the way up, but the hangover has taken years to work off.

Because the Federal Reserve has been so aggressive in its quantitative easing policy, it’s not just the stock market that is going up. Investors who are desperate for … Read More