Investment Contrarians

quantitative easing


Best Investment Strategies to Battle Coming Inflation

By for Investment Contrarians | Dec 9, 2013

Best and Worst Investment StrategiesThe S&P 500 may be entering bubble-like territory: that’s what I’ve been writing for the past few months.

Now, it appears as though I’m not the only one who’s worried about asset classes beginning to form bubbles from the excess money printing. 2013 Nobel Prize-winner Robert Shiller also recently stated that he is concerned that prices have risen far too quickly across many asset classes, from real estate to stocks.

As I’ve written several times over the past couple of months, investing in stocks at these elevated levels is quite risky. My belief is that much of the upward move in the S&P 500 has been primarily based on the liquidity (money printing) being pumped by the Federal Reserve.

Investing in stocks with this premise can only work for the very short-term trader who’s quick enough to get out when the tide begins to turn.

Because people are not investing in stocks based on actual fundamentals right now, one can’t expect the value in the S&P 500 to remain elevated once there’s a change in monetary policy, since much of the move has been artificially supported.

Let’s take a look at how the S&P 500 has been affected by monetary policy over the past few years, and how investing in stocks at the current level is becoming increasingly risky.

S&P Large Cap Index Chart

Chart courtesy of www.StockCharts.com

The first quantitative easing program by the Federal Reserve lasted from December 2008 until March 2010. This period is not shown on the chart above, as one could argue that the S&P 500 became extremely oversold and that investing in stocks for the long-term made sense at … Read More


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


What the Really Bad Black Friday Numbers This Year Mean

By for Investment Contrarians | Dec 4, 2013

Bad Black Friday NumbersBlack Friday was an afterthought, to me at least. Yes, I bought a few items from the MLB store, but that’s it. But according to newly released data for this key shopping day, it appears as though I wasn’t alone.

A few weeks ago, we saw many of the key retailers reporting some results and warning that sales in the retail sector could be sluggish during the holiday shopping season. Bellwether Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE/WMT) was nervous about sales and said the climate in the retail sector could be tough. We heard similar stories from the likes of Macy’s, Inc. (NYSE/M), Nordstrom, Inc. (NYSE/JWN), and Target Corporation (NYSE/TGT), so we knew the retail sector was in for some difficult times.

Well, it appears the retailers may have been right in their assessments, as results from Black Friday point to some disappointing sales with a retail sector in search of consumers and margins. The problem is consumers are looking for deals and discounts; they’re not opening up their wallets in a mad dash to the register.

So despite earlier store openings, extended store hours, and heavy advertising leading up to Black Friday, the big day that many retailers depend on, the early estimates show Thanksgiving weekend retail sales declined 2.7% year-over-year to $57.4 billion, based on a report by the National Retail Federation (NRF). Even so, the NRF still estimates retail sales will edge up 3.9% during the holiday shopping season.

I can’t say I’m surprised. The reality is consumer confidence remains shaky, and with the jobs market being as soft as it is, consumers are clearly reluctant to spend. The … Read More


ECB Calling U.S. Out on Its QE Mistakes

By for Investment Contrarians | Nov 22, 2013

U.S. Out on Its QE MistakesRecently, European Central Bank (ECB) policymaker Jens Weidmann said the strategy of printing money was not the solution to the eurozone crisis. (Source: Carrel, P., “Printing money not the way out of crisis: ECB’s Weidmann,” Yahoo! Finance, November 20, 2013.) Ya, no joke!

Of course, Weidmann was not referring to the Federal Reserve, but to thoughts from within the ECB that perhaps buying assets was another tool to use. He may as well be talking about the Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing strategy, though. I’m sure he’s been looking at the Federal Reserve’s massive money printing and its overall ineffectiveness; he’s likely studying the U.S. situation and realizing that the act of simply printing money is not the end-all for achieving success in rebuilding an economy.

There’s that old saying that you learn from other people’s mistakes—that’s what we have here.

The Federal Reserve continues to balk at stopping the money printing. Current Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke expressed his disappointment in the recent jobs market readings in a recent speech, saying there were insufficient reasons to stop the quantitative easing.

Five years of quantitative easing by the Federal Reserve and, while it clearly helped the country from a much deeper recession and breakdown, the benefits are stalling.

So I say to Weidmann, fight against the use of quantitative easing via printing money in the eurozone, as it will simply cost the eurozone hundreds of billions of euros and would likely do very little for the economy. The already historically record-low interest rates in the eurozone will suffice.

The same thing should be the case on this side of the Atlantic. … Read More


2014: The Year for Gold Bullion Investors?

By for Investment Contrarians | Nov 20, 2013

Gold Bullion InvestorsLast week’s testimony by Janet Yellen, President Obama’s choice for the next head of the Federal Reserve, was quite interesting. What I also found fascinating was the reaction in various markets.

Yellen was testifying in front of the Senate Banking Committee, and when asked about the possible formation of bubbles as a result of the Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing program, she stated point-blank, “By and large, I would say that I don’t see evidence at this point in major sectors of asset price misalignments.” (Source: Bloomberg, November 15, 2013.)

I certainly don’t have any experience working at the Federal Reserve, but I find this hard to believe.

Is the new Federal Reserve chairwoman trying to convince us that with a weak economy, it makes perfect sense for the stock market to be at all-time highs, margin debt to be soaring to record levels, the housing market to be experiencing bidding wars in certain areas of the country, and for vehicle sales to be soaring—all while incomes remain flat?

What do these factors tell me? All of these different sectors of assets are being fueled by cheap money produced from quantitative easing by the Federal Reserve.

Look at it this way: how many sectors of the economy are booming where there is no financing available, but cash purchases only? Very few. We keep hearing about retailers that cater to the average American having difficulty, since their consumers lack the cash to increase their spending. People are only buying goods if they can get credit, using cheap money.

Is this a bubble?

Well, I ask you to consider this: if the Federal … Read More