Stocks continued to move up last week as all major U.S. indices hit new highs. Investor optimism rose as expectations for deregulation, possible tax cuts and fiscal stimulus under the new administration accelerated. These same factors put upward pressure on bond yields and the U.S. dollar. A strong Dollar has historically been good for the stock market. The reasoning is simple. If you are a European or Japanese, would you leave your money in a bank which takes a piece of your money given negative interest rate policies; or would you rather send your money to the US where we have positive interest rates and a rising stock market?
Runnymede has been bullish on the stock market since early July because of improving earnings and good value relative to fixed income. As we ahead to 2017, we remain positive. Former JP Morgan Chief Equity Strategist Tom Lee shares our enthusiasm for equities in a recent interview on CNBC.
In the travel industry, prevention of accidents is at the top of its agenda. Safety drills for airplane takeoffs and landings are routinely practiced. On ships, passengers are assembled for lifeboat drills as soon as they board the vessel. Every passenger’s name is called out and checked off; both the passengers and crew take the drill very seriously in view of the fact that just a few years ago the Italian ship Costa Concordia ran aground on the coast of Tuscany and toppled on its side. Ship captains and sailors are in constant touch with weather stations, downloading data into their computers for the most up-to-date weather forecast and analysis.
"It's déjà vu all over again." - Yogi Berra
The stock market has long been classified by economists as a leading indicator of the economy. It tracks and reflects the nation’s economy and industry fundamentals. The market often seems able to anticipate positive or negative change before it happens. Since the beginning of the bear market in August of 2015, the prices of many bank stocks, especially European and Japanese banks, have declined steadily and precipitously. Deutsche Bank has lead the way by dropping below the level it reached in 2009. Shares of HSBC, Citibank, Bank of America, Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs as well many other big banks have also taken a beating of 25-45%.
Last August, Runnymede Capital warned our readers that a financial hurricane was coming. Over the past six months, the stock markets around the world tumbled and the US has followed suit in 2016. Our clients, who gave us permission to raise cash reserves, were fortunate and their assets were protected.
Near the end of World War II, the Japanese conducted Kamikaze or suicide attacks, designed to destroy warships more effectively than was possible with conventional attacks, against Allied naval vessels in the closing stages of the Pacific campaign. About 3,800 kamikaze pilots died, and fortunately, only a small percentage of kamikaze attacks managed to hit American ships.
Is the Kamikaze behavior alive and well in the 21st century in Japan?
The #Fed has NEVER correctly forecast a recession.— Jim Rickards December 16, 2015
The Fed announced that it would increase its benchmark rate by one quarter of a percentage point. The major beneficiaries will be the banks and brokers, not people on Main Street. Runnymede believes the US and world economies will weaken in the quarters ahead. Our view is supported by Jim Rogers, a top investor, and Sam Zell, a real estate tycoon.
The Fed has a very different opinion. Who will be right?
How is the economy doing currently? Not well. The United States has had two recessions in the 21st century, in 2001 and 2008/9. Our prognosis is that the US economy is losing steam quickly and the third recession is getting near. Let’s look at the cost of money, raw material and labor. Due to a lack of demand, all current indications are that interest rates, commodity prices and real wages will continue to fall.
In 2008, the brokers and bankers made a huge mess in the subprime mortgage markets and caused the deepest recession in decades. The finanical crisis cost the tax payers trillions of dollars to bail out the failed financial firms and to restart the nation’s economic growth engine. The message during the market recovery to Wall Street from the central bank and the government has been “don’t mess with the financial markets to cause another market crash.” The media and many pundits haven't got the message and are still writing very frequently about the impending market crash. With the recent news on Greece, the media went all out to scare people but we wrote that investors shouldn't be surprised given Greece's history of debt problems. The S&P 500 shrugged off the negative news and barely declined at all, a pullback of just 3%. Looking at the trend, you’ll notice that the S&P 500 has been trading sideways at 2080 plus or minus a few points in a narrow range since November 2014.
The financial markets are guided by supply and demand conditions for stocks and bonds. Historically, their fluctuations have been heavily influenced by business conditions and economic cycles. During the past 12-15 months something new and different has dominated the marketplace. Unorthodox governmental forces are the engine that drives the financial markets which seem totally insensitive to any negative economic developments.
IMPORTANT DISCLOSURE INFORMATION
Please remember that past performance may not be indicative of future results. Different types of investments involve varying degrees of risk, and there can be no assurance that the future performance of any specific investment, investment strategy, or product (including the investments and/or investment strategies recommended or undertaken by Runnymede Capital Management, Inc.-"Runnymede"), or any non-investment related content, made reference to directly or indirectly in this blog will be profitable, equal any corresponding indicated historical performance level(s), be suitable for your portfolio or individual situation, or prove successful. Due to various factors, including changing market conditions and/or applicable laws, the content may no longer be reflective of current opinions or positions. Moreover, you should not assume that any discussion or information contained in this blog serves as the receipt of, or as a substitute for, personalized investment advice from Runnymede. Please remember that if you are a Runnymede client, it remains your responsibility to advise Runnymede, in writing, if there are any changes in your personal/financial situation or investment objectives for the purpose of reviewing/evaluating/revising our previous recommendations and/or services, or if you would like to impose, add, or to modify any reasonable restrictions to our investment advisory services. To the extent that a reader has any questions regarding the applicability of any specific issue discussed above to his/her individual situation, he/she is encouraged to consult with the professional advisor of his/her choosing. Runnymede is neither a law firm nor a certified public accounting firm and no portion of the blog content should be construed as legal or accounting advice. A copy of the Runnymede's current written disclosure Brochure discussing our advisory services and fees is available for review upon request. Please Note: Runnymede does not make any representations or warranties as to the accuracy, timeliness, suitability, completeness, or relevance of any information prepared by any unaffiliated third party, whether linked to Runnymede's web site or blog or incorporated herein, and takes no responsibility for any such content. All such information is provided solely for convenience purposes only and all users thereof should be guided accordingly.