Best of the Week
Most Popular
1. 2019 From A Fourth Turning Perspective - James_Quinn
2.Beware the Young Stocks Bear Market! - Zeal_LLC
3.Safe Havens are Surging. What this Means for Stocks 2019 - Troy_Bombardia
4.Most Popular Financial Markets Analysis of 2018 - Trump and BrExit Chaos Dominate - Nadeem_Walayat
5.January 2019 Financial Markets Analysis and Forecasts - Nadeem_Walayat
6.Silver Price Trend Analysis 2019 - Nadeem_Walayat
7.Why 90% of Traders Lose - Nadeem_Walayat
8.What to do With Your Money in a Stocks Bear Market - Stephen_McBride
9.Stock Market What to Expect in the First 3~5 Months of 2019 - Chris_Vermeulen
10.China, Global Economy has Tipped over: The Surging Dollar and the Rallying Yen - FXCOT
Last 7 days
Risk/Reward in Silver Favors Buying Now, Not Waiting for Big Moves - 23rd Mar 19
Similarities Between Stock Market Today and Previous Bull Market Tops - 23rd Mar 19
Stock Market DOW Seasonal Trend Analysis - 23rd Mar 19
US Dollar Breakdown on Fed Was Much Worse Than It Looks - 23rd Mar 19
Gold Mid-Tier GDXJ Stocks Fundamentals - 23rd Mar 19
Which Currency Pairs Stand to Benefit from Prevailing Risk Aversion? - 23rd Mar 19
If You Get These 3 Things Right, You’ll Never Have to Worry About Money - 22nd Mar 19
March 2019 Cryptocurrency Technical Analysis - 22nd Mar 19
Turkey Tourist Fakes Market Bargains Haggling Top Tips - 22nd Mar 19
Next Recession: Finding A 48% Yield Amid The Ruins - 22nd Mar 19
Your Future Stock Returns Might Unpleasantly Surprise You - 22nd Mar 19
Fed Acknowledges “Recession Risks”. Run for the Hills! - 22nd Mar 19
Will Bridging Loans Grow in Demand and Usage in 2019? - 22nd Mar 19
Does Fed Know Something Gold Investors Do Not Know? - 21st Mar 19
Gold …Some Confirmations to Watch For - 21st Mar 19
UKIP No Longer About BrExit, Becomes BNP 2.0, Muslim Hate Party - 21st Mar 19
A Message to the Gold Bulls: Relying on the CoT Gives You A False Sense of Security - 20th Mar 19
The Secret to Funding a Green New Deal - 20th Mar 19
Vietnam, Part I: Colonialism and National Liberation - 20th Mar 19
Will the Fed Cut its Interest Rate Forecast, Pushing Gold Higher? - 20th Mar 19
Dow Jones Stock Market Topping Pattern - 20th Mar 19
Gold Stocks Outperform Gold but Not Stocks - 20th Mar 19
Here’s What You’re Not Hearing About the US - China Trade War - 20th Mar 19
US Overdosing on Debt - 19th Mar 19
Looking at the Economic Winter Season Ahead - 19th Mar 19
Will the Stock Market Crash Like 1937? - 19th Mar 19
Stock Market VIX Volaility Analysis - 19th Mar 19
FREE Access to Stock and Finanacial Markets Trading Analysis Worth $1229! - 19th Mar 19
US Stock Markets Price Anomaly Setup Continues - 19th Mar 19
Gold Price Confirmation of the Warning - 18th Mar 19
Split Stock Market Warning - 18th Mar 19
Stock Market Trend Analysis 2019 - Video - 18th Mar 19
Best Precious Metals Investment and Trades for 2019 - 18th Mar 19
Hurdles for Gold Stocks - 18th Mar 19
Pento: Coming QE & Low Rates Will Be ‘Rocket Fuel for Gold’ - 18th Mar 19
"This is for Tommy Robinson" Shouts Knife Wielding White Supremacist Terrorist in London - 18th Mar 19
This Is How You Create the Biggest Credit Bubble in History - 17th Mar 19
Crude Oil Bulls - For Whom the Bell Tolls - 17th Mar 19
Gold Mining Stocks Fundamentals - 17th Mar 19
Why Buy a Land Rover - Range Rover vs Huge Tree Branch Falling on its Roof - 17th Mar 19
UKIP Urged to Change Name to BNP 2.0 So BrExit Party Can Fight a 2nd EU Referendum - 17th Mar 19
Tommy Robinson Looks Set to Become New UKIP Leader - 16th Mar 19
Gold Final Warning: Here Are the Stunning Implications of Plunging Gold Price - 16th Mar 19
Towards the End of a Stocks Bull Market, Short term Timing Becomes Difficult - 16th Mar 19
UKIP Brexit Facebook Groups Reveling in the New Zealand Terror Attacks Blaming Muslim Victims - 16th Mar 19
Gold – US Dollar vs US Dollar Index - 16th Mar 19
Islamophobic Hate Preachers Tommy Robinson and Katie Hopkins have Killed UKIP and Brexit - 16th Mar 19
Countdown to The Precious Metals Gold and Silver Breakout Rally - 15th Mar 19
Shale Oil Splutters: Brent on Track for $70 Target $100 in 2020 - 15th Mar 19
Setting up a Business Just Got Easier - 15th Mar 19
Stock Market Elliott Wave Analysis Trend Forercast - Video - 15th Mar 19
Gold Warning - Here Are the Stunning Implications of Plunging Gold Price - Part 1 - 15th Mar 19
UK Weather SHOCK - Trees Dropping Branches onto Cars in Stormy Winds - Sheffield - 15th Mar 19
Best Time to Trade Forex - 15th Mar 19
Why the Green New Deal Will Send Uranium Price Through the Roof - 14th Mar 19
S&P 500's New Medium-Term High, but Will Stock Market Uptrend Continue? - 14th Mar 19
US Conservatism - 14th Mar 19
Gold in the Age of High-speed Electronic Trading - 14th Mar 19
Britain's Demographic Time Bomb Has Gone Off! - 14th Mar 19
Why Walmart Will Crush Amazon - 14th Mar 19
2019 Economic Predictions - 14th Mar 19
Tax Avoidance Bills Sent to Thousands of Workers - 14th Mar 19

Market Oracle FREE Newsletter

Stock Market Trend Forecast March to September 2019

The Truth About This Stock Market "Meltdown" Indicator

Stock-Markets / Stock Markets 2015 Jan 20, 2015 - 12:56 PM GMT

By: Money_Morning

Stock-Markets

We talk about why you should always be in the stock market (and NOT for the same reasons Wall Street wants you in, either). That's because being in the markets allows you tap into the inevitable growth that comes from capitalism and, by implication, humanity's upside.

Lately, though, people are beginning to doubt the premise behind that Total Wealth tactic.

That's due partly to recent trading action (which is unsettling), and partly due to the hype surrounding various indicators that are almost "guaranteed" to show a looming meltdown (which is unnerving).


Right now the scary indicator making the rounds is record "total margin debt." Chances are you've probably seen the emails, too.

According to the New York Stock Exchange, investors have borrowed more than $457 billion against their brokerage accounts as of November 2014 – a new record. The social meme – the mantra, if you will – is that so much debt is unsustainable, and that it potentially undermines the entire market.

I get that… debt is a four-letter word after all, especially when it comes to the central bankers and Wall Street fat cats. But this is different.

In fact, I'd even go so far as to chalk this up to another case of "it isn't what it seems."

Here's the truth about this "meltdown" indicator.

Putting $457 Billion of Debt into Context

Total margin debt isn't a statistic that's calculated out of thin air. In that sense, it's really nothing new.

Every New York Stock Exchange Member Firm is required to report total outstanding borrowing held against client accounts on a monthly basis and has been since passage of the SEC's rule 606 in 2005. That way, the exchanges and regulatory agencies can track potential exposure and liquidity problems by determining who is leveraged up to their eyeballs and who is not.

This is important because it is the brokers and ultimately the financial intermediaries who will have to make good on any default. You could argue that lately this risk has been shifted onto the American public and I wouldn't disagree – but let's save that for another time.

The thinking is that margin debt goes up because investors are becoming more aggressive and using that money to buy additional securities. That somehow it's an irrational acceptance of risk or complacency.

In reality, though, there's nothing unusual about margin levels that have risen to where they are today. I'd even go so far as to say that while it's imprudent, it's not illogical. When money costs nothing, people are going to borrow as much as they can. And you can thank the Fed for that little gem, via its zero-interest-rate policies.

I know the chart below looks scary but, again, everything is not what it seems…

margin debt

Source: Advisor Perspectives & Doug Short.com

I say that because what these terrifying Internet email chains never bother to disclose is that all that money isn't necessarily used to buy stocks.

In fact, the money can be used any way the account holder wants – to buy a home, pay for college, an upcoming trip, or to buy more stock. As long as there is acceptable collateral posted, there are really very few restrictions.

The other thing to think about is that margin is cheaper than it's ever been thanks to the Fed's emphasis on cheap money. Not only that, but brokerage competition is more intense than ever before, so the terms are more attractive to clients who want to borrow than they've been at any other time in history.

And, finally, the S&P 500 is up 187% from March 2009 lows. Seeing a corresponding rise in margin at the same time is absolutely consistent with the Fed's policies. That's because the Fed has done the impossible and inflated everything – collateral and debt alike.

So the next time you see one of those panic-inducing emails and your breathing starts to quicken, take a look at the following chart of total NYSE margin as a percent of total market capitalization.

total margin debt

Source: GaveKal Capital

What it's telling you is that total margin debt is less than 3% of total market capitalization. That's practically a rounding error. What's more, it shows you that the debt-adjusted returns we've seen over the past few years are par for the course.

To be fair, I'll leave it to you to decide if this is sustaining or sustainable. Charts or not, I could make the argument either way.

And that brings me to my favorite part of each column – what to do with your money.

The Key Takeaway from the Margin Debt Debate

Rising margin debt is clearly not a data point you want to watch in isolation, nor is it something you want to ignore. But keep things in perspective.

Growing up in a household where you don't buy something unless you can pay for it, debt is not my preferred way of doing things. I don't like it and never have. But that's just me.

If anything gives me pause about the level of margin debt, it's the fact that millions of Americans don't share that attitude. Not surprisingly, I view the rising margin debt as implicit social acceptance that "somebody else" will bail the system out again if it collapses.

That means risk management is vitally important, beginning with your trailing stops. Just because everybody else is apparently throwing risk to the wind and willing to go into hock for the privilege of doing so doesn't mean you need to.

It's also proof positive of something else that we talk about a lot – namely that the big money is going to be made ahead by those companies answering needs humanity can't do without and that debt cannot disrupt at any level. (That's a big part of what makes a trend "unstoppable.")

Not only are they more stable, but such companies tend to recover faster if there is a major correction, no matter what the cause.

For example, both American Water Works Company Inc. (NYSE: AWK) and Becton, Dickinson and Co. (NYSE: BDX) saw losses in 2008-2009 that were minor compared to those suffered by the major indexes.

AWK taps into the Demographics and Scarcity/Allocation trends, while BDX also hits two of our trillion-dollar trends at once: Medicine and Demographics.

Source : http://moneymorning.com/2015/01/19/the-truth-about-this-meltdown-indicator/

Money Morning/The Money Map Report

©2014 Monument Street Publishing. All Rights Reserved. Protected by copyright laws of the United States and international treaties. Any reproduction, copying, or redistribution (electronic or otherwise, including on the world wide web), of content from this website, in whole or in part, is strictly prohibited without the express written permission of Monument Street Publishing. 105 West Monument Street, Baltimore MD 21201, Email: customerservice@moneymorning.com

Disclaimer: Nothing published by Money Morning should be considered personalized investment advice. Although our employees may answer your general customer service questions, they are not licensed under securities laws to address your particular investment situation. No communication by our employees to you should be deemed as personalized investent advice. We expressly forbid our writers from having a financial interest in any security recommended to our readers. All of our employees and agents must wait 24 hours after on-line publication, or after the mailing of printed-only publication prior to following an initial recommendation. Any investments recommended by Money Morning should be made only after consulting with your investment advisor and only after reviewing the prospectus or financial statements of the company.

Money Morning Archive

© 2005-2019 http://www.MarketOracle.co.uk - The Market Oracle is a FREE Daily Financial Markets Analysis & Forecasting online publication.


Post Comment

Only logged in users are allowed to post comments. Register/ Log in

6 Critical Money Making Rules