Best of the Week
Most Popular
1. Crude Oil and Water: How Climate Change is Threatening our Two Most Precious Commodities - Richard_Mills
2.The Potential $54 Trillion Cost Of The Fed's Planned Interest Rate Increases - Dan_Amerman
3.Best Cash ISA Savings for Rising UK Interest Rates and High Inflation - March 2018 - Nadeem_Walayat
4.Fed Interest Hikes, US Dollar, and Gold - Zeal_LLC
5.What Happens Next after February’s Stock Market Selloff - Troy_Bombardia
6.The 'Beast from the East' UK Extreme Snow Weather - Sheffield Day 2 - N_Walayat
7.Currencies Will Be ‘Flushed Down the Toilet’ Triggering a ‘Mad Rush into Gold’ - MoneyMetals
8.Significant Decline In Stocks On The Cards! -Enda_Glynn
9.Land Rover Discovery Sport Extreme Driving "Beast from the East" Snow Weather Test - N_Walayat
10.SILVER Large Specualtors Net Short Position 15 Year Anniversary - Clive_Maund
Last 7 days
A Strong Economy and Weak Stock Market is Bullish for Stocks - 22nd Mar 18
Fed Raises US Interest Rates 25bp – Where Are We In The Stock Market Cycle? - 22nd Mar 18
Why Spotify Will Likely Surge During Its IPO - 22nd Mar 18
Facebook: The Anti-Social Network Covert Data Gathering - 21st Mar 18
Additional Signs for Gold and Silver Amid Increasing FOMC Tension - 21st Mar 18
Credit Concerns In U.S. Growing As LIBOR OIS Surges to 2009 High - 21st Mar 18
Stock Markets Are Flat-to-lower Before the FOMC - 21st Mar 18
Will Powell’s Actions Pop Stock Market Perfection - 21st Mar 18
Economic Moral Hazards of the International Criminal Court - and Philippines Withdrawal - 21st Mar 18
Larry Kudlow vs. Vladimir Putin on Gold - 21st Mar 18
Trump Builds Economy and War Machine - 21st Mar 18
This Stock Market "Illusion" Can Destroy Once-Vibrant Portfolios - 21st Mar 18
Gold Short-term Pull Back in Progress - 20th Mar 18
Stocks Appear to be Under Pressure - 20th Mar 18
Time To Eliminate Your Wall Street Tax? - 20th Mar 18
The Beast from the East Snow, UK Roads Driving Car Accidents - 20th Mar 18
Can Bitcoin Price Rally Continue After Paypal Fake FUD Attack? - 19th Mar 18
2018 Reversal Dates for Gold, Silver and Gold Stocks - 19th Mar 18
This Tech Breakthrough Could Save The Electric Car Market - 19th Mar 18
Stocks Set to Open Lower, Should You Buy? - 19th Mar 18
The Wealth Machine That Rising Interest Rates Create Conflict With The National Debt - 19th Mar 18
Affiliate Marketing Tips and Network Recommendations - 19th Mar 18
Do Stocks Bull Market Tops Need Breadth Divergences? - 19th Mar 18
Doritos Instant £500 Win! Why Super Market Shelves are Empty - 19th Mar 18
Bonds, Inflation & the Market Amigos - 19th Mar 18
US Housing Real Estate Market and Banking Pressures Are Building - 19th Mar 18
Stock Market Bulls Last Stand? - 18th Mar 18
Putin Flip-Flops Like A Drunken Whore On Bitcoin Cryptocurrency Legalization - 18th Mar 18
How to Legally Manipulate Interest Rates - 18th Mar 18
Return of Stock Market Volatility Amidst Political Chaos and Uncertain Economy - 18th Mar 18
Bitcoin Price Trend Forecast, Paypal FUD Fake Cryptocurrency Warning - 17th Mar 18
Strong Earnings Growth is Bullish for Stocks - 17th Mar 18
The War on the Post Office - 17th Mar 18
GDX Gold Mining Stocks Fundamentals - 16th Mar 18
Nationalism, Not the Russians, got Trump Elected - 16th Mar 18
Has Bitcoin Bought It? - 16th Mar 18
Crude Oil Price – Who Wants the Triangle? - 16th Mar 18
PayPal Cease Trading Crypto Currency Bitcoin Warning Email Sophisticated Fake Scam? - 16th Mar 18
EUR/USD – Something Old, Something New and… Something Blue - 16th Mar 18

Market Oracle FREE Newsletter

Urgent Stock Market Message

Credit and Volatility Signal That Financial Conditions Are Very Overheated

Stock-Markets / Financial Markets 2017 May 18, 2017 - 03:11 PM GMT

By: John_Mauldin


BY JARED DILLIAN : Around the summer of 2006, when I was at Lehman Brothers, I started bellyaching in my notes to clients about how the market went up every day.

I am a pretty creative guy, so every day I had very colorful (and irreverent) things to say about how stocks went relentlessly higher and how my life sucked.

This went on for a couple of months.

Then, one day I sent out a whining email about stocks and I got back a three-word reply from a hedge fund trader: “Bull market, dude.”

In almost 20 years in the investment business, I think those are the most profound words I have ever heard. There is a lot of wisdom in “bull market, dude”:

  • Stop fighting it.
  • It will turn when it turns, not before.
  • In bull markets, you can only be long or flat, not short.
  • Everyone is making money except for you.
  • Stop being a putz.


Incidentally, here is a chart of the S&P 500 around that time—the arrow points to the “bull market, dude” email.

The “bull market, dude” guy ended up top-ticking himself, but it doesn’t mean he wasn’t right.

The Situation Today

We have all the classic warning signs of a big stock market top:

  • Extra-tight credit
  • Extra-low volatility
  • FANG
  • Complacency in general
  • Retail looking smart, pros looking stupid
  • Short rates rising, curve flattening
  • Pain trade is probably lower, not higher

And yet people are mostly ignoring them.

I’m not kidding about credit and vol. The same thing happened pre-financial crisis. Same thing. The VIX dipped below 10 and options were still a sale because realized vol was even lower.

There was nothing to do.

As it turns out, that was a pretty good leading indicator of some major financial stress.

Unpredictable Bear Markets

There are a lot of people who say that you can’t predict bear markets, so you might as well just ride them out and dollar cost average.

Also true—for most people. If you drill teeth for a living, you probably don’t have any business trying to time market cycles.

Perhaps you rely on me for that. Better than nothing.

But it is true that if your time horizon is basically infinite (retirement 40 years away), it doesn’t make a lot of sense to try to avoid a 20% speed bump.

If you’re a professional investor, then you care very much about avoiding (or capitalizing on) bear markets. Problem is, the timing is still impossible.

“Professional” investors have been buying cheap stocks and selling expensive ones for the last four years, and they keep getting carried out, because nobody has that kind of staying power.

You might be right in 2017, but if you were early in 2013, it doesn’t really matter.

All of investing is a push/pull between being early and being right. Smart guys are always early. Very smart guys are always very early. The smartest guys can see stuff years in advance.

And their returns are often the lowest because they shoot before the squad is ready.

Silly Example

Amazon has been a joke since 2012. Unless you think it will someday raise prices, it doesn’t matter if it is the biggest company in the world, it is still a zero. Finance 101—discounting cash flows.

The nature of markets is that sometimes markets care about cash flows in the future, and sometimes markets care about cash flows today.

Do you remember 2001–2002, during the dot-com bust? If the stock in question didn’t have real earnings and pay a real dividend, it was taken out with the trash. And that will happen again.

Stocks and bonds are securities. They give off cash flows.

Currencies aren’t really securities, but they also give off cash flows (these days, sometimes negative).

Stocks, bonds, and currencies are “things.”

Credit and volatility are different. They are not things. They are a force.

Let’s put this in physics terms: If stocks and bonds are matter, then credit and volatility are gravity—the force that holds matter together.

Except gravity is not constant in the universe (or finance). It can vary across time. Right now gravity is very strong. Someday, it may be very weak.

That’s why market experts pay so much attention to credit and volatility to gauge the health of the financial markets. When credit gets rich, people are willing to receive 4.5% coupons on cov-lite pik-toggle deals.

At the top of every cycle, the cov-lite stuff comes out. Remember, “credit” comes from the Latin “credere,” which means trust. There is no shortage of trust going around these days.

The Most Over-Interpreted Market Statistic

It’s volatility (as a measure of the price of options). In general terms, it is a measure of fear or complacency. But it is also driven by other concerns: When interest rates are low, people are incentivized to sell options for income.

You know that the Fed suppresses volatility—well, this is how it happens in practice.

Credit and vol tell us that financial conditions are very overheated.

Do with that information what you wish. It may not be the best time to initiate a new position in a stock like Amazon. It might be a good time to accumulate cash, which gives you the option to buy something cheaper at a later date.

People are always so derisive of cash in the bank. Your money isn’t “doing” anything. Actually, my money is just waiting for a better opportunity.

Grab the Exclusive Special Report, The Return of Inflation: How to Play the Bond Bear Market, from a Former Lehman Brothers Trader

Don’t miss out on this opportunity to cash in on the coming inflation.

Jared Dillian, the former head of Lehman Brothers’ ETF trading desk, reveals why inflationary price increases could be much higher than 1% or 2% and how you can position yourself for big profits as the bond market falls.

Download the special report now. 

John Mauldin Archive

© 2005-2018 - 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