Monday, July 5, 2010

The Economy and Market mid- Year 2010 – Insights

The Economy and Market mid- Year 2010 – Insights

As the 2nd quarter comes to a close in a horrific manner one wonders what’s next. The year started out rocky in the month of January after seeing 6 consecutive monthly positive closes on the Dow Industrials. This correction only lasted into early February when the market resumed its track upward for 8 consecutive weeks. It seemed that nothing could halt the upward march as the DOW moved up 28 out of 34 trading days. During this span there were 3 occasions of at least 6 consecutive up days in a row. Then on April 26th the DOW topped out at 11,258 without any fanfare. It just seemed to go higher everyday for 2 months until it didn’t. As stated in the March 30th blog “The current rally probably can make marginal new highs into April or May with DOW resistance as follows – 10,960 then 11,032, 11,080 then 11,131 being the top level. If we close above 11,150 then 11,500-11,600 come into play. On the downside support is 10,550 then 10,250 followed by 10,183 then 9850. The first drop from the areas mentioned above should stop around 10,200 level before a bounce that would take the market NOT to new highs. The failed rally would send the market down to below the previous lows. It is from this point where a crash would be highly probably. In short, a top within the next two months at the 11,100 level followed by a decline to 10,250 which then would rally maybe back to 10,550-10,800 and from here another decline to retest the previous lows. The lows fail to hold and a crash ensues.”

From the April top the market dropped to 10,241 (not counting the flash crash) and spear-headed back to the 10,900 level before taking out the 10,241 low and failing below our 9850 crash “ALERT” level. The market has had its first 7 consecutive down days this year (and counting) last week. Expect the current decline into the 20% correction level where the question would remain is it just a correction or resumption of the cyclical bear market? There could easily be a sharp rally from the 9000-9100 level which is expected to be the “summer rally” but 8200 and lower is expected as the market heads into the second half of the year. Under 8200 is an air pocket to DOW 7364. A close above 10,250 would take me back to the table, but all the ingredients for a continued move lower remains until all the excesses from all the credit expansion (free money) and company failures are rung out of the system. In short a cleansing process which the strong survive and the weak FINALLY go out of business. Our government has done a good job so far of avoiding the latter but it will finally happen over the next few years.

This process of weeding out the losers will accelerate once it starts. The markets will anticipate the process and will turn months before the bottom in closures. There have been weekly local bank closures that have accelerated over the past year. Problem is the Fannie and Freddie bailout will far outpace the community bank’s losses. The credit bubble took 20 years of free money where each step down rates made a lower low. Now with rates near zero there is no lower low left. We have already started to correct the excesses over the past few years but it will take a powerful whiff of inflation to reduce the credit impact. Our government has been trying like mad to get home prices to rise. It hasn’t happened nor will it until the credit bubble washes itself out.

Gold dropped $50 in one day this past week. Everyone loves gold and now with deflation accelerating gold will have a sharp 30-40% correction over the next 6-18 months. As with most commodities when they drop they drop fast meaning it could easily drop from $1200 to $900 in a matter of weeks. Most of the public is in gold from the $900 to 1,000 level. Gold will be in crash mode once it closes below $900. A move below $1050 would give way to $900 and eventually to the low $700’s. GLD is the 4th largest ETF with money pouring into it at an unsustainable pace. Experienced traders should short the GLD between $118-122 and use a $125.30 stop. As they say in the pits “it’s a crowded trade”. Just as oil dropped from $147 to $33 in seven months gold is now in the same boat. My $720 target might be too high as $500 is the more likely scenario.

Our economy had a 20 year credit boom followed by the bust in 2007 and is still correcting. The consumer is in frugal mode. In 2009 our government which has been expanding at a terrifying pace instilled a 700 billion dollar spending spree to pick up the slack. Most of the stimulus money will be spent by the end of the year. The upcoming rise in taxes for those that have a job along with the new taxes for the health care bill among others will keep a damper on our economic expansion. The biggest wild card in the next few years will be the deficit and how it will be handled. So far the bond auctions have been overall well received but this could change on a dime as both the public and private sector scramble for credit.

For now stay very nimble and gradually put money into the market as it falls over the next year. There are many indicators that put a high likelihood (75-80%) of 2010 being a down year.
The January indicator, years ending in zero and the presidential cycle are some of the indicators that portray a negative bias continuing. As long as the market is below 9850 a crash mode is in effect. Don’t forget it’s the return OF capital NOT the return ON capital that is the current golden rule. There are many stocks that went from $1 or $2 in March 2009 then rallied to $20-25 and now are cut in half over the past 2-3 months. They could easily retest $1-2 and the pain between here and there is tremendous. The markets are currently at a cusp of returning into its cyclical bear market which is in its 11th year. Some think it ended in March 2009 but once we break the 20% correction criteria the continuation of the cyclical bear market will be confirmed. It will be only a matter of time.