Monday, March 30, 2015

Everything Is Coming Up Roses...If You Live on Wall Street

Today's Markets:

Dow 17,976.31, +263.65 (1.49%)
S&P 500 2,086.24, +25.22 (1.22%)
NASDAQ 4,947.44, +56.22 (1.15%)

The results of trading today in New York (and just about everywhere else in the world) show that if a trend gets started for no good reason, people will follow along blindly.

There's no good reason for stocks to go up like they did today, especially in the face of weak economic data in the US and in many countries around the world. However, this is the normal conclusion to the debasing of currencies. If money is free to obtain, then it is not regarded as anything of value.

Worse, when markets and morals are manipulated (see gold and silver, primarily) or goosed by computer algorithms which actually do the bulk of the trading, this is what happens.

Should one take the time to research the companies that are being traded these days to higher and higher valuations, one may find an odd, but, nevertheless, disturbing trend among them: that earnings per share are being led higher by stock buybacks, which reduce the number of shares outstanding, so that the same, or even lower, earnings result in the same or higher, EPS. Or, one might discover that many of these same companies' earnings are actually falling, yet, in a complete break with logic and core investing principles, investors are willing to pay more per share for them.

This kind of trading, based on nothing but vapidness and the delusion of crowds, was once thought to be able to continue only for a short while, because, as investors discovered the reality of assets without any basis in reality, they would bail out, sell, and cause a wicked market correction or crash. That hasn't happened in six years of this kind of activity.

While the future is unknown, it can be assumed that whatever is guiding stocks to new high after new high will some day end. The trick is getting the timing right. For most, that would be impossible. For some it will be dumb luck, but, for the many, they will be stuck with stocks without any value.

On Friday, the BLS will release the non-farm payroll report for March, and everyone will happily accept the fiction that 250, 000 - 300,000 net new jobs were created during the month, or, failing that, some excuse, like "weather" will be invented, but stocks will soar to new highs again.

Some things, you can bank on them.

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