Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Bonds Don't Lie As Risk Rears Ugly Head At Stocks

Sooner or later, all good things come to an end, and it appears that the 101 month bull run in US equities is just about over.

All things considered, from global uncertainty (think North Korea, and immigration, currently) to underfunded pensions (about half of the states' public retirement funds) to the upcoming debate over the debt ceiling and nothing looks really positive about the American economy, the same one that has limped along at less than three percent annual growth for almost nine years.

Last Friday's miss on the non-farm payroll data certainly didn't help matters on Monday as once-giddy speculators were morose and confused, many seeking the safety of bonds.

While a somewhat ugly day for stocks, bonds were bid with gusto, the 10-year note getting so much action it hit its lowest yield since two days after Trump's election, crashing to 2.06%, on what turned out to be the best day for bond bulls since Brexit (June, 2016). It's fairly obvious by now that the benchmark 10-year will be yielding below two percent soon, the level it was occupying prior to the surprise presidential election of Donald J. Trump.

In an odd way, stock pickers may have an opening or two. Since bond yields are horrible, stocks, though vastly overvalued, may be worthwhile investments for those willing to take the risk. On the other hand, there may not be many stocks which are able to perform well through a prolonged recession, possible debt defaults around the world and a demographic nightmare that makes all other metrics pale by comparison.

Spoken of before in this space, the demographic dilemma cannot be understated. All of the developed nations are aging, starting with Japan and Germany, and older people simply do not spend as much or with as much frequency as younger folks. Aging populations are settled in their ways, move slowly (if at all) and are very conscious of their spending habits, many of them on fixed incomes.

That said, inflation is virtually impossible, pricing power for companies difficult if at all attainable. All that's left is financial engineering, cooking the books and keeping the creditors in the dark or off the doorstep.

Even the mighty Dow Industrials slipped again, for the ninth time in the last 20 sessions. The popular index is down more than 500 points over that span.

Precious metals also had a solid day, again, continuing the trend begun mid-August.

Stocks have crossed the rubicon.

At the Close, 9/5/17:
Dow: 21,753.31, -234.25 (-1.07%)
NASDAQ: 6,375.57, -59.76 (-0.93%)
S&P 500 2,457.85, -18.70 (-0.76%)
NYSE Composite: 11,827.15, -90.93 (-0.76%)

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