Dateline: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
When I helped a former business partner of mine start a company in the alternative financial services industry, I remember he would tell me that prospective clients would always say the same thing…
“The market will come back… it always does.”
Historically, that statement may be true. Everyone loves to reminisce about the go-go days of the markets back when “buy and hold” were words to live by. However, the days of handing down the physical stock certificate for a railroad company is gone.
Today, markets are manipulated by high-frequency trading, a game experts believe will eventually lead to nuclear destruction of the markets as firms’ computers play a larger and larger game of “chicken” with each other.
All of the Wall Street insiders “know” exactly what to look for; that moment when it all hits the fan. And they are each set up to beat each other by a millisecond when the dark clouds get ready to burst.
Who will be hurt? Average investors like you.
I believe that time is coming soon. On his radio show yesterday, Peter Schiff discussed the end of quantitative easing and why it will likely mean mayhem for the markets in the weeks to come.
After years of artificial gains created by legal counterfeiting to the tune of $3.5 trillion, Wall Street is now left to fend for itself.
And as Peter says, the Federal Reserve will have a hard time backtracking on its pledge to put an end to its easy money days if the market starts to tank. Janet Yellen tried to throw a bone to the markets, but I doubt that will have as much of an impact as she hoped for.
But let’s look at a different reason for problems in the market.
Easy money or not, the US companies making up the Dow aren’t doing as well as you might think, even despite loose monetary policy that drove their shares to nosebleed levels.
One look at the real numbers behind the “bellwether” Dow offer even more proof that today’s market is just smoke and mirrors.
Among the thirty Dow components, ten have a revenue growth problem. As in, they are basically losing money.
And only Disney, Microsoft, and Nike have posted substantial revenue growth.
Caterpillar, for instance, has -8.5% annual revenue growth. The midwestern US company has seen challenges from Asian firms competing on its turf. Barack Obama tried to use Caterpillar as a case study for his miraculous reform efforts, but the reality is the company is shrinking in the face of Chinese and Indian competition.
The silver manipulators at JP Morgan are no different, posting negative revenue growth nearly as bad as Caterpillar’s.
Meanwhile IBM, Pfizer, Merck, Cisco, Coca-Cola, Chevron, and Exxon Mobil are also in the red when it comes to growing the top line. Such a diversified list of blue chip companies should be seeing positive growth in an economy that is allegedly doing so well.
But they’re not.
When ten of thirty Dow components, the so-called bellwethers of an economy, can’t even maintain last year’s revenues, that should be a hint that the economy they are operating in isn’t really growing.
Who wants you to believe the stock market has enjoyed some miraculous fundamental recovery? Leading the charge are Democrats and Barack Obama, who think they deserve credit.
Leave it to government to make it nearly impossible for business to thrive and to impose an endless slew of new regulations and requirements that suck billions of dollars from bottom lines… then brag when somehow, businesses find a way to profit in spite of said government.
But that’s not even happening.
As usual, the US government is putting out a bunch of skewed statistics to make you think the economy is performing better than it really is.
Politicians know one thing: how to get re-elected. And an election coming up in the Land of the Free in just a few days, the counterfeiters have to put on the best show possible if they want to stay in power.
It’s funny how much of the rest of the world sees the United States and Europe for what they are: slow to no growth, if not negative growth, economies that have been propped up by bad government and flat out luck.
All of my Asian investor friends are seeking out deals in frontier stock markets or at least in emerging markets. They aren’t positioning their brokerage accounts to invest in US stocks because they know how overpriced most of them are.
The days of healthy annual returns from buying and holding quality companies is over. The United States has so regulated these businesses that it has become difficult to grow, and a lackluster economy is the icing on the cake.
All it takes to realize this is understanding the true definition of wealth. In places like Asia, South America, Russia, and the Middle East, the wealthy investor class has real, tangible wealth. They are busy building substantial legacies and are investing in real assets.
In the west, most people are broke. There is, by and large, little true “wealth” in places like the United States these days. The United States is a “wealthy country” merely because almost anyone with a pulse can get a job that pays a decent wage, rent an apartment decorated with pillows from Pier 1, and spend Friday nights playing bocci ball and eating croquettes at a neighborhood bistro.
Oh, and buy purses and other expensive stuff on cheap credit.
As more and more people realize just what little real wealth exists in the west, more people will exit the market. The traders on Wall Street know what took stocks to record highs, and they are shaking in their boots that the government gravy train is about to leave the station.
They will be ready to exit the market. They will be the ones who profit from what and who they know.
The average investor who believes that “the market will always come back” may be in for a wild ride this time. Because with each market thrashing, more people realize the emperor has no clothes.