This rally is predicated on a continuation of cheap money flows from the Federal Reserve and other global central banks. It’s hard to see the Fed delivering better news on that front than the financial markets now expect. The consensus is calling for the Fed to refrain from cutting back its purchases of $85 billion-a-month in Treasurys and mortgage-backed assets until March (or maybe May, depending on what survey of economists you read). A decision by the Fed not to taper at the Oct. 30 meeting of its Open Market Committee is mostly baked into stock prices. A December no-taper decision at the meeting that month is mostly in the consensus, too. Getting the results that everybody expects will remove a bit of residual worry from the markets.
But this isn’t enough fuel to move keep the melt up running.
I can see three possible sources of fuel that could prevent this melt up from ending badly.
First, some other big central bank could step up its stimulus plans. The Bank of Japan probably doesn’t count, since it is already committed to a massive weakening of the yen through big asset purchases. The European Central Bank could decide that the absence of inflation in the Eurozone -- and low growth in Europe -- justifies a cut in interest rates from their already historic lows. But given that bank’s history on fighting inflation, that seems relatively unlikely. The People’s Bank of China could abandon its efforts to rein in growth, dampev financial speculation and control inflation and shift back to stimulus. However, that bank has been relatively miserly about adding liquidity to the system in recent months, so I don’t see it making such a huge shift in policy soon.
Second, the U.S. economy could show higher-than-expected growth. Nothing in the data right now points in this direction; housing numbers and forecasts on auto sales, for example, look weak. Granted, recent data isn’t especially reliable thanks to the games in Washington in the last month. But with a replay of those games possible for January and February, it’s hard for me to see a spurt in U.S. growth in the fourth quarter of 2013 or the first quarter of 2014.
Third, investors could get an end-of-the-year present of unexpectedly strong growth from China that suggests that China’s growth rate for 2014 might be significantly above the 7% to 7.5% range. Good news from China would be big enough to move global financial markets, since Chinese demand is the driver for so many sectors of the global economy. We have seen signs in recent numbers that China’s growth rate has stabilized in that range, but it’s tough to see much in the way of solid evidence that growth is about to stage a meaningful acceleration.
Could we get good news -- or at least news that would support an even more hopeful read of the future than the markets have now? Absolutely.
Do the odds favor that kind of news outcome? Absolutely not.
So what’s an investor to do?
A strategy for this melt up
This leaves investors and traders with the conundrum that they’ve faced all year. If you do even a cursory Google search on “warning indicators” or “excessive valuations” for 2013, you’ll pull up lots of examples of posts and stories from earlier in 2013 pointing out that the market is cruising toward a fall. But the market has kept climbing past all those worries to a gain of 25.4% for the year -- and without a single 10% correction.
Overvalued markets can get even more overvalued. Warning signs can blare for an age before the danger they warned of materializes.
After talking to investors and traders and money managers at the recent Toronto MoneyShow, I’ve come to this conclusion: The real difference between bulls and bears in this market is timing. Bulls believe the current rally will run into the spring. Bears believe the current rally run for a while and then end badly.
Nobody that I heard was predicting -- no matter how negative they were about the eventual future -- that we were looking at disaster tomorrow.
So what do you do?
Now, it is certainly possible that the fact that nobody is expecting disaster tomorrow is an indicator of disaster tomorrow. But I tend to think tomorrow is a bit soon.
I think there’s still enough worry about the Fed in December, and about near-term economic growth, to end the melt up sometime during that month. But I wouldn’t discount greed—a lot of professionals on Wall Street won’t abandon this market until a clear break in the trend forces them to do so.
I think riding this trend is reasonable on a risk/reward basis through mid-December. If you are going to go with the melt-up, buy your ticket now. There is no point in waiting to play the trend until it’s even older.
If you want to extend the potential life of this trend, you can consider what many Wall Street professionals are doing now and look for undervalued markets that haven’t melted up quite so strongly in the last few months. That’s one explanation for the recent strength in the Korean and Mexican markets. The iShares MSCI Mexico ETF (EWW) was up 3.77% in September and the iShares MSCI Korea ETF (EWY) was up 7.46% in that month. A caveat: I’d expect that if the U.S. market corrects, most other assets, especially risk-on assets, will correct as much or more.
In early or mid December, however, I’d re-evaluate the risk/reward ratio of staying with the trend. If it still looks like the melt up in solidly in place and you can see some positive catalysts for a move higher, stay on board. If you can’t see any catalysts and the risk indicators are flashing an even angrier red than they are now, I’d certainly look to start cutting back on some of the riskier holdings in my portfolio and to begin taking some profits in individual positions.
Remember, you’re not trying to time a top exactly. But you would like to stay on the right side of the risk/reward ratio.
At the time of publication, Jim Jubak did not own shares of any of the companies mentioned in this column in his personal portfolio. When in 2010 he started the mutual fund he manages, Jubak Global Equity Fund, Jubak liquidated all his individual stock holdings and put the money into the fund. The fund did not own shares of any stock mentioned in this column as of the end of June. For a full list of the stocks in the fund as of the end of June, see the fund’s portfolio here.
The last Jubak’s Picks column on MSN Money will run on Nov. 13. Jim’s free web site JubakPicks.com will continue to offer the same mix (frequently with more daily content than MSN Money ran) of big-picture posts, stock picks and portfolios. You can also find his columns at MoneyShow.com. If that doesn’t fill your Jubak needs, you can get a free seven-day trial and $100 off a yearly subscription to Jubak's premium investment letter JAM by clicking here.
More from MoneyShow.com:
VIDEO ON MSN MONEY
Don't look to or at Wall Street for the signs leading to the correction. Anybody notice that Arby's latest coupon has the former 2 for $5 sandwiches priced at 2 for $6 now, but half the size they used to be? GMO milk is $3 per gallon on sale and hamburger is up 30% from this time year. The new car lots were mighty lean over summer but they're stocked to the fences now. Retailers removed racks and have the clearance down-played but not forgotten. A recent article here suggests higher rental rates. Flippers, investors and REITS all have tremendous inventory but a lot less cash flow than they can endure a downturn with. The single most important aspect-- NO job recovery. College tuition is UP, enrollment is down and a whole of us aren't intending on getting a degree at all. Plenty of people are going solo for all the wrong reasons... so no real growth in families- the glue that holds communities together. Today is 10/28 and retailers already have Halloween gimmicky stuff priced for clearance. The candy stock isn't depleted at all.
Who gives a crap about the Fed and Bernanke. Is there anyone left on Earth that isn't a victim of the dilution it's caused? Let's not leave out the NSA non-revelation. The EU is pissed about the tapping of phone calls. It wants the same treatment we give to closer allies. THOSE countries likely haven't uncovered their taps yet! We tap phones to pick-up on terror plots. Isn't phone tapping- terrorism?
You tell me-- has technology helped or hurt us? People can't dig a hole without looking it up on You-Tube or Google to see how it's done. The two greatest commodities on Earth-- commonsense and fresh water. Both exploited and abused. I DO NOT see a crash ahead. I see a total deflation of all bubbles at once... and a whole lot of Kool Aid addicts absolutely clueless about where the next hand-out and instructional e-mail is coming from. No ability to free-think. This was a dead-end.
Nightmare on Wall Street will make a good horror film when the stimulus dries up.
This market has been made up of BULL sheeeeeet for over 10 years.
the market is up 165% since the low point in early 2009. just how greedy can you be to try to "ride the rally" at this point?
a fool and his money .....
From the Merriam-Webster Dictionary
Greed noun \ˈgrēd\ : a selfish desire to have more of something (especially money). Example: Risking your gains from a seven sigma tail event in the markets created artificially by money printing by the Federal Reserve (aka counterfeiting) for a chance to earn another 1% on your investment and hopefully be one of the few to get out just in time.
I have a good idea of where the money is going to go... right into Main Street, and it will cause TREMENDOUS HYPERINFLATION... That money HAS to go somewhere, because it's not going to stay on Wall Street forever... anybody who thinks that ALL that counterfeit money will stay on Wall Street DOES NOT know their history
"I have a good idea of where the money is going to go... right into Main Street, and it will cause TREMENDOUS HYPERINFLATION... That money HAS to go somewhere, because it's not going to stay on Wall Street forever... anybody who thinks that ALL that counterfeit money will stay on Wall Street DOES NOT know their history"
Read my top post again. Right now, Main Street has struggling enterprises operated by exhausted entrepreneurs. The Next Gen that would be recipients of the flooding cash- have to look up 'digging a hole' on You-Tube. Righteous women enterprises don't go anywhere... texting and answering e-mails while delegating- isn't enterprise. "That money has to go somewhere". Why? If real money is $50-60 Trillion worldwide and there is more than $1 Quadrillion stuck in instruments and investments, there's more likelihood of evaporation, than movement. Closing in on 10,000 posts on here. READ correctly. History says-- fake money never goes anywhere. France didn't have Francs redistributed after the Revolution. In fact, Napoleon's Louisiana Purchase sale created the cash he used to restart the nation. People burned post-Depression dollars. Coin Shops sold defunct foreign coins in bags as a novelty.
What happens next? We crash. Assets and Obligations default. LOOK at Detroit. Is it resolving? Is it possible to resolve without destruction? Nope. Somebody took what they didn't earn. Somebody earned but got nothing. Promises were made and not honored. The rich won't relinquish what they convince themselves they own. The victims won't tolerate that. Lawyers are NEVER peacekeepers.
Of course we can't comment on that one.
And how much did we lose lending money to the big banks? 0. In fact we made billions.
A 9.7B expense to get obo re-elected. My butt hurts.
All I have to say is, be ready for the big crash. The dollar will be worthless and there will be MARSHAL LAW!
Copyright © 2014 Microsoft. All rights reserved.
Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Morningstar Inc. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Morningstar Inc. Quotes delayed by up to 15 minutes, except where indicated otherwise. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by Morningstar Inc.
[BRIEFING.COM] The major averages began the new trading week on a slightly lower note with small caps leading the weakness. The Russell 2000 shed 0.3% while the S&P 500 slipped less than a point with six sectors ending in the red.
Equity indices began the day in negative territory with only the Nasdaq (-0.04%) making a very brief appearance in the green. After sliding through the first hour of action, the major averages reversed and spent the remainder of the session climbing off ... More
More Market News
|There’s a problem getting this information right now. Please try again later.|
MUST-SEE ON MSN
- Video: Easy DIY smoked meats at home
A charcuterie master shares his process for cold-smoking meat at home.
- Jetpacks about to go mainstream
- Weird things covered by home insurance
- Bing: 70 percent of adults report 'digital eye strain'