Happy birthday, you bogus bull market
Stocks have rallied 177%, and while calling a top is the easiest thing to do, it might not be the most accurate.
Happy fifth birthday, bull market! You've managed to rally 177 percent, yet most commentators and investors don't even believe you exist. Long may you run!
I dreaded this day's coming. I dreaded it because I knew that it would prompt a slew of articles about how this is now one of the older bull markets -- and indeed it is, as this bull market has already outlived the four-year lifespan of the species -- and that it has already overstayed its welcome.
I was right to dread it, because I awoke to a series of articles that just make you want to take this bull market and drive a bolt through its head and have it morph instantaneously to a growling and soon-to-be-triumphant bear.
Already within the last 24 hours I have read the following:
1. The initial public offering market is at its most prolific level since 2007 and, in many ways, since 2000. Yes, if you count how many IPOs there have been since the year began, and if you believe that IPOs represent froth, then the market at its frothiest since the top in 2007.
2. New York Stock Exchange margin debt has hit a record $451 billion, Forbes notes, as investors borrow more money than ever to buy into this long-running bull. As a measure of euphoria, margin debts are unrivaled, so the market is certainly about to get walloped.
3. There's a record corporate-bond issuance and, more important, a record issuance of the junk portion of the corporate bond market. This, in turn, has allowed companies to buy back stocks at record highs with cheap money.
4. We're seeing a record issuance of biotech IPOs. Always a sign of the top. Always. Plain as day.
5. The highest number of stocks are hitting new highs with no real earnings since 2000.
6. We're seeing the biggest one-day gains in the indices since 2000.
Oh, I could go on and on. Record gains in the airline stocks which are, as we are told endlessly, totally uninvestable. Record this, record that.
All fabulous warning signs. All judicious prudent signs of a top.
So why not just say, "It's over"? I've been thinking about this. Honestly, why not come in and just say that the bull is almost dead, that it is the ninth inning -- and then keep saying it is the ninth inning? After all, innings aren't like football or basketball. They can last for a very long-time. What a perfect thing for me to do: public guy, big mouth, just call it the ninth. Then, when it rolls over, I'll call myself a genius for saying I told you it was the ninth.
You know what's ironic and hysterical? That would be the easiest thing to do. I would be liked by so many of the people who attack me on Twitter. I would be simpatico with the folks calling tops in Tesla (TSLA), SolarCity (SCTY), Netflix (NFLX) and Amazon (AMZN). I could get huge street cred and rid myself as someone who believes there are still lots of buys in the market, even as I recognize froth.
Frankly, it's a can't-lose position, if you don't care about helping to make people money. I can caveat everything. I could start saying things like, "I like this stock, but only down 50%." Then when the market crashes -- it's going to crash, isn't it? -- I can say, "I told you this stock could fall 50%."
It is tempting to just try it all for a day. I would start by saying, "Tesla's a big phony, it's actually losing a ton of money and Elon Musk is just one step ahead of the posse." Then I would say that Netflix's growth is slowing because of Argentina. Then I could draw the analogy between SolarCity and the Chinese bond bankruptcy in Chaori, although I hope I don't have to say that aloud, because I don't know how to pronounce it.
After that I can slag Amazon by simply saying that its food initiative is covering up for the slowing you will see in regular sales when the company reports. Amazon isn't due to report until April 25, so I'm good to go.
Once I have obliterated the no-valuation-is-too-high stocks, I would then gun for cloud computing, hosing that thing down with some real hot, dry weather. I would pronounce Workday (WDAY), Cornerstone (CSOD), Concur (CNQR), Salesforce.com (CRM),Yelp (YELP), Zillow (Z), Athenahealth (ATHN) -- barely cloud, but let's lump it in for fun -- as the new dot-coms. I would analogize to Scient, Viant, Commerce One, Kozmo, Webvan and Etoys and Petscom. They're companies that aren't real companies, companies that are trading on multiples of revenues. Revenues! How dastardly.
Any discussion of tops would then list the biotech IPOs that are going to crash and the solar hangers-on that are headed to oblivion. You'd have to sprinkle in names like Sangamo (SGMO), Seattle Genetics (SGEN), Myriad (MYGN), United Therapeutics (UTHR), Alexion (ALXN), Emergent (EBS), Incyte (INCY), Intermune (ITMN), Pharmacyclics (PCYC) and Aegerion (AEGR). Boy, those all sound really frothy, don't they? How about Sarepta (SRPT)? That's a funny name. They all sound toppish.
Of course, then you have to circle back to Twitter (TWTR) doing poorly. Don't you love that? Yet its stock doesn't quit. How can you not slam the WhatsApp bid by Facebook (FB)? That's $19 billion for something no one has ever heard of, except for the 400 million foolish users. Those scenarios are such grist for the bear mill that they want to make you feel foolish for buying any stock at all, as stocks like these clearly represent the majority of what's happening -- not the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which is basically flat for the year.
Any discussion of tops then has to deal with the incredible levitation of sectors that are supposed to be dead, and with the fact that the anomalies have to be resolved negatively. Here's how you spin that concept. We know that retail is really weak, but the stocks won't go down because there's so much money sloshing around. Plus, everything's being Amazon'd.
So the clock is ticking against bricks-and-mortar companies and Sears (SHLD) and Kmart -- and perhaps it won't be now, but J.C. Penney (JCP) will be following a long line of other retailers to the slaughterhouse, despite the fact that there is no price people won't pay for Michael Kors (KORS) handbags. Handbags? Golly gee, that's the next Coach (COH).
Finally, you have to circle back to grave, sweeping pronouncements. I'm talking about something like, "Just wait until the Federal Reserve starts tightening. You will see it is all one big joke, and the market will be sliced in half." Or how about a declaration that the retail investor is back -- a sure sign of the top, because these people only come back when the lambs are about to be slaughtered. Throw in the fact that Bitcoin has become the coin of the realm and talk about what a joke that is. Talk about how the banks are less safe than ever and could take stocks down in heartbeat.
Finish with the runaway budget deficit, even as it is not running away. Add that baby boomers are cashing out, insiders are selling at record numbers, housing is crashing back down to earth, and subprime and poor lending standards have returned. Then there's your pièce de résistance: Cramer's as bullish as ever, so you know it's the ninth inning even though he's really just a restaurateur now. He sees the writing on the wall -- even though he wrote a book that suggests, foolishly, of course, that you can get rich owning stocks. Talk about a top!
There, I did it. You know what's best? Even though I don't believe it, I can say I spelled it out for you in black and white. It can be played on YouTube endlessly. When you play snippets it won't sound like a spoof. You can cut it to turn it into the real thing, a genuine ninth-inning "happy anniversary, you are dead bull market" effigy/elegy/eulogy! I can cite it as a defense when comedic but very serious pundits come calling. Oh, and one more just for good measure: I told you so about Elon Musk.
So, happy fifth birthday, you phony-baloney last-legged bogus bull. May you go into extra innings just to frustrate the ninth-inning top-callers. Wow, calling a top! It never felt so good!
At the time of publication, Action Alerts PLUS, which Cramer co-manages as a charitable trust, was long FB.
Jim Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS: Check out Cramer's multi-million dollar charitable trust portfolio and uncover the stocks he thinks could be HUGE winners. See it FREE today!
More from TheStreet
Ever have one of your kids tell you a story that you know isn't true Jim? You know that twitchy churning unsure feeling in your stomach that things just don't add up? I think that feeling is what many Americans have about this market.
If it looks like BS, smells like BS, and taste like BS....
It PROBABLY is BS....!!!
Interesting article about China allowing Chaori Solar Engery bonds to default today. Shades of General Motors. Are treasuries next? Ho ho!
The Bull market is based on the Billionaires buying the members of Congress and they having a bunch of oligopolies created. Like the airlines etc. Terrible products with no staff and pricies are goping through the roof as competion is bought up.
The Middle Class is dead. The billionaires and Members of Congress orchastrated the $1,000 raise for the Middle Class wage from $55,000 in 200 to 56,000 in 2012. The cost of living is up 33% over this time. Now that Billionaires and Big Corporations do not pay taxes the Middle Class taxes are going up as well.
The stock market will plunge as soon as the greedy and evil billionaires and Congress realize that with a Middle Class dead that no one has the money to buy anything. Stocks will fall like a rock once the economist let the stock traders know that you need a healthy Middle Class to grow the economy.
Jim, Reading this article I could not help but picture James Spader from Blacklist prattling off to some FBI agent or covert informant "baddy" and making them look like a total Idiot for thinking what they thought. The problem is that we have so many lemmings in our society that just follow blindlessly into oblivion. Always looking for the next cliff to run off. All the while running up hill. Seldom do people really notice that there are ways around the cliffs that lead even higher up the mountain when they are too busy running with the group.
Buffett has it right, Market up, Market down, invest in something you believe in not what is popular. That way when the market is down it just improves your buying position on the fundamental investment so you can get a better buy.
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