The equities market has been roaring since the middle of 2009 on the back of the biggest money printing experiment in the history of currency.
The Fed policy program was scaled back once there was economic evidence the country averted another great depression, and it ended in late 2014 followed by a history of low interest rates to let businesses and people thrive and expand with cheap debt.
Low interest rates have come to an end in 2015 and Janet Yellen the first woman to chair the Fed made the decision of raising steadily at a quarter of one percent per quarter once there were clear signs the economic cycle had been in expansion mode for almost a decade. In my opinion the timing was wrong.
With every period of economic expansion another of economic contraction follows. It is not a question of “if”, but “when”. There are clear signs the economy is reaching its peak and investors need to be proactive instead of reactive when it comes to their portfolios. The Fed has slammed the breaks and caused every recession by raising rates to fast and grinding markets to a halt. It seems the Fed is hiking into an overheated economy.
Over this last earnings season I discovered many companies beat expectations in their earnings per share due to their stock buy back programs but fell short on the revenue side compared to the same period last year. There is no doubt growth is slowing and the access to cheap debt that fueled a long expansion period is coming to an end.
The monthly ICE LIBOR spread has rallied in recent months to levels not seen since 2008 and bonds are finally starting to yield a rate over inflation. I feel it is a good time to pick the winners in your portfolio and shed the losers, start looking at the utilities sector and oil sector since the Iran deal that has come to and end will drive prices oil prices up and we might see $5 at the pump along with materials and chemicals for companies across the US, further compressing margins and driving up the cost of everything in our daily lives.
Emerging markets are taking a beating lately because of a strong US Dollar and higher oil prices and if we really want to dig deep outside the US in markets that affect our top stocks and the S&P 500; look to China because their economy is slowing down and a lot of US multinational companies are affected by what goes on worldwide. Let’s not forget Greece and other Euro countries debt. The proverbial can that has been kicked down the road for the last 10 years is coming to collect its debt.
Commodities are another indicator the stock market party is coming to an end. Investors failing to heed the signs and still drinking the Kool-Aid while the smart money is having one last dance ready to leave the party will inevitably feel the hangover of a down cycle. Now, I want to be clear. I am not calling for a market crash; there would need to be some serious liquidity drought in the commercial paper and money markets to trigger a crisis scenario. I am merely stating we will see volatility and a down cycle in the market back to around Dow Jones 20,000 if things were to get ugly in an emerging market that spreads contagion globally then we might see 13,000 or lower.
Investors beware! Our stock market is a global market if you are looking for safety stick to US companies that affect our daily lives for stability and safety and look beyond the top 500 companies in our markets. The goal in investing is to outperform the markets in good times and bad.
Armando Soto is a sophisticated investor and corporate adviser. Currently he is a managing partner at Zelphinium, LLC a Corporate finance consultant for corporations, single family offices and institutional investors. Follow him on Twitter @rmandoSoto
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