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Money Daily has been providing business and financial market news, views, and coverage on a nearly continuous basis since 2006. Complete archives are available at moneydaily.blogspot.com.
Money Daily has been providing business and financial market news, views, and coverage on a nearly continuous basis since 2006. Complete archives are available at moneydaily.blogspot.com.
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Friday, September 24, 2021, 9:08 am ET
Yesterday the case was made for a possible stock market decline in the face of external pressures on the market from China's Evergrande collapse (and the potential for savaging China's entire real estate market), the debt ceiling debate and soon-to-be debacle, and a potential government shutdown October 1.
It appears we were just a tad early because, for whatever reason, stocks tore out of the gate and ran full throttle for the entirety of Thursday's session. The issues still persist, but it was apparently more important to seek short term gains than concern oneself with the immediate future.
Money flowed from bonds to stocks, as the 10-year note, which yielded 1.32% on Wednesday, shot up to 1.41%, and the yield on the 30-year rose in kind, from 1.84% to 1.92%. The 10-year, in particular, looked to escape the range since July 2nd, pushing yield to it's highest level in nearly three months.
As stocks were rocketing higher, a disturbing note was being passed around desks and into newsrooms. The report from Moody's Analytics' Mark Zandi and Bernard Yaros titled, Playing a Dangerous Game with the Debt Limit outlined in graphic terms, complete with charts and tables, what could occur if the government defaulted on some of its gargantuan $28 trillion debt.
The paper outlined various scenarios of what could happen and the knock-on effects for employment, GDP and the general economy. It's not a very pretty picture and the deadline is closing fast. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has urged congress on more than a few occasions to move quickly, but the stubborn politicians prefer, as usual, to dramatize the issue to score political points, all at taxpayer expense.
The proximate date for a default without either a suspension or extension of the debt ceiling is October 20, giving congress nearly a month to trifle with US citizens, the media, and Wall Street. It's low theater at best, a tragic comedy, and, according to Zandi and Yaros, a dangerous gambit.
Busy making money Thursday, the report probably wasn't noticed until after trading hours, but, from the looks of the futures Frida morning, some managed to give the 11-page document a reading overnight. Stocks are set to finish the week with an overall gain, but the open could be messy as futures are plunging with less than a half hour until the opening bell.
Thanks to Thursday's across-the-board rally, the Dow enters Friday with a 179-point gain, the NASDAQ is up eight points for the week and the S&P is clinging to a 16-point gain. Should Friday end in tears, there's a very good chance that the week will go down a loser.
It's worth mentioning that the transportation average gained 233 points Thursday, but remained down 33 points for the week and still trades below its 200-day moving average. Also, the Industrials failed to close above the key mark of 34,895, remaining essentially in bear market territory.
Friday's trading will set up what looks to be a volatile Monday, as Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer has scheduled a vote on a measure passed through the House that would avert a government shutdown via a continuing resolution and suspend the debt ceiling. The measure needs 60 votes to pass and is almost certain to fail as all 50 Republicans in the Senate have expressed no desire to engage their Democrat colleagues on spending or the debt limit.
Break out the popcorn!
At the Close, Thursday, September 23, 2021:
Thursday, September 23, 2021, 9:27 am ET
Now that it is well-assumed that the Federal Reserve plans to begin, or at least announce, tapering its asset purchases as early as their next meeting, November 2-3, investors have some idea of where the economy is headed and which stocks may be set up to gain or fall.
That leaves nearly six weeks of trading before the next big announcement from the Fed, but during that interim period there's a ton of unfinished business, especially in the hands of congress which seems to be stumbling all over itself, as usual, debating everything from the infrastructure bill that came out of the Senate in August to the $3.5 billion build back better human infrastructure continuing resolution reconciliation measure and the raising or suspension of the national debt ceiling.
If that sounds like a mouthful and more than this inept congress can chew upon, then the possibility of a major disaster is just a few select senatorial sound bites - notably from party leaders Schumer and McConnell - away from thrusting the world's economies into a dizzying tailspin. On top of that can be added the ongoing (and unresolved) China Evergrande potential default and the knock-on effects across the Chinese economy where real estate accounts for 30% of GDP, the border crisis, and upcoming third quarter earning announcements.
For its part, the markets put on their best "all good" appearances by bidding prices higher after the Fed announcement Wednesday, though stocks did an about face nearing the close. Futures rose overnight, despite Thursday morning's initial unemployment claims for the week ended September 18 showing 351,000 initial unemployment claims versus 320,000 expected and a revised 335,000 during the prior week.
Stocks may be up at the open, but, as has been the case quite often over the past few months, that means little. It's where they stand at the end of the day.
While all the major US indices were up on Wednesday, one exception was the largely ignored transportation index, which closed down another 67 points and ended the session below its 200-day moving average for the third consecutive day. If anything spells trouble, its a collapse in the transports, which is ongoing. The market wants to ignore that, but at some point - possibly the one made by FedEx on Wednesday, of massive disruption and an acute labor shortage - the issues cannot be overlooked. FedEx closed down 8.5% on the day, one of its biggest losses ever.
Today may be one of the best days ever to open short positions. Markets are being led down a primrose lane which may turn out to be a patch of thorns in coming days, weeks, and months.
Here's Steven Van Metre with more frightening details (never too early to get in a Halloween pitch):
Trade like you mean it.
At the Close, Wednesday, September 22, 2021:
Wednesday, September 22, 2021, 7:05 am ET
Following the drubbing stocks took on Monday, the false narrative revealed on Tuesday was that Evergrande would not turn out to be a "black swan" like the collapse of Lehman Brothers back in 2008, and that all was well with paper investments in stocks, bonds, cryptos, and everything else. Move on, nothing to see here.
It should be obvious by now that not only is Evergrande a bigger deal than what financial talking heads are making of it, but that stocks investors weren't exactly buying into the latest rosy outlook.
What seemingly nobody wants to discuss is the dire straits of the Dow Joens Transportation Average, which closed down yesterday by another 32 points, finishing below its 200-day moving average for the second consecutive session and finishing to the downside on nine of the past 12 sessions.
The Industrial Average is now down 4.8% on a closing basis and there's 280 points of downside remaining to retest Monday's lows. They will be retested, without a doubt, and likely within the next four to six sessions. This gives the shorting community more time to load up on overvalued stocks, anticipating the next mini-crash.
Like the other major indices, the transports spent the day traversing the flat line. At the end of the day, only the NASDAQ ended in positive territory, though its gains were hardly enough to convince anybody that the Evergrande condition or that of the US congress had been resolved or were not that much of a big deal.
Evergrande and the continuing convulsions in congress over 2022 fiscal year spending, keeping the government operating past October 1, and either raising or suspending the debt ceiling are big deals. Very big deals.
And so we turn to the next bulls--t narrative, that the Federal Reserve is going to release some kind of timetable for tapering its asset purchases, currently at $120 billion per month, at the close of its current meeting, at 2:00 pm ET Wednesday.
Those who put faith in the Federal Reserve to entertain any policy other than endless printing of fiat and continued debasement of the US dollar are likely the same 14% of the population that think congress is doing a swell job. The approval rating for the US congress has been so low for so long - in the teens for decades - it's astounding that they continue to function as the main pullers of the federal purse strings. In bygone days, they'd have been dragged out into the street and summarily beaten if not hung for their misdeeds, breaking of the public trust and runaway spending.
But these are not bygone days. These days are today's days, the most bizarre seen by anyone of any age, and that includes veterans of World War II.
Evergrande is just beginning to unwind and the lunatics in congress are just warming up. Later this week and into next, as September turns to October next Wednesday and Thursday, the insanity will be off the charts, and so will stock prices, one way or the other, but, as we have learned not to trust the mainstream media, the government, or Wall Street, unless the PPT steps in and saves markets like they tried to do at least twice on Tuesday, the direction for stocks will remain to the downside.
Today's FOMC announcement will probably be a minor league nothing-burger, but one can never discount enough the potential for a massive policy error.
Keep your stops tight.
At the Close, Tuesday, September 21, 2021:
Tuesday, September 21, 2021, 8:58 am ET
Monday's market mayhem was entirely predictable.
Anyone who's been following Money Daily or any of a dozen investment firms or even CNBC's Jim Cramer had advance warning that a serious decline was on the way. The unfolding sagas: Evergrande, Debt Ceiling, COVID, you name it, they're all coming to a head at the same time.
Now, what these other investment advisors and TV pundits aren't telling you is that this is a bear market. Money Daily has done that, as explained last Wednesday (Stocks Stumble After CPI Shows Inflation Slowing; Dow Transports In Correction, Down 10.4%), in addition to various warnings over the past few months (and years).
This is what a bear market looks like. All of a sudden a few boats run aground. Then, as the tide goes out, the rest of the fleet gets stuck in the mud and we discover that a few of the captains and first mates are swimming naked.
Analogies aside, there have been ample distress signals given by the general markets for weeks. Stocks higher at the open and lower at the close was one which happened more than just a few times in the past six weeks. There were engulfing sessions and the - until recently - plunging NIKKEI. And, of course, nobody can dispute that the Dow Jones Industrials have closed below their 50-day moving average for eight straight sessions and finished lower 11 of the past 14, or that the Transports have been in or close to correction for weeks.
Many other sources do not expose these facts because they either don't want to be proven wrong or they don't want to scare people or they just aren't aware, but, in the end, the public seems always to be the last to know.
Monday's ultimately predicable decline was just further proof of the bear market's existential threat to the global economy. Without rising stock and housing prices the global Ponzi collapses, and that the regime of fiat currencies will collapse is an absolute certainty. They always do, always have, throughout recorded history.
So, now that the "told you so" portion of today's note has been concluded, what's ahead.
First, there is very likely to be a dead cat bounce, knee jerk relief rally on Tuesday. It could last all day. It could be over before 10:00 am ET. It actually began late yesterday as all the indices lifted majestcally off their lows. They regained about of third of the losses. The Dow was down more than 950 points and ended down only 614. The NASDAQ had shed 513, but ended the day down 330. The S&P had been down 133 points and closed down 75. The NYSE composite was down 470 and finished down 292. All of the late gains were made after 3:00 pm ET, in the final hour of trading. Some of it can be attributed to short covering, some by dip-buyers looking to probably cash out on Tuesday or Wednesday. Maybe they will, but the bet is that most of them will be wrong simply because they do not understand the dynamics of bear markets.
In bull markets, buying dips makes plenty of sense. Getting in on a trade at a temporary low is a solid play. In bear markets, that same move can lead to financial ruin. Unless one has a very close stop loss in place, a stock that one buys at 50 because it was 60 the day before can easily fall to 40 or 30 in short order. Bear markets, in their simplest terms are when there are more sellers than buyers and those sellers either want to avoid more losses or hold onto whatever gains they have left, which is precisely where markets are situated today.
Another indicator which could prove extremely powerful are the options on the next quad-witching days for the Dow and S&P, specifically, the DIA and SPY, respectively, in this case, December 17. Right now, the premiums on put options are beyond the point of affordability. One has to pay up mightily to get a put for either at a lower price three months out. Calls - betting that they'll be higher - are fairly inexpensive by comparison. That's a clear indication of where the "smart money" believes stocks are headed. At this time, the thinking is lower, much lower. Adroit traders in options can and will make bundles on both sides of those trades, moving in and out, buying and selling both puts and calls. It's a dangerous business as one can lose everything, but expert traders rake in cash in any kind of market.
So, after the dead cat rally on Tuesday, comes the Fed's FOMC policy statement on Wednesday, and it's been pretty well telegraphed by Chairman Powell's ultra-dovish speech for the Jackson Hole symposium. They're not going to taper asset purchases and they will not set a timeline for doing so on Wednesday. There are two immutable facts of life today:
Stick to those guiding principles and you'll end up OK on the other side (probably sometime in 2023).
After Wednesday, a close eye should be kept on congress, if only because nobody's been paying attention to them wrecking the country for the past 40 years, but right now because of the debt ceiling debate and the fight over a "budget" and the $3.5 trillion "human infrastructure" bill. They are almost certain to make a mess of things.
[For hunch players, keep track of the St. Louis Cardinals. As long as the Dow trades below its 50-day moving average, the Cardinals keep winning, having won their ninth straight on Monday. Two weeks ago, they were given a six percent chance of making the playoffs. Now, they have a 79% chance. So, if the Dow continues trading in a morass, maybe the Cardinals will win the World Series. That would be through the end of October.]
As this bear market commences, volatility will be at extremes for a while, probably though Christmas. Expect more days like Monday, but also huge swings to the positive. Some of the best gains by indices occur in bear markets. It was the case in 2000, and again in 2008. Wild swings higher and lower are a day-traders dream, if on the right side of those events.
With the Dow Jones Transportation Index already down 11.6%, expect this to continue trending lower. Before November, it's likely to be down 20%, so keep an eye on that as a leading indicator.
The pullback on the major indices may or may not include wickedly quick downdrafts such as seen at the advent of the corona crisis when stock market circuit breakers were triggered. This bear market, while it may take some serious one-day and one-week declines, is going to be more slow motion than anything else. Just consider that the Dow is already down 1655 points from its August 16 all-time high, and the S&P is down nearly 180 points from its September ATH of 4536.95, and that was on September 2nd. That's a four percent drop in less than three weeks. Some bears have already tasted some raw meat and are probably getting hungry again.
For those seeking shelter from the coming storm: cash, Bitcoin, and precious metals are obvious choices. Canned goods a personal favorite for many.
Finally, two videos of note.
First, Money Daily is seldom in sync with CNBC's Jim Cramer, but here, we are both talking mostly the same book:
Second, this video covers the Evergrande situation quite adequately:
At the Close, Monday, September 20, 2021:
Sunday, September 19, 2021, 11:57 am ET
If this week felt like a bad one to be in stocks, it's because it was, though that was only made clear on Friday, when all of the indices turned from positive to negative. If Wall Street had just taken Friday off, the world would look like a much more friendly place. As that was never to be the case, the world looks pretty shaky, to say the least.
There are abundant forces at work by which to undermine financial assets and they all seem to be coming to a head in the usually cruelest monts for stocks, September and October. Most of the spectacular stock market crashes have come during these months. That stocks could take a serious downturn at this juncture could become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
What caused Friday's flush was largely the effect from it being a quad-witching day, upon which stock and index options and futures all close out the quarter on the same day. With stocks in a perpetual bull market, the result - for the prior four quarters, at least: September and December 2020, and March and June of 2021 - was entirely predictable. Stocks lost ground as investors exercised options well below the market price. If you had S&P options with a strike price of, say, 4425, you exercised them (bought at that price) and immediately sold them at the market price, pocketing the difference. Ca-Ching! As stocks declined almost uniformly over the length of the session, making that same move produced a smaller and smaller return as the day progressed.
For instance, somebody with just 10 SPY 4425 call option contracts who cashed them in early in the session could have sold them for 4465 just after the opening bell, making $4,000 on each one as each call represents 100 shares. Doing that ten times would net a cool $40,000 and a pleasurable weekend. So, while there was plenty of whining by stock holders, options players went to the bank and there will be plenty of money looking for a place to go. That scenario played out in each of the prior four instances. On every quad witching Friday dating back to September 18, 2020, stocks closed lower, but subsequently gained back the loss and continued higher.
If this same scenario plays out, with the bulk of Wall Street still safely ensconced in the bullish camp, one would expect stocks to be higher, if not on Monday, but almost assuredly by the end of the week, as the money made on successful options trades get plowed back into the market.
However, this time may be different because of the issues facing the global economy, with the US in the crosshairs.
Just a few of the stubborn negatives overhanging all markets include the ongoing US southern border illegal immigration crisis, the end of all enhanced unemployment benefits, ending of many rent moratoriums and mortgage forbearances, congressional struggles with the $3.5 trillion reconciliation budget and debt ceiling legislation, the almost certain bankruptcy of Evergrande, China's second largest real estate developer, stock valuations at near historic levels, talk of the Fed tapering asset purchases, continuing COVID-19-related issues, including vaccination mandates and imposition of restrictions for unvaccinated people, supply chain issues, the ten-fold increase in shipping rates from China to the US, insurance claims from recent hurricanes in the South and East, and wildfires in the West, inflation or stagflation fears, geopolitical tensions over Taiwan and Afghanistan, the lingering anger of the stolen election of 2020, fake news on mainstream media, and censorship on social media platforms.
Even non-believers in fact or conspiracy have to admit that's quite a list, but the major issues remain focused on Washington DC, where Saturday, 200-450 people protested the continuing incarceration January 6 Capitol "insurrectionists" at Union Station, about a block away from the Capitol. The group was outnumbered by members of the media and by police and national guardsmen. There were probably four to five times the number of cops and reporters than there were protesters. A seven-foot high fence was resurrected around the Capitol and White House in anticipation of possible violence of which there was none and never was going to be any. That's how twisted and deranged the people in DC and the media are. The actual protest was a non-event; the media coverage and police presence ridiculous overkill.
Inside the Capitol building, there probably wasn't much going on, as cowardly congress members were safely tucked away at the lavish homes and apartments for the weekend. When they actually get back to work on Monday, or maybe Tuesday, they'll be arguing over the $3.5 trillion "human infrastructure" budget for 2022, which includes a grab-bag of give-aways and radical policy initiatives, one of which would provide amnesty for millions of illegal immigrants.
Among the larger elements of the monstrous, 10,000-page bill are:
$726 billion for the Health, Labor, Education and Pensions Committee with expansive instructions to address some of Democrats' top priorities. Those areas include universal pre-K for 3- and 4-year-olds, child care for working families, tuition-free community college, funding for historically black colleges and universities and an expansion of the Pell Grant for higher education.
$107 billion for the Judiciary Committee, including instructions to address "lawful permanent status for qualified immigrants."
$135 billion for the Committee on Agriculture Nutrition and Forestry, including instructions to address forest fires, reduce carbon emissions and address drought concerns.
$332 billion for the Banking Committee, including instructions to invest in public housing, the Housing Trust Fund, housing affordability and equity and community land trusts.
$198 billion for the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, including instructions largely related to clean energy development.
Those are the main discretionary spending sections, all of which will be borrowed, not paid for by tax collections, meaning that, if the bill passes as written, almost half of the federal government's spending will be paid for by issuing bonds, i.e., borrowed. Estimates of how large the deficit will be run the gamut from $1.5 trillion to $3.1 trillion.
OK, that's a problem, because the Democrats plan to pass their enormous spending bill with no Republican votes. On top of that, Speaker Pelosi has held the $1 trillion infrastructure bill passed by the Senate hostage, saying that unless the larger $3.5 trillion bill is passed, the House won't vote on the infrastructure bill. Additionally, there is no provision to raise the debt ceiling in the reconciliation bill. That would have to be acted upon in stand-alone legislation and the clock is ticking.
According to most news reports, congress won't pass anything until after October 1, putting the debt ceiling debate in focus. The federal government is going to run out of money within weeks. Without raising or suspending the debt ceiling, parts of the government would have to shut down and the battle lines are already being drawn.
With a dysfunctional congress and a fake president guiding the country, there's a very good chance that the government shuts down and causes a crisis. Defaulting on the $28 trillion (and growing) debt is not being presented properly to the public. The debt is held by many parties, from private investors to banks and funds, to foreign governments holding US treasury bonds as part of their capital reserves. The government would not default on all of the debt simultaneously. A more likely scenario would involve piecemeal negotiated restructuring of the debt, as Argentina routinely does, which could stretch out over years, if not decades. Meanwhile, America's credit rating would decline to a level deserving of the world's largest debtor.
That's what is dead ahead, along with another FOMC meeting this week (September 21 and 22), and more from the Evergrande debacle and the situation on the US-Mexican border in Del Rio, Texas escalates into a full-blown immigration nightmare.
On top of all that, as explained in last Wednesday's Money Daily post, the Dow Transportation Average is already in correction, the primary trend flipped from bullish to bearish, and the Dow is in the process of confirming that trend change. The Dow Jones Industrial Average has closed below its 50-day moving average for seven straight sessions. The Transportation Average is on a path towards its 200-day moving average. Outside of the February, 2020 virus panic, the chart of the transports is unlike anything seen in the past six years. It is simply on a downward trajectory with no bottom defined.
In the Treasury market, the focus has shifted from the long end to the short, where yields on one and two-month bills have been rising. On June 3rd, those yields were 0.00% and 0.01%, respectively. On Friday, they stood at 0.06% and 0.06%, a sign of tightening in credit markets. Yields on the 10-year note and 30-year bond each fell midweek but bounced back by Friday, the 10-year ending with a loss of two basis points at 1.37% and the 30-year losing three bips, to 1.91%.
Oil prices increased from $70.45 a barrel for WTI crude to $71.96, just as prices at the pump were beginning to ease. Further gains in the price of oil will put more pressure on US consumers, something that isn't needed nor good presently. Americans are beginning to tighten their belts, as shown by recent retail sales and other data.
Cryptos continue to tread water, albeit at higher levels than the prior six months. Bitcoin reached nearly $49,000 Saturday afternoon, but had retreated to $47,634 as of Sunday morning.
Precious metals were absolutely devastated during the week. Gold finished the week near its lows, at $1753.80, down $33 from last Friday's close ($1786.80). This is a continuation of the slide that commenced at the start of September. Gold could be setting up for a fall into the $1600s or even lower, should it continue breaking down.
Silver may be in even worse condition. After ending the week, Friday, September 10 at $23.68, but fell even further, to $22.36, this week. The breakdown in silver has come amidst unprecedented retail demand since the great silver short in February brought the COMEX price up near $30/ounce. The pain inflicted this week has incentivized weak hands to give up their loot, as the selling on eBay clearly indicates.
Here are the latest prices for common one ounce gold and silver items sold on eBay (numismatics excluded, shipping - often free - included):
Item: Low / High / Average / Median
The Single Ounce Silver Market Price Benchmark (SOSMPB) settled at 36.12, a massive decline of $6.85 from last week's price, $42.97.
Silver is widely abused and violently traded in the COMEX paper markets and there is little doubt that the price will be brought down even lower. The causes for the decline may have more to do with industrial demand than anything else. Silver is used extensively in everything from solar panels to mobile phones and all upscale electronic devices. If the economy slows globally, there will be less of a need for silver for such uses.
While such a scenario isn't clearly evident at present, the losses in silver could be presaging a wider turndown in the global economy. As with gold, the run higher in price off lows at the advent of the virus crisis was quick and dramatic, peaking last August. The price for both gold and silver have been gradually going lower for over a year now and there appears to be further declines ahead.
While lower prices for precious metals may be music to the ears of commercial users, stackers and bugs, for those with weak hands who bought for immediate gain, it's more like fingernails on a chalk board. Some will be desirous of getting rid of their holdings as quickly as possible, setting up a stellar buyer's market for small investors.
Whatever that's worth, the coming week and those ahead appear challenging for investors of all stripes, with hopes pinned on the US congress to do something of which they are seldom capable: getting it right.
That's a wrap!
At the Close, Friday, September 17, 2021:
For the Week:
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