October 31, 2008

Global Market Comments for October 31, 2008

The Sell in May and Go Away Season is Now Officially Over!!

1) The 'sell at any price' mentality is now broken as the steady improvement in short term liquidity salves investors' nerves. The market is now pricing in a 'U' type recession with a prolonged recovery, not a quickie 'V' type recession. Day traders are looking for the Dow to trade in an 8,000 to 10,000 range for the foreseeable future as the glass flips back and forth from being half full to half empty. After this week's global bout of euphoria (Tokyo was up 26%!), investors still have some sobering demons to deal with. The election will sharply increase capital gains taxes, deleveraging continues, the hedge fund industry is imploding, and the crisis in Detroit is getting worse. Oh yes, did I mention the recession?

2) The average daily range in the Dow this month has been 4%, more than double the previous record. There were only three days when the market moved less than 100 points. These are all classic signs of uncertainty, the bane of businesses.

3) The next forced seller in the markets is going to be the US Treasury, which has to sell bonds along the entire maturity range to fund the trillions of dollars in promises it has made. Short 30 year Treasury bonds, and stay short for the rest of your life.

4) University of Michigan consumer sentiment for October collapsed from 70.3 to 57.6. This indicator normally moves a couple of points a month. Consumer spending fell 0.3%, the biggest drop in four years. Watch out for October car sales. They are expected to be the lowest in 20 years.

5) There is a growing view that this month's crash has permanently impaired equities as an asset class, and that we may lose an entire generation of investors. It didn't pay to be a contrarian on the Titanic. The end result will be a lower PE multiple ranges for many years. My grandfather never bought a stock in his life. His relatives that did ended up living in his basement for the duration of the Great Depression. During my career, I watched the PE multiple for Japanese stocks go from 10 to 100 and then back to 10, where they stayed for years in the face of zero interest rates.

6) US gun sales are up 10% this year. Demand from hunters is weak because of high gas prices and poor weather. But they are being more than offset by NRA members buying weapons for home defense in advance of an Obama win, who they believe will bring in tighter gun controls.