August 23, 2018

Global Market Comments
August 23, 2018
Fiat Lux

Featured Trade:
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Why the Dow is Going to 120,000

For years, I have been predicting that a new Golden Age was setting up for America, a repeat of the Roaring Twenties. The response I received was that I was a permabull, a nut job, or a conman simply trying to sell more newsletters.

Now some strategists are finally starting to agree with me. They too are recognizing that a ganging up of three generations of investment preferences will combine to drive markets higher during the 2020s, much higher.

How high are we talking? How about a Dow Average of 120,000 by 2030, up another 465% from here? That is a 20-fold gain from the March 2009 bottom.

It’s all about demographics, which are creating an epic structural shortage of stocks. I’m talking about the 80 million Baby Boomers, 65 million from Generation X, and now 85 million Millennials. Add the three generations together and you end up with a staggering 230 million investors chasing stocks, the most in history, perhaps by a factor of two.

Oh, and by the way, the number of shares out there to buy is actually shrinking, thanks to a record $1 trillion in corporate stock buybacks.

I’m not talking pie in the sky stuff here. Such ballistic moves have happened many times in history. And I am not talking about the 17th century tulip bubble. They have happened in my lifetime. From August 1982 until April 2000 the Dow Average rose, you guessed it, exactly 20 times, from 600 to 12,000, when the Dotcom bubble popped.

What have the Millennials been buying? I know many, like my kids, their friends, and the many new Millennials who have recently been subscribing to the Diary of a Mad Hedge Fund Trader. Yes, it seems you can learn new tricks from an old dog. But they are a different kind of investor.

Like all of us, they buy companies they know, work for, and are comfortable with. During my Dad’s generation that meant loading your portfolio with U.S. Steel (X), IBM (IBM), and General Motors (GM).

For my generation that meant buying Microsoft (MSFT), Intel (INTC), and Dell Computer (DELL).

For Millennials that means focusing on Netflix (NFLX), Amazon (AMZN), Apple (AAPL), and Alphabet (GOOGL).

That’s why these four stocks account for some 40% of this year’s 7% gain. Oh yes, and they bought a few Bitcoin along the way too, to their eternal grief.

There is one catch to this hyper-bullish scenario. Somewhere on the way to the next market apex at Dow 120,000 in 2030 we need to squeeze in a recession. That is increasingly becoming a topic of market discussion.

The consensus now is that an impending inverted yield curve will force a recession sometime between August 2019 to August 2020. Throwing fat on the fire will be a one-time only tax break and deficit spending that burns out sometime in 2019. These will be a major factor in U.S. corporate earnings growth dramatically slowing down from 26% today to 5% next year.

Bear markets in stocks historically precede recessions by an average of seven months so that puts the next peak in top prices taking place between February 2019 to February 2020.

When I get a better read on precise dates and market levels, you’ll be the first to know.

To read my full research piece on the topic please click here to read “Get Ready for the Coming Golden Age.” 



Dow 1982-2000 Up 20 Times in 18 Years



Dow 2009-Today Up 4.3 Times in 9 Years So Far


August 16, 2018

Global Market Comments
August 16, 2018
Fiat Lux


Featured Trade:
(NVDA), (AMD), (ADI), (AMAT), (AVGO), (CRUS),
(CY), (INTC), (LRCX), (MU), (TSM)

August 6, 2018

Global Market Comments
August 6, 2018
Fiat Lux

Featured Trade:
(FB), (TWTR), (INTC), (NFLX), (AAPL), (AMZN),

April 3, 2018

Global Market Comments
April 3, 2018
Fiat Lux

Featured Trade:
(TLT), (TBT), (FXY), (GS), (FCX), (CSCO), (INTC), (NEM),

April 2, 2018

Global Market Comments
April 2, 2018
Fiat Lux

Featured Trade:
(SPY), (INTC), (AMZN), (CSCO),

Peeking into the Future with Ray Kurzweil

This is the most important research piece you will ever read, bar none. But you have to finish it to understand why. So, I will get on with the show.

I have been hammering away at my followers at investment conferences, webinars, and strategy luncheons this year about one recurring theme. Things are good, and about to get better, a whole lot better.

The driver will be the exploding rate of technological innovation in electronics, biotechnology, and energy. The 2020s are shaping up to be another roaring twenties, and asset prices are going to go through the roof.

To flesh out some hard numbers about growth rates that are realistically possible and which industries will be the leaders, I hooked up with my old friend, Ray Kurzweil, one of the most brilliant minds in computer science.

Ray is currently a director of Engineering at Alphabet (GOOG), heading up a team that is developing stronger artificial intelligence. He is an MIT grad, with a double major in computer science and creative writing. He was the principal inventor of the CCD flatbed scanner, first text-to-speech synthesizer, and the commercially marketed large-vocabulary speech recognition.

When he was still a teenager, Ray was personally awarded a science prize by President Lyndon Johnson. He has received 20 honorary doctorates and has authored 7 books. It was upon Ray?s shoulders that many of today?s technological miracles were built.

His most profound book to date, The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology, was a New York Times best seller. In it he makes hundreds of predictions about the next 100 years that will make you fall out of your chair.

I met Ray at one of my favorite San Francisco restaurants, Morton?s on Sutter Street. I ordered a dozen oysters, a filet mignon wrapped in bacon, and washed it all down with a fine bottle of Duckhorn Merlot. Ray had a wedge salad with no dressing, a giant handful of nutritional supplements, and a bottle of water. That?s Ray, one cheap date.

The Future of Man

A singularity is defined as a single event that has monumental consequences. Astrophysicists refer to the big bang and black holes in this way. Ray?s singularity has humans and machines merging to become single entities, partially by 2040 and completely by 2100.

All of our thought processes will include built in links to the cloud, making humans super smart. Skin that absorbs energy from the sun will eliminate the need to eat. Nanobots will replace blood cells, which are far more efficient at moving oxygen. A revolution in biotechnology will enable us to eliminate all medical causes of death.

Most organs can now be partially or completely replaced. Eventually they all will become renewable by taking one of your existing cells and cloning it into a completely new organ. We will become much more like machines, and machines will become more like us.

The first industrial revolution extended the reach of our bodies, and the second is extending the reach of our minds.

And, oh yes, prostitution will be legalized and move completely online. Sound like a turn off? How about virtually doing it with you favorite movie star? Your favorite investment advisor? Yikes!

Ironically, one of the great accelerants towards this singularity has been the war in Iraq. More than 50,000 young men and women came home missing arms and legs (in Vietnam these were all fatalities, thanks to the absence of modern carbon fiber body armor).

Generous government research budgets have delivered huge advances in titanium artificial limbs and the ability to control them with only our thoughts. Quadriplegics can now hit computer keystrokes merely by thinking about them.

Kurzweil argues that exponentially growing information technology is encompassing more and more things that we care about, like health care and medicine. Reprogramming of biology will be the next big thing and is a crucial part of his ?singularity.?

Our bodies are governed by obsolete genetic programs that evolved in a bygone era. For example, over millions of years our bodies developed genes to store fat cells to protect against a poor hunting season the following year. That gave us a great evolutionary advantage 10,000 years ago. But it is not so great now, with obesity becoming the country?s number one health problem.

We would love to turn off these genes through reprogramming, confident that the hunting at the supermarket next year will be good. We can do this in mice now, which in experiments can eat like crazy, but never gain weight.

The happy rodents enjoy the full benefits of no caloric restriction, with no hint of diabetes or heart disease. A product like this would be revolutionary, not just for us, health care providers, and the government, but, ironically, for fast food restaurants as well.

Within the last five years, we have learned how to reprogram stem cells to rebuild the hearts of people who have suffered heart attacks. The stem cells are harvested from skin cells, not human embryos, consequently circumventing the political and religious issues of the past.

If we can turn off genes, why not the ones in cancer cells that enable them to pursue unlimited reproduction, until they kill its host? That development would cure all cancers, and is probably only a decade away.

The Future of Computing

If this all sounds like science fiction, you?d be right. But Ray points out that humans have chronically underestimated the rate of technological innovation.

This is because humans evolved to become linear thinking animals. If a million years ago we saw a gazelle running from left to right, our brains calculated that one second later it would progress ten feet further to the right. That?s where we threw the spear. This gave us a huge advantage over other animals and is why we became the dominant species.

However, much of science, technology, and innovation grows at an exponential rate, and consequently is the reason we make our most egregious forecasting errors. Count to seven, and you get to seven. However, double something seven times and you get to a billion.

The history of the progress of communications is a good example of an exponential effect. Spoken language took hundreds of thousands of year to develop. Written language emerged in thousands of years, books in a 100 years, the telegraph in a century, and telephones 50 years later.

Some ten years after Steve Jobs brought out his Apple II personal computer, the growth of the Internet went hyperbolic. Within three years of the iPhone launch, social media exploded out of nowhere.

At? the beginning of the 20th century, $1,000 bought 10 X -5th power worth of calculations per second in our primitive adding machines. A hundred years later a grand got you 10 X 8th power calculations, a 10 trillion-fold improvement. The present century will see gains many times this.

The iPhone itself is several thousand times smaller, a million times cheaper, and billions of times more powerful than computers of 40 years ago. That increases price per performance by the trillions. More dramatic improvements will accelerate from here.

Moore?s law is another example of how fast this process works. Intel (INTC) founder Gordon Moore published a paper in 1965 predicting a doubling of the number of transistors on a printed circuit board every two years. Since electrons had shorter distances to travel, speeds would double as well.

Moore thought that theoretical limits imposed by the laws of physics would bring this doubling trend to an end by 2018, when the gates became too small for the electrons to pass through. For decades I have read research reports predicting that this immutable deadline would bring an end to innovation and technological growth, resulting in economic Armageddon.

Ray argues that nothing could be further fr
om the truth. A paradigm shift will simply allow us to leapfrog conventional silicon based semiconductor technologies and move on to bigger and better things. We did this when we jumped from vacuum tubes to transistors in 1949, and again in 1959, when Texas Instruments (TXN) invented the first integrated circuit.

Paradigm shifts occurred every ten years in the past century, every five years in the last decade, and will occur every couple of years in the 2020s. So fasten your seat belts!

Nanotechnology has already allowed manufacturers to extend the 2018 Moore?s Law limit to 2022. On the drawing board are much more advanced computing technologies, including calcium based systems, using the alternating direction of spinning electrons and nanotubes.

Perhaps the most promising is DNA based computing, a high research priority at IBM and several other major firms. I earned my own 15 minutes of fame in the scientific world 40 years ago as a member of the first team ever to sequence a piece of DNA which is why Ray knows who I am.

Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) makes up the genes that contain the programming which makes us who we are. It is a fantastically efficient means of storing and transmitting information. And it is found in every single cell in our bodies, all 10 trillion of them.

The great thing about DNA is that it replicates itself. Just throw it some sugar. That eliminates the cost of building the giant $2 billion silicon based chip fabrication plants of today.

The entire human genome is a sequential binary code containing only 800 MB of information which, after you eliminate redundancies, has a mere 30-100 MB of useful information which is about the size of an off-the-shelf software program, like Word for Windows. Unwind a single DNA molecule, and it is only six feet long.

What this means is that, just when many believe that our computer power is peaking, it is in fact launching on an era of exponential growth. Super computers surpassed human brain computational ability in 2012, computing about 10 to the 16th power (ten quadrillion) calculations per second.

That power will be available on a low-end laptop by 2020. By 2050, this prospective single laptop will have the same computing power as the entire human race which is comprised of about 9 billion individuals. It will also be small enough to implant in our brains.

The Future of the Economy

Ray is not really that interested in financial markets or, for that matter, making money. Where technology will be in a half century and how to get us there are what get his juices flowing. However, I did manage to tease a few mind-boggling thoughts from him.

At the current rate of change, the 21st century will see 200 times the technological progress that we saw in the 20th century. Shouldn?t corporate profits and, therefore, share prices rise by as much?

Technology is rapidly increasing its share of the economy, and increasing its influence on other sectors. That?s why tech has been everyone?s favorite sector for the past 30 years, and will remain so for the foreseeable future. For two centuries, technology has been eliminating jobs at the bottom of the economy and creating new ones at the top.

Stock analysts and investors make a fatal error estimating future earnings based on the linear trends of the past, instead of the exceptional growth that will occur in the future.

In the last century, the Dow appreciated from 100 to 10,000, an increase of 100 times. If we grow at that rate in this century, the Dow should increase by 10,000% to 1 million by 2100. But so far, we are up only 8%, even though we are already 16 years into the new century.

The index is seriously lagging, but will play catch up in a major way during the 2020s, when economic growth jumps from 2% to 4% or more, thanks to the effects of massively accelerating technological change.

Some 100 years ago, one third of jobs were in farming, one third were in manufacturing, and one third in services. If you predicted then that in a century farming and manufacturing would each be 3% of total employment and that something else unknown would come along for the rest of us, people would have been horrified. But that?s exactly what's happened.

Solar energy use is also on an exponential path. It is now 1% of the world?s supply, but is only seven doublings away from becoming 100%. Then we will consume only one 10,000th of the sunlight hitting the earth. Geothermal energy offers the same opportunities.

We are only running out of energy if you limit yourself to 19th century methods. Energy costs will plummet. Eventually, energy will be essentially free when compared to today?s costs, further boosting corporate profits.

Hyper growth in technology means that we will be battling with deflation for the rest of the century, as the cost of production and the price of everything falls off a cliff. That makes our 10-year Treasury bonds a steal at a generous 2.60% yield, a full 460 basis points over the real long term inflation rate of negative 2% a year.

The upshot to all of this, these technologies will rapidly eliminate poverty, not just in the US, but around the world. Each industry will need to continuously reinvent its business model or it will disappear.

The takeaway for investors is that stocks, as well as other asset prices, are currently wildly undervalued given their spectacular future earnings potential. It also makes the Dow target of 1 million by 2100 absurdly low, and off by a factor of 10 or even 100. Will we be donning our ?Dow 100 Million? hats then?

Other Random Thoughts

As we ordered dessert, Ray launched into another stream of random thoughts. I asked for Morton?s exquisite double chocolate mousse. Ray had another handful of supplements. Yep, Mr. Cheap Date.

The number of college students has grown from 50,000 to 12 million since 1870s. A kid in Africa with a cell phone has more access to information than the president of the United States did 15 years ago.

The great superpower, the Soviet Union, was wiped out by a few fax machines distributing information in 1991.

Company offices will become entirely virtual by 2025.

Cows are very inefficient at producing meat. In the near future, cloned muscle tissue will be produced in factories, disease free, and at a fraction of the present cost, without the participation of the animal. PETA will be thrilled.

Use of nano materials to build ultra light, but ultra strong, cars will cut fuel consumption dramatically. Battery efficiencies will improve by 10 to 100 times. Imagine powering a Tesla Model S1 with a 10-pound battery! Advances in nanotube construction mean the weight of the vehicle will drop from the present 3 tons to just 100 pounds but will be far safer.

Ray is also on a scientific advisory panel for the US Army. Uncertain about my own security clearance, he was reluctant to go into detail. Suffice it to say that the weight of an M1 Abrams main battle tank will shrink from 70 tons to 1 ton, but will be 100 times stronger.

A zero tolerance policy towards biotechnology by the environmental movement exposes their intellectual and moral bankruptcy. Opposing a technology with so many positive benefits for humankind and the environment will inevitably alienate them from the media and the public who will see the insanity of their position.

Artificial intelligence is already far more prevalent than you understand. The advent of strong artificial intelligence will be the most significant development of this century. You can?t buy a book from Amazon, withdraw money from your bank, or book a flight, without relying on AI.

Ray finished up by saying that by 2100, humans will have the choice of living in a biological or, in a totally virtual, online form. In the end, we will all just be files.

Personally, I prefer the former, as the best th
ings in life are biological and free!

I walked over to the valet parking, stunned and disoriented by the mother load of insight I had just obtained, and it wasn?t just the merlot talking either! Imagine what they talk about at Alphabet all day.

To buy The Singularity Is Near at Amazon, please click here. It is worth purchasing the book just to read Ray?s single chapter on the future of the economy.

The Singularity Is Near

Ray Kurzweil

BorgDid You Say ?BUY? or ?SELL?

John Thomas - AmsterdamThe Future is Closer than You Think

Old Tech is Back!

There is no doubt that old tech is back with a vengeance.

Look at the trifecta of blockbuster earnings reports from Microsoft (MSFT), Amazon (AMZN), and Alphabet (GOOGL) recently, and you can reach no other conclusion.

The Microsoft turnaround in particular has been amazing.

PCs, and the software to run them were so 1990s.

After the Dotcom bust in 2000, Microsoft was dead money for years.

Founder Bill Gates retired in 2008. CEO Steve Ballmer finally got the message in 2013, and retired to pay through the nose, some $2 billion, for the basketball team, the LA Clippers.

Succeeding operating systems offered little that was new, and they fell woefully behind the technology curve.

Even I gave away my own machines years ago to switch to Apple devices. These virus immune machines are perfect for a small business like mine, as they seamlessly integrate and all talk to each other.

When the company brought out the Windows Phone in 2010, three years after Apple, people in Silicon Valley laughed.

Long given up for dead as a trading and investment vehicle, the shares have been on a tear in 2015.

The stock is hitting a new all time high FOR THE FIRST TIME IN 15 YEARS!

Satya Nadella, who took over management of the company in 2014, clearly had other ideas. The challenge for Nadella from day one was to move boldly into new technologies, while preserving its legacy Windows business lines.

So far, so good.

The key to the company?s new found success was it?s dumping of its old ?Wintel? strategy of yore that focused entirely on the growth of the PC market.

The problem was that the PC market stopped growing, as the world moved onto the Cloud and mobile.

The company is now rivaling Apple with $100 billion in cash, almost all held tax-free overseas.

EPS growth will reach 10% next year, beating other big competitors.

Windows and servers, the (MSFT)?s core products, still account for 80% of the firm?s business.

But its cloud presence is being ramped up at a frenetic pace, where the future for the company lies, nearly doubling YOY. Mobile technologies, where it has lagged until now, are also on fire.

Rave reviews from its latest operating system upgrade, Windows 10, also helped.

On top of all of this, Microsoft is paying a generous 3% dividend. It?s earnings multiple at 15X makes it a bargain compared to other big tech companies and the rest of the market.

As I explained in my recent research piece ?Switching From Growth to Value? (click here?), Microsoft makes a perfect investment for a mature bull market.

It is not only at a multiple discount to the rest of the market, now at 18X, it is cheap when compared to the rest of its own sector as well.

This is when investors and traders bail from their high priced stocks to safer, lower multiple companies.

Obviously, I don?t want to pile into Microsoft, or any other of the big tech stocks on top of a furious 10% spike. But it is now safely in the ?buy on the dip? camp, along with the rest of big tech.

The party has only just stated.

To read my interview with Bill Gates? father, click here for ?An Evening With Bill Gates, Sr.?.
aapl msft goog amzn

Microsoft Logo

The Bipolar Economy

Corporate earnings are up big! Great!


No wait!

The economy is going down the toilet!

Sell! Buy! Sell! Buy! Sell!


Anyone would be forgiven for thinking that the stock market has become bipolar.

According to the Commerce Department?s Bureau of Economic Analysis, the answer is that corporate profits accounts for only a small part of the economy.

Using the income method of calculating GDP, corporate profits account for only 15% of the reported GDP figure. The remaining components are doing poorly, or are too small to have much of an impact.

Wages and salaries are in a three decade long decline. Interest and investment income is falling, because of the ultra low level of interest rates. Farm incomes are up, but are a tiny proportion of the total. Income from non-farm unincorporated business, mostly small business, is unimpressive.

It gets more complicated than that.

A disproportionate share of corporate profits is being earned overseas. So multinationals with a big foreign presence, like Apple (AAPL), Intel (INTC), Oracle (ORCL), Caterpillar (CAT), and IBM (IBM), have the most rapidly growing profits and pay the least amount in taxes.

They really get to have their cake, and eat it too. Many of their business activities are contributing to foreign GDP?s, like China?s, more than they are here. Those with large domestic businesses, like retailers, earn less, but pay more in tax, as they lack the offshore entities in which to park them.

The message here is to not put all your faith in the headlines, but to look at the numbers behind the numbers. Those who bought in anticipation of good corporate profits last month, got those earnings, and then got slaughtered in the marketplace.

Caveat emptor. Buyer beware.


What?s In the S&P 500?

Index Sector Allocation


index topbipolar masksHas the Market Become Bipolar?

Ten Reasons Why Stocks Are Still Going Up

While driving back from Lake Tahoe last weekend, I received a call from a dear friend who was in a very foul mood. He had bailed on all his equity holdings at the end of last year, fully expecting a market crash in the New Year.

Despite market volatility doubling, multinationals getting crushed by the weak euro and the Federal Reserve now signaling its first interest rate rise in a decade, here we are with the major stock indexes sitting at all time highs.

Why the hell are stocks still going up?

I paused for a moment as a kid driving a souped up Honda weaved into my lane of Interstate 80, cutting me off. Then I gave him my response, which I summarize below:

1) There is nothing else to buy. Complain all you want, but US equities are now one of the world?s highest yielding securities, with a lofty 2% dividend. That compares to one third of European debt offering negative rates and US Treasuries at 1.90%.

2) Oil prices have yet to bottom and the windfall cost savings are only just being felt around the world.

3) While the weak euro is definitely eating into large multinational earnings, we are probably approaching the end of the move. The cure for a weak euro is a weak euro. The worst may be behind for US exporters.

4) What follows a collapse in European economic growth? A European recovery, powered by a weak currency. This is why China has been on fire, which exports more to Europe than anywhere else.

5) What follows a Japanese economic collapse? A recovery there too, as hyper accelerating QE feeds into the main economy. Japanese stocks are now among the worlds cheapest. This is why the Nikkei Average hit a new 15-year high over the weekend, giving me yet another winning Trade Alert.

6) While the next move in interest rates will certainly be up, it is not going to move the needle on corporate P&L?s for a long time. We might see a ?% hike and then done, and that probably won?t happen until 2016. In a deflationary world, there is no room for more. At least, that?s what Janet tells me.

This will make absolutely no difference to the large number of corporates, like Apple (AAPL), that don?t borrow at all.

7) Technology everywhere is accelerating at an immeasurable pace, causing profits to do likewise. You see this in biotech, where blockbuster new drugs are being announced almost weekly.

See the new Alzheimer?s cure announced last week? It involves extracting the cells from the brains of alert 95 year olds, cloning them and then injecting them into early stage Alzheimer?s patients. The success rate has been 70%. That one alone could be worth $5 billion.

8) US companies are still massive buyers of their own stock, over $170 billion worth in 2014. This has created a free put option for investors for the most aggressive companies, like Apple (AAPL), IBM (IBM), Exxon (XOM), Wells Fargo (WFC), and Intel (INTC), the top five repurchasers. They have nothing else to buy either.

They are jacking up dividend payouts at a frenetic pace as well and are expected to return more than $430 billion in payouts this year (see chart below).

9) Oil will bottom in the coming quarter, if it hasn?t done so already. This will make the entire energy sector the ?BUY? of the century, dragging the indexes up as well. Have you noticed that Conoco Phillips (COP), Warren Buffets favorite oil company, now sports a stunning 4.70% dividend?

10) Ditto for the banks, which were dragged down by falling interest for most of 2015. Reverse that trade this year, and you have another major impetus to drive stock indexes higher.

My friend was somewhat set back, dazzled, and non-plussed by my long-term overt bullishness. He asked me if I could think on anything that might trigger a new bear market, or at least a major correction.

I told him to forget anything international. There is no foreign development that could damage the US economy in any meaningful way. No one cares.

On he other hand, I could think of a lot of possible scenarios that could be hugely beneficial for US stocks, like a peace deal with Iran, which would chop oil prices by another half.

The traditional causes of recessions, oil price and interest rate spikes, are nowhere on the horizon. In fact, the prices for these two commodities, energy and money, are headed lower and not higher, another deflationary symptom.

Then something occurred to me. Share prices have been going up for too long and need some kind of rest, weeks or possibly months. At a 17 multiple American stocks are not the bargain they were 6 years ago when they sold for 10X earnings. Those were the only thing I could think of.

But then those are the arguments for shifting money out of the US and into Europe, Japan, and China, which is what the entire world seems to be doing right now.

I have joined them as well, which is why my Trade Alert followers are long the Wisdom Tree Japan Hedged Equity ETF (DXJ) (click here for ?The Bull Case for Japanese Stocks?).

With that, I told my friend I had to hang up, as another kid driving a souped up Shelby Cobra GT 500, obviously stolen, was weaving back an forth in front of me requiring my attention.

Whatever happened to driver?s ed?

Dividend Trends

Share Buy Backs

Unemployment Rate

Top Ten - Dividends Pd

DXJ 3-23-15