Don't Personalize the Markets
A few articles I have written lately have elicited some responses that have been less than complimentary. This generally comes with the 'public writer' territory, but negative feedback seems to come more intensely when the market is at critical junctures where its fortunes are potentially near a point of change.
It goes both ways as I routinely hear from bulls, bears and even gold bugs when I write something that looks "dumb" because it is out of alignment with a current trend, but is actually looking for the 'pivot' to a new trend.
"Gary = Dumb Investor" (just one succinct comment among several unflattering ones on Seeking Alpha in response to this article)
Negative comments came from people bearish the market despite the fact that the article speculated that the S&P 500 could have lower to go before finding a sustainable bottom and noted the risks involved as usual with a market dependent on inflationary policy.
The comments had the feel of people defending their positions by intellectualizing the various components of the macro market backdrop. Leaving emotional internet jousting aside for a moment, when people defend something it means they are being defensive; and when they are being defensive it means they are potentially vulnerable.
In the markets weakness is the kiss of death. But what is strength? Is strength found in the gold bug who knows he is right and holds his gold stocks 'long and strong' through the 50% swings in an ongoing battle against the forces of evil? Or is strength perhaps found in ongoing risk vs. reward analysis despite one's particular big picture orientation?
Is strength found within the perma bear who knows the system is cooked and is committed to remain in alignment with that outlook? The 401k investor who lets his professional manager 'set it and forget it'?
My big picture view is bearish given the irreconcilable leverage the current system depends upon. But there is nothing 'perma' about the current system. Strength is found in the ability to know who you are and what you believe, but also to cross-reference yourself against the macro backdrop at any given time.
There are too many tools and indicators involved in the process to list here but speaking personally, the fact is that despite my intense alarm about the rot in the financial system in the first half of the last decade, the system has lurched, wheezed and churned forward dependent on powerful policy makers who do little more than sweep the moral hazards under the rug and pay the whole bloated mess forward.
And so here we are; at a potential pivot point. The US dollar is over owned by people righteously convinced that the system is in big trouble and asset markets are at risk. Well yes, they have been at risk for years now, which is why the folks at Policy Central stand ready to do all they can to inflate, only to promote another blown gasket down the road.
So when I write something like this The Last Bear Just Locked the Bunker Door and a commenter writes "you seem to sneer at the idea that catastrophic risk is real" I comment back as follows:
"I started my website in 2004 because of catastrophic risk you note. I am not intending to [sneer] at it. EVER. What I am doing is noting the cycles that play out over the years within this risk environment.
As an example, had I acted on my alarm in 2004 I'd have not only missed many subsequent profit opp's, but I'd have likely sat 100% in US dollars (I always keep a significant level there BTW) and fallen behind by leaps and bounds.
What I mean by the Age of Inflation onDemand is that we have an ongoing 'continuum' of deflationary pressure (I use the monthly TYX or USB chart to illustrate) that is routinely met by inflationary policy. This policy is always doomed to fail, but it has thus far reliably produced 'swings'.
I also believe there is going to be a 'final deflation', which would end the system.
Does this sound like [sneering]?"
I am a bear and have been a bear since the day I became a public writer because I realize the system, in a word, sucks; and it is getting worse. I find it difficult however, to write what I feel I have to write and not piss off some people at certain points. That is what operating in a levered up system is all about; awaiting opportunity to capitalize on dynamic trends that routinely and sometimes violently ping from one extreme to the other.
At every pivot point there are people really committed to the existing (and mature) trend. As long as we ping along over the years within a system that refuses to die, the intermediate swings will be the play... from bull to bear to bull to bear... until one day, the thing just wheezes and does not pass Go or collect $200.
That is why the ultimate analysis calls for owning (outright) things of value, being de-leveraged from an overly leveraged system and managing your pych profile every step of the way. This is not your grandfather's stock market. This is not a drill.