Market Pulse: A few thoughts during record-breaking times
Special to the Tribune
The bull market rolls along setting records almost every week. A combination of trillions in federal spending and aggressive monetary policy from the Fed is powering stocks ever higher. The supply of money over the last year had its largest annual percentage increase since 1943. Expect that to continue … until it doesn’t.
In the past, similar policies and excesses ultimately ran their course, but they didn’t end well. The excesses of the 1920s led to the Great Depression. The combined cost of the Vietnam War and LBJ’s Great Society triggered a surge in inflation through the 1970s. Stock investors suffered.
The good times for investors will be with us for a while. In addition to fiscal and monetary stimulus, a powerful tailwind is the plunge in COVID-19 cases. A seven-day rolling average of cases is down 36% over the last two weeks and down 77% from early January.
The number of people in U.S. hospitals is half what it was a month ago. The 65 million vaccine doses given (13% of the U.S. population) combined with those that already have immunity must be playing a role. This good news is reflected in stock prices and will soon be reflected in economic data.
The Congressional Budget Office agrees. They forecast 4.6% GDP growth this year (Goldman Sachs sees 6.6%). The tailwinds are government spending, vaccines, pent-up demand, very easy monetary policy, anything goes fiscal policy and strong manufacturing and housing sectors.
Amid the bull market, one red flag is the rise in commodity prices. The implications are clear, i.e. rising inflation and with it higher interest rates, signs of which are already appearing. Many times in our history we’ve seen periods with huge deficits, extremely loose monetary policy and low interest rates. Those led to extreme speculation as traders chased “hot” stocks and in-vogue sectors.
Now we have millions of short-term investors chasing a handful of stocks with large short interests. Most recently they chased marijuana stocks, with the Alternative Harvest ETF (MJ) jumping 42% in three days only to fall 26% over next two days.
For the record, “price” is what you pay, “value” is what you get. Today’s young investors would be wise to keep that in mind when they push prices to ludicrous levels by piling on stocks touted through social media.
In the end those buyers were left owning stocks priced far above their worth. The manic trading had nothing to do with investing. Again, this is not a good sign.
David Vomund is an Incline Village-based Independent Investment Advisor. Information is found at http://www.VomundInvestments.com or by calling 775-832-8555. Clients hold the positions mentioned in this article.Past performance does not guarantee future results. Consult your financial advisor before purchasing any security.
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