Category Archives: 2019-nCov

8/3/20: COVID-19: Global Growth Trends

So far, one thing is clear: we are in an exponential growth (not linear) when it comes to #Covid-19, everywhere, except for Japan...

Here is the full data set through March 7th:

Two observations worth making: ex-China data is exponential. The doubling rate remains at around 4 days since February 24th, prior to that, it was at 6-7 days. Which indicates acceleration in the exponential trend. With China data included, the trend is a bit more complex: we have exponential sub-trends of different steepness, with the first period through February 8th, followed by the step-function (on average still exponential) through February 17th, a linear sub-trend over 18th-24th of February and a new exponential trend since February 25th.

Post-February 25th trend is dominated by global infections, as opposed to China-based infections.

Currently, 17 countries have in excess of 100 confirmed cases:

25/2/2020: No, 2019-nCov did not push forward PE ratios to 2002 levels

Markets are having a conniption these days and coronavirus is all the rage in the news flow.  Here is the 5 days chart for the major indices:

And it sure does look like a massive selloff.

Still, hysteria aside, no one is considering the simple fact: the markets have been so irrationally priced for months now, that even with the earnings being superficially inflated on per share basis by the years of rampant buybacks and non-GAAP artistry, the PE ratios are screaming 'bubble' from any angle you look at them.

Here is the Factset latest 20 years comparative chart for forward PEs:

You really don't need a PhD in Balck Swannery Studies to get the idea: we are trending at the levels last seen in 1H 2002. Every sector, save for energy and healthcare, is now in above 20 year average territory.  Factset folks say it as it is: "One year prior (February 20, 2019), the forward 12-month P/E ratio was 16.2. Over the following 12 months (February 20, 2019 to February 19, 2020), the price of the S&P 500 increased by 21.6%, while the forward 12-month EPS estimate increased by 4.1%. Thus, the increase in the “P” has been the main driver of the increase in the P/E ratio over the past 12 months."

So, about that 'Dow is 5.8% down in just five days' panic: the real Black Swan is that it takes a coronavirus to point to the absurdity of our markets expectations.

23/2/20: The ‘Fundamentals’ of the Financial Markets Are Hardly Changed by the COVID2019, So Far…

An informative chart via Holger Zschaepitz @Schuldensuehner on the Global equity markets impact of the continuously evolving threat of the nCov-2019 or #COVID2019 virus epidemic:

Looks not quite as dire as it might sound, folks.
  • Global equities lost some $470 billion worth of market value this week. 
  • Which is 0.537% of the market cap at the start of the week 
  • The market is still up more than 3 percent year to date
  • The market is massively up on 2020 to date lowest point (+3.7 percent)
  • Most of the effect is in Asia Pacific - not to discount it, but it is material since AP region has much more capacity for a rebound (higher savings, investment and potential growth rates) from the crisis effects than slower moving advanced economies.
Looking at longer terms within the advanced economies, here is a summary of the major indices cumulative moves over the 1 week - 6 months time horizon in percent:

So far, no panic, but last week really does look ugly, unless one seriously thinks about the degree to which market pricing is divorced from economic fundamentals, as exemplified by the 6 months changes: 22.26 percent upside in Nasdaq? 15 percent in Germany? 13.43 percent in Japan?.. 

So let's ask two questions: Q1: Does anyone believe there are long term economic or socio-economic fundamentals behind the above numbers? and Q2: If the markets are pricing in monetary sugar buzz of Kiddies at Halloween  Bucket of Sweets proportion on the upside, how on earth can the same markets price some serious fundamentals on the downside? 

The markets gyrations are only tangentially - and only in the short run - relate to tangible news flows, like nCov-2019 statistics. And they sure a hell do not relate linearly to any data on GDP impacts of the epidemic. Because markets have not reacted to GDP figures since well-before the Global Financial Crisis hit. Worse, there is no logic that can explain why markets are reacting to nCov2019 promise of dropping interests rates and priming the global QE pump in an opposite direction to the markets reactions to all previous slowdowns in global growth. 

We are still dealing with the same 'clueless and buzzed' crowd of 'investors' who value Tesla at inverse of the company's manipulated core statistics, and Netflix at inverse of company's manipulated profitability metrics, and Apple at inverse of company's forward growth potential. We are still dealing with the same 'jittery herd' that slushes from one 'not QE' to another 'Abenomics breakthrough' to the fiscal policy moaning of the ECB, while stopping to slam some shots at the occasional 'take profit' Wild West saloon.  

Forget one week to next markets gyrations. The real impact of nCov epidemic won't be seen until we have the monetary policy reactions at an aggregate level. So watch this chart instead:

14/2/20: Pandemics, Panics and the Markets

In my recent article for The Currency I wrote about the expected market effects of the 2019-nCov coronavirus outbreak:

While past pandemics are not a direct nor linear indicators of the future expected performance, the logic and the dynamics of the past events suggest that while the front end short term effects of pandemics on the economies and the markets can be significant, over time, rebounds post-pandemics tend to fully offset short run negative impacts.

Key conclusions from the article are:

  • "...The market appears to worry little about public health risks, after their impact becomes more visible, although the onset of a pandemic can be associated with elevated markets volatility. This volatility is higher the faster the evolution of the health scare, but so is the market rebound from each crisis lows."
  • "This is not say that investors have little to worry about in today’s markets. We are still trading in the heavily over-bought market, and concerns about global growth are not getting much of a reprieve from the newsflows. The good news is, to date, the latest global health crisis does not seem to be a trigger for a major and sustained sell off. The bad news is, we are yet to see its full impact."