Category Archives: Bubbles

20/3/20: Central Banks are Failing to Reinflate the Deflating Bubble

In the last 5 days, central banks around the world have announced 2020 monetary stimuli to the tune of USD 4 trillion (inclusive of measures continuing from those announced back in late 2019). This is what this bought them in the markets:

The problem with 'doing more of the same and expecting different results' is that the measures being deployed by the monetary authorities are predominantly skewed on simply increasing the total quantum of debt in the global economy already croaking under a mountain of debt. The markets see this. The markets know this. And, at long last, the markets are not buying any more of this.

On what timeline will the central bankers and their masters in the governments recognize the same?..

8/2/20: Price-to-Sales Ratio Hits an All-Time High for S&P500

Stock are not overvalued, folks. Because, you know, stocks valuations are no longer making any sense...

Via @HondoTomasz, comes this nice chart, plotting the 18-year high in S&P500 PE ratios (gamable) and the all-time highs in Price-to-Sales ratio (less gamable). Do remember, folks, sales are a positive function of inflation and inflation has been pretty weak, of late. Which means that sales are facing two headwinds at the same time: low inflation pressures and low demand growth pressures. Yet, share prices are just keep climbing up in this new economic paradigm that looks like the old Dot.Com paradigm.

2/7/19: Factset: Negative EPS guidance hits the highest 2Q level since 2Q 2006

Bad news for the 'fundamentals are sound' crowd when it comes to justifying stock markets exuberance: based on data from Factset, to-date, the number of companies reporting negative earnings per share (EPS) guidance in 2Q 2019 has reached 87 - the highest number after 1Q 2016, and the highest number for any 2Q period since 2006. Total number of reporting companies to-date is 113, which means that so far in the reporting season, a whooping 77% of reporting companies are guiding negative EPS.

Technology sector leads negative EPS guidance issuance. Per Factset: "Information Technology sector, 26 companies have issued negative EPS guidance for the second quarter, which is above the five-year average for the sector of 20.4. If 26 is the final number for the quarter, it will tie the mark (with multiple quarters) for the second highest number of companies issuing negative EPS guidance in this sector since FactSet began tracking this data in 2006, trailing only Q4 2012 (27). At the industry level, the Semiconductor & Semiconductor Equipment (9) and Software (6) industries have the highest number of companies issuing negative EPS guidance in the sector." Which means the tech sector is singing the blues. Consumer discretionaries and Healthcare are the other two sectors showing underperformance relative to 5 year average.

Which is ugly. Uglier, yet, as we are not seeing any correction in the markets to reflect the deteriorating fundamentals. And uglier still when one considers the fact that the 'S' part of EPS has been gamed dramatically in recent years through rampant shares buybacks, while the 'E' bit has been gamed via opportunistic M&As.

23/4/19: Property, Property and More Property: U.S. Household Wealth Bubble

According to the St. Luis Fed, U.S. household wealth has reached a historical high of 535% of the U.S. GDP (see:

There is a problem, however, with the above data: it reflects some dodgy ways of counting 'household wealth'. For two primary reasons: firstly, it ignores concentration risk arising from wealth inequality, and secondly, it ignores concentration risk arising from households' exposure to property markets. A good measure of liquidity risk controlled allocation of wealth is ownership of liquid equities (note: equities, of course, and are subject to Fed-funded bubble dynamics). The chart below - via shows a pretty dire state of equity markets (the source of returns on asset demand side being swamped over the last decade by shares buybacks and M&As), but it also shows that households did not benefit materially from the equities bubble.

In other words, controlling for liquidity risk, the Fed's meme of historically high household wealth is seriously challenged. And controlling for wealth inequality (distributional features of wealth), it is probably dubious overall.

So here's the chart showing just how absurdly property-dependent (households' home equity valuations in red line, index starting at 100 at the end of the Global Financial Crisis) the Fed 'wealth' figures (blue line, same starting index) are:

In fact, dynamically, rates of growth in household home equity have been far in excess of the rates of growth in other assets since 2012.  In that, the dynamics of the current 'sound economy' are identical (and actually more dramatic) to the 2000-2006 bubble: property, property and more property.