As an adult, Halloween tends not to be that scary for me usually.
But after last week’s stock market rally in the face of the deteriorating situation in Europe and the rest of the world, I am afraid…for the stock market and am reminded of fall/winter 1999.
The 4th quarter of 1999 was an absolutely fascinating and terrifying time as my naïve beliefs about market rationality and efficiency were proven patently false.
As a young analyst at Credit-Suisse, I remember the tech analysts’ valuation techniques evolving at a break-neck pace from price-to-earning ratios, to price-to-revenue, to price-to-clicks and, even, price-to-eyeballs. It was clear they were making up whatever they could to continue to sell IPOs into what we all now know was a major stock market bubble.
So many investors were intent on getting their share of the great tech revolution that they blindly bought stocks. Markets soared upward no matter the news.
Despite a rather large and well-respected contingent of investors who recognized that the markets were seriously over-valued and that their implosion was a matter of “when” not “if”, the market crushed anyone or anything that got in its way.
Many fortunes and careers were ruined shorting the ridiculously expensive tech stocks.
Remember how the popular press had deemed Warren Buffet a dinosaur, who simply “didn’t get technology”.
The only theory that explained the market mania at the time was “the greater fool theory” –which suggested that it was smart to buy stocks as long as one believed he/she could sell it to someone else at a higher price.
The market became its own boss, operating by its own rules, disconnected from the realities of economics and cash flows. The market wanted to go up and it did…until it crashed.
Here we are again. You know how this story ends: main street gets crushed and Wall Street pays record bonuses. Really, are we still that gullible? Three middle-American-back-breaking bubbles in a little over a decade.
Why don’t we just write checks directly to Wall Street? Remove the middle-man, the stock market. At least, by that method, we do not compromise the integrity of the capital markets…as much.
My horrors were escalated this morning as I listened to an excellent radio skit explaining the Euro situation as the con game that it truly is.
How does news that European leaders have further delayed a decision on how exactly to deal with their problems cause the stock market to rally? Again and again?
How does the market not reflect that an imminent recession in Europe will more than offset the precious little global economic momentum we experienced in the 3rd quarter?
Is anyone reading the signs from consumer sentiment? From the general ledger of the US economy?
Truly, anyone buying into the current stock market rally is a brave soul. At any time, the music could stop – and when it does the market will come crashing down and crush those investors playing the momentum game.
Disclosure: I receive no compensation to write about any specific stock, sector or theme