Market Direction: Robust Continuation Or Blow-Up?

When does risk return- tends to be the question most analysts are debating. Some delineate overly specific price targets for a conclusive spike, as others simply call for things to 'blow up' soon.

Cube, Gambling, Gamble, Risk, Luck

So what makes sense in the potpourri created by contrasting macro forecasts of robust continuation versus disaster? Balance as an eye on the 10-year is a straight-forward way to watch this, while contemplating what others dismiss (SPTL).

That latter would include friction with China (which presumably won't yet get out-of-hand), or fallout from the virtual failure of two major European banks. It is a couple weeks since the (Viacom dominated) family hedge fund folded (of course due to insane leverage which is not available to mere mortals and by the way steered close to violating security laws the bankers ignored). As to China, I suspect things will be smoothed-over a bit, and the U.S. will not be boycotting the Olympic Games as so many are urging.

There's a real possibility that there will be fallout from the family-hedge-bust, and it is by sheer fast luck in the last hours before, that Morgan Stanley (MS) and Goldman Sachs (GS) avoided the worst of the plunge. UBS, Credit Swiss and Nomura did not avoid real damage.

My own preferred view as you know, was for the S&P to erratically move a bit higher, including the seasonal Passover/Easter rally. Today's nominal decline is nothing more than a consolidation. However the market remains pricey as it relates to the big-cap leadership. The rebalancing and bifurcated behavior I'd talked about last week persists, while most managers feel no choice to persist holding the super-cap leaders. This will cost them in time, but likely not yet.

I suggested we'd see a rocky time in April and May and that remains my view, even as the S&P may probe something like 4150. I would not be surprised to see a significant shakeout, later this month or in May's first half, but even if it is related to the banking issues, it won't be like Long Term Capital which came close to breaking the banking system at the time (for you history buffs).

In the back of my mind I worry about a 4th surge of virus being considerably more virulent than generally considered, and that could impact some sectors. And the public will become more aware that with all the frenetic activity to get vaccinated, they likely only bought 4-6 months protection, but perhaps more as relates to serious disease (such as I unfortunately contracted after months of extreme caution... and I believe I know exactly where I was exposed).

For now we don't have approved monoclonal antibodies on a large scale nor a pill for COVID, though several (including Sorrento and Lilly and Merck) are working towards that (Sorrento's answers are in trial and results are really a bit lagging compared to expectations, but things could pop soon... they did just wrap up the China deal that relates to oncology and COVID, but widely not appreciated in the U.S., yet.

My concern with the virus relates to Europe still mostly shut-down, and the idea that all will not be resolved this year, and that is especially as regards having a so-called 'booster' covering variants and the same basic virus, there will be another rushed effort before yearend and we'll be dealing with this in 2022, a year that many companies are counting on as a wide-open society, including travel by then.

In-sum - my perspective is similar to that in the my last report, and isn't so willing to be bearish, but certainly sees where value 'is not', and wonders who rationalizes paying top dollar for some of the wilder stocks. There's an effort to push investors into all kinds of emerging industries, some of which aren't very ready for prime time in the capital markets, but nevertheless get promoted.

This note is the last (hooray!) from a hospital. Thanks to a 3M vacuum wound healing device, I will be freed to go home. My endurance or walking improves daily, but remains far from normal. I will have extensive home healthcare for a period of time, while my recover continues. It was truly a challenging saga I'm intending to resolve with me nearly back to pre-COVID capacity. So, expect I'll have a day or two to sort-out the healthcare situation at home, and as things calm and are organized, the frequency of my reports will increase. This report has no charts due to a technical issue, they will return in the next Briefing.

Thanks again for your understanding and support during this ordeal, which is inspiring me to revive my small business as best I can. I contemplated video tonight, but again there's a technical limit on what I can do just this day. I may well focus on video and less text, especially as the market possibly spikes.

Don't get too enthused about pricey stocks at high levels, but don't assume everything is going to 'blow up' without a real 'blow off' first.



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William K. 3 years ago Member's comment

Share pricing depends partly on the emotions of some folks and thus does not depend solely on equations and logic. That is the reality. Some folks are much better at guessing based on subtle clues, and some organizations certainly appear to act on information not available to most others. The result being that the game is interesting to watch, and some are skilled enough to play and win more than lose.

And the success or lack of it by some of the drug companies depends on enough unknown variables to make a correct call impressive.

Joe Box 3 years ago Member's comment

Very happy to hear you are finally into the final saga of this recovery. We all wish you God Speed to have things back to normal so that you may express yourself in your column daily.