Without getting too technical, investors have two ways to bet on the price direction of stocks. They can go “long” the market, which means they believe that stock prices will rise. Or they can go “short” the market, which means they are betting that stock prices will fall.
Going “long” is easy; all investors need to do is buy stocks. And usually, when investors have a strong general consensus that the stock market will move higher, like they last did in October of 2007, stock prices go the opposite way and fall.
Going “short” is easy, too. Investors simply borrow stocks they do not own and promise to repay later. If the stock falls in price, the person shorting the stock keeps the difference between the price he/she borrowed the stock at and the price it is repaid at. Short selling is a huge function of the market.
Borrowed stock climbed to 11.6% of the market in August from 9.5% in July, according to Bloomberg. This is the biggest monthly increase in five years.
Let’s face the facts. The stock market took a big beating this summer. Worldwide, trillions of dollars were whipped off the value of equities. Investors thought the market was headed back to test the March 2009 lows and started selling stocks and shorting stocks.
But the bear market is too smart. He doesn’t make it easy. “Not so fast, I’m not finished the rally I started in March of 2009,” the bear market told investors as stocks started to rally late last week.
Historically, stocks have rallied when investors have taken a large short position in equities. I don’t see it being any different this time around. A recipe for higher stock market prices: lots of short sellers and lots of bears. We have both in the tent right now and it’s getting crowded.
Michael’s Personal Notes:
The Bank of England (BOE) is doing exactly what the Fed did, buying government bonds. And it’s doing it big-time!
The BOE has pledged to buy the most bonds since the depths of the 2008-started crisis, as the central bank races to stop the current euro-region debt crisis from pushing Britain back into recession.
To date, quantitative easing, which is what the Bank of England and Federal Reserve have done by buying their respective government’s bonds, has had no effect on job creation or economic growth. The action of buying government debt serves two purposes: 1) it insures there is a buyer for the debt (in case foreign investors, who buy most government bonds, get cold feet); and 2) it helps push domestic interest rates down.
However—and there is always a “however”—there is a big negative to central banks buying their own country’s government bonds. The money to buy the bonds needs to be created. In the old days, the printing presses would just print more fiat currency. These days, I believe the money supply is simply expanded electronically.
The problem with more and more money in the system is that the money being “printed” brings in more supply, and as per Economic Analysis 101, the more of something there is in supply, the lower the demand. In the case of fiat currencies, the more the supply, the more paper currency is needed to buy goods and services, and that’s how we get inflation. I believe this is exactly what the 10-year bull market in gold bullion has been telling us…rapid inflation ahead.
Where the Market Stands, Where it’s Headed:
Stocks are making their anticipated comeback from a state of being severely oversold.
I continue to believe we are in a bear market rally that started in March of 2009 and that this bear market rally will bring stock prices even higher before it’s over.
What He Said:
“I personally expect the next couple of years to be terrible for U.S. housing sales, foreclosures, and the construction market. These events will dampen the U.S economic picture significantly in the months ahead, leading to the recession I am predicting for the U.S. economy later this year.” Michael Lombardi in PROFIT CONFIDENTIAL, August 23, 2007. Michael was one of the first to predict a U.S. recession, long before Wall Street analysts and economists even thought it a possibility.