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Is the Stock Market Setting Up for a Crash?

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See both sides, even if you don't agree with them.

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MINYANVILLE ORIGINAL

Editor's Note: Todd posts his vibes in real time each day on our Buzz & Banter.

"There's a fear down here we can't forget; hasn't got a name just yet."
-- Grateful Dead

With the S&P a stone's throw from the 2012 high-and yes, it's a pebble toss when one day's price action could trigger a new high-I'm reminded of something I wrote back in the spring.

I remember it because in all my years of writing-with all the "cumulative comeuppance," "socioeconomic malaise," "last bullet pointed inward," "downside disconnect," and "scary bearish" analogies-I had never before written that word.

The word was "crash."

I'm not talking about my cat-although he's pretty freaky-I'm talking about a crash. When the wheels fall off the wagon. When traditional metrics stop working. When systems fritz, stocks break down, and there is true capitulation in the marketplace. Think of it as social mood manifesting through the stock market. In real-time.

The thought that I shared way back when was along the lines of, "If we continue to rally into the election without a meaningful pullback, the stock market will be vulnerable to a crash."

This isn't an attempt to capture page-clicks or make a name for myself-I already have a reputation of being pretty bearish (despite my two-sided trading approach this year) and I certainly don't need to perpetuate that. Rather, it's abject honesty as we edge toward the most important psychological catalyst of the year-the election.

I've included a chart of the S&P dating back to March 2009 for purposes of perspective.



You will see-as we already know-that the index more than doubled since those fateful days (for a glimpse into my head at that time, click here). The sky was falling, folks stocked up on canned goods, cash was withdrawn from banks; it was a picture-perfect recipe for a face-ripping rally through the lens of maximum frustration.

Fast-forward to today; $15-odd trillion of stimulus has been thrown against the system formerly known as capitalism-with the promise of more at every turn-and we're eking out 1.5% GDP. The stock market is up double-digits and folks are again chasing performance, but not many people are doing particularly well. I'm talking about Wall Street, but it of course extends to Main Street.

It reminds me of an interview I gave in December 2006 when I shared that "we're living in concentric bubbles" and what concerned me most was "all-time highs in the Dow but nobody is really feeling like we're at living at all-time highs; we have the haves and have-nots and the middle class is being eradicated or is in the process of being eradicated."

We often say that the chasm between perception and reality is where profitability is found. Make no mistake, this particular edition of the stock market is ripe with two-sided risk-this is the weeding out process we've been fingering since 2000 when we posited The Long Hard Road. Inherent in that dynamic is that it's not gonna be easy; even if you're right on the direction, it's tough to nail the timing as well.

For purposes of full disclosure, I punted my long exposure earlier this week and I'm currently positioned with some short paper in Google (GOOG) and the NDX (QQQ). But, as my soon-to-be bonus daughter, Mug, would say, "It's not about that." These are small bets-hit-it-to-quit-it trades with hopes of squirreling away some financial nourishment one acorn at a time. I have very tight stops set; as I said, it's not about that.

There is one variable that I must note as it potentially shifts this discussion. My original thought was, "If we rally into the election without a meaningful pullback, the stock market will be vulnerable to a crash." The pullback from April to May, as circled on the chart above, measured 10.5%.

If the trading gods deem that to be meaningful enough, all bets are off.

R.P.

Twitter: @todd_harrison

Follow Todd and over 30 professional traders as they share their ideas in real-time with a FREE 14 day trial to Buzz & Banter.

Positions in GOOG, NDX

Todd Harrison is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Minyanville. Prior to his current role, Mr. Harrison was President and head trader at a $400 million dollar New York-based hedge fund. Todd welcomes your comments and/or feedback at todd@minyanville.com.

The information on this website solely reflects the analysis of or opinion about the performance of securities and financial markets by the writers whose articles appear on the site. The views expressed by the writers are not necessarily the views of Minyanville Media, Inc. or members of its management. Nothing contained on the website is intended to constitute a recommendation or advice addressed to an individual investor or category of investors to purchase, sell or hold any security, or to take any action with respect to the prospective movement of the securities markets or to solicit the purchase or sale of any security. Any investment decisions must be made by the reader either individually or in consultation with his or her investment professional. Minyanville writers and staff may trade or hold positions in securities that are discussed in articles appearing on the website. Writers of articles are required to disclose whether they have a position in any stock or fund discussed in an article, but are not permitted to disclose the size or direction of the position. Nothing on this website is intended to solicit business of any kind for a writer's business or fund. Minyanville management and staff as well as contributing writers will not respond to emails or other communications requesting investment advice.

Copyright 2011 Minyanville Media, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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