Posted by Mr Thx Thursday, July 23, 2009 0 comments

In the major global stock market indices, from the US to Europe to Emerging Markets, you contend that we are in a Primary Wave 2 up, and that the really nasty selling panic will ensue in the next downdraft of Wave 3, which will carry substantially below previous lows of March 09. Yet, hard global economic data (monthly industrial production, leading indicators, consumer sentiment) point to recovery globally by the end of this year. How does your Wave Principle square with the hard economic data, which indicate that even a retest of March 09 index lows is highly unlikely, let alone a collapse beyond them?


That's exactly the kind of thinking that gets most investors buying at tops and selling at bottoms. The reality is that "fundamentals" -- such as the strong economy -- LAG the stock market (and its technical indicators), not lead them. How else do you explain the fact that the DJIA topped in July-October 2007, in the midst of "goldilocks fundamentals"? Or that it bottomed in early March, when "fundamentals" were horrible? The list of examples goes on and on. That's why our April Elliott Wave Financial Forecast warned: "Primary wave 2 up is now unfolding, as the March 25 Interim Report communicated. Be prepared: In its final weeks, the advance will re-ignite some of the zaniness of 1999 and 2007... By the end of wave 2, many market followers and economists will proclaim that the bear market is dead and the boom is back. For those who felt trapped in stocks during Primary wave 1, wave 2 will offer a respectable place to exit. But we know from past experience (and the chart on page 2 of the March 2008 issue) that many will hold out for even higher prices, hoping to 'break even.'"

Posted by Mr Thx Monday, July 20, 2009 0 comments

Japan was unsuccessful in containing deflation for much of the 1990s. Interest rates were maintained near-zero for almost 15 years, with July 2006 marking the first time this policy was abandoned. Only in 2008 did Japan again sustain positive inflation rates.

One of the systemic side-effects of this long period of low interest rates is the so-called carry trade, with investors taking loans at very low interest rates in Japan and investing in higher yielding assets in countries with higher interest rates, typically emerging market economies. The 2008 financial market crisis has resulted in the unravelling of this carry trade, with many of these borrowed and sold yen unravelling causing a huge spike in the value of the yen relative to other currencies.

Systemic reasons for deflation in Japan

  • Fallen asset prices. There was a rather large price bubble in both equities and real estate in Japan in the 1980s (peaking in late 1989). When assets decrease in value, the money supply shrinks, which is deflationary.
  • Fear of insolvent banks: Japanese people are afraid that banks will collapse so they prefer to buy gold or (United States or Japanese) Treasury bonds instead of saving their money in a bank account. This likewise means the money is not available for lending and therefore economic growth. This means that the savings rate depresses consumption, but does not appear in the economy in an efficient form to spur new investment. People also save by owning real estate, further slowing growth, since it inflates land prices.
  • Imported deflation: Japan imports Chinese and other countries' inexpensive consumable goods, raw materials (due to lower wages and fast growth in those countries). Thus, prices of imported products are decreasing. Domestic producers must match these prices in order to remain competitive. This decreases prices for many things in the economy, and thus is deflationary.

Investing in a deflationary economy

A period of deflation results in an increase in the burden of debt. Stores of value such as gold or cash are thus best kept out of the markets as their relative value appreciates even without interest income. This is generally a bad thing for the rest of the economy, so it is important to watch for signs that economic and fiscal policy are working to correct this potential downward deflationary spiral


Posted by Mr Thx Friday, July 17, 2009 0 comments

LAST WEEK Iwrote that iconoclastic economists have been warning of deflation for almost five years, based on subtle signs that Alan Greenspan hasn't been supplying enough liquidity to meet the needs of the U.S. economy. And now — finally — these warnings have come true in the form of declines in the consumer price index, the producer price index and several other widely followed measures of prices. So suddenly everyone's talking about deflation — and not just the iconoclasts.

Deflation isn't kind to stocks. For openers, deflation introduces complex distortions into the economy that make it harder for businesses to do business, and that's bad for all stocks. But more to the point, when the price of everything goes down, corporate earnings have to go down, too. And that means that stock prices will follow.

Think about it. Say Acme Widget sells a million widgets at $100 each, and it costs them $50 to make them — so their net earnings will be $50 million. Now let's say that prices fall across the whole economy by 10%, including the price of widgets — and the prices of all the things that Acme has to buy to make them. That means they'll only get $90 for each widget, but their costs will only be $45 each. If they still sell a million of them, net earnings will fall from $50 million to $45 million. All else equal, with earnings down 10%, Acme's stock will drop 10%. Probably more, because in a deflation all else will not be equal, and Acme will probably have a hard time selling a million widgets.

Some version of this effect of deflation should be expected to hit just about every company. So if you're strongly convinced of a deflationary future, and you have the flexibility to get out of stocks altogether, you might want to do just that.

But if you aren't sure whether deflation will really continue, or if you're a portfolio manager whose mandate requires you to invest in stocks — then you should at least hedge a little. You should at least understand which stocks are likely to be hurt the most, and which are likely to be hurt the least, in a continuing deflation — and position your stock portfolio accordingly.

The secret to stock picking in a deflation is simple: The winning companies are those whose products' prices will decline the least — but whose production costs will decline the most. If costs decline more than selling prices, these companies could actually increase their earnings in a deflation. The losing companies are those whose products' prices will decline the most, and whose costs will decline the least. If costs decline less than selling prices, the earnings of these companies will fall even faster than the general deflation of prices in the economy.

That's easy to say, but the dynamics of it are more complex than you might think. To see how they work, let's take a look at two widely held companies, Microsoft (MSFT: 24.44, +0.32, +1.32%) and General Motors (GM). Microsoft is a perfect example of a deflation winner, and General Motors is the perfect example of a deflation loser.

Let's start by looking at the differences between Microsoft's and GM's ability to keep their products' pricing afloat against the undertow of deflation.

GM is in a terrible position because its products are commodities, interchangeable with the virtually identical products of competitors from around the world. In a deflation — when the Federal Reserve creates too little money for the needs of the economy — commodity prices are always hit first and hit hardest because they are universal and liquid, and people can easily exchange them for the money there is too little of.

But Microsoft is in a great position, because its products are unique — why, some people would even say they are too unique. There's no commodity substitute for Windows or Office. So Microsoft can hold the line of pricing long after GM has had to throw in the towel. In fact GM has been throwing in a lot more than the towel lately — it's been throwing in free financing and all the trimmings. Call it a promotion to kick-start sluggish demand if it makes you feel better, but that's deflation playing out right under your nose.

Now how about the cost side?

On the one hand, GM derives advantage from the falling costs of the commodity materials that go into its manufactured products. But on the other hand, it's stymied by its enormous labor costs — and the fact that a large fraction of its work force is unionized. That means workers are covered by long-term contracts that guarantee rising wages for many years into the future, deflation or no deflation.

What's worse, GM is cursed by hidden labor costs that extend beyond salaries. The auto maker is on the hook for pension and postretirement health-care benefits for as long as its employees live, with the amount of the benefits keyed to salary levels. The cost of these benefits isn't going to go down with deflation — but the securities portfolios that are invested today to pay those costs in the future will. Historically GM has had difficulty getting even its retirement commitments fully funded — now, if there's a protracted spell of deflation, it could spell disaster.

Microsoft, by contrast, has a small and flexible labor force, and no pension issues. It's true that Microsoft won't enjoy the benefits of falling commodity prices, because commodities aren't an input to its products. But at the same time, its nonunionized labor force is more flexible in terms of negotiating wages, and more accustomed to receiving significant fractions of its compensation in the form of contingent incentives such as stock options.

And Microsoft doesn't have to worry about pension benefits. Its retirement benefits are provided by a 401(k) plan to which the company and its employees make contributions during the employee's working life, and the benefits in retirement are strictly a function of the performance of the investments chosen by the employee. Microsoft is totally off the pension hook.

But there's one other major factor that works in Microsoft's favor in a deflation, and it could be a deathblow to General Motors: debt. Microsoft doesn't have any, while GM has a GMC truckload — $144 billion worth, on which it pays interest of $9.4 billion a year.

In an ocean of deflation, that kind of debt is a boulder chained to GM's neck. Because auto prices are going to fall, and some of GM's costs may fall. But that $9.4 billion won't. As deflation marches on, that constant $9.4 billion payment in nominal dollars represents more and more in terms of real — that is, deflation-adjusted — purchasing power that GM must expend to pay for assets that will become worth less and less.

Meanwhile, Microsoft not only has no debt, but it also sits on a mountain of cash — $36 billion, to be exact. And in a deflation that's the opposite of debt. That cash will just get more and more valuable every year, allowing Microsoft to have its pick from among a world of deflated assets any time it wants, and insulating it from the need to take on debt in a deflationary world of too little money in circulation.

GM has $9.5 billion in cash, and in their otherwise dire circumstances that's a very comforting thing. But bear in mind, they will need it. As deflation marches on and GM's revenues fall while its debt-service needs remain constant, it will automatically become increasingly leveraged — so GM will find further debt financing increasingly difficult and expensive.

I'm using Microsoft and GM here simply as examples of general principles. Obviously there are many company-specific factors that must be considered in addition to the effects of deflation. That said, these general principles can easily be applied to other companies. So here's your deflation-investing checklist:

· Buy companies with unique, proprietary products; avoid companies with commodity products.
· Buy companies with small, flexible labor forces; avoid companies with large, unionized labor forces.
· Buy companies with exclusively 401(k) retirement plans; avoid companies with defined-benefit pension plans.
· Buy companies with little or no debt; avoid companies with lots of debt.
· Buy companies with lots of cash; avoid companies that are short on cash.

Remember, deflation is going to be tough on all stocks. But if you follow this checklist, at least you'll avoid the worst of the damage. And you might even find a real winner. Because when you think about it, this checklist makes good sense whether or not you see deflation in our future.


Posted by Mr Thx 0 comments

After two years of what has been described as financial "doomsday," "Dante's Inferno," and "the Devil's Arcade" -- some big-named banking stocks have started to boldly go where no corporate share has gone in a really, really long time: UP.
Last count: Five major U.S. firms have repaid their portion of the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program bailout. Some (like Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley) are even reporting huge second-quarter earnings, soaring stock values, and hefty (windfall-bonus-like) profits.
And according to many mainstream experts, the green shoots and bright spots are surefire signs that the worst is finally behind the sector. "Beyond stock movements," begins a July 13 Forbes, "There is other evidence that the banking industry is back on its feet."
Sound familiar?
Well, it should. Fact is, since the very start of the financial crisis, the talking heads have glided down a slope of unwavering hope. At so many fleeting lows, they called the absolute "end" to the rout -- only to watch in horror as banking shares were battered even further.
To illustrate this phenomenon, consider the following close-up of the Philadelphia/KBW Bank Index since 2006 alongside some of the most blatantly misguide mainstream insights.

Here are the specific entries from the chart:
  • July 2006: Citigroup CEO Chuck Prince exclaims: "As long as the music is playing [in terms of liquidity], you've got to get up and dance. We're still dancing."
  • July 2007: London Conference with the heads of world's largest investment banks assures: "Subprime implosion is a contained, isolated and temporary event with little risk of wider fallout."
  • January 2008: Citigroup's Global Wealth Management calls for a "rebound in financials in 2008. With big banks, you're buying high-quality institutions at a fire sale." (Wall Street Journal)
  • April 2008: Goldman Sachs chief executive predicts: "We're closer to the end than the beginning. I think we're getting to that point where people see the light at the end of the tunnel."
  • November 2008: US Secretary Treasury says in a NPR interview: "I got to tell you. I think our major institutions have been stabilized."
  • March 2009: "Bank executives express cautious optimism that the economic downturn is either at or near the bottom. A trough is finally in sight." (WSJ)

Posted by Mr Thx 0 comments

Stock markets, whether in Europe, Asia, or the United States, all appear headed lower throughout the remainder of 2009. With global equity markets moving in sync since topping in 2007, a view of the DJIA will suffice.

The decline from the 2007 high above 14,000 was in 5 waves (an impulse) and the recovery from the March low is a corrective 3 wave affair. Market movements in the direction of the larger trend occur in 5 waves. Similarly, 3 wave market movements are classified as corrections. The rally from the low is corrective (in this case a complex correction), and will therefore be entirely retraced.

Is it possible that a larger degree brings the Dow back to 10,000 or so before the larger bear resumes? Anything is possible but other markets appear to have already turned, which favors the downside from the current juncture. Also, corrections tend to end near the 4th wave of one less degree, which is the case here (see arrow). The position of the 200 day SMA (in red) also supports bears. The smaller chart is a 240 minute bar chart and shows the wave count at a smaller degree of trend. An acceleration of the decline this month is expected.


Posted by Mr Thx Wednesday, July 15, 2009 0 comments

by Robert Reich

The so-called "green shoots" of recovery are turning brown in the scorching summer sun. In fact, the whole debate about when and how a recovery will begin is wrongly framed. On one side are the V-shapers who look back at prior recessions and conclude that the faster an economy drops, the faster it gets back on track. And because this economy fell off a cliff late last fall, they expect it to roar to life early next year. Hence the V shape.

Unfortunately, V-shapers are looking back at the wrong recessions. Focus on those that started with the bursting of a giant speculative bubble and you see slow recoveries. The reason is asset values at bottom are so low that investor confidence returns only gradually.

That's where the more sober U-shapers come in. They predict a more gradual recovery, as investors slowly tiptoe back into the market.

Personally, I don't buy into either camp. In a recession this deep, recovery doesn't depend on investors. It depends on consumers who, after all, are 70 percent of the U.S. economy. And this time consumers got really whacked. Until consumers start spending again, you can forget any recovery, V or U shaped.

Problem is, consumers won't start spending until they have money in their pockets and feel reasonably secure. But they don't have the money, and it's hard to see where it will come from. They can't borrow. Their homes are worth a fraction of what they were before, so say goodbye to home equity loans and refinancings. One out of ten home owners is under water -- owing more on their homes than their homes are worth. Unemployment continues to rise, and number of hours at work continues to drop. Those who can are saving. Those who can't are hunkering down, as they must.

Eventually consumers will replace cars and appliances and other stuff that wears out, but a recovery can't be built on replacements. Don't expect businesses to invest much more without lots of consumers hankering after lots of new stuff. And don't rely on exports. The global economy is contracting.

My prediction, then? Not a V, not a U. But an X. This economy can't get back on track because the track we were on for years -- featuring flat or declining median wages, mounting consumer debt, and widening insecurity, not to mention increasing carbon in the atmosphere -- simply cannot be sustained.

The X marks a brand new track -- a new economy. What will it look like? Nobody knows. All we know is the current economy can't "recover" because it can't go back to where it was before the crash. So instead of asking when the recovery will start, we should be asking when and how the new economy will begin. More on this to come.

Robert Reich was the nation's 22nd Secretary of Labor and is a professor at the University of California at Berkeley. His latest book is "Supercapitalism."


Posted by Mr Thx Tuesday, July 14, 2009 0 comments

Is the most powerful of all waves right around the corner?
The short answer is "YES."

The long answer will help you anticipate where and when

First, let's describe wave 3.

If wave 3 was a superhero, he'd probably be The Flash (though he could be The Hulk).
Like The Flash, there's no mistaking wave 3's characteristics:
  • It gets to where it's going in a hurry.
  • It usually catches everyone by surprise, and
  • You'll know it when you see it.
Robert Prechter describes third waves in his seminal book with A.J. Frost, The Elliott Wave Principle:

"Third waves are wonders to behold. They are strong and broad, and the trend at this point is unmistakable. … Third waves usually generate the greatest volume and price movement and are most often the extended wave in a series."

But to truly appreciate the power and lightening-speed of third waves – and be prepared to anticipate one – you must first know how to identify the waves that precede it, namely wave 2.

Here's what Prechter writes about wave 2 in The Elliott Wave Principle (two words have been reversed to apply to bear markets):
"At this point, investors are thoroughly convinced that the (bull) market is back to stay. Second waves often end on very low volume and volatility, indicating a drying up of (buying) pressure."
If you're thinking the description of wave 2 seems eerily similar to today's environment, you're right.
On February 23, Robert Prechter's Elliott Wave Theorist recommended aggressive speculators close their short positions to avoid being caught in a "sharp and scary" rally. Just a few trading days later, the market began a multi-month rebound – wave 2.
BUT … Volume has steadily decreased since that rally began in early March. Volatility is on the rise. And perhaps most noteworthy of all: The investment herd – more specifically, the financial media – has jumped to proclaim the "worst is over."
All the classic characteristics of bear-market rallies are there. Even a quick online search turns up headlines like:
"Worst of the recession is over" ~ July 7
"Econ Crisis Not Over, But Worst Has Passed" ~ July 8
"June job bounce could mean worst is over" ~ July 7
"Wall St's fear gauge suggests the worst is over" ~ June 28
Recognizing the personality of wave 2 allows you to prepare for what's next, a move you really want to look out for, wave 3 – The Flash.
Third waves move far and fast. They make good opportunities for aggressive speculators, but they can become a death knell for longer-term investors' portfolios.


Posted by Mr Thx Monday, July 13, 2009 0 comments

The stock market’s rally has been impressive. The major indexes are now up about 40 percent from their recent lows, give or take a few percentage points. And for anyone who scooped up more speculative shares on weakness, the profits could be even higher.

Personally, I don’t ever recommend purchasing shares of companies with shoddy business models, consistently unprofitable operations, poor track records of caring about their shareholders, etc.

But I realize that many investors did buy these kinds of stocks as aggressive ways to play a rebounding market. And that’s why I wanted to make a particular point in today’s column to warn you about holding on to these companies in your portfolio.

Reason: I believe the easy gains have already been made, and the losses on any downside move could be very sharp and swift, erasing any profits that have piled up.

In Fact, the Very Definition of “High-Beta” Stocks
Is That They Make Outsized Moves BOTH Ways!

Typically speaking, the less stable a company is fundamentally, the greater the swings in its share price. That makes sense when you think about it …


Posted by Mr Thx Friday, July 10, 2009 0 comments

What are the most important and enduring characteristics of the Great Depression? And what should we monitor to determine how severe today’s situation really is?

The stock market will give important clues. But the economy, especially unemployment, defines depressions.

That should be obvious. However, after the stock market rallied off its March 2009 low, the media and many pundits seem to be fixated on the financial markets to determine the severity of the crisis and to call its end.

To see if the bulls’ hopeful thinking holds water, let’s go back to 1929 and have a look at the stock market’s behavior during those horrific times …


Posted by Mr Thx 0 comments

July 5, 2009- Market Summary
In this week's report we'll take a look at a common reversal pattern, known as a head and shoulders, which is starting to form on the charts of several major indexes. For those who need a quick refresher, you'll find that this pattern must go through four main steps to signal a reversal.

The first step is the formation of the left shoulder, which occurs when the security reaches a new high and retraces to a new low.
The second step is the formation of the head, which occurs when the security reaches a higher high, then retraces back near the low formed in the left shoulder.
The third step is the formation of the right shoulder, which occurs with a high that is lower than the high formed by the head, but is again followed by a retracement to the low of the left shoulder.

The pattern is complete once the price falls below the neckline, which is a support line formed at the level of the lows reached at each of the three retracements.

Posted by Mr Thx Monday, July 6, 2009 0 comments

Posted by Mr Thx Saturday, July 4, 2009 0 comments
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Sekapur Sirih Seulas Pinang

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