From Conversations with Casey:

Louis James, Casey Research Editor: So, what's on your mind this week, Doug? I understand you've had a "guru moment"…

Doug: Well, it's nothing but a gut feeling, but I think the stock market is riding for a big fall this year.

Everyone was afraid the world was going to come to an end a year ago, and it almost did. But governments all around the world stepped in and printed up trillions of their various currency units - it's not just the United States. And still, retail price inflation hasn't blossomed. It seems that governments are bent on keeping asset prices up to avert panic. They focus on controlling perception instead of fixing the problem. It stems from an economic version of the theory that all we need to fear is fear itself. As long as we have the right psychology, everything is going to be okay - total nonsense.

... It's the Wile E. Coyote theory of economics. As long as you never look down after running off a cliff chasing the roadrunner, you can keep treading air. Unfortunately, although the power of positive thinking may help in many ways, it's of zero use if you continue living above your means and making stupid decisions.

... My thinking about the stock market is this: corporations have done as "well" as they have mainly by cutting expenses. Laying people off, that sort of thing. So the bottom lines have not fallen as far as we might expect - but the top line has been hit. Revenues are falling for corporations across the board.

... The world's financial system has to adjust to a new reality, one with lower levels of consumption and differing types of production. The legions of unemployed are not going to go back to work anytime soon, at least not doing anything like what they were doing before the bubble burst. The economy is going to continue deleveraging. There's going to be less debt to allow the purchase of all this stuff people have been buying, resulting in lower corporate earnings. So it's hard to see revenues doing anything but continue to spiral downwards for years to come.

... I've been bearish on general equities for years, based on fundamentals. Whether they go up is no longer a reflection of prosperity - it's a reflection of how much money the government creates and where it goes. But I am feeling particularly strongly bearish on Wall Street right now. That's my gut. The social mood of the country is going to turn ugly and gloomy; people won't want to call their brokers and "get into the market."

The Greater Depression is going to be really serious. I can't see buying stocks until dividend yields are in the 6-12% range. And people have forgotten the market even exists. Anyway, Baby Boomers, who own most stocks directly and indirectly, are going to be selling them to support themselves in retirement.

L: This doesn't sound like a guru moment - a flash of the famous Casey inspiration. This sounds more like a well-reasoned argument to me.

Doug: Well, when you get a really strong gut feeling, it's usually because you intuit many things that are out there, subconsciously if not analytically. Look, dividends are dropping across the board. Top line earnings are dropping. Where net earnings have been maintained, it's been by expense cutting.

... As the government takes over more and more of the economy, they'll mismanage that activity, as they always - necessarily - do. Why do I say necessarily? Because they do things that are politically productive for them, not economically productive for society. That's going to hurt productivity and profitability, misallocating and even destroying capital wherever they stick their noses. And, today, that's absolutely everywhere.

Taxes, of course, will go way up. That's going to give individuals less money to buy stocks. Corporations will have less money left over to reinvest or pay dividends with. All the draconian new rules they're enacting in response to the crisis will only serve to inhibit entrepreneurial activity and investment. It will encourage speculation (see our conversation on speculation).

The real estate market has not, by any means, bottomed yet. What's going to happen in the commercial and office real estate markets is just starting, and the housing market is still going to get worse.

All of this is very bearish for the stock market.

source HERE

Posted by Mr Thx Friday, January 15, 2010


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