While driving back from Lake Tahoe last weekend, I received a call from a dear friend who was in a very foul mood.
Following the advice of another newsletter that I won’t mention, he bailed out of all his stocks on the February 9 meltdown. He was promised that Armageddon was coming, and the Dow would hit 3,000.
Despite the Federal Reserve now on a rate rising path, here we are with the major stock indexes just short of all-time highs.
Why the hell are stocks still going up?
I paused for a moment as a kid driving a souped-up Honda weaved into my lane of Interstate 80, cutting me off. Then I gave my friend my response, which I summarize below:
1) There is nothing else to buy. Complain all you want, but US equities are now one of the world’s highest yielding securities, with a lofty 2.5% dividend.
A staggering 50% of S&P 500 stocks now yield more than US Treasury bonds (TLT). That compares to two thirds of all developed world debt offering negative rates and US Treasuries at 2.85%.
2) Oil prices have bottomed, but remain historically low, and the windfall cost savings are only just being felt around the world.
3) While a low Euro (FXE) if definitely eating into large multinational earnings, we are probably approaching the end of the move. The cure for a weak euro is a weak euro. The worst may be behind for US exporters.
4) What follows a collapse in European economic growth? A European recovery, powered by a weak currency. European quantitative easing is working.
5) What follows a Japanese economic collapse? A recovery there, too, as hyper accelerating QE feeds into the main economy. Japanese stocks are now among the world’s cheapest. The Japanese yen (FXY ) will probably FALL for the rest of the year, adding more fuel to the fire there.
6) While the next move in interest rates will certainly be up, it is not going to move the needle on corporate P&L’s for a very long time. We might see two 25 basis point hikes, and that probably won’t happen until the second half of 2017. In a deflationary world, there is no room for more.