by Murray Soupcoff
The eastern world, it is exploding
Violence flarin', bullets loadin'
You're old enough to kill, but not for votin'
You don't believe in war, but what's that gun you're totin'
And even the Jordan River has bodies floatin'
But you tell me
Over and over and over again, my friend
Ah, you don't believe
We're on the eve
--Barry McQuire , “Eve Of Destruction”, July 1965
Happy miserable New Year 20I6 folks. I’m writing this column on Wednesday 20th, and today I’m afraid it’s difficult not to be very pessimistic about the prospects for our world as we know it.
To start off, on our voyage to the bottom of any remaining hope for Western civilization, North Korea recently claimed it detonated its first-ever hydrogen bomb.
Worse, despite initial skepticism on the part of the reality-challenged Obama administration, South Korean seismographs recorded a 5.1 magnitude quake centered in North Korea that same night – matching the results recorded during North Korea’s last nuclear test in 2013.
But that wasn’t all the bad news from South Asia that day.
In particular, China’s ‘yuan’ currency suffered yet another sharp devaluation overnight (meaning it was worth less in the morning than the previous evening).
Moreover, in the ‘offshore’ (European & North American) currency market, the yuan dropped more than twice as much.
And what do I think this Chinese currency drop means?
In my opinion, it signaled that the Chinese economy is in even worse shape than even die-hard “Peking pessimists” expected.
And related to the many signals that the Chinese economic growth is slowing (meaning a dwindling market for American & European manufacturing & commodity exports to China), the three key American indices continued their early 2016 plunge today:
When the final bell sounded on this panic-selling session, the Dow finished down 249 points, or 1.55%; the S&P 500 closed off 22 points or 1.17%; and the NASDAQ – despite a late afternoon rally -- still closed down 5.3 points or 0.12%.
In fact, investment-wise, it’s been a truly TERRIBLE BEGINNING to NEW YEAR 2016:
On average, stocks in the S&P 500 are down 25% from their 52-week highs. And none of the major indexes have set new highs since July. For example, the New York Stock Exchange, where more than 3,700 stocks trade, is down 17% since May. The Russell 2000, which tracks 2,000 small U.S. stocks, is down 23% since June.
In my opinion, these eye-popping losses highlight the deep fears that have gripped financial markets over China's economic slowdown and crashing oil prices.
Consequently, that one-two punch caused the Dow and S&P 500 to suffer their worst start to a trading year (2016) on record.
For example, the S&P 500's market valuation has plunged by $1.04 trillion since the end of 2015, according to S&P Dow Jones Indices.
To put that stunning figure in context, it's like wiping out the combined value of the following tech giants: Google (GOOGL,Tech30) -- $508 billion; Facebook (FB, Tech30) -- $281 billion; Intel (INTC, Tech30) --$154 billion; Netflix (NFLX, Tech30) --$50 billion; and Yahoo (YHOO, Tech30) --$29 billion.
The Dow's market cap has plunged by $310 billion through Monday's close (again according to S&P Dow Jones Indices). And that's equivalent to ExxonMobil (XOM) -- $309.5 billion -- being erased from the index.
The NASDAQ stock exchange, the star of 2015, is also off to a terrible start. It's down about 7% so far in 2016, and it notched its eighth losing day in a row on Monday. That's the longest losing streak for the NASDAQ since 2008.
And small-cap stocks are getting bludgeoned even more than their larger cousins. The Russell 2000 has already tumbled 7% this year, and narrowly avoided closing in a bear market on Monday (being labelled a "bear market" signals a 20% decline from previous highs).
No wonder there are lots of signs of rising panic on Wall Street. For example, CNNMoney's ‘Fear & Greed Index’ is now flashing "extreme fear," a dramatic reversal from "neutral" just two weeks ago.
Well, as one example, the fourth-quarter earnings season is expected to reveal the first back-to-back decline in corporate profits since 2009, according to “S&P Capital IQ”.
Cheap oil prices are a big driver of shrinking profits, not to mention the recent slump in the stock market (described above).
But It's not just oil stocks getting ravaged: AutoNation (AN), Wynn Resorts (WYNN), Under Armour (UA) and Chipotle (CMG) are just some of the well-known “S&P 500” stocks already down more than 10% this year (“can you say ‘bear market’, boys & girls?”).
In fact, less than 10% of the S&P 500 has gained ground in 2016. And some of the early winners don't paint a pretty picture. For example, the best Dow performer is Wal-Mart (WMT), which most analysts claim is benefiting from worries that an economic slowdown in America will force consumers to pinch their pennies.
Still not convinced?
Then how about the transcript of the following “CNN News” report, filed on January 12th of this year (2016):
That harrowing advice is from “The Royal Bank of Scotland”, which has warned of a "cataclysmic year" ahead for markets and advised clients to head for the exit.
Do not wait. Do not pass go. Sell everything except high quality bonds," warned Andrew Roberts in a note this week.
He said the bank's red flags for 2016 -- falling oil, volatility in China, shrinking world trade, rising debt, weak corporate loans and deflation -- had all been seen in just the first week of trading.
“We think investors should be afraid,” he said.
“The world is in a global recession”, Roberts wrote. “This terrible cocktail means investors should now be thinking about getting a ‘return of capital’, not ‘return on capital’."
RBS compares the market mood with that of 2008 before the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the start of the global financial crisis.
At least then, emerging markets were there to save the world from complete collapse.
According to RBS, China can’t this time around, let alone any other big emerging market. RBS remains "deeply skeptical" that Chinese authorities can right the ship any time soon. It warns that without allowing a massive devaluation of its currency -- around 20% -- China can be of no help.
RBS believes China suffered a massive outflow of capital in December -- perhaps as much as $170 billion -- with much of that money going straight into the dollar. A chart showing Chinese outflows in 2015 is "surely now the most important chart in the world," concluded Roberts.
Or how about the following video, which includes the 2016 stock-market outlook from the point of view of Swiss America’s chairman, a perennial optimist (now completely cashed out of the stock market, having sold all his shares):
And that is not to mention escalating instability in another quite different sphere --international relations (or should we say non-relations).
For example, how about Saudi Arabia executing 47 dissidents in one day -- including a major Shiite (pro-Iranian) cleric -- and then exchanging military threats with Iran, with all of the preceding threatening a future outbreak of Middle East nuclear conflict.
But hey, we haven’t even gotten to the Syrian-immigrant “rapefest” in Germany yet – to really get you started worrying about the potential end of Western civilization as we know it.
Yes, according to news stories in a few brave “political incorrect” German newspapers, over 1,000 Muslim migrants in Cologne began an organized rampage of rape and sexual assault on German women on New Year’s Eve -- surrounding them, and then groping and sexually abusing them.
These immigrants’ unique way of celebrating New Year’s 2016 was to launch fireworks into crowds and then sexually assault German women caught up in the chaos.
One victim, 28 year old ‘Katja L’ spoke of her nightmarish experience as she tried to make her way to the waiting room of the Cologne railway station with two other girls, to meet a boyfriend in the early hours of New Year’s Day.
She told ‘Der Express’ – a large regional newspaper: “When we came out of the station, we were very surprised by the group that met us there”. She said the group was “exclusively young foreign men”. Keeping close to her friends, they pressed on:
“We then walked through this group of men. There was an alley through [the men] which we walked through. Suddenly I felt a hand on my buttocks, then on my breasts, in the end, I was groped everywhere. It was a nightmare. Although we shouted and beat them, the guys did not stop. I was desperate and think I was touched around 100 times in the 200 meters.
“Fortunately I wore a jacket and trousers; a skirt would probably have been torn away from me”.
Others were less lucky. Police later reluctantly admitted that there had also been “rapes” at the Cologne train station that night.
Even more amazing, new reports began surfacing that sexual assaults were made against female Muslim residents in housing set up for European migrants pouring into Germany -- housing set up as part of the country’s refugee (or should we say “rapefugee”) resettlement efforts.
For example, how about the much-tweeted video featured on “Shoebat.com”, in which a Muslim migrant brags about a devastating 7-man gang rape of young German virgin girl, “full of dirt and sperm”
Here’s the transcript:
Muslim Rapist: “Dude we were seven guys. Some on the floor, three on the beds. They were bunk beds. Three were on top, three were below. Adim switched off the light and f***ed her. He deflowered her. She was a virgin. You must imagine that! Virgin! And we were still six guys on top of the bed, dude. And he: Bang! Bang! And we on top of the bed jumped down, she screams and of course she was fighting back and so on. And we had her legs, dude. Bang! One held her over there, the other over there, dude. And than, dude: Sinan and the others. One after another, dude. Virgin, dude! Well done, dude! I swear to you. She cried after that, she couldn’t go on any longer And we, like pigs we spit on her. Sperm and dirt all over her. We really got milked.“
Cameraman: “And you f***ed her in the a**, right?“
Muslim Rapist: “DUDE, it was a virgin! And we DESTROYED her with seven guys, dude. Didn’t f**k her a**. But not in the a** though.”
What a charming, though shamelessly honest , dude!
But now to complete our brief ‘end-of-the-world ‘odyssey, let’s again return to our original analysis of the meltdown in today’s global stock exchanges.
After all, is it really possible that the equivalent of global Armageddon, in world-wide stock markets, is approaching soon?
Well, yes, I think so.
And if you’re doubtful, here’s a possible sample of the kind of market phenomena which could become commonplace in the future -- as illustrated in a “Daily Telegraph” news report on imploding European stock markets:
[JUST CLICK ONCE, ON THE WEB LINK IMMEDIATELY BELOW, TO READ THIS INVESTMENT-RELATED NEWS STORY:]
And if I’m correct, I believe that more events, like this, will ultimately impoverish hundreds of millions of innocent investors globally.
And worse still, if I’m proven correct in my suppositions -- all expressed in a long stint as an investment columnist with Twitter [http://stocktwits.com/MurrayS] (and, until recently, with the “Globe & Mail” online investment-advice site for its readers) -- these events will then particularly destroy the savings & livelihoods of millions of unprepared (and unsuspecting) investors globally.
In particular, I’ve been predicting that global stock markets are going to be metaphorically clobbered as early as autumn 2016, as the “Fed” is forced to raise interest rates (ending “monetary easing”, as economists call it).
And based on what I have learned, through past research about historical stock-market & economic cycles, I do eventually expect a global economic crash of significant proportions – one that creates rising costs of living, particularly in America, along with declining incomes AND soaring tax burdens for most U.S. residents.
And based on what happened, historically, during previous economic implosions like this, we could possibly expect a rise in anti-government sentiments, expressed in extremist movements on the political left & right.
Throw in the riots, looting and protests -- which have accompanied similar past economic disasters like this -- and you have the recipe for social anarchy and “push back” by an increasingly authoritarian government, using among other initiatives: increasing intimidation of allegedly “dangerous” elements (ie, political opponents) through the IRS and other “justice” agencies.
In other words, a world in which President Richard Nixon, of Watergate fame, would have felt quite comfortable.
And in my biased opinion, global Armageddon (as described previously), may be a fact of life in a matter of a few years.
And if I’m proven wrong, I will be most happy to eat humble pie.
But just a reminder that my unfailing theme recently – in my Twitter investment “posts” (http://stocktwits.com/MurrayS) – has been that a massive stock market crash is inevitably coming in the United States.
And that’s despite all the great profits currently experienced by today’s reality-denying U.S. stock-market investors -- profits occurring only because of the continued “artificial” low-interest-rate policies created by the ‘Fed’ (currently by Janet Yellen).
So my cautionary warning: Hold onto your hats & wallets, folks, because this is going to be one bumpy ride!
Because, in my opinion, when Ms. Yellen metaphorically jams on the brake pedal, on quantitative easing, here’s what I think will inevitably happen:
Global stock markets will crash; and “HYPER INFLATION” will wipe out the savings of everyone but greedy ‘crony capitalists’ — like George Soros, whose generous contributions (ie, political donations) to the Democratic Party have ensured his prosperity.
Hence, thanks to Barack Obama, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi & George Soros, there will finally be INCOME INEQUALITY in America.
But it will be EQUAL impoverishment for ALL Americans, except the privileged & spoiled elitists who inflicted these failed economic policies on us.
And as I’ve opined previously in many of my past investment posts:
There is only one political solution to this dismal politically-created economic status quo – including sub-par 2.2% annual GDP growth, and repeated TRILLION dollar deficits in the U.S.
In the 2016 elections, Americans should permanently vote out of office all the Democrat-Party bums who created this economic mess!