Unprecedented Extremes in Overbought Readings

Readers may recall our recent articles on the blow-off move in the stock market, entitled Punch-Drunk Investors and Extinct Bears (see Part 1 & Part 2 for the details). Bears remained firmly extinct as of last week – in fact, some of the sentiment indicators we are keeping tabs on have become even more stretched, as incredible as that may sound. For instance, assets in bullish Rydex funds exceeded bear assets by a factor of more than 37 at one point last week.

 

Bullish investors had every reason to feel smug in recent months. And while there are a number of bears of varying degrees of prominence who have become cautious much too early (many of whom have fallen silent over the past year or so, but that is how it always works…), there are very few traders who are actively betting on a downturn. And yet, we know that the main bubble fuel – namely, broad true money supply growth – is faltering.

 

Last Friday, after discussing with friends of ours what the best way to play tail risk currently probably is, we updated a few of the charts we showed in those articles. More on the former topic follows further below, but first here are a few charts we made on Friday, just before the recent minor dip began – i.e., the charts are not showing this dip yet, but this is actually not relevant for our purpose. The first chart is a weekly chart of the DJIA as of Friday last week (we are focusing on the DJIA because it is the “bubble leader”).

 

A weekly chart of the DJIA as of Friday last week. To be perfectly honest, we are actually not 100% sure if a weekly RSI exceeding 92 is entirely “unprecedented”, although we strongly suspect it is. What we do know for certain is that it has not happened in at least 45 years. As noted in the insert, this manic RSI reading has coincided with DSI readings (daily sentiment index of futures traders) on stock index futures that were the exact opposite of the extreme DSI readings recorded at the low in March of 2009.

 

When it comes to charts, we like to keep things simple – cluttering them up with all kinds of oscillators and overlays is not really our thing. We do however traditionally use RSI and MACD as overbought/oversold indicators, mainly in order to spot divergences, which are often helpful for short to medium term timing. When we looked at longer term charts to see whether the DJIA had ever posted a weekly RSI above 92 before, it occurred to us that this was probably extremely rare for any stock market index.

It turns out we were right about that. As an example, when the great tech mania of the late 1990s topped out in March of 2000, the Nasdaq’s weekly RSI stood “only” at 84. In the DJIA, even the monthly RSI finally exceeded the 90 level last week – which we believe is a first as well:

 

DJIA monthly – we are aware that it looks slightly less intimidating on a log chart. In view of the uniqueness of the situation, it should look scary though (in a number of ways valuations have never been more stretched, so this is not only an extraordinary juncture in technical terms). When we see charts like this one, we always wonder what people buying the top tick are actually thinking – that stocks are a bargain here? They control money, so they have to be thinking something, right?

 

A Lone Precedent

After ascertaining that indexes are indeed almost never posting such extreme RSI readings in weekly and monthly time frames, we looked around to see if we could perhaps find a precedent anyway. In the end we actually did find one, even if it is not ideal as a comparison, namely the Shenzhen ChiNext Index in 2015.

Unfortunately this index has very little in common with the DJIA beyond the ominous weekly RSI reading above the 90 threshold, but it is still interesting to see what happened to it after it had managed to attain such rarefied heights. As one would expectm it wasn’t pretty, but we are mainly interested in how precisely  the reversal from euphoria to panic played out.

 

Shenzhen ChiNext, weekly – several things are worth noting: the weekly RSI peak was actually recorded in the week after the price peak, at a slightly lower high. As can be seen, just one week passed between the top and the first week of the crash (a 40% decline in four weeks and ultimately a 55% decline in three months surely qualifies for the moniker). On a more granular daily chart (see further below) one can see that this one week of hesitation during which a “hanging man” candle was built on the weekly chart, consisted of two big down days, a “pause day” and a three day rebound with waning momentum; and that was all she wrote.  Also noteworthy: more than two years after crashing, the market remains 55% below its peak, and has intermittently traded at even lower levels. So instead of making a comeback, this market has apparently fallen into a state of long-term despondency.

 

We find this rapid reversal quite interesting, because it is something that almost never happens in stock markets either. Stocks usually tend to top out in lengthy “distribution” patterns (as rallies are driven by greed) while they often bottom in spike lows (as sharp downturns are driven by fear). The exact opposite behavior is usually observed in commodities, i.e., they tend to make spike tops, while bottoming patterns are usually tedious, lengthy affairs, with many false starts.

We are of course not saying that precisely the same sequence of events is going to happen in the case of the DJIA – normally we would actually deem this a highly unlikely prospect. But recall what we pointed out in December of last year when we pondered how the bubble might end. We conjectured that the handful of bigger corrections we have seen since the 2009 low are likely providing important clues.

This applies particularly the May 2010 “flash crash” and the August 2015 mini-crash, which were evidently driven by market-immanent, structural issues. These structural issues remain with us. While the sharp three day decline in 2015 happened several weeks after a market peak, it started with very little warning from a level less than 5% below said peak (see the annotated chart). It was a highly unusual pattern.

Our suspicion is that in some way, the reversal of the current bubble will also be marked by an unusual pattern. It may lack the “normal” warning signs, it may happen faster than generally expected – we obviously cannot know. We believe though that similar to the many unprecedented things have happened on the way up, we should expect to see unusual behavior on the way down as well.

 

Here is the above mentioned close-up showing the daily action in the ChiNext Index during the 2015 blow-off and subsequent denouement.

 

As an aside, whether this week’s dip is actually meaningful remains to be seen; keep in mind that what looks like a fairly large loss in terms of points by recent standards is really nothing special in percentage terms, so it may well mean absolutely nothing – but one should be on one’s toes and keep one’s eyes peeled anyway.

 

Addendum: Tail Risk Play

We already remarked on the VIX at the end of our last article discussing the stock market. The VIX recently represented a fairly reasonable way of speculating on a correction (or something worse). If one wants to take advantage of tail risk potential with options – a low risk way of doing so – a blow-off represents a problem: since it is unknowable how far it will go, the strike prices of options one happens to buy too early will move further and further out of the money. Paying up for more time can mitigate this problem, but isn’t a truly satisfactory solution either.

However, in recent months the VIX has stopped falling – it is no longer trending lower in a kind of mirror image of the market’s uptrend. For calls on the VIX  that are bought near the lower end of its recent range, the danger that strike prices will move too far out of the money has become negligible.

 

Since mid 2017 the VIX no longer makes lower lows – despite the market’s continued advance, it has transitioned from a downward trending channel that was operative for almost two years into a sideways channel.

 

Of course, VIX options come with their own drawbacks and caveats. Moreover, selling volatility is still in fashion as far as we can tell, and any surges in the VIX will presumably tend to invite more of it. But one of these days this is no longer going to work and then such tail risk plays can pay off quite nicely.

 

Charts by: StockCharts, BigCharts

 

 

 

Emigrate While You Can... Learn More

 


 

 
 

Dear Readers!

You may have noticed that our so-called “semiannual” funding drive, which started sometime in the summer if memory serves, has seamlessly segued into the winter. In fact, the year is almost over! We assure you this is not merely evidence of our chutzpa; rather, it is indicative of the fact that ad income still needs to be supplemented in order to support upkeep of the site. Naturally, the traditional benefits that can be spontaneously triggered by donations to this site remain operative regardless of the season - ranging from a boost to general well-being/happiness (inter alia featuring improved sleep & appetite), children including you in their songs, up to the likely allotment of privileges in the afterlife, etc., etc., but the Christmas season is probably an especially propitious time to cross our palms with silver. A special thank you to all readers who have already chipped in, your generosity is greatly appreciated. Regardless of that, we are honored by everybody's readership and hope we have managed to add a little value to your life.

   

Bitcoin address: 12vB2LeWQNjWh59tyfWw23ySqJ9kTfJifA

   
 

2 Responses to “Too Much Bubble-Love, Likely to Bring Regret”

  • domain:

    Again, very timely Pater. If only I wasn’t an amateur terrified of making a mistake with options by doing it wrong and risking more than the Capital I wanted to bet, the cancel button I pushed last week on my pending order kept me from a six-figure reward on your advice.

    Despite my own failure, your observations are as valuable as they are timely!

  • zerobs:

    A 22% run-up in one year is just asking for a correction. And any correction from a run-up of that size is going to be called a crash by the drama queens that report on such things.

    And of course any correction will be followed by shrieks of “Why Doesn’t Trump DO something???” Especially since most public employee pension funds will collapse with a correction. And everyone will forget that part of the reason the pension funds are collapsing is because during the last major correction the “DO SOMETHING” crowd got suppressed interest rates from the Fed which made Treasuries (you know, the safe stuff pensions were supposed to be mostly holding) so expensive that fund managers were forced to sell bonds and plow into riskier equities. Some of the smarter pension funds are dipping their toes back into bonds; and then there’s the nitwits in Illinois who want to issue junk bonds to plow the proceeds into equities – one can only hope the correction comes fast enough to stop these fools.

Your comment:

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Most read in the last 20 days:

  • Sovereign Bonds – Stretched to the Limit
    Anti-Vigilantes We dimly remember when Japanese government debt traded at a negative yield to maturity for the very first time. This happened at some point in the late 1990s or early 2000ds in secondary market trading (it was probably a shorter maturity than the 10-year JGB) and was considered quite a curiosity. If memory serves, it happened on just one brief occasion and it was widely held at the time that the absurd situation of a bond buyer accepting a certain loss if the bonds were...
  • Writing on the Wall
    Not Adding Up One of the more disagreeable discrepancies of American life in the 21st century is the world according to Washington’s economic bureaus and the world as it actually is.  In short, things don’t add up.  What’s more, the propaganda is so far off the mark, it is downright insulting.   Coming down from the mountain with the latest data tablet... [PT]   The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports an unemployment rate of just 3.7 percent.  The BLS also...
  • Global Stock Markets: Danger Lies Directly Ahead
      A Global Pattern You are no doubt aware of the saying “sell in May and go away”. It is one of the best-known and oldest stock market truisms.   Mark Twain's famous saying about stock market speculation (the other one was “There are two times in a man's life when he should not speculate – when he cannot afford it, and when he can”).  From a seasonal perspective he was definitely right about September and October. [PT]   The saying is in fact justified...
  • Bond Yields in the Netherworld - Precious Metals Supply and Demand
      A Record Amount of Bonds with Negative Yields to Maturity Last week the price of gold went up $22, while the price of silver dropped ¢17. The big news last week was that the yield on all German government bond maturities is now negative. They are also all negative in Switzerland. And in Denmark, all maturities out to 20 years are negative. Interest rates are dropping rapidly in the US as well.   More than $14 trillion in bonds now trade at negative yields to maturity –...
  • Rising Stock Market Volatility – Another Warning Sign
      Bad Hair Days Are Back We recently discussed the many divergences between major US indexes, which led us to expect that a downturn in the stock market was close (see The Calm Before the Storm for details). Here is an update of the comparison chart we showed at the time:   The divergences between various indexes seem to be resolving as expected.   The next chart shows analogous divergences between the S&P 500 Index and two major foreign stock markets:   US...
  • Retail Holders Sell Their Gold - Precious Metals Supply and Demand
      A Myriad of Reasons to Buy Gold – But Small Holders are Selling Big moves occurred in the prices of the metals last week, with that of gold up $57 and silver $0.77. We have now reached a price of gold (if not silver) not seen since 2013, when it was on the way down. What is causing this sudden spike in price and renewed interest in gold?   A well-known depiction of investor emotions over a complete market cycle. Interestingly, it appears as though many retail gold holders...
  • Bitcoin – From Greed to Fear
      A Noteworthy Sentiment Change Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have declined quite sharply in recent days. Here is an overnight snapshot of the daily chart:   Bitcoin corrects again...   It is difficult to gauge sentiment on BTC objectively, but there is a service that tries to do just that. According to its greed & fear barometer, the recent decline seems to have triggered quite a bit of apprehension:   The BTC sentiment measure of alternative.me has...
  • Interest Rate Watch and Bond Market Curiosities
    Things To Keep An Eye On Below is an overview of important US interest rates and yield curve spreads. In view of the sharp increase in stock market volatility, yields on government debt have continued to decline in a hurry. However, the flat to inverted yield curve has not yet begun to steep – which usually happens shortly before recessions and the associated bear markets begin.   2-year note yield, 3-month t-bill yield, 10-year note yield, 10-year/2-year yield spread,...
  • Getting to a Special State of Ugly
    Suspicious Phrases There are certain phrases – like “trust me” or “I got this” – that should immediately provoke one’s suspicion.  When your slippery contractor tells you, “trust me, your kitchen renovation will be done before Christmas,” you should be wary.  There is no way it will be done before late spring.   USD-CNH (offshore yuan) exchange rate – the support/resistance level at 7 finally breaks amid escalating trade war rhetoric. [PT]   Or...
  • Tumbling Interest Rates - Precious Metals Supply and Demand
      An Era of Low Time Preference Last week the price of gold moved up another $16, and the price of silver was up $0.14.   10-year treasury note yield since 1999 – it is almost back at the multi-decade low of 2016. The only other time in history when US treasury yields were this low was in 1944-1945, when the Fed was actively suppressing yields in order to provide cheap financing for the war effort. One year later (from mid 1946 to mid 1947) the CPI jumped to more than 17%...
  • A Bubble in Complacency - Incrementum Advisory Board Discussion
      Incrementum Advisory Board Meeting of 31 July 2019 At the end of July the Advisory Board of the Incrementum Fund held its quarterly meeting (a full transcript is available for download at the end of this post). The board was joined by special guest Simon Mikhailovich, a financial market veteran who inter alia co-founded the Toqueville Bullion Reserve. The title of the transcript and this post was inspired by his remarks.   Special guest Simon Mikhailovich   We...
  • Dead Meat in Jackson Hole
      The Pointlessness of Negative Yields If there are any virtues of debt instruments with negative yields we have yet to realize them. Certainly, we understand that as bond yields fall, bond prices rise, and bond investors are rewarded with capital appreciation. But when capital is appreciating as a consequence of negative yields, we suspect there is something fundamentally wrong with the capital itself.   Not only is the stock of negative-yielding debt at a new record high...

Support Acting Man

Austrian Theory and Investment

j9TJzzN

The Review Insider

Archive

Dog Blow

THE GOLD CARTEL: Government Intervention on Gold, the Mega Bubble in Paper and What This Means for Your Future

Realtime Charts

 

Gold in USD:

[Most Recent Quotes from www.kitco.com]

 


 

Gold in EUR:

[Most Recent Quotes from www.kitco.com]

 


 

Silver in USD:

[Most Recent Quotes from www.kitco.com]

 


 

Platinum in USD:

[Most Recent Quotes from www.kitco.com]

 


 

USD - Index:

[Most Recent USD from www.kitco.com]

 

Mish Talk

 
Buy Silver Now!
 
Buy Gold Now!