Regular readers know I am a fan of Scott Adams, creator of the comic Dilbert and occasional commentator on a variety of matters.
He has a somewhat odd blog post up, titled, Here Come the Market Manipulators. In it, he makes two interesting suggestions: The first is to decry “market manipulators,” who do what they do for fun and profit to the detriment of the rest of us. The second is to say that these manipulators are likely to cause “a 20% correction in 2013.”
Let’s quickly address both of these issues: First off, have a look at the frequency of 20% corrections in markets. According to Fidelity (citing research from Capital Research and Management Company), over the period encompassing 1900-2010, has seen the following corrections occur:
Corrections During 1900 – 2010
5%: 3 times per year
10%: Once per year
20%: Once every 3.5 years
Note that Fido does not specify which market, but given the dates we can assume it is the Dow Industrials. (I’ll check on that later).
Note that US market’s have not had a 20% correction since the lows in March 2009. I’ll pull up the relevant data in the office, but a prior corrective action of 19% is the closest we’ve come, followed by a ~16% and ~11%.
As to the manipulators of the market, I can only say: Dude, where have you been the past 100 years or so?
Yes, the market gets manipulated. Whether its tax cuts or interest rate cuts or federal spending or wars or QE or legislative rule changes to FASB or even the creation of IRAs and 401ks, manipulation abounds.
In terms of the larger investors who attract followers — I do not see the same evidence that Adams sees. Sure, the market is often driven by large investors. Yes, many of these people have others who follow them. We need only look at what Buffet, Soros, Dalio, Icahn, Ackman, Einhorn and others have done to see widely imitated stock trades. But that has shown itself to be a bad idea, and I doubt anyone is making much money attempting to do so. And, it hardly leads to the conclusion that any more than the usual manipulation is going on.
Will be have a 20% correction? I guarantee that eventually, we will. Indeed, we are even overdue for it, postponed as it is by the Fed’s manipulation.
But I have strong doubts it is going to be caused by a cabal manipulating markets for fun & profit. It will occur because that’s what markets do . . .
Dilbert’s Unified Theory of Everything Financial’ (October 15th, 2006)
7 Suggestions for Scott Adams (November 27th, 2007)
Don’t Follow Wealthy Investors, Part 14 (February 17th, 2008)