Technicals versus Economics

I got involved in a debate earlier at RealMoney – Columnist
, and wanted to pass it along here.

Pre-GDP (1/27/2006 7:31 AM EST), I wrote :

1) Technicals remain strong, and continue to be the driving force short
term. But economics look weak, and continue to be source of concern
long term.

2) Last Friday’s market actions was the market’s early warning sign.
Very heavy volume to the downside on a big selloff is never a good
thing. I interpret that day as a foundational crack of the cyclical
Bull market. Again, we are not looking for a 1987 situation, but rather
a Q1 topping out, and an ugly rest of the year.

3) Gold also looks toppy — it’s well overdue for a 10% correction. We
are short here, but would re-establish a long position in the 480-510

4) A 500 point day in Japan is too exuberant — it’s a sign of very
emotional trading. Historically, these sort of buying frenzies tend to
end badly. As such, we are lowering our multiyear price target on the
Nikkei down from 21,000 to 18,000. I would not be surprised to see this
lowered again before year’s end. And the Korean Topix, which I have
liked for some time, is geting crazed. Still plenty of upside, but
getting frothy…

Norm Conley raised a legitimate question about this:

"It seems as if you are taking two outlier one-day moves in markets (one "up"
move, and one "down" move), and extrapolating that although they are
contradirectional, they both carry ominous portents."

My response was:

I wrote:

You raise some fair points; Let’s see if I can — briefly — explain further:

1) I was specifically referring to market internals (as opposed to chart
patterns) when I said the technicals were strong: The Up/down ratio,
advance/decline line, new 52 week highs, % of stocks over their 50 and 200 day
moving average — none of these are in a danger zone yet, and if anything, are

2) Last Friday was down 2% on heavy volume; That’s not a sign of excessive
emotion or panic — rather, its a sign of significant distribution by
institutional sellers. That’s rarely a one-day event. I interpret that as a
warning sign of more trouble to come, as it reveals that big holders are willing
to bail at early signs of trouble.

3) Japan up that huge is simply a buying frenzy. Clients of ours in Korea are
telling me all the foreign cash flowing into the Kospi has engendered a giddy
mayhem. (500 points! Geez!)

4) As I have mentioned previously, crowds are right — don’t fight the tape
— until they become an emotional mob. We are seeing early signs of that in
Asia. Again, it doesn’t mean it rolls over tomorrow, but as someone who has been
Bullish on Japan for 2 years and Korea for 1, and most recently Malaysia, I fear
we could be later in the investment cycle than I originally believed. (Facts
change, and I am compelled to adjust to them).

5) Lastly, the single most common emailed question I recieved after the Cult
of the Bears
series was this: How on Earth can you be Bullish short term
but so Bearish long term?
The answer is that I use both techncials for the
short term and the macro top down economics work for the longer term.

Shorter term internals / Technicals are positive; Longer term, the Macro is

I do not worry about the day-to-day, focusing instead on trading 30-90 days out,
and investing 1 to 2 years. In fact, as to the day-to-day, I’m surprised the
response to GDP wasn’t more Bullish, along the lines of "Hey, this is proof
positve the Fed can now stop!"
But that’s not my forte, and I never try to
guess the day gyrations.

Norm then noted:

Your year-end target on the S&P represents a 31%+ decline from today’s
prices. An 11-month decline of that magnitude in the S&P is nearly
unprecedented and certainly represents a bold call.

My response was: 

Actually, 25% corrections are more common than most investors realize —
especially in secular bear markets. They are hardly the black swan events many
make them out to be.

From 1966-1982, the market saw 5 sell offs of ~25% or more. The chart
shows corrections of 25%, 36%, 45%, 27% and 24% over the course of 16
years. That’s one every 38 months or so. Our last 25% correction was July 2002
— 42 months ago.

So a 31% correction will hardly be an earth shattering event, and if it comes
to pass, it will likely be a response to many issues.

When the Business Week predictions came out, and I saw I was the low man, I
was, quite frankly, aghast. I assumed I’d be in the bottom quartile or even
decile — but not low man on the totem pole. Remember, we had Bill Gross calling
for Dow 5000 and even more Bearish guys saying much worse. I suspect the more
Bearish participants just chickened out — but that’s probably because they are
smarter than I.

Given that Lions pick off the gazelles that stray from the herd, I would have
much preferred to be near the bottom, rather than the outlier . . .



1/27/2006 9:46 AM EST
RealMoney – Columnist

few quick comments

1/27/2006 7:31 AM EST
RealMoney – Columnist

Hardly unprecendented
1/27/2006 10:37 AM EST
RealMoney – Columnist

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What's been said:

Discussions found on the web:
  1. Mike commented on Jan 27


    Shorting gold? Check out the Big Balls on Barry! Too volatile for my taste but it has nowhere to go but
    down when equities fall. I can’t recall a shakedown
    in equities that didn’t also impact gold. The correction
    that began in March of 2000 is a perfect example.

    I’ve also felt that Japan is topping out. According to my
    charts I see trouble after the Nikkei crosses 16,500.
    I always read your blog and found you bullish on Japan still and that gave me some pause.

    It’s nice too see a chart reader confirm this though.

    What do you think of Taiwan? The index is still below
    the 1990 high of 12,000. Marc Faber has been playing
    it up also.

  2. DG commented on Jan 27

    I wouldnt short gold either because its not a “Trade” so much as its an “accumulate.” All the gold bugs will tell you they dont buy gold to make money, but to preserve money. Its a different way of thinking. While there certainly might be a correction, which would provide an interesting entry point, long term, with liquidity remaining at its current levels, do we really think its going to stay down?

  3. Uncle Jack commented on Jan 27

    “I suspect the more Bearish participants just chickened out — but that’s probably because they are smarter than I.”

    In light of your recent phonecon with the people from The Daily Show, I suspect that Business Week was avoiding the permabears so readers would buy optimistic copy. Tough to be a pessimist and sell magazines.

  4. Jordan commented on Jan 27

    Shorting a secular bull market is always dangerous. I thought gold was overdue for a correction in December. The stocks had a major triple top breakout if you look at all the indices. Gold itself could run to $750 pretty quickly due to a lack of historical resistance/selling pressure at these levels. At the very least, we should at least get a consolidation from $520-$560.

  5. Larry Nusbaum, Scottsdale commented on Jan 27

    According to Jim Liles:
    “The media is telling everyone that the Chinese and Indians are not buying gold for their reserves, but the media has no idea of what’s really going on! The Asina countries are the major players. The Italians are selling gold from their reserves (in fact, they sold an unspecified amount of gold last month, which is why we saw the sharp break in the market during the month of December)
    Seasonally, this is the strongest time of it’s calendar, however we are confused by the chart appearance. The XAU (mining shares index) appears to have nearly completed the top of the third wave, indicating that the recent rally taking place is merely the B wave of an A, B, C correction.”
    Silver broke out this week!

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