Tuesday, October 20, 2015

in search of the stock market bubble

So, (the sentence starts with "so" because this is a sort of ongoing discussion that's been going on here for years) I've been thinking about the overall market again.  Despite my telling people to ignore this and ignore that, I can't help it; sometimes I think about this stuff.  Well, it's OK to think about it as long as it doesn't lead to irrational decisions.

Anyway, as usual, there is a lot of talk of the market being insanely overvalued, median P/E's at post war records and all the usual.

I look at the charts and some are scary, but I still don't get the sense of a bubble.  I've seen the Japan bubble in 1989, the 2000 internet bubble and some others.  I see the Chinese bubble going on right now.  But I still don't really get the sense that the U.S. stock market is in a bubble.  Yes, there is a pocket of bubbliness, like in some parts of the tech sector (social networks, biotech etc.), but overall I just really don't see it.

I made a post just like this one two or threes years ago when people were saying the market is overvalued.  I looked up the P/E ratios of the Nifty Fifty stocks in 1972 to see what a real bubble looks like.

What is really interesting to me here is that the S&P 500 index P/E ratio at the time was 19.2x.  But look at the nifty fifty P/E ratios.  To me, this is what a bubble looks like.  These 'ordinary' companies were trading at higher P/E's than high growth social network stocks or fast casual restaurant chain today!

People say that the market is tremendously overvalued.  Is the market so overvalued that I would be comfortable with a massive short position?  I just imagine myself with a big short position to see how I would feel.  What do I need to make money?  What can go wrong?  Is there really a big margin of safety in terms of valuation; are things so overvalued that it's a no brainer to be short?  At this point, I would not be comfortable short at all.  Sure, earnings for everyone might be bloated due to QE-infinity and budget deficits.  There are other reasons to be bearish, but I just don't see it from a valuation point of view.  The market is certainly not cheap.  But it's not so expensive that it's a no-brainer short either.

I've been saying this sort of thing since 2011 when I first started this blog; that the market is fine.  But sooner or later the bull market will end.  The market will tank and people will go back and read these posts and have a good laugh.  I know that will happen for sure.  But that's OK.

I'm not trying to predict anything, nor am I saying that we won't have another bear market again.  The market will go down for sure, 50% or more.  There is no doubt about that at all.  But I don't know when that will happen.

-- The Brooklyn Investor, June 16, 2015

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Blodgett says market is more expensive than 2000 and sees a decade or more of lousy returns. [via chucks_angels]

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