Jim Stockdale 1924-2005

On Memoriam

By Rod Roth
July, 2005

“The important thing is not what they have made of you, but what you have made of what they have made of you.” –Sartre

Vice Admiral James B. Stockdale (ret.) died June 5, 2005. His navy career spanned thirty-seven years. He was a fighter pilot, a test pilot, and had commands at sea and ashore. He received the Congressional Medal of Honor for his service in Vietnam. He was president of both The Naval War College and The Citadel. He was a warrior, a leader and an educator, but it was his ordeal as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam that defined him. His writings and lectures on the moral philosophy that bore the Americans during their savage imprisonment are a legacy to be cherished and studied.

In 1965, Commander Jim Stockdale was shot down while leading a bombing raid over North Vietnam. He survived, was captured, and spent the next eight years in a Communist prison, where he was the senior American present. The Communists treated Americans as political prisoners, and sought to extort false confessions, and make them “atone” for their “crimes” by making anti-American propaganda statements to the international press.  They endured unspeakable conditions. The Communists made every effort to break the will of the Americans. They might have succeeded, had it not been for Stockdale’s leadership.

Early on, Stockdale realized that they were in an impossible situation. The US Military Code of Conduct required that American prisoners of war give name, rank, serial number and date of birth to interrogators, and nothing else. This played into the Communists’ technique of using torture and isolation to destabilize the Americans to break their will.

When tortured, a prisoner’s arms were bound from behind with rope tourniquets, which were tightened until the blood was cut off. His arms were yanked backwards until they nearly dislocated (and, sometimes did), while his head was jammed down between his legs as the extortionist stood on his back, causing him to panic from suffocation, claustrophobia, and pain. Fifteen minutes of this treatment could squash any man, crumpling him into a sobbing, submissive, compliant wreck, vomiting and unable to control his bowels. The torture did not stop until the prisoner spilled his guts, or died. This was called “taking the ropes.”

After torture and confession, the prisoner was isolated from the others, often for months. During this solitary confinement, the shame of having betrayed his countrymen consumed him, destroying his self-esteem and, ultimately, his will to resist. Eventually, the fear of being called to take the ropes for some minor infraction, combined with his deepening shame, set the prisoner up to collaborate in exchange for the hope of amnesty.

While enduring this despicable regimen, Stockdale devised some basic ethical guideposts to enable the Americans to resist, fight back as a group, and build individual resolve.

He implemented a wall tap communication system to subvert the camp’s rule of silence between prisoners. Everyone stayed in touch and shared what he was going through—even those in isolation. By sharing their experiences, the men could keep their sanity, knowing they had done nothing worse than anyone else. When a recent arrival was tortured and confessed, his typical reaction was, “You don’t want to talk to me, I’m a traitor.” The immediate response from the older guys was, “Hey, don’t beat yourself up! We’ve all done that and worse.”

Risking his own career, Stockdale abrogated The Code of Conduct. In its place, he ordered that information be given, but not freely. “Make them torture you, first,” He said. “How much should we take,” they asked? Stockdale agonized, and said, “Make them give you significant pain, then tell us what you told them.”

It was a brilliant decision. It allowed a man to be a combatant again. Self-worth was restored. Morale soared. It forged the Americans into a cohesive unit. The Communists were furious because the Americans resisted as one. They couldn’t winnow out the weak. “You Americans are nothing like the French were,” the frustrated camp commander muttered, “We could count on them to be reasonable.”

Stockdale suffered the most torture and privation of all. Time and again, others were tortured and forced to confirm he was their leader. For this, and other phony infractions, Stockdale was tortured over twenty times and spent over four years in solitary. Two of those years were spent in leg irons, often sitting in his own excrement for days. His leg, broken when he first landed, was never properly treated. He suffered pain from it every day for eight years. He stoically accepted it all without yielding, and the men loved him for it.

Stockdale thought always about unity over self. “No amnesty—either we all leave or we all stay.” “Don’t ask for anything, don’t accept anything–unless it is for everyone.” “Negotiate for all, or not at all.”

The men responded with love for him and care for each other. A new man once tapped, “What should I value in here to keep myself going?” Stockdale tapped back, “The guy in the next cell. Treasure him. He is precious. Love him. He is your only link to our civilization in here.” Much later, Stockdale wrote, “From this eight year experience, I distilled one all-purpose idea…That idea is that you are your brother’s keeper.”

In this way, the warriors… “Built a civilization of Americans behind walls that had the courage to rule itself responsibly without contact with the parent country for eight years.”

In this way, a gritty American helped 500 of his countrymen prevail and come home. On a crisp February morning in 1973, the first of those warriors stepped off the plane at Travis Air Force Base, just north of San Francisco.

It was glorious to see-if your heart were iron
And you could keep from grieving at all the pain

                                                                               —Iliad

God bless you, Jim Stockdale.

Observations-February 2008

Moral Philosopher, Alan Watts, observes that we worry about whether we have enough and are secure enough to be happy. Paradoxically, the greatest opportunity for happiness lies in being selfless. Jim Stockdale did more than survive his terrible ordeal. In thinking about and caring about others more than he thought about and cared about himself, he achieved serenity and peace of mind. When he came home, and for the rest of his life, he would say that the best part of his life was his imprisonment in Viet Nam.

If you chase after money and security,
Your heart will never unclench.
—Lao Tsu

Cheers,

Rod

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The Probability Problem

The mind wants to know all the world,
all eternity, even God.
The mind’s sidekick, however,
will settle for two eggs over easy.


—Annie Dillard, Teaching a Stone to Talk

If you are on my distribution list, you got an e-mail from me in May telling you that the new high in the Dow Jones Industrial Average I was anticipating may not be the ultimate top. Rather, a new high within the next couple of months has more of a look of part of a massive correction formation-an expanded diagonal triangle-that should lead to a severe drop to below the low established last Christmas Eve to complete a corrective 4th wave. The correction should be followed by a final impulse wave to greater highs with a likely final top in the Grand Supercycle Bull Market that began in the 1780s. At this point, the probability is that the final high should occur sometime in 2021. Here’s a look at a diagram of the pattern:

The close this week at new highs satisfies the pattern. Anything can happen from here, I suppose, including the high we just reached being the final high. It is a very low probability because the decline from the October high was not impulsive. Best bet is that the market goes down violently into a low somewhere below the Christmas Eve low, and then rally in a final impulse wave, probably ending within the next 15-18 months.

The period ahead should be very difficult for fully invested stock investors. E waves typically are crashes, causing enormous stress, and a fair amount of liquidation. The final rally will bring regret, and even have some get back in. It will be a major whipsaw, with no winners at the end.

I won’t be tempted to do anything other than to continue rolling forward 2 year Treasury bonds until markets reach a bottom in the bear market. My best wishes to all my family and friends. I hope you are able to go through this period safely.

Cheers,

Rod

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On Being A Sucker

The real trouble with this world of ours is not that it is an unreasonable world, nor even that it is a reasonable one. The commonest kind of trouble is that it is nearly reasonable, but not quite. Life is not an illogicality: yet it is a trap for logicians. It looks just a little more mathematical than it is; its exactitude is obvious, but its inexactitude is hidden; its wildness lies in wait.

—G.K. Chesterton

My goal as an investor is to pay a lot of taxes. Boatloads of taxes. When I file my tax return after selling my stocks I want to back a Brinks truck up to my door, load it up until it’s groaning under the weight of the cash to pay my tax liability, and send it on to Washington.

To get to do this, I first have to make a ton of money in the market. That is hard. I have to wait patiently, usually for years, for a good shot at getting in. And when stocks finally get cheap, it’s for sure I’ll be terrified of buying because the economy will be in shreds, unemployment will be sky high, and corporate bankruptcies will litter the landscape. Early on, holding onto the stuff will be tough because the business news will be terrible. Eventually, as the market rises, I’ll get more comfortable with my holdings. Then comes the really sickening part: I’ll have to sell my stocks when the economic news has long since turned rosy: unemployment is at record lows, corporate profits are soaring, and the stock market makes new highs every week. Obviously, I will be loathe to leave the party. The emotional demands of succeeding in the market are onerous. Actually doing the right thing at the right time always makes me want to puke.

To get around my natural instincts, I employ a series of studies that let me know when it is time for me to do the exact opposite of what I dearly want to do, or not do. Elliott Wave Principal, investor sentiment, and valuation are my tools. They do not pinpoint the exact day to buy or sell, but they give me a good idea when the market provides a low risk entry, and when the odds of making and keeping money are poor.

Long time readers know I’ve discussed Elliott Wave for some time. The analysis indicates a major top in the market either occurred on October 4th, or will after another inconsequential new high. I’ve also pointed out that investor sentiment is again setting records for bullishness. At extremes, the most likely next big move will be the opposite of what investors and their advisors expect. In sync with the Elliott forecast, sentiment figures today are screaming big crash coming.

Valuation is in accordance, too. Stare at the chart below:

Stocks are once again in an extreme bubble like they were in 1929. PE ratios were higher in 2000. Could they go higher? I don’t know, but the aggregate of my three forms of analysis is bearish in the extreme, so I don’t want to tempt fate here.

I was prompted to write this piece by a remark a friend made a couple of days ago. “Yeah, Rod, I agree the market is overdone, but I don’t want to sell because I don’t want to pay the taxes.”

No problem. That’s my view. He can hold a while, let the market come down until selling won’t be a tax issue at all. Might even give him a loss to write off.

Dear family and friends, you know that I don’t write these essays to tell you what to do. I write them to remind myself that I don’t want to be a sucker in uncertainty. As uncertain as the future is, my studies persuade me that holding 2 year Treasury notes will beat stocks for a long time.

Cheers,

Rod

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On Being A Dimwit

There is no guarantee, no ultimate formula for success. It all comes down to intelligently and relentlessly seeking solutions that will increase your chances of prevailing. When you do that, the score will take care of itself.

—Bill Walsh, former Coach of the San Francisco 49ers

Bob Prechter’s report, The Elliott Wave Theorist published on Friday, March 15, made the case for a turn back down to resume the bear market within the next two trading days. His analysis included the following observations:

  1. Provided the rally since December 24th stops and reverses now, the form and time analogy from the presumed start of the current bear market, the drop into the first low, and the duration of the recovery move to an interim top matches the same form and sequence of the 1968 bear market: 84 days from the top to the first bottom, and 79 days to the reaction top, a total of 163 days, top to top.
  2. Several market indexes, including the S&P 500, the Major Market Index, and the New York Stock Exchange Composite have returned to their upper trendlines, which have provided strong resistance to further advance in the past.
  3. While long term sentiment figures have been extremely overbought for some time, short term sentiment among S&P futures traders have reached bullish extremes that are usually seen at important tops.

I note that not only have futures traders turned bullish, stock investors this past week flipped suddenly from being on balance sellers to recording one of the biggest net buying weeks in the last six months.

I also note that, at precisely the same time, I turned bullish myself, emailing my readers that I was altering my position, terming the advance since Christmas Eve an impulse wave will take the market to new highs:

So here I am, trained in the art of contrary opinion, joining the always-wrong-at-important-junctures crowd!

I would tell you that I’m embarrassed, but I’m not. It’s just hard to stick to your guns when the market is making you look like a fool. Now, it’s true that if the market does not turn down pretty soon, my change of opinion may turn out to be right. But, at the moment, I’m very uncomfortable to find myself in the company of the majority.

Cheers,

Rod

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Dealing With Market Ambiguity

It was the clearest of signals in that first week of October 2018. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite all could be labeled as having five complete waves at multiple degrees of trend, signaling the top of a 200 year bull market.

The importance of the signal is that, if the labeling is correct, this top, unlike the tops in 2000 and 2007, is far more serious and portends a much deeper, longer lasting bear market than anything anyone alive today has experienced. It should be a degree of magnitude greater than the Supercycle Bear Market of 1929-32. This one is expected to be a Grand Supercycle Bear Market. The previous one began in 1720 and the effects lasted nearly fifty years.

This bear market began right on schedule, dropping in two crashes with an intervening countertrend rally into a low on Christmas Eve. What should have followed was another upward reaction, followed by a further drop into a low of around DJIA 15,000 to complete the first leg down in a drop that is expected to get below 4,000. Then, after a retracement that could last a couple of years, another impulse wave taking the Dow down below 1,000 to a final low, probably 10-15 years from now.

Instead, an advance began on December 26th that has gone beyond a normal retracement, so the pattern is now something other than an impulse wave.

From here, I believe there are two possibilities. The bear market may continue irregularly in the way that the decline from 1986 to 1970 occurred. The problem with that scenario is that the 1986 drop was not a major bear market and it only dropped 37% before coming back to new highs. The second possibility is that this first drop is another pause in a continuing bull market which would mean new highs are ahead. The next phase of decline should give us a clue, and it shouldn’t take long to get underway, as the market is very overbought now.

How does an investor handle the situation? I look at the market now in terms of risk. It is the same as it was last October. It is extremely overvalued. Most investors have no real idea what they own, and are numbly complacent about it. A rational study of the present market condition clearly indicates that the risk, in historical perspective, has never been higher. Unfortunately, investors are never rational at market tops. They unconsciously cling to their stocks, driven by FOMO (Fear-Of-Missing-Out). It’s a hard emotion to beat.

The investment advisory industry is similarly bullish. Surveys of economists consistently indicate they are nearly unanimously optimistic. As counter intuitive as it may sound, major market turns always take place when the majority thinks a trend will continue.

In the futures market, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s Commitment of Traders Report on futures on stock indexes indicates a record long (bullish) position on the part of speculators, and a correspondingly record short (bearish) position on the part of the commercials. When extremes like these are reported, it is always the commercials that are right.

As long time readers know, I do not make recommendations. How you handle this information is your business. But I will tell you that my recommendation to Cindy is that she remain in 2 year Treasury Notes, even if the market were to go to another high. History tells us that you can’t make money in an expensive market and the risk today, in my opinion, is extraordinary.

Good luck,

Rod



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Sublime Paradox

“…What is involuntary human nature.”
This “involuntary” is very true, very beautiful,
very well observed, and this observation is new.


—Joubert, 1818

Today is Saturday, and a gorgeous day. After the gloom and rain and cold last week, the thing to do was to wheel his Harley out of the garage and head for the Interstate to blow the carbon out of the carburetors and the cobwebs out of his head. “Most motorcycle fatalities happen when the rider is not wearing a helmet.” he said. “I’m going to start wearing one, but not today.”

Why not today? would the risk be any less today than next Thursday? Leave aside it’s the consequences, not the probabilities of a careful biker crashing that matter. Once would be enough.

Ah, but it hasn’t happened yet. Context takes precedence over logic when making decisions in matters of uncertainty. Until he has that first crash, he cannot imagine it actually happening to him.

The same is true with investors. I discussed the market condition with a fellow this week. We both read a piece about the characteristics of market tops. High levels of low quality debt, for one. For the third time since 2000, Liars Loans, loans that are made by lenders to borrowers for whom the credit application is fudged if not outright falsified are back with a vengeance in record amounts throughout the financial system. And there’s more, but I’ve run the numbers ad nauseum in earlier essays. “It’s very scary,” he tells me. Not scary enough, apparently. He remains fully invested.

We humans are equipped with terrific instincts for getting the hell out of the way when a lion comes out of the woods to eat us. For avoiding the destructive effects of a bear market on stock and bond portfolios, not so much. If the main thing for an investor is to avoid being a sucker in uncertainty, it should not take much research for anyone to discover that, by every historical metric, the stock and bond markets are more risky now than ever in history. The paradox, due to our peculiar response to the moment, is that until we start taking serious gas in our 401k, we are more dominated by the unreasonable fear that if we get out now the market will go straight up, making rich people out of everyone else but us. It will take some pain to make investors start treating a bear market the way they do a man-eating lion.

Actually, it may be starting to happen. At a meeting this morning, a woman told me she lost money in the market last year. Right, Treasury Bills outperformed both stocks and bonds in 2018. Made her mad. She told the guy that advises employees in her company to get her out of things with market risk. She’s an early adopter. No surprise to me, I’ve always given women the edge on decision making. Men have to be beaten up before they pay attention.

I hold the view that a Grand Supercycle Bear Market began in the US market on October 4, 2018. It began with the same profile as the Supercycle Bear market of 1929. The model aborted at the lows on Christmas Eve, and has been in a countertrend rally since then. In the February issue of Elliott Wave Financial Forecast out yesterday, the analysts confirmed that the bear market is very much in force and that when this countertrend move ends, the primary downtrend will resume.

Cheers,

Rod


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On The Problem of Getting It Right

“Is there anything I can do
to make myself enlightened?”

“As little as you can do to 
make the sun rise in the morning.”

“Then of what use are the spiritual
exercises you prescribe?”

“To make sure you are not asleep
when the sun begins to rise.”

–Zen master to his disciple

The US stock market continues to track the start of the previous Supercycle Bear Market, which occurred in the final two months of 1929. Looking ahead, I expect more high volatility in both directions until the first wave of primary degree of trend bottoms at around 15,000 in the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which should come in by mid January.

Now would be a good time to get a handle on why I was able to accurately convey the forecast for a severe collapse in the market when virtually every analyst in the financial services industry was bullish in the extreme. It was certainly not brilliance on my part. Rather, I rely on a method that, while challenging in it’s application, provides a genuine result because it is based on what influences investment behavior. Conventional market analysts attempt to assign exogenous causes for the direction of markets and are consistently wrong at major turning points. The result is that, sooner or later, they wreak havoc on the investment community by insisting on using bad science in their approach.

The primary task in  investing is to avoid being a sucker in uncertainty. We don’t know what is going to happen next in the market, so we seek the advice of “experts.” We do not, as a matter of rule, bother to check the error rate of an advisor’s method. The fellow wears a good suit, sounds plausible and, most importantly, we want to invest or we wouldn’t be in his office to start with.

There is a reason we want to invest: social mood is elevated. The more elevated, the more eager we are to invest without doing much in the way of due diligence. If the market has been going up for a few years the advisor’s results are good and his clients have no trouble recommending him when a friend inquires.

When the market turns, everyone, especially the advisor, is shocked. That’s the situation today. What will follow is an attempt on everyone’s part to justify not selling and to hang on until the losses get too much to bear. eventually the crowd sells and most will never want to invest again.

The long term forecast given by the Socionomic Theory of Finance is for the US stock market to whipsaw through several large swings over the next twenty years or so. When the first swing down bottoms, most likely in January 2019, a good, tradable countertrend rally should recover some of the loss and top some time in late spring or early summer. After the countertrend rally, a long, devastating resumption of the bear market should take the market down to an incredible low with the Dow bottoming around 3,000 sometime in 2021-21. From that point, a huge rally that may take stocks up as much as fifty to seventy percent of the total loss will provide us with the best opportunity those of us alive today will ever have to make money in stocks, because after that advance the market should turn back down to its ultimately low below Dow 1,000.

The next twenty years in the market will be bewildering to most advisors. They were exceedingly optimistic at the top we just past. They are now becoming bearish. When we hit the next low in a few weeks they will have turned very bearish just when Socionomics offers a good short term trade. Then, come summer, we will be selling our trading position just when they shift back to the bullish side, quite possibly even more bullish than they were at the all time top, only to be whipsawed again as the next most devastating decline completely destroys values.

To survive and thrive in the market between now and the time you hang it up as an investor you are going to need to separate yourself from conventional thinking. I had to do this fifty years ago. I suffered a great deal and so did my clients in the late sixties and early seventies when I was a young broker during a bear market of much smaller degree of trend than the one now underway.

An investor should take ownership of his own destiny by understanding how markets work and following the probabilistic forecasts of practitioners of the Socionomic Theory of Finance. The very best socionomists, in my view, are the developers of the theory, Robert Prechter and his associates at Elliott Wave International.

I began writing essays some time ago to provide my family and some friends a resource for their decision making. I will continue to do this, but I’ll be eighty in April. I don’t yet feel like I’ve lived past my sell-by date yet, but you never know. The best, and only advice I can give is that you give the folks at Elliott Wave International a call (800-336-1618) and get yourself a subscription to The Elliott Wave Financial Forecast.

A year or so ago I wrote an essay about the theory and its development. The folks at EWI edited it so I know I’m giving you good information. To read it, click on the link below.

Happy New Year,

Rod

https://rodroth.com/2017/06/17/on-what-infuences-my-thinking/

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Ode To Bagholders

These are the only genuine ideas,
the ideas of the shipwrecked.
All the rest is rhetoric, posturing, farce.

–Jose Ortega y Gasset

Habit dulls the imagination. After the first stock market drop a few weeks ago a friend said, “I just stay put with my stuff. It always comes back.” Well, it does come back. We have seen it, actually experienced a full recovery several times since the Cycle bull market  began in 1974. The Dow Jones Industrial Average began at 574, rose to a peak of 11,656 in 2,000, fell to 7,100 in 2003, recovered and climbed to 14,200 in 2007, fell  to a low of 6,400 in March  of 2010, and peaked this last time on October 3 at 26,916.

This recent history has left investors unprepared for what the Wave Principal indicates is now at hand. My interpretation of the price action over the past two market days is that a small retracement wave has likely completed. The prospect now is for a violent Wave 3 down in a Supercycle bear market which carries the Dow down to below 14,000 initially, to be followed by a partial recovery rally for several months, then leading to a multi year continuation of the decline which won’t reach a bottom until 2020-21, probably down around 3,000.

Yes, the market will come back, but not likely in the useful lifetime of any present investor, retired or soon to be retired. The market today is modeling the 1929-32 experience. The top in September ’29 was 392. It fell to a low of 41 in May 1932, and did not make a new high until 1956, twenty-seven years after the ’29 top. Who alive today can benefit from riding through a period like that? A period that will most certainly include a depression that will play havoc on all manner of investment assets.

This is a rare moment in the global financial history, but not without precedent. If it happens, it will be a Minsky Moment. The term came from the work of American economist Hiram Minsky. Wikipedia’s description: A Minsky moment is a sudden, major collapse of asset values which generates a credit cycle or business cycle. The rapid instability occurs because long periods of steady prosperity and investment gains encourage a diminished perception of overall market risk , which promotes the leveraged risk of investing borrowed money instead of cash.

My view is that the global financial condition today lines up perfectly with the market’s wave pattern. We should be prepared for a Minsky Moment.

Readers know that I do not give investment advice. I try to give my family and friends a look at what my studies are indicating, and what Cindy and I are doing about it. I let everyone decide for themselves what, if anything to do.

We do not own any stocks, corporate or municipal bonds. Cindy’s retirement account is invested entirely in one and two year U.S. Treasury notes. But if we did own stocks or bonds, this is what we would do:

A drop below 24,000 in the Dow Industrial Average anytime in the next few market sessions would confirm that Elliott Wave 3, the crash wave, was most probably underway. To protect our position we would immediately call our broker and instruct her to get us out of all stock and bond mutual funds by shifting into money market funds. To further liquidate any individual stocks, bonds and exchange traded funds, placing the proceeds into money market funds as well. This action would protect us from a Minsky Moment. If it happens, we will decide what to do next. If it does not come to pass, we would be able to get back in without much in the way of cost.

Here’s the thing, though. I do understand that anyone invested today will have a very difficult time doing this. It is the most human perversity that fear is the governing factor in uncertainty. Today the markets are at their most overvalued in history, but investors are not only extremely comfortable with their portfolios, they fear that if they were to get out, even for a short period, the market will run off, leaving them at the station.

I went through the bear market of 1966-1974 as a young broker. I know from personal experience the fear at the other end: in 1974, with the market losing value day in and day out, it was near impossible to buy stocks, which were becoming greater bargains by the day. The overwhelming fear, of course, was that anything we bought would go to zero the next day. What a time to be bullish!

It was out of that experience of being brutally shipwrecked that I got the idea that I should buy low and sell high.

Good luck,

Rod

 

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NOT A GOOD OUTLOOK

OVERSTAYING A BULL MARKET

Most investors make money in a bull market, only to lose all profits
made–and sometimes more, in the readjustment that inevitably follows.

–The New York Times, September 22, 1929

I’m writing this piece as the Dow Jones Industrial Average appears to be close to completing a small degree correction (wave 2), after falling in bear market wave 1 some 2,000 points from its high of 29,951 reached October  3, 11 trading days ago. When this corrective wave is complete, wave 3 down gets underway, and it should be larger and more violent that wave 1.

This morning a friend said, “I know you’re not surprised by the drop, but the market’s gonna go up.” His opinion is in line with everyone else’s.

Here’s the chart of the Dow in 1929:

The first drop took place between mid October and the first week in November. The Dow fell from its high of 386.40, to 193.20, exactly 50% in about 3 weeks. From there, the market rallied into a recovery high of 303.90 reached in April 1930. From then, the Dow fell 89% to  a low of 41 in May 1932.

Will this happen again? We should be prepared for it. Why? Because this is what the analysts at Elliott Wave International have as the most likely market outlook dead ahead. In forecasting, it is generally agreed that anything can happen, but I would be loathe to dismiss this one.

A few months ago I posted an essay on Facebook. I won’t do that again because it will be no help to anyone who has not been thinking about this for a while. Unless someone has prepared for a crash, they will want to know what is going to make it happen, and it’s too late for that. Either you’re prepared, or you cannot believe anything I say about it. It just doesn’t make sense to the crowd and the crowd’s advisors.

I am prepared for the Dow Industrials to crash to 13,000 or below by election day.

Cheers,

Rod

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On The Mindset Problem

It has never been my objective in these essays to call the top of a bull market. It matters not if I managed that if I didn’t have the proper frame of mind to take action well before the turn actually happens. The hardest, most mentally debilitating period lies ahead for the vast majority of investors. This little break will not disturb them. In fact, If we go up a few hundred Dow points over the next few sessions, they will relax, “knowing” that the drop was a normal “healthy” setback.

Then comes a bigger drop, one that takes the Dow down below 20,000. They will have a bit of discomfort, but their advisor will make them feel better by trotting out reasons why they should be at ease.

At about Dow 17,000 the average investor will despair. Now she begins to think about maybe selling some “when it goes back up.” It never does. Bear markets do not let investors who stayed to the end off the hook.

I’ve been making the case, based on extensive evidence to be found in The Socionomic Theory of Finance, that this top is a Grand Supercycle top that will not bottom before it sees the Dow Jones Industrial Average decline to below 3,000-about 90% lower than it is today. Most investors, totally unprepared for this, will not get out until well below 13,000, if at all.

There is no place to hide in the circumstance. All categories of assets, including real estate, commodities, stocks and bonds will be totally obliterated.

And then there’s the matter of investment income. “That’s my retirement income,” he tells me. Is now, but won’t be if we have begun a Grand Supercycle Bear Market. Stocks will crash, and then there will be a depression which makes it impossible for companies to pay dividends. By the time the dividends are no longer there the stocks will hardly be worth selling.

And bonds? Don’t get me started. On his deathbed, the Baron Von Rothschild is famously held to have said to his survivors, “Never buy bad bonds in a good market!” And, while the story is probably apocryphal, it is absolutely on target. Almost all bonds issued by anyone other than the U.S. Government will ultimately default in a depression that will come at a time when the global financial system, by any measure, is more leveraged that ever in history.

I will never tell anyone what they should to do. I will tell you what we do: we hold one and two year Treasury Notes. We do not care that the interest rate is low. Rates are going to go up significantly in the crunch, because lenders will demand ever higher rates to compensate them for default risk.

My heart goes out to anyone heavily invested in anything other that very short maturity T Notes and T Bills. Push comes to shove, and they might not be the best place to be, but it’s the best I can do for us. We will roll these forward until a bottom good enough to reinvest comes. The analysts at Elliott Wave International have been estimating that it should be here about 2021-22.

Good luck!

Rod

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