“Move along, nothing to see here”

“Eventually, the final refuge of speculation is to abandon
historically reliable measures wholesale, resting faith
instead on the advent of some new era in which
the old rules simply don’t apply…”

—John Hussman

In her New York Times article this week, Suzy Hansen writes, “Economic crises in modern countries are not always easy to see; the suffering doesn’t reveal itself everywhere.” She is right of course. Her article is about the severe economic problems in Greece, where a casual stroller in Athens will see the cafes full, shops still open and automobile traffic clogging the streets. Only someone who lives in Athens can tell you that the college graduate sitting in the café for hours is unemployed and has no future; that the elderly man sitting with him lost his pension and has been nursing that same beer all day. The street view is a mirage.

Nothing like that going on in the U.S., of course. Or is there? Again, if there are problems, they are hard to see. Here in Florida, The state has just experienced one of it’s best ever winter tourist seasons. But looking at the following charts, you have to conclude that the visitors are clueless, in denial, or, for the moment, choosing to live as if there were no tomorrow.

Chart #1

mispricing chart 1I don’t think it’s possible to have the market, a proxy for social mood, so out of step with economic fundamentals

Chart #2

mispricing chart #2The Macros, a composite of economic data, do not paint a bullish picture either.

Chart #3

mispricing chart #3

Finally, yikes! Valuations on U.S. stocks have never been higher. Either The economy is going to get a lot better or the market is due for a serious reckoning.

Meanwhile, McDonald’s recently added 62,000 employees in the U.S. and is promising to raise hourly pay to $15 by 2020. Very nice, but they also installed 7,000 automated ordering stations in Europe. So, what’s really going on? Something like this?

McDonalds automated orderingI will bet that they’ll have fully automated stores long before they have all  employees making fifteen bucks an  hour. Hardly good news for the employment picture.

The market situation, to me, suggests that when it breaks it will break big, and probably fast. Something to think about.

Cheers,

Rod

 

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