It is said that while bottoms are events, but tops are processes. Translated, markets bottom out when panic sets in, and therefore they can be more easily identifiable. By contrast, market tops form when a series of conditions come together, but not necessarily all at the same time.
I have stated that while I don’t believe that the stock market has made its final cyclical top, we are in the late stages of a bull market (see Risks are rising, but THE TOP is still ahead and Nearing the terminal phase of this equity bull). Nevertheless, psychology is getting a little frothy, which represent the pre-condition for a major top. This is just another post in a series of “things you don’t see at market bottoms”. Past editions of this series include:
- Things you don’t see at market bottoms, 23-Jun-2017
- Things you don’t see at market bottoms, 29-Jun-2017
- Things you don’t see at market bottoms, bullish bandwagon edition
- Things you don’t see at market bottoms, Retailphoria edition
- Things you don’t see at market bottoms, Wild claims edition
- Things you don’t see at market bottoms, No fear edition
- Things you don’t see at market bottoms, Paris Hilton edition
As a result, I am publishing another edition of “things you don’t see at market bottoms”.
CFO sentiment: 83% believe market to be overvalued
A recent Deloitte survey of Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) found that 83.1% believe the equity market to be overvalued, which is the highest level in the history of the survey. To be sure, CFO sentiment is an inexact market timing indicator, as this reading has been elevated for some time.
Leveraged loans are back!
The WSJ reported that leveraged loans are back. Issuance in both the US and Europe are set to top pre-crisis levels.
As an example of how credit standards have fallen, unemployed teenage students and dogs receive credit card offers.
To be sure, the Toys “R” Us bankruptcy filing was a warning for investors who have stretched for yield. This apparent appetite for risk has depressed credit spreads to historically low levels, but trouble is brewing beneath the surface. Bloomberg highlighted analysis from Morgan Stanley indicating that the dispersion of credit spreads is rising, even as headline spreads have fallen.
Unprofitable IPOs are rising
As experienced investors know, market psychology is constantly oscillating between fear and greed. Today, the percentage of IPOs with negative earnings has only been eclipsed by the period preceding the NASDAQ Bubble top. Is this a manifestation of fear, or greed?
BAML also recent reported that private client bond and cash allocations have fallen to historically low levels. Is this fear, or greed?
Cristiano Ronaldo, CFD spokesman
Finally, I see that Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo is promoting Contract For Difference, or CFD, trading.
For newbies, CFDs are lightly regulated or unregulated derivative contracts that allow for leverage of anywhere from 300:1 to 1000:1. Bloomberg reported that a number of European soccer clubs have partnered with CFD firms.
For now, I believe the frothy excess that I cited in this and past report represents a “this will not end well” narrative without an obvious bearish trigger. However, sentiment doesn’t function well as precise market timing tools. BAML strategist Savita Subramanian pointed out that the last year of an equity bull can be rewarding and can be painful to miss.
Now if only I could achieve that 1000 to 1 leverage in that final bull leg…