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The Average Stock Is More Expensive Now Than It Was At The Peak Of The Dot-Com Bubble In 2000 …

Courtesy of  of Business Insider

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The unsettling market plunges of two weeks ago have stopped (at least for now), and stock prices have recovered a bit. So now everyone's getting cautiously bullish again.

Everyone except me.

I still think stocks are poised to have a decade or more of lousy returns.

Why?

Three simple reasons:

  • Stocks are very expensive
  • Corporate profit margins are at record highs
  • The Fed is now tightening

I'll go through this logic in detail below.

But first, a quick description of what I mean by "a decade or more of lousy returns" — and a note on how I am positioning my own portfolio in light of this view.

To be clear: I don't know what stocks are going to do next. They could go higher from today's already high prices, the way they did from similar levels in the late 1990s. They could crash, the way they did in 2000, 2007, and many other periods in which prices were (almost) this high. They could stay flat for years, the way they did in the late 1960s and '70s. All I know is, unless "it's different this time" — the four most expensive words in the English language — stocks are priced to return only about 2.5% per year for the next decade, a far cry from the 10% per year long-term average.

I own lots of stocks, though, and I'm not selling them. Why not? Many reasons, including:

  1. I have a diversified portfolio (stocks, bonds, cash, real estate), which will cushion the blow of a crash
  2. I am psychologically comfortable with the possibility of a 40%-to-50% market crash, and I know exactly what I will do if we get one (buy stocks). If you aren't comfortable with the possibility of a crash of this magnitude, you should either get comfortable with it or reduce your stockholdings. Otherwise, you might panic and sell after a crash, which is the worst thing you can do.
  3. No other asset classes are attractively priced, either. Unfortunately, it looks as though we're set


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Are You Ready For The Price Of Food To More Than Double By The End Of This Decade?

Are You Ready For The Price Of Food To More Than Double By The End Of This Decade?

Courtesy of Michael Snyder

If current trends continue, many of the most common food items that Americans buy will cost more than twice as much by the end of this decade. Global demand for food continues to rise steadily as crippling droughts ravage key agricultural regions all over the planet. You see, it isn't just the multi-year California drought that is affecting food prices. Down in Brazil (one of the leading exporters of food in the world), the drought has gotten so bad that 142 cities were rationing water at one point earlier this year. And outbreaks of disease are also having a significant impact on our food supply. A devastating pig virus that has never been seen in the U.S. before has already killed up to 6 million pigs

Even if nothing else bad happens (and that is a very questionable assumption to make), our food prices are going to be moving aggressively upward for the foreseeable future.  But what if something does happen?  In recent years, global food reserves have dipped to extremely low levels, and a single major global event (war, pandemic, terror attack, planetary natural disaster, etc.) could create an unprecedented global food crisis very rapidly.

A professor at the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University named Timothy Richards has calculated what the drought in California is going to do to produce prices at our supermarkets in the near future.  His projections are quite sobering

  • Avocados likely to go up 17  to 35 cents to as much as $1.60 each.
  • Berries likely to rise 21 to 43 cents to as much as $3.46 per clamshell container.
  • Broccoli likely to go up 20 to 40 cents to a possible $2.18 per pound.
  • Grapes likely to rise 26 to 50 cents to a possible $2.93 per pound.
  • Lettuce likely to rise 31 to 62 cents to as much as $2.44


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Thoughts from the Frontline: Every Central Bank for Itself

Thoughts from the Frontline: Every Central Bank for Itself

By John Mauldin

“Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face.”

– Mike Tyson

For the last 25 days I’ve been traveling in Argentina and South Africa, two countries whose economies can only be described as fragile, though for very different reasons. Emerging-market countries face a significantly different set of challenges than the developed world does. These challenges are compounded by the rather indifferent policies of developed-world central banks, which are (even if somewhat understandably) entirely self-centered. Argentina has brought its problems upon itself, but South Africa can somewhat justifiably express frustration at the developed world, which, as one emerging-market central bank leader suggests, is engaged in a covert currency war, one where the casualties are the result of unintended consequences. But the effects are nonetheless real if you’re an emerging-market country.

While I will write a little more about my experience in South Africa at the end of this letter, first I want to cover the entire emerging-market landscape to give us some context. Full and fair disclosure requires that I give a great deal of credit to my rather brilliant young associate, Worth Wray, who’s helped me pull together a great deal of this letter while I am on the road in a very busy speaking tour here in South Africa for Glacier, a local platform intermediary. They have afforded me the opportunity to meet with a significant number of financial industry participants and local businessman, at all levels of society. It has been a very serious learning experience for me. But more on that later; let’s think now about the problems facing emerging markets in general.

Every Central Bank for Itself

Every general has a plan before going into battle, which immediately begins to change upon contact with the enemy. Everyone has a plan until they get hit… and emerging markets have already taken a couple of punches since May 2013, when Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke first signaled his intent to “taper” his quantitative easing program and thereby incrementally wean the markets off of their steady drip of easy money. It was not too long


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Chart by Paul Price.





Risk On, Regardless

 

Outside the Box: Risk On, Regardless

By John Mauldin

When Gary Shilling was with us here last fall, he and I were feeling considerably more sanguine about the near-term propects for the US and global economies. In fact, I said about Gary that “that old confirmed bear is waxing positively bullish about the future prospects of the US. In doing so he mirrors my own views.”

In today’s excerpt from Gary’s quarterly INSIGHT letter, he tackles head-on the shift in sentiment and economic performance that has ensued since then. He steps us through the ebullient headlines and forecasts that dominated at year-end, and then remarks,

It’s as if an iron curtain came down between the last trading day of 2013 and January 2014. A headline in the Feb. 5, 2014 Wall Street Journal screamed, “Turnabout on Global Outlook Darkens Mood.”

Don’t get me (and Gary) wrong: many of the positive factors that he and I identified last fall are still in play; but they are longer-term, secular factors such as technological transformation and a tectonic shift in the energy landscape rather than the cyclical factors that will dominate for most of the rest of this decade.

In today’s OTB, Gary does an excellent job of summarizing and analyzing those cyclical factors. In this extended excerpt from INSIGHT, you’ll be treated to sections on investor and consumer behavior, deleveraging, housing, income polarization, unemployment, Obamacare and medical costs, the prospects for inflation, the Fed, emerging markets, and much more.

Be sure to see the close of the letter for Gary’s special offer to OTB readers.

I find myself in the lovely tropical city of Durban, South Africa. The hotel where I’m staying, The Oyster Box, is a lovely old throwback properly set on the Indian Ocean, where you can see the continual shipping traffic queuing up to get into the port, which is the largest in Africa. The hotel reminds me of the Raffles in Singapore, with a better view and somewhat more Old World charm. Or at least what I romanticize as Old World charm from movies I saw as a kid (though some of my


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The Nasdaq Composite vs your BS Risk Tolerance

The Nasdaq Composite vs your BS Risk Tolerance

Courtesy of 

Everyone’s risk tolerance changes with the environment they’re in. Ask someone how they feel about risk after the market’s just run up and they’ll say “don’t worry about it, I’m cool – let’s put some money to work.”

Ask the same guy, no matter how experienced or savvy he is, one month later after a sell-off and you’re likely to hear something slightly less enthusiastic about stocks in general.

At my asset management shop, we try to determine investor risk tolerance in a quantifiable way at the outset – as opposed to just randomly, meaninglessly asking someone if they’re “aggressive” or “conservative” and recording their qualitative, personal feelings at that moment in time.

Then the hard part begins: keeping otherwise reasonable, rational people from reckless self-sabotage while the casino floor beckons.

The typical mindset of most investors – myself included – looks something like this:

qqq

Ask an advisor what that feels like to deal with these types of behavioral investing issues professionally, they’d describe their market-oriented conversations with clients thusly:

Nasdaq Composite monthly returns:

September 2013: + 4.83%

“Why don’t we own more Facebook and LinkedIn? Why are my returns so boring? Is there more we should be doing?”

 

October 2013: + 4.96%

“I think I’m ready to take on more risk now. I’m comfortable with higher exposure to equities.”

 

November 2013: + 3.55%

“Why are we bothering owning any bonds at all?”

 

December 2013: + 2.92%

“I think I’m gonna to start trading more, picking some names I like for a play account. Most of the ideas I’ve had on my own recently turned out to be huge winners, I’m really good at this and I feel like I’m missing out.”

 

January 2014: – 1.92%

“Oooooh. That was unexpected. Maybe this isn’t such a good idea…”

 

February 2014: + 5.15%

“Just kidding! I’m still killin’ it!”

 

March 2014: –
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The Lions in the Grass, Revisited

 

Thoughts from the Frontline: The Lions in the Grass, Revisited

By John Mauldin

“In the economic sphere an act, a habit, an institution, a law produces not only one effect, but a series of effects. Of these effects, the first alone is immediate; it appears simultaneously with its cause; it is seen. The other effects emerge only subsequently; they are not seen; we are fortunate if we foresee them.

“There is only one difference between a bad economist and a good one: the bad economist confines himself to the visible effect; the good economist takes into account both the effect that can be seen and those effects that must be foreseen.

“Yet this difference is tremendous; for it almost always happens that when the immediate consequence is favorable, the later consequences are disastrous, and vice versa. Whence it follows that the bad economist pursues a small present good that will be followed by a great evil to come, while the good economist pursues a great good to come, at the risk of a small present evil.”

– From an 1850 essay by Frédéric Bastiat, “That Which Is Seen and That Which Is Unseen”

I’ve come to South Africa a little bit ahead of my speaking tour next week to spend a few days “on safari.” Which is another way to say that I am comfortably ensconced in a game lodge next to Kruger Park, relaxing and trying to get some time to think. We’ve been reasonably lucky on the game runs: besides the usual lions, rhinoceri, water buffalo, etc., we’ve seen both cheetah and leopard, two animals that avoided my vicinity on every other trip to Africa. I’m here at the end of the rainy season, so everything is lush and green, and you have to get a little lucky to find the animals in the dense bush.

In several moments here, I was reminded of an essay I wrote two years ago called “The Lion in the Grass.” So I went back and read it and decided to update it fairly extensively in order to talk about the hidden lions we don’t see today that could catch us unawares tomorrow. Just like the African bush I am surveying…
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Insider Scoop

Delhaize Group Announces Sale of Bosnian & Herzegovinian Stores

Courtesy of Benzinga.

Related DEG Why Companhia Brasileira de Distribuicao (CBD) Has A Bright Short-Term Future? - Tale of the Tape The Fresh Market (TFM) in Focus: Stock Moves 6.7% Higher - Tale of the Tape

Delhaize Group (Euronext Brussels: DELB, NYSE: DEG), the Belgian international food retailer, announces that it has signed an agreement with Tropic Group B.V. on the sale of its Bosnian & Herzegovinian stores.

Delhaize Group has signed an agreement with Tropic Group B.V., to divest all of its 39 Bo...



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Phil's Favorites

Groupthink Or Black Swan Rising? Not A Single 'Economist' Expects An Economic Downturn

Courtesy of Pater Tenebrarum of Acting-Man

A 100% Consensus

This doesn't happen very often. Marketwatch reports that Jim Bianco points out in a recent market comment that the 67 economists taking part in a regular Bloomberg survey have a unanimous forecast regarding treasury bond yields: they will be higher 6 months from now. This is a truly striking result, and given the well-known propensity of mainstream economists to guess wrong (their forecasts largely consist of extrapolating the most recent short term trend), it may provide us with a few insights.

In fact, considering that there have been only a handful of instances since 2009 when a majority of the economists surveyed predicted a decline in yields, we can already state that their forecasts regarding tre...



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Zero Hedge

#MyNYPD...

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Submitted by williambanzai7.

.

Actually, it is their NYPD, not ours.

...

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Chart School

STTG Market Recap April 23, 2014

Courtesy of Blain.

Indexes took a little rest today, which as we said yesterday was probably needed.   There was actually some bad economic news in housing and the market didn't react much at all which is something bulls will like.  After the close was a surprise stock split by Apple (AAPL) which will help the indexes tomorrow as the stock is up strongly in after hours.  The S&p 500 fell 0.22% and the NASDAQ 0.83%.  The Commerce Department reported new home sales fell 14.5 percent in March, the worst sales month since July.  Again it is not the news that matters to markets, but the reaction to the news and the market didn't really care.

Here are longer term charts of the two indexes. The S&P 500 hit the top trendline which connected the lows of summer 2012 yesterday and fell back after a furious week long rally.

...

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All About Trends

Mid-Day Update

Reminder: David is available to chat with Members, comments are found below each post.

Click here for the full report.




To learn more, sign up for David's free newsletter and receive the free report from All About Trends - "How To Outperform 90% Of Wall Street With Just $500 A Week." Tell David PSW sent you. - Ilene...

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Market Shadows

Soy Numero Uno

Soy Numero Uno

By Paul Price of Market Shadows

Bunge Limited (BG) is the world’s largest processor of soybeans. It is also a major producer of vegetable oils, fertilizer, sugar and bioenergy.

When commodities got hot in 2007-08, Bunge’s EPS shot up and the stock followed, rising 185% in 19 months.

The Great Recession took its toll on operations, dropping EPS to a low of $2.22 in 2009.  Since then profits have recovered.  They ranged from $4.62 - $5.90 in the latest three years. 2014 appears poised for a large increase. Consensus views from multiple sources see BG earning $7.04 - $7.10 this year and then $7.83 - $7.94 in 2015.

...



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Option Review

Casino Stocks LVS, WYNN On The Run Ahead of Earnings

Shares in Las Vegas Sands Corp. (Ticker: LVS) are up sharply today, gaining as much as 5.7% to touch $80.12 and the highest level since April 4th, mirroring gains in shares of resort casino operator Wynn Resorts Ltd. (Ticker: WYNN). The move in Wynn shares appears, at least in part, to follow a big increase in target price from analysts at CLSA who upped their target on the ‘buy’ rated stock to $350 from $250 a share. CLSA also has a ‘buy’ rating on Las Vegas Sands with a $100 price target according to a note from reporter, Janet Freund, on Bloomberg. Both companies are scheduled to report first-quarter earnings after the closing bell on Thursday.

...

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Sabrient

What the Market Wants: Market Poised to Head Higher: 3 Stocks to Consider

Reminder: Sabrient is available to chat with Members, comments are found below each post.

Courtesy of David Brown, Sabrient Systems and Gradient Analytics

Yesterday, the market continued its winning ways for the fifth consecutive day.  The S&P 500 closed within 1% of its all-time high, and the DJI was even closer to its all-time high.  Healthcare, Energy and Technology led the sectors while Financials, Telecom, and Utilities finished slightly in the red.  All three sectors in the red are typically flight-to-safety stocks, so despite lower than average volume, the market appears poised to make new highs.

Mid-cap Growth led the style/caps last week, up 2.87%, and Small-cap Growth trailed, up 2.22%. This week will bring well over 100 S&P 500 stocks reporting their March quarter earn...



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OpTrader

Swing trading portfolio - Week of April 21st, 2014

Reminder: OpTrader is available to chat with Members, comments are found below each post.

This post is for all our live virtual trade ideas and daily comments. Please click on "comments" below to follow our live discussion. All of our current  trades are listed in the spreadsheet below, with entry price (1/2 in and All in), and exit prices (1/3 out, 2/3 out, and All out).

We also indicate our stop, which is most of the time the "5 day moving average". All trades, unless indicated, are front-month ATM options. 

Please feel free to participate in the discussion and ask any questions you might have about this virtual portfolio, by clicking on the "comments" link right below.

To learn more about the swing trading virtual portfolio (strategy, performance, FAQ, etc.), please click here...



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Stock World Weekly

Stock World Weekly

Newsletter writers are available to chat with Members regarding topics presented in SWW, comments are found below each post.

Here's this week's Stock World Weekly. Click here and sign in with your PSW user name and password, or sign up for a free trial.

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Digital Currencies

Facebook Takes Life Seriously and Moves To Create Its Own Virtual Currency, Increases UltraCoin Valuation Significantly

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Submitted by Reggie Middleton.

The Financial Times reports:

[Facebook] The social network is only weeks away from obtaining regulatory approval in Ireland for a service that would allow its users to store money on Facebook and use it to pay and exchange money with others, according to several people involved in the process. 

The authorisation from Ireland’s central bank to become an “e-money” institution would allow ...



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Promotions

See Live Demo Of This Google-Like Trade Algorithm

I just wanted to be sure you saw this.  There’s a ‘live’ training webinar this Thursday, March 27th at Noon or 9:00 pm ET.

If GOOGLE, the NSA, and Steve Jobs all got together in a room with the task of building a tremendously accurate trading algorithm… it wouldn’t just be any ordinary system… it’d be the greatest trading algorithm in the world.

Well, I hate to break it to you though… they never got around to building it, but my friends at Market Tamer did.

Follow this link to register for their training webinar where they’ll demonstrate the tested and proven Algorithm powered by the same technological principles that have made GOOGLE the #1 search engine on the planet!

And get this…had you done nothing b...



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Pharmboy

Here We Go Again - Pharma & Biotechs 2014

Reminder: Pharmboy is available to chat with Members, comments are found below each post.

Ladies and Gentlemen, hobos and tramps,
Cross-eyed mosquitoes, and Bow-legged ants,
I come before you, To stand behind you,
To tell you something, I know nothing about.

And so the circus begins in Union Square, San Francisco for this weeks JP Morgan Healthcare Conference.  Will the momentum from 2013, which carried the S&P Spider Biotech ETF to all time highs, carry on in 2014?  The Biotech ETF beat the S&P by better than 3 points.

As I noted in my previous post, Biotechs Galore - IPOs and More, biotechs were rushing to IPOs so that venture capitalists could unwind their holdings (funds are usually 5-7 years), as well as take advantage of the opportune moment...



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