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Why this market rally will end in tears

By David Rosenberg, The Globe and Mail

Most investors see only the recent returns; they do not see the nearly invisible risks. But the risks are there. I recall all too well the 2003-07 bear market rally – yes, that is what it was. It was no long-term bull run such as 1949-1966 or 1982-2000. It was a classic bear market rally, and it ended in tears because what drove the market upward was phony wealth generated by a non-productive asset called housing alongside widespread financial engineering, which triggered a wave of artificial paper profits.

Remember, returns only count if they aren’t ultimately reversed by excessive greed. Right now, I believe clients are well served by equity strategies that focus on stocks of high quality companies and by investments in both hard assets and income-producing securities. Also good are long-short strategies (vital in controlling risk in the portfolio) and a concentration on fixed-income products (outside of commodities, deflation in the developed world remains the primary trend – against such a backdrop, searching for yield makes perfect sense).

As far as equities are concerned, the current bear market rally is likely at the very late stage. Few people will know to get out at the peak and as we saw in late 2007 and into 2008, many investors will be trapped in a falling market. Bear market rallies are not the same as secular, or long-term, bull markets – the former are to be rented, the latter are to be owned.

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Pic credit: Benjamin Miller at FreeStockPhotos.biz

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