The Stock Market 2015-2016: Ugly Chopfest with an Equally Ugly Megaphone

August 24, 2016

There's something fishy about this "new all-time highs" rally of 2016.

It's interesting to take a longer-term view of the S&P 500 (SPX). Looking at a 10-year chart, the decline from almost 1,600 to 667 in the Global Financial Meltdown of 2007-2009 doesn't look like that big a deal, given the incredible 6-year uptrend since March 2009.

The boost phase of the rally lasted over 2 years, from 3/09 to 6/11, when the Greek debt crisis caused a temporary swoon in global markets.

Once central banks rescued markets (again), the rally resumed, but beneath the trend line.

This rally ran out of steam in early 2015. The marginal new highs in May 2015 and July-August 2016 are not even visible on this chart.

What is visible is a giant megaphone pattern that targets the old all-time high from 2007 around 1,600. A 600-point drop from 2,200 to 1,600 is of course "impossible" due to the Yellen/Kuroda/Draghi Put, i.e. central banks will buy "whatever it takes" to keep markets elevated forever.

Despite the visible "impossibility" of the SPX ever declining 600 points, that's what the pattern targets.

Even the casual observer is struck by the market's wild yo-yo'ing since early 2015--rather than trace out a definable uptrend, it's been a chopfest of dizzying declines and furious rallies.

This is not characteristic of a powerful Bull market. Rather, it is evidence of a Bull market faltering, eroding and being saved by increasingly outsized and visibly desperate central bank interventions.

$180 billion a month of additional stimulus is now required from the major central banks to keep the market afloat. Yet the returns continue to diminish.

What we have is a Red Queen's Market. The Red Queen's race refers to running fast just to stay in the same place. In a Red Queen's Market, central banks must continually increase their level of stimulus, intervention, jawboning, etc. just to keep the markets in the same place.

There's something fishy about this "new all-time highs" rally of 2016; the declines are deep but the new highs are modest. This is a tired Bull, and a spear tossed from somewhere in the restive crowd could bring it down all too easily.

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