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Kass: Apocalypse Here?

Stocks in this article: GS GOOG AAPL

This blog post originally appeared on RealMoney Silver on April 18 at 7:25 a.m. EDT.

Over the weekend, there were two additional negative data points.

First, China raised bank reserve requirements for the fourth time in order to slow down inflation. Reserve ratios will rise a half point on April 21, with the People's Bank of China pushing the requirement to a record 20.5% for the biggest lenders.

Second, Goldman Sachs (GS - Get Report) Economist Jan Hatzius cut first-quarter 2011 GDP forecasts from 2.5% to 1.75%. (The firm's projection was 3.5% only a month or so ago!)

A week ago, I wrote a column, " Apocalypse Soon," which outlined, in a comprehensive way, the ingredients for a market fall.

On Thursday in The Edge (my exclusive RealMoney Silver trading diary), I suggested in "Apocalypse Soon? Apocalypse Now!" (reprinted below) that a market correction was looming ever closer.

In Monday morning's opening missive, "Apocalypse Soon," I set the stage for a more cautious market view.

That view was based on a number of factors:

  1. higher oil and input prices;
  2. a debased U.S. currency, lingering budget concerns and political partisanship, which could jeopardize a budgetary compromise (and resolution);
  3. screwflation of the middle class and its inevitable impact on economic growth and corporate profits;
  4. the specter of structural unemployment;
  5. the absence of a recovery in home prices;
  6. the fiscal and monetary "stabilizers" are soon to be taken off;
  7. vulnerability to consensus 2011 growth projections, corporate margins and profitability;
  8. the euro sovereign debt crisis, thought to be contained, has continued to spread;
  9. a relatively anemic recovery exposes the economic cycle to the vulnerability of more black swans (and tail risk), which are occurring with greater regularity; and
  10. investor sentiment has moved to a lopsidedly bullish extreme.
I believe that column "bears" rereading, as it might be one of the times that I will be proven (and have the timing) correct -- and for the right reasons!

Apocalypse soon?

Maybe Apocalypse now.

Both columns "bear" re-reading this morning.

Indeed, since their writing, the market conditions have deteriorated further:

  1. Consumer nondurable issues have outperformed, a classical sign of a more defensive market.
  2. Former market-leading stocks -- namely, Google (GOOG) and Apple (AAPL - Get Report) -- have begun to underperform.
  3. First-quarter earnings reports have been disappointing and, when combined with No. 4 below, render the $95-a-share consensus S&P forecasts for the year more problematic.
  4. The price of energy products and other input prices show little signs of moderating.
Finally, even though the buy-on-the-dip mentality is very much in place, Mr. Market's technical condition has eroded further. Buyers are not as aggressive as in November 2010's correction, which presaged another up leg - for instance, unlike November 2010, there has not been a 90%-plus up day. Moreover, of late, short-term oversolds have gotten deeper.

Stated simply, get defensive.

Doug Kass writes daily for RealMoney Silver , a premium bundle service from TheStreet.com. For a free trial to RealMoney Silver and exclusive access to Mr. Kass's daily trading diary, please click here.

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At the time of publication, Kass and/or his funds had no positions in the stocks mentioned, although holdings can change at any time.

Doug Kass is the president of Seabreeze Partners Management Inc. Under no circumstances does this information represent a recommendation to buy, sell or hold any security.

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