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Where Will You Be When The Party's Over?

They did go to the party, which was held at a house way out on Long Island, with their friend Elaine. But George hooked-up with a woman, took the car, and left Jerry and Elaine stranded. They stayed too long and had to call Kramer to rescue them, but he got lost and Jerry and Elaine spent hours straining to make small talk with their tired and exasperated hosts. Jerry and Elaine were the last ones to leave. It was a disaster.

Moral of the story: Know when it’s time to leave the party, and by what means.

For you, what’s required for a good stock market party? Does it mean simply having an endless, raucous time, with no thought of how or when the gaiety will end? Or does enjoying the party also involve knowing when it’s time to go home and how you’re going to get there?

Okay, this is where you say, “Get out of here, party pooper.” And I respond, “Oh, I’ve already left.”

There’s too much evidence to deny that, as DoubleLine investment chief Jeffrey Gundlach has said, this is all going to end badly. That doesn’t mean it’s going to necessarily end soon - the point is that no one knows when it’s going to end. And it’s not completely dependent upon a change in Fed policy. Any political incident (North Korea, Syria), financial accident (Cyprus, Italy), or natural disaster (a New York City hurricane, Japan tsunami) could trigger a steep market fall.

The fact is that today’s record-breaking stock market is artificially inflated and therefore quite tenuous. On CNBC a couple of weeks ago, venerable investor Jim Rogers expressed unrepentant skepticism about today’s lofty stock prices that are mostly the result of central banks’ easy money policies. (Think that ubiquitous Interactive Brokers commercial with the columned edifices relentlessly churning out cash upon the world.) “If you give me a trillion dollars,” Rogers said, “I’ll show you a good time, too.”

Pimco’s Bill Gross broadened that theme in his April epistle, crediting the investing fame of Warren Buffett, George Soros and himself in part to the happenstance of living in a favorable “epoch.” But, he wonders, what if today’s epoch were to change? “What if perpetual credit expansion and its fertilization of asset prices and returns are substantially altered?” Gross asks.

The party goes on for now, but I’m not having as good a time as I was awhile ago. I guess I’m sobering up. And I’m not going to drink any more at this party. I don’t know when the party will end, but it will end. And I want to make sure I know how I’m getting home.

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