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The Great Recession bottomed in March 2009 with the Dow Jones hitting a low of 6,500. From there, the market started its slow climb, all the way back to where we are today: just shy of 21,000.
Not many people were buying in February/March 2009 and even for months after that, maybe because they were looking at the jobs numbers. In March 2009, the economy lost 823,000 jobs. If you were trading, like the people trading today who are buying this better-than-expected ADP number, you would have been selling the 823,000 loss of jobs. That means you would have been selling at the bottom.
The next month, the economy lost 687,000 jobs again. You would have been selling again. The next month, the economy lost 349,000 jobs--you would have been selling. And on and on, for 10 straight months the economy lost jobs and you would have been selling and selling and selling and selling and selling.
I ask you: is this good strategy? Do you consider this savvy investing?
The fact is there were many things in the economy that were beginning to improve at the time. Just like there are many things that are weakening now. The jobs number is one number in a whole slew of numbers. There are lots of other things going on, and we already know that the economy peaked in the third quarter of last year. That is not conjecture, it is fact.
So, if you buy today you are essentially selling back in March 2009. Good luck.
In contrast, I was buying. Was it easy? No. Was it scary at times and frustrating for a long, long, time? Absolutely. But that's how you make money. You never make money betting on easy. Only fools believe that.
As you know, the main thing that I look at are the fiscal flows (government spending), and they're flat. Pretty much zero growth year over year. That doesn't mean the absolute level isn't high; it is. However, we see that even at what can be considered historically high levels of spending, it hasn't been enough to growth the economy for anything more than a percent or two.
Maybe people believe the slow growth is good because it will keep the Fed from raising rates. That may be true for the May meeting, but the trading in Fed funds futures suggests that the June meeting is very much in play for another rate hike, and things are even starting to perk up for one more in September.
Funny, last year the market was aghast at the prospect of a rate hike. Every time it looked like the Fed would go, there was a selloff. The pundits were saying, raise cash. I was saying that rate hikes are bullish because they constitute fiscal injections. Nobody believed me. Now everyone loves rate hikes.
The other thing I have been saying is that rate hikes are inflationary. Nobody believed me on that, either, yet we've had three rate hikes since December 2015 and gold, an inflation hedge, is up 20%. The S&P is only up 16%.
I saw the 823,000 job loss in March 2009 and I bought. I see the 263,000 job gain today, and I am selling. That's how I roll. We'll see who's right.
At the time of publication, Mike Norman had no positions in the stocks mentioned.