This blog post originally appeared on RealMoney Silver on April 30 at 9:06 a.m. EDT.Beginning in early March, the world's equity markets have experienced a classical second derivative rally as the rate of change in the decline in economic activity has decelerated. Since then, the rally has been breathtaking in duration and scope. And this week, particularly yesterday and this morning, the ramp seems to be accelerating in almost a furious fashion. Back two months ago, only a few recognized the opportunity that the market's overshoot to the downside presented nor did many see the second derivative economic improvement (in the developing signs of a lowered rate of decline in the change in economic activity). Some more vocal bears such as Nouriel "Dr. Doom" Roubini called for more capital market pain and a "zombie decade," resembling Japan (a tip of the to Jim Cramer on last night's "Mad Money" show for reminding me of the phrase). The majority of market participants also assumed that the massive fiscal and monetary stimulation would fall on deaf economic ears. A large group of observers even talked depression. That was then, and this is now. With the S&P 500 at an 890 level, Mr. Market has now materially distanced himself from both the 666 level and from the notion of an economic apocalypse. On a valuation basis, equities are no longer on sale. On a fundamental basis, we have not distanced ourselves and perhaps are too readily dismissing the substantive nontraditional headwinds that will frame the lumpy and inconsistent economic recovery I envision in 2009-11.
- the broad geographic reach of the current recession;
- the increased burden and cost of regulation;
- the economic impact of the obliterated (but previously important) shadow banking system and the associated reduction in securitized lending market capacity;
- the more important role of government in the private sector;
- the possible impact of protectionism and trade barriers;
- the degree to which individual and institutional investors have become risk-averse and have been "turned off" to equities; and
- most important, the unusual causes of the current economic downturn and uncertainty of business confidence that follows from the deleveraging of debt on bank and consumer balance sheets.