The month of October gets all the “love,” but since 1990, August has been the cruelest month for stocks. We point this out because calendar patterns lately seem to explain this market better than just about anything else. In 2022, big losses in stocks and bonds arrived right on schedule—during a time of Jewish sabbatical (the Shmita Year).
The hostile monetary backdrop makes recent stock market exuberance even more irrational than in early 2021. Yet, this is the middle of a seasonal window that historically boasts an elevated level of craziness: It is the year preceding a presidential election—a time when monetary and fiscal stimulus are ramped up.
With less than a month to go, our hypothetical All Asset, No Authority (AANA) Portfolio seems likely to beat the S&P 500 on an annual basis for the first time since 2011. However, it’s doubtful that many real-world, institutional multi-asset portfolios were as heavily exposed as AANA to the best-performing assets—commodities and gold.
We’ve reminded dejected readers throughout 2022 that this year was statistically “cursed” from the onset. It’s a year ending in “2” and a Shmita year on the Jewish calendar, both of which have been associated with far below average stock market returns. More importantly, it’s a midterm election year, traditionally the weakest of the four-year cycle.
In the June 2018 Green Book, we noted that stocks have shown a fairly reliable correlation with a calendar of an entirely different sort: the solunar calendar. It turns out that the days that our $9.95 “iSolunar” iPhone app predicts to be good ones for fishing (based entirely on phases of the moon) are the same days that stocks have enjoyed the largest average gains!
At October’s close, a long-term BUY signal was triggered on the Russell 2000. The fact that some market segments are triggering “oversold BUYS” when blue chips are at record highs speaks volumes about the internal disparities that have developed during the last few years. The Russell BUY signal is not inconsistent with our belief that the action since the January 2018 peak remains part of a lengthy cyclical topping process.
The six-month stretch beginning in May generally coincides with a narrow stock market in which non-cyclical and low volatility stocks tend to be the winners. Hence, don’t “sell” in May, but rather, tilt away from beta and away from “breadth.” These seasonal switching strategies have 70% batting averages.
In the March Green Book, we discussed the long history of stock market difficulties during mid-term election years. Incredibly, nine of the past 11 cyclical bear market lows have occurred in these years, with eight of those nine recorded during the seasonally-weak months of May through October (Table 1).
Our bearish stance could be tested by the arrival of the seasonally strongest six-month window of the four-year electoral cycle. Since 1926, November of the mid-term year through April of the pre-election year has produced an average un-annualized S&P 500 +16.4% total return.
“That which does not kill us, makes us stronger” might be a good motto for this never-ending bull market. The bull continues to shrug off the effects of both Quantitative Tightening and an escalating trade war, and it’s doing so during a seasonal stretch in which many of its predecessors have sunk to their knees (if not their demise).
Considering the Major Trend improvement, new bull market highs (Nov. 6th) on the S&P 500, DJIA, and DJ Transports, we present a list of talking points we’d use if forced to make a bullish stock market case.
It’s no secret that the term “January Effect” has taken on a different meaning in recent years. Once a reference to the price bounce that underperforming small caps stocks receive as year end selling pressures dissipate, it has now been adopted by commentators to describe the unconstrained rally of large cap stocks, as the seasonal flood of cash pouring into big cap growth funds is invested