Chart Of The Week
The May Green Book, published a short three weeks ago, included an article titled “Market Narrowness in 2023” discussing the Big Tech theme’s market leadership this year. We noted that 77% of the S&P 500’s year-to-date return through April 30th was produced by the nine S&P 500 members of the NYSE FANG+® Index, itself a collection of just ten large companies that dominate the Social/Cloud/Innovators cohort. (As for which FANG+ company is not also in the S&P 500, that is your puzzle challenge for this long weekend.)
Yesterday the NASDAQ 100 closed up more than 20% from its late-December low, prompting the media to enthuse that it had entered a “new bull market!” Sadly, though, the “NDX” has no company among the broad indexes: During this NASDAQ move, gains in the S&P 500 and Russell 2000 have been just 6.5% and 2.9%, respectively, while the DJIA is down 0.5%. (So much for January’s “breadth thrust!”)
The defining characteristic of last year’s bear market was the collapsing valuations of speculative growth stocks. A mania for themes such as cloud computing and disruptive innovation during 2016-2021 drove those names to fantastical valuations and bestowed market capitalizations of tens- and even hundreds of billions of dollars on such companies, many of which had yet to turn a profit.
When Jerome Powell took the reins of the Federal Reserve in early 2018, many commentators cheered the fact that he does not possess a Ph.D. in Economics. It will be many, many years before historians are able to conclude whether that’s a good or bad thing.
Yesterday’s action, though, left us wondering whether Powell might stealthily be in the process of earning a different designation—that of Chartered Market Technician (CMT).
Our studies of economic and stock market history are meant to provide perspective, not an investment roadmap. But occasionally a current trend will resemble the past so closely it’s eerie.
Take the current inflation cycle. If (as we believe) June’s CPI inflation rate of 9.1% represents the peak for this business cycle, then many of its characteristics have lined up almost perfectly with the “average” of past inflationary episodes.
Old timers will recognize our title as a twist on Ronald Reagan’s clincher in the final 1980 presidential debate with Jimmy Carter.
We recalled Reagan’s line while preparing for today’s 40th anniversary of the great 1982 secular stock-market low. Investors in the S&P 500 have earned an annualized total return of +12.4% since that trough, about two percentage points above the long-term average.
The 2022 economic backdrop is nothing like the near-Goldilocks environment accompanying the first few innings of the Y2K Tech bust. However, the action to-date in the former Growth stock leaders has followed the 2000-2002 path very closely—and almost on a point-for-point basis, when it comes to some indexes. With the stock market “weight of the evidence” still negative, we wouldn’t be surprised if the Y2K analog holds for a while longer.
Losses in the Russell 2000 Growth Index and the NYFANG+ Index have topped 40%, and the only true equity rockstar, spawned by a 13-year secular bull market, has watched her fund’s value drop by more than three-quarters. Yet there’s still a televised debate as to whether this decline is even a bear! Could there be a more devious creature on the face of the planet?