In his latest fund letter, John Hussman argues that investors are wildly complacent, and missing out on the big negative downward trend in the global economy.
Investors remain so addicted to the temporary high of monetary intervention that they continue to ignore very real downturn in global economic indicators, to an extent that we have not seen since the 2007-2009 recession. This is particularly evident in the deterioration of new orders and order backlogs, which are short-leading indicators of production, which in turn is a short-leading indicator of employment.
Trading volume has been unusually low, while a 14-handle on the CBOE volatility index also suggests unusual complacency. It’s understandable that people are reluctant to place trades in a weakening economy, yet one where quantitative easing is widely expected. Wall Street is scared to death of being out of the market when the perceived salvation of QE3 is announced, and at the same time is increasingly encouraged by negative economic data in the belief that this will accelerate delivery. In short, investors are practically begging to be shot, mauled by dogs, and diced by a Veg-O-Matic so they can get their next fix of pain-killers.
The chart below shows the average standardized value (mean zero, unit variance) of the overall, new orders, and order backlogs components of numerous regional surveys from the Federal Reserve and the Institute of Supply Management (ISM). We observe the same sustained deterioration in economic data across the world, including Europe and China (where the absolute values are higher, but the standardized values are similarly bad). The overall pattern reflects what Lakshman Achuthan of ECRI often describes as the “three P’s” – pronounced, pervasive, and persistent. Those three P’s help to distinguish signals from noise. Presently, our own noise-reduction methods suggest that a global recession is at hand.
Photo: Hussman Funds