Why the Pathetic New Consumer Confidence Reading Is Good News!

The New York-based Conference Board’s household sentiment index has slumped to the lowest level since March of 2009…

But hold on…don’t dismiss it as more bad news! It’s actually good news.

Sure the U.S. unemployment rate has held at about nine percent for about 30 months now. Sure, 8.75 million jobs were lost in the recession that ended in June 2009. And, with only about two million jobs created since the recession ended, the unemployment picture is not looking good. How can consumer confidence not be taking a beating?

There’s also the poor housing market. The S&P/Case-Shiller Index reported yesterday that home prices in 18-out-of-20 major U.S. cities fell again in August. It’s difficult for consumer confidence to rise when one-out-of-five U.S. home is worth less than the mortgage on it.

But think about this…

What happened to the stock market when consumer confidence hit bottom in March of 2009. We all know that stocks rose almost 100% from March of 2009.

And this exactly what I have been writing about for a month now. A couple of weeks ago, the number of bearish stock advisors hit a high not seen since March of 2009 (Source: Investors Intelligence). Now consumer confidence is at its lowest level since March of 2009.

It is during times of extreme bearishness and negative consumer confidence that the stock market rises. No, I’m not predicting that the stock market is going to double from its current level. But I am saying that investors, stock advisors and consumers are usually wrong when the majority of them have the same opinion. The stock market has historically done the opposite of the herd mentality. And I believe this time will be no different.

The more negative the consumer confidence reading, the more stock advisors who have turned bearish, the more the chances the stock market will climb the “wall of worry” higher. And that’s exactly what I believe is going to happen now. The poor consumer confidence reading released by the Conference Board Tuesday is good news for the stock market.

Michael’s Personal Notes:

Quietly, with little fanfare, the U.S. dollar has fallen to its lowest level against the Japanese yen since World War II. Yes, the country we beat in World War II—its money is now worth more than ours!

But it’s not just the yen that has been rising against the U.S. dollar. So far this month, the U.S. dollar has lost 4.4% of its value against a basket of industrialized country currencies. Actually, I’m surprised the U.S. dollar hasn’t fallen more in value against other world currencies.

Let’s face the unpleasant facts again:

The Federal Reserve has kept short-term interest rates near zero for almost three years now. On top of that, the Fed has purchased $2.35 trillion in assets to help spur the economy. The “official” national debt sits at about $15.0 trillion. When you include off-balance sheet government obligations, our debt stands at between $100 trillion and $200 trillion depending on whose report you believe.

Yes, the stock market has been rallying as of late. But we all know the U.S. economy is very fragile, very sick. We have a currency that returns zero interest rates issued by country that is awash in debt. And there are plenty of U.S. dollars in circulation to boot, thanks to the Federal Reserve’s expanding balance sheet.

From March of 2009, when U.S. stocks fell to a 12-year low, to today, the U.S. dollar index (a measure of the value of the U.S. dollar relative to a basket of six currencies: euro; yen; pound; Canadian dollar; Swedish korona; and Swiss franc) has fallen 16%. During the same period, the price of gold bullion has risen by approximately 80%.

“Michael, what is the long-term play here for investors?” What I see few people talking about is the effect of the debt crisis in Europe on the U.S. dollar. When Greece’s problems started to flare up in 2010, we saw investors running to the U.S. dollar. And we had a corresponding spike in the value of the U.S. dollar in the summer of 2010.

But today, the crisis in the Europe is graver than last year. Greece is bankrupt. Italy and Spain are not far behind. Citizen rallies against austerity cuts in Europe are becoming larger and more violent (70,000 Greeks protested against government cuts on October 19, 2011). And, against the backdrop of all this, the U.S. dollar is not rising, which is obviously negative for the greenback.

My strategy has remained unchanged. I’m exiting U.S. dollars for gold. If I’m right about future inflation, the value of the U.S. dollar will only continue to deteriorate, while the price of gold bullion rises even further.

Where the Market Stands; Where it’s Headed:

The stock market opens this morning slightly above where it started 2011. I continue with my opinion that we are in a bear market rally that started in March of 2009. The strong combination of investor pessimism, an expansive monetary policy, and stronger than expected corporate earnings will see the bear market rally continue to climb the proverbial “wall of worry.”

What He Said:

“Prepare for the worst economic period ahead that we have seen in years, my dear reader, as that is what I see coming. I’ve written over the past three years about how, in the late 1920s, real estate prices fell first before the stock market and how I felt the same would happen this time. Home prices in the U.S. peaked in 2005 and started falling in 2006. The stock market is following suit here in 2008. Is a depression coming?  No. How about a severe deflationary recession? Yes!” Michael Lombardi in PROFIT CONFIDENTIAL, January 21, 2008. Michael started talking about and predicting the economic catastrophe we started experiencing in 2008 long before anyone else.

The Correction Within the Current Bear Market Rally: Will It End Soon?

And so the S&P 500 Index is trading right around a key resistance level of 1,220 and, if it can prove to hold above this level, this could be the breakout the market’s been needing. It’s been a tough go for the stock market over the last several weeks and we’re due for a little upside.

Bear Market

Along with more certainty on the sovereign debt issue in Europe, corporations now have to step up to the plate and deliver on earnings. Other than the financials, we’re seeing good numbers so far from big, brand-name companies—especially in technology, which is refreshing. In the last several quarters, the technology sector was a big disappointment, especially at the retail level.

Although the spot price of gold is somewhat being held hostage by the strength in the U.S. dollar, large-cap gold stocks are very attractively priced at this time and I think the marketplace has created a good entry point for new positions in this sector. I would also consider new positions in oil at this time. The spot price is ripe for an upward move as investor sentiment improves.

All this market needs is a little more certainty on Europe and the economy. It doesn’t need a lot of reassurance—just a little. With this improvement, stocks can rally throughout the fourth quarter and we could finish off the year with a nice little gain.

Helping the cause is the fact that the stock market is fairly valued currently and that a lot of reduced expectations for economic growth have already been priced into the market. Institutional investors have been chomping at the bit to buy stocks in this market, but they’ve been waiting for a catalyst. It’s possible that the catalyst won’t be anything definitive, but rather just a reduction of investment risk (caused mostly by the debt crisis). Everyone knows that the world is awash in debt and so does Wall Street. For the most part, Wall Street is okay with this, because they are used to operating in a world of debt and leverage. All capital markets require is a clear and actionable plan, with a time table, from European policymakers, and a lot of certainty will be restored in global capital markets. This doesn’t mean that Greece won’t default on its sovereign debt, but financial markets need to know that the rest of Europe and the world will stand behind a real restructuring plan for that nation’s finances.

Like I say, the broader stock market is going to face some resistance around 1,220 on the S&P. If corporations come through on earnings and visibility, and the debt crisis gets under control, I see no reason why the main stock market averages can’t pop higher by a solid 10% before the end of the year. The correction within the primary trend (a bear market rally since the March 2009 low) may soon be at an end.

Stock Market & Gold: An Opportunity Like We’ve Never Seen Before?

By Michael Lombardi, MBA

I’m so excited this morning; I can hardly control my excitement.

Being the type of person who looks at the glass half-full as opposed to half-empty, I see yesterday’s sell-off in most investment categories as presenting investors with huge opportunities for profit.

Let’s start with the stock market: Since August, there have been five breakdowns by the Dow Jones Industrial Average to the 10,500 level. Subsequent to each of the downside moves, the stock market has rallied. As of last night’s close, the Dow Jones Industrials are selling at only 12.2 times this year’s earnings! The Dow Jones Industrials offer a dividend yield today of 2.9%—trumping most other forms of investment in respect to income.

The stock market is severely oversold; there is great value in stocks.

Moving to precious metals, the big correction in gold and silver I have been predicting and warning about is on! Finally, gold’s back under $1,700 an ounce. Finally, silver is back under $33.00 an ounce.

If you believe that the world’s financial problems will go away, if you believe that the U.S. will get out from under its mountain of debt, sell your gold.

On the other hand, if you recognize that gold bullion has risen $397.00 an ounce in the past 12 months (31%) and investors are finally taking some profits off the table, if you believe that the world’s economic problems will only get worse, that the U.S. will continue piling on the debt, that U.S. dollars will continue to be printed at a rate that spurs inflation (all the stuff I believe), then you might want to take this opportunity to buy more gold investments (like I am).

Global Stocks Enter Bear Market,” said the headline on a Bloomberg news story yesterday. Investors are panicking again and stock advisors are at the most bearish level in months. When you see this amount of negativity, stocks usually go the other way and climb the wall of worry higher. Stock market rallies end when investors are most optimistic, not when they are as pessimistic as they are today.

Michael’s Personal Notes:

Shares of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE/BRK-A) are trading at $100,000 for the first time since the beginning of 2010. I believe there are two reasons this is happening and I don’t believe the price action of Berkshire stock is indicative of the future of general stock prices.

First of all, the company’s reinsurance units have taken a hit. Japan’s earthquake in March and the U.S. windstorms this year have resulted in Berkshire Hathaway Reinsurance Group taking a loss in the first half of 2011.

Secondly, as the company has grown so much, it’s just getting tougher to make deals with big returns. Most of Buffett’s bets have been secure ones: buying preferred shares of big companies and getting a small of amount of warrants as a bonus. The bigger Berkshire has become, the more difficult it has become to make deals where the eventual returns are substantial. Berkshire will be hard pressed to find a deal like Coca-Cola again.

Where the Market Stands; Where it’s Headed:

Despite yesterday’s sell-off in stocks, I believe we continue to be in a bear market rally in stocks that started in March of 2009. Yes, the rally has been long and is getting tired, but I believe the bear market rally has more upside potential left.

What He Said:

“Partying Like a Drunken Sailor: The party continues. Stocks are making new highs and people are spending like there is no tomorrow. Why? I really don’t know. Big (cap) stocks, they just continue going up. Wall Street bonuses are at record levels. Popular consumer goods are flying off the shelves. Designer clothes, fast and expensive cars, restaurants with one-hour waits…people are spending in America today at an unbelievable clip. 1932, 1933…who remembers those years? The depression of the 1930s was the biggest bust of modern history. 2005, 2006, 2007…welcome to the biggest boom of the same period. When will it all end? Soon, my dear reader. Soon.” Michael Lombardi in PROFIT CONFIDENTIAL, February 7, 2007. Michael started talking about and predicting the financial catastrophe we began experiencing in 2008 long before anyone else.