As we noted this morning, the one dominant sentiment in the market right now is irrational euphoria, also known as “buying panic”, as demonstrated in the following Bank of America chart, which shows that in the past 4 weeks, a record $58 billion has flown into stocks.
But while it is accepted by virtually everyone that markets are now in the irrational, melt-up, “blow off top” phase, and even the WSJ writes “‘Melt-Up’ Rally Propels Dow Above 26000 as Fear Turns to Greed“, the truth is that nobody knows how long this phase can last. Earlier this month, Jeremy Grantham – who also warned that a market meltup has arrived – calculated that the average time of the final bubble phase of the “great equity bubbles” shown in Exhibit 1 is just under 3.5 years (with the average upcycle of real acceleration just 21 months; in that time they had gains between 58% and 104%.)
Needless to say, an estimate of “3.5 years” before the market bubble finally bursts is hardly helpful, especially if there are no other markers of indicators to keep an eye for.
So, to help the anti-bubble crusaders, Bank of America’s Michael Hartnett has come up with not one, but three distinct indicators to keep an eye on, which – when triggered – would suggest that the days of the market bubble are finally numbered.
- First – credit, which as the chart below shows is already rolling over:
As Hartnett explains, “credit is “glue” keeping cross-asset bull market together but flows rolling over and price action looking fatigued.” This to Bank of America is “the clear bear catalyst for us.“
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- Second, “the wings of Icarus”: this is the “sundry” category which dumps all possible fat-tail risks together, including the risk of economic overheating.
Here the euphoria is obvious: Jan/Feb investor conviction in fresh upside to stocks driven by: 1. low interest rates (implied Fed, ECB, BoJ tightening next 3 years 80bps, 73bps, 10bps), & 2. high corporate earnings (US macro surveys consistent with 5-6% US real GDP growth (Chart 4) & 20% US EPS growth); NAFTA, China trade war, US government shutdowns, Nov Democratic sweep, surge in inflation, oil prices… “noise” to worry about, but needs to translate into higher rates & lower EPS to change bull positioning.
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- Third, and appropriately, “Three Is The Magic Number“
Finallty,for those curious what others on the street believe will finally pop the bubble, BofA’s CIO writes that client marketing feedback suggests the correction will occur only once real GDP forecasts >3%, wage inflation >3%, 10-year Treasury yields >3% & SPX >3000.