Friday, August 5, 2011

The Global Stock Market Panic of 2011

Here are two data points* that suggest that the drop in stocks is the 2011 version of an old fashioned stock market panic.

The valuation table lets the market tell you what P/E and S&P 500 operating earnings fit the current level. From this one can decide which combination makes the most sense. Unless earnings are about to fall off the cliff and/or their risk factors have risen dramatically, the P/E combination of a below average P/E of 14 times $95 is the most central point. Other combinations imply plunging earnings with rising P/Es (not logical) or plunging P/Es and rising earnings (also, not logical).

The chart shows the one month performance of selected global markets as of 12 noon (eastern) today. The point here is simple: unless one believes that a global recession is just around the corner and that emerging markets and high quality European companies are going to impacted in such a way that global growth and corporate profits are about to fall off the cliff, then the synchronized plunge makes no sense. Yes, one could argue that developed economies and the higher risk components within are at risk. But does that mean everything at every level is about to come to screeching halt, including those areas where growth is good and profits are both of a high quality and strong?

Investment Strategy Implications

The most logical culprit for this global stock market panic is a momentum-driven-hedge-fund-induced-high-frequency-trading-exacerbated panic than a justification for a global economic catastrophe lurking just around the bend. If true, this is a powerful indictment against the failure to appreciate the changing structure of the market. Also, if true, then investors should recognize this for what it is: a panic within a bull market correction.

*click images to enlarge

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