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Signs of life? – A few thoughts from Clive

If you are a regular reader of our reports, or if you’ve seen me on CNBC any time in the last few months you’ll know that we’re staying right out of the rush to pick a bottom on this equity market sell-off, a rather thankless task that so many people appear to be happy to do. This is how it works: If you are a market commentator and you’ve been calling the bottom all the way down, you may as well carry on, because at some point you’ll be right. Then you can say for the next three years “I picked the bottom”. It upsets me that these so called experts are happy to continue to give dud advice to people just to try and save their own face.

Here’s something else: The market will only bottom out once all of these people STOP calling it. When the towel is thrown in by the majority, and most commentators start talking about doom and gloom downside targets, is when we’ll get a bottom. Maybe that’s why Hugh Hendry was given an entire hour on Channel 4 last night to pick over the wreckage of the sub-prime crisis. It was a great bit of TV and you can’t but love the man!

As per last week’s Blog on the sentiment cycle, the bottom will most likely come when people give up trying to call it, and when the market resigns itself to a future of pain and misery. So we’re probably not quite there yet…

I looked back at our analysis in 2003 and saw that we were around 400 points off the low before we called started saying bullish things.

The DAX is certainly well off the lows over the past two sessions, on the back of the world’s most spectacular short squeeze. VW shares jumped from 200 Euros to 1000 Euros in two days. I don’t even want to start to explain the ins and outs so here’s a link to the story on Bloomberg’s website.

The upshot is that Volkswagen has now become the world’s largest company by market cap on the back of a short squeeze. This story will only get bigger (although I don’t think VW’s market cap will!) and we’re bound to hear some fallout in coming days or weeks.

One wry (and somewhat tongue in cheek) observation on this shenanigans: We won’t see a financial stock reacting higher like this in the coming months, because the shorts have been banned…

Finally, In my spare moments right now I am doing something that I force myself to do once a year: I am re-reading “Reminiscences of a Stock Operator” by Edwin Lefevre. THE BEST BOOK EVER ABOUT THE MARKETS. i only got to chapter 1 when I read this quote:

“Another lesson I learned early is that there is nothing new in Wall Street. There can’t be because speculation is as old as the hills. Whatever happens in the stock market to-day has happened before and will happen again”.

Say no more…

As always my best advice if you’re trading these markets is “stay safe”.