U.S. markets got off to a status quo start on Monday and as you’re acutely aware, “status quo” means “record highs across the board.”
See, that’s how this works. “Record high” is the new “mean.” The only alpha to be had comes from buying dips. You can’t outperform benchmarks when the near-term, medium-term, and long-term targets for those benchmarks is just: “much, much higher.”
Of course if history is any guide (which apparently it’s not), the longer this goes on and the more stretched valuations get, the lower returns going forward should be, and that’s assuming they accrue at all (i.e. assuming things don’t finally turn the corner).
The truly absurd thing about this is – and has always been – that it isn’t in any real sense, real (that’s two “reals” – and not the Brazilian kind). Because as Bloomberg reminds you, “the past 8 1/2-year has seen more than $200 billion pulled out of equity funds”:
But that’s nothing to worry about, because central banks are creating an insatiable appetite for corporate debt (they’re playing both sides – engineering demand by driving rates on risk-free assets to zero/below and exacerbating a scarcity of supply with asset purchases). Where there’s demand, there will be supply and the proceeds from new issuance are promptly plowed into buybacks which have totaled $3 trillion since 2009:
So here we are, at S&P 2,500, with stocks trading the third-richest since 1881, and having now gone 444 days without a 5% decline:
That’s the longest such stretch in two decades.