Not much between here and Dow 8500

Many of the world’s stock markets have already retraced large┬áportions of the entire rally from the 2009 lows, but US equities have a long way to go before they give traders a scare. Judging from the sanguine attitudes expressed by various managers on Bloomberg TV, the majority remains firmly convinced that the lows are in and that any sell-off is just a healthy correction on the way to new all-time highs. This is exactly the same attitude expressed from late 2007 to mid-2008 before the crash got underway in force.

Since we are still in the early phase of the credit deflation and most people remain unconvinced of its magnitude and implications, this next decline in asset prices could be very swift and deep, driven by the panic of recognition. Technical support has already been taken out, and dip buyers will be less eager, since they have seen that stocks can indeed crash. We could see an unrelenting slide like the two years from April 1930 to July 1932.

There won’t be another bounce of the magnitude we’ve just seen until real value is restored by attractive dividend yields. A 7% yield on today’s dividends would put the S&P 500 at 350 or the Dow under 4000, but this assumes dividends won’t be cut and that the recent years of extreme overvaluation won’t be matched by an era of extremely low valuations as the culture of financial speculation dies off.

Of course confidence was up in May

Since they both reflect prevailing social mood, the stock market and consumer confidence move together. Today’s CC figure (about as high as last summer), is another sign that the investing public’s opinion of our economic prospects is overly optimistic:

If this were a stock chart of a company with horrible fundamentals (a prospective short), I would wait a bit longer to see if it kissed the 2002-2003 bottom before going heavily short, though I might start to establish a position at these levels.

What is striking about this 9-year view is how closely CC tracks the stock market, and how much more lackluster the mood was in the dead-cat bounce from 2003-2007 than the true secular peak in the late 1990s to 2000.