The Coast Is Not Clear – Signs of an Impending Major Stock Market Crash

Despite the recent correction, and regardless which popular metric you use; PE, Shiller’s CAPE Ratio, or Buffett’s Market to GDP comparison; this is one of the most expensive markets since 1923. The other two were the 1929 and 2000 markets and we know how those turned out. Incidentally, 1923 was the year the “Composite Index” was introduced, the S&P 500’s precursor.

The record shows that, while stock prices can continue at elevated levels for a long time, they eventually reverse to the mean. That can happen in one of two ways. Either the market goes sideways for a long time until earnings catch up, or there is a sharp drop to bring prices in line with historical PE ratios – a reversal to the mean. History has shown that investors are not a patient bunch. They will put up with a sideways market for a while, but eventually they will tire of meager returns and put their money to work where they believe will yield greater gain potential. Once that ball gets rolling, the market exits en masse and a severe bear market takes hold. The upshot: there is a big market drop in store.

The question is when and was this past correction a hic-up or a prelude to the big plunge. A study of major bear markets indicates the latter is more likely. Indeed, a review of 28-plus -percent market drops since 1923 reveals there is always a preamble to every major bear market. Some folks are under the mistaken impression that stock market crashes occur at market tops. That is far from the truth.

The stock market may well be fickle, but providence is kind. It always gives us advance notice of a coming crash, grabbing our attention amidst our complacency with a surprise drop and providing an opportunity to get out before it crashes in earnest. This is shown in the analysis below for each of the following major bear markets (28% decline or more): 2007, 2000, 1987, 1973, 1968, 1962, 1946, 1937, and 1929. Intraday prices and daily closes are only available for the S&P 500 from 1950 on. Therefore, Dow Jones Industrial Average closes were used for the markets before that.

2007
The initial top for the 2007 market came July 17 when the S&P 500 had an intraday high of 1555.90. The index would drop the next week and eventually settle to an intraday low of 1370.60 a month later on August 16 – a drop of 11.9%. Henceforth, all highs and lows are intraday unless otherwise stated. The market would climb for seven weeks to reach a market top for the index of 1576,09 October 11, 2007 – 1.3% higher than its previous high. An initial 5.5% dip was followed by a quick recovery to 1552.76 October 31, before succumbing and dropping 10.8% to a low of 1406.10 November 26, 2007. The index would recover to a high of 1523.57 and continue on a series of lower lows and highs until its nadir of 666.79 March 9, 2009 for a 57.7% decline.

2000
The 2000 market gave plenty of warning before the Dot.com plunge. The market faltered right after opening the New Year January 3rd. After reaching a high of 1478, the S&P 500 dropped to 1455.22 at the close. It dropped below 1400 the next three days and recovered to 1465.71 – the high January 20, 2000. From there it did a roller coaster ride down to the 1329.15 low of February 25 – a 10.1% drop from its high thus far. The market finally climaxed at 1552.87 March 24, 2000. It would drop precipitously April 14 to a low of 1339.40 – a 13.7% drop – but then slowly recovered to 1530.09 by September 1, 2000, only 1.5% below its all-time high. Thereafter it steadily went down with some sharp drops followed by rallies but only to the downtrend line. The market bottomed at 775.80 October 9, 2002 for a 50.1% decline.

1987
The 1987 bear market was a swift one. After vacillating to a high of 337.89 August 25, 1987, the S&P 500 dropped to 308.58 by September 8 – an 8.7% hit. It quickly recovered to 328.94 by October 2, only 2.6% down from its high. It wobbled to a close below 300 October 15 before crashing the next Monday to close at 224.84 – a loss of 20.5% for that day. It would close lower December 4, 1987 at 223.92 but the low point for the move came the day after the plunge, October 20, when it dipped to 216.46 for a loss of 36.0% from the August high.

1973
This, along with the 1968 bear market, were part of the mega bear market that spanned 1967 – 1982. The S&P oscillated within the 100 and 110 range for most of the year. It cleared the 110-barrier in late summer only to dip below it again before making its final surge as the year closed. It peaked at 119.79 December 12, 1972 and then dropped 4.3% to 114.63 December 21, 1972. The New Year propelled the index higher reaching a top of 121.74 January 11, 1973 – a 1.6% gain from the previous high. It quickly dropped to 111.85 by February 8 and then proceeded to careen downward over a series of bumps until hitting bottom at 60.96 October 4, 1974 – a 49.9% loss.

1968
After an initial drop to start the year, the market climbed steadily from March through November finally topping December 2, 1968 when the S&P 500 maxed out at 109.37. The index dropped to 96.63 by January 13, 1969 (an 11.6% drop), fizzled in its rally coming within 0.43 points of the low March 17, and then rallied all the way up to 106.74 May 14, 1969. After coming within 2.4% of the top it succumbed finally hitting bottom May 26, 1970 at 68.61. That was a 37.3% haircut.

1962
The stock market steadily climbed from October 1960 to December 1962 when the S&P 500 topped out at 72.64 December 12, 1962. Then it dipped to 67.55 January 24, 1963 for a 7.0% loss. The index quickly went back to 70 the next week and eked out a small gain the next month finally peaking at 71.44 March 15, 1.7% below the high. Thereafter, the index plunged to 51.35 June 25, 1962 for a 29.3% decline.

1946
The market had been on a tear since the latter part of World War II and started 1946 the same way gaining 8% by February. Intraday highs and lows for the S&P 500 were not available for the analysis so, hereafter, Dow Jones Industrial Average closes will be used. The Dow Jones closed at 206.61 February 5, 1946. The index then plunged 10% to close at 186.02 February 26. It quickly recovered its previous high and surpassed it on a bucking horse ride up to 212.5 May 29, 1946 – a 2.9% gain from its previous high. The bumpy ride continued until August when the index reached 204.52 on August 13 and then fell in exhaustion finally closing at 163.13 October 9, 1946 for a 23.2% decline. Despite a number of rally attempts, the market would continue to struggle until February 1948 with a maximum loss of 28%.

1937
After a precipitous drop from 1929 to 1932, the market seemed to be on recovery mode until it plateaued in early 1937. The Dow Jones closed at 194.4 March 10, 1937 to mark the end of the uptrend. The index then drifted lower for three months until bottoming June 14, 1937 at 165.51 for a 14.9% loss. It spent the next two months on a steady climb eventually topping at 189.34 August 16, 2.6% below the previous high. That was its last hurrah as the market plunged 49.1% to its 98.95 March 31, 1938 Dow Jones close.

1929
Much like the 2000 market, the Big Crash of ’29 gave plenty of warning. After going sideways for the first half of the year, the market went through a 10.0% correction when it swanned from a 326.16 Dow Jones close May 6 to 293.42 May 27. Thereafter, it rose undaunted until reaching the market top close of 381.17 September 3, 1929. It drifted lower, slowly at first, but then gained momentum until reaching a low point Friday, October 4 with a 325.17 Dow Jones close – a 14.7% loss. It made a mad dash effort to recover the next week but was only able to manage a 352.86 close October 10. At 7.4% lower than the September high, this was the lowest percentage close to a previous high of any of the major bear markets. Then again, this was the granddaddy of all bears. Ten trading days later, on October 24, the index closed below 300. It dived Monday, October 28 and again the next day closing at 230.07. The market continued its plummet until eventually reaching bottom July 8, 1932 when the Dow Jones closed at 41.22 for a record 89.2% decline.

Conclusion

Historical data shows that every major bear market since 1923 always provided investors with a warning. After seemingly peaking, they went through a significant decline before rising again only to plummet thereafter. In two instances, 2000 and 1929, it gave two warnings; the first a correction months before peaking, and the second after peaking.

Declines after the initial peak ranged from 14.9% to 4.3% with an average of 10.8% and a median of 11.6%. In three out of the nine cases, 2007, 1973 and 1946, the second peak was lower than the first. The range was from a loss of 7.4% to a gain of 2.9% with an average of -1.4% median of -1.7%. Taking out the 1929, 7.4% outlier, the average was -0.63% and the median -1.6%. The time between the two peaks ranged from 30 days to 5.4 months with an average of 96.7 days and a median of 93 days.

Starting from the premise we are in the beginning stages of a major bear market, and having gone through a 10% correction, what is in store for us? Surveying the data, it turns out we are average. There seemed to be no relationship between the severity of the bear market and the time lapse between the two peaks. However, five out of the six times the market went through a bonafide correction, 10% or more, it took months, between 2.9 and 5.4 months, for the market to top and begin its downturn in earnest. The notable exception was the Crash of 1929, which only took 37 days between the first and seconds peaks. Although there was no consistent pattern for depth of the initial decline and the total decline, it is notable that the four largest initial drops led to declines of 49% or more – a level only achieved by the 1973 bear market after only a 4.3% decline. There is no discernible relationship between the initial decline and second peak level, nor the total decline and second peak level.

It could be that Morgan Stanley’s prediction this Monday, that a slowdown may loom starting in the second quarter, may be correct. We have already gone above the -7.4% level from 1929, so it would seem this market does not correlate all that well to that one and the wait to the next decisive peak will be measured in months. Regardless, I would caution all to watch the market’s advance very carefully. If the S&P 500 gets within 2.6% of the 2872.87 January 26 top, i.e. 2798, that is your signal to exit the stock market. No sense being greedy about the last 1 or 2 percent gains and risk losing much more.

The Market Approaches a Top – What Can Be Expected?

Previously, I discussed reasons our economy would go through a major downturn.[1] My study of major bear markets[2] indicates that after a market top and drop, such as the one we have experienced since January 26, there is a second top coming within -2.6% and +2.9% of the first. This marks the beginning of a major bear market. Having arrived at the traditional topping range, what can we reasonably expect moving forward?

What follows is a summary of market behavior for every major bear market since 1929 that, like ours, was preceded by a correction. There are six of them starting in 1929, 1937, 1946, 1969, 2000, and 2007. S&P 500 data is used for the 1968, 2000, and 2007 bear markets. Dow Jones closing data[3] was used for all bear markets before that.

1929
The largest drops for this market were (trading days from the peak given in parentheses) 13.5%(12), 11.7%(13), 9.9%(17), 6.8%(20), and 6.3%(9). The 30-day average change was -1.07%. By trading day 10 the % loss was 15.1%. By day 30 it was 31.0%.

1937
The largest drops for this market were 5.0%(18), 4.5%(15), 4.3%(28), 4.1%(24), and 3.1%(20). The 30-day average change was -0.68%. By trading day 10 the % loss was 6.0%. By day 30 it was 19.1%.

1946
The largest drops for this market were 2.5%(15), 1.2%(13), 1.0%(30), 0.95%(14), and 0.77%(8). The 30-day average change was -0.13%. By trading day 10 the % loss was 0.9%. By day 30 it was 3.9%.

1968
The largest drops for this market were 1.4%(19), 0.92%(3), 0.90%(17), 0.89%(4), and 0.77%(18). The 30-day average change was -0.29%. By trading day 10 the % loss was 2.7%. By day 30 it was 8.4%.

2000
The largest drops for this market were 2.6%(28), 1.9%(24), 1.6%(27), 1.5%(19), and 1.4%(10). The 30-day average change was -0.33%. By trading day 10 the % loss was 5.0%. By day 30 it was 9.6%.

2007
The largest drops for this market were 2.9%(10), 2.6%(15), 2.5%(6), 1.8%(27), and 1.6%(29). The 30-day average change was -0.24%. By trading day 10 the % loss was 2.6%. By day 30 it was 7.3%.

All the bear markets declined gradually for the first week. In fact, it was rare to find a substantial drop during that first week. Except for 1969, none of the largest percentage drops took place during the first week and those were only 0.92% and 0.89%. Markets did begin to diverge during the second week with the 1929, 1937, and 2000 markets dropping 15.1%, 6.0%, and 5.0%, respectively, after 10 trading days.

Once the top was reached, there was no turning back. Instead, most markets had a steady decline. The only exception was the exceedingly volatile 1929 market, which declined 35% by the 13th day recovered 19% and subsequently resumed its decline. This is an important point for our market since the S&P 500 had an intraday high of 2801.90 March 13. This placed it within 2.5% of the January 26, 2018 high, just within the window for the second peak topping range. That would have placed that potential second peak historically early for a major bear market with a correction preamble. The fact 24 trading days later we are still waffling back and forth and in a recent uptrend is in stark contrast to previous major bear market profiles and argues against that being the second peak.

Note that, except for the 1929 market, which by that time was recovering, none of the markets had reached bear territory 30 trading days after the market peak. Technically, the 1937 market had dipped into bear territory days before it but was only sitting 19.1% below the peak by day 30. All the other markets were only approaching correction level territory.

Given that summary, it is likely that we will also experience a gradual decline with little damage the first week. In fact, with large loss days paling in comparison to those we saw in early January, it may well lull investors into a sense of complacency. Having gone through a long correction already, there will likely be little concern a month and a half later if the 30th trading day arrives with losses still in the single digits. That would be a mistake as the bear relentlessly creeps up on us.

[1] It’s Not Over, EzineArticles, April 9, 2018.
[2] The Coast Is Not Clear – Signs of an Impending Major Stock Market Crash, EzineArticles, February 20, 2018.
[3] Wharton Research Data Services (WRDS) was used to gather the Down Jones closing data and in preparing this article.

The Reason Why Email Marketing Is Still The Best

Digital marketing is great hype today. New methods and techniques to conduct the marketing are being devised every day. Amidst all this, it is easy to assume that email marketing is an obsolete process.

We may consider it as it is no longer being used or isn’t fetching desirable results.

However, you couldn’t be more wrong.

Email marketing is still widespread today. It is, in fact, becoming more successful with time. But what makes it such an appealing marketing technique, despite being so old?

Well, let’s find out.

Here are the reasons why people are still in love with email marketing:

1. Low Cost

The biggest reasons why emailing continues to remain one of the favorites is the cost factor. It has a very low cost involved. All you require is an operational email ID, and you are ready to start working on the email marketing tactics.

Sometimes, people start buying bulk email addresses. However, it is quite rare. Mostly they send emails only to people who genuinely subscribe to the site themselves.

An emerging practice is to use software for automating the generation and sending of emails. However, this cost is often less compared to other modes of marketing.

There are neither any print charges involved, nor do you need to pay fees for the advertisements space like space on television and newspapers. Overall, email marketing remains one of the cheapest modes of marketing.

2. Only for the customers

Most marketing techniques involve users who may have never interacted with the brand. Some types of digital marketing tactics target users who have shown similar interests in their actions, as seen on Facebook and Google.

However, email marketing is the only marketing mode where the users themselves ask to be part of the company’s subscribers.

Companies get email addresses of the users either when they subscribe to the newsletters or when they register to their website.

Taking advance approval from customers ensures that emailing effort is more visible and effective compared to other marketing methods.

3. Target your audience

One of the big merits of the email marketing is that it allows you to target a particular segment of your audience.

Since companies usually obtain email addresses by subscription or registration, they also capture their basic information about the customer like name, gender, age, location etc.

This information could be utilized in creating targeting emails.

For instance, if your company has a great offer for students, you can send emails to users who are less than 24 years of age. And, if your company is offering discounted prices on women apparels, then you may consider targeting females instead of men.

Users can also notice the pattern that they receive only those emails that are relevant to them. Thus, apart from saving a lot of resources, the company is also able to create a trust factor between the customer and the brand.

4. Ask them to make a move

One-way marketing despite having a broader reach suffers from a very critical drawback, i.e., lack of interaction. Even if you pitch the best of your marketing ideas, yet the user is free to ignore them.

In simpler words, you just cannot compel users to make an effort for paying heed to your offer. However, small efforts can definitely pay off.

Email marketing allows you to put in those efforts. By introducing a simple “call-to-action”, you can ask the users to visit your website and see what you have to offer.

Having call-to-action also saves you from the trouble of giving too much information in the mail itself. Thus, in the email body, you can simply include the most-appealing content.

5. Saves you the effort

Apart from being cost-effective, it is one of the simplest marketing methods around. One does not require any high-end software, no huge team or a separate department.

All you need is the required hardware and a few professionals who know the job.

There is always a scope for better software and tools to be used in email marketing.

However, people mostly prefer the simple format, since it is majorly the content that decides the effectiveness of an email. The lack of complexity allows you to focus completely on creating an appealing email content.

6. See your score

A salient feature that makes the email marketing technique a desirable one is the metrics. Most traditional marketing methods have no or poor metrics, like radio, television, and newspapers.

However, in email marketing, despite being decades old, you can get all the measurements you need.

Also note, to identify the performance metrics, you would require appropriate email software.

A right software will tell you everything correctly, right from the number of emails that were actually opened to the ones that redirected the user to your website.

These results could give you insights into what is and isn’t working for your campaign.

7. See instant results

One great benefits of using email marketing is that it allows you to perceive instant results. As soon as you send an email, the user would either receive it or be notified about it. Most people check their emails within 24 hours.

Thus, whether or not the user decides to take your offer, you get to see the real results the next day.

Most other marketing methods require some days or even weeks to bear results. But email marketing can get you the results before the date changes.

Some people argue that such hasty marketing is counterproductive, but that is utterly false.

8. No boundaries

Email marketing being a prominent part of the internet marketing, it does not have any boundaries set by geography.

While this is true for any digital marketing method, the email marketing is the true alternative to the traditional marketing methods like print and television.

The difference is you can target customers globally belonging to various countries, genders, age groups, professions etc.

The more range of customers you choose, the bigger will your potential customer base would be.

Conclusion

Email marketing, despite the negative stereotype, is both alive and productive even today. As discussed above, there are loads of speculations that make people fall in love with it.

Though there are other marketing methods may beat the email method in one or two ways, overall, it is still one of the most effective and accessible marketing methods across the globe.