What Now Bears?
November 9, 2004
Ever since the market made calamitous bottoms in July and October of 2002 and March of 2003, the bears have been licking their chops in anticipation of some kind of mother of all crashes. They have been looking for a grand finale to validate their opinions on various forms of fundamental rot and malaise in the American (and global) economy and financial markets. The bubble days of the late 90s generated a sense of disdain and disbelief that blossomed into some sense of entitlement…that the market owes the bears a big pop and crash in magnitude equal to the size of the bubble itself. One final grim vindication.
Instead, the market spent most of 2003 in strong rally mode and rarely looked back. It spent much of 2004 in various downtrends but never really broke. NOW, with the various indices looking to break-out once more, they are actually "threatening" to resume 2003's rally. If such a thing were to occur, it would nearly dismantle a good number of bear theories out there. In particular, the Fall of 2003, and certainly the Fall of 2004, was supposed to expose all our underlying weaknesses, especially in technology (note the semiconductor stocks are a definite and continued source of weakness). Perhaps we have successfully accumulated sufficient debt to borrow more time. Perhaps the bears are still right just wrong in timing (as is so often the case!). I cannot tell. What I do know is that as long as skepticism prowls around this move, I do not want to challenge the oncoming train!
I am particularly motivated to write this because DELL has now made 4-year highs. I think there is no better symbol of bear frustration than DELL. I earlier described it as the great promise of tech in direct contrast to the stink INTEL has been causing. This is a stock that has survived the post-bubble world well. It is now selling at the same price it was at right before the final big collapse in late 2000. While EBAY is one of the few technology stocks actually making all-time highs, DELL is noteworthy because it is a hardware company and sells the kinds of commodity-like gear that is supposed to be in great surplus. If the price action of a stock means anything, and usually it does, you would do well to think twice about any skepticism you have about this market.
Now, mind you, I am not throwing caution to the wind. There is plenty to worry about out there, and I know my faithful readers will quickly call me out on many bear theories to which I have happily subscribed over the years. The bears can currently cling to the coattails of the tumbling dollar and keep buying gold (one of my personal favorites) as the rest of the world votes exactly opposite America on the prospects of another four years of Bushies. But there is a time and place for everything, and for now, we would all do well to consider the possibilities and give them their hard-earned respect!
As always, be careful out there!