February 24, 2022
The Canary in the Coal Mine
Many investors think of the stock markets as a giant cash register. Just put your shares in and take cash out. However, there is not an endless supply of cash in the markets.
Someone must be on the other side of the cash register putting money in so you can take it out. That is called liquidity, and it is the mother’s milk of stock markets. When there is not enough cash to balance the needs of buyers and sellers, that spells trouble for the financial markets. We call this illiquidity.
My friend and newsletter writer, Tom McClellan, uses the phrase “canary in the coal mine” to describe the ability of high yield (junk) bonds to forecast upcoming stock market declines. Canaries are much more sensitive to poisonous gasses than are humans, so canaries were carried into mines by coal miners as an early warning system. If the canary stopped singing and fell off its perch, it warned miners that the air was becoming worse in time for them to get out.
Junk bonds are our canaries.
Since illiquidity is the root cause of all market declines, Ryan and I track money flows into and out of the markets. Junk bonds, just like the canaries in coal mines, can tell us when liquidity is falling, and it may be a good time to lower our exposure to market risk.
Most of the time, the junk bond market goes in the same direction as the S&P 500. But when junk bond prices diverge from the S&P 500’s direction, it gives us great insights that the stock market is likely to be changing, so pay attention. This means if the stock market has been strong and we get a “sell signal” from our illiquidity gauges, a decline is very likely.
Government intervention can inject liquidity into the markets, and some illiquidity events are news-driven and quickly dissipate, so not all junk bond illiquidity signals lead to stock market declines. However, significant stock market declines are preceded by these signals, so they are one of our best predictors of when to reduce risk. Since market declines start out small and one can’t usually see any difference between small and large declines in their early stages, we respect each set of sell signals.
Despite the occasional head-fake, these money flow signals are our canary in the coal mine, and right now, the canary has croaked! Money flow signals tell us that the potential for a continued decline in the stock markets is significant, so we are being proactive on your behalf (assuming you are already a client). We have moved client accounts to a much more conservative investment position, and you will find that the majority of your investments are already out of the stock markets at the moment.
If you are not yet a Shadowridge client, call the office at 888-434-1427 to schedule a quick portfolio review and determine if our proactive investment management can help you invest more successfully. Please call before a significant stock market decline, rather than after when it may be too late.
Think Twice Before Scanning That QR Code
This timely article from Pew Research highlights current scams involving QR codes. Your friends at Shadowridge thought you might want to be aware of this. Read More Here
* The model accounts mentioned in this article are hypothetical examples of how the strategy may work as designed. Performance and activity in client accounts may be different from that in the model in amount of each investment, specific timing of trades, and actual security used, which may vary from account to account. Not all trades are profitable. It should not be assumed that current or future holdings will be profitable. A list of all trades in these accounts for the past 12 months will be provided upon written request.
** Indexes are unmanaged lists of stocks considered representative of a broad stock market segment. Investors cannot invest directly in an Index.
This newsletter may contain forward-looking statements, including, but not limited to, statements as to future events that involve various risks and uncertainties. Forward-looking statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors which may cause actual events or results to differ materially from those that were forecasted. Information in this newsletter may be derived from sources deemed to be reliable, however we cannot guarantee its accuracy. Please discuss any legal or tax matters with your advisors in those areas. Neither the information presented nor any opinions expressed herein constitute a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security.
In all investing, past performance cannot assure future results, and as such, our efforts are not guaranteed. Losses can occur. All strategies offered by Shadowridge Asset Management, LLC, adapt to changes in the markets by changing the investments they hold, therefore, comparisons to broad stock market indexes such as the unmanaged indexes mentioned may not be appropriate. Sometimes client accounts are invested in stocks or markets not included in these indexes. Past performance does not guarantee future results. Investment return and principal value will vary so that when redeemed, an investor’s account values may be worth more or less than when purchased. Mutual fund shares and other investments used in our managed accounts are not insured by the FDIC or any other agency, are not obligations of or guaranteed by any financial institution and involve investment risk, including possible loss of principal. Advisory services offered through Shadowridge Asset Management, LLC, a Registered Investment Advisor. Adviser will not transact business unless properly registered and licensed in the potential client’s state of residence.
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