Wednesday, January 31, 2018

The Morning Call--Nothing stupid or incendiary

The Morning Call


This weekend is our granddaughter’s birthday, so we are leaving this afternoon to join her family of a long weekend.  See you on Monday.

The Market

The indices (DJIA 26076, S&P 2822) took another shellacking yesterday, with the Dow closing right on the upper boundary of its short term trading range.  Still as selloffs go this is a pimple on a goat’s ass.  It will take a lot more of this kind of pin action before anyone can suggest anything other than a pause that refreshes.

Volume rose; breadth weakened.  Long term, the Averages remain robust viz a viz their moving averages and uptrends across all timeframes. Short term, they are above the resistance level marked by their August highs, meaning that there is no resistance between current price levels and the upper boundaries of their long term uptrends. The technical assumption has to be that stocks are going higher. 

The VIX was up another 7%, clearly reflecting investor uncertainty. 

The long Treasury was off again, continuing its downward trend and moving it within a point of the lower boundary of its short term trading range.  It would appear the recent question over follow through is being answered to the downside; though it remains in a technical no man’s land. 

            The 30 year triggers Gundlach’s threshold (short):

And the Treasury increases its auction sizes (medium):

The EU also has a problem (medium and a must read):

The dollar was down fractionally, doing little to improve an otherwise sick chart but also demonstrating weak follow through to the downside.
GLD declined, trading below the lower boundary of its very short term uptrend for a second day and negating that trend.  However, the chart continues to look good.

Bottom line: equity investors seemed most concerned about what Trump might say tonight; and who can blame them?  That said, what they are worried about are comments that could be negatively interpreted regarding the dollar and trade relations. 

However, the Averages remain quite strong with regard to almost all trend indicators.  So as I noted above, it will take a lot of bad news to even touch, much less successfully challenge, any of the trend or momentum indicators.


            Investors appear to remain concerned about rising interest rates, a falling dollar and the potential impact of deteriorating trade relations.  What seemed to accentuate that point yesterday was the prospect of the Donald saying something stupid or incendiary in the state of the union address that could be interpreted negatively on one or more of those issues.  My guess is that Trump’s Davos speech was a warm up for the SOTU, so I don’t think that there will be any fireworks (there weren’t). 

That said, what Trump does or doesn’t say is a lot less important than what has already been done with regard to the aforementioned issues.  Investors finally seem to be waking up to the facts that (1) the Fed has overstayed its easy money policy and has no good alternatives going forward, (2) deficit spending is not a plus in the final stages of an economic recovery and (3) free trade has made us better off economically and undoing that would not be to our advantage.

Bottom line: the question is, is this a one day affair providing an excuse to take some profits or are investors really starting to factor in the potential for higher rates, a weaker dollar and trade disruption.  Given the level of euphoria of late, I would have to say the former.  But at least, the important considerations have gotten a little attention.
            All-time highs, risk and consequence (medium):

    News on Stocks in Our Portfolios
Boeing (NYSE:BA): Q4 EPS of $4.80 beats by $1.91; $3.04 excl. tax reform adjustment.
Revenue of $25.4B (+9.1% Y/Y) beats by $710M.

Automatic Data Processing (NASDAQ:ADP): Q4 EPS of $0.99 beats by $0.09.
Revenue of $3.24B (+8.4% Y/Y) beats by $60M.

C.H. Robinson Worldwide (NASDAQ:CHRW): Q4 EPS of $1.08 beats by $0.24.
Revenue of $3.96B (+16.1% Y/Y) beats by $230M.


   This Week’s Data


            January consumer confidence came in at 125.4 versus expectations of 123.6.

            Weekly mortgage applications fell 2.6% while purchase applications were down 3.0%.

            The January ADP private payroll report showed job increases of 234,000 versus estimates of +195,000.


            January German unemployment reached a record low.

            January Chinese manufacturing PMI was below forecasts while the services PMI was above.


            China’s potential response to US tariffs (medium):

            US 2019 budget deficit could top $1 trillion (medium):
What I am reading today

            50 best movies of all time.

            S**thouses (medium):

            How to watch the 1/31 lunar eclipse (medium):

Visit Investing for Survival’s website ( to learn more about our Investment Strategy, Prices Disciplines and Subscriber Service.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

The Morning Call--Are the long bond and dollar about to force the Fed's hand?

The Morning Call


The Market

The indices (DJIA 26439, S&P 2853) got banged pretty hard yesterday---something new and different.  Still the Dow continued to trade above the upper boundary of its short term trading range; so there seems little to be concerned about, at least for the moment. Volume fell; breadth weakened.  Long term, the Averages remain robust viz a viz their moving averages and uptrends across all timeframes. Short term, they are above the resistance level marked by their August highs, meaning that there is no resistance between current price levels and the upper boundaries of their long term uptrends. The technical assumption has to be that stocks are going higher. 

The VIX skyrocketed 25%, clearly in line with its usual inverse relationship with stocks.  Though the magnitude of its rise is somewhat unusual.  Its pin action remains confusing.

The long Treasury declined ¾ %, continuing its downward trend and moving it near to the lower boundary of its short term trading range.  It would appear the recent question over follow through is being answered to the downside; though it remains in a technical no man’s land. 

The dollar was up fractionally, doing little to improve an otherwise sick chart.

GLD fell ½ %, trading below the lower boundary of its very short term uptrend.  If this trend is negated, it would be the first set back in over two months.  Follow through.

Bottom line: equity investors seemed to be focused on the declining bond market yesterday, worrying about higher interest rates and their impact on economic activity and on valuation measures.  The exploding VIX puts an exclamation on the concern, while GLD lent its support.  The dollar appeared unimpressed---perhaps meaning that dollar investors need to see a lot higher interest rates before they cease selling.  I remain uncomfortable with the overall technical picture.

            Global diversification (short):

            The honey badger market (medium):

            Yesterday in charts (short):



            Yesterday’s economic data was not that earth shaking.  The news was:

(1)    the selloff in the bond market.  As you know from the technical analysis, this is not just a single day’s poor pin action. TLT has been breaking support levels since early this month.  Not that this means that the bond yields are going a lot higher for a lot longer; but technically they are off to a good start.  And certainly as I have reiterated too many times to recall, there are fundamental forces [the unwinding of QE/weakening dollar] that could drive rates much higher. 

That said, I have not altered my own forecast to reflect a stronger economy [via the tax reform] since I am not yet completely convinced that the economy is about to lift off and force the Fed to tighten.  On the other hand, as I have said too many times in these pages, a weak dollar could force the Fed to tighten irrespective of the level of economic strength or inflation. 

The bad news could be that I could be right on slow economic growth but also right on the weak dollar, which would be the nightmare scenario for the Fed.   That is not a prediction; it is an alert.

(2)   more on trade.  The Donald was quoted in the overnight [Sunday night] saying the EU has taken unfair advantage of the US on trade issues and that needs to change.  There was no specifics and no follow through during the day.  So for the moment, I am not sure what that means.

On the other hand, NAFTA negotiators ended their latest meeting and chose not to issue joint statement following the latest round of discussions.  Not a good sign.  (short):

Bottom line: I am not going to beat the ‘trade war’ mule again, except to say that tariffs introduced last week, the seeming lack of comity in the NAFTA negotiations and the continuing tough language the Donald seems intent on using with our trading partner is a matter of concern.  I am prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt before the fact; but I am worried about after the fact.

It is too soon to know if the bond market is telling us something about the economy and/or Fed policy, but it has been pointing in the direction of higher rates long enough that we need to be taking it seriously.  And let me repeat, this is not about the economy, this is about the Market impact of the latest of the Fed’s many failed attempts to normalize monetary policy following a period of excessively easy money.

    News on Stocks in Our Portfolios
McDonald's (NYSE:MCD): Q4 EPS of $1.71 beats by $0.12.
Revenue of $5.34B (-11.4% Y/Y) beats by $110M.

McDonald's (NYSE:MCD) declares $1.01/share quarterly dividend, in line with previous.

T. Rowe Price (NASDAQ:TROW): Q4 EPS of $1.52 beats by $0.06.
Revenue of $1.29B (+18.3% Y/Y) beats by $20M.


   This Week’s Data


            The January Dallas Fed manufacturing index was reported at 16.8 versus December’s reading of 32.8.

            Month to date retail chain store sales grew slower than in the prior week.

            The November Case Shiller home price index rose 0.7% versus forecasts of up 0.6%.


            2017 EU GDP grew 2.5%, better than estimates.

            December Japanese retail sales rose 0.9% versus projections of -0.4%.


            Update on big four economic indicators (medium):

            The Fed will ignite the next crisis (medium):

            A survey on companies are spending their tax reform windfall (medium):

            Update on oil pricing (medium):

            ECB doubles down on its dovish comments (medium):

What I am reading today

            China’s rise is over (medium):

            Tuesday morning humor---the wisdom about bitcoin.
            More from Pakistan (medium):

Visit Investing for Survival’s website ( to learn more about our Investment Strategy, Prices Disciplines and Subscriber Service.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Monday Morning Chartology

The Morning Call


The Market

            Again, no comment required.

            The long Treasury continues its downward drift, closing back below its 200 day moving average, thereby negating Thursday’s push above it.  While still in a technical no man’s land, the very short term momentum is to the downside.

            Despite all attempts to walk back Mnuchin’s weak dollar comments, the dollar still closed lower on Friday.  This is not a pretty chart.  However, given that TLT and UUP tend to trade in tandem (i.e. higher interest rates usually means a stronger dollar), the latest inverse pin action is a reason to pay attention.  One of these seems likely to reverse.

            Gold is having a nice run.  That is not that unusual when the dollar is being hammered.  However, it is when interest rates are rising.  I continue to be uncomfortable with the technical backdrop to this Market.

            The VIX was down on Friday, in line with its normal relationship with stock prices.  It closed right on the lower boundary of its recently reset short term trading range.  Its pin action remains a bit confusing.



    News on Stocks in Our Portfolios
            Donaldson (NYSE:DCI) declares $0.18/share quarterly dividend, in line with previous.


   This Week’s Data


            December personal income rose 0.4% versus expectations of up 0.3%; personal spending increased 0.4% versus estimates of up 0.5%; the PCE indicator was up 0.1%, in line.



            Update on auto loans (medium):

What I am reading today

            Nouriel Roubini on crypto currencies (medium):

            You are ordering wine wrong (medium):

            Belguim, how low can a low country go? (medium):

Visit Investing for Survival’s website ( to learn more about our Investment Strategy, Prices Disciplines and Subscriber Service.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

The Closing Bell

The Closing Bell


Statistical Summary

   Current Economic Forecast
2018 estimates (revised)

Real Growth in Gross Domestic Product                          1.5-2.5%
                        Inflation                                                                          +1.5-2%
                        Corporate Profits                                                                5-10%

   Current Market Forecast
            Dow Jones Industrial Average

                                    Current Trend (revised):  
                                    Short Term Uptrend                                 23520-25964
Intermediate Term Uptrend                     12885-29091
Long Term Uptrend                                  6222-29669
2018     Year End Fair Value                                   13800-14000

            Standard & Poor’s 500

                                    Current Trend (revised):
                                    Short Term Uptrend                                     2378-3149
                                    Intermediate Term Uptrend                         1244-3058
                                    Long Term Uptrend                                     905-2963
2018 Year End Fair Value                                       1700-1720         

Percentage Cash in Our Portfolios

Dividend Growth Portfolio                          59%
            High Yield Portfolio                                     55%
            Aggressive Growth Portfolio                        55%

The Trump economy is providing an upward bias to equity valuations.   The data flow this week was slightly positive: above estimates: weekly mortgage and purchase applications, weekly jobless claims, month to date retail chain store sales, the December Chicago national activity index, the January Kansas City Fed manufacturing index, the December leading economic indicators; below estimates: December existing home sales, December new home sales, the January Richmond Fed manufacturing index, initial estimate of first quarter GDP, the December trade deficit; in line with estimates: the January composite/manufacturing/services PMI’s, December durable goods/ex transportation.

However, the primary indicators were slightly negative: December existing home sales (-), December new home sales (-), January leading economic indicators (+) and December durable goods (0).  The call this week is neutral.  Score: in the last 120 weeks, forty were positive, fifty-seven negative and twenty-three neutral.

This is the third week in a row of less than stellar stats.  Of course, three weeks don’t make a trend.  Plus, many of the indicators were from December which was before the tax cut and the sudden increase in corporate sentiment and activity brought on by it.  At the moment, I am more focused on how large an impact the increased cap ex and hiring have on the numbers than I am about the last three weeks of somewhat disappointing data.

Indeed, this week saw new announcements from other companies (J.P. Morgan, Home Depot, Honeywell, Fed Ex, Comcast and Disney) of similar actions.  While only four weeks old, the trend among corporations of spending a portion of their tax savings on cap ex and hiring seems to be gaining momentum.  It is still too soon to call this a trend; but the warning light is starting to flash.  If higher cap spending and hiring continue, I will be raising my 2018 economic growth rate forecast for a second time---and eating crow over my ‘not pro growth’ call on the tax bill.

Overseas, the data remains upbeat---growth and improving business confidence around the globe. All of this fits the developing theme of strength in the EU and improvement among the other major economies.  In short, the trend in global growth remains positive. 

In my mind, the issue remains the magnitude and duration of this growth spurt.  The key factors determining the answer to that question are (1) the scale of the change in corporate spending plans, (2) how much of a lid the current debt servicing requirements will place on the economy’s growth potential, (3)  whether or not Trump makes good on his trade threats and (4) the Fed’s response.

Our (new and improved) forecast:

A pick up in the long term secular economic growth rate based on less government regulation.  As a result, I have raised our 2018 growth forecast. This increase in secular growth could be further augmented by pro-growth fiscal policies including repeal of Obamacare and enactment of tax reform and infrastructure spending.  While the tax bill was not perfect, much to my surprise, we seem to be getting a much more pro-growth response to it from corporate America than I had expected.  The latter is not yet in the forecast because it is simply too soon to project a change of trend.  And even when, as and if it is, the question remains the degree to which the tax bill’s lack of revenue neutrality will act as a governor on potential growth.

To be sure, short term growth is improving, propelled by improved psychology and a pickup in international growth.  However, the issue at present is, will the former lead to any permanent increase in the long term secular growth rate.

The dismal boom (medium):

       The negatives:

(1)   a vulnerable global banking system.  Nothing new this week.

(2)   fiscal/regulatory policy. 

Several factors were at play this week.

[a] the continuing positive reaction by US businesses to the tax bill.  Other companies announced higher cap spending and hiring efforts this week. The bottom line is that I am surprised {and wrong} about corporate moves to date raising cap spending and increasing hiring.  If that continues, I will raise the long term secular economic growth rate assumption---‘if’ being the operative word.  The question is, by how much?

[b] part of the answer is how aggressively the Donald pursues his trade threats.  This week, he slapped tariffs on washing machines and solar panels.  I have made clear that I am not a big fan of restraints on trade.  However, to be fair, there was a lot more bark in this announcement than bite.  To be sure, Wilbur Ross suggested that there are more tariffs to come.  The issue will be their extent, which is to say, are they adjustments to reflect economic reality or are they weapons of economic destruction. 

That said, Trump said this week that the NAFTA negotiations were going fine---this after saying that he would pull out.

Finally, at the meeting in Davos, Treasury Secretary Mnuchin praised the weak dollar, saying that it will help US companies.  I dwelled on this issue in Thursday’s Morning Call, so I won’t repeat myself except for the bottom line---a weak dollar is not good for many companies, all consumers and for the country in general.  In addition sooner or later, the Fed will have to respond to a falling dollar by raising interest rate irrespective of the levels of US economic growth or inflation.


[c] another part of the answer is how our ruling class handles the current budget/immigration bills which now appear joined at the hip.  This crowd did manage to pass a continuing resolution that keeps the government open for another three weeks---what an achievement, not.  Odds of some sort of compromise at the expiration of this CR appears to have gotten lower because the dems have backed out of an agreement on ‘the wall’.  Of course with this group, you never know what to expect. 

The problem is not so much the risk of a government shutdown which historically has had little impact on the economy.  The problem is the debt ceiling needs to be raised in April and if this fight over immigration pushes the CR to that deadline, then there could be serious consequences, namely a government default on its debt. 

Clearly, April is a long way off; so much can happen in between.  At the moment, this is just an alert.

[d] the final issue is the shape of a $1 trillion infrastructure bill that was announced this week, but with little detail.  I don’t have to tell you the impact of that kind of spending would have on my thesis on debt and growth.  Having said that, I was wrong on the tax cut and I could be wrong here as well.  Nonetheless, that is my operative thesis and I am sticking with it.

You know my bottom line, too much debt stymies economic growth even if it partly comes from a tax cut.  And a tumbling dollar is not just bad for the country, it may push the Fed to be more aggressive in its tightening policy.  Not that I would object; but the Market would.

(3)   the potential negative impact of central bank money printing:  The key point here is that [a] the Fed has inflated bank reserves far beyond any comparable level in history and [b] while this hasn’t been an economic problem to date, {i} it still has to withdraw all those reserves from the system without creating any disruptions---a task that I regularly point out it has proven inept at in the past and {ii} it has created or is creating asset bubbles in the stock market as well as in the auto, student and mortgage loan markets.  

The ECB met this week and left its policy and narrative unchanged.  What interests the Market the most is the outlook for the beginning of the unwinding of QE---which is scheduled for September.  That remains on course, with the usual disclaimers---if anything occurs that even looks like recession, QE could be expanded.

On the other hand, the Bank of Japan met and left its QE policy in effect for infinity.

And how about those Swiss (medium):

The issue here is, what does the Fed do if {i} the recent increase in corporate investment and hiring turns out to be the real McCoy and we start seeing a meaningful pickup in economic activity and inflation and {ii} the dollar continues to get monkey hammered.  If the latter, at some point, the Fed is going to have to raise interest rates to stabilize the dollar irrespective of how fast the economy is growing or how tame the rate of inflation.

The bottom line is that if growth picks up or the dollar continues to fall, the Fed has no good alternatives.  It has left itself in the same place as every other Fed in the history of Fed; that is, it has waited too long to begin normalizing monetary policy and now it must either hold to its dovish ways and risk a big spike in inflation or begin to tighten policy more aggressively and risk cutting off a potential increase in the long term secular growth rate in the economy just as it is starting. 

You know my bottom line: when QE starts to unwind, so does the mispricing and misallocation of assets. 
                  The destruction of honest price discovery (medium and a must read):

(4)   geopolitical risks:  Not much this week.

(5)   economic difficulties around the globe.  Which there seems to be less and less of.  I know that I have said this before; but much more of this, I am going to remove it as a risk. 

[a] the January German investor sentiment soared, while German business confidence was better than anticipated; the January EU composite and services PMI’s beat estimates while the manufacturing PMI was below,

[b] the December Japanese trade deficit fell while its composite flash PMI hit a three year high.

The bottom line remains the same: Europe gaining strength, Japan may be improving as is China, if we assume the data that it is reporting is reasonably accurate.

            Bottom line:  the US economy growth rate appears to be improving as a result of a combination of the positive impact on its secular growth rate brought on by increasing deregulation, the better performance of the EU economy, rising business and consumer sentiment stemming from the passage of tax reform and could be helped further if the initial positive actions by the business community turns into a trend.  

And that is a big issue: the degree to which the recent corporate actions will lead to a permanent pickup in secular economic activity.  So far the answer is to the positive.  However, we only have four weeks of data; so we need more time to determine just how wide spread the increase in capital spending and hiring becomes.  In addition, the magnitude of additional debt that will get loaded into the current budget negotiations in order to secure its passage plus the cost of Trump’s (as yet unclear) new infrastructure proposals are considerations to be factored into any economic growth projections. 

Further, the potential fallout from a more aggressive trade policy and the administration’s seeming lack of concern over a falling dollar could weigh on economic growth.

Still in the short term, increased corporate spending on cap ex and hiring plus the improvement in business and consumers psychology resulting from these moves will likely add something to the cyclical growth rate.

Finally, there is Fed policy and the impact that (1) a sudden improvement in economic growth and/or (2) declining dollar could have on it.  On this part of my forecast, I haven’t changed.  The central banks have created a Hobson’s choice for themselves: remain accommodative and risk higher inflation or tighten and risk unwinding the mispricing of global assets.  Whatever the outcome, it will only confirm what I have said repeatedly in these pages---the Fed has never in its history managed the transition from easy to normal monetary policy correctly and it won’t this time either.

The Market-Disciplined Investing

The indices (DJIA 26616, S&P 2872) turned in another stellar performance on Friday---the Dow continuing to trade above the upper boundary of its short term trading range. Volume rose; breadth improved further.  Long term, the Averages remain robust viz a viz their moving averages and uptrends across all timeframes. Short term, they are above the resistance level marked by their August highs, meaning that there is no resistance between current price levels and the upper boundaries of their long term uptrends (note: the S&P is now less than 100 points from that boundary). The technical assumption has to be that stocks are going higher. 

The VIX declined, switching once more in its on again/off again inverse relationship with stock.  It closed right on the lower boundary of its recently reset short term trading range.  Its pin action remains confusing.

The long Treasury declined, putting it back below its 200 day moving average.  That, at least partially answers the question I posed yesterday.  Which was the outlier?  Wednesday’s reset to resistance or yesterday’s recovery.  Still I would like to see more follow through. TLT remains in a technical no man’s land. 

The dollar fell, despite all efforts to walk back Mnuchin’s ‘weak dollar’ comments.  A weak dollar tends to imply lower interest rates; the opposite of what is now happening.  So add one more bit of confusion to the overall technical back drop.

GLD rose, trading more in line with UUP than TLT---just the opposite of Thursday performance.  While its chart continues to look good, it still contributes to my technical uncertainty.

Bottom line: stocks were back on their upward track on Friday. However, the VIX, TLT, UUP and GLD are signaling mixed messages.  How long stocks can ignore this is the question; until they do, the current weight of technical evidence is that they appear likely to go higher. 

I remain uncomfortable with the overall technical picture.

Fundamental-A Dividend Growth Investment Strategy

The DJIA and the S&P are well above ‘Fair Value’ (as calculated by our Valuation Model).  However, ‘Fair Value’ has risen based on a new set of regulatory policies which will lead to improvement in the historically low long term secular growth rate of the economy.  Further, there is the chance that the economic growth rate could be even higher if the recent trend continues in enhanced corporate spending stemming from the tax bill.

Consequently, I raised my 2018 GDP, corporate profit growth and Fair Value estimates.  And while I have expressed serious doubts that the tax reform bill would do anything to further improve the long term secular economic growth rate, the aforementioned pattern of increasing investment and hiring seems to be proving me wrong.  It is still too soon to alter my forecast; but we should have enough data/experience in the first quarter to make that call. 

As I have already said, I don’t believe that a more rapidly improving economy (1) justifies current valuations and (2) may even exacerbate the real problem facing the Markets---which is Fed policy/QE and the fact that, to the extent it should have ever been used in the first place, the Fed has waited far too long to begin unwinding it.  We are likely at or near the point where the Fed will be forced to make decision with no good alternatives---either stay dovish and risk an escalation in inflation or put the hammer down and risk truncating the current pickup in economic activity. 

I want to reiterate a point related to the latter point; that is, I don’t believe that a tighter Fed will cause a recession because QE did very little to help the economy.  Although it will may a governor on the rate of economic progress.  However, it will have a significant negative impact on equity valuations because that was where QE had its positive effect.  I don’t know how the Market can go up on the presence of an easy Fed and also go up in its absence; especially when it has led to the gross mispricing and misallocation of assets.

At this point, I couldn’t be more at odds with Market’s extremely positive sentiment grounded on the assumption that the Fed has the Market’s back and will pursue the unwinding of QE only to the extent that it does not disrupt the Markets.  That may be true in the absence of a pickup in growth or a continuing decline in the dollar or if the Fed was the only central bank that was tightening---which, in fact, it has been up until recently.  Now the central bank of China is making noises that suggest a less accommodative monetary policy is in the near future.   Plus the ECB is scheduled to begin shifting towards unwinding its own version of QE later this year. To be sure, all these guys have mewed about tightening monetary policy before and done nothing.  And that may prove to be the case this time around. 

But whether it does or not, it won’t change the fact that the global monetary authorities have created huge asset price distortions just as they did in 2000 and 2008; and given their abject failure to transition to normalize monetary policy in the past, I doubt that they will do so this time.  Unfortunately, this time around those distortions are the most extreme in history; so I expect the subsequent price adjustments will be very painful.

Bottom line: the assumptions on long term secular growth in our Economic Model have improved as a result of a new regulatory regime.  Plus, there is the chance that the effects of the tax bill could further increase that growth assumption though its timing and magnitude are unknown.  On the other hand, (1) if Trump follows through with his trade threats, and/or (2) the deficit/debt continues to rise, I believe that it would negate or, at least, partially negate any potential positive. In any case, I continue to believe that the current Street narrative is overly optimistic---which means Street models will ultimately will have to lower their consensus of Fair Value for equities. 

Our Valuation Model assumptions may be changing depending on the aforementioned economic tradeoffs impacting our Economic Model.  However, even if tax reform proves to be a positive, the math in our Valuation Model still shows that equities are way overpriced.

                As a long term investor, with equity valuations at historical highs, I would want to own some cash in my Portfolio and, if I didn’t have any, I would use the current price strength to sell a portion of my winners and all of my losers.
DJIA             S&P

Current 2018 Year End Fair Value*              13860             1711
Fair Value as of 1/31/18                                  13266            1637
Close this week                                               26616            2872

* Just a reminder that the Year End Fair Value number is based on the long term secular growth of the earning power of productive capacity of the US economy not the near term   cyclical influences.  The model is now accounting for somewhat below average secular growth for the next 3 to 5 years. 

The Portfolios and Buy Lists are up to date.

Steve Cook received his education in investments from Harvard, where he earned an MBA, New York University, where he did post graduate work in economics and financial analysis and the CFA Institute, where he earned the Chartered Financial Analysts designation in 1973.  His 50 years of investment experience includes institutional portfolio management at Scudder. Stevens and Clark and Bear Stearns, managing a risk arbitrage hedge fund and an investment banking boutique specializing in funding second stage private companies.  Through his involvement with Strategic Stock Investments, Steve hopes that his experience can help other investors build their wealth while avoiding tough lessons that he learned the hard way.