Like many of you who tuned into CNBC to watch their special weekend coverage of the trillion dollar meltdown in the Dow Jones Industrial Average a few weeks ago, I was engrossed with the sheer weight of the crash. As was reported by CNBC, the dollar loss in the Dow was the equivalent of losing Exxon-Mobil and Chevron Corp. at the peak of their market capitalization. In addition, the energy markets — particularly Brent crude oil — was knocked down to multi-year lows, something that was unimaginable during the peak inflationary years between 2010 through 2012. Clearly, something had changed radically.
Predictably, the mainstream media had prepared its spin-doctoring well ahead of time. We’ve seen these corrections before — they opined with a slight hint of disparagement — and we’ll get through another one. After all, corrections are normal, natural responses to a robust bull market.
Try telling that to the bull! As famed — or notorious — investor Jim Cramer always references in his Mad Money broadcast, there is an opportunity somewhere…but where? Obviously, China is out. The Asian emerging markets, particularly Malaysia and Singapore, look like they took a .762-caliber round to the head. The rest of the emerging markets are likewise hideous since most such economies are commoditized ones — and we all know how commodities and the energy sector are faring these days.
Though Wall Street apologists always cite the resilience of the American stock markets after a pronounced period of volatility, that does not mean we are immune to precipitous drops of valuation. In addition, those that want an alternative to the American markets but one that has similar stability are in for a rude awakening — for the most part, western Europe, Japan, Canada, and Mexico are trading in lock-step with the U.S. markets. Countries like Germany or the Netherlands may fare better than others because of the dovish European Central Bank but don’t expect massive fireworks.
Even “exotic investments” like the South African equity markets are bleeding off momentum from record highs. South Africa may be a great source of worry for many investors as it is one of the richest countries in terms of natural resources, yet its markets have formed a decidedly bearish trend channel that has continuously failed to breach upper resistance. This trend contrasts somewhat with the domestic markets in that the Dow is bearish but is at least consolidating — the bulls, in other words, are at least putting up a fight.
With nowhere to turn, the present market collapse is far different from similar corrections in the post-2008 era. This time around, available solutions will be found wanting.