Over the last week I received numerous emails regarding my last column on Seeking Alpha. Readers inquired why I was so negative on the market. Other than the macro elements that I laid out, the market had set itself up for a psychological correction.
Generally speaking, I am a firm believer in the efficient market theory. I believe most equities trade at, or near, their true market value. There is little to no money to be made when equities are fairly valued. Alpha becomes harder and harder to come by.
When markets are in a sustained uptrend, as we witnessed throughout the duration of QE2, they begin to trade with a sense of invincibility. We forget to worry or factor in risk. Riskier assets simply become conduits to greater returns. With the Bernanke ‘put’ in place, there was no downside risk. The only way to generate alpha was to chase greater risk. When this occurs, the efficient market theory quickly devolves into the ‘castle in the air’ theory, or more aptly, the ‘greater fool’ theory.
All equities begin to trade at multiples that are unwarranted, limiting upside while exacerbating downside risk. Who was buying Open Table (OPEN), Salesforce (CRM) and Netflix (NFLX) at these multiples? I guess there is always a greater fool waiting to carry your bag, so why worry?
Eventually this over exuberance comes to end. In our recent scenario, Bernanke took off the training wheels and we had the sudden realization that the US economy was not ready to ride on its own. We careened off the edge at full speed. Selling begets selling, and the market became increasingly irrational. Risk begins to rear its ugly head and the weak retreat to the security of their bank accounts.
This is capitulation. This is purely psychological, and it’s exactly the time to purchase equities. This is when real money is made.
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