The markets are behaving just like they did after the first two fed-induced stimulus programs. If recent history is any guide, the consolidation this week provides those who have missed the run-up to get into the market.
Now normally, history doesn’t repeat itself but it does rhyme, more often than not. The first Federal Reserve Bank quantitative easing (QE 1) was announced on Nov. 25, 2008 and was formally launched on Dec. 16 that year. QE II kicked off on Nov. 3, 2010 and QE III was announced last Thursday. After both the QE I and II announcements the markets rallied and then spent several days consolidating those gains. That seems to be the pattern we are experiencing now.
Investors who purchased equities during that consolidation phase were greatly rewarded. The stock market after QE1 gained 29.8 percent during the next 12 months. After QE2, the markets gained another 13.2 percent in just six months. The lion’s share of those gains came within the first three months after the announcements. This time around, stocks rallied in anticipation of a third easing so some of those gains could already be in the market.
Nevertheless, a fairly safe prediction would be that over the next six to eight weeks we should see a substantial rally. That should take us just into the November elections or slightly after. That is where things could get a bit dicey, in my opinion.
The stock market, using the S&P 500 Index as a benchmark, is already up almost 16 percent since I advised readers to get back in the market. If the stock averages were to rally into the November elections, we may be looking at a gain of greater than 20 percent for the year. On Wall Street there are three kinds of investors -- bulls, bears and pigs. I try to avoid "pigging out" when it comes to profits so, by November, it just might be time to cut and run.
In the aftermath of the general elections there are a multitude of economic issues that the lame-duck Congress will either face or flunk. Chief among them is the often mentioned "fiscal cliff." Will the makeup of the House and Senate be such that we can avert across- the-board tax increases and deep spending cuts by Jan. 1, 2013? Will politicians agree to raise the debt ceiling once again? If so, what will that do to the U.S. credit rating?
Those are only some of the gnarly issues Congress and the president-elect will face. Depending on who wins, the first quarter of 2013 might also be a bit stormy. Given that I have no idea of how all of this is going to play out, November might be a great month to take profits.. There is a risk that things may go absolutely wonderfully. Congress and the president could make up. A raft of great legislation could pass before the end of the year and this year’s Christmas rally could be stupendous. In which case, I would have left some money on the table by getting out too soon.
So be it. No one ever went broke by taking profits. This year has been a good one so far. Although it is only late September, it is time to begin thinking about an exit strategy. Hang in there for now because I do think there are further gains to be had in the markets. But plan for the future.
Bill Schmick is registered as an investment advisor representative with Berkshire Money Management. Schmick’s forecasts and opinions are purely his own. None of the information presented here should be construed as an endorsement of BMM or a solicitation to become a client of BMM. Direct inquires to Bill at 1-888-232-6072 (toll free) or e-mail him at Bill@afewdollarsmore.com