Americans grew effortlessly richer last week when a two-day rally in stocks and bonds added many hundreds of billions of instantly spendable dollars to the economy. Most of it would have dropped into the hands of traders, speculators and portfolio managers. However, enough will trickle down to sales reps at Bijan, Dolce & Gabbana and Bulgari that the big-ticket binge eventually will turn up as GDP growth. AAPL, a Bellagio fountain of liquid wealth, added perhaps $90 billion all by itself when it rose 3.5% on Friday. Not too shabby, considering the rally stemmed almost entirely from short-covering rather than bullish buying. How do we know this? Simply because the fleeting, shallow pullbacks the entire way up evinced the mini mood-swings, from hopefulness to despair to capitulation, that bears exhibit when things are not going their way. Glimpsed on the intraday chart above, the rhythms of the water-drip torture they endured for two days are as distinctive and ominous as atrial fibrillation on an EKG tape. AAPL’s rally was more decapitation than torture, with at least 80% of it occurring in the first hour on gossamer volume.
We continue to view the uptrend as a bear-market fake, implying it is incapable of achieving new all-time highs. But it could get close enough to scare the hell out of bears, and that’s exactly what it will do if they continue to fight it. Such battles tend to end with an exhaustion spike, followed by a headline reaction to the downside. The sudden revival of the bear market begun in January 2022 promises to be a doozy. Although Papa Bear’s initial phase, which lasted ten months, lopped 22% from the value of the Dow Industrials, it lacked the climactic selling that would have signaled that the worst was over. It is still to come, and it will ultimately mirror the grotesque excesses of the wildest bull market in U.S. history. Bad news will continue to be celebrated until then, and good news mourned, since Wall Street interprets headlines and economic data solely for the purpose of anticipating and second-guessing the Fed. This is navel-gazing on an epic scale, a civilizational marker no less embarrassing to humanity than the dozen or so large countries run by clowns, scoundrels, sociopaths, or — sometimes — the rare vote-getter with a flair for combining all three.