by John Rubino
Most Americans have spent the last few years pressed up against the proverbial bakery window, watching the 1% enjoy a life of ever-increasing wealth and seemingly total indifference to the multitudes who aren’t favored by zero interest rates, big trust funds and political/corporate connections.
The one consolation for the have-nots has been that, by owning few stocks and bonds, they would suffer less when those bubble markets did what bubbles always do, which is burst. Today was a small but satisfying taste of that eventuality. From Bloomberg:
The fortunes of the world’s 500-richest people dropped by $68.5 billion Friday as equity markets swooned with investor worries about the pace of interest rate hikes in the U.S. Warren Buffett led the declines, shedding $3.3 billion to end the day at No. 3 on the Bloomberg Billionaire Index with $90.1 billion. J
The chart shows about $100 billion of play money evaporating in the past week. Not enough to seriously inconvenience most of the people on Bloomberg’s billionaires list, but still a nice reversal of fortune versus the average person with a house, small bank account and not much more – who didn’t lose a thing.
As for whether Friday was just a blip in an ongoing “secular bull market” or a sign that fundamentals are at last gaining the upper hand on “liquidity,” that remains to be seen. Longer-term though, there can’t be much doubt that today’s stock and bond valuations are higher than they’ll be during the next downturn.
Here’s a chart from John Hussman’s latest (Measuring the Bubble) that illustrates the point. The adjusted price/earnings ratio on US stocks is now higher than before both the Great Depression and the dot-com bust.