The Week That Laid The Experts Bare

The week that passed has left many of the so-called “smart crowd” flummoxed, disheveled, dismayed, and disrobed from their expensive facades of “expert insightful analysis.” It seems all that “expert” as well as “insight” wasn’t all it was made out to be. In less than a week: historic records weren’t only broken – they were smashed to smithereens. And the one’s that were the most historic? They weren’t set for positive things. No, the records these broke were for the worst of reasons. e.g., The Dow collapsed losing the most points in one day – ever. Another? For the first time (yes in history) all the major futures indexes (DOW™, S&P™, NASDAQ™) were halted for trading as they collapsed in a panic to trigger their “limit down” circuit breakers as to help quell further panic. The markets worst open since? 2008.

Let’s put some context here as to not lose sight of just how shocking as well as breathtaking these revelations were:

It was a mere sixty (yes 6 – 0 give or take) trading days ago the S&P 500™ made a new, never before seen in the history of mankind, all time high. It also remained there near stuck-like-glue throughout those following days. (e.g., That high being 2134.72, and the close on Aug.17th of 2102.44) During this period we not only tested that high, the index made a new all time record closing high, which was also tested. So the use of a term such as “stuck-like-glue” is far from an exaggeration: It’s a near perfect descriptor.

Back in November of 2014 (the S&P was then flirting with 2100) I wrote an article titled “Why Tony Robbins Is Asking The Wrong Questions” in response to his newest book as well as questions he laid out in other places along with his answers. I took quite a few barbs and digs from many not only for the questioning, (i.e., For who are you?) but also the near dogmatic reasoning and responses from most of the so-called “smart crowd” of why “This market is going nowhere but higher” as every minor sell off was quelled by the soothing tones of one Federal Reserve speaker after another. Giving ever more credence to their unquestionable resolve in the belief “The Fed’s got their back.”

Whether one turned on a television, radio, or read the latest headlines. All were predominantly pointing out how: GDP growth was back; the economy was set up to expand; China’s 7%+ GDP economy would be the stalwart to lead us out of any residual economic malaise; and on, and on.

Next in rotation fund managers, economists, analysts, chief investing officers of __________(fill in the blank) you name it scrambled to give their take on why all the nay-sayers should not only be shunned – but silenced. For as they would explain at length: “They (as in people like myself) have been wrong, and nothing but wrong, for years! Just look at these markets. Does this look like doom and gloom to you?” With the media lovingly gifting them all the time needed to make that case to the near exclusion of any reasoned push back.

The form of rationalizing many of these “experts” pointed out as to explain what was taking place in the markets and why was; and still is, the real issue. For the problem they dare not see or admit is – it’s all been an illusion. Period.

In direct contrast to this myself and a few others have been banging our fists (as well as keyboards) trying to explain to anyone who’d listen: Without the direct intervention via quantitative easing by The Federal Reserve – there is no market. And: Not only should one not trust its current valuations as to “get on the bandwagon.” Rather: One should primarily focus on safety. Maybe to the near exclusion of everything else. For when they break (which is only a matter of time) they will become out-and-out dangerous rivaling not only 2008, rather, quite possibly something even worse.

And what has happened of late? See the above opening paragraph.

Since the ending of QE (Oct/Nov 2014) the “markets” have done nothing more than bounce around in a range lurching at times higher adding to the illusion of imminent lift off leaving these mere stratospheric levels for heights rivaling Alpha Centauri. There have been calls for Dow 20K by year-end as was implied by Jeremy Siegel in Feb. Other experts were still sticking to the same call as late as May. And not to be outdone, Mr. Siegel reiterated that call in mid July. However they are (or were?) far from the only one’s calling for new highs.

In an article I wrote on July 29th titled “The Coming Credibility Hammer” I explained my stance on why I felt many of those in the near future were going to find themselves in quite the credibility quandary should things turn awry. One of the examples I used was an exchange or response given to the current earnings reports and its lack of performance as to drive index prices ever higher.

In response to earnings being far from great Tony Dwyer responded with: “They haven’t been the entire cycle and we’ve had a 300% gain. Look, I’m trying to understand how we keep coming on every quarter, that the earnings are terrible, revenue growth is terrible, this is going to be bad – and we’re up 300%” He added as to reaffirm he still believes double-digit gains just 6 months out from here.

I said then as I’ll state now, “A double-digit gain from where we were was a bold call.” Whether or not he is proven right going forward is up in the air. Although his call for a double-digit gain into new highs today appears conservative as compared to Mr. Siegel or many others. However, after what’s transpired this past week? Just remaining at these current levels by year-end may itself end up being an arduous task. Let alone retesting the old to surpass into ever higher.

Then we had none other than what many hold as the embodiment of Keynesian economics Paul Krugman, and his dissertation in the New York Times™ of what seems his only (OK only) fix to what ever ails the world: Debt. If you’re in debt, you need more debt. Buried in debt? Take on more debt. Insolvent? Get more debt and go more insolvent. Go into debt to build infrastructure. Regardless of the costs. That seems to be what his message is for how you’ll solve or grow a real economy these days.

As nonsensical as that sounds, this is what is professed as the cure within the Ivy Leagues, and Ivory Towers. The problem? Well, China did just that. And what’s happened as of late? Well, the economy that we were told was the economy we should mirror because “They know what they’re doing and were going to lead the world out of its economic malaise;” is currently coming off the rails where every respite in a free-falling stock market has been met with an even more ferocious round of selling pressure days, if not hours later after any interventionism by the PBoC or other means.

Their stock market has collapsed further, week – after week – after week. Now threatening to take down many if not all major markets across the globe if it doesn’t soon find an actual floor that holds for more than a week.

And let’s not skip over the small point: they quadrupled their debt load to bring it all about. I wonder how they are viewing the idea today of Debt Is Good?

Should they ask Greece for advice? Oh that’s right, all that “fixing” is currently tearing that country apart simultaneously. Better they wait till they elect another government first I would presume. If the people don’t storm the palace walls first because as of today – no one knows what will happen in Greece next. So much for all the expert opinions that stated “Greece is solved” I guess.

Then there was Suze Orman’s taking to Twitter™ pleading to none other than the Fed. and Jim Cramer.

Of Fed. Chair Yellen she pleads “help us out. Commit to no rate increases.” And to Mr. Cramer, “Jim do something” and more. This is coming from someone who self describes themselves as “America’s Most Trusted Personal Finance Expert.” I’ll let this stand on its own, and let you be the judge. I’m at a loss for lost for words, and for anyone who knows me – that’s saying something. For one can only surmise by her pleads, those that were taking her advice of late were caught and blindsided by the events of the day much like she appears to have been.

Yet, as one would think that’s the end of that, it seemed Jim Cramer did “do something.” One, that in my opinion, may go down in the history books of market saving brazenness ever dared on live television. Where minutes before the opening bell on Monday, as the Dow was falling over 1000 points and the other majors were either in, or about to be frozen in what was its first historic case of “limit down.” Where trading is halted as the circuit breakers are popped to quell the rout or panic selling. Mr. Cramer produces, then reads an email which he states “only he has” from non other than Tim Cook, CEO of Apple™ implying China is better than we think per Apple sales.

And what happens next? HFT, along with the many headline reading algos seemingly took that news and rocketed not only Apple into positive territory, but taking the entire market with it! For it’s a well-known phenom: As goes Apple – So goes the market. The only question on a lot of people’s mind is: Was this legal? This seems to be an open question. Only time will tell for it’s been reported it has raised eyebrows not only from lawyers, but the securities oversight agencies also.

Then, just when I thought I had finished a week full of “Wait…what?” moments which have become far more frequent as well as audacious. I came across another.

On Saturday I read on Bloomberg™ an article by Barry Ritholtz titled “Mom and Pop Outsmart Wall Street Pros” Here Mr. Ritholtz goes to great lengths to make the case that “Mom and Pop were content to ride out the market’s volatility this past month, more or less sitting tight.” It goes on to show how “Mom and Pop have wised up: they trade less and invest more.” “They are eschewing stock pickers, and embracing index and exchange traded funds.” and more. Sure they are.

Let’s not forget it’s Mr. Ritholtz that seems to take great umbrage with anyone like myself that questions “the data.” For he’s stated many times and repeatedly referred to them not only as “data deniers.” Rather, during a radio program on Bloomberg he summarily summed us up as “Idiots.” And just for clarification as to eliminate any doubt. That’s not a printed “air quote.” That’s open quote, Idiots, closed quote. As in; his exact word. It’s his right to have any opinion and express it however he would like. That’s absolutely his prerogative and I personally take no offense too it. However, I will end with this.

On the same day another article appeared on their site. The title? “Fed Up Investors Yank Cash From Almost Everything Just Like 2008” It would seem the data shows quite clearly Mom and Pop not selling during the panic was an illusion just like much of the data that made up this market over the last six plus years. According to Credit Suisse™ an estimated $6.5 Billion left equities in July as $8.4 Billion was pulled from bond funds, Then followed up with another $1.6 Billion, and $8.1 Billion respectably in the first three weeks of August.

Another point in that article? “Anytime you see something that hasn’t happened since the last quarter of 2008, it’s worth noting,” Saporta said in a phone interview. “It may be that this is an interesting oddity but if we continue to see this it could reflect a more broad-based nervousness on the part of household investors.” You can find a summary and more visual representation here.

I would only ask many of today’s “experts” that maybe, just maybe, before looking at all of us as uninformed “data deniers” or brazenly flipped off as to insinuate we’re all a bunch of “Idiots” to do one of two things, if not both…

First: Remember – When making money seems as easy as sticking one’s finger in the air, it should first be taken as a warning sign that something may be wrong – not of one’s brilliance. And second: Before disparagingly calling names of others. Look in the mirror first. For the one that might fit your words more often than not – can be found there. Rather, than in others.

© 2015 Mark St.Cyr

CNBC: No Need For A Fork – It’s Done

Yesterday I wrote on what I considered a very strange development that took place on CNBC™ in regards to one of the morning shows where Jim Cramer produced, then read on-air, an email he received (and stated only he had) from Tim Cook of Apple™ about China’s health as far as he saw it. As I wrote yesterday this hit me in that “Wait, what?” type moment. So much so I instinctively hit the record button as to watch it later to make sure I truly did hear correctly. For the implications would be far from subtle. Why?

Never mind whether it may have legal ramifications or not for the moment. What was said, how it was obtained, and exactly who knew what, when, and where struck me as an obvious “something just doesn’t seem right here.” No SEC or law degree needed. Just common sense.

Add to this was also the timing. Right before the open where liquidity has shown to be at its most vulnerable (meaning lack there of) where it’s basically the window where HFT, headline reading algos feast upon stop runs and more clearing out what many consider the “order book” of the market every morning. This phenom has been detailed in near scholarly work by Eric Scott Hunsader at a company called Nanex™.

So with this understanding; anyone with a modicum of insight as to what these “markets” have now become listened to this email exchange and could draw conclusions near immediately what would follow such a revelation. And sure enough it seemed to do exactly what one inferred as the market steamrolled back 1000 Dow points in what seemed mere minutes, with HFT’s gorging on any and all orders available. (It’s been reported yesterday was one of HFT’s most profitable days just for some context.)

The issue? A lot (and I’ll wager to say – a whole lot) of the remaining Mom and Pop retail customers with their 401K’s that are still left in this market, if they weren’t steamrolled themselves, may have been scarred with orders they thought protected their stops, only to find the rules allowed those “stops” to turn into market orders (i.e., what ever someone wants to pay) and were filled at levels they never dreamed of selling or buying at.

Some of these types of order fills have been reported to have transpired at cents on the dollar. (i.e., you wanted to sell at $1 to preserve your money and during the chaos – your order was filled and sold at .05 cents or vice versa) It’s said some of the egregious ones have been broken (e.g., cancelled) however, we can all imagine there are a far greater number that will not. i.e., you wanted to sell at $1 and it was filled at .35 cents as an example. I guess you would be asked to take solace in that – at least you did better than a nickel. Feel better?

As I said yesterday I hadn’t watched a morning show on CNBC in years and have stated my reasons ad nauseam over those years. Yet, I would guess, just like you, with such turmoil currently taking place you may have also decided to flip over and see what two cents they might be adding to the discussion. So, like yesterday, I once again did just that: only to have all my past revelations reassured as to thwart any doubt that watching this channel is an absolute waste of time. And, in my opinion: does more harm than give insight into the markets for any of today’s very few retail investors. (One caveat: I do watch their Asia Squawk™ programming)

When I tuned in I happened on what I thought was perfect timing because the guest was Joseph Saluzzi, partner/co-founder of Themis Trading™. There probably isn’t a person more abreast in everything HFT than Mr. Saluzzi. The other trait he has that’s desperately needed in today’s environment is: he can make the complexities of HFT and its effect on the markets understandable to the lay person. So with that in mind I thought what an opportunity to expand further insight into what I’m sure are many frightened retail investors as to understand what these “markets” have morphed into. For the topic was HFT, the sell-off, and liquidity.

And what took place? Nothing more than irrelevant causational assumptions asked by one of the hosts. And, as Mr. Saluzzi tried to explain the why’s of the inherent dangers – he was either talked over (as in questioned) as if what he was saying wasn’t addressing the issue. Or worse – seemed to be dismissed in a tone or tenor of  “Thanks, for that info – we’ll let you know next time we need another 5 minutes of dead air to fill.” What a freakin’ shame is all that came to my mind.

What an absolute missed opportunity to ask some real pointed questions in regards to what truly is making these markets, in my opinion; unstable.

Here you had a person that could answer any question one needed enlightening on when it comes to HFT and liquidity issues, that can explain it in understandable sound bites that are informed as well as actionable – and they seemed not only to care less – but rather – cared more about how quickly the segment could be over. I guess HFT and liquidity isn’t news that needs to be reported with any depth or insight to its viewers. After all, maybe that is the case – no viewers.

Or, maybe there’s another viewer. One especially suited, and Pavlovian in nature that feeds on the information that now is disseminated there: The HFT, algorithmic, headline reading machines themselves.

After all, if Mom and Pop (what’s left of them) aren’t watching any longer as proved via their last Neilson™ ratings (last as in they no longer report them.) Then I guess you turn to the one viewer that desperately needs “headlines” to work with: The HFT cabal themselves. After all, who needs viewers when there’s a market moving mass of machines just waiting for the right headline to cross the network?

The problem with this is two-fold. Whether it’s intentional or accidental. The more Mom and Pop tunes out – the less to feed on for the HFT’s till eventually there’s no one left to feed on except for themselves – and I believe you are witnessing in real-time this exact phenom which will be brought on not only quicker, but with more ferocity moving forward. For Mom and Pop are not coming back to either the “markets” or CNBC. They’re done.

And just as an addendum to my article yesterday. It seems I wasn’t the only one who said “Wait, what?”  ZeroHedge™ asked the same question and posted it at about the same time I did in far greater detail. Then later in the evening I was sent a note sending me to the New York Times™. It seems the issues I raised are indeed worth questioning. From the article:

Bill Singer, a regulatory lawyer, said he expected the S.E.C. to investigate the context of the email and provide guidelines as to whether companies can disclose financial information this way to selected news reporters.

“I can see here that Cook is literally dancing on the edge of a razor,” he said. “At the end of the day it’s one of the largest companies in the world telling one reporter via a private email that our ongoing quarter is actually going to surprise people, and I consider that material.”

As I stated then as I do now, it raises a lot of questions to exactly “who” is the target audience. Mom and Pop retail that were basically the bread and butter reasons for the channel and programming? Or, someone (or something) other?

A reasonable question I’ll contend when one audience is still rushing to the exits as shown in any credible inflow/outflow analysis. While for all intents and purposes is also no longer considered “market moving” participants. While the other: moves the markets at whim for the select few still participating.

I contend HFT already has a “captured” audience, and doesn’t need to pay advertising fees on-top of their subsequent co-location and other incidentals. They don’t need the lights, sets, and hosts on a near 24 hour basis to give them pragmatic “financial insights.” Yet, the very life blood that made these markets (the retail 401K holder) is exactly the one that does. And from what I witnessed, they’re not only not getting it, when they try one last time they understand – there’s none to be had and hit the off button realizing how much time they just wasted. Or worse: their money.

Someone needs to remember “Last one out – please turn off the lights.” For inasmuch of what I witnessed today, using myself as an example. If this is what remains going forward? No one’s coming back.

© 2015 Mark St.Cyr

Stick Save Shenanigans That Won’t Work Twice

As I write this the stock market has recovered from a rout that has not only broken a few prior records, it’s shattered some into smithereens. One is the “large number” type that gets people’s attention. e.g. “Dow Falls 1000 Points at Market Open.” This one alone garners far more attention to the average “Mom or Pop” investor than the understanding of real market turmoil when you read that the major futures indexes are halted. e.g., The circuit breakers have been tripped and as to help quell further panic – they are shut down for a prescribed amount of time before trading can be resumed.

There is far too much to dissect of what is transpiring today, but in my opinion – none of it is any good. However, one thing has stood out to me that I am still shaking my head at for I just can’t get my head around.

This morning as I was watching the financial media on television I was switching back and forth, jumping around listening to what was being said. Personally I haven’t watched a CNBC™ morning show in years, yet, with a day like today I couldn’t help to see just how they were parsing the events taking place. Especially how the buzzer banging impresario Jim Cramer was going to parse the morning’s event. It seemed I tuned in at just the right time for what I saw just flabbergasted me. So much so I hit the record button on my DVR out of instinct just to review as to make sure what I saw truly just happened. And, to my astonishment once again: it did.

Right before the markets opening as it seemed the wheels were coming off Mr. Cramer produced a letter he said he received from Tim Cook, CEO of Apple™. The letter was produced it seemed to me as to bolster his contention that the China fears may be over done and the fear of China’s slowdown might impair Apple’s stock by revenue deterioration. Here’s what he read:

Jim,

As you know, we don’t give mid-quarter updates and we rarely comment on moves in Apple stock. But I know your question is on the minds of many investors.

I get updates on our performance in China every day, including this morning, and I can tell you that we have continued to experience strong growth for our business in China through July and August. Growth in iPhone activations has actually accelerated over the past few weeks, and we have had the best performance of the year for the App Store in China during the last 2 weeks.

Obviously I can’t predict the future, but our performance so far this quarter is reassuring. Additionally, I continue to believe that China represents an unprecedented opportunity over the long term as LTE penetration is very low and most importantly the growth of the middle class over the next several years will be huge.

Tim

There are two things that jumped out at me which I could not shake. One was, as he was just about to read it, he seems to be discounting his once favorite of favorite global weather-vanes Caterpillar™ with a now discounted wave-of-hand for relevancy and produces the above as some new touch stone that only he possesses. Well, fair enough. However, I’m not a securities expert. But (and it’s a very big but) how does Mr. Cramer have what by all means has all the appearance of something that reeks of “insider trading knowledge?” While at the same time: Reads in on air?! Then implies more than once that only he has. (i couldn’t find the clip where he read it, yet here is a link where he once again states “that no one else had from Tim Cook.”

Where is the issue you might be asking. It’s the second or middle paragraph. Again:

I get updates on our performance in China every day, including this morning, and I can tell you that we have continued to experience strong growth for our business in China through July and August. Growth in iPhone activations has actually accelerated over the past few weeks, and we have had the best performance of the year for the App Store in China during the last 2 weeks.

(emphasis added)

Maybe it’s just me, but to my eyes, ears, and thinking – that’s actionable proprietary information. Maybe I’m wrong, but if I were a hedge fund manager, or in control of any HFT, algorithmic, headline trading operation: I know what I could (and would) do with that once it hit the air waves, let alone, what one could reasonably infer if you were in possession of such a document. Yet, as I said earlier: How would Mr. Cramer not see the same?

Something is wrong with this picture in my view. How wrong? I have no idea. Yet, it just seems awfully strange that the only stock that could rescue the market from falling off a cliff via a HFT fueled surge happened at precisely the same spot as the last stick save.

2015-08-24-TOS_CHARTSOn Tuesday of last week I posted the above chart. At the time we were within the top oval on the right. I postulated there was real concern in my view and caution should be the order of the day. I also stated (for we had not sold off at all at that point) a breaking of that gold line was significant and would more or less require some form of intervention or jawboning from the Fed. as to help stabilize it. Well, we didn’t get a Fed. official this time however, what we did get was another stick save precisely at the exact same point previous.

I can not help but wonder: Was Mr. Cramer’s action an act of desperation believing (or hoping) such information needed to be said as to save the markets from its dilemma, and the authoritative bodies would or might look the other way because of the rout being squelched? (Apple by the way is actually green as in positive territory as I type this) Or, was this some form of a new style in plunge protectionism we haven’t witnessed previously? Because, after all. One would also think Mr. Cook would know better also.

This is why I’m very confused. Although I do believe Mr. Cramer is capable of making catastrophic blundering advice. (need I remind anyone of Bear Sterns?) Mr. Cook signing his name to something of this sort just seems odd. Very odd.

Personally, I’m giving the benefit of the doubt to Mr. Cook. Maybe I’m seeing into something that really isn’t there. However, as I’ve stated many times. The reason for my uneasiness is borne from what we’ve all witnessed when smart people have done dumb things. e.g., Brian Williams.

“It’s not what people do too you that’s the hard part. It’s how you have to treat everyone going forward that’s truly the hardest.”

© 2015 Mark St.Cyr

Debt Is Good: For Funding The Greatest Participation Trophy Ever Created

As the capital markets from Shanghai to New York were melting down in ways hearkening back to the early days of the prior financial crisis. A period of time many would like to forget (or act) as if it never happened. The Nobel Laureate economist Paul Krugman decided it was time once again to weigh in with what will surely be viewed by the so-called “smart crowd” as a brilliant perspective on what ails the world: Not enough debt.

The title of his Op-Ed in the New York Times™ seemed to borrow directly from one of Wall Street’s most celebrated fictional characters Gordon Gekko when he delivered the now immortal line “Greed, for lack of a better word: Is good.” For Mr. Krugman however, there was no need of a “better word” qualifier. He came out blazing with what seems the only bullet in his arsenal as a cure-all for what ever the ailment might be (e.g., debt.) as he argues this view in his latest: Debt Is Good.

As I read, I found myself repeatedly either laughing, or with my head in my hands. What seemed lost on Mr. Krugman was the irony of not only his timing, but also the glaring front-of-mind examples real people, with real issues, currently have that are entirely interchangeable as to replace his call for action; and replace it with the actions they are currently living through. All of which are both suggested as well as endorsed by him and his ilk.

Unlike most I believe I’m uniquely qualified to demonstrate how “tin eared” or “outright delusional” his thesis appears for I: Never graduated high school (although I did receive my GED from The University of S. Maine, so depending on the cocktail discussion, I can show to be “one of their kind” if I implore the Clinton-esque tool of what “is” is skillfully), can hardly spell cat without the use of spellchecker, make more punctuation and grammatical errors where if the Punctuation Police or Grammar Gestapo had their way; I would surely be sentenced to a lifetime of shock therapy.

However, what I have done is graduate from The School of Hard Knocks. An alma mater I’ll contend puts most Ivy League’s to shame in any business competition on the planet. So with that said; you decide whether I make a valid point or argument, for unlike many – I’m not embarrassed by my lack of “debt’s” current manifestation of a “participation trophy” i.e., a college degree.

Now I know, right here, I’ve probably just ticked-off some of you. I understand that, and I’m not trying to make, or be, provocative purely for provocative’s sake. However, I am here to trigger, or possibly kick-start your brain out of lethargy and get one to see things in a light you may not have contemplated. Then; work out how it might apply to your own situations. There was a time that was the reason for “higher education.” Yet today – “group-think” is the main course of the day in my opinion.

Also – let me be clear: I’m not talking about degrees that are required as to practice a profession. i.e., Law, Medicine, Architecture, et al. Although there are issues within this spectrum of education also. I’m speaking directly to those that have the aire of: “It states and reads like I might know something – but so far – there’s never been a job post listing the need for it” type of degrees. i.e.,  a degree in Allusive Quantitative Hypothesis of Reactionary Illuminations in Wastebasket Theory.

So with all that said I implore any recent graduate (especially those whom attended any that employed Mr. Krugman) to read his latest op-ed with one change: Everywhere he speaks about government debt insert “you” and the “debt” he articulates to be used for all those great infrastructure projects and more replace with “At your university of choice.” Here’s where all this “high brow, chin scratching” really hits the mark – as in your wallet, because; that’s where the real bulls-eye is.

Isn’t it just uncanny how the issue of debt, and debt is good, and the more debt the better, applies directly to the attainment of a college degree today? There are statistics everywhere showing today’s college graduate is more in debt, and will probably stay in debt longer, while a great many will never be able to pay off their tuition bill. For many of today’s recent graduates have nothing more than a degree that is near useless in obtaining a job. Let alone: a job that will pay high enough wages to cover the debt obtained to acquire it. Hense my application of “participation trophy” to many of today’s degrees.

All one needed was to sign their personal sovereignty away, show up to a minimal amount of required classes, turn in C- work (or D+ depending on the grading curve) and presto – you have a degree. What it’ll be good for other than covering the bottom of a birds cage going forward is anyone’s guess. Although one may take pride in the knowledge that, although the cage may not be gilded, the price paid for that paper in its bottom will sure seem like it.

However, don’t take to despair or any need for concern about making a living as to pay off what now may feel like an insurmountable amount as calculated using the highest of minimum wages paid. Take the insinuations made by that most “brilliant” of professors in economics and avoid it all by tacking on even more debt. Sign in, and sign on, to possibly double, if not triple your existing debt load and hit the books (or bong) to enhance your current “trophy” into a bigger and better edition like say a Masters. Or, go for the gusto and decide right here and now if debt is good, then more debt must be spectacular and stay in school and get the ultimate gold stamp with a Ph.D!

Who cares what the cost will be, look at what you’ll have avoided: Work as in – a job. The need to find your own place to live (Mom or Dad’s basement hopefully will still be there if they haven’t had their own money issues) as well as (and here’s the best part) pay on that debt in any meaningful way because, heck – you’re still in school regardless if you’re nearing 30! Ah, but what does this all have to do with “infrastructure” one might be asking. I’m glad you asked.

How about all that “infrastructure” needed at the ________________ (fill in with your school of choice)? All the new wings or buildings that need to be erected to house even more serfs students. Buildings that will more than likely have one or two professors names emblazoned over their doors.

And how about all the money needed to pay for the salaries of people like Mr. Krugman? Can’t let that go unfunded regardless what it may cost you. Don’t forget about his retirement package also – for you’re gonna pay for that as well. And from what I hear, he enjoys the upper crust of society, so keep that in mind as you sign on to do your part as a “debt” participant, After all – Ivory Towers don’t come cheap, let alone what it takes for upkeep.

When I stated earlier about signing away your own sovereignty, I meant just that. For unlike what is perceived as normal debt (e.g., credit card, car, home, etc.) once you sign on to student loan debt; if life hands you lemons; there’s no making lemonade with your student loans. The bitter taste lasts and lasts for the rest of your life until it squeezes the last drop from you. Now that’s debt, no?

Want to look at what more debt does for a nation in real-time? Just look at Greece today. How’s that all working out? This should be the clearest real-time example of what debt, upon debt truly looks like and all its consequences.

Think Greece didn’t take on enough? Looks like they’re following Mr. Krugman’s advice to-a-tee and doing just what he advocates by “taking on even more.” The cost? A total abdication of a nation’s sovereignty, as well as anchoring its population into servitude with no realistic way to ever get out from under it.

One would have thought with all this new debt via Mr. Krugman’s viewpoint Greeks should be dancing in the street. Well, they’re taking to the streets again, but they aren’t dancing. Not only has the new promise of more debt not solved anything, it seems it’s literally tearing the country apart once again before the ink is even dry.

And speaking of debt, hows all that debt doing for China? You know, that land which many such as Mr. Krugman’s ilk lauded over as the country we need to be more like because, over there – they were getting it done. Well yes they were, and debt sure did help. Especially when they took that debt, lever’d it up, and bought stocks to fund infrastructure. Now look at what it’s turning into: an avalanche of margin’d sell orders inciting fear that it could possibly take down their entire market. I can just imagine a Gordon Gekko snickering “Debt is good.”

However it doesn’t end there. We used debt upon debt here (well over $4 TRILLION) to not address any of our issues when it comes to cogent business regulation, tax policies, and more. The academics at the Federal Reserve just created money ex nihilo to purchase our own debt so we too could allow Wall Street to lever up and buy stocks. Now, the mere mention of any policy to raise rates higher than zero has the so-called “smart crowd” whaling and gnashing their teeth reminiscent of an upcoming biblical apocalypse. Why should this bother anyone if debt is good, and more is better? Unless – it isn’t.

This is the beauty of residing within the ivory walls of academia. You don’t have to contend with what most others will never get out from under their entire lives: debt. All while simultaneously advocating the call for ever more debt that will never be paid by they themselves. No, heaven forbid, not that!

It will be paid for by the many that fall prey to their calls of “enlightenment.” Where an impressionable, possibly naive prospective student signs away their life to pay not only for Mr. Krugman’s upkeep, but the upkeep and infrastructure, and endowment, retirement, along with all the other never-ending alumni requests for donations they’ll receive their entire life.

Then, and only then, once that is paid, can they now begin paying for their own debt and taxes. e.g., a car, gas for it, maybe an apartment. All while working a job which hopefully one day might enable them to splurge and actually pay for something – rather than having to scour the internet day and night for a free illegal download.

But not to worry, “debt is good.” Just keep reminding yourself of that every time you look at that “trophy” on your wall. After all, that’s what they teach you in today’s school of “higher education” right? And you paid (and will continue paying) for it – dearly!

© 2015 Mark St.Cyr

An Observational Post F.W.I.W.

(For What It’s Worth)

This afternoon (being Tuesday) I was looking at the markets as I usually do scanning various indexes, currencies, and individual names as to gauge what’s going on within them for my own references. I’m very adept at charting, technical analysis, as well as probabilities, and an understanding of Greeks (the technical term not the nation) and such. I’ve read all the books, taken many courses, and can hold my weight with any professional trader – and have, in both the futures market, as well as options, and straight up stocks. So when I’m looking at the markets I have a good idea of what I’m looking at as opposed to many that are just repeating what they heard on some financial show. I believe this uniquely separates me from most other business, or motivational speakers today. I say this only for those who know me only as a business speaker or writer, and are only now reading my writings on global markets and may wonder. “Who is this guy to make such observations?” So with that all said here’s what I noticed…

During the early morning I was looking at the ETF known as the SPY™. For those not well versed it’s nothing more than the ETF that mirrors the S&P 500™. Yet today it serves another purpose. It’s the index for all intents and purposes everyone from the institutional/pension fund, hedge funds, you name it right down to the Mom and Pop 401K holder. Basically if you’re in the market, chances are you have money attached or within it. So its representative value as to gauge, or get an overall feel today is immense.

So as I was glancing I noticed something that caught my eye. (e.g., the moving averages.) And not just one or two. (e.g., the 50day or 200day) but rather – ALL of the majors, All converging at the same point. For the 20, 50, 100, as well as 200Day is itself rare. But as they say on late-night TV “But wait! There’s more!!” For there truly was more: They’re all about to converge and break a very significant trend line. Again – All at the same time. This is just as rare, and the implications are extraordinarily serious.

As I said, at first I was just glancing, and when it first caught my eye it was a “Huh, that’s interesting” moment, and I went onto other things. Then a little later on during the day I read over at Zero Hedge™ the following headline: “Calm Before The Storm” Dow’s Range Crashes To Lowest Ever. Reading this article made me look deeper into what I saw earlier and drove me to articulate my findings here, for what it may portend is meaningful in my opinion as I’ll try to articulate it further with some charts and notes I made this evening.

So let’s start with chart 1 which represents where the first time of late this happened:

2015-08-18-TOS_CHARTS 1 Above is the market as represented on a daily basis via the SPY ETF. Notice the similarity of range-bound as we are today. The amount of time for this is also quite similar as we are today. (You can click on images for larger viewing)

What followed this confluence? As they say in a courtroom: Next slide please…

2015-08-18-TOS_CHARTS 2That’s correct. What you’re looking at is what we now refer to as “The great financial crash of 2008” As I said earlier, “This confluence of moving averages is rare” but not so rare that I can’t show it again, it’s the where that leaves one thinking “holy s##t!”

Again we move to – next slide…

2015-08-18-TOS_CHARTS 3You’ll notice in the above chart I’ve added a GOLD trend-line that is anchored on the left to what is now referred to as the “Generational Bottom” where the crisis supposedly was over. What you’ll also notice are the 2 Ovals which as previous – mark where all the moving averages combine and cross. Notice also they touch that trend-line. What’s the significance you might ask other than a basic trend-line touch?

Both required Fed. intervention with either a QE notice, Operation Twist, ZIRP, QE 4Eva Jackson Hole speech etc. to stop the rout and send the markets soaring on the promise of “free money.” But don’t forget – If you stay and look at another chart, just like TV, “I’ll double your order!” for concern.

2015-08-18-TOS_CHARTS 4The above chart is the continuation of the previous showing the rise to where we are today. Notice both the averages nor does the market approach that trend-line except for a few key points. And those points are key and here’s why: The anchor is what is now referred to as Ben Bernanke’s famous/infamous Jackson Hole speech where he was interpreted to imply QE 4EVA, where the markets never looked back until: Next slide please…

2015-08-18-TOS_CHARTS 5As you look at this chart which is nothing more than a close up of the previous to where we are now. You should take careful notice that the low point on the lower left is the same low point on the previous chart toward the upper right. It’s important because that point is the upper extreme anchor point of Mr. Bernanke’s “we’re gonna do QE and more” with St.Louis Fed. President James Bullard’s verbal stick-save to the markets when QE was supposed to end and the markets “tantrum-ed” only to be saved by Mr. Bullard’s implied assurance that “maybe more QE was still a possibility.” And look at where we are now ever since. All the moving averages crossing once again – while precariously within spitting distance of also breaking that all important trend-line. And finally…

2015-08-18-TOS_CHARTS 6

Here it is again only in a little longer shot once again for a more visual representation. I’ve highlighted that anchor point as to show what and where we are currently with no QE. i.e., Rolling over and about to break not one, not two, but all the major moving averages crossing in what is known as a “multiple death cross” while also simultaneously about to cross a major trend-line of previous support anchored to not just any anchor point, rather: they’re anchored to direct Fed. intervention points. Intervention that was viewed as if not taken the markets may roll over – and off the charts.

What happens next is anyone’s guess. And I’m not an adviser or suggesting what one should do with the above. It’s just an observation I couldn’t help myself with looking into further when I saw that the Dow had hit a record – of nothing. It set off too many alarm bells for me to not look deeper for myself, and the above is what I see. What you see and do with it is entirely up too you. I would advise you, like myself, don’t take anyone’s word for what’s going on, do your own research and make your own conclusions.

However, if there was one last thing that ran another chill down my spine it was this. For those that don’t remember. The indication that real trouble was brewing that might not be contained didn’t start here. It was in the Shanghai index. And what happened yesterday?

It once again looked like it was fine – then plummeted over 6% out of nowhere catching everyone who though the rout was over, once again, wrong – and flat-footed.

All this and the market has nothing but “calm waters and smooth sailing” priced into it as interpreted by all the sentiment indicators. As well as the confidence of “The Fed’s in control, and has their back, because this time it’s different, so higher highs – here we come!

It’s far overused, but it’s because it rings so true: History doesn’t repeat, But it sure can rhyme just as well as any rapper of today.

© 2015 Mark St.Cyr

It’s Not The Economy Stupid: It’s The Fed

Back in the early 90’s during that era’s presidential campaign James Carville coined the narrative “It’s the economy stupid!” as to have his operatives rally around and focus their attention in a singular direction. Not only was it a brilliant strategic meme, it continually gave clarity to near everyone as to exactly what was “the” problem affecting everything.

Regardless of one’s party affiliation, discounting the simplicity and power contained within that simple line is to do so at one’s peril. For we remember it today decades (yes decades!) later because of its simplistic brilliance and effectiveness. During that period – if you weren’t talking and answering questions that were economy specific – nobody listened, nor cared. It was all about jobs, wages, GDP growth, etc., etc.

Today many are talking about the economy, but that’s all they’re doing: talking. Doesn’t matter if its today’s politician, CEO’s from the largest corporations, some national or regional business association figure-head, right down to academia with its self-perpetuating gaggle of Ivory Tower economic aficionados. All they are doing is paying lip-service to the problems. And the reason? They can’t do anything about it because as of today, the U.S. economy is being controlled high-handedly by The Federal Reserve. The U.S. economy has never before been under the command and control of a single entity – until now.

Some will scoff at the notion at first, however, all the proof that is needed is to look honestly at what out capital markets have morphed into over the last 7 years. The once great symbolic face and engine of capitalism, as well as its economic might and capital creation has been reduced to nothing more than an interface for a handful of wiz-kids with no business or economic prowess; just a Ph.D or specialized knowledge in mathematics or algorithms as to program High Frequency trading programs to skim or front-run provide liquidity for the “free money” pumped into the capital markets via the myriad of QE programs facilitated, and only made possible by the Federal Reserve. That’s not capitalism – that’s interventionism which fuels crony capitalism – pure and simple.

What remains currently since the true business and economic principles of supply and demand were pushed aside, then out entirely as we have understood them for over 200 years is what you have today is : A casino housing well-connected players. Nothing more – nothing less.

Remember not all that long ago where if it were learned, or was rumored, one approached the Fed’s “window” the implications as well as concerns it raised? Now? That window is seen in no different a light than the one located at any casino worldwide. Where one picks up their “chips” to play their index game of choice. Again, think about that for a moment and try to differentiate the difference between the two. Unimaginable just a few years ago. Today? It’s not only imaginable – its reality!

This issue has created a scenario that’s befuddled the so-called “smart crowd” yet is glaringly obvious to anyone with a moniker of business acumen.

The academics argue in some form of circular logic chain for not only the initial intervention, rather, as for its continuation in near perpetuity wrapped in a “chicken or the egg” type quandary or construct. i.e., “Without aggregate demand the rule is for intervention as to foster that demand.” The problem? The intervention is stifling, if not out right killing, any self-generating aggregate demand.

There’s no reason to start a new company or expand one when your competition is not only able to remain or compete when by-right they should have closed long ago, but have gained even more favorable attention within the capital markets via funding stock buybacks and dividends as their business model disintegrates. Situations like this are only made possible with a Fed’s more than accommodating stance in access to near “free money.” Period.

Why invest in the prospects of possible innovation when the sure thing of higher compensation to board members or CEO’s is there for the taking via the low hanging fruit of financial engineering the company into oblivion? Get rewarded today for “right sizing” or “downsizing” or whatever it’s called today to cover the ugly truth of firing as many as possible while keeping the doors open in some business that should have gone out of business entirely long ago. This doesn’t “save jobs” it destroys them. It’s out of that creative destruction that new or better companies emerge that hire.

Is there pain at times? Of course there is. However, as I’ve said many times “”Trying to alleviate that pain via unsound business practices will only increase the severity of that pain which can not be eliminated down the road.”

Remember, what you don’t (or won’t) do in this environment is what you’ve known as fundamental businesses practices when the name of the game is “dance till the music stops.” Regardless whether the company’s shoes have holes or worse.

Unwanted or irrelevant businesses remain alive to compete with young startups hindering true market forces to allow innovation and better products to come to market as the upstarts need to waste valuable resources competing against behemoths that would have collapsed under their own weight if not for their access to the “free money” still sloshing around.

If the upstart doesn’t have access? They’re at a competitive disadvantage near impossible to overcome. For if the bloated dinosaur has access to the money and the upstart doesn’t? Time attrition sounds the death knell of the upstart. While on the other hand: the genuine stalwart of a business that finds itself at the mercy of competition spawned by the throwing of that “free money” as to see what sticks by the “hot money crowd.”

Here there’s the opposite dynamic taking place with their ability to obscure true price discovery as they offers cut throat, or loss leading deals into that market made possible only through its available supply of that “free money” in what is now known as – a burn rate. Companies that would (or should) never have seen the light of a fund-raising door previously for out-rite comical business models have been greeted with open arms in a numbers game of “hope and pray” attitude of investing prowess. The job creation these types add have the staying power that make a may-fly feel like Methuselah.

Again: Why would any company invest its precious capital to take chances that may turn into tomorrows winners when the sure thing of spending those dollars till broke results in “winning” today?

And what about tax reform or business laws that may be hindering new or existing businesses making more and more non-competitive or the overburdening of antiquated fees, reporting requirements and far too many others to list here? No politician is going to seriously bang the table calling for reform to help incentivize growth when the Fed. can just supply advantages to today’s “winners” via its current steadfast stance to remain at the zero bound. Who needs competitive advantages when one has the advantage to access the Fed’s window or finance for nearly free? That’s a competitive advantage almost insurmountable, which in reality – is the best that money can buy.

Politicians and others talk about wage equality demanding hikes in the minimum wage, or a further enhancement to worker benefits and much, much more. And why shouldn’t they? Not only do they feel embolden they’re playing to a willing audience that sees itself as being “left behind.” Imagine that, a politician pandering to a group of potential voters preceding an election? Oh the humanity! Say it isn’t so!

The share prices of many of these companies have left previous highs far behind (as in when the financial crisis first hit) and now levitate at never before seen in the history of mankind highs. The argument is so easy to make to the economic or business unsophisticated as they try to square the circle of how their wages remain stagnant – and the CEO’s as well as Wall Streets grows, and grows, and grows.

Let’s not forget the glaring examples of what is not only seen as ironic, but to many, feels near criminal as they receive layoff notices only to read glowing reviews of how some of the banks that needed to be saved via taxpayer bailouts now tout their CEO’s as today’s newest entries into the “Billionaire Boys Club.”

They don’t understand the stock price is not rising for economic reasons (i.e., organic growth resulting in more net profits) but for nothing other than an over accommodating Fed. And no one wants them to know either. For if they did the next logical argument (or demand) will be: then where’s my bailout?! Or maybe they have. e.g, student loans and the call to just forgive them.

Add to this: What politician is going to call for government tax incentives for businesses to start, stay or come back to the U.S. when the selling of government debt is a non issue? After all; who needs fundamental economic policies when all that’s needed is for the  Fed. to buy more with a keystroke created with “money” created in the same manner? The stigma or absurdity of a central bank monetizing or purchasing its own debt is not only no longer taboo – it’s now accepted as prudent monetary policy!

Today the Fed. entices nearly all businesses to focus on short-term games of financial engineering rather than on core business principles to grow. This is what a stance at the zero bound gives rise to. Short term solutions such as stock buy backs, or the jettisoning of labor or anything not nailed down which will fuel higher share prices enriching both the C-level executives as well as fast money chasers, while potentially over financing their companies into debt Armageddon, leaving them vulnerable should things unexpectedly turn sour. This is all that matters in today’s business dynamic brought forth by current Fed. policies.

Then, just when there’s hope that a start toward normalization is on the horizon – they move the goal posts. Again.

First we thought more than 2 years ago as the Fed. signaled it had strong incentives to do so which led to the what is now called “the taper tantrum.” Then surely they thought early last year – but that came and went. Then it was looking like before the end of last year which started a rout so precarious it took Fed. official after Fed. official to hearken tones of “wait, wait, wait, we’re kidding, don’t be so quick to jump” saving the markets but conditioning businesses to once again “sit on their hands.” Because clarity just flew out the window – again.

Now here we are going into Q3 and GDP forecasts are abysmal, earnings season has been tepid at best, delusional via Non-GAAP at worse. Yet, companies are besieged with conflicting reports stating “as long as you don’t count using 1+1=2 then everything is great for 1+1 now equals ___________(fill in what ever number makes you feel good.)

Until the Fed. get’s out-of-the-way and allows businesses and markets to function the way they’re supposed to – you will not entice any business to start, or expand, hire, and more which is desperately needed. It just doesn’t work that way.

Aggregate demand is fostered by customers buying things they want or need via companies that will supply them with it as they compete with upstarts and older competitors for market share creating a self actualized as well as sustaining market. The longer the Fed. remains inserted within those markets forcing out the true fundamentals that support them, and tries to act as the supplier of first and last resort itself – the longer it will be that we’ll see an ever-increasing distortion resulting in fewer jobs, lower GDP, and more.

I’m not that well versed as to argue all the minutia of monetary policy as to what is the exact time to intervene, or reduce all or any intervention. That’s for others far more knowledgeable than I care to be. However, it doesn’t take a genius to understand once the initial panic of the financial crisis had subsided it was time for the Fed. to relinquish its interventionism and allow the markets to seek its proper levels. i.e., let the markets clear. Only then could the true rebuilding of the economy start in earnest. For what we have to today is nothing resembling an honest economy or recovery. It’s nothing but a house of cards susceptible to even the smallest of tremors.

Think I’m off base? Then tell me how an increase of 1/4 of 1% of the Fed’s fund rate is seen today by many resembling a blinding terror? It would also seem the Fed. is doing far too much hand wringing and other things in an effort to avoid criticism. What they might actually be coming to the realization of is: they have in fact done far more harm than good staying this low for so long. And now what they’re worried about is the reaction to such a move in policy. Even one as ever so slightly raising just 1/4 of 1% which could chain react into an out-and-out rout. I’m of the opinion this alone is paralyzing them in the fear that all the ensuing outpouring of criticism could turn overnight into pitchforks leaving the obvious as crystal clear as the statement I began with.

That’s no way to run an economy. Especially this one.

© 2015 Mark St.Cyr

Mark’s Response For A Recommendation Of Sales Advice

A common question Mark receives whether he’s speaking or, in response to an article is: “What is the best advice you would give to someone just starting out in sales today?” We believe his answer is an interesting one, and since the blog has grown exponentially over these last few years, we thought we’d share this for the many new readers who don’t know this side of Mark. So we transposed and posted it here.

V.V. at StreetCry Media

Question: “What is the best advice you would give to someone just starting out in sales today?”

Mark: “It’s a good question. However, what I’m going to say next will probably put many of you off at first. Yet, what you need to do is not only hear me out, rather, if you doubt what I’m saying that’s fine. Doubt is not a bad thing and you shouldn’t just take what I or anyone else says as gospel. Nevertheless, doubt doesn’t mean discount or discard unless; you have actually researched or tried it and compared results to what you may now be doing. Let me also state: I believe this pertains to not only ‘new’ but also veteran, as well as any business person regardless of the size or scope of your enterprise as well as your title. In other words, whether you’re a new start-up, solo-entrepreneur, or CEO of some mega-global-conglomerate, all can benefit. I know, it’s a bold statement, but that’s what I do.

So with that said it beaks down into two parts. First: I would recommend you either put down, close, shelve, whatever else all of the most recent “sales” books you’ve been recommended over the last few years. Personally, I’ve read most of them, and I am of the opinion that most are nothing more than some form of psychobabble shrouded within the dust jacket of what is called a “sales” guide. Again, in my opinion which is what you asked for; I think most of them are pure junk.

Are there some good ones? Of course, but they are few and far between and most of the good ones were written years ago. Most of today’s are nothing more of a reiteration of those, and because they want to attach their name to them, or be able to affix the ‘new and improved’ moniker as to try to boost a sale. They’ve made the underlying message of how one can actually enhance or make a sale indistinguishable from some form of added junk science or thought experiments.

For the basics, as well as a refresher for a veteran, I personally, too this day still think Tom Hopkins’ – How to Master the Art of Selling Anything is a must. Period. Now here’s why: It covers just about everything one needs to know. It doesn’t matter if you use everything he says, but you sure in heck need to know what’s in there such as closing techniques, phraseology, cold calling principles and more.

Again, whether you use them is not the issue. Knowing if they are ever being used on you can be worth the price paid alone!

Think about that for a minute. Isn’t that also just as important? Now with that all being said let me also add: Today, I am considered a journeyman sales person. In other words it doesn’t matter the product, or if it’s a tangible or intangible. Doesn’t matter if it’s worth fifty cents, or fifty million. Nor do I care if my sales are one-on-one, or to a boardroom. I can hit the ground running and selling faster than most could finish reading their employee manual regardless of product. Why? I know how to sell. I can say this because I have the career or resume’ to prove it, so it shouldn’t be taken as a distinction without a difference.

The ‘product’ per se is a mere detail in the selling process. Far too many are stuck thinking the opposite as in ‘only more product knowledge equals more product sales.’ It doesn’t. Many times, it can hinder if not kept in its proper perspective. If you doubt me answer this question: If product knowledge equaled sales then why isn’t the engineering staff the highest paid? And when a company needs to increase sales immediately one thing you’ll never hear shouted in any serious company is “Get the engineering staff on the road cold calling!”

Once you learn or refresh yourself with that program or book I believe everything else you’ll learn will be out in the field. And what you’ll find more often than not is every sales objection and more will be nothing more than some derivative of the examples discussed or described in that book. Now onto the second part.

Next, I would suggest any and all salespeople, regardless of how long they’ve been at it to watch a televised home shopping channel of their choice. Yes, I did just say that and here’s why.

Regardless of the product both the host as well as the product presenter must not only hit the benefits of their product, but must do it continuously sometimes for hours taking questions, calls, or just to fill airtime. No matter what, they need to find ways as to express why you need their product. Even if they sold a competitors moments or days earlier. It doesn’t matter. They have to come up with reasons why you need this one. Many times, in some ways, not only can you learn, it can be downright comical like “Well we know you just bought X earlier today, but that’s old news, this is the one you need now!” You should be able to do the equivalent with your own products or services. If you couldn’t respond and fill airtime for just one segment of this type of format – than maybe you aren’t as prepared, or as good, as you possibly think or believe you are.

Never mind the benefits of your product and how many you know. You should know at least 10 main objections you may face as to why someone might not buy; and have at least two or three different answers as to why that objection is a positive. If you think I’m kidding or exaggerating like I said ‘this is why you need to watch these programs’ because they do.

Again, you’ll hear negatives spun into a positive so many times, so effortlessly it can be comical when your watching with a changed eye and viewpoint. You’ll hear things like ‘ well we had that deal yesterday that was considered spectacular, but today? This one is stupendous!’ Or, ‘Well the model in blue is now sold out, however, who wants the same blue as everyone else; when you can be the only one to have the mint-avocado model where there’s two hundred million still available!’ Again, the salesmanship and insights are instructive if you watch with a learning eye as well as mindset.”

If you think you can’t find sales insights on the ‘idiot box’ I’ll give you one more that many of you will laugh at however, after I say it you’ll never be able to watch it again, that is if you do at all without harking back to this insight.

Watch any of these programs that are like in the search of aliens, or Nostradamus, or ancient this or that. Listen to the proposed questions about what might be or not and how the framing takes place as to push their hypothesis. An example might sound like this, ‘We dug 3 inches into the soil and found this gum wrapper, however, gum was never seen in this area till recently, how did this foil manage to be covered in any dirt unless? Maybe aliens?’ Of course it’s an absurd example yet, if you listen as to how every question is framed back as to give a reason the show or host is enamored with, you can learn how you too should be able to do similar techniques regarding your own products. And besides, who doesn’t want to learn a technique wrapped up in alien technology? C’mon, why not have some fun with it?

So getting back to this topic with a little more seriousness. Although the examples may at first sound laughable, I’ll reiterate they are anything but – if: you are actively engaged and looking for sales insights as to expand or hone your current sales skills. And I’ll finish with one last point. One might think my recommendation of a Tom Hopkins book or program is old hat, or doesn’t really address today’s sales situations for it was written a few decades ago. Well, it’s a fair point, so I’ll leave you with this.

In 1988 I personally went to a Tom’s sales Boot Camp program. At the time my life had really taken turns for the worse, everything was going wrong. I made a commitment to learn the material, make it mine, and set some goals. Twenty years later, not only had I hit many professional marks, I did them in sales across many different markets from the tangible, to the intangible, small-scale, to large corporate international. Across multiple markets as well ethnic barriers and others to finally retiring 20 years later at the age of 45. While through all of it, as well as what I’ve accomplished as of today, including what I’ve also read thus far: I still believe, as well as recommend it as one of the musts for anyone serious in sales of any type; bar none.

Now one may take that endorsement and question it however you want. Just remember, it’s coming from someone whose accomplished many of the goals many of you are striding for. And still believes it’s one of the best. So make sure you take that into your consideration also.”

© 2015 Mark St.Cyr

New Episode: Insight Uprise™ Audio Series

The newest episode in my audio series Insight Uprise™. Like other projects I’ve done this is in the “No holds barred, quick hitting and to the point” genre. Topics and subject matter will vary.

It’s intended to be straight to the point in both subject matter, as well as delivery, unlike anyone else.

Love it of hate it one thing will be certain: They’ll be no mistaking me – and someone else.

This Episodes Topic: An Insight On HR’s Terrible Insights

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© 2015 Mark St.Cyr in association with StreetCry Media. All Rights Reserved.

Can’t see the audio player? Click here.

The Canaries Continue To Drop Like Flies

One would think as “canary” after “canary” falls silent either sickened with laryngitis, or worse – completely comatose. Those on Wall Street as well as the financial media itself would not only have seen, but heard, many of the warning calls that have been obvious for quite some time. Yet, history always shows; not only do they not see, but more often than not – they don’t want to see, nor hear the warning calls.

Even when all the warning signs are screaming danger – not only are they ignored, they’re explained away as if those which saw or heard them, should be ignored as they’ll contend not only did one not see; but couldn’t see.

What they’ll propose is: “That was not a “canary” but rather a  “dodo.”  After all, with a Fed. that’s as interactive as this one currently is. Surely what they believe they heard, or saw is impossible. For people say they’ve spotted warning signs in these ‘markets’ for years, and none have yet produced a crisis because – they’re now extinct! ” Yet, the wheezing sounds of many a Wall Street songbird has been apparent for quite a while. Again: If only one would care to look or listen.

Back in April of 2014 in an article titled “The Scarlet Absence Of A Letter of Credit” I opined a few scenarios as to why this seemingly dismissed revelation by the so-called “smart crowd” should not go unnoticed. For the implications may very well portend far greater reasons too worry in the coming future. Below is an excerpt. And let’s not forget this is some 16 months ago. When the financial media et al were still reciting in unison the wonders to which, “China will be the economy that leads us out of this current malaise.”

“Over the last few years since the financial melt down of 2008, we have seen what many have believed are precursors that may tip the hand of markets as to show just how unhealthy this levitating act fueled by free money has become.

And yes there are always false indicators, and we all know correlation doesn’t equal causation. And even more may shrug and think, “No letter of credit, so what.” However, if there were ever a canary in a coalmine worth noting this is one not to let one’s eyes to divert from.

The issue at hand is not just the foolishness of the absence contained in a one-off LOC gamble some company would take. Far from it.

It’s the desperation that could be hidden that’s a precursor one has to watch for. For the amount of desperation, or the degree that might be hidden beneath the surface to which a commodity will be sent overseas to another country, a country for all intents and purposes is using that very product as a pseudo currency to back other financial obligations without the requisite document to be paid. Is mind numbingly dangerous in its implications in my view.”

Fast forward to today and what is the current state of the commodity sector? If your answer resembled something along the lines of catastrophe, falling knife, broke or busted; you would be closer to reality than the “everything is awesome” spin you used to hear when the price of another commodity: oil, dropped again, and again signalling the cue for analysts to take to the airwaves or keyboards and herald “More money in consumers pockets via a reduction in gas prices equals more consumer spending!” Yet, you don’t hear that tune any longer do you?

Consumer spending, the metric that’s been trumpeted as “the” supposed songbird for the chorus of data points as to prove there’s an ever burgeoning economy. Not only hasn’t shown signs of growth when it comes to retail spending. It too has contracted. The most recent U.S. Dept. of Commerce release in July showed June with a decrease of 0.3% from the previous month, while April and May were also revised downward.

During this period oil (e.g., Brent) has precipitously dropped from over $100 per barrel to where it now sits and bounces under $50. However, just to give a little more context. The first fall was over a year ago where it initially free-fell cutting its price in half just when it should have had the greatest impact. e.g., The Christmas holiday shopping season. And the result? Dismal holiday sales returns. So dismal all one heard or read was the excuse of “the weather.”

So now with reports for April, May, and June in the books during another precipitous oil drop. This time albeit from a far lower bar ($65-ish.) falling once again below the $50 mark and not only remaining, but seeming to threaten falling even further to even lower lows. It’s now hard to ignore the fact, all that presumed “money in consumers pockets” made possible to spend is either lost in the sofa cushions or, never materialized in the way many on Wall Street were convinced it would. For if it did – than why would numbers be revised down?

Once again, let’s not forget this is during another of what many see as the “get out and hit the open road fun-time” officially kicked off via the Memorial Day holiday. And May of June’s number couldn’t even hold to unchanged status? What does that scream let alone “sing?”

What happened to the “pent-up demand” that must have surely been burning holes in consumers pockets with all that gas savings we were told was taking place across the nation? Surely one must construe if it didn’t take place during the holiday shopping it therefore must at least show signs when the weather broke. Unless the consumer is what many of us have argued: Broke. It would seem the “numbers” are showing that’s far more the case.

Another canary that seems to have fallen silent is the one that sang the tune “This Qtr. just you watch, earnings will need to be revised up!” And they have, only not from a level that would suggest a healthy start to begin with.

The game of “bait and switch” metric announcements or reporting is not only laughable it borders on obscene. So much so I would envision if one asked a street-hustling 3-card-Monte player what they thought of today’s earnings reporting. They would throw down their cards in disgust and ask how they missed such a money-making racket opportunity. For if you can start by saying 4, then lower it to 1, where they come in at 2 – only on Wall Street can one state with a straight face (as well as duck any jail time for outright fraud) “This earnings season not only beat expectations, but was double the consensus!”

Only a street hustler can fully appreciate, as well as be left envious to this ingenious sleight of hand.

Then there’s the “Greece is solved” and “Greece doesn’t matter” chorus that was proclaimed before, during, and after the first indications of trouble. And once again we are waking to the tune near daily, not only is Greece still not solved – it sits on a perch so precariously swinging too-and-fro between further calamity into an outright civil chaos and catastrophe. So much so the greater media at large seems exhausted as to vocalize any further developments.

And who can forget that other tune that suddenly has also fallen silent: “The economy is not only ready to take off once QE has ended, and we expect GDP to not only signal but print 4%+ in the coming Qrts. After all, we just went from our previous upward revised call which was just under 4 – where we just printed 5% for Q3!”

All sounds great except for one thing. That Q3 was Q3 2014. What happened next? Lest I remind you to look back on some of the preceding paragraphs?  For that’s where I reminded you about “weather” and the dismal revisions to a lower Q1, and Q2 spending reports, let alone where GDP prints are proposed to print next. However, if one listens carefully, what seems abundantly clear for the next print will be a tune that sounds familiar. Only this time  – 3 is now the new 5!

Even if one tries to shield their eyes and ears away from these harbingers in ways we’ve all been reminded countless times by Disney™ movies spanning generations as: “not too worry and sing a happy tune.” The problem there? Disney’s own dulcet tones were met this earnings season with a far different reception, as its shares like many others of the media space that were once considered “bank” were tarred and feathered as its stock was treated more like the paper found in the bottom of the bird’s cage.

If there’s one note that’s been ringing louder and louder it’s this…

It’s getting harder and harder for even the most vocal among Wall Street as they try to sing the “everything is awesome” song when the ground around them continues to be littered with an ever-increasing amount of sprawled out – motionless – canaries.

© 2015 Mark St.Cyr

A Thought For Today’s Entrepreneur

Today, many entrepreneurs are enamored with anything “technological” when it comes to performance enhancement, time savings, labor savings, you name it. And if the descriptor “new” or “improved” is used? Many will signify a response resembling Pavlov’s dogs.

Everyone is looking for that “holy grail” app, program, or do-dad they are just sure “will give them the edge.” Most of it will result in some form of circular logic chain recited internally to give credence that “It must be working for look at how many things I’m capable of monitoring and do!” Yes, they are doing and monitoring quite a bit. However, I’ll contend most (if not all) are wasted, unproductive deeds and metrics that should be ignored, not monitored more frequently as well as efficiently.

The “analyzed-self” of today also seems to be all the rage. One can monitor their movements, their vitals, their caloric intake and far more than I can list here. They can also text or contact colleagues with immediacy, browse web sites, or scour social media sites near anywhere on the planet. And they do, spending valuable time as well as intellect in what is known as “busy work” as opposed to productive work. Most are oblivious to the fact than they’ve become highly productive spending valuable time, money, or other resources in increasing their ability to look and feel busy while actually being – unproductive.

If you want to increase your productivity as well as bank account here’s a tip: Put down the “technology” just one morning a week, and get face-to-face with just one of your past or present clients and ask for one to three referrals. Then follow-up on them with immediacy. Do that for a month and compare the ROI. The reach out costs you nothing, as well as the technology needed which may be no more complicated than walking over and knocking on their door.

Or, you can brush it all off as heresy and continue to scour the web and social media sites you now check every 5 minutes to see if someone “likes” you while monitoring your vitals in an endless loop. Just be sure when deciding to evaluate honestly: how many “likes” or how many “aerobic measurements” it takes for your bank to recognize it as cash in your account as to make the mortgage payment.

An entrepreneur is at their most productive when the focus is on: one customer that likes doing business with them, and is happy to recommend them to someone else. Both activities have a place on the ledger. Knowing which side separates the successful – from the bankrupt.

© 2015 Mark St.Cyr