There is a difference between the recovery rally and the main rally that preceded it. People have started talking about sustainable recovery in equity markets. Still, things are not as they seem. Investors should brace for a rough ride ahead. The rally seems to comprise four phases.
Four Phases of market movement
First phase of secular insanity. In this phase all stocks go up. People ignore the fundamental warning signs. Even companies with questionable managements got sky high valuations. His phase ended with the great crash of 2008. Possibly, what Rob Shiller calls "irrational exuberance" appears to be this stage.
Phase two is essentially over-excitement of the rationalists. Looking at cheap valuations and signs of strength in company performance the rationalists over-extended themselves. Midway, the irrational investors rejoin the party. The phase ends when the cynics join in. We are currently at this stage. I am watching the converstion of cynics. Even this phase ends with a crash. The dimension of the fall now will determine the long term damage to the economy.
Phase three is a placid languishing of the markets at near bottom levels. There is lack of trust and overall cynicism about any future prospects. This is the true bottom. Sweat, sacrifice and prudence regain their respect in this phase.
The hard work in phase three results in growth and proserity that is our final phase. The economy gains traction and with it, a new hope emerges.
Is the crash coming?
President Obama attempted to jump phase three into phase four. For a while it seemed possible. But I do not see the tough choices being made, or vision to take down broken structures. Sadly, we will see our third phase. The time is just about right.