By Justin SpittlerToday, we’re going to do something different. As you can imagine, we hear from our readers a lot. Some of them have nice things to say. Others…not so much. Most importantly, though, we get a lot of questions. Last week, we received a question that was so important, we’re dedicating this entire issue to it. This question might be something you’re wondering yourself…and it could have a huge impact on your money.
It comes from Joseph J., a subscriber to The Casey Report:
I read today’s newsletter (Trump Should Be Careful What He Wishes For) with great interest. In it you stated that “U.S. stocks are incredibly expensive…” But my question is: Based against what? We are in uncharted territory, and every single newsletter writer that I have asked this question of has failed to provide an answer. Perhaps you will be different.
Thank you for putting us in the hot seat, Joseph. Lucky for us, we didn’t make this claim lightly. We have plenty of facts to back it up. Before we show you the proof, you have to realize something: There are many different ways to value stocks. Everyone has their preference. A lot of folks use the price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio. Other investors look at a company’s book value or cash flow.
We prefer to use the cyclically adjusted price-to-earnings (CAPE) ratio.…
This ratio is the cousin of the popular P/E ratio. The only difference is that it uses 10 years’ worth of earnings instead of just the previous year’s. This smooths out the up and downs of the business cycle. It gives us a long-term view of the market. Right now, the CAPE ratio for companies in the S&P 500 is 28.4. That’s 70% higher than its historical average. U.S. stocks haven’t been this expensive since the dot com bubble.
This isn’t a good sign. As you may remember, the S&P 500 fell 41% from 2000–2002. The Nasdaq plunged 78% over the same period.
But the CAPE ratio is just one way to value stocks.…
To prove we’re not cherry picking, let’s look at some other metrics. First up, the price-to-sales (P/S) ratio. This ratio is just like the P/E ratio, but it uses the previous year’s sales instead of earnings. According to credit rating agency Standard & Poor’s, the S&P 500 currently trades at 2.02 times sales. That’s 40% higher than its historical average, and the highest level since at least 2000. Clearly, U.S. stocks are more expensive than normal. But that’s not even the main reason investors are nervous about them.
U.S. stocks seem to have lost touch with reality.…
As we all know, the stock market allows investors to own a piece of publicly traded companies. Most of the companies on the NYSE (New York Stock Exchange) are U.S. companies. Because of this, you would think the stock market would generally follow the health of the economy. If the economy’s booming, stocks should be soaring. If the economy’s struggling, stocks should be, too. That hasn’t been the case lately.
Since 2009, the S&P 500 has surged 239% to record highs. That makes this one of the strongest bull markets in U.S. history. During that same span, the U.S. economy has grown just 2% per year. That makes the current “recovery” one of the weakest since World War II. In short, Main Street hasn’t kept up with Wall Street.
The U.S. stock market is now clearly in “bubble territory”.…
Just look at the chart below. This chart compares the value of the U.S. stock market with the nation’s gross domestic income (GDI). GDI is like gross domestic product (GDP), but instead of measuring how much money a country spends, it measures how much money a country earns. It counts things like wages, corporate profits, and tax receipts. A high ratio means stocks are expensive relative to how much money an economy makes. You can see in the chart below that this key ratio is well above its housing bubble high. It’s now approaching the record high it hit during the dot-com bubble.
This is another serious red flag.…
But it doesn’t mean stocks are going to crash next month, or next year. For this bubble to pop, something will have to prick it. We’re not sure what that will be…where it will come from…or when it will happen…
But we do know stocks don’t go up forever. Sooner or later, this bubble is going to end. When it does, many investors are going to take huge losses. Years’ worth of returns could disappear in a matter of months, even weeks.
The good news is that you can still crisis-proof your portfolio. Here are three ways to get started:
These simple strategies could save you tens of thousands, possibly more, when the inevitable happens.
The article Why It Feels Like the Dot-Com Bubble All Over Again was originally published at caseyresearch.com.