What are you NOT buying just now?

What are you absolutely not buying and why?

For me:

1) UK housing, UK housebuilder companies

A housing crash in price terms hasn’t even started yet (unlike e.g. Canada, New Zealand, Australia), but clearly, people can no longer access mortgages affordably.

UK housebuilders are down some 50% in share price already, but back in 2008, they dumped 80-95%, so…

Last week saw the fastest withdrawal of mortgage products from the mortgage market in UK banking history (over 1000 withdrawn by the end of one day, more than 1/4 of all available home loan products in the UK).


2) Banks, generally

I have no idea who is exposed to UK pension funds (fun times due to begin 15th October), who is exposed to Credit Suisse (CDS spiking upwards, bond prices looking troubled), who has been messing around in all the other awful idiot geared-to-the-roof lunacy that will come to light after 12 years of desperate yield-chasing.

Reverse repo is getting flooded with money, presumably as banks don’t want to lend overnight to anywhere else. This & CDS spiking on institutions, reminds me of 2008.

(CDS spiked up to 500pts not long after this article)


Reading tweetstorms like this, I feel: I have no idea what is going on in banking right now, and no practical way of keeping up with the people who do have an idea what’s going on.

https://twitter.com/goodalexander/status/1576724677225246720


3) Anything in countries exposed to brutal housing market shocks due to variable rate mortgages being commonplace: Netherlands, Spain, UK, Australia, Canada

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-09-11/world-s-hottest-housing-markets-are-down-all-over-as-interest-rates-hike

https://www.fitchratings.com/research/structured-finance/australia-spain-uk-mortgages-most-exposed-to-rising-rates-16-05-2022


The UK, Spain & Australia in particular stand out for me as being ‘very banky stockmarkets, very housey economies, very variable-ratey mortgages, very inflaty problems’


4) High PER stuff in the USA, especially with the strong dollar

  • Amazon current year 100x forward 50x

  • Tesla current 87x forward 41x (after the recent crash)

  • Healthcare & diagnostics (despite Jim’s compelling articles on these, the PERs are very high across the sector 25-35x, too much for me)

  • NVIDIA (about to experience a brutal earnings crash from: excess 30x0 inventory, collapse of gpu mining, restriction on sales to china (being added to currently), and starting from one of the highest PERs in the semi sector. Also no pricing power at TSMC imho. And prices so high for years they’ve been destroying their own markets.)

  • High street / shopping / commercial / retail (recession, inflation pressure & new covid strains bursting on the scene). Cinema chains, ‘in-shop’ premium goods (Nike), Costco fwd PER 30x, fizzy drinks & breweries.

  • Saul stuff e.g. SAAS hypergrowth. Good luck achieving hypergrowth right now.

  • Anything exposed to rising debt default… credit cards? Visa & Mastercard 30x ish current 22x forward, which I don’t entirely believe.

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Not buying non-US assets (in favor of US assets). That’s worked for a long time, is working recently, and I would also expect that to work in the future.

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Visa and Mastercard are not in the lending business. They are in the payments business. They might be vulnerable to an economic downturn like many businesses, but not because of direct credit risk.

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I can think of quite a few things that have worked for a long time and are now in the process of not working.

  • Long-term US treasury bonds - for 40 years these have consistently went up over time - months ago it broke the trendline and is now heading straight for the bottom of the ocean.

  • Housing - up and up for a long long time. Would you want to be long housing right now?

  • US stocks? You’d be surprised how badly they are doing. Take a look:

This diagram includes the stoxx 600, nikkei 225, australian ASX 200.

Of the stockmarkets shown there, the Nasdaq and SP500 take last and second-last place. And the nasdaq is miles behind the rest.

The issue isn’t non-US stock performance itself - because they are winning hard this year - but rather, whether a dollar currency hedge might be a good idea if you invest in them.

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mostlylong: thank you, I didn’t know that about Visa.

For a USD investor over a reasonable timeframe for buying equities (let’s say a 5+ year time horizon), the U.S. indices (e.g., SPY, QQQ), vastly outperform Europe, Australia, Japan (e.g., VGK, EWA, EWJ).

It’s not even close on a historical basis, below is the last 10 years.

What about going forward? Am I picking any of Europe, Australia or Japan equities to outperform US stocks over the next 5 years? No 3x.

We can caveat the above with perhaps the view is different in another currency besides USD and of course individual names may vary relative to country-level indices.

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I believe this has been true historically, but I’d also be wary about extrapolating outperformance from the recent past too much.

There are a myriad of companies out there making long term market forecasts, and the common thread among almost all of them is the prediction that non-US markets will outperform in the next 7-10 years (particularly emerging markets).

Granted, the difference in their forecast for US vs. international (non-emerging) has shrunk considerably over the last year, but most are still predicting an advantage in international. One example from GMO:

https://www.advisorperspectives.com/commentaries/2022/08/22/7-year-asset-class-real-return-forecasts

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Thank you for your reply. What you claim is unfortunately factually wrong.

The claim I responded to was “is working recently”

I already presented one set of data that proves that viewpoint is simply wrong ‘recently’ i.e. this year.

You are now trying to alter your claim - to be: ‘over a reasonable timeframe 5+ years’ and ‘the US indices SP500/QQQ’.

Separate to the issue of goalpost-shifting the argument, this view is also wrong.

Your exact words are:

For a USD investor over a reasonable timeframe for buying equities (let’s say a 5+ year time horizon), the U.S. indices (e.g., SPY, QQQ), vastly outperform Europe, Australia, Japan (e.g., VGK, EWA, EWJ). It’s not even close on a historical basis


Generally, it’s important not to confuse the past with the present.

It’s also important not to confuse the recent past, with all of the past.

It’s most important, when drawing ideas from history, to look for periods that mirror the economics & dynamics of the present day.


Consider (as you suggest) the Nasdaq vs other indices, in USD terms, for a period over 5 years - and starting from a similar period of peak valuation as we saw in January 2022.

There is only one point in all of history that compares to January 2022, and that is 2000. (CAPE PER 45 vs CAPE PER 40). Like today, it is the only other period in the last 50 years whose overvaluation is best characterised in terms of excessive valuations in technology stocks and hyped startups. Also well characterised by an extreme of dollar strength.

(See: Euro Dollar Exchange Rate (EUR USD) - Historical Chart | MacroTrends and Shiller PE Ratio)


Following the 2000 peak, the Nasdaq didn’t reach breakeven again until about 17 years later.

QQQ in March 2000 was $120

QQQ in January 2017 was $120

If you want to believe there were no other indices around the world that reached breakeven faster than the Nasdaq in that 17 year period, (or shorter ranges starting from the same peak i.e. directly comparable to the market of 2021-2022), you are welcome to believe that. But it does not resemble reality.

Comparing directly in dollar terms, France reattained its 2000 peak by 2006.

The UK by 2006. Germany by 2007. South Korea by 2002. Japan took longer though: 2021.

Not only that. The European indices outperformed in dollar terms while also paying out higher dividends than the Nasdaq too.


We can also see this in other ways. For example, consider Callan’s “Periodic table of investment returns”. Notice that US large cap equity is extremely ‘middling’ for most of the last 20 years, and only in the last 7-8 years did unusually well. Emerging markets spend more time at the top of the league in the last 20 years than either US large cap equity or US small cap equity.

In the period 2001-2012, US large cap and small cap equity are almost nowhere to be seen! The winners in that 12 year period are real estate, EM indices, and fixed income. US small caps win once; US large caps spend the entire period at the middle or bottom of the ranking table.

Developed large cap non-US equity totally outperforms US large cap equity in 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009. That’s a large chunk of anyone’s life.

In summary, the idea that the US automatically wins, in USD terms, for any 5+ year period and “it’s not even close on a historical basis” is totally disconnected from historical fact.

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Another example that really hammers the point home.

Here is the Callan Table for 1990-2009.

Compare white boxes (average of Europe, Australia, Far east) and blue boxes (S&P 500).

Notice that the blue boxes are generally in the middle.

The white boxes tend to be either the best or worst in the table.

Blue beats white 10 times out of 20.

White beats blue 10 times out of 20.

I rest my case.

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It might be best to move the US vs International discussion to the Macro board.

New thread here:

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Facebook / Meta. I think it’s in a death spiral and will be myspaced. There are better social media platforms and the new metaverse is pretty underwhelming. I don’t know any young people using Facebook/Meta and I know plenty of older people leaving Facebook/Meta.

Any legacy automotive company. It’s not clear to me any of the dinosaur automotive companies will make electric vehicles which appeal to a sufficiently large number of individuals.

Any shipping / logistics company. There’s a slowdown of commerce occurring and earnings for the likes of FDX, UPS, EXPD get crushed. I’ll wait for the earnings crush to progress since we seem to be at the start.

Any airline. I travel a bit and have flown before, during, and, after the pandemic. The high margin business folks haven’t returned like they were before the pandemic. My last Monday morning red-eye on Delta (last week) had a surprisingly large amount of very small children and a whole lotta leisure travelers. I’m not sure how this situation works out, airlines just make less money forever?

Anything in real estate. I would by actual real estate in some areas but not the companies servicing or involved in real estate.

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Facebook/Meta: I agree with you, but I would note that the pivot to VR is well timed. Their software approach (metaverse) is awful but the hardware is very decent. It’s possible the company can be saved this way. Otherwise, terminal and likely accelerating decline.

Legacy automotive: consider, Toyota announced 30 different new battery EV models in one day in December 2021, and yet it hardly caught the attention of the media who were going wild for Rivian & Nikola in the preceding months. Chances are, one of those may be popular.

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Huh. I hadn’t heard that. Thanks for sharing the article. I know this article doesn’t say this but I seem to hear about “Tesla Killers” quite a bit yet no legacy auto maker has killed Tesla quite yet. Or, they are just super bad at killing Tesla since Tesla has the highest margins in the industry. I’m not writing this as a pro-Tesla person - I’d happily own an electric vehicle but never a Tesla.

It’s been long enough to make me think the legacy automakers may never figure it out.

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Shipping/logistics: I might consider an exeption for tankers, oil and especially LNG.

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Not questioning your decision, but have you ever driven one? My Tesla Model Y is the best car I’ve ever owned. * Without exception every Tesla owner I know has said the same thing. I myself was doubtful until I drove one (and then owned one.) Of course, YMMV…

  • Major pluses: high safety rating, exceptional handling, low maintenance, low fuel cost, comfort, cargo space, in-car entertainment, range (not kidding), resale value.

Cheers,

SpeyCaster

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Why?

Yes, I have! They are beautiful vehicles. I also think pretty much everyone should be happy Tesla is lighting an innovation fire under the legacy auto makers behinds!

After getting similar box with wheels after box with wheels after box with wheels … for decades we are finally seeing true differentiation of the vehicle feature set and driving experience.

The reasons why I would never want a Tesla are pretty personal in nature, that’s all.

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I have. Like most cars, there are good and bad points. I’ve driven my brother’s Model 3 a few times.

Good:

  • Performance. Pressing the “go” pedal never fails to elicit a grin.
  • Styling. I happen to like the looks of all the Tesla models.
  • Electric. It’s the future - what we need to keep the planet inhabitable over the long term.

Bad:

  • Ergonomics. I don’t fit in a Model 3 very well. It’s hard to get into and out of. One of these days I’ll have to give a Model Y a shot.
  • Entertainment system. The entertainment controls are terrible. Well, they’re OK when you’re sitting in a parking lot. But there isn’t a single knob on them. Navigating that system while you are driving is downright dangerous. You are forced to look AT the screen rather than simply feel for a button or knob while keeping your eyes on the road. Yes, some controls are available as buttons on the steering wheel. But that’s a learning process I’m not going to bother with on a borrowed car.
  • AC and heating. Again - controls. Where are they? On the screen - somewhere. Vents can’t be adjusted to blow the air where you like. I don’t like cold air blowing on my face, but that’s what I get.
  • One pedal driving. I don’t like it. It’s more work. But my brother does, and I’m not going to turn it off. Mainly because I can’t figure out how.
  • No display behind the steering wheel. Yes, other models have a screen there. But the Model 3 doesn’t. To check your speed, you have to look down and to the side at that center screen. That’s much harder and slower than looking straight down. The longer you have to look at places not outside the car, the more dangerous it is.
  • Digital speed. A dial is much faster to interpret than a digital display of numbers. The difference between 44 and 45 is rarely important. The difference between 40 and 50 often is. A graphical display is perfectly capable of displaying a graph. So display a graph and not just numbers.
  • Lack of service options. Yes, I know that Teslas don’t need much service. But it’s still a machine and every machine needs some service. Tesla seems to be going down the path of disposable cars. Something break? Your choices are to live with it, wait a long time to get it fixed properly, or throw it away and get a new one.

I’m not trying to convince you or anyone else that a Tesla is a bad car. Because it’s not. But they are also not for everyone. They have problems and trade offs just like every other car on the road.

–Peter

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