I read this interesting articles on the Ritholtz blog about the investment cycle for bonds and equities. In most cases this cycle is correct, but some extreme things may happen that may through off the cycle. Here it is.
1. After a washout, valuations are low and momentum is lousy. People/Institutions are scared to death of equities and any instruments with credit exposure. Only rebalancers and deep value players are buying here. There might even be some sales from leveraged players forced by regulators, margin desks, or “Risk control” desks. Liquidity is at a premium.
2. But eventually momentum flattens, and yield spreads for the survivors begin to tighten. Equities may have rallied some, but the move is widely disbelieved. This is usually a good time to buy; even if you do get faked out, and momentum takes another leg down, valuation levels are pretty good, so the net isn’t far below you.
3. Slowly, but persistently the equity market rallies. Momentum is strong. The credit markets are quicker, with spreads tightening to normal-ish levels. Bit-by-bit valuations rise until the markets are fairly valued.
4. Momentum remains strong. Credit spreads are tight. Valuations are high, and most value-type players have reduced their exposures. Liquidity is cheap, and only rebalancers are selling. (This is where we are now.)
5. The market continues to rise, but before the peak, momentum flattens, and the market meanders. Credit spreads remain tight, but are edgy, and maybe a little volatile. This is usually a good time to sell. Remember, tops are often a process.
6. Cash flow proves insufficient to cover the debt at some institution or set of institutions, and defaults ensue. Some think that the problem is an isolated one, but search begins for where there is additional weakness. Credit spreads widen, momentum is lousy, and valuations fall to normal-ish levels.
7. The true size of the crisis is revealed, defaults mount, valuations are low, credit spreads are high. A few institutions and investors fail who you wouldn’t have expected. Momentum is lousy. We are back to part 1 of the cycle. Remember, bottoms are often an event.