This isn't just any old stock market rally. It's the first leg of a global generational bull market.
Stocks around the world can and eventually will double and triple from here.
Investors want to know if it's too late to get into the record-breaking bull market.
They want to know if they should take profits… or keep their chips on the table.
They want to know how to navigate any correction, if one comes.
The answers to those questions are easy. You just have to understand where we are.
My record picking major market tops and bottoms is exceptional.
That's important, because the global generational bull market isn't going to be a straight run.
There will be ups and downs.
And to get the most of both, you need to know this market and have a plan…
Why This Market Is Unique
First, you have to understand that the first leg up was made possible by the Great Recession.
Stocks and almost every major asset class were sold off in a flight to quality and cash as the U.S.-led financial crisis spread far and wide. The deleveraging and discounting of equities and commodities created a safe entry point, especially for stocks.
The Federal Reserve and central banks around the world had to step in to stem the deflationary tide that swept across the globe. All of their resulting stimulus essentially created a floor for stocks. U.S. equities in particular benefited by the Fed's extraordinary stimulus.
Low interest rates allowed corporations to refinance their balance sheets, raise cash for buying back their shares, and strengthen their longer-term prospects. As a result earnings have been robust and buyers have been snapping up shares since 2009.
Globally, shares have risen handsomely, but not without some hiccups.
Outside the U.S. other developed markets rose, sometimes in fits and starts. And emerging markets enjoyed good upswings too.
Because emerging markets are prone to capital flight as foreign investment that boosts domestic growth industries (mostly export businesses) can exit quickly, emerging market investors tend to be more nervous.
Of the developed world, the U.S. has been called the "cleanest dirty shirt in the laundry" on account of other developed economies' reliance more on exports than internal consumption. Those other developed economies are also considered less dynamic than America's economic landscape.
It's been an extended "first leg" up for stocks, especially U.S. equities, which haven't experienced any meaningful correction in a long time.
Invest… But Know the Risks
I've been dubbed the "reluctant bull" by Varney & Co.'s Stuart Varney and his co-host, Charles Payne.
Why? Because we haven't had a meaningful correction. I'm riding this bull market higher, because you have to, but I'm nervous.
Stocks here in the U.S. could have further to go on this long first leg up. Some of the positive signs are that labor markets are showing improvement, with headline unemployment below 7%. Third-quarter GDP growth came in at 4.1%. Inflation is barely 1%. We have a tentative budget deal, and the Fed has tapered only marginally while saying they intend to keep rates low into the foreseeable future.
The economy isn't too hot or too cold, which means the Fed isn't backing off its backstopping anytime soon. That's a goldilocks scenario for U.S. equities. Low interest rates will continue to support corporate balance sheets and the Fed will keep serving up its porridge.
My reluctance stems from some of the same positive attributes equities have enjoyed. The positive trend in headline unemployment belies the disturbing number of workers falling off work rolls because they can't find jobs and have given up looking.
The GDP's 4.1% showing is the biggest rise in a long time and unlikely to continue. Any serious backing up of the upward GDP trend in the fourth quarter will set up a much closer look at first-quarter GDP. If that isn't substantially better than 2.5% – and it should be, given the market's dramatic rise – markets could get jittery.
Inflation, at least headline inflation, looks tame. But consumers are seeing higher prices everywhere, especially for groceries, and those rises come in the face of depressed commodity prices. That could change. If we see solid above-trend growth globally into 2014's first two quarters, it will change, and commodity prices will rise quickly.
And about that budget deal… The fight over the future of deficit spending and the country's borrowing ceiling is far from over.
That leaves the Fed as the only reliable gift giver to the equity markets. If the Fed continues to expand its balance sheet, at some point markets could lose faith in the Fed's long-term solvency.
If that happens, the long awaited correction will turn to a rout.
A Plan to Profit, Wherever You Stand
As the bull market's long first leg up continues higher, it's time to start planning for the coming correction. which we will eventually get and which may come in early to mid-2014. And it's time to start mapping out how and when to load up for the second leg higher.
About the Author
Shah Gilani is the Event Trading Specialist for Money Map Press. In Zenith Trading Circle Shah reveals the worst companies in the markets - right from his coveted Bankruptcy Almanac - and how readers can trade them over and over again for huge gains. He also writes our most talked-about publication, Wall Street Insights & Indictments, where he reveals how Wall Street's high-stakes game is really played.