The current bull market is now in its 10th year. We have no idea when it might end and give way to a bear market. However, it’s inevitable that at some point it will. Twice during 2018 we have already seen a spike in market volatility. This inevitably leads to fears of a market crash. The truth is that a stock market crash can never really be predicted. People who predicted crashes in the past are the same people who predicted crashes in the years they didn’t happen.
Benjamin Graham once observed that in the short term, the stock market is a voting machine. That's what it did today. It went up or went down based mostly on popular opinion, blown by the wind. In the long term, it's a weighing machine, which reflects the true value of businesses in their stock prices. That's why it's so important to think like an owner, and not just a trader.
This is a time for contemplation; reflect on the wealth you have and keep it. Don’t gamble it away. Indeed, to describe the present scenario, it would be an insult to call it a market. It’s much more a casino. And this is where Warren Buffett’s warnings become important. It’s not so much Warren Buffett’s predictions for 2018 that count. Buffett tends to make longer-term analyses. For example, his latest major prediction is that the Dow Jones could hit 1,000,000 points in 2118. That’s well over 40 times the current number.
Everyone seems to have an explanation for why stock prices rise and fall. People are happy about the economy. People are worried about the economy. People want interest rates to rise. People want interest rates to fall. Europe looks good. Europe looks bad. Canada's raising tariffs. Canada reported extraordinary growth. Company A met its earnings goals. Company B didn't. Inflation numbers looked bad. Inflation numbers looked good. Gold is hot. Silver prices fell. Oil supplies are running low—or high. Unemployment numbers changed too much or too little. Euros went up against the dollar. Who knows?
It is believed that Khashoggi was dismembered after being abducted by the Saudis, and all of the major western powers have expressed major concern about his fate. But the Saudis insist that they didn’t have anything to do with his disappearance, and they are threatening “greater action” if any sanctions are imposed upon them. The following comes from USA Today…
Predicting housing prices is famously difficult. And forecasting housing meltdowns like the one that nearly brought down the global financial system in 2008 may be downright impossible. For now, though, the way experts cautiously paint the future for next year is closer to the picture of a landing plane than that of a rocket ship plummeting earthward.
Though we don't know what will motivate a future market crash, it's likely to be something that will ultimately be recovered from if history is any guide. The economy and society are very flexible. Industries, and even countries, can rise and fall over time, but if you have a global, well-diversified and lower cost portfolio, then you should be well-positioned. This is an area where diversification helps. If you spread your bets it will likely help. You'll probably find that the next crisis centers on a specific country, part of the globe or investment theme. If you've spread your bets through diversification, then you'll undoubtedly have some assets that fall in value, perhaps alarmingly, but often certain assets can do well during certain crises such as high-quality bonds, more defensive or inexpensive parts of the stock market, or commodities including gold.