Apparently, the Bears Want Nirvana

 | Sep 03, 2013 | 11:04 AM EDT  | Comments
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Stock quotes in this article:

nok

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msft

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vz

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vod

What exactly do the bears want? What would satisfy the negativists who believe the market should be lower and want to bet against it? Do they demand that U.S. Treasury interest rates drop dramatically -- for the 10-year bond to fall back under 2.5% from the current 2.8%? Must that happen at the same time that this Friday's jobs report shows unemployment below 7%?

Does this have to coincide with an agreement from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad that no more chemical weapons will be used on his people? Does China also need to say it is going to use the $1 trillion it is selling in U.S. bonds to prop up the economy by ordering a gigantic infrastructure project? Does President Obama need to issue a no-new-taxes-for-the-length-of-his-term pledge? Maybe even a tax cut? Perhaps it'll take a reverse head-and-shoulders chart? Or dramatically lower prices so the dividend yield on the S&P 500 will be 3.5%?

What would it take?

I sit here today, marveling at all the absurdly good things that are happening in the market. There's the agreed-upon Nokia (NOK) cell-phone acquisition by Microsoft (MSFT) for $7 billion. There's the $130 billion Verizon (VZ)-Vodafone (VOD) deal, much of which will flow back through the market. The U.S. strike on Syria, meanwhile, has been on hold -- and we saw a dramatically great purchasing managers index number from China. In light of all of this, I wonder about the people who hate this market. What would they need in order for them to convert their views?

I think the answer is that they want nirvana. They want everything. They need everything to go positive. The problem, of course, is that this is an unrealistic concept. You are not going to get the best of all worlds, ever. It's never been the best of all possible worlds in the 34 years I have been investing. There's always something wrong, or even many things wrong. When they go wrong, and the market goes down, the "wrong" proximate cause will then keep bearish people out of the market again.

Here are some good reasons things don't work out for the bears all that often.

1. There's a lot of spare money around. Look at the money just generated today with this Verizon deal. Verizon is playing the role of Congress and the Federal Reserve with its printing press.

2. There is such a thing as progress. People continue to underrate progress as a factor in their thinking because it is not so day-to-day. It can't hit the radar screen because it is a stealth input.

3. The longer the 10-year bond hangs at the 2.75%-to-2.95% area, the less impact it will have on stocks. It was the velocity of the move here, not the actual move, that threw people off. It disrupted a huge number of real estate deals, compounded by the fact that the people who build houses have simply refused to acknowledge that the higher rates matter. But if rates go up gradually from the 3% level. where it is obvious they are heading, I think that will be fine -- although even I am concerned about 3.25%.

4. The Fed-tapering matter is one of those issues that's quite central to the bears' arguments, and it can impact all of the hot money that's currently in emerging markets. The bears will say that the emerging markets can cause a huge selloff, as they did in 1995, 1996 and 1997. That's all true. But think about this: Those were all great opportunities to buy, so if we get that selloff, the bears should change direction. But they can't, because the event itself would be so negative for them that it would be just another reason not to switch direction.

5. We need China back on line, but the bears have decided that all numbers out of China are phony. But what happens if they aren't? They leave no room to believe, and it's really important for them to discredit China, because it's one of the biggest props. Until China's gross domestic product is growing at 6%, they'll have nothing to say.

I can go on and on, but you have to realize that nothing can truly turn the minds of the full-time bears to bullishness -- because, in the end, the bears can never give the market the benefit of the doubt. They believe skepticism means never having to say you are long.

So they fight it with everything they have.

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