Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Tired Stories of Bull Market Pumpers

The US financial markets are on overdrive thanks to the Federal Reserve's magic ZIRP juice.  Blowing up the Fed's balance sheet works wonders for hedge funds, mutual funds, penny stock pumpers, and anyone else with more pedigree than brains who's willing to ride this gravy train right over a cliff.  The bull pumper stories are everywhere and I'm tired of hearing them.

Want an overpriced hedge fund?  There's plenty of those on the loose.  Rocket scientists with no rockets to launch are paid millions to write algorithms that churn the market.  Net neutrality doesn't slow their servers down but a super-slow exchange routing their orders can eliminate their unfair advantage.  The typical hedge fund bull story is full of swagger about exclusivity and leverage.  It's still just bull.

Up for an underperforming mutual fund?  They're everywhere.  The anomalies from American Funds, Dodge and Cox, and a few others will eventually find their alpha arbitraged away.  They're squeezed from one end by HFTs seeking order flow speed and ETFs at the other end that lower costs.  The typical mutual fund bull story is full of assurances about buying dips and staying with brand names.  It's really just bull.

The penny stock universe is always on my radar.  Tiny companies with no recent successes trundle through town raising PIPE money while their share prices are in the basement.  Going public even with no assets or revenues is a crafty way for founders to cash out of a losing proposition.  The typical penny stock bull story is all about explosive growth just around the corner.  It's pretty much just bull.

The expiration date for this circus is anyone's guess.  I guessed incorrectly that the bull market would have ended over two years ago.  Anyone guessing it will continue indefinitely is probably even more incorrect than I could ever be.