Earlier this week, Harry Dent sent me the nicest email ever.
The opening line read:
Adam, I continue to be impressed both by your unique insights and your returns in a market that is even defying most leading hedge funds.
Pretty nice, right!?
Most people wouldn’t have been able to fit their head through their office door after receiving such a complimentary note. (And my wife might say I had a mild case of that infliction.)
But the reality for me is that a boat load of pressure and expectation dropped onto my shoulders.
I was reminded, more than ever, just how important the interplay between Harry’s economic forecasts, and my actionable investment advice, will be in 2016.
I’m sure you can agree with me on that. And also that it’s an understatement of gargantuan proportions to say:
“Markets have changed a lot in the last few years.”
In 2013, almost everything went up.
Last year, almost everything went down.
And since prudent investors have always had a difficult time navigating environments of heightened uncertainty, excessive volatility and spiraling stocks prices… 2015 likely ripped a hole through traditional portfolios and investors’ business-as-usual mindsets.
And according to Harry, 2016 isn’t going to be any better for wishful thinking “buy-and-hopers.”
But my message today is NOT one of doom, gloom or despair.
It’s one of hope and confidence.
Because it’s in exactly these environments that Harry so accurately forecasts that we find the most opportunities. I’ll give you an example…
Alongside the market carnage of the last 16 months, the “All About the U.S.” investments I recommended to Boom & Bust subscribers in September 2014 are up big!
You see, back then I was struggling through a nagging conflict in my mind. It’s a conflict that our subscribers struggle with as well (and I hope to clear this up today).
Harry’s research was pointing toward weakening demographic drivers, weakening economic growth and weakening asset prices. He expects we’ll see the biggest wave of deflationary pressure since the 1930s… and in such an environment there are only two “safe” investments: high-quality U.S. debt and the U.S. dollar. (“That’s effing IT,” he’s often screamed in our meetings, except not censored like that.)
But that doesn’t mean those are the ONLY opportunities up for grabs.
You see, Harry’s job is to be ahead of the curve… to warn you of what’s to come, especially if no one’s talking about it yet. And clearly his research into demographics gives him, to quote his 1990-published book title, the power to predict.
But my job is different. My job is to give you actionable investment advice for any environment. And my #1 rule has always been: trade WITH the trend, whether that’s up or down, like it or not!
So, as I saw it in September 2014, I had both an obligation to myself and to Harry. I had to stick to my own proven investment methods… and I had to protect our readers from what Harry saw coming.
Ultimately, our obligation is to YOU. To both prepare you for what we see coming (Harry’s expertise)… and to help you make money along the way (my expertise).
Eventually, I found a creative way to satisfy our shared goal.
All About the U.S.
In the September 15, 2014 issue of Five Day Forecast, my weekly market note that comes complimentary with a subscription to Boom & Bust, I recommended two positions, which I called our “All About the U.S.” trades.
Here’s how I introduced this unique, low-risk investment at the time:
The U.S. dollar is on a tear, gaining 6.6% against the euro and 5% against the yen, since May 1. To me, this is a clear signal that U.S. stocks will outperform other markets during good times and bad.
But first, I’ll start by asking this question: are you really an investor if you’re just sitting in cash?
Here’s another head-scratcher: if going to cash was completely out of the question, how would you invest in a toppy stock market?
Well, that’s the crux of the investor’s dilemma, today. U.S. stocks appear expensive and toppy after a five-year bull run. Yet, cash yields nothing. To top it off, the Federal Reserve continues to support risk assets, particularly U.S. stocks. And since the Fed’s intervention is artificial, it’s anyone’s guess when the music will stop.
The good news is that you don’t have to guess anymore! It’s no longer about finding the perfect time to yank your money out of U.S. stocks. Instead, it’s about finding a way to invest in U.S. stocks and protect yourself when they stumble. And that’s what we aim to help you do here at Dent Research.
I went on to explain why Harry and I were skeptical of what was then the most-enamored foreign stock market of all (which was hitting a three-year high at the time).
And I gave Boom & Bust subscribers specific instructions on how to make a hedge-fund-like investment that was poised to benefit from the unsustainable imbalances that Harry and I were both seeing, through our own unique perspectives.
My recommendation wasn’t muddied with “could be’s” or “might see’s.” I gave clear instructions on what to buy and what to sell… tickers and all. And then we began tracking the performance of those, as we do with all Boom & Bust recommendations.
So where are we today… about 16 months later?
Our February issue of Boom & Bust went to the printers on Wednesday. And in it we instructed readers to take partial profits on these two “All About the U.S.” positions.
One for a gain of 10.1%.
One for a gain of 14.3%.
Those are solid gains we can be proud of.
And remember, this wasn’t a bet against Harry’s forecast. Instead, it was a bet in support of it. We weren’t making a play that relied on the U.S. performing well. Instead, we were making a play only on our expectation that the U.S. would do better than two other regions.
Even better, we were able to point subscribers toward these gains while cutting our risk to the bone, since our positions were market neutral (meaning, they didn’t require a bet on the outright direction of stocks).
We’re particularly thrilled today, given how poorly a majority of global assets have performed since we recommended these investments.
Bonds are down an average of 3%…
U.S. stocks are down 7%…
Currencies are down 12%…
Foreign stocks are down 29%…
And commodities are down an average of 39%.
In fact, I was hard-pressed to find a single, major index or asset class that beat our “All About the U.S.” returns of 10.1% and 14.35%, since September 2014.
The only ones were the U.S. dollar (UUP, up 14.5%) and high-quality U.S. debt (TLT, up 10%). Hat tip to Harry for correctly calling “the only two things that go up in a deflationary environment!”
If you’d like to hear about the other opportunities we’re taking advantage of right now… and any new ones we’re looking to… read this.
Adam O’Dell, CMT
Chief Investment Strategist, Dent Research