High-flying “story stocks” hit air pockets as credit finally tightens

Financial Events

SHARE THIS STORY

“Nobody could ever have seen this coming” is the normal comment after sudden share price falls.  And its been earning its money over the past week as “suddenly” share prices of some of the major “story stocks” on the US market have hit air pockets, as the chart shows:

  • Facebook was the biggest “surprise”, falling 20% on Thursday to lose $120bn in value
  • Twitter was another “surprise”, falling 21% on Friday to lose $7bn 
  • Netflix has also lost 15% over the past 16 days, losing $27bn
  • Tesla has lost 20% over the past 6 weeks, losing $13bn

These are quite major falls for stocks which were supposed to be unstoppable in terms of their market advances.

Of course, their supporters could say it was just a healthy correction and a “buying opportunity”.  And they might add that so far, other “story stocks” such as Alphabet, Apple and Amazon are still doing well.  But others might say a paradigm shift is underway, and these sudden shocks are just the early warning that the central banks’ Quantitative Easing bubble is finally starting to burst.

They might have a point, looking at the second set of charts:

  • Twitter stopped being a major growth story as long ago as 2015, since when its user growth has been relatively slow, even going negative in some quarters
  • Facebook stopped showing major growth in active users 18 months ago – and in 2018, it has been flat in N America and losing subscribers in Europe, whilst Asia and the Rest of the World are also heading downwards
  • Tesla, of course, has been a serial disappointment.  Its founder, Elon Musk, was brutally honest when founding the company in 2003, saying it had a 10% chance of success.  Since then, it has mostly failed to meet its production targets.  It was supposed to be making 5000 Tesla 3 cars a week by the end of last year, but according to Bloomberg’s Model 3 tracker, it is currently producing only 2825/week.  Around 0.5 million buyers have paid their $1k deposits and are still waiting for their car – and Tesla needs their cash if its not to run out of money
  • Netflix is another “story stock” now seeing a downturn in subscriber growth.  Yet at its peak it had a market value of $181bn, with net income for this quarter forecast by the company at just $307m.  Like Tesla, it was valued at a higher value than comparable businesses such as Disney, which have had solid earnings streams for decades.

The common factor with all 4 stocks is that they have a great “narrative” or “story”.  Elon Musk has held investors spellbound whilst he told them of unparalleled riches to come from his innovation.  This seemed to be the same with Facebook until the furore arose over the data user scandal with  Cambridge Analytica.  Twitter and Netflix have also had a great “story”, which overcame the need to show real earnings even after years of investment.

THE LIQUIDITY BUBBLES ARE STARTING TO BURST AS CENTRAL BANK STIMULUS SLOWS
In other words, reality seems to be starting to intrude on the “story”, just as it did at the end of the dot-com bubble in 2000, and the US subprime bubble in 2008.  The key, then as now, is the end of the stimulus policies that created the bubbles, as the 3rd set of charts shows:

  • Slowly but surely, the US Federal Reserve is finally raising interest rates back to more normal levels
  • And more importantly, China’s shadow bank lending is declining – H1 was down by $468bn versus 2017

Even the European Central Bank and the Bank of Japan have signalled they might finally be about to cut back on the combined $5.75tn of lending, often at negative rates, that they pumped into the markets between 2015 – March 2018.

The issue is simple. All bubbles need more and more air to be pumped into them to keep growing. Once the air stops being added, they start to burst. And for the moment, at least, Facebook, Twitter, Netflix and Tesla are all acting as the proverbial canary in the coal mine, warning that the great $33tn Quantitative Easing bubble may be starting to burst.

PREVIOUS POST

London house prices slip as supply/demand balances change

22/07/2018

“Nobody could ever have seen this coming” is the normal comment afte...

Learn more
NEXT POST

Trump’s auto trade war adds to US demographic and debt headwinds

06/08/2018

“Nobody could ever have seen this coming” is the normal comment afte...

Learn more
More posts
Why everyone ignored my warnings ahead of the financial crisis
16/09/2018

It’s 10 years since my forecast of a global financial crisis came true, as Lehman Brothers col...

Read
London house prices slip as supply/demand balances change
22/07/2018

London house prices are “falling at the fastest rate in almost a decade” according to m...

Read
Financial markets party as global trade wars begin
03/06/2018

More people left poverty in the past 70 years than in the whole of history, thanks to the BabyBoomer...

Read
China’s lending bubble is history
27/05/2018

As China’s shadow banking is reined in, the impact on the global economy is already clear, as ...

Read
US Treasury benchmark yield heads to 4% as 30-year downtrend ends
22/01/2018

The US 10-year Treasury bond is the benchmark for global interest rates and stock markets.  And for...

Read
Chart of the Year: Bitcoin, the logical end for stimulus policies
18/12/2017

Last year it was the near-doubling in US 10-year interest rates.  In 2015, it was the oil price fal...

Read
China’s central bank governor warns of ‘Minsky Moment’ risk
13/11/2017

The world is coming to the end of probably the greatest financial bubble ever seen.  Since the fina...

Read
US tax cuts will fail as Trump’s demographic deficit replaces Reagan’s demographic dividend
06/11/2017

No country in the world now has a top quality pension system.  That’s the conclusion from the...

Read

Market Intelligence

ICIS provides market intelligence that help businesses in the energy, petrochemical and fertilizer industries.

Learn more

Analytics

Across the globe, ICIS consultants provide detailed analysis and forecasting for the petrochemical, energy and fertilizer markets.

Learn more

Specialist Services

Find out more about how our specialist consulting services, events, conferences and training courses can help your teams.

Learn more

ICIS Insight

From our news service to our thought-leadership content, ICIS experts bring you the latest news and insight, when you need it.

Learn more