Welcome to 2016. US markets down 2%, Shanghai down 7%.

Today, US markets were shaken by big drop in the Chinese market and trouble in the Middle East. Chinese trading curbs are scheduled to come off sometime this week. In August steps were taken to curb volatility. These steps included suspended initial public offerings, restricting big investors and corporate insiders from selling and limiting the trading behavior of so-called short-sellers. The decline in the Chinese market may be due to the fear that once these trading curbs are taken off, the Chinese market will once again go into freefall. The Hang Seng index had a low of 20,368 in August and is now at 21,327. If this low is broken, it could once again affect US markets. China has a controlled economy and it is very difficult to tell what is true and untrue. We do know this, the government sanctioned industries are inefficient, debt ridden and over employed. Shanghai market was down 7% before the government closed down for the day.

European markets were also down some 4% today. The DAX low in August was 9,325, and it is now 10,283. I continue to believe that the canary in the mine is the Deutsches  Bank stock. It has fallen from fifty-one dollars a share to 23.49 in the last two years, and has broken below its August low by far.

The other canary in the mine is the Dow Jones Transportation index which has fallen below its August low. My worry in the US continues to be bonds that are held by banks worldwide and that depend upon their income and debt payments on higher oil and commodity prices. Once again, as it was with the mortgage bonds,’ the Emperor has no clothes; but everybody’s afraid to say so.

Continued trouble in the Middle East

More than 85% of the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims are Sunni. They live in almost all the countries across the Arab world including Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Turkey, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Malaysia and Indonesia. Shiites are largely in Iraq and Bahrain. The Saudi royal family practices austere and conservative Sunni Islam known as Wahhabism and controls Islam’s holiest shrines in Mecca and Medina. The recent flare-up between Saudi Arabia and Iran occurred when a Shiite cleric was executed along with forty-seven others for inciting violence against the state. The terrorist group, The Islamic State are Sunnis. This is really a civil war that has been going on in the area for centuries. Troops on the ground will not help. As during the Iraqi war, the terrorists merely faded back into the population until we were gone. There appears to be no real solution unless the Middle East Muslims decide to solve it themselves. Until then, expect more trouble. In spite of this trouble in the Middle East which theoretically reduce the supply of oil and theoretically therefore increases the price of oil did not happen today. Instead oil prices once again fell and are at 36.88. To me this indicates that the problem in today’s markets is not the Middle East, but the problem is China.

Forecasts for 2016 and why I am negative! Goldman Sachs is forecasting 2015 S&P 500 earnings at $109 down 3% from 2014 $113. Original forecasts in December of last year called for an 8% increase. They were wrong!  2016 S&P 500 earnings are forecasted at $130 down from $231 a year earlier. 2017 are forecast at $129 down from $241 a year earlier. I believe earnings for 2016 and 2017 will be lower than forecasts from Goldman Sachs. My forecasts call for the Dow Jones Industrial average to be as low as 14,688, the NASDAQ to be as low as 4,506 and the S&P 500 to be as low as 1,560. Goldman Sachs calls for markets to be up approximately 8%. I disagree

I am not a negative person. I understand, however, that there are two sides to everything. The hubris and the hype that has made America a very positive force in the world, can sometimes ignore the very obvious, as was done in 2008. One of the reasons I have become The Lone Bear is because I don’t see anybody else talking about caution or concerns. Believe me; I would rather be talking about how wonderful Americans are, how great our market economy is and how kind our people are to one another. However, there is a lot we have to worry about and somebody has to talk about it.

Additional Dangers in 2016 The dangers of 2016 are as I have stated in the Lone Bear Letter and the market letters. However, there are some additional things that I’m concerned about that are non-economic issues, but which could have a devastating effect on our economy. They are as follows: 1) Since the attacks in Paris, US citizens are frightened of terrorists attacks in public places. The Republican debate tonight, talked about unlimited war in the Middle East and even confrontation with Russia, without considering the repercussions. The radical terrorists, of the Islamic state, have put themselves in a position to radicalize the US voting public. If there is a major terrorist act, like 9/11 or worse, they could affect who becomes the next president of the United States. Remember, it was the burning down of the German Parliament building that brought Hitler to power. Of course,. In my opinion, a Trump nomination, and possible election could skew all economic and political forecasts into a reckless future. 2) There is also the possibility of a mass cyber attack on US that could come from other than the Islamic state, but which could paralyze our economy. I heard a statement from Ted Koppel, on Sunday mornings NBC Meet the Press that struck a chord with me. He said, “There are two kinds of companies, those that have had cyber attacks and those who do not know they have had a cyber attacks.” With banking online as common, a cyber attack into our checking accounts could paralyze the economy.

One more thing: Happy New Year!

 Current Dow NASDAQ S&P 500
17,148 4,903 2,012
Short Term DOWN DOWN DOWN
Int. Term UP UP UP
Long Term SIDEWAYS? SIDEWAYS? SIDEWAYS?
Foretasted Trend DJIA NASDAQ S&P 500
Short Term Down Down Down
Int. Term Down Down Down
Long Term Bear Market? Bear Market? Bear Market?
Breakout Points DJIA NASDAQ S&P 500
Short Term Up (Resistance) 17,919 5,156 2,110
Short Term Down (Support) 15,881/ 15,651 4487//4506 1879/1867
Int. Term Up (Resistance) 18,352 5,231 2,134
Int. Term Down (Support)       15,651/

/15,370 /14,688/ 13,377

4,506//4,116/ 3,986/3294 1,867/ /1,560
Long Term Up (Resistance) 18,352 5,231 2,134
Long Term Down Fibonacci Support 50%12,000  62% 10,750     50%2,958  62% 2,555 50%1,390 62% 1,177
 10 Treasury 2.16% Gold 1,075 Oil 35.70
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