Unbelievable, if We Even Knew What to Believe

Written by Adam English
Posted May 18, 2021

Around this time last week I was pontificating about how the MSM was really laying on the “holier than thou” smug nice and thick regarding the gas pipeline shutdown.

I paid an extra buck to fill my tank and lock in a two-week supply. Best insurance premium I've paid in a while.

Within a day I was seeing pictures of people filling open-top buckets and even trash bags with gas, then trying to put them in their sedans.

And that's the vibe I'm getting from this year. As soon as you start to find some sense in something, something else comes along to completely blow it up.

While not as dramatic, or idiotic, a whole lot of mixed- to downright absurd-signals are popping up in the economy.

We all know that this is a weird transitional phase without precedent, but lordy, none of this makes sense and anyone that claims to know where this economy is going is lying to you, and probably also themselves.

We just saw what may have been the most unexpected and disappointing employment report miss in years. Everyone expected over a million hires. We got a quarter of that.

Meanwhile U.S. job openings rose 8% to a record 8.1 million while hiring only picked up 4%. Yes, expanded benefits create a level where returning to the same old miserable jobs doesn't make sense, but a lot of these jobs pay way more, and now come with signing bonuses.

Used truck and car prices surged up 10% in April, the biggest spike since 1953. That market is stretched thin. On the new car front, companies are shuttering factories because cars aren't really cars anymore. They're self-propelled computers.

Somehow, with lumber prices through the roof and U.S. home construction dropping 9.5%, Home Depot — usually a bellwether for the industry — just posted phenomenal quarterly results.

Elsewhere, I'm seeing articles about the DIY crowd turning to building their own at-home sawmills. Surely nothing will go wrong there.

Somehow even Macy's made a profit this quarter, which everyone eulogized years ago.

Elsewhere, all the signs of inflation are no longer signs of inflation, especially an across-the-board and sustained surge in commodity prices, along with storage and transportation costs.

A cryptocurrency made to make fun of cryptocurrencies is now the hottest cryptocurrency.

And on the personal finance front, Fidelity is now launching teen accounts. Thirteen- to 17-year-olds can now deposit cash, have a debit card, and trade stocks and funds through a mobile app. All with zero account fees or minimum balances.

This is all an attempt by one of the many major institutional investors that was criticized for not putting their account holders first by giving preferential data and trades to big investors.

They lost their clients to a mobile app trading platform that put all of its major institutional investors first by feeding them preferential data and trades.

The ironic ouroboros is lost on nearly everyone.

It was just a couple years ago that I was lamenting the fact that the markets were stale.

Virtually nothing of note was happening, valuations were high, and almost all stocks just moved up and down in lockstep while the MSM claimed a <1% daily move was because of this or that or whatever. Probably China or a Trump tweet or something that seems kind of quaint already.

Be careful what you wish for. Now I don't know what to think. You probably shouldn't either. That talking head who is screaming into a microphone at Maria Bartiromo or whoever certainly should ease up on their apparent conviction.

This list of mixed signals and outright dysfunction could go on for days. All of this is mind-boggling, and too much to take in all at once. 

And that is okay. This is very much an economy in an unprecedented transition. We've been so scared of the virus, or at least what it could do to the economy, that we forgot that exciting times, when there is finally real opportunity and money to be made, come with their own kind of scary too.

We just have to be honest about what we do and don't know, and play it smart. Some version of all these mixed trends will make sense in hindsight, and it's going to be a mixed bag.

Inflation may not go out of control but now is a great time to own gold exposure.

The tech sector may be pulling back from highs a couple months ago but there are still stocks that can and will soar with huge, generational trends.

The economy is going to be very different in another year, but we don't have to say how it will be now; we have time to react to it as it evolves.

There will be opportunities we miss, those we grab that fizzle, and we have a pretty good track record around here for having more of the former and less of the latter.

All of this can be overwhelming if you try to cram it into some rigid framework of how this should be or how it will go. You won't be blindsided by something unbelievable if you don't hold on to rigid beliefs.

Instead let's play it smart and focus on what we can do for ourselves and our wealth here on the outside. 

Take care,

adam english sig

Adam English
Editor, Outsider Club

follow basic @AdamEnglishOC on Twitter

Adam's editorial talents and analysis drew the attention of senior editors at Outsider Club, which he joined in mid-2012. While he has acquired years of hands-on experience in the editorial room by working side by side with ex-brokers, options floor traders, and financial advisors, he is acutely aware of the challenges faced by retail investors after starting at the ground floor in the financial publishing field. For more on Adam, check out his editor's page

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