What I’m Watching This Week: A Nasdaq Breakdown?

The Nasdaq’s Acting Funky

The Nasdaq’s acting funky and I’m paying attention. We have a head-and-shoulder formation playing out. Without going too much into what a head-and-shoulder formation is, basically the Nasdaq’s looking like it could roll over and go down to about 3,600 after a brief run up to about 4,200 (it’s currently at 4,121).

Keep an eye on this Head and Shoulders formation in the Nasdaq.

Keep an eye on this Head and Shoulders formation in the Nasdaq.

But the head-and-shoulders pattern isn’t what has me worried. What has me worried is if we break much below 3,600, we will break the Nasdaq’s upward trend from the 2009 lows:

Nasdaq upward trend in place since 2009.

Nasdaq upward trend in place since 2009.

A break below the upward trend (see the red line above) will mean that the upward trend that’s been in place since the 2009 lows will have been broken.

The trend is your friend folks, so don’t take the breaking of a 5 year trend lightly.

So What Does This All Mean?

I’m going to be keeping my eye on the Nasdaq. It’s earnings season, so the market’s nervous before all the company’s announce earnings. If earnings are bad, this could propel the Nasdaq down, and possibly even break the 5 year upward trend. If earnings are good, this is just a little bit of consolidation as market players digest earnings, and then the market continues going up (or at least not crashing).

Market indicators and market news are a continuum, there’s no one indicator that tells you a crash is coming. So I’m not going to panic if the Nasdaq does break its 5 year upward trend. If this happens, I’ll keep an eye on the Dow and, particularly, the S&P 500. If those both show signs of breaking down as well, then it’s time to change my investing thesis.

 

Don’t Take Investment Advice From a Marketer

“The Market Crash Is Coming”

Want to be considered a market guru? Here’s the recipe:

  1. Every time the market starts to wobble, every time it looks weak, create a new blog and write article after article about the impending stock market crash.
  2. Go around to all the financial sites (yahoo, cnbc, zerohedge, business insider, bloomberg) and leave lots of comments about the impending market crash, and reference your blog.
  3. When the market crash doesn’t come, delete your blog, create a new blog, and start back at step #1. Wash-rinse-repeat. Eventually you’ll be right, and you can claim market guru status! Start an investment newsletter and convert your guru status into big bucks.

And so this is why I don’t write articles with hyperbolic titles like, “The Market Crash Is Coming”. It’s a gimmick, a marketing trick. It’s something done by people who are, at their core, marketers. And they’ve found their marketing recipe works well with the stock market.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to take investment advice from a marketer.

Review of Jeremy Renner’s Movie “Ingenious”

Movie Review

So if you’re thinking,  “What the hell is a movie review doing on a site about entrepeneurship and startups?”, just hold your horses. Gives this a minute or two to play out…

I was flipping through Netflix, trying to find a halfway decent movie to wind down to, and after starting 4 movies and stopping them after less than 5 minutes because they were so bad (that’s Netflix streaming for ya), I came across this movie.  It held my attention past the crucial first 5 minutes, then another 5 minutes, and another, until I said to myself, “Hey, this movie has Jeremy Renner in it, and it’s pretty good so far, how come I’ve never heard of this before?”

The Plot in 3 Sentences

This movie follows two guys as they try to turn ideas into million dollar businesses. One guy is the inventor of this entrepreneurial duo, the guy who comes up with crazy product ideas  (a handbag in the shape of a hand, a mini-tv that clips onto the front of your baseball hat so you can jog and watch tv, theme watches – like a “Lotto Watch” that generates 6 random numbers for playing the lotto). The other guy is the salesman of the group, he’s got the gift of gab and a total lack of self-awareness (perfect!).

At The 30-Minute Mark I Almost Turned It Off

I don’t like movies about losers, and after 30 minutes the two main characters were sure starting to fit the bill. They were entrepreneurs who came up with crazy inventions. Nothing wrong with crazy ideas, nothing at all. But here’s the problem – the inventor “Matt”, played by Dallas Roberts, kept making loser decisions. He’d have inventions that showed promise with solid sales (i.e. his “dreaming dog” themed watch). But he needed money to expand his product line – potential customers were all telling him they wanted a variety of dog breeds, not just the one breed they currently offered.

So Matt, the inventor, gets several thousand dollars from his wife to expand the product line from one dog breed to 4 breeds. 20 breeds would be better, but they simply can’t come up with that kind of money.

What does Matt do with that seed money? Does he do the prudent thing and expand his product line to 4 breeds, then take the profits from those watches to expand his produce line one-by-one? Of course not –  Matt’s business partner (the salesman, played by Jeremy Renner) convinces Matt to go to the casino and play blackjack, and turn the few thousand dollars his wife gave him into the $36,000 they’d need to expand the product line to 20 dog breeds.

And of course this doesn’t work out. All the money is lost. No new dog-watch product lines. Just broken dreams, and a husband who is terrified to go home to his wife. This is apparently a pattern in Matt’s life. He only knows how to go for the home-run or strike-out. And he’s no home-run hitter.

I Thought the Movie Was About 2 Guys Who Would Never Make It

These two guys, the inventor and the salesman, made bone-headed decision after bone-headed decision. They didn’t take good deals offered to them. They gambled away seed capital. They did every stupid, foolish, and ridiculous thing you could imagine.

But they kept plugging along. Sure, they shot themselves in the foot every chance they got. But they wrapped those wounds in the proverbial duct tape and kept doing what they did as if nothing happened, oblivious to their horrible decision-making.

They were always just a few degrees off from amazing success. I was convinced there was no way two guys with gambling problems and such horrible decision-making skills could ever start a successful business. And this is crux of this article

Entrepreneurs Are Reckless. No Avoiding That. Here’s How They Turn The Corner

What’s really interesting is what turned their success from mediocrity to lightning in a bottle.

The movie misses the point here. The movie implies the great success came because of their final idea, a talking beer bottle opener (see it here).

That’s just silly. The product was almost inconsequential, this could have been any one of their earlier ideas. Sure, they had a very good idea with good execution. But the talking beer bottle opener was far from genius.

The reason for their great success was they finally had some discipline to go along with their (reckless) entrepreneurism. See the inventor’s wife started showing a prototype of the talking bottle opener around to friends and co-workers. Everyone loved it. It also just happened they were separated at the time (you can only gamble away your spouse’s hard-earned savings so many times).

So instead of the wife just giving her husband the money to manufacture these bottle openers, she approached this invention as a business partnership. She gives her husband the money needed to manufacture the bottle openers, and she gets a percentage of the profits (it was implied they were on the verge of divorce at this point, so this makes sense).

And lo and behold, this was the discipline the inventor and the salesman needed to get to that next level. They were presented an offer, and instead of going for the home-run like they always had, they went for the single. And it turned into a grand-slam: They sold millions, and made tens of millions.

The Market Is Crashing, The Sky Is Falling, aahhhhhhh……

Big Down Week For the Market

The market is down big-time for the week (week-ending 4/11/2014).

The Dow is down 372 points for the week, or 2.2%.

The S&P 500 is down 46 points for the week, or 2.5%.

But this drop is even more severe if you look at the drop in the market over just the past two days. The Dow opened at 16,420 on Thursday morning (4/10/2014), and ended today (Friday 4/11/2014) at 16,027, for a drop of 393 points, or 2.4%, in just two days!

The pattern is the same for the S&P 500 which opened Thursday (4/10/2014) at 1,869 and closed today (Friday 4/11/2014) at 1,816, for a drop of 53 points, or 2.8%, in two days.

Ouch! So it’s time to panic, right? Time to sell all stocks and start hoarding drinking water and canned goods, eh?

A Little Perspective on Crashes

Nah…it’s time to just go out and enjoy spring. Sure, this could be the beginning of a huge drop in the market, 2008 all over again. But probably not.  According to The Reformed Broker, since World War II there have only been 11 times where stocks dropped by more than 35%, and 27 corrections where stocks dropped between 10% – 20%.

Stock market, schmock market. Go out and enjoy Spring.

Stock market, schmock market. Go out and enjoy Spring.

I’ll keep an eye on the market, as I always do, and if things start looking iffy, if the technicals start doing funky things breaking through key support levels, then I’ll change my tune. But until then I think this is just normal market behavior, where the market shakes some people out, keeps the fear alive, setting up the market for future gains.

3 Reasons The Stock Market Will Crash This Year (2014)

Bubbles and Crashes

I recently wrote an article about Bubbles and Stock Market Crashes, and how the next Stock Market Crash will not be caused by a Stock Market Bubble (“You Don’t Need A Stock Market Bubble To Have a Stock Market Crash“). In that article I made an off-hand remark that I didn’t think the stock market would crash this year.

IMG_0201

If the stock market doesn’t spook you, maybe this tree will.

The point of that article wasn’t to predict when the next stock market crash would be, but it was only natural to mention my current views on the next crash and when it might be. My view stands, I don’t think the stock market crash is going to happen this year (a crash to me is the S&P 500 declining by more than 20%). But a good market observer is fluid with his or her views, and as things change in the market (which they do pretty much daily), one must be ready to change their thesis.

That being said, what are the best arguments against me, e.g. that there’s a good chance the market will crash this year? Well here they are:

  1. The January Indicator (also called the  “January Barometer”) - This basically says that when the market is up for the month of January, there’s an 80% chance the market will be up for the year. And when the market is down for the month of January, there’s only a 42% chance the market will be up for the year. Well guess what the market did this January (2014)? It was down for January, so look out! (Read more here about the January Indicator)
  2. Curse of the New Fed Chair - When a new Fed Chairman is sworn in, markets tend to tank. This happened to Paul Volcker in 1979, Alan Greenspan in 1987, and most recently to Ben Bernanke in 2007-08. Well guess what we just got? That’s right, there’s a new Federal Reserve Chairman for 2014 – Janet Yellen. This “curse” hasn’t always happened right away, Ben Bernanke was sworn in as Federal Reserve Chairman in February 2006, and the stock market peaked in October 2007. But still, the trend is your friend folks, and don’t overlook this trend!
  3. Average Bull Market is about 4 years (or maybe it’s 3.2 years, or 5 years 7 months) – Apparently there isn’t exact agreement on what the length of the average bull market is (I’m hoping this is due to differences in definition of what constitutes the ending of a bull market). But the point is, even using the highest number I’ve seen for average bull market length (5 years 7 months), the current bull market is getting long in the tooth. The current bull market is right around 5 years and a few weeks, and everyone knows all good things must come to an end. (A counterargument to this point is the bull market that started in 1990 and went just under 10 years. Also, with how bad the last decade (2000-2010) was for stocks there’s enough pent-up resentment toward stocks to keep incremental buyers trickling into this market, and thus the market climbing the proverbial “wall of worry”.)

These 3 arguments are so convincing you’re probably wondering why I think the market won’t crash this year. The answer is this – we’re getting close, but it just doesn’t feel like the end to me…not quite. I still don’t see enough craziness in the market. Sure, crazy things are happening, like Facebook buying Whatsapp for $345 million per employee. But there’s just not enough of this craziness happening for me to get worried. And more importantly, the public at large isn’t getting in on the craziness, only the super-connected, super-rich are part of this craze of buying unprofitable startups for exorbitant sums. The craziness needs to go mainstream for the bubble to pop.

So if you see financial craziness that is mainstream, please let me know (ie “.com” stocks like in the 1990′s, or housing in early 2000′s). But until then, the trend is your friend, and we don’t fight our friends.

 

Assorted Links

  • If customers are ignoring your company, turn things around by… making them hate you?? You read that right, make your customers hate you to improve your company’s success. Mike Moyer writes a very interesting piece about how he purposely pissed off a customer so he could then turn around and provide amazing customer support. That customer turned into his best, and most loyal customer. A great quote from the article, “If your company isn’t growing it may be because your product works well enough that there aren’t issues that require customer service, but the product sucks enough that nobody really cares about it“. I’ll leave you with one more thought on this article – Are haters an invaluable tool, that without, your company will flounder and fail? Just try to think of a company these days that doesn’t have big-time haters (Apple, Facebook, Google, Twittter, Microsoft, etc, etc, etc).
  • Should you pivot (or shut down) your startup? It’s tough to admit your ‘baby’, your ‘amazing idea’, is not doing as well as you thought it would when it was just a thought in your head. But that’s why there’s the saying “Careful what you wish for”. It can be very tough to create something (create a new company, a ‘startup’), only to see it be a dud and go nowhere. But it happens, so turn lemons into lemonade.

My New Quirky.com Submission – App Enabled Blood Glucose Meter

A Little Background on Quirky.com

Back in early February I wrote a post on Quirky.com, where I submitted my invention idea for The Steak Plate. You can read more here. In that post I described Quirky.com like this:

Quirky.com is a site where you submit an idea for a product (say, a bicycle turbine light), and Quirky.com will then engineer, design and manufacture the product, and get it onto the shelves of major retailers like Home Depot. All you need is an idea. How fun is that!

In that article I wrote about how wonderfully smooth and easy the process was for submitting an invention idea. And lo and behold, my Steak Plate idea is currently in Expert Review (being reviewed by Quirky.com employees), after making it past the first stage of getting enough votes from Quirky.com users.

App Enabled Blood Glucose Meter and The New Submission Process

I had another invention idea, and after my great experience with Quirky.com and The Steak Plate, I decided to submit the idea to them. The idea is an App Enabled Blood Glucose Meter, check it out by clicking on the link.

App Enabled Blood Glucose Meter.

App Enabled Blood Glucose Meter.

What I learned while submitting my new idea is that Quirky has made some changes. When I submitted my Steak Plate idea, I had 30 days to get 200 votes. Their new process is you have 7 days to get…. an undefined number of “Thumbs Up’s”. The “Thumbs Up’s” are just a different name for the same thing (votes), but now you have no idea how many votes you need to make it to the next level. Very strange, I can’t make heads or tails of this.

To make things even more confusing, you can’t even tell how many “Thumbs Up’s” you’ve received. That’s right, you have no gauge for how successful your idea is.

I’m assuming these changes are because Quirky.com is getting bigger and bigger, there are more and more submissions, and they need to cut down on the number of ideas making to to Expert Review by making the process much harder. That being said, the lack of a clear goal, and no gauge of how successful your idea is (no tally of “Thumbs Up’s”) still seems strange.

I still think Quirky.com is the absolute best option to turn an idea into a real-world product, a product available on the shelves of Home Depot and Target. I expect Quirky to continue to make changes to their submission process as their site becomes more and more popular, making the process harder and harder. So go check it out, take 15 minutes to submit an idea, and you’ll be one-step close to being an inventor!

You Fool, Why Didn’t You Buy Twitter?

Twitter IPO History

A few months ago, I read an article about the Twitter’s IPO (“IPO” is a company’s stock market launch, Twitter IPO’d on November 7, 2013). In the article, the writer interviewed a lady who had thought about buying Facebook at its IPO but never followed through, and regretted this horribly. So she was making sure she didn’t miss out on Twitter, and planned on absolutely buying Twitter at its IPO. Well, how would she have done? Take a look at this chart of Twitter:

TwitterIPO1

Look at that, if this lady had bought Twitter at the IPO, she’d be up 62% thru December! Awesome.

But wait…it’s March 25th 2014 as I write this. What happened after December 2013? Let’s take a look at a chart from IPO date to today:

TwitterIPO2

Oh no, this isn’t looking so good. That 62% gain thru December 2013 is now only 7% thru March 25th 2014. You’d have paid $45/share at the time of the IPO, and as of today (March 25th, 2014) your shares would be worth $47.88. Not very exciting.

What’s the lesson here?

The lesson is the next time you regret not buying a stock, do the actual research to look at the results. Most of the time you didn’t miss much, and it was probably best you didn’t buy the stock, to tell you the truth.

Even if you had invested in Twitter, and sold at the top in late December 2013, how much would you have made? Let’s say you put $1,000 in, you would have made $606.00 in profit. Not that much money, and your time probably would have been better spent on other ways of earning money, such as increasing your skill-set for your job. Now if you love doing research on stocks and following the markets, that’s a different story, but if you’re just interested in stocks as a way to make a quick buck, you’re just going to make things hard on yourself.

 

Business #3 – Use Society6.com to Produce and Sell Your Art

 (Note: This is the third business in my 5 part series “5 Businesses in 5 Months“ - read more here and here, or click on the “My 5 Businesses” tab above. I’ll be starting 5 businesses to showcase some of the great entrepreneurial tools that are currently available to anyone and everyone with an internet connection. These tools are easy and fun to learn, and super affordable… because they’re free! Why am I doing this series? Everyone has a business idea. I want to make it as easy as possible for people to start their first business!) 

See my Society6.com business here, and buy prints of my amazing photos. 

Make the Jump to being a Professional Artist by Using Society6.com

So you’ve been taking photographs for years. Or you’re a painter…or your drawing skills are amazing.

You’ve built up a portfolio of great works, really impressive stuff.

Your family, your friends, your significant other - they’ve all seen your stuff. You have a flickr.com site, an Instagram.

You’re taking advantage of all the technology to show your art to the world. But how do you actually sell your art?

This is where Society6.com comes in. In under 15 minutes you can start selling your photographs (or paintings, or drawings) as professional quality prints. It’s so easy it is absurd, which lets you focus your energies on creating more art.

Society6

Society6.com

How Society6.com Works

Society6.com works a lot like Spreadshirt.com, the company that lets you start an online t-shirt company is less than an hour (read my post on spreadshirt.com here). Here’s all you need to do to get your online art store up and running:

  1. Go to Society6.com and create your account (which is easier than creating a Gmail account)
  2. Upload high quality images of your art
  3. Select how you’d like to sell your art (options include high-quality prints, t-shirts, iPhone cases, and coffee mugs)
  4. Click Save and your art is online and ready to sell. Just send out the link to your store to your friends, family, etc.

And you’re done! Society6 handles everything else for you. They handle printing, packaging, shipping, customer service, returns, and technical aspects of the online store. You, the store creator, take a commission off each work sold, and the commission is set by you.

There is no cost to setup an art store on Society6, it’s completely free. Society6 obviously has a markup priced into the art prints of yours they sell, which is how they make money and run a profitable business. The price is then further marked up from there, by you, depending on your commission.

So What Are The Downsides?

There’s only one downside that I came across, and that’s that there is no mobile app. Cameras are smart these days, and smartphone cameras are getting very good. I want to be able to take a photograph with my smart-camera or smartphone and immediately upload it to my Society6. But unfortunately I have to go home, transfer the picture from my camera or phone to my computer, then upload the picture from my computer to Society6. Come on, what’s next, you want me to setup the VCR to record Knight Rider? This isn’t the 80′s!

Go Create Your Art Store Today!

Getting started at Society6.com literally takes minutes. Their site functions wonderfully, especially with how fast the site is, which to me is the hallmark of a well-made website. And most importantly, having an online store to sell your art will inspire you to go out and create more art, I guarantee it. It certainly inspired me.

So what’s stopping you from being an entrepreneur today?

 

 

You Don’t Need a Stock Market Bubble to Have a Stock Market Crash

Bubble, Bubble, Bubble…

If you spend any time reading financial media (Wall Street Journal, Yahoo Finance, Forbes, etc) you will come across articles espousing the idea that a stock market bubble is here or just around the corner. And that a stock market crash will follow right after.

Now this is a bubble.

Now this is a bubble.

So let me be clear. A stock market crash will come (though I don’t think it’s coming any time soon, I think it’s at least a year away).

But a stock market bubble? No, we’re not going to see a stock market bubble for many years, and quite possibly more than a decade.

So why are all these financial news writers obsessed with calling the next stock market bubble? Well, it makes for an easy article which draws eyeballs. A writer has a deadline and doesn’t want to do any real research, so they just whip out a “stock market bubble” article.

Plus if they’re right, and a month after their “bubble” article the stock market does crash, they look like a genius (but of course, with “bubble” articles written daily on financial media sites, it’s just the law of averages one of these folks will get lucky with timing). And on the flip-side if they’re wrong with their bubble call, no one will even remember the article (that’s risk-reward gold right there career-wise).

A Little Bubble History

All the recent “bubble talk” in the media actually goes back to the last stock market crash in 2008. That’s right, pretty much as soon as the market bounced off its 50% drop in 2008, people were saying the market looked like a bubble (to be more precise, the market peaked in October 2007, fell all through 2008, and bottomed in March 2009).

But here’s the thing, the 2008 stock market crash was not the result of a stock market bubble. You know what a stock market bubble looks like? Just look to the late 1990′s.

In the late 1990′s, or in fact the entire 1990′s, we saw strong, steady gains in the stock market. The gains covered every sector of the market from the bluest of blue chips to the most speculative of technology companies. Annual stock market gains of 20% were expected by every Tom, Dick and Jane in the market. Times were good in the 1990′s, they were actually much better than good, they were f&*kng amazing! It was as easy as stick your money in an indexed mutual fund and watch it grow by 20% year after year. This type of market made everyone feel like a genius, it gave everyone extreme levels of confidence to put all of their investment and retirement money in the stock market and just watch it grow grow grow. How do you not feel like a financial genius in a market like that? And in the 1990′s you’d hear everybody talking about buying stocks – college kids, friends, the clerks in the golf pro shop, the manager at Little Caesar’s Pizza – no joke.

Compare this 1990′s collective view of the stock market to the circa-2007 view of the stock market. Nobody gave a rat’s ass about the stock market in 2007. Nobody wanted stocks. If you told your friends, family, or coworkers you were putting your 401(k) into stock mutual funds they’d look at you like you just said your retirement plan was to take all your money and go play the slots in Vegas. Stocks were for suckers, that was the view of the stock market in 2007. And if nobody likes stocks, then you don’t have a stock market bubble – by definition.

So No Stock Market Bubble in 2008, So Why Did the Stock Market Crash Then?

Ahhhhh….here’s where things get interesting, and where you can learn a bit about human nature.

There was no bubble in the 2008 stock market because the memories of the 1990′s stock market bubble were still very fresh in people’s minds. Too many people lost huge chunks of money buying eToys.com or some other “.com” disaster just a few years earlier, so there was no way they were going to bid stocks up again to stratospheric, 1000 P/E ratio valuations. “Fool me once,” and all that.

But don’t give people too much credit. They just moved from one bubble to the next, and 2007 just happened to be the year the housing market hit its peak. Folks just traded a stock market bubble for a housing market bubble. Poe-tay-toe, poe-tah-toe. Home prices had never seen a nationwide drop, never, going all the way back to the founding of our country. Then 2007-2009 hit, and drop those house prices did, all across the country. Ouch.

I remember sitting in a Borders Bookstore, and overhearing some 20-something guy (who I’d at first assumed was homeless before overhearing his conversation) telling a friend he ran into how he just bought a house and was flipping it, and how this friend should buy a house and do the same. Hmmmmm, this rekindled memories of overhearing stock market conversations in the late 1990′s while out in public. Or how about a friend of mine telling me a girl he just met at a bar told him she’d get him a loan to buy a house…even though he was very under-employed (working part-time) and was just out of college with huge student loan debt.

Rumors of a Stock Market Bubble Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

In the end, the 2008 stock market crash was caused by the bubble in the housing market, not by a bubble in the stock market.

And this is how the next stock market crash will occur – there will be a bubble in another market, a very big market (government bonds, currency, or some other over-investment scenario), and when the chickens come home to roost in that market, the stock market will pay the price too with a huge drop.