July 2018 - Introduction -

The world is not about to end, and i`m not a doomsayer, although I have caught myself saying “this will not end well” more than a few times over the past years. Initially I started telling family and friends about the “irrational exuberance” that private and listed companies, stock indexes and even central banks, were portraying. But when this irrational exuberance started growing into people`s daily lives, I felt like I had to become a bit more vocal and warn my Facebook friends in the form of “Bubble Update” posts, since the outcome of irrational exuberance almost always ends in tears.

“Clearly, sustained low inflation implies less uncertainty about the future, and lower risk premiums imply higher prices of stocks and other earning assets. We can see that in the inverse relationship exhibited by price/earnings ratios and the rate of inflation in the past. But how do we know when irrational exuberance has unduly escalated asset values, which then become subject to unexpected and prolonged contractions as they have in Japan over the past decade?”
- Ben Bernanke -

Irrational exuberance is a state of mind that has intrigued me since I made my first stock trades at the age of 15. It was 1997 and the markets were roaring. I remember visiting Nasdaq.com those final years of the 90`s and checking out the top 50 gainers of the day. The top 20 stocks always had gains of over 100%. Too young to understand how I could trade U.S. stocks, and not enough money to make a real difference, I decided to stick to Dutch stocks and trade local darlings like Getronics and KPN. I was intrigued by the big swings in prices, and only found out after the dot-com bubble burst that these swings were highly unusual and the gains extremely irrational.
This is how my passion for finding bubbles started.

"Stock market bubbles don't grow out of thin air. They have a solid basis in reality, but reality as distorted by a misconception."
- George Soros -

This newsletter is a compilation of bubbles that are brewing on the consumer level, the company level, as well as the government level. Many bubbles are currently growing at the same pace all over the world and are all fuelled by the same thing; years and years of loose monetary policies all over the world. It is almost impossible to pinpoint which bubble will pop first, and what chain reaction it will cause, which is why I am indiscriminately showing you all the charts that, in my opinion, are worthy of the hallmark “bubble”. There`s never a bubble without a bottom being on the opposite side, so i`ve decorated this newsletter with a few “opportunities” as well.
My first prediction in 2018 has already taken place; On the 9th of February I posted that in my opinion oBike, one of the most popular bike-sharing companies in Singapore, would disappear soon and that my friends should take out their 50-dollar deposits “now that they still can”. Two weeks ago, oBike announced that they would leave the Singapore market, and already 3000 complaints have been filed at the Consumer Association of Singapore, asking for deposit refunds. Was this the trigger that motivated me to finally write this newsletter, after years of thinking about it? Perhaps.

“Speculative bubbles do not end like a short story, novel, or play. There is no final denouement that brings all the strands of a narrative into an impressive final conclusion. In the real world, we never know when the story is over.”
- Robert Shiller -

Twitter is my main source of information, and I must tell you that some of the visual content is not mine. I have created most of the charts via the Federal Reserve Economic Data (FRED) website, which I highly recommend visiting.
This newsletter has purely been created to accumulate the most interesting—and sometimes frightening—charts, tables and articles that i`ve come across over the past few weeks. This newsletter should not be seen as investment advice and all opinions are my own. I am not a financial adviser.

Enjoy the ride, and don`t forget to stay positive after reading this newsletter, this too shall pass!

Robbert-John Sjollema

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The information contained in this publication is not intended to constitute individual investment advice and is not designed to meet your personal financial situation. The opinions expressed in this publication is that of the publisher and is subject to change without notice. The information in this publication may become outdated and there is no obligation to update any such information.