2 clear signs the stock market ‘endgame’ is approaching

Myles Udland

Is this the top?

In a note to clients on Friday, UBS strategist Julian Emanuel suggests that a few signs pointing to the “endgame” for stocks are coming into view.

The basic outline is that once the Fed starts raising interest rates the wheels are set in motion for the stock market to go lower.

Emanuel notes that both the 2000 and 2007 stock market sell-offs have been preceded by a collapse in merger activity and a rotation into financial stocks and out of utility and consumer staples.

The same themes have been playing out in markets recently, and it has Emanuel nervous.

“And while age alone does not portend the definitive end of a Bull Market,” Emanuel writes, “the current rally, at 2,611 days, is now the second longest in modern history, behind only the 1990-2000 bull market.

“Yet the current milestone comes just as ‘Signs of The Top’ become clearer — a surge in M&A activity in 2015 exceeding the heady days of 1999-2000 and 2007 followed by a lull in deal-making catalyzed by extreme market volatility, ending in the largest quarterly rebound since 1933, from -11.4% to close the quarter +0.8%.”

Mergers are seen as possibly the clearest sign that investors and corporate managements are confident in the current market and economic cycle. You could perhaps see merger activity as the corporate equivalent of a consumer-confidence survey.

Additionally, markets have seen a rotation into financial stocks — which are expected to benefit from higher rates — and away from consumer staples and utilities, which are often big shareholder-return stocks that supplement fixed income in times of low rates.

Emanuel again:

The equity market volatility comes on the heels of the Fed’s first rate hike in 9 years, on 12/16/2015, with the first hike in the cycle traditionally being the demarcation point for the ‘countdown to the bull market peak’ with an intervening ‘time to the top’ of as short as 8 months to as long as 41 months post the first hike.

The leadership change of recent weeks, into Financials and away from Utilities and Staples is reminiscent of the last stages of the 1999-2000 bull market top.

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And so simply put, two things are happening in markets right now that have historically preceded the end of big bull market runs.

Now, despite the warning signs coming from the market, Emanuel still thinks we’ll see new highs in the stock market this year, with his year-end price target for the S&P 500 sitting at 2,175. On Friday morning the S&P 500 was trading at about 2,060.

And as Emanuel notes, stocks usually do go higher after the beginning of an interest-rate-increase cycle. But it is this interest-rate increase that puts the eventual demise of the market in plain sight.

7 Hacks That Will Improve Your Life

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Do you ever feel overwhelmed at work, like you don’t know why you’re there because you just can’t seem to accomplish anything? You’ve tried every trick in the book, you’ve scoured the web for tips on getting more organized, but the idea of becoming more productive just makes you dizzy.

Well we’ve compiled a few fresh ideas that’ll trick your brain into being better, faster, stronger with little to no effort!

1. Think Positive. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: the more positively you think about yourself and your work, the more productive and accomplished you’ll actually become! Never underestimate the power of self-validation. The more you believe that what you’re doing makes an impact, the faster it will manifest into truth. If you think of yourself as unproductive, you will become unproductive.

2. Eat Smart…foods! You are what you eat: eat junk, work like junk. Eat strong, work like a beast! Foods that have high levels of caffeine and processed sugar are terrible for brain activity. That grande latte with an extra shot of espresso or that canned energy drink might give you a jolt of energy and make you feel like you’re awake and getting a lot done, but in reality, you’re just experiencing an overwhelming rush of adrenaline and that always wears off. Instead, try boosting your brain cells with magnesium and fiber packed foods like pumpkin and sunflower seeds, nuts, blueberries, fish, tomatoes, dark green vegetables, avocado and chocolate…oh, yes we did! Just make sure it’s at least 70% dark chocolate or even a handful of cocoa nibs mixed in with some Greek yogurt or sugar-free oatmeal.

3. Get Smelly. Aromatherapy has been used for centuries for several purposes. The olfactory bulbs are little nuggets of nerves connected to the parts of the brain that control processing learning, memory and emotions. The best scents for boosting productivity are lemon and other citrus fruits as well as cinnamon. Lavender, peppermint and rosemary are all very calming, which can help you relax and focus on work, but you risk your workspace smelling like Grandmother’s cottage. You can boost the effect by drinking hot tea with lemon or keeping lemon and orange infused water in a bottle on your desk.

4. Pump It! Get the blood flowing and oxygen circulating by working out while you work. Check out some of our previous posts on getting a little exercise at work for some ideas. In general, just walking around while making your phone calls, or hand-delivering your memos instead of texting them gets your heart rate up and your brain functioning at top performance!

5. Do Puzzles. Exercise your brain, too, by keeping some puzzles at hand. Crosswords, a Rubik’s cube, Sudoku, and other brain teasers are a great way to take a mental break from work, but exercise cognition and problem solving skills.

6. Be a Dictator…to your computer. Programs and software like Dragon are great. Load them onto your computer and you can just verbalize any file you’re searching for, rather than doing it manually and working longer on one thing. Plus, by vocalizing tasks, you are able to focus more intensely on them rather than getting derailed by another train of thought. The riptide of the stream of consciousness is a hazard that no lifeguard can save you from!…wait…what were we just saying…?

7. Last but not least, take a nap! You hated naps as a kid, you abused them throughout college, and now you secretly plan to bring your blanket and pillow for a secret cat nap under your desk every day. Well don’t feel bad. A shocking number of Americans are coming to work sleep-deprived, which makes them sloppy and slow about their work. Falling asleep at your desk is considered humiliating and lazy. However, in countries like Japan, if an employee falls asleep at their desk for a few minutes, they are considered to be dedicated workers and are left alone! A short 20 minute snooze can reset your break, enhance awareness and creativity, and of course, boost your mood! Have a tricky problem to solve at work? Sleep on it! Take a few minutes to close your eyes and the answer will be clear once you’re ready to work again. Several modern companies have facilities on site where employees are encouraged to nap, but that’s not in everyone’s budget. During your lunch break, go out to your car or a seat outside and just relax for a bit and see what a difference it makes!

Well, there you have it. Put a few of these life hacks in place and try to measure just how much more productive your life becomes over the next week of two. We’re confident that any number of these will add up to a much happier, healthier, and more productive you!

The Next Wave in Prosthetics…for Your Brain!

Conditions like PTSD, blindness, Alzheimer’s, and schizophrenia are incurable. Or are they? Ed Boyden, an MIT Media Lab lead in the realm of neuro-science, has found a way to combine brain surgery and light to not only treat but also reverse the effects of damage to brain cells! Boyden has proposed and practiced methods of introducing light-sensitive proteins into neurons to improve their function. His incredible work sheds light on what may be a medical miracle! So plug in your headphones or let this innovation blast through your office!

Benefits of Working for a Startup

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The graduation season is bearing down. Soon, the job boards will burst to life with eager graduates with all of the skills, and next to none of the experience. Competition for working in big name companies is steep because who wouldn’t want to be aligned with a group that comes with stocks, a cushy paycheck, and prestige? The reality is, there are so many reasons to seek employment with startup groups instead!

1. You’ll have more opportunities and responsibility. While a smaller startup company won’t have the budget to pay you as well as a long-established firm, what you’ll get back in experience will be worth gold in the long run. On a smaller team, everyone has to wear several hats and perform all sorts of necessary tasks to keep costs down and make sure everyone is pulling their weight. As time goes by, you will perform fewer tasks, but be held accountable for excelling at the ones you still do.

2. That said, your successes (and shortcomings) will be amplified. With fewer people in your workplace, everyone just knows everyone else’s business. That’s what happens and there’s no avoiding it. In a larger corporation, a mistake is easily overlooked or credit can be passed down or snatched up at a given moment. In a smaller group, when you succeed, you will be lavished with praise and recognition. However, that also means that if an error comes back to you, you WILL be held accountable. On the other side of that same coin, that means that you will be more motivated to pay attention to small details and making sure the job gets done right the first time. You won’t dare grown complacent and will actually learn to work harder and hold yourself to a higher standard.

3. You’ll learn from and be mentored by real pioneers and innovators! The person who started the company did so because they have a vision and a drive. Imagine picking their brain! They are natural leaders, problem solvers, they think in the abstract and aren’t afraid to take risks! Can you imagine just being in the presence of that sort of greatness every day? And eventually, some of that greatness may rub off on you.

4. You’ll learn valuable financial tips and tricks. When you have to tighten your belt and cut back on personal expenses (that $50 a month gym membership can wait), you become more responsible with your finances. Special occasions where you actually go out on the town or treat yourself feel even better. You’ll learn to recognize the monetary but also intrinsic value of hard work because every day, you’ll see your efforts reflect in your bank account. It’ll be slow at first, but you’ll have some insight into what true pride of ownership feels like. You’ll appreciate others who are self-sustainable like you and you’ll forge better relationships from that.

5. You’ll be a part of a dynamic atmosphere. Startup companies feel like small, professional families. You will grow incredibly close to the people you work with because you are all driven by one common goal and one common vision: to see the mission of the company come to life. And to do that together feels incredibly empowering! In this kind of a work culture, you never have to struggle with bureaucracy, red tape, or the feeling that someone is constantly looking over your shoulder.

6. Your strengths will be valued in a way they might not be in a big company. The skills and talents that only YOU can contribute will be put to the test, practiced, improved and valued for their impact.

Later down the line, sure your pay might increase, and you’ll soon be managing others instead of being managed. But we have to talk before we fly. Getting in on the ground floor of a startup company is the way of the future!

 

Motivated Mentality is Mostly in the Mind

It’s the start of a new week, and while the weather is finally on the upswing again, that doesn’t stop us from thinking that once again the weekend is a long way away. That said, how do you stay motivated when all seems lost? There are only so many quotes you can read, only so many cheerful little desk ornaments you can buy, only so many cheerful co-workers with the pasted-on smiles you can take.

The answer, young paduan, lies within you.

With your mind in the right place, you can motivate yourself easily and carry those tools for success and positivity every day. The best part is, because these tools are all metaphorical, they don’t clutter your desk!

First, make a personal commitment to yourself. Relax: we’re not asking you to put a ring on it. Just make a promise to yourself that you’ll do the absolute best you can and stick to it! By promising yourself to follow through, you’re promising not to disappoint yourself. We are our biggest critics, and we all know how it feels to fall short. Commit yourself to never feeling that way again and day by day, it’ll get easier to follow through. People will look to you as someone who is determined and focused and that, in turn, will get you the respect and recognition you deserve. Instead of working with gaining respect in mind, work with the purpose of being motivated.

As cheesy as it sounds, remind yourself of your strong points. Remember way back when you applied for the job and you were asked in the interview “What do you feel are your strengths?” Hopefully, you didn’t just blurt out the first cliche that came to mind. Instead, focus on something that actually makes you stand out from the rest of the workplace. Every day when you look at yourself in the mirror or the reflective edge of your desktop computer, remind yourself of why you’re so awesome. The validation will come after you tell yourself the same thing over and over. It’s like brainwashing, but the socially acceptable kind: the kind that will result in confidence.

Think of yourself as unstoppable. Use it as your code word,…heck, use it as a password! Reminding yourself that you can overcome challenges will make you believe that you can do anything you want and that no matter how unmotivated you may feel, you have it within yourself to see things through.

Finally, reward yourself! Give yourself the praise and reward you deserve. Your efforts should go rewarded, even if you just take yourself out for a treat or buy a little gift for yourself. People who work themselves to the bone but forget to reward their efforts often burn out and lose motivation. Like a mouse receiving a piece of cheese for pushing a button, motivation is a learned behavior. You have to subconsciously learn that you’ll get something out of following through with your plans and working harder than before.

Keep upping your game this week and see how you feel. We bet you’ll feel pretty good and even more motivated to come back to work the next week!

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Hack the Hackers! Protect Yourself From Digital Spies!

Recently, hackers have made headlines whether they are debated anti-hero group, Anonymous, or possible terrorist. “Hacking” is a hot topic and a hot-button topic: who isn’t sucked in by a headline that involves someone’s personal information being hacked. It’s a term jokingly thrown around by “life-hackers” who are really just offering tips and tricks to making some aspect of life a little easier or more convenient.

 

The ugly side of hacking is when someone’s information– personal, financial, etc– is put at risk.
With so much of our information and personal lives put in the digital sphere, there is a high chance that you might be hacked. But fear not: there are simple methods you can use to protect yourself.
Netflix is an easy target for lower-tier hackers. Imagine settling in for a nice binge-sesh and you realize all of your “Sharktank” episodes have been replaced by “Tila Tequila.”
whaaa
This would be our reaction, too.
Unfortunately, the truth is stranger than fiction. “Dark Web” black markets steal and sell your Netflix account information like a pickpocket on the street would steal and sell your credit cards.
Ward off hackers by staying on top of your account and following these simple steps:
1. Go to your account page and sign out EVERYONE who has access
2. Confirm
3. Sign in and change your password. See this link for building an impervious password! DO NOT use password generators. They can also be hacked! http://www.connectsafely.org/tips-to-create-and-manage-strong-passwords/
Some general hack-proof practices to keep in mind are…
1. Be wary of hotspots. It’s incredibly easy to spy on your emails and online activity in public Wi-Fi hotspots. It’s not 100% inevitable that someone else in that coffee shop will be eavesdropping on your Facebook page while you sip your latte, but it’s not 100% secure either.
Verify the hotspot ID and password with the staff, not other customers. Hackers might go the easy route and set up a hotspot similar to the one being offered. Also limit the type and number of sites you visit while using a public hotspot. That lessens the likelihood that you’ll reveal anything worth stealing by a hacker.
2.Get a password manager. This means shelling out some cash, but in the name of protection, it’s worth it in the long run. Programs like 1Password are available across several platforms including Android, iPhone, Mac, and Windows. It utilizes Dropbox instead of the Cloud to store your information and relies on one VERY secure skeleton key password that then gives you access to ALL of your passwords. While a little labyrinthian in theory, it makes hacking your data much more difficult.
3. Make a VPN your BFF. As opposed to an IP address, which broadcasts the websites you use, a Virtual Private Network makes monitoring your online activity more difficult to trace. Information going between your computer and the VPN is encrypted as opposed to unencrypted IP addresses.
So do your research. Find password managers that have reputable developers and be aware of who else has access to public hotspots. In the digital age, it’s best to be armed to the teeth when it comes to protecting yourself and your private information.
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