Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Contrarians Beware: Putin May Mark the Top of Emerging Markets

From Barron's:

The Russian president clearly won't be running an online retailer when his term is up next year, but he will remain as the power behind the throne as prime minister.

Putin also shares with's chief executive the distinction of being named a Time magazine Person of the Year.

That just may have implications for investors. Paul Macrae Montgomery, who publishes the insightful Universal Economics newsletter, has found after studying Time covers going back to the 1920s that the newsweekly usually catches trends in their waning months. A few months later, the trend reverses with remarkable regularity, he adds.

Editors like to think they're more informed and knowledgeable about what's going on, but in truth we mainly reflect what's in the zeitgeist around us. Which means, of course, that the story they run on the cover, page one or at the top of the home page already has been well discounted by the market.

For example, since the Economist portrayed the dollar going down in flames on its cover a few weeks ago, the greenback has moved modestly but steadily higher.

So what does Putin have to do with the markets? Consider when Bezos was named Time Person of the Year -- 1999, just months before the peak of the Nasdaq in early 2000 and bursting of the tech bubble....MORE