Stocks were rallying Friday morning, putting the Dow and S&P 500 on track for yet another record-setting session. If the gains hold, brace for another round of articles this weekend about how the market is in a “bubble” and there’s excessive froth in technology, specifically.
The "bubble" meme picked up steam in the past 10 days in the wake of Twitter’s blockbuster IPO, Snapchat reportedly turning down Facebook’s $3 billion offer and Christie’s record-breaking $691.5 million art auction, featuring the $142.2 million sale of a Francis Bacon triptych.
Indeed, there's a mini-bubble brewing of stories about how we’re living in a bubble, and the dangers thereof. Here's three examples:
“We’re living in a boom,” not a bubble, says Howard Lindzon, chairman of StockTwits. “These articles are all focused on reasons to keep you fearful and under-invested.”
As is always the case, there is risk in the stock market and “in any boom there’s going to be some silliness,” he continues. Specifically, he cites the price action in Tesla (until very recently) and 3D printing stocks, as well as Bitcoin’s surge.
“The younger generation have already forgotten 2008 and there’s a fear of missing out,” Lindzon says. “I get a little nervous. We’re at the beginning of the phase where people are going to get hurt if they’re not careful.”
But “calling something a ‘bubble’ is just as dangerous as someone calling the end of the world,” he continues. “You don’t yell ‘fire’ if there’s no proof.”
The proof will come when major averages start rolling over but “right now you can continue to dip your toe in the water,” says Lindzon, who reiterates prior bullishness on Google and says the negativity around Apple is overdone. (He is long both stocks.)
As for Facebook's offer for Snapchat, Lindzon compares that to ExxonMobil wildcatting in the arctic. "If Exxon spends $2 billion drilling in the arctic but finds no oil, do we hear about it?" he asks. Facebook is "drilling for attention and engagement" and trying to win the battle for "global thermal mobile domination."
To me, those comparing the current cycle to the late-1990s dot.com mania are missing one critical element: Back then, the conversation was dominated by a view that you “can’t miss” with tech stocks, a mass delusion which repeated itself in the early 2000s when people said housing prices “always go up.”
Who is saying that now?
Until the conventional wisdom turns to “you can’t miss” from “beware of bubbles,” let’s put a moratorium on all the “party like it’s 1999” references.