The Official Bears Playbook

As a resident of the Chicago suburbs (and a Packer fan) I was excited when I saw a crumpled, muddy document under a METRA seat.

Could one of the Bears have carelessly lost his playbook? But that could not be. Bear players lived in the North suburbs, not in the West. Besides, playbooks are now on iPads. A rookie had his stolen last Spring, and it was quickly erased via a remote feature. So what was this?

Opening the document, I saw a subtitle: Official Guide to Successful Financial Blogging and Commentary. The introduction explained that the fast road to riches was to feed the insatiable public appetite for worries, “explanations,” and confirmation of their fears. This made more sense than a lost football playbook. Some of the “reliably bearish commentators” on my Twitter list also live in the West suburbs. This might be the real thing!




Nervously, I turned to the first page and saw a simple chart of instructions.


What to Say

Stocks moving higher

This is an extended bubble. It has no basis in fundamentals. This is a sugar high from the Fed and high debt levels.

US stocks outpacing the world

The US is part of the world economy. It cannot succeed by itself.

Dollar weaker

This portends stagflation! Growth is weakening and foreign goods cost more.

Dollar stronger

This threatens the corporate earnings of the many US companies with major overseas business.

An economic indicator misses expectations

This is just the start of a pattern of economic weakness.

Economic indicators show strength

The Fed will react by taking away the punch bowl even more quickly

An economic indicator pulls back slightly from a series of great results

It is rolling over! Produce a chart with a red arc over the most recent data point. It is easy to spot old peaks and put the arc over those as well.

Oil prices move higher

This signals inflation, faster Fed action, and the end of economic growth.

Oil prices move lower

Declining commodity prices are an early warning of a weaker economy. Prices have always declined before a recession.

Bitcoin spikes higher

Demonstrates the overly optimistic, bubble-everywhere mentality of investors

Bitcoin plunges

Even more evidence of reduced appetite for risk.

Small cap stocks lag in an overall rally

Shows lack of breadth – no confirmation of the broad market.

Small caps surge

Classic sign of a frothy market.

New highs in stocks or the economy

It doesn’t get any better than this. Look out below.

FAANG stocks surge

Market lacks breadth. Most gains from a few stocks.

FAANG stocks decline

Market cannot rise without leadership from FAANGs.


There is more, but it is too muddy to read. I could make out a single line at the bottom:

When in doubt, go for the easiest target around: Blame the Fed!

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One comment

  • Dave Lincoln November 29, 2018  

    Not sure if this tale is true or not Jeff but either way it’s brilliant and hilarious.

    You’re our needed reality check on the ubiquitous Chicken Littles out there just trying to get their page views up.