The sell-off in technology is more about market reversion to the mean than it is indicative of some gloom and doom scenario where technology stocks lead the rest of the market lower.
Credit Suisse just released a report to clients where they are neutral to slightly cautious on technology stocks for the next 3 months, but remain positive longer out.
There are many bottoms-up drivers in the technology sector right now including the new iPhone, continued increase in cloud usage, greater adoption of artificial intelligence across various sectors, and autonomous driving. Technology adoption and market penetration are likely to increase over the next couple of years.
The S&P 500 is dominated by a few big tech companies. Innovations such as more automation in the grocery industry from Amazon, the iPhone 8, and Tesla’s Model 3 are catalysts for the S&P 500 to move even higher.
Reversion To The Mean
The green line is what I would calculate the mean to be at. As you can see, QQQ has overshot the mean over the last few months and so a move back towards the 10 year mean line is normal.
Fiscal policy will also be a catalyst for continued growth such as tax reform. The medical device tax, investment tax, tanning tax, Medicare Hospital Insurance surtax, the health insurance fee and tax on brand pharmaceutical manufacturers, all will likely be repealed at some point in the future.
Credit Suisse set negative expectations for consumer goods. Stocks that trade in the consumer goods sector are likely going to be stocks we should avoid. Fundamentals and valuation are likely to continue to deteriorate in clothing, department stores, grocery, and packaged food.
Autonomous driving is dumb. In my surveys of asking family members and friends, there’s a whole ZERO percent interest in autonomous self-driving cars.
Most Americans don’t even want a chip on a credit card let alone a car that drives itself.
Technology companies think they are smarter than consumers. Tech companies believe that once they wow us with the reality of self-driving cars, we’re all just going to go out and buy one like a bunch of sheep, sheep led to the slaughter like this guy.
Josh Brown, a Navy Seal who served on Seal Team 6 (the unit that killed Osama Bin Laden), died from autonomous driving technology.
The big news last week was that Intel announced that it would be joining the push to create fully autonomous vehicles, investing over $250 million in the next two years to facilitate this development.
Tech gone wrong is tech that develops without much concern for producing what the public wants. Reality check: the average person doesn’t care about autonomous driving and believes it’s downright dangerous.
How are autonomous cars going to respond to an ambulance racing through an intersection? What about an electrical component on a circuit board in the autonomous driving car going out? Are you going to have about 2 seconds to grab the wheel to take control before a crash occurs?
Capitalism sometimes gets out of whack where you have greedy geniuses running around trying to force the public on a ‘fantastic’ new technology. Remember the tech wearables market that was supposed to explode higher? The only thing it did was implode. Intel is laying off a major portion of its wearables group.
Technology bloggers like to write about new technologies like autonomous driving cars. Mainstream media groups like to report on autonomous driving cars because it’s something interesting that people like to read about in horror and fascination. But where the rubber meets the road is what consumers want. In all the self-driving car hype, I see little evidence that consumers are willing to spend thousands of more dollars on a self-driving car.
I see billions of dollars being spent on autonomous driving technology and I see tepid consumer interest at best. That’s a dangerous combination for investors, and I think we could see the autonomous driving car fad die out after tech companies finally realize that most of the public doesn’t trust or want self-driving cars.
I predict that a Trump win means down for the economy at first, then upward as the US consumer strengthens from domestic job growth.
The down first move in the economy will come from inefficiencies caused by forcing multinational corporations to bring domestic production facilities back to the US or face steep tariffs.
Several traders have emailed me asking what stocks are good to short or go long in a Trump Administration.
Here is how a Trump win is likely to impact industries negatively.
Tesla is the big driver of autonomous vehicles. Tesla is shipping all new Model 3 cars with the hardware for full autonomy. These autonomous cars are also electric cars. Tesla’s new Model 3, after tax credits, was priced for under $30,000. The Trump Administration is likely to be unfriendly towards companies like Tesla that benefited under the Democrats crony capitalism. The Trump Administration will likely offer few proposals for combating climate change. Trump will likely not pursue “green policies,” which means the discontinuation of “green” tax credits like the kind Tesla benefits from. Without these generous tax credits, Tesla automobiles will be more expensive which will slow purchases and slow the spread of the self-driving car.
Industrial IoT trends have been towards automation and replacing human workers with machines and robots. Trump has promised to renegotiate trade deals to bring manufacturing jobs back to the US. If IoT trends are taking away US jobs, it’s a pretty good bet that a Trump administration will advocate against industrial machines and robots that replace human labor.
Trump has threatened to cut off remittance send from the US to Mexico until Mexico pays for a border wall. Trump is considering forcing Mexico to pay for the wall by invoking the US Patriot Act to cut off portions of the flow of money between the US and Mexico until Mexico makes a one-time $5 billion to $10 billion payment for the wall. Mexico is the largest receive destination for US remittances, cashing an estimated $25 billion in 2015. Western Union recently doubled the size of its retail network in the country, and MoneyGram unveiled a product in partnership with Walmart to make it easier and less expensive to send money from the US to Mexico. Cutting off the flow of money from the US to Mexico, even temporarily, would negatively impact Western Union and MoneyGram.
A Trump Administration will focus on bringing manufacturing back to America, specifically targeting firms like Ford and Apple to build products in the US rather than in Mexico or China. To implement a plan of bringing manufacturing back to the US, a Trump Administration will need to use tariffs and issue tougher manufacturing restrictions. This will likely cause a major decrease in international business spending as more businesses are either unable to make transactions due to restrictions or unwilling to pay the extra fees.
Net neutrality is the concept that all data transmitted over the internet should be treated equally. Trump has not released official statements about the topic of net neutrality, but he has expressed distaste for President Obama’s approach. A Trump Administration could push to change the FCC’s net neutrality rules which would result in different price points for various data types and enable service providers to throttle data delivery.
In a Trump Administration, technology companies will likely be forced to change encryption policies to provide backdoor access to the US government. Trump supported the court order calling for Apple to facilitate access to an encrypted iPhone used by the San Bernardino shooter and asked consumers to boycott the company until it complied. Civil liberties groups are likely to take the Trump Administration to court. Requiring companies to provide backdoor access to the US government would violate consumers’ trust and likely lead to a decline in users of these companies’ products at first. Over time, though, consumers will likely not care.
Policy changes by a Trump Administration would harm tech companies that manufacture overseas, like IBM and Apple. Apple’s iPhone is likely going to become much more expensive for US consumers.
Apple and Google make more of their revenues overseas than within the US. Higher tariffs and protectionist policies could make it more expensive for tech companies to move and sell their products around the world. The broader use of trade tariffs would likely spur more countries to invest in domestic technology sectors within their own countries and to reduce their reliance on US technology providers, which would further hurt US tech multinational corporations.
Large mergers between service providers and digital content companies could face greater scrutiny. Trump said that the $85 billion AT&T and Time Warner merger would not be approved by a Trump administration because “it’s too much concentration of power in the hands of too few.” A Trump Administration could lead to a decrease in M&A activity.
The technology sector has been granting more H-1B immigration visas to highly skilled workers with STEM backgrounds.
A Trump Administration will likely include fees that will make it more expensive for companies to hire foreign workers through the H-1B visa program. If such fees are enacted, it would likely drive up wages for highly skilled IT talent even further across the technology sector.
Protectionist policies and tariffs will increase the cost of goods. Trump wants to tax US companies that choose to manufacture goods overseas. Such a policy would harm retail companies that manufacture their goods overseas. Most retail companies will raise their prices to offset these tax penalties and the added cost of building manufacturing plants in the US.
E-commerce companies are pushing to deliver products to consumers as fast as possible. Think Amazon, and it’s Amazon Prime membership with free two-day delivery as well as its drones for remote area deliveries. This fast delivery involves automation within distribution centers. A Trump Administration will likely move to protect American workers from being displaced by machines thus forcing e-commerce companies to invest in traditional forms of labor over cheaper and faster new ones.
While a Trump Administration will be great for the US economy long term IMO, short term, I think we get a pullback in the economy while corporations adjust to higher costs and lower sales.
As wages rise, more and more business owners are turning to machines instead of human labor. President Obama and Democrats have spent the last 8 years replacing high-paying jobs in the manufacturing sector with low-paying jobs in the services and health care sectors. But in all fairness, both Republicans and Democrats are to blame for outsourcing, offshoring, and the elimination of good-paying manufacturing jobs. Both Democrats and Republicans have demonstrated how not to build up a middle class that will support the economy.
Technology is a rising threat to jobs as more robots are used in the workplace. Since wages began rising in 2015, there has been a significant increase in the implementation of robots, starting with the fast-food industry.
In my home state of California, Zume Pizza has replaced its human chefs with robots, cutting labor costs in half. TechCrunch visited Zume Pizza for a tour of their robotic pizza factory.
In response to recent minimum wage hikes, Wendy’s is now replacing fast food workers with robots. The fast food chain announced it would start automating all of its restaurants by installing self-serve kiosks in 6,000 locations by the end of the year. Although McDonalds has already been experimenting with kiosks, Wendy’s announcement is the largest roll-out to date and will likely spark a trend leading to fully robotic restaurants.
Uber is experimenting with using self-driving cars in parts of America, and there’s a push to start using self-driving trucks for long-distance deliveries.
Research firm Forrester reports that robots could eliminate many positions in customer service, trucking and taxi service which amounts to about 6% of the U.S. job market.
Robots are slowly making their way into every industry. ICICI Bank Smart Vault now offers customers the ability to access their valuables 24 hours a day while reducing their labor costs to provide such a service.
Royal Bank of Scotland recently announced that it would soon unveil Luvo — a “human” AI that can answer questions online and mimic human empathy. This robot will be able to serve customers 24 hours a day, reduce the workforce and cuts costs.
A Swedish bank plans to use the robot Amelia for customer services. And companies in China, Japan, and Taiwan have already implemented Softbank’s Pepper robot.
Previous technological revolutions over the centuries have mainly focused on enhancing human productivity. My concern with the robotic revolution is that its goal is increasingly that of replacing human productivity.
Alex Tabarrok and Tyler Cowen of George Mason University, who had a significant impact on my life through their International Trade course, debate the issue of whether machines will take our jobs. Tyler Cowen agrees with me that the robotics revolution is one of the leading causes of concern for the future of the US economy. Alex Tabarrok’s “don’t worry, be happy” argument is the same one we heard regarding international trade in the 90s and about how it was going to create so many jobs in the US. After 20 years of economic data, we can now say that international trade was not so good for the US economy. Economists underestimated Game Theory and the “cheat” motivator regarding currency devaluation and government intervention in the free market.
Here is the debate between Tyler Cowen and Alex Tabarrok in its entirety and you can decide who you agree with more.