Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Where will the Markets go from here

Interesting discussion going on in the previous post about where the prices are headed. Here's my take on the direction on prices.
I don't really know where the prices will be in a year from now or even in six months.
Honestly. If I have learnt anything from my previous experiences, it is that Mr Market has his own mind. Markets will be 'irrational', 'stupid', 'crazy', 'maniac', 'wow', 'wonderful','bullish' or whatever you want to call it for as long as people are willing and able to pay the current prices. We could be very close to the top or we could merely be beginning. After all, Calgary can easily beat Vancouver in housing prices. And so can Red Deer or Grand Prairie. There's really nothing stopping the prices from going that high or 'crazy'.
At the same time none of the bulls or real estate agents know much about prices either, except for their guess on general direction. Late last year, bulls and Realtors were talking about an orderly 15% or so advance in the prices in 2007. We have already covered that much ground in the first two months. Could 2007 be a repetition of 2006? Why not. Or could this be the year when everything finally ends, like it did in the US last year? May be.
Nobody can authoritatively predict the future course of a market that has been disconnected with fundamentals for this long.
I remember during the equities bull market of 1990s, a lot of long term bears were frustrated and humbled for several years before the bear market finally began. A lot of them called the market top in 1996, 1997 and 1998. The 1998 Asian crisis was dubbed as 'The Correction' when it proved to be merely a blip and equities marched with vigour never seen before. Were the bears right in complaining about markets during 1996-1999? Absolutely. Were they too premature? You bet.
But will those prices reflect any fundamental value? That is the question, value investors ask. If Oil prices were to fall to $20 (not that any one's cow expects that to ever happen, but a value investor must ask such questions), would the investment still be worthwhile? Would they incur huge losses if that were to happen? Most momentum investors or flippers don't think in these terms. Most don't even understand the basics of real estate market.

Obviously, no self respecting value seeker in real estate (or any other) market would be buying in Alberta at these prices.

It will be interesting to see how far momentum will take us.
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