The Rollercoaster Ride of the Nasdaq: Big Drop Ahead?

Most of the major U.S. stock indices hit all-time highs recently. The Dow reached 18,288.63, the S&P 2117.39 — both of them records. But there’s one that didn’t quite break its high from 15 years ago… the Nasdaq.

This leads us to one of the biggest questions we’re looking at in the market: Are we going to see another tech bust like the one we saw in 2000?

Mark Cuban came out recently and said that today’s bubble in tech stocks is even worse than the dot-com bubble of 2000, with recent IPOs way overvalued and more illiquid than ever. And he’s right — these companies are highly illiquid and hard to cash out of in bad times.

As I explained recently, this bubble is not so different to the one prior. Sure, we have new contenders leading the charge — namely Apple, Google, and Facebook — and the entire tech sector is more mature than it was fifteen years ago… but to sit back and pretend that the Facebooks of today are fundamentally any different than the AOLs of yesterday is ridiculous!

I predicted the 2000 tech bubble as early as 1989, five years before it started building in 1994 and over a decade before it finally burst in 2000. I was looking at the convergence of the largest generation in modernrn history’s strongest spending acceleration, and Internrnet technologies popping into the mainstream like kettle cornrn on a stove. And I’m telling you, this time is not fundamentally any different.

Many analysts today are saying that this bubble is not nearly as overvalued in Price/Earnrnings (P/E) ratios as the Nasdaq bubble that peaked in early 2000.

Are they crazy to think that we would go to such great heights when AOL was valued at 400 times earnrnings again?

You can probably guess what my answer to that question would be, but the truth is, no, they’re not. They may be wrong, but they’re not crazy. And as much as I want to reach through the computer or television screen and smack whoever keeps spouting this nonsense, they have good reason to think it.

The fact is, most bubbles occur when everyone that witnessed the last great bubble, like 1925–1929, are dead. These sort of bubbles don’t typically happen this close to one another.

So why am I predicting another tech bubble just fifteen years after the last one?

Because in this unique era, we’ve had the stimulus (read: economic poison) of the Federal Reserve and other central banks that have kept the bubbles bubbling higher, to prevent the banking system from collapsing and deleveraging like it did in 1930–1933.

They have QE, or endless money printing to fill up the economic ditch.

Sure, we will not see overvaluation and speculation as great as in that once-in-a-lifetime bubble that led into the Great Depression. Even the bubble from late 1932 into early 1937, while extreme, didn’t see anywhere near the overvaluation levels of the 1929 top, as investors started to wise up. And today we have the crashes of 2000–2002 and 2008–2009 to sober us up a bit, not to mention a terrible geopolitical situation, unlike 1995–2000.

But that’s why anyone looking at today’s tech bubble expecting valuation levels like the ones we saw in early 2000 will be sorely disappointed when the markets correct themselves over the next few years — possibly as much as 70% by early 2017, and 80% by around 2020.

So the fact that the Nasdaq has already slipped below 4,900 after breaking 5,000 two short weeks ago should have you paying very close attention.

When all the major indices hit records at the beginning of the month, there was one resistance level left: the Nasdaq closing highs of 5,050 on March 10, 2000 and its intraday high of 5,132.

Will it creep back up to 5,000 and make that climb to a record high? I think that is likely. The rally we’ve experienced since early 2009 looks like a giant B-wave, or bear market rally, that should peak near 5,050. Following that we’ll see a major C-wave decline that is likely to hit two bottoms: the first near the 2009 low of 1,100 by early 2017, then a final bottom to as low as 800 by early 2020, where the first bubble began in late 1994. Just see the chart below…

nasdaq history

That’s a 78–84% decline in the next several years, and like I said, you can expect most of it — that first 78% — to hit by early 2017.

Apple, Google, and Facebook have been the leading stocks in this Nasdaq rally since early 2009, even more so since late 2011. Those are the companies I have my eye on.

Apple looks to have peaked at $133 recently and is already down 7.07% as of March 13. Google peaked back in April 2014 and is down 8.3% since then.

If the Nasdaq takes another turnrn higher, I’ll be looking for that retest at 5,050, and maybe as high as 5,132. But after that, expect the curtain to fall for tech stocks and the broader stock market as a whole. At a minimum I expect a 20% correction in 2015, but I think it is very likely we are seeing a major long-term top here that won’t be rivaled for decades.

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Harry Dent

Bestselling author and founder of Dent Research, an affiliate of Charles Street Research. Dent developed a radical new approach to forecasting the economy; one that revolved around demographics and innovation cycles.