by Rick Ackerman
With the nation in deep crisis, stocks continued on their heedless path higher. The seemingly demented rally is demonstrating yet again that bull markets at some point decouple so completely from reality as to mock those who thrive by promoting them. By now, the spun story that investors are looking past the pandemic and focusing on renewed growth is sounding increasingly farfetched. Some economists estimate that it could take more than a decade for economic activity to return to what it was before Covid-19 hit. We don’t need economists to prepare us for the worst anyway, since we can see the truth of what they are saying all around us. Huge write-offs yet to come will dwarf the relatively paltry trillions pushed, in the name of stimulus, into economic dead zones. What the money has stimulated, mainly, is the markets, but with some big holes. For example, the collapse of just one category of financial derivatives — ETNs, or exchange trade notes — threatens investors with losses of as much as $7 trillion. It is never coming back.