by Gary Alexander

September 1, 2020

In the wake of Hurricane Laura last week, I saw this dramatic headline from Atlantic Magazine:

Number of Hurricanes per Month Graph

Graphs are for illustrative and discussion purposes only. Please read important disclosures at the end of this commentary.

Fifteen years ago, Hurricane Katrina rolled into New Orleans, due to a breach in the levees. Less than three weeks later, powerful Hurricane Rita struck the Texas coast, causing huge damage there. Then, the strongest-ever Atlantic storm came in October that year. In fact, three of seven most intense Atlantic hurricanes ever recorded came in a two-month period in 2005. #1-Wilma (October 15-27, 2005, hitting primarily in Florida), #4-Rita (September 18-26, 2005 in Texas), and #7-Katrina (August 23-31, 2005).

At the time, warnings were rife that this was the beginning of our sorrows, with massive hurricanes like these battering our coasts in triplicate (or worse) every year from then on, due to “global warming.”

But there wasn’t a serious hurricane landfall for the next 12 years, until 2017. That didn’t make the news!

Also, nobody reported the 92% decline in global death tolls from natural disasters over the last century from a peak of 5.4 million deaths from natural disasters in the 1920s. In the 2010s, just 0.4 million died from such disasters, even though population quadrupled in that time – so deaths per capita declined 98%.

Deaths from Catastrophes Chart and "Apocalypse Never" Book Cover Image

Graphs are for illustrative and discussion purposes only. Please read important disclosures at the end of this commentary.

During the 2020 pandemic lockdown, in June, Michael Shellenberger, a longtime environmental activist, came out with a controversial reversal from his former Apocalyptic absolutism: Apocalypse Never: Why Environmental Alarmism Hurts Us All, in which he explained “why people who are the most apocalyptic about environmental problems tend to oppose the best and most obvious solutions to solving them.”

In 2019, warnings were rife from most of the Democratic Presidential candidates – as well as celebrities and their hangers-on – that the world would end in 2030 unless we acted fast to create a Green New Deal to save the planet. In early 2019, newly elected 29-year-old Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) told The Atlantic that “the world is going to end in 12 years if we don’t address climate change.”

The next day, a reporter from the news site Axios called several climate scientists to get their reaction to her comment. Most disputed her time-specific claims. Andrea Dutton, a paleoclimate researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said, “For some reason, the media latched onto the 12-year claim, presumably because they thought it helped get across the message of how quickly we are approaching this, and hence how urgently we need action.” Another, Gavin Schmidt, a NASA climate scientist, said, “All the time-limited frames are bullshit. Nothing special happens when the ‘carbon budget’ runs out or we pass whatever temperature target you care about; instead, the costs of emissions steadily rise.”

The source, the IPCC, clearly did not ever say, “The world would end in 12 years…if temperatures rise a certain amount.” So, when you hear politicians or reporters say, “Scientists say…” they’re really saying “I don’t have the time or brains to explain all the details, so I’ll misquote or simplify scientists as saying…”

Consider this June Associated Press article, headlined, “UN Predicts Disaster if Global Warming Not Checked.” It was one of many summer articles about climate change. In the article, a “senior U.N. environmental official” claimed that if global warming isn’t reversed in 10 years, rising sea levels could wipe “entire nations … off the face of the earth,” causing “an exodus of eco-refugees.” It warned of melting ice caps, burning rain forests, and unbearable temperatures. We “have a ten-year window of opportunity to solve the greenhouse effects before it goes beyond human control,” said the U.N. official.

P.S. The June in question was 1989 and the U.N. official’s catastrophic deadline was 1999 – not 2030.

Real scientists use careful language, while journalists extrapolate worst-case models into likely scenarios.

The Doomsday Press Will Now Use September/October to Issue Stock Market Warnings

End-of-the-world warnings will span the spectrum from weather to politics, but we’re concerned with the stock market here. Ever since the market turned around on March 23, we’ve heard endless warnings of an imminent downturn, but the market keeps rising. It seems to know something the headline writers don’t.

The same seasonality that points to hurricanes peaking in September points to maximum stock market danger in September. Over the last century – as well as 50 years and 20 years – September is the worst month in stock market history, as measured by the DJIA, according to Bespoke Investment Group.

Average Monthly % Change Dow Jones Industrial Average Bar Chart

Graphs are for illustrative and discussion purposes only. Please read important disclosures at the end of this commentary.

Just like the scary hurricane headlines, you’ll see warnings about stock market bubbles or overvaluations in the press over the next month or two. The writers will use every imaginable trick to scare you into selling stocks. They’ll warn of a Biden victory, or a Trump victory, or a dead heat, or a rise in coronavirus cases, or regular flu cases this winter. There could be a rise in urban violence or a loss of small businesses due to the virus. Bearish writers have endless imagination. I should know. I was once one of them.

But look at what comes after September – the best quarter of the year, by far. In the last 20 years – which includes the terrible fourth quarters of 2008 and 2018 – fourth quarters have surpassed the previous three quarters combined. The calendar year has ended with a crescendo rivalling Tchaikovsky’s “War of 1812 Overture,” with cannons, carillon bells, and military brass. In average years, there’s football, feasting and fellowship, but with any luck this year will have a vaccine or a treatment for coronavirus, a clear election victory for one candidate or the other, and a grand re-opening of American business going into 2021.

But you won’t read that kind of hopeful scenario in any mainstream media. Bad news sells a lot better.

All content above represents the opinion of Gary Alexander of Navellier & Associates, Inc.

Please see important disclosures below.

About The Author

Gary Alexander

Gary Alexander has been Senior Writer at Navellier since 2009.  He edits Navellier’s weekly Marketmail and writes a weekly Growth Mail column, in which he uses market history to support the case for growth stocks.  For the previous 20 years before joining Navellier, he was Senior Executive Editor at InvestorPlace Media (formerly Phillips Publishing), where he worked with several leading investment analysts, including Louis Navellier (since 1997), helping launch Louis Navellier’s Blue Chip Growth and Global Growth newsletters.

Prior to that, Gary edited Wealth Magazine and Gold Newsletter and wrote various investment research reports for Jefferson Financial in New Orleans in the 1980s.  He began his financial newsletter career with KCI Communications in 1980, where he served as consulting editor for Personal Finance newsletter while serving as general manager of KCI’s Alexandria House book division.  Before that, he covered the economics beat for news magazines. All content of “Growth Mail” represents the opinion of Gary Alexander

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