If, like me, you've ever been stuck in a serious traffic jam and didn't know why, then I think you know what it's like to be in this market.
At first glance, when you got on the highway, all was clear. You could see a mile or two ahead, but you couldn't see the problem down the road.
Then, you see a sign above you that says, "Accident ahead, expect delays."
Now you know why you are jammed, but you can't tell if it's a fender-bender or a 10-car pile up.
And that's where we are in this market.
It's clear there is some kind of problem ahead, whether its peak economic growth, peak profits, a looming trade war, political upheaval at home or a geopolitical event abroad.
To me, the market appears to be signaling trouble, with all of the above being possible culprits, either individually, or in combination.
Hence, I have been suggesting that this is a market in which one sells the rallies, rather than buys the dips.
Steve Shobin, a Wall Street veteran and astute technical analyst, often talked about the "news response syndrome." This was a technician's way of saying that markets know more than we do at any point in time.
If the market rises on bad news, it is climbing a "wall of worry."
If it rises on good news, the world must be alright.
But if it sells off on good news, such as strong economic numbers, record profits and possible break-throughs on global issues, that "message of the markets" (my version of the "news response syndrome,") might just be ominous.
I have come to believe that the message just might be more worrisome than many currently imagine.
Even emerging markets, said by Wall Street analysts to be a safe-haven, of sorts, from cyclicality in developed markets, have fallen hard in recent days. That shows that markets are unified in their concerns about future growth and all manner of heightened risks.
China's stock market, for instance, is among the worst performers in the world this year despite economic growth that topped expectations in the first quarter.
Oil and interest rates, some say, are rising in tandem because of strong global growth and a receding risk of financial deflation. But to me, the risk of trade wars around the world and a shooting war in the Middle East are more likely the reasons for those tandem moves.
The conundrum of rising rates and a flattening yield curve may send a dual signal of risk: an overheating economy which leads to a more aggressive Federal Reserve, which leads to a downturn, or recession, in the next nine to 12 months.
Industrial stocks are sending that message, quite clearly, in addition to exhibiting concerns about trade relations among the U.S. and its major trading partners.
To add insult to injury, tax reform, which is unlikely in my mind to boost economic growth all that much, is bringing $1 trillion in annual deficits, another major factor in rising bond yields that is not only a drag on stocks but, potentially, a meaningful, long-term, drag on U.S. growth prospects for years to come.
The stock market's sensitivity to a 3 percent yield on the 10-year Treasury also suggests less an inflation scare than some pockets of the market that are so highly levered (or reliant on low rates) that even historically low rates can cause the unwinding of overcrowded and levered trades.
Maybe most important, the market's biggest leaders, the so-called "FANG' stocks, are getting defanged on a nearly daily basis, despite delivering extraordinarily strong profits.
Indeed, among the S&P 500 companies reporting profits for the first quarter, 83 percent have beaten expectations and yet their stocks are plunging. That is most assuredly not a good sign.
Unless and until the market suggests otherwise, there is accident somewhere down the road.
We can't see it yet, but the signs above us are clearly suggesting that we expect some delays in the resumption of this secular bull market.