Thursday, May 24, 2007

Thanks, Mr. Greenspan!

The markets responded both in China and the US today after former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan issued a general warning about the overvaluation of stocks on China's exchanges on Wednesday. As expected, the fallout was felt on the Shanghai B-index of stocks demoninated in foreign currencies, which fell 8%, in Europe and on US exchanges.

Greenspan's comments coincided with a warning from Chinese government officials about the risks of investing in equities. As usual, investors were spooked by people who should have nothing to say and no influence over markets. Sadly, loudmouth outdated louts and know-nothing government squawkers are part and parcel of the risks of investing. They've been intruding and manipulating in open markets for centuries and their influence seems only to be growing.

Dow 13,441.13 -84.52; NASDAQ 2,537.92 -39.13; S&P 500 1,507.51 -14.77; NYSE Composite 9,812.51 -101.15

Other news included a 16% jump in new home sales for April along with an 11% drop in median prices from March to April. The year-over-year decline in median price of 10.9% was the biggest such decline in 37 years. The housing market is deflating - and quickly - while screaming "buyer's market" to potential home owners and speculators.

Sporadic reports also surfaced in newspapers and on the web pointing out what most Americans already know. Food prices are running very high, especially for quality meat, fruit and vegetables.

Besides food, high gas prices continue to eat away at Americans' wallets, though oil for July delivery fell $1.59 to $64.18. That price is still $4 to $5 higher than it can be before drivers can hope to see any noticeable impact at the gas pump.

Declining issues overwhelmed advancers by a 7-2 margin and the number of new highs was 222 - the lowest number in more than a month. 105 issues recorded new lows.

The metals took another dive on Thursday. Gold was down $9.30 to $653.30 while silver lost 19 cents to close at $12.92.

Stock prices are influenced by all kinds of data, noise, news and reportage. The mouthings of unofficial spokesmen, such as Alan Greenspan, should fall under the noise category. He has no more clue about the direction of markets, or, more pointedly, their valuation, than any b-grade stock broker. His irregular incantations and bemoanings ought to be ignored.

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