Friday, July 27, 2007

Triple Bottom Breakdown

With no impetus to the upside, not even the shadowy Plunge Protection Team (the government's Working Group on Financial Markets headed by Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson) could quell the selling on Wall Street as dissatisfaction with corporate earnings and the implosion of capital markets sent the Dow to another 200+ point loss, hauling down the other major indices with it.

The week, which began with a 92-point gain on the Dow on Monday, turned considerably uglier as earnings reports and bad economic news - primarily from the housing and credit sectors - sent Wall Street into spasms of cynical, unstoppable, selling. The week was one of the worst ever for the Dow, losing 735 points, with losses of more than 200 points on Tuesday and Friday, and a 311-point loss on Thursday.

Dow 13,265.47 -208.10; NASDAQ 2,562.24 -37.10; S&P 500 1,458.95 Down 23.71; NYSE Composite 9,508.23 -146.15

The other major indices - the S&P, NYSE Composite and NASDAQ fared equally poorly in the paroxysm of panic selling. The Dow on Friday confirmed (and broke through support) a triple bottom breakdown at 13,265.47, with similar recent closes on June 7th (13,266.73) and June 12th (13,295.01).

The pertinent questions at this juncture are, 1. How much worse can it get?; 2. Is there an interim support level?; 3. Can the PPT finally staunch the ebb by buying overvalued shares (and will they)?; and, 4. Is there any safe haven for investment dollars?

The quick answers are that it can get much worse, interim support exists in the 12,100-12,300 area, nobody really knows exactly what the PPT can or will do, and as for a safe haven, cash is looking mighty good right now.

There is really no magic bullet to change the outcome of the massive unwinding of a near-decade-long credit and asset binge. Government policies have created a system so fragile and fraught with risks - seen and unseen - that a financial disaster seems to be the most likely occurrence at this juncture.

The obvious truths are that the market was severely overbought (the Dow was up nearly 30% from a year ago at the start of the week), mortgage failures will continue to proliferate due to an complete lack of oversight by regulators, and the contagion from mortgages will likely become systemic, spreading into all manner of credit instruments.

The key consumer is tapped out, the middle class is shrinking and afraid, and the trickle-down economic policies of the past 20 years have created a monstrous economy with a super-rich class, an impoverished middle and a growing, teeming bottom. America has gone from the world's greatest creditor state to the worst debtor nation in a span of just 50 years.

In a few words, we're pretty much screwed and it's beginning to show up in our markets. A good start would be to impeach all the top officials of the current administration and begin imposing some new standards of conduct for banks and other financial institutions to restore confidence in our capital markets.

A change in government isn't going to be a cure-all - far from it - but the numbskull liars currently in charge likely have more of a vested interest in overseeing the destruction of capital rather than the creation of it.

Next week and during the month of August, when the next wave of selling begins in earnest, officials of the NASDAQ and NYSE may consider closing the markets for a week, allowing for some time to contemplate next moves and reassure a frightened public.

This is no time to be giddy. This market has been overstretched - the bull market is something of the order of 57 months old - and in a very, very precarious condition. The US economy is also an extremely sick patient. Extreme actions may be the best medicine.

Surprisingly, market internals were not nearly as dismal as yesterday's. Declining issues beat advancers by an 11-5 ratio. There were few bright spots as new lows submerged new highs, 706-85.

Just to make matters even more cheerless, oil futures rose $2.07 to close at $77.02, close to an all-time high. Gold and silver continued to decline, oddly, as market manipulation is running rampant. The precious metals should be showing strength at a time like this. instead they are dropping along with all other asset classes.

Get ready for a long, long downturn, similar to Japan's 20-year deflationary cycle. It's been predicted and the stock market is telegraphing it.

There were a good number of earnings reports issued on the day, none of them of much consequence considering the overall tenor of the markets.

Have a great weekend.

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