Friday, August 31, 2007

Ba, Ba, Bernanke lulls sheep to sleep

For all the money they control, the investor class - and I use that term loosely - is not very bright. As an investor, you may find that statement offensive, but, if you've bought stocks over the past few weeks, well, then it does apply to you.

Sure the market has bounced back a little and today it was up sharply. But, pay attention and you'll get an inkling of why I think investors are more akin to sheep than wolves.

Fed chairman Ben Bernanke, speaking at an economic symposium at Jackson Hole, Wyoming, said that the Fed will "act as needed" to keep the credit crisis from harming the general economy.

Fine. Dandy. What did everyone expect him to say?
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"We at the Fed will not stand in the way of economic upheaval?" Or, "You idiots got yourself into this mess, so don't expect us to bail you out?" Actually, he did somewhat say the latter, suggesting that financial institutions and consumers who took bad risks in the sub-prime mortgage market - from both sides of the transaction - would not receive special treatment from the Fed.

And well they should not. These people made their beds, now they can sleep in them, whether they have four walls and a roof over their heads or not. If you parse Ben Bernanke carefully, he, much like his predecessor, Alan Greenspan, doesn't really say much. It's probably because they, like most artists of economics (remember, it's not science), don't really have any pat answers. They make it up as they go along.

So, those who cheered the Chairman's utterances today, are even more clueless than our wing-and-a-prayer Federal Reserve heads. Many take very little prodding to charge headlong into the maw of Wall Street, much like a sheep being led to shearing or slaughter. Baaaaaa!

Dow 13,357.74 +119.01; NASDAQ 2,596.36 +31.06; S&P 500 1,473.99 +16.35; NYSE Composite 9,596.98 +140.34

Today's advances exemplifies the current culture of wary wolves and unsuspecting sheep. The wolves sat back (looking more like bears), while the sheep followed the lead of both the Fed Chairman and the President (who believes anything he says?), who outlined plans to bail out people who stretched beyond their limits to get into homes during the boom.

It's actually laughable that the same president who sat back and did nothing while unregulated lenders were offering interest-only, no-down-payment loans to people who were poor credit risks in the first place. Trusting the Bush administration to help out the same people who were harmed by government's lack of oversight and regulation is like asking a fish to jump onto a hook. The result is the same: the fish gets snagged, scaled, grilled and eaten.

In any case, advancing issues were far ahead of decliners, by a whopping 4-1 margin. Volume, however, was once again anemic, so trusting this rally is for those with only the blindest of faith. New highs exceeded new lows, for the first time in over a month, narrowly, 123-107.

Most of the stocks moving were hoisted by the brokerages, after all, so Bear Stearns, Lehman, Merrill and their lot will be stuck with even more overpriced securities. Joke's on them. Ha Ha.

Oil priced 68 cents higher to close at $74.04 (Happy Labor Day). Gold was up $8.00 to $681.90, while a troy ounce of silver brought another 27 cents, at $12.23.

The markets and many businesses are closed on Monday, for Labor Day, a day in which many will be paid for taking a day off. Hey, it's the American Way, right?

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