Wednesday, February 20, 2008

CPI Shows Inflation, Fed Lowers Growth Forecast, PPT Pumps Stocks

A somewhat expected rise in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) roiled investors prior to the opening bell and stocks drifted in negative ranges in early trading. The reading of a rise of 0.4% in January (4.8% annualized) spooked even the most ardent supporters of Fed and administration policies.

By noon, the Plunge Protection Team had seen enough selling to convince them to pump stocks higher and in a 20 minute span, the Dow Jones Industrials gained 120 points and the other indices followed into positive territory.

As the day wore on, the market meddlers of the PPT goosed stocks even more, pushing them to the highs of the day, up more than 125 points, shortly before 3:00 pm.

The obvious manipulation by the PPT (aka President's Working Group on Financial Markets) were in response to more somber news via the January FOMC meeting minutes in which the Fed lowered its 2008 growth forecast from a range of 1.8-2.5% in November to 1.3-2% in January.

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The Fed and their agents in the PPT are fooling nobody. The economy is clearly headed for - if not already in - a recession, and stocks remain grossly overvalued relative to aggregate earnings. But, it is an important election year, and the purveyors of power simply cannot stomach the idea that their reign of terror over the American public is at an end.

Nothing short of miracles (Mike Huckabee, anyone?) will salvage the US economy and the Fed is in desperate straits. The pure futility of lowering interest rates to an unsustainable 3% or lower is beginning to manifest itself in higher prices for everything from gas to bread to appliances.

Under its current framework, the Fed is on a path of destruction of the US dollar and with it will go any last vestige of respect and confidence in equity markets. Of course, the Fed continues a tradition of hampering real growth by denying that excesses need to be liquidated, instead relying on market massages and wrong-headed rate cuts.

The real culprit is the absolute seizure of credit markets, especially at money center banks. Merger and acquisition activity is going in reverse, with many deals having been canceled, and until the Fed and the banks take responsibility for their follies over the past seven years by liquidating themselves, the economy will slowly and surely continue to deteriorate.

Dow 12,427.26 +90.04; NASDAQ 2,327.10 +20.90; S&P 500 1,360.03 +11.25; NYSE Composite 9,073.96 +50.92

Advancing issues outpaced decliners, 3752-2614, though new lows continued to overwhelm new highs, 257-99. With the exception of two days in December 2007, new lows have had the edge over new highs since October 31, approaching four months.

If there is any indicator that the economy is in trouble, it is the continuing readings of new lows over new highs. The stock market is clearly struggling for every gain, and most of them have been helped along by the PPT. Sooner or later, these phony gains will be eviscerated and stocks will plunge to more sensible, sustainable, reasonable levels. It's widely assumed that without meddling from the PPT, the Dow would already have touched down at the 11,000 mark or lower.

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The more nudging by the Fed and the PPT, the more disastrous will be the inevitable crash. It's coming, and it won't be pretty, though anyone who has been paying attention won't be at all surprised.

As for the rest of the clueless sheeple out there... keep watching and listening to the perma-bulls like Larry Kudlow and flag-wavers like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity and see what good that does you.

The price of crude oil closed at another record high on Wednesday, gaining 73 cents to $100.74. Yes, my friends, George Bush and his Republican administration has succeeded in making $100/barrel oil a reality. (sick bastards)

Gold was up $8.00 to a new record, $937.80. Silver was higher by 25 cents, to $17.76.

NYSE Volume 3,835,300,000
NASDAQ Volume 2,293,634,250

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