Monday, June 8, 2009

A Market You Cannot Take Seriously

Foreign investors must look at the US stock markets as a major joke. Of course, theirs may or may not be any better, but the abnormal late-day trading patterns in US equity indices really should be held up for ridicule and scorn.

Today was just another in a series of predetermined outcomes. Stocks were down all day, until 3:15 pm, with the Dow index down as much as 130 points during the session. Naturally, the crooks and thieves controlling the trading have to keep up appearances - that America is still OK - so all of the losses were erased in the final 45 minutes.

That's become standard operating procedure on the Street. Whether or not anyone actually believes stocks should be levitating around their recent highs is another matter altogether. For most chartists and analysts, the evidence of manipulation is pretty clear, and has been for some time. Valuation means little anymore. It's all perception and innuendo, with the hope that people will forget that stocks are up some 35-40% since early March, haven't taken even a slight correction and may move even higher.

The feeling is that the insiders wish that everyone would just close their eyes for the next few weeks and wait for the inevitable push higher, which will, no doubt, be accompanied by some cockamamie economic report that purports to show the US economy on the mend. Should stocks take another step forward, one would be well advised to take profits, invest in oil, gold or silver and move out of stocks completely, because some day, sooner or later, there will be a hellish crash, something akin to the pounding stocks took last fall.

In the current case, it sure looks like the heavy hitters are firmly in control, taking profits as they please, bolstering their bottom lines with blatant disregard for retail investors, client money or anything even remotely resembling morals.

Dow 8,764.49, +1.36 (0.02%)
NASDAQ 1,842.40, -7.02 (0.38%)
S&P 500 939.14, -0.95 (0.10%)
NYSE Composite 6,068.56, -14.08 (0.23%)

Despite the narrowly mixed results in the headline numbers, decliners finished far ahead of advancing issues, 4013-2391. New highs finished just ahead of new lows, 59-58, but most telling was the light volume, far below even the reduced levels of the previous two weeks. The word best descriptive of this session's volume would be "feeble," though "feckless" also comes to mind.

NYSE Volume 1,077,228,000
NASDAQ Volume 1,993,720,000

Commodity prices were down nearly across the board, though the favored position of oil and energy-related raw materials was evident. Crude fell by a mere 35 cents, to $68.09, as though $68.00 is the magical fixed price for the slippery stuff. The metals took a more serious hit, with gold down $10.10, to $952.50, and silver off 43 cents, to $14.96.

Meanwhile, the crafty Chrysler bankruptcy, engineered by Washington bureaucrats, may be falling apart, as the Supreme Court issued a stay while justices mull over the appeal of a group of Indiana pension and construction funds who say their secured interests were unduly ignored in the original filing. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg issued the terse notice today, putting the entire matter on hold until Monday.

The American public is about to learn just who holds power in Washington. If the deal isn't done by Monday, June 15, Fiat, the purchaser of most of Chrysler's assets, has the right to walk away. Meanwhile, the court must take seriously the claims by the pension funds, which stand in stark opposition to the plan laid out by the Obama administration.

With the stock market and federal government appearing to be more "theatre of the absurd" than substantial operating mechanisms of capitalism and democracy, the recovery picture becomes more fuzzy and less believable every day. It should, because in more than just general terms, but specifically in instances ranging from the TARP "loans", to the bank stress tests to the pre-packaged bankruptcies of GM and Chrysler, the process has been deceptive, shady and unfair to the parties being harmed the most: the US taxpayers.

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