Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Stocks Bombed Second Straight Session

The turning point for the stock market has finally come. Stocks sold off broadly and sharply for the second straight session as investors increasingly take profits and head for the sidelines. Others, specifically speculators, have quite literally been shut out of the market by excessive valuations, which, as anyone who has ever done any kind of investing knows, is a path to ruin. Buying after a significant rally, such as the one which lasted from March 10 to June 12, will almost always lead to sizable losses mounting quickly.

Technical indicators have presaged the end of the rally astonishingly well. Just as the S&P 500 50-day and 200-day moving averages converged, the selling commenced. Today's market action was particularly acute and different from the usual fare. Instead of a positive response to benign PPI figures for May (a gain of 0.2%, against an expected rise of 0.5%) analysts took this as a sign that the economy was not recovering as quickly as some might hope and that inflation fears have been wildly overblown. Stocks were up mildly at the open, and after vacillating across the break even line for most of the morning, finally began to fall off just before noon. By 2:00 pm, the indices were striking new lows, and, instead of a late day rally, stocks sold off wildly in the final 15 minutes, closing at the lows of the day.

This should come as little surprise to anyone following the money. The Fed has more than doubled the size of its balance sheet since fall of 2008, the money supply has been ramped up gigantically, yet the banks still aren't lending, defaults on credit cards and auto loans are now matching up to the foreclosure numbers, and wages remain flat, if not declining. Companies are finding little in the way of pricing power, except in industries which have virtual, government-allowed monopolies, such as energy and utility companies.

Where has all this money gone? Directly into the hands of the banks, and much of it was certainly used to pump up stock prices. The timing of the rally and the second round of TARP funding were surely more than coincidental. Now that the money has been spent and distributed through the market, it has to be removed and put back on the banks' balance sheets. There is one fatal flaw to the government-Wall Street scheme: nobody's buying on the way down, just as nobody was buying during the secondary crash in early 2009, nor during the subsequent run-up. The entire three-month rally was nothing more than massive self-dealing, a complete sham, with the bank CEOs, the Fed, the Treasury and high-ranking government officials fully complicit in the charade.

While there's nothing implicitly illegal about buying stocks cheap and selling them a few months later at a profit, the obvious questions to ask are, first, how prevalent among the insider banking community and the government was the knowledge that stocks weren't really worth the asking prices of recent weeks and, second, what was being to to the general public and the banks' clients?

Telling clients to buy securities at the same time your own brokerage is unloading them is fraud, though, as far as Wall Street practice is concerned, it happens all the time, day in and day out. Seemingly, the only way to make money in this environment is to play along with the big money. Buy when they are buying, sell when they are selling. It's now time to sell.

Dow 8,504.67, -107.46 (1.25%)
NASDAQ 1,796.18, -20.20 (1.11%)
S&P 500 911.97, -11.75 (1.27%)
NYSE Composite 5,886.76, -80.50 (1.35%)

Once again, decliners beat back advancing issues, 4475-1914. For the second straight day, new lows outnumbered new highs, 68-26. Volume remained subdued, so get used to this level of activity. It's summer, and many of the usual heavy players are not involved.

NYSE Volume 1,176,238,000
NASDAQ Volume 2,262,585,000

Commodities were mixed. Oil spent most of the day with gains, but closed down 15 cents, at $70.47. Gold was up $4.70, to $932.20. Silver, after Monday's 85 cent bludgeoning, was up just a dime, to $14.13. Natural gas was down slightly. Pork bellies continued to price higher.

Other economic data of note included industrial production, down 1.1%, and capacity utilization, checking in at 68.3% for May, after posting a revised 69.0% for April. These numbers are continuing evidence of the severity of the recession. Rather than seeing "green shoots," of potential recovery, the latest round of figures suggests what reality is really showing us, a deepening and swelling depression which threatens to take down every segment of the US economy, and with it, much of the world's.

The banks and other far-flung, covert, secluded monied interests are hoarding capital. The only way to wring it from their cold, clammy hands is through inflation, and that's not happening. Nobody knows where the bottom is, but a good bet would be that we're nowhere close to one. Government bailouts and stimulus have only quieted the rout for the time being. Unemployment continues to increase and deficits are growing as far as the eye can see. Now is definitely not a time to be speculating for stock gains.

No comments: