Thursday, February 25, 2010

Suckers Galore in Classic Pump and Dump

One has to wonder just how much bad news it will take to send stocks down for the count. Just this week, the Conference Board's measure of consumer confidence trundled down ten full points to 46, a level not seen since 1983. New home sales for January fell to 309,000, a figure more reminiscent of 1962 than 2010, and, just this morning, new filings for unemployment insurance claims reached 496,000, the third consecutive weekly rise in that number, signaling that instead of declining, unemployment may actually be on the rise again.

Adding to the difficult situation is word that Goldman Sachs - tops on everyone's most-hated company list - will soon be under investigation by the Federal Reserve (what a laugh!) for trading in Credit Default Swaps (CDS) related to the nation of Greece. The Fed would like to know if Goldman traders have been betting on a default of Greece's debt, and, anybody who knows the language of Wall Street would have to conclude that the Goldman traders are all over it.
Obviously, using these instruments in a way that intentionally destabilizes a company or a country is counterproductive. - Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke

Not that profiting from another country's missteps or outright demise is in any way illegal or unethical - though some may argue that the practice would be immoral - Goldman Sachs may be just the next victim lined up for the dog-and-pony show currently underway in congress. Once the congressional clowns are done with smearing Toyota, they might want to take aim at one of their country's own. Goldman Sachs makes a perfect whipping boy for the incompetent congress. Since they can't pass meaningful legislation, they have resorted to mealy-mouthed denunciations of the business community. The act takes some of the spotlight off their inept attempts at legislating and/or governing.

However, Wall Street being the biggest and most-corrupt casino on the planet, more bad news may only produce sideways trading. Perhaps half of California slipping into the Pacific might garner some support from the bulls, though such an event would likely be viewed with insidious sarcasm on Wall Street, something along the lines of, "well, there one more problem we'll not have to concern ourselves with any more."

On the day that the Dow was down 187 points by midday - a normal reaction - the index ends the session down just over 50 points - an abnormal trade. The question of whether US stocks are manipulated has already been answered over and over again, so since there's little point in beating a horse that's already dead, we can safely assume that the US economy is about to implode once again, and the insiders in DC and on Wall Street already know it. They're just waiting for the optimal moment - when they have as many suckers as possible fully invested in stocks - to sell everything and run for the hills, sending the markets into another spasmodic paroxysm of panic-induced crashing.

While my interpretation of market movements and political foreplay may sound to some like the last days of Cicero, it's about the best I a able to muster considering the abysmal trappings to which we are currently bound. The banking and credit system is broken and more prone to penalize borrowers than help them, real estate is a bad bet for anything other than arable land and the political process has largely ground to a complete halt. Nothing short of a major war is going to solve the debt problems of the developed world, especially Europe, Japan and the United States, a prospect which I do not wish to see, nor do I espouse. Wars only solve nations' problems - and not very well - at the expense of the lives of the general public.

However, as much as I'd like to wax positive on the current condition, I see only gloom and doom ahead for those who are not adequately prepared. Personally, I've divested all of my holdings in anything speculative and am completely in cash and productive investments: tools and seeds, for today; machines and vegetables, tomorrow.

Dow 10,321.03, -53.13 (0.51%)
NASDAQ 2,234.22, -1.68 (0.08%)
S&P 500 1,102.93, -2.31 (0.21%)
NYSE Composite 7,013.45, -17.22 (0.24%)

Not unexpectedly, declining issues beat advancers, though not by nearly the 3-1 margin seen earlier in the day, 3458-2969. New highs stood at 225. There were 45 new lows. Volume was at its best level of the week, owing, in part, to the incredibly heavy lifting done by those who eviscerated nearly 140 points from the downside.

NYSE Volume 5,247,205,000
NASDAQ Volume 2,268,341,000

Commodities were mixed again, though today was oil's day for decline. Crude was off $1.70, to $78.30. Gold gained $11.20, to $1,108.40, on rumors that the government of China was planning to buy up the remaining reserves of the IMF. Silver dipped 2 cents, to $15.94.

Tomorrow, being the final day of trading for the week and the month, ought to offer even more ammo for interested parties. The government issues the second estimate of 4th quarter '09 GDP, existing home sales for January are offered and the Chicago PMI and U of Michigan final February consumer sentiment gauge are all on tap.

10,400 is the magic number on the Dow. Closing above that would be the third straight weekly positive finish. For the year, the Dow's record for weekly closes stands at 2 up and 4 down.

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