Friday, April 30, 2010

Markets Go Boom... and Bust

What happened of significance that stocks would sell of so drastically on Friday?

Was it the DOJ announcing that a criminal probe of Goldman Sach's was underway (And that the G-Men were looking at issues other than the ABACUS deal noted in the SEC charges.)? Shares of Goldman Sachs (GS) fell 15.04, to 145.20, a decline of 9.4%, during Friday's session.

That might be a good start for a general market decline.

Or maybe that oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is causing more than average general ill-will to be directed at multi-national corporations who pollute, don't pay taxes and cause monstrous disasters such as is unfolding in the marshes along the Louisiana coastline?

What about Greece... and Portugal... and Spain... and Italy? Is the debt bomb exploding over Europe destined to visit mainland America? Finance ministers are meeting over the weekend in hopes of hammering out a bailout for the destitute Greeks (they won't).

Could it be that the Senate finally getting around to debating - after weeks of Republican stonewalling at the behest of the nation's largest financial firms - senator Dodd's financial regulation legislation that has, as one of its many tentacles, authority to liquidate firms that it deems insolvent (Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Citigroup come to mind) and a slew of other amendments which would make the kind of cowboy financial engineering that typified the sub-prime era difficult to repeat.

All of those are good starting points for argument, but there are two likely causes which intersect with all other issues. First quarter GDP was reported to be measured at 3.2%, annualized. That is after 4th quarter '09 coming in at 5.6%. Investors with even fifth grade educations can do the math: the economy is slowing again and that brings to the forefront the words everybody dreads: "double dip."

The second cause is likely more mechanical than analytical. Stocks have been hovering around multi-year highs. People with large stakes and large profits probably figured that today was a good day to sell, just like Wednesday was. The reason Wall Street more resembles a casino than an investment market is because the big money, the people calling the shots and pulling the levers are all gamblers at heart. And, as gambling operations generally produce few winners but lots of losers, the winners are likely getting out of town.

From an emotional chart perspective, one look at a two year Dow chart reveals that the index is bumping into the bottom of the pre-Lehman resistance of September '08. Since little has been done to correct the abuses of the time or restore credibility and liquidity to credit markets, it only stands to reason that there will be no move through that Dow resistance level from 11,200 to 11,750.

Flagging Friday finishes are always troubling, but today's should be marked with multiple red flags. The global economic model, based largely upon central banking, fractional reserve requirements, fiat currencies already heavily in debt (read: insolvent) and currently devolving into nation-gobbling monstrosities, is severely broken and thus, sliced, diced, ad whipsawed according to the prevailing tone.

Economies, from you next-door neighbor to the county seat, to states and nations, are tettering on a balance beam built on public good will and creditworthiness and there isn't much of either of those in quantity at the present time. One could purport that economic circumstances today are worse than they were in 2008. Massive borrowing and easy money policies have not stemmed the tide of deflation that continues to waffle through every aspect of civilization.

One area which experienced strong gains on Friday was commodities, especially gold. With uncertain times comes a need to hold something material and money flowed into tangible assets today in a scared trade. More evidence of widespread deflation came from the bond pits, where the 10-year treasury dipped to 3.65% yield today. Interest rates simply have nowhere to go but down in a slumping, or even stagnating, economy.

Dow 11,008.61, -158.71 (1.42%)
NASDAQ 2,461.19, -50.73 (2.02%)
S&P 500 1,186.68, -20.10 (1.67%)
NYSE Composite 7,474.40, -114.89 (1.51%

There were 4904 losing stocks to 1669 winners. 547 new highs dwarfed a mere 41 new lows. Volume was significant as it has been most of the past 8 trading days. Money is moving, from stocks to commodities, fixed income and cash, a perfect brew for a further deflationary spiral, which never really stopped moving, but was only slowed by monetary moves by the Fed and other central banks.

NYSE Volume 6,859,333,000.00
NASDAQ Volume 2,689,440,250.00

Crude oil rallied 98 cents, to $86.15. Gold built another $11.70 on top of recent gains, finishing the week at $1,180.10, a 2010 high. Silver also rose 6 cents, to $18.61.

There's a world of hurt gaining momentum out there, and you can bet your last Kentucky Derby (tomorrow), mint julep dollar that the famous schemers and weasels of Wall Street are going to be left holding the most recent bag of pain. No, that taks has been assigned, as usual, to the middle class, the little guy, the working class.

Isn't it time to stop believing in the fairy tales of high finance and posturing politicians?

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