Friday, October 8, 2010

No Jobs, Free Homes, Cheap Money and High-Flying Stocks

The financial sector of the US economy delivered one of the more entertaining sessions of the past few months on Friday, first, trying to weight the relative benefits of a nation without jobs against the potential for more than a trillion dollars flowing into the currency via the Federal Reserve's Quantitative Easing, Part II, otherwise known as QE2.

At 8:30 am Eastern time, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released its survey of non-farm payrolls for the month of September. Wall Street and investors worldwide have shown a keen interest in this number all week, and the news that the US had shed another 95,000 jobs in the month was something of a surprise to many.

Watching the Dow Jones futures as the number was announced, the immediate, knee-jerk reaction was a drop of 88 points, though that was followed by a lightning-quick ramp up. Within minutes, the investor class had come to the perverse recognition that a poor showing in employment meant almost certainty for further QE by the Federal Reserve. In other words, much more free money would be headed to Wall Street and the corrupt banking system to keep stocks flying high.

The perversity of what was easily recognizable as bad news actually having an antecedent knock-on caused the market to open in positive territory and quickly surpass the 11,000 mark on the DJIA. Joining into the fray were most commodities, after some initial fits and starts, which also ramped up on the idea of a debased US dollar and limitless liquidity being supplied by the Fed.

With stocks cruising along, even word that Bank of America was halting all foreclosure activities in all 50 states - upping their previous call for a halt in just the 23 judicial foreclosure states - had virtually no effect on the celebratory mood. Sad as it may seem, investors somehow believe that outright inflationary policy against a backdrop of people with no jobs living in homes they cannot afford is somehow a great and marvelous thing.

Folks, I can't make this stuff up. We live in a country that's just about as upside-down as one can get.

Dow 11,006.48, +57.90 (0.53%)
NASDAQ 2,401.91, +18.24 (0.77%)
S&P 500 1,165.15, +7.09 (0.61%)
NYSE Composite 7,478.42, +53.41 (0.72%)
NASDAQ Volume 2,014,985,125
NYSE Volume 4,060,130,250

Advancing issues buried decliners, 4199-1500. New highs maintained their huge edge over new lows, stunningly, 471-33. Volume was anemic, being supplied by quants, Goldman Sachs, high frequency trading computers and the odd hedge fund here and there. Nobody seems to be concerned that the market is demonstrating absolutely the thinnest trading in our lifetimes.

In the commodity space, crude oil priced 99 cents higher, at $82.66 by the close. Gold resumed its ascent to the stratosphere, up $10.30, to $1,345.30. Silver tagged along with a gain of 52 cents, to $23.10.

Monday's a holiday, so the day's events will have plenty of time in which to sink in at cocktail parties and weekend outings. Somebody has to be able to make sense of it all, though that person isn't yet telling anyone.

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