Monday, May 23, 2011

Euro Debt Crisis Exacting Heavy Toll on Global Markets

Make no mistake about it, today was the start of the great reckoning. The beginning of the end of easy money policies, of kicking the can down the road, of failing to come face-to-face with the reality of the global credit crisis that began in 2008 and never really ended.

Oddly enough, it comes on a day in which the US President, Mr. Obama, is headed to Europe for a meeting of the G-8, in which the globalist governors will mete out whatever they see fit for the peasantry of their populous nations. It's a little like playing Russian roulette with all the chambers loaded. You're going to get it no matter how lucky you are.

The interesting aspect of the day's trading happened not specifically today, but actually last Friday, when futures went limit down shortly after the US close. It was a weekend warning shot that the powers in control would be taking their various pounds of flash come Monday. And they did, sending markets around the planet down by one, two and three per cent.

Here in the USA, one-month lows were the order of the day, though that's hardly exciting news. The pertinent take-away is that the great unwind of asset values has begun - or resumed - as the major indices finished the session today less than 4% off their recent multi-year highs.

What was notable was the changing of the guard on the new highs - new lows indicator. For more than two years - with only slight variations - new highs have exceeded new lows on both the NYSE and the NASDAQ. Today, new lows outnumbered new highs on the NASDAQ and the gap narrowed on the NYSE. Even though this is not the first time this has happened recently, its frequency and narrow range makes it a particularly potent indicator at this point in time. Once this turns, it tends to remain in place for quite a while, periods between changes in leadership are measured in years.

Market movements are often subtle and difficult to pinpoint, though this one has been telegraphed for quite some time. The debt condition of Greece, Portugal, Belgium, Italy, Spain and Ireland are unsustainable situations as is the salve of QE2 and ZIRP here in the US. Japan, literally and figuratively, has been swept off the face of leading economic nations and uprisings across the Middle East and North Africa (called the MENA region, for short) threaten the global economy.

Even the leaders of the most powerful nations know that this little game of chicken, complete with artificial stimuli, bailouts, buybacks, swaps, jawboning and other gimmicks cannot proceed forever. Europe must get serious about its long-term structural deficiencies and the US must confront the debt limit and its own burgeoning solvency problem, and both must do so quickly. Thus, preparedness for financial armageddon is underway, and, if one listens closely to the pundits and analysts populating the airwaves and internet, most are calling upon investors to take a pause, pare back on stocks and raise cash, which is, in the parlance of Wall Street, like saying, "run for your life!"

There's an opportunity for the globalist agenda to sail through this period of austerity, consolidation and downgrading of the private sector fairly unscathed, but be assured that the plan is afoot and the stock indices will bear the brunt of what will amount to a massive global deflation. In a year or two, they will once again announce victory over the forces of debt and monetary destruction and proceed to blow the bubbles once more.

In this environment, no asset class is safe, though cash and equivalents, gold and silver, are good starting points. Growth will be minimal, as measured by GDP, if positive at all, and the opportunity for fresh recessions are abundant. Today was just another in a series of well-timed warning shots. Prepare or die.

Dow 12,381.26, -130.78 (1.05%)
NASDAQ 2,758.90, -44.42 (1.58%)
S&P 500 1,317.37, -15.90 (1.19%)
NYSE Composite 8,236.55, -120.98 (1.45%)

Losers soared over winners on the session, 5257-1342, a 4:1 ratio, though hardly a complete rout. It could have been much worse. On the NASDAQ, 37 new highs, but 86 new lows. The NYSE recorded 51 new highs and 44 new lows, the smallest gap in nearly two months. Taken together, the 88 new highs do not reach up to the 130 new lows, and that is the important set of figures to watch, the combined number. Continued weakness has been forecasting a more serious tumble for the past two months. Volume, despite the massive decline, remained at severely low levels. Once again, the major players have been unable to draw in the usually-gullible public, which is tapped out and wants no part of the Wall Street circus. Thus, they play amongst themselves, like a pack of starving wolves who will eventually turn upon each other.

NASDAQ Volume 1,806,104,625
NYSE Volume 3,761,192,500

Crude took another turn down, the front-end NYMEX contract for WTI losing $2.40, to $97.70. Gold managed a gain of $3.70, to $1517.20, while silver advanced by only a penny, to $35.07.

The major indices completed three straight weeks of negative results on Friday. Monday's opening gambit to the downside portends worse to come. March Durable Goods Orders data on Wednesday and the second 2nd quarter GDP estimate on Thursday will most likely add to the sense of pervasive desperation.

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