Friday, September 9, 2011

Obama Speech a Big Flop; Greece May Default Over Weekend

The Markets

The rhetoric in President Obama's address to a joint session of congress last night was so far over the top with his screeching, "Pass this jobs bill" over and over ad nauseam that the conclusion is that congress, though they may like some of it, will do everything in its power to delay, disrupt, debate and defeat Obama's American Jobs Act (AJA), and this time they would be doing everyone a favor.

Here's a Daily Kos blogger who lavishes on the praise for Obama's oratorial skill a bit too heavily (for our tastes), but basically has most of the details right.

Here's NPR's take:

The very last thing we need in this country is a bill wrapped in the flag (lest we forget the president advising congressional Republicans to put "country over party") which delivers little more than promises of tax credits to small business, but spends billions on teachers ($35 billion to be exact), repairing schools (the bulk of the $100 billion in infrastructure spending) and cuts the payroll tax contributions for both individuals and small businesses.

If this jobs bill is passed in any form, it's effect on unemployment will be minimal because businesses hire when they need work done, as in servicing more customers, and that just isn't happening in many small, medium and large American businesses. Consumers have been cutting back, and business cuts back to accommodate the slackening demand for their goods and/or services. Nobody hires because the government offers an incentive to do so, except those wishing to game the system, and there are plenty of those around.

No, the congress should delay and defeat any bill which proposes to spend more money we don't have. The first Obama stimulus - a much larger package - has already proven to be a failure, and this bill comes a number of months late and many dollars - and ideas - short.

The reaction from the markets on Friday was a collective sigh and a return to the "sell" button.

Obama's public bust was not the only item that rattled traders over the final session of the week. European markets were hammered down again, and that sent the dollar soaring against the Euro, which meant that the carry trade of shorting the dollar and buying stocks has gone up in smoke and the machines don't have an algo for that.

Persistent rumors that Greece was about to default, possibly over the weekend, sent European bourses down in droves and sent the US Treasury 10-year note to a record low yield of 1.92%. Also roiling markets was the abrupt resignation of ECB chief economist Juergen Stark, apparently over the continued buying of bonds by the ECB.

The combination of the European crisis escalating again and the failure of the president to offer any convincing plan to combat unemployment sent stocks back to levels not seen in nearly three weeks with the Dow closing below 11,000 for the first time since August 22nd.

The S&P 500 broke through several support levels and is only 31 points away from its August 8 closing low of 1119. The NASDAQ fared better, though not by much, finishing 126 points above its August 19 closing low of 2341.84.

If the rumors about Greece prove true, monday's markets could prove a bloodbath of monstrous proportions, but, even if the Greeks decide to play along, the European financial crisis won't simply fade away, nor will the sluggish environment in which the United States is currently embrolied.

Dow 10,992.13, -303.68 (2.69%)
NASDAQ 2,467.99, -61.15 (2.42%)
S&P 500 1,154.23, -31.67 (2.67%)
NYSE Composite 7,045.01, -212.35 (2.93%)
NASDAQ Volume 2,066,526,125
NYSE Volume 5,467,812,500
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 1083-5459
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 22-353
WTI crude oil futures: 87.24, -1.81
Gold: 1859.00, -10.60
Silver: 41.60, -0.74

The woes of Bank of America continue. They and other banks tied up in the robo-signing scandal may still face extensive civil and criminal charges after the 50-state Attorneys General reaches a "global solution" which has been rumored to be about $20 billion. New York AG Eric Schneiderman has been pursuing Bank of America through his own offices and is not participating in the investigation by the other 49 state AGs. Schneiderman is pushing to claim that BofA and others fraudulently transferred securities to investors, pledging the same notes to more than one group. His investigation continues.

Of all the bright guys out there who cover finance, bank analyst Chris Whalen, the founder and managing director of Institutional Risk Analytics, is among the very brightest of all, so when he says Bank of America (BAC) should file for bankruptcy, maybe CEO Brian Moynihan and others should listen. See Whalen make his case in the video below.

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