Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Stocks End Three-Day Win Streak; Shopping the Dollar Stores

The Markets

Another day passed by without Europe imploding from excessive debt and they're still drinking plenty of Ouzo over in Greece, even as the country dives into desperation and poverty.

The economic climate hasn't much bothered the titans of industry and banking who populate the environs of Wall Street, but maybe the lingering doubt and uncertainty over economic issues is starting to get to them a little bit. Days like today show the strain a long, drawn out economic slide can have on markets. Stocks and indices don't just do straight down in a day or two; bear markets, like all good things, take time and patience to play out and this current one, which started just a few short months ago, looks to have a lot of downside over many months ahead.

There was little in the way of news concerning the global powers and their attempts to deal with the continuing crisis. No mutterings of sentiment from the ECB or Angela Merkel or French president Sarcozy. Even our own President Obama was pretty hushed up, and for him, that's saying something.

It was like the Harry Potter movie when they speak about "he who shall not be named"; nobody was interested in talking about the economy any more, but it surely was on the minds of traders, who sold off everything as the market entered the home stretch, making all the talk about a bounce, or end of quarter window dressing sound a little foolish.

Perhaps it was just more old-fashioned profit taking, by those who know that it's best to get out of the way of oncoming trains, like the one coming when third quarter earnings reports begin to hit the Street.

Whatever it was, stocks took a pretty solid body blow and after enough of these, with conditions still uncertain or deteriorating, volatility high and the leaders of the civilized world unable to get themselves and their banker buddies out of the mess they created, stocks and indices will stay down, move lower and not recover for a long time.

The happy part is that there will then be bargains galore amid a stock pickers paradise. Good companies will fall alongside bad ones, and prices will be so cheap and the competition so slim, that bargains stocks will appear all over the market.

All that has to happen is for the political leaders and global banking interests to make a few more policy mistakes and WHAM! stocks will be hit with the same ton of bricks that have already shuttered hundreds of thousands of small businesses around the world. Money will be scarce, people scared and unsure and institutions and governments will tumble.

Start making plans now, because this great drama of economics is playing out in the present and conditions for it getting really ugly are already in place.

Have faith in the bankers and politicians. They've screwed up before, and they're certain to do so again.

Dow 11,010.90, -179.79 (1.61%)
NASDAQ 2,491.58, -55.25 (2.17%)
S&P 500 1,151.06, -24.32 (2.07%)
NYSE Composite 6,876.94, -166.18 (2.36%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,912,622,750.00
NYSE Volume 4,787,752,000
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 1179-5322
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 16-231
WTI crude oil: 81.21, -3.24
Gold: 1612.00, -37.70
Silver: 29.96, -1.92

Idea: Shop Dollar Stores for Big Savings

We all know people who refuse to shop at, say, Wal-Mart, in the belief that they are somehow superior to the rest of the inhabitants of the planet and the low-cost experience is "beneath them."

When the economic tsunami blows through their part of the world, they'll likely be unprepared to make do with less or reconfigure their lifestyle to accommodate the new financial realities. For the uninhibited types and those without pretensions, there is life after Sak's, the GAP and JC Penny's and it can be found at strip malls and shopping centers around the country. They are known as dollar stores, where everyday items are sold at a discount, every day.

In case you missed it, Wal-Mart doesn't really promote their "lowest price" guarantee much any more, and that's because they're often not the lowest. The dollar stores - particularly Dollar Tree, Dollar General and Family Dollar - crush Wal-Mart and all other competitors on general merchandise all the time.

Whether it's laundry detergent (you do wash your own clothes, occasionally, no?), tomato juice (who doesn't love a good Bloody Mary?) or sunglasses, you can find good deals ($1 is good no matter what it is.) at these bustling retail establishments, plus hundreds of everyday items from cookware to spices to party and gift ideas to personal grooming products and much more.

Now, you can go to Home Depot and spend $2 to $3 for a roll of duct tape or buy two or three rolls of comparable quality for the same price. You can buy your snacks and chips at the local supermarket chain for $1.79 and up, or find the same selection for less at any of the dollar stores. These places are popping up all over the place.

In fact, Family Dollar plans to open 450-500 new stores in the coming twelve months. The others are expanding at a steady clip, even in this down economy. These companies have found a niche market that will only get bigger as the economy deteriorates and will hold their own in any economic environment, because there are always going to be people who will seek out bargains.

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