Monday, December 19, 2011

The Instant Market: Draghi and Bank of America Take It Down Two Notches

Once again, we are treated to the new reality of the "instant market" wherein news, or rumor, directs the flow of funds into or out of select equities, and today's catalysts were, as usual, from Europe (must have some news from Europe to move markets: it's the law) and oddly enough, from our old friends at Bank of America (BAC).

First, Europe. US markets opened with some hope and small gains across the indices. That was, until shortly after 10:00 New York time, when ECB President Mario Draghi commented that the ECB would not step up it's bond purchases, noting that monetary financing of states was not part of the treaty upon which the EU was formed. (Imagine, a world political leader actually sticking to what was agreed upon. A novel approach.)

That took the markets down a big notch, with the Dow, after hitting its highs of the day earlier - up 60 points - falling a full 120 points - to down 60 - in about an hour's time after Draghi's comments.

Draghi also said that any talk of the Euro-zone breaking apart were "morbid" and that the Euro was going to remain intact as a viable currency. He punted this gem:
I have no doubts whatsoever about the strength of the euro, about its permanence, about its irreversibility. But you have a lot of people, especially outside the euro area, who spend a lot of time in what I call morbid speculation.

While Draghi may be right about the morbidity part, the thought that the Euro is irreplaceable or inviolate is nothing more than CYA job protection. He's paid to oversee the ECB, and talking up the currency is part of his job. Somebody ought to hand Draghi a history book. Greece fell, Rome fell, Germany rose and fell a couple of times, at least. Nothing lasts forever, and, with only 11 years of history under its belt, the Euro is experiencing something of a severe confidence crisis, if not a complete failure by some of its constituents.

Most of those "morbid" speculators give the Euro another six to eighteen months, tops. And while it may indeed survive, and prove Draghi correct in the near term, it's another bad idea stemming from too many government bureaucrats attempting to furnish a centrally-planned socialist solution where none was needed. In many ways, the Euro resembles the Medicare/Medicade mess in the US, wherein the government stepped all over the established free market to create a system that is out of control and benefits mostly large medical insurance companies instead of real people with health care needs. The Euro was supposed to affect the entire continent in magical, positive ways. It has, thus far, produced a great deal of pain, financial inequities and sparked a world-wide crisis, even though that crisis was well underway, being all about fiat money anyway.

Stocks drifted along until about 3:00 pm ET when the PPT or whomever was hitting the bid - for hours - on Bank of America at 5.00 - 5.03, stopped, failed and rolled over. The bank that many equate with the financial collapse of 2008, hit a fresh, 33-month low, hitting 4.92 prior to closing at 4.99, an important figure, since many funds, by charter, cannot trade in stocks priced under 5.00, or must severely limit the size of their investment in such low-priced equities.

With banks under pressure the entire session, the demise of BAC took the whole market down the second notch, into the close. So much for recovery, at least by the "well-capitalized" US banks, whose ledgers are an indecipherable miasma of imaginary valuations, off-balance-sheet assets and liabilities and mark-to-model fantasies. With books so complex and confusing most CPAs don't understand them and after relentless support from the federal government (much of it in secret), is there any doubt that most stock pickers have shied away from US financial stocks as a whole?

Bank of America, along with Citigroup and JP Morgan Chase, to name just a few, should have been broken up in 2008-09, when they were insolvent (and still are, largely), though that would have ended the near-total dominance of the Federal Reserve and its constituents over all transactions in the US economy and beyond, and the rich bankers and their supporters simply could not stand for that. Instead, it was easier for them to socialize the losses on the backs of the US taxpayers.

Bank of America's recent swoon is only a small chapter in the ongoing saga that will bring down the oligarchical nature of our corrupt political and financial system. 99%ers are celebrating.

A couple of items of note:

Ron Paul, the Republican presidential candidate that the establishment loves to hate, has taken the lead in Iowa accordind to the most recent polling by Public Policy Polling (PPP), one of a handful of organizations tracking the rise and fall of candidates in the upcoming (January 3) caucuses.

The results have Paul at 23%, leading Mitt Romney (20%) and a rapidly declining Newt Gingrich (14%), even though Romney recently picked up the endorsement of the the Des Moines Register, Iowa's leading newspaper. Paul is also reported to have taken in more than $4 million over the past weekend, and now is in second place, behind Romney, in New Hampshire.

Also, a searing report on where we're headed in 2012, called the Thunder Road Report, leading with the cryptic warning, "Dear Portfolio Manager, you are leaving the capitalist sector and heading into a full-spectrum crisis."

The entire report is available at the end of this post.

Anybody seen Santa?

Dow 11,766.26, -100.13 (0.84%)
NASDAQ 2,523.14, -32.19 (1.26%)
S&P 500 1,205.35, -14.31 (1.17%)
NYSE Composite 7,142.45, -95.21 (1.32%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,591,603,125
NYSE Volume 3,659,820,750
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 1230-4469
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 110-290 (blowing out)
WTI crude oil: 93.88, +0.35
Gold: 1,596.70, -1.20
Silver: 28.87, -0.80


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