Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Yuck. Stocks Stuck, Seek Direction from Fed. Good Luck.

News flash: Tail wags dog.

The markets continued their perverse game of chicken with the Chairman of the Federal Reserve over whether he'll offer any hints of a new round of QE, but sentiment seems to be shifting toward the argument that the chairman is not going to be very accommodative, either toward the stock market, interest rate policy or further bond purchases.

Whatever the assembled genii on Wall Street care to think, Mr. Bernanke is likely to be of the opinion that it's time for the congress to get up off their duffs and do something about the stagnating economy since the Fed - for all intents and purposes - has done what it can, albeit with limited success.

Any sane person (and we can safely assume that Bernanke hasn't gone completely off the deep end) would think that the US economy needs now to pick itself up, dust itself off and get on with business.

Were it all that simple, and, it should be, but the meddlers at the Federal Reserve and in the halls of congress have seen to it that the US - and by proxy the global - economy is largely a function of interest rates and government policy, not the vaunted free market that so many believe could work out of this malaise, if given a chance.

So, there's a chance that Bernanke will deliver what the mortal villains on Wall Street want so desperately, but the chance seems slim. Stocks would have likely risen in anticipation of golden words from the Chairman were there widespread belief that he was indeed planning on more easy money for his Wall Street buddies, because, as anyone who's ever played with stocks or options knows all too well, it's not a good idea to be late to the party.

By the time Mr. Bernanke finishes his speech at Jackson Hole, most of the major bets will already have been placed. Those who wait and see will likely suffer like the poor suckers who think investing is easy.

Stocks followed their familiar pattern again today: a stumble at the start, ramp up and sell off into the close, though the Dow managed - as all the majors did except the Comp. - to eke out a tiny gain of just over four points. Everything moved in slow motion, as volume has nearly dried up completely.


Bernanke is not going to rescue Wall Street for the sake of a few hundred points on the Dow. He's done it three times already (QE1, QE2, Operation Twist) and the players keep coming back for more. It's time for the Chairman to do what's right and take the punch bowl away.

The party should have been over a while ago. Only the chutzpah of the "masters of the universe" has managed to keep it going for so long.

Dow 13,107.48, +4.49 (0.03%)
NASDAQ 3,081.19, +4.05 (0.13%)
S&P 500 1,410.49, +1.19 (0.08%)
NYSE Composite 8,031.61, -2.24 (0.03%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,253,324,130
NYSE Volume 2,534,702,500
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 3287-2178
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 181-45
WTI crude oil: 95.60, -0.73
Gold: 1,658.50, -11.20
Silver: 30.70, -0.17

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