Monday, December 10, 2012

Over the Cliff We Go, but Where Is the Fear?

America has finally been dumbed down enough so that the ruling elite can run roughshod over the nation unfettered by neither rule of law or unfortunate facts.

About a month ago, (first person singular here, so pay attention) I made a point (don't know whether or not I made the point in any blog posting or not) that my belief was that a deal on the Bush tax cuts' expiration and other "fiscal cliff" issues had already been cut. Today, I still hold to that belief and even more strongly than before.

Take, for instance, the measured pace of both the Washington politicians and the Wal Street traders. The politicians have done nothing, are no closer to a deal than they were a month ago and don't seem to be in a big hurry to resolve these "pressing" issues.

Wall Street, after a hissy fit bout of selling over "their man" Romney losing the election, have recouped most of the decline and keep gradually pushing stocks higher and higher, apparently oblivious to the threat of the entire nation falling (or being pushed) over said fiscal cliff come January 1, 2013.

The simple reason for believing that the politicians won't make a deal before January 1, 2013, are so obvious as to not even be worth mentioning and that is the exploding federal government deficit and ever-expanding national debt, due to surpass its limits within another month or so.

The government needs money. Let me say that again, with emphasis:

OK, maybe that was a little harsh on the eyes, but there's no doubting the veracity of that statement. And, since the government needs money, and, since the politicians express this nagging sentiment that they are two parties poles apart on ideology and methodology, when in fact they are one and the same party when it comes to self-survival, the best way to get more money is to raise taxes on everybody and blame each other, which, in the long run, means nobody gets blamed, nobody has to worry about torches, pitchforks and being run out of town on a rail, and everybody gets re-elected, eventually.

For Wall Street, it means more money for corporations, which can and do break every law imaginable in pursuit of profit, and largely get away with it. Or, the traders are just ramping up stocks on the backs of their muppet clients, while quietly cashing out and putting their money into tangible assets like gold, silver, real estate, or stashing it away in the Cayman Islands or some other off-shore tax haven.

Think, for a moment. According to recently released statistics, and demonstrated by this article, in August and September, over three times as many foodstamp recipients (over one million) were added to the economy as jobs (324,000). So, where's the recovery? For everybody who gets a low-wage, no-benefit, glorified part-time job, three people apply for and receive food stamps and become a burden on the working class.

Like so many other concepts and programs in these United States, this is unsustainable, yet the media keeps rminding us that all is well, and that we sould go out and buy the latest iWidget or iGadget for Christmas to keep the economy humming along. Really?

Take a look at the S&P Retail Index (^RLX), which, after a double bottom in late October and early November, has headed south again in the first six days of December.

This, my friends, is the Christmas season, the buying season, the make-or-break season for retailers. If everything is so honkey-dorey, then why is this index rolling over, right at the height of what should be its strongest season.

Maybe the market is just being counter-intuitive, but, more likely, the retailers are being slaughtered. Holiday buying is down, as some luxury retailers have recently expressed, like Tiffany and Nordstrom's, and Kohl's, a mainstream retailer, reported horrifying same-store sales last week. Cannibalization. Zombification. Call it what you will, but, if everybody - not just the rich, but, everybody - is going to pay more in taxes next year, because THE GOVERNMENT NEEDS MONEY, how then does the economy look going forward.

Happy Holidays my sweet, firm buns. We're heading over the fiscal cliff by design and the aftermath of crashing billions of dollars below is not going to be very pretty.

I may be completely wrong, but, believe what you like. By all appearances, the deal has already been struck, the politicians are just play-acting, and the deal is that there is no deal. Welcome to the next fork on the road to serfdom.

Am I the only one seeing this for what it is? Where's the fear of the economy rolling over into a recession in the first half of 2013, which the OMB has already expressed would happen were the Bush tax cuts to expire, unemployment benefits be allowed to expire, the reduced take out of Social Security be allowed to expire, and cuts in defense and other programs (the so-called "sequestration") occur all at once?

The congress is set to recess for the holidays on Friday, December 14, four days from now. There simply isn't time enough to craft a substantive deal before then, since nothing at all has been done.

Obama and the Democrats will blame House leader John Boehner and the Republicans, who will blame Obama and the Democrats, and the American people will be left holding the bag, once again, with less in it than before. Tax the rich, tax the poor, tax everybody in between and blame each other. What a plan! Absolutely brilliant!

Market Update at 4:50 pm ET...

Stuck on stupid is about the only way to describe today's market (non)activity. Narrow range (seriously, the Dow was between up 20 and 30 points for almost the entire session) on low volume with the full range of just 55 points was ugly. Totally dead money.

Dow 13,169.88, +14.75 (0.11%)
Nasdaq 2,986.96, +8.92 (0.30%)
S&P 500 1,418.55, +0.48 (0.03%)
NYSE Composite 8,322.68, +8.39(0.10%)
NYSE Volume 2,975,303,000
Nasdaq Volume 1,528,722,750
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 3095-2408
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 139-61
WTI crude oil: 85.56, -0.37
Gold: 1,714.40, +8.90
Silver: 33.38, +0.246

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