Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Markets Up Following Three-Day Weekend; Congress Still on Vacation

Nothing like a three-day weekend to release pent-up demand.

Stocks took off like rockets into the sky at the open, leveled off and stayed about the same throughout the session. The S&P closed at a five-year high; the NASDAQ at a 12-year peak. Impressive.

Nobody is taking the issue of sequestration - which will cause some cuts in federal spending, but nothing too severe - seriously. Congress, like school-kids, teachers and administrators, has taken the entire week off.

One care hardly blame the hard-working members of congress for taking a nine-day vacation prior to sequestration to take effect on March 1. After all, they've worked tirelessly at getting re-elected and avoiding making hard choices, like putting together a budget or crafting a jobs bill to solve the unemployment situation.

Congress, like most of Washington, is a near-complete waste of effort. If there's any problem with the US economy, congress will surely attempt to make it worse. In fact, many in the business community will state quite plainly that congress and various levels of government - with its myriad rules, regulations and taxes - is the reason the economy only benefits Wall Street corporations and their shareholders. The rest of us will just have to struggle along, hopefully avoiding the taxes and rules government is so good at marking up and so bad at enforcing.

As for stocks, they're rapidly approaching record highs, which, considering the GDP was -0.1 in the 4th quarter last year and unemployment is "officially" 7.9%, is quite a remarkable feat. Truly, the power of low interest rates and unlimited QE by central banks worldwide, is very robust.

Making money in this environment has been a complete no-brainer. A monkey throwing darts at a stock table could have ramped up 10% gains easily. If the S&P 500 ends the week in positive territory, it will be the eighth straight week of gains, never before accomplished in the history of the index.

There is absolutely no fear in the marketplace, which, in and of itself, is reason to be afraid.

Precious metals - particularly gold and silver - have been on sale for some time and got even cheaper today.

Dow 14,035.67, +53.91 (0.39%)
NASDAQ 3,213.59, +21.56 (0.68%)
S&P 500 1,530.94, +11.15 (0.73%)
NYSE Composite 9,004.40, +71.18 (0.80%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,790,308,875
NYSE Volume 4,003,571,000
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 4400-2121
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 640-39
WTI crude oil: 96.66, +0.80
Gold: 1,604.20, -5.30
Silver: 29.42, -0.427

In the video below, Senator Elizabeth Warren asks officials of various "supervisory" agencies the last time they took a big Wall Street bank to trial. The answers are, in a word, predictable.

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