Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Day After: Buyer's Remorse and the Tea Party Gambit

One day after the Fed did the unexpected - which really should have been expected, after all, since the Fed is so good at doing nothing - and kept its asset purchase program intact, stocks on Wall Street were shaken, not stirred, with the Dow and S&P posting modest losses and only the NASDAQ ahead at the close.

Since yesterday's post-announcement feeding frenzy was done at such a rapid pace, there was a feeling today that the party was great, but some may have overdone it, so positions were squared in front of tomorrow's quadruple-witching options expiry, locking in profits.

There was also a bit of nastiness coming out of Washington, DC, in the form of forty or so House Republicans promoting a bill that would fund the federal government, but only if a provision to defund the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) was included.

While that measure could survive a House vote, and well might, the chances of it making its way through the Senate are a different-striped animal altogether. And the chances of Obama signing it into law are absolutely zero.

If the House Republicans have their way, this stalemate could produce a partial shutdown of the federal government (please save your applause for the end of the performance) on October 1, which is just 12 days hence, so traders may have been taking a few chips off the table in advance of those ugly consequences.

Certain members of the House, known widely as Tea Partiers, would like to find a way to accomplish one of two goals: stopping ObamaCare before it is fully implemented, or, the more popular alternative, stopping the federal government from borrowing the Treasury into debt hell, a course which is already well-trodden. If the government cannot borrow any more, it stops the Federal Reserve's treasury purchases dead in its tracks and generally ends the economy as we know it, which, come to think of it, might be a brilliant idea, since the economy has strayed far from free market economics and is wholly controlled by the Federal Reserve and its vassals, the mega-bank primary dealers. Gains of all kind are generally flowing only to the top 3% or even the top 1% of the wealthiest Americans, with the rest of the populace nothing more than debt slaves.

If the Republicans in the House can stand their ground, force the government to pay its bills without further borrowing (a seeming impossibility), it could be the best thing that's happened in this country since Benny Goodman played Carnegie Hall in 1938, and that's a long time coming.

Sure, there will be dislocations and a massive depression, but on the other side would be prosperity and a more even playing field for entrepreneurs and citizens without the overarching dictates of an out-of-control oligarchy.

Sounds good, doesn't it? Let's see how this plays out, though nobody is betting that the House Tea Partiers could destroy the global economy with just one, grandiose, spectacular move.

Dow 15,636.55, -40.39 (0.26%)
Nasdaq 3,789.38, +5.74 (0.15%)
S&P 500 1,722.34, -3.18 (0.18%)
10-Yr Bond 2.75%, +0.04
NYSE Volume 4,047,428,000
Nasdaq Volume 1,742,718,375
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 2837-3763
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 564-34
WTI crude oil: 106.39, -1.68
Gold: 1,366.20, -3.10
Silver: 23.10, -0.192

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