Monday, January 13, 2014

Markets Respond Suddenly to Structural Deficiencies in Global Economy

In case anybody was not noticing, stocks haven't exactly been on fire through the first few sessions of 2014 (eight of them, including today), but, apparently, a solid number of investors have been taking note and today decided to take action.

Friday's non-farm payrolls report may have been the initial impetus to really kick off today's selling spree, which accelerated throughout the session with stocks ending near the lows of the day on the major indices, sending all of the major exchanges into the red for the year.

Beyond the horrifying labor situation outlined by the aforementioned December payroll report, retail holiday sales figures have been coming in at well below anybody's best guesses and many retailers are now forecasting less-than-optimistic projections for January and beyond.

A few of today's highlights from the retail field (in addition to the meltdowns already underway via Sears and JC Penny) are Express (EXPR 18.15, -0.87(4.57%)) and Lululemon (LULU 49.70, -9.90(16.61%)), bot of which lowered their guidance on Monday. Others on the retail decliners' hit list include Coach (COH 54.30, -1.78(3.17%)), Gap (GPS 38.25, -1.59(3.99%)), and Michael Kors (KORS 76.67, -3.13(3.92%)).

Multi-faceted are the reasons for poor performances in stocks, from a stalled-out labor market to continued de-leveraging by consumers to the Obamacare fiasco to rising college tuition costs, these are just a few of the market-roiling scenarios playing out in the US and global economy.

There's more to today's selling than meets the eye, however, because there are serious cracks in the facade that is the US government, the status of the dollar as the world's reserve currency and the generally-frayed fabric of the Federal Reserve. Those in the know realize that time may be running short on fiat currency, of which all of the world's currencies are concurrently backed by nothing more than people's blind willingness to accept paper money in exchange for real goods and services.

That's at the root of the world's worries, but it is gaining prominence because individuals and businesses continue to shed debt, while the Fed, the Bank of Japan and the Eu monetary masters continue in their vain attempts to create more debt, which is, after all, their lifeblood. The only entities continuing to create debt are governments, making theirs and the days of their central bankers, numbered and in decline.

Losing faith completely in a particular government, national currency or system of exchange takes time, and when it comes to global currencies, such as the US dollar, even more time, but, as the events of 2007-2009 showed with sensational alarm, when faith becomes frayed in the minds of investors and speculators, events can spiral out of control, and, while that may not be precisely what's happening at present, it sure has the allure and feel of a full-blown currency/competency/confidence crisis in the making, one which actually started five to seven years ago, depending on which aspect one assigns as the starting point.

Demographically, the planet's population is aging and retiring; the current crop of up-and-coming youths don't inspire much in terms of leadership skills and a world dependent on handouts from government programs when the government itself is the main culprit and cause of the deterioration of global society is not a model upon which any sentient, thinking being would wager to last very long.

Gloom and doom scenarios such as this have roots in reality, though the psychological paradigms of cognitive dissonance and normalcy bias keep the general population in a state of suspended stupidity, though even the dullest among us can see the writing on the wall. Acceptance of such a harsh reality is not ready-made. It takes time, fear, and eventually, lots and lots of pain.

The time is growing short, the pain increasing (Have your wages gone up lately, while your costs continue higher and government regulations gain in stupidity, complexity and lack of enforceability?) and the fear, finally making a grand appearance at Wall Street, is beginning to spread.

Best to be prepared, and keep one's head while all about are panicking, because the panic is about to go mainstream.

As for the Fed, and how they create debt-money out of thin air, this brief, four-second clip should sufficiently explain:

DOW 16,257.94, -179.11 (-1.09%)
NASDAQ 4,113.30, -61.36 (-1.47%)
S&P 1,819.20, -23.17 (-1.26%)
10-Yr Note 99.20, +1.15 (+1.17%) Yield: 2.83%
NASDAQ Volume 2.17 Bil
NYSE Volume 3.58 Bil
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 1526-4234
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 325-42
WTI crude oil: 91.80, -0.92
Gold: 1,251.10, +4.20
Silver: 20.38, +0.162
Corn: 434.50, +1.75

No comments: