Thursday, January 23, 2014

Why the Boom Went Bust Today; Stocks Rocked; Gold, Silver, Bonds Higher

Despite a pair of great earnings reports after the bell Wednesday - Netflix and eBay - stocks sold off dramatically on Thursday, starting even before the opening bell, as futures pointed to a grim opening.

When trading began, the Dow slumped an immediate 135 points, while the S&P and NASDAQ took on deep losses. The negative condition persisted throughout the day, actually getting worse in the afternoon.

While stocks have already begun the year on a less-than-enthusiastic note, today's drops were the worse seen since last August and quite possibly are foretelling of further declines to come.

Commentators in the financial media mostly failed to comprehend the causes for today's collapse in equities, which were, in no particular order, the Chinese banking system becoming unglued, Turkey's economy falling apart at the seams, heightened tensions in the Ukraine, fear over terrorist attacks at the Olympics in Soshi, Russia, continuing civil war in Syria and 1.37 million people dropping off of the Emergency Unemployment Compensation roles.

Let's examine this last bit of news first, because it is so US-centric and is a troubling sign of the ongoing impotence of the federal government. Recall, the noises out of Washington, DC, earlier this month about restoring the aid to the people whose 99 weeks of unemployment were ending. Democrats were screaming "unfair," and that we need to help these people, as the money for these continuing unemployment benefits was eliminated by the widely-hailed budget "deal" that passed through congress in December.

Recall, also, that pension and benefits for military retirees and disabled vets was also slashed by that budget and roundly criticized by congress-people on the left and the right. The cuts were said to be "unpatriotic", and many vowed to restore them. A month has gone by and those cuts are still in place. Veterans are getting the shaft, and now, the long-term unemployed, without the media (controlled by the government) raising as much as an eyebrow over these issues, proving, without any shadow of a doubt, that the politicians in Washington have not only lost all sense of justice, decency or propriety, but they are also quickly losing their ability to make coherent policy.

What politicians in Washington, DC, have accomplished, however, is the uncanny ability to lie ruthlessly about anything at all, and to now lose what little support remained from the people of the United States. With the approval rating of congress already at multi-generational lows, it's about to go even lower. People should have been in the streets already, but their voices have been silenced by the Federal Reserve, together with the false statistics about the "improving economy" bantered about the past four to five years.

What will be lost next by the politicians is their ability to rule. They have lost all credibility and the consent of the people has long since been quietly withdrawn by many. The federal government, either by design or incompetence, has been failing and is about to fail completely. Without somebody stepping up to right the ship - and don't count on it - the ship of state, already rudderless and with torn sails, has begun to sink. Special interests to which the politicians have catered, have blown a hole in the hull, and it's not readily repairable. The United States is rapidly devolving into a fascist, welfare/police state, and, making matters worse and more worrisome, this is only the beginning.

Other than the United States collapsing in a major hurry, the rest of the world doesn't look much rosier. If nobody gets killed at the Olympics - if they even go off as planned - it will be nothing short of a miracle.

The other major events of the day were the widespread devaluation in the value of the Turkish Lira and a bank failure in China, also just beginning.

Turkey's currency fell three percent against the dollar, the most of any currency outside of Argentina (already a basket case, down 14% just today), despite intervention by the central bank, which was reportedly in the process of unloading $3 billion in foreign reserves.

In China, the evolving shadow banking crisis just went from bad to worse as it was reported today that some rural credit unions have been unable to pay back depositors for over a year. This would, in most countries, have been major news, prompting a flight of money from banks (bank run), but the circumspect Chinese media suppresses most of this kind of information from the outside world. In a nutshell, China's dubious "boom" economy may be going bust, or, realistically, may already be well down the path of self-immolation.

Taking just these few "newsy" items into perspective, it just might be time to return to "clinging to their guns and bibles," for more than just a few Americans. As for the rest of the world, well, their guns have largely already been confiscated and bibles don't offer much protection. Pitchforks and torches, anyone? God save them.

Others may be taking some time to polish up the gold and silver, which were the main winners on the day, along with the 10-year note, which fell to 2.80, the lowest yield in roughly two months.

As if that wasn't enough, teen idol, Justin Beiber, was arrested last night for DUI. Oh, the horror!... and, no, we're not linking to that story.

DOW 16,197.35, -175.99 (-1.07%)
NASDAQ 4,218.87, -24.13 (-0.57%)
S&P 1,828.46, -16.40 (-0.89%)
10-Yr Note 99.56, +1.25 (+1.27%) Yield: 2.80%
NASDAQ Volume 2.00 Bil
NYSE Volume 3.91 Bil
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 1829-3918
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 196-62
WTI crude oil: 97.32, +0.59
Gold: 1,262.30. +23.70
Silver: 20.01, +0.171
Corn: 429.00, +2.75

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