With not much in the way of company news or economic data to spur stocks in any particular direction, stocks - if you believe there is still a viable market out there - may have taken their queues today from China, where manufacturing slipped to its lowest level in nearly a year.
HSBC's purchasing manager's initial survey for March fell to 49.2, signaling contraction, from January's reading of 50.7, the worst reading in 11 months. The survey is designed so that numbers above 50 indicate expansion, under 50, contraction.
This should not have been a surprise to anyone on Wall Street, because they know how China's dumplings are boiled. They're reliant on exports of manufactured goods, primarily to the United States and Europe.
Therefore, if those two consumer groups are not buying, China isn't selling. And that's exactly what has been going on for months now, if not years. Economic numbers in all areas of the world are slightly skewed by regional and political preference, but when China, widely regarded as the world's engine of growth in the 21st century, actually shows manufacturing in decline, it's likely much worse than reported.
There isn't much about boosting manufacturing that the central banks of the world haven't already tried and found to not work, so it's likely, at this point, up to individuals to get out and spend.
Not. Gonna. Happen.
Europe is bankrupt. The USA has gone, in sixty short years, from being a creditor nation, to debtor nation, to where we are today, on the cusp of becoming a deadbeat nation.
In popular parlance, a deadbeat is somebody who borrows and doesn't pay back its debts. Well, the good, old USA can do attitude hasn't been getting it done for a long, long time. Which is why we have a federal debt of over $16 Trillion. The government doesn't pay off its debts; it rolls them over into new debt, something that, if you or I or your neighbor tried to do, we'd be laughed all the way to the nearest courthouse.
The US government has seemingly been intent upon destroying the country, the currency, and the popular notion of being the "land of the free." The failure of politicians to even attempt to fix the various parts of our fiscal condition that are broken is at the bottom of not only the Fed's Zero Interest Rate Policy (ZIRP) but also is tearing away at the fabric of the nation, and people are beginning, at last, to notice, and worse, they're doing something about it.
They're not buying. They're not buying Chinese products. They're not buying politicians' promises. They're not buying Wall Street's scams. They're not buying government statistics because people in America don't consider themselves statistics. They consider themselves people.
People matter. Governments come and go. It may be getting close to the time that some of the bigger ones get up and leave.
But, they'll probably need a little push... over the cliff.
Dow 18,011.14, -104.90 (-0.58%)
S&P 500 2,091.50, -12.92 (-0.61%)
NASDAQ 4,994.73, -16.25 (-0.32%)