Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The time has come, at last.

Almost anybody who is anybody on Wall Street is in agreement that the Fed's POMO-and-ZIRP-induced party has come to an end, and like all good party-goers, the hangovers are beginning to be felt.

Laughably, Goldman Sachs, the evil giant squid which everyone loves to hate, expects the party to go on without end, today boosting its outlook for oil to something ridiculous at about $130/barrel. Somebody needs to ease the Goldman boys away from the punch bowl, because they've obviously had too much. It takes less than a genius rationalization to understand that if everything begins going in reverse, oil cannot be priced higher. This simple, fundamental fact has apparently escaped the great minds in Goldman's glassy, lower-Manhattan towers.

Elsewhere, Greece steps closer and closer to defaulting on its debt. Not that Greece might one day default; it is an eventuality, and the sooner it gets over with it, the better. Yields on 10-year greek bonds have been running at about 25%, which would be a real find if they were actually going to pay them back. Of course, they're not, so whomever is loaning them money (there are a lot of silly people in this world) is exacting a pretty hefty price for the privilege.

Stocks went up, then down, then back up and finally, down into the close, a nifty continuation trade that began a few weeks ago and has been gathering momentum. The close today was rather dramtic, with loads of selling on pretty solid volume. Sooner or later, there will be a final flushing out of all the weak hands - and there are many - and a cataclysmic collapse in all the US - and global - stock indices.

We are heading into a frightening period of economic history, as nothing less than the actual value of money will be center stage. Today, $10 US could buy a couple of raw 8 oz. steaks of less-than premium quality. Tomorrow, who knows, maybe the same money could buy only a pound of bologna, or perhaps one could purchase premium sirloins. It all depends on the politics, the players and the public's acceptance of the value of a dollar, or two, or ten.

For the present, the US dollar still holds some value and still buys oil globally. That is the good news. The bad news is that there are a multitude of competing currencies, pricing strategies and unknowns that could change the course of economic history in a very short time. As the Fed unwinds its massive funding and balance sheet, all manner of nastiness could occur, though the current betting is on a mild dose of deflation, probably through the end of this year and into the first and second quarters of next. In other words, another year of fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD). After that, nobody knows, so plan accordingly. HA, ha, ha.

Dow 12,356.21, -25.05 (0.20%)
NASDAQ 2,746.16, -12.74 (0.46%)
S&P 500 1,316.28, -1.09 (0.08%)
NYSE Composite 8,252.46, -15.91 (0.19%)

Not unexpectedly, declining issues bettered advancers, 3587-2941. NASDAQ new highs: 48; new lows: 79. NYSE new highs: 74; new lows: 32. Combined new highs: 122; new lows: 111. A tenuous win for the bulls, but on slight, sell-weighted volume.

NASDAQ Volume 1,880,249,750
NYSE Volume 3,867,757,500

Crude oil popped back over $100 per barrel on the back of Goldman's call, but it didn't hold, finishing with a gain of $1.89, to $99.59. Gold tracked higher by $8.10, currently at $1525.30. Silver blasted higher by $1.50, to $36.57. Apparently, faith in physical silver holdings has regained some degree of confidence, though there will certainly be more raids led by JP Morgan, hoping to keep a lid on the price. That's another eventuality; Morgan will fail.

Cash continues to hold a place of prominence in a multitude of portfolios, and for good reason. Bargains pop up nearly every day, and savvy buyers are keen to take appropriate advantage, though they should beware, as price discovery is more than ever more art than science.

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