Showing posts with label Bernanke. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bernanke. Show all posts

Monday, February 3, 2014

Wall Street Has a Problem, So Everybody Will Suffer; Stocks Smashed on Yellen's 1st Day

Fed Chairwoman, Janet Yellen, is just about to head home from her first day as head of the US Federal Reserve System. Judging by what happened on Wall Street, she's probably not going to cook herself a wholesome meal, but rather will order out, Chinese the most likely choice.

Stocks went absolutely South on the first day of February, largely in response to the Fed's decision to continue their asset purchase tapering, but moreso on US and China economic weakness.

China's PMI for January edged down to 50.5, the lowest level in six months, not exactly the kind of news Ms. Yellen was seeking. Making matters worse for the new Fed head, US ISM fell from 56.5 to 51.3, sending stocks, already down on the session, into a tailspin after their release at 10:00 am ET.

The lethal combination of the Fed cutting back on bond purchases, in the face of weakening data from the world's two largest economies, set the stage for a massive selloff on Wall Street and a flight to the safety of US treasury bonds, which closed at their lowest yield level - on the benchmark 10-year note - in three months.

The carnage on Wall Street was not isolated to just today, however. Stocks have been performing poorly all year, and the level of fear is perceptibly rising, with the Dow, NASDAQ and S&P 500 all closing down more than 2%, after the Nikkei fell 295 points and officially into a correction, down 10% off the recent highs.

The losses on Wall Street were monumental. For the Dow, it was the worst start to a month since 1982; for the NASDAQ, the losses were the worst since the inception of the index (1972).

Auto sales were down for January, with weather blamed for sluggish sales. Bond funds saw 20-30 time normal volume of inflows. The VIX has gone from the mid-12s to over 21 in a month, a 70%-plus rise in risk perception. Not only were stocks down, but volume was large, and has been throughout the slide which began in January.

The reaction in bond markets - sending the 10-year down to a yield of 2.58% - was perfectly rational. As risk assets (stocks) deteriorate, safety is sought, and there's nothing safer than US treasuries, or, maybe, German bunds, also lower during the past month and today.

Looking forward, Ms. Yellen should have expected this, or worse. After all, history tells us that all new Fed chairs inherit crises. as did Volker, Greenspan and Bernanke before her. Surely, the shared wisdom of decades of Federal Reserve actions will guide Ms. Yellen to a logical solution, stopping the slide in stocks while keeping the US economy growing.

Or will it?

Yellen is trapped. QE tapering is already the de facto standard policy. To reverse it would be to admit defeat, and possibly undermine any confidence left in the institution of the Federal Reserve, which, admittedly, isn't much. The true solution is for the Fed to stand back, watch the markets deteriorate, witness the destruction of the US and global economy over the near term and hope that people, individuals and businesses, will have enough of their wits remaining to muddle through a few years of truly hard times.

The Fed has no choice. Interest rates are already at zero and QE has had limited effect. It's time for the Fed to turn its back on the economy and the markets and let chips fall where they may. Any other action will only result in more asset dislocations, of which there are already too many.

For those of us who are not heavily invested in stocks (that leaves out anybody depending upon a pension, either now or in the future), SHORT AT WILL. This downward thrust will eventually manifest itself into a correction (the Dow is less than 500 points from it) and, by May or June or July, at the latest, a fully-blown bear market.

Bull markets do not last forever, and this current bull, which began in March, 2009, has reached its end. If proof is needed, check the highs on the indices from December and see how long it takes to get back to those levels. A reasonable guess, at this juncture, would be seven to ten years, maybe as long as 20.

The globalization experiment, as it always does, is failing. Economies must begin to fend for themselves and become more localized. Faith in Wall Street, which took a severe blow in 2008-09, will lose all credibility in coming months. Already, there are hordes of individuals who do not trust the wizards of Wall Street, as it was in the 1930s, during the Great Depression.

Wall Street will not respond well. Stocks will fall. Bond yields and mortgages will be even lower than in recent years. While those who have bought into the system - government employees, pensioners of many stripes, plain idiots and "investors" - will suffer, the prudent, the goldbugs, silverbugs and savers will eventually be rewarded for their patience and their frugality.

Put one's faith not in the data and derivatives of Wall Street, but in the strength of individuals, work ethic and survivability. That's a trade which has stood the test of time.

Note to Dan K (who may or may not be interested), and Adam Smith theorists, corn was up 0.40% today; silver gained 1.51%. Deflation.

DOW 15,372.80, -326.05 (-2.08%)
NASDAQ 3,996.96, -106.92 (-2.61%)
S&P 1,741.89, -40.70 (-2.28%)
10-Yr Note 101.48, +1.21 (+1.21%) Yield: 2.58%
NASDAQ Volume 2.41 Bil
NYSE Volume 4.72 Bil
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 839-4976 (extreme)
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 83-197 (trending)
WTI crude oil: 96.43, -1.06
Gold: 1,259.90, +20.10
Silver: 19.41, +0.289
Corn: 435.75, +1.75

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Saturday Afternoon Quarterback: The Day After the Great January Stock Slide

OK, it's Saturday, and the world hasn't ended, but what's important is to keep abreast of developments over the weekend in places like Argentina and Turkey, both of which are experiencing significant currency issues.

The other part of today's exercise is to see if there is anything that might give a clue to the future, and as to whether the massive selloff on Friday (and all week on the Dow) was a one-off, or if it is going to lead to more dislocations in stocks, a further decline, a 10% correction, or a bear market, which is where the fun really starts for those bent on restoring some semblance of sanity to stock valuations.

Yes, Cry for Argentina

Argentina, a country already shut off from foreign credit markets (could be a blessing in disguise) after the financial collapse of 2001-2002, has been in crisis mode for most of the past three years, with citizens unable to purchase US Dollars with their local currency, the peso, except on black markets, where the going rate is roughly 11-1 or 12-1.

Other restrictions on the movement of money have been imposed by the autocratic government of Christina Kirchner during the recent past, but on Friday, the government was said to be lifting the ban on the purchase of dollars, with an official rate of 8-to-1, and a 20% surcharge, pushing the "official" exchange rate closer to black market prices, though not equal to them. The new policy is said to take effect on Monday, though local chatter is that the government won't have enough dollars available by then to meet expected demand.

The black market is thriving in Argentina's cities, the Euro and US Dollar being the main currencies accepted for millions in hidden transactions. With inflation running at about 30% over the past year, this crisis seems to have legs, eventually resulting in full-blown currency rejection, prompting various economic, social and political problems, likely precisely what the overlords at the World Bank and IMF have in mind.

Argentina is Greece writ large, without bailouts. The take-away is that this is nothing short of economic warfare, with the citizenry being the victims via inflation, social unrest, political uncertainty, with the goal being having the government succumb to the demands of international bankers, who will grind the country down with crushing debt packages disguised as "aid."

Turkey Stew?

In a nutshell, Turkey, a country that is a geographic crossroad between Europe, Asia and the Middle East, is at more crossroads - economic, social and political - than its current leaders can handle. While the country is mostly Sunni Muslim, most of its neighbors to the South (Syria, Iran and Iraq) are Shiite. On the other side to the West is Europe, and the struggle to admit Turkey to the EU has been ongoing for nearly a decade.

The rapid devaluation of the lira, the country's official currency, was a design of European technocrats, who seek to weaken the country's finances to a point at which acceptance of the Euro as the "new" currency would be greeted with cheers of economic progress and stability, though opponents of entering into full-blown Euro acceptance consider that a move characteristic of failure, and point to the loss of sovereignty that would result.

To the North, lies Georgia, Russia and, across the Black Sea, the Ukraine, which has descended into a condition close to civil war, mostly over the issue of whether to join the European Union or throw in with Russia, which holds sway over the country's gas supply. This is somewhat of the same situation facing the Turks and makes the situation all the more confusing. With so much turmoil in the region already, it wouldn't take much of a spark to turn Turkey into a pretty large battlefield, some of it, mostly the southern region, already torn up by the Syrian conflict.

It doesn't take much imagination to see the Turkish situation spiraling wildly out of control. Al Queda already runs arms and terrorists through the country, and Russia also smuggles weaponry to Syria through it. If Turkey were to erupt into violence, one could easily see a wide swath of nations - from Egypt all the way to the Ukraine - as a war zone, much of it already engulfed by violence.

The Wider View

If the situation in Turkey, Syria and the Ukraine wasn't enough to destabilize markets, Argentina and the brewing banking crisis in China certainly have to be rankling the money-handlers.

Here is a brief clip and transcript (about eight minutes) that describes the shadow banking problems in China. Essentially, shadow banking enterprises are financing loans made to companies who borrowed from official channels and have run out of credit or the ability to borrow more on good terms from China's official banking system has been exhausted. The issue is one of rolling over credit in order to avoid default, but, as the article explains, China is going to slow and some industries will be negatively affected, and whole businesses shuttered.

With the difficulty of getting straight information out of China still a huge problem, it's unclear how bad China's debt-to-GDP ratio has become, though it is certainly more than the officially reported 125%.

Of course, with debt-to-GDP at that level or higher in the bulk of developed and emerging nations, China's problems just add to the mix, though it's like dropping a whole stick of butter into a small bowl of flour and milk. It's so big, it threatens to clog up the entire operation and that's what is most worrisome.

There are, naturally, many more reasons why stocks plunged on Friday, from Italy's unemployment at an all-time high of 12.7%, to Spain's unemployment dwarfing that, at 26.8%.

Other indicators include the Baltic Dry Index (BDI), which collapsed in the two weeks after the holidays by an unprecedented amount, and, China's most recent PMI, which the financial media give a wide berth for the cause of the selloff in US stocks. The PMI fell to 49.6, indicating contraction in the manufacturing sector, the lifeblood of the Chinese - and to a great degree, the global - economy.

Here at home, retailers are feeling the pinch from a horrid holiday shopping season, the worst since 2008. JC Penny and Sears have already announced store closings and layoffs. Target and Wal-Mart announced layoffs on Friday, though they were small in number.

Technicals Matter

Technically, US indices are in pretty good shape, overall. The Dow and S&P had been making new all-time highs at the end of 2013, but the performance in the first three full weeks of 2014 are not encouraging. With Friday's decline, the Dow ripped right through its 50-day moving average. On just Thursday and Friday, the Dow more than tripled its losses for the year. The two-day decline was more than 500 points, a number that represents a roughly 3% loss, but, since the index has risen so high, the point total of over 300 points on Friday has a psychological impact.

Imagine the Dow Jones Industrials as a 1600-pound animal, maybe a small hippo. A one-percent loss in weight - 16 pounds - wouldn't seem to matter much, but a 3% loss is close to 50 pounds, possibly worth notice. If the animal were to lose 10% (a correction, in market terms), or 160 pounds, veterinarians would be consulted, and, if a 20% loss in weight were to occur (indicative of a bear market), some might the 320-pound loss in weight was indicative of the animal having a severe disease.

The S&P likewise fell through its 50-day moving average, though the NASDAQ remained in suspended animation above its 50-day moving average, buoyed by Netflix and Google in recent days, though that position may be in jeopardy if the declines from the past few weeks persist and morph into something larger.

Key support areas on the Dow are at 15,450 and 1700 on the S&P, both the 200-day moving averages.

Also, the number of new lows exceeded new highs on Friday, the first time that has happened this year.

Forward Thinking

With earnings season in full gallop, next week should provide more fireworks. Apple and Google will be reporting, and those will be the big ones to watch. Since they are techs, they'll likely give the markets some pause and reason to ignore the declines of the past week, but the big enchilada is the two-day FOMC meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday, January 28 and 29, Ben Bernanke's last.

While the Fed didn't expressly say so when it announced the tapering of their bond purchase program by $10 billion last month, the fear on the Street is that they will announce another $10 billion reduction, bringing their monthly purchases down to $65 billion in February, from $85 billion in December.

Nowhere in its press release from last month
did the Fed even mention further cuts, so a reasonable expectation is that they will continue asset purchases at a rate of $75 billion per month, which, seriously, is more than enough, though market crybabies would like to see even more artificial stimulus.

Interest rates are also normalizing again, with the 10-year dropping to its lowest yield since prior to the "taper" announcement, closing Friday at a yield of 2.72%

Essentially, the turnback on Friday wasn't such a big deal, though any downturn is viewed with skepticism since the Fed is still supplying so much liquidity. If stocks can't maintain their current valuations, it means one of a couple of things. One, the Fed's policies are a complete failure, or, two, the economy is much weaker than anyone thought, or, three, stocks ran up to a highly overbought level and investors are just taking profits, albeit, at a rapid pace.

What's important to watch is how stocks act next week, the final week in January. The Fed announcement will be key, though they shouldn't influence markets considerably unless they taper even more, an unlikely event. If the major indices make it through the week without losing much or actually making gains, keep a close eye on the recent all-time highs on the S&P and the Dow. If these levels are not surpassed, that's a plain signal of a primary bear market. That should surprise nobody except perma-bulls, because this bull market will be a full five years old - 60 months - on March 9th. If the market makes a V bottom and rebounds past the highs (a correction and rebound), short at your own risk, because that would be a sign of a continuing liquidity-driven push higher.

One other indicator to consider is the January Barometer, which, at this juncture, looks certain to be negative. The direction of stocks in January has about a 90% correlation to direction for the rest of the year, so, unless there's a miracle rally this coming week, 2014 appears to be heading South.

For now, it's too early to call direction, but this brief summary of some of the key issues should provide background for all investors.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Wall Street Pouts Despite Twitter IPO; Jobs Data on Deck

Busy day today for the gods of greed, buyers of bluster, falcons of fraud, purveyors of prevarication.

Wall Street was all a-twitter over the IPO of Twitter (TWTR), the latest Web 2.0 mega-fad company gone public, which opened today on the NYSE with a bang. The stock was issued at 26, but opened at 44, quickly ramped up above 50 per share and closed at 44.90, good for a 78% gain. The company - based on "tweets" of 140 characters - is valued at about 29 times sales, pretty rich, especially for a enterprise that's still losing money. Well, at least the founders are now billionaires... on paper.

Prior to the opening bell, there was a flurry of activity from across the Atlantic pond, as Europe's Mario Draghi, ECB president extraordinaire, announced key rate cuts of 25 basis points, leaving the base rate at .25 and the key lending rate at .50. Observers in America wondered what took the Euros so long, though one must consider that they have been in the business of wrecking their own economies and fleecing the public a lot longer than their American counterparts, so they can kick the old can-can a lot longer and down an even shorter road without causing much of a stir.

The response from traders across the continent and in the UK was resoundingly mixed, with the German DAX higher, Britain's FTSE lower and the French CAC-40 barely changed. Don't these people understand the concept of cheap money? Pikers, the lot of them, except, of course, for the stodgy, stingy, and oh-so-proper Germans.

At 8:30 am ET, the US blasted off a couple of economic indicators, releasing the first reading on third quarter GDP at a robust 2.8%, a ribald lie if ever there was one, but enough to scare the few remaining hairs off the head of Lloyd Blankfien and others of his balding ilk. Good news is once again bad news, it appears, and any growth approaching three percent in the US sends shivers up the spineless bankers' backs, because they believe their buddies, Mr. Bernanke and the incoming Mr. Yellen, may cease the easy money programs that has catapulted every dishonest banker into ever-higher tax brackets.

The most recent initial unemployment claims - which were down 9,000 from the previous week, at 336,000, remained stubbornly high, though apparently not quite high enough for the barons of buyouts. These dopes saw this as another sign of a strengthening US economy, so, shortly after the opening bell, stocks did an abrupt about-face and trended lower throughout the session, with little respite.

In other news, Goldman Sachs is under investigation for rigging foreign exchange (FOREX) trading and just about everything else they do, and, yesterday, the Blackstone Group began pitching its rent-backed securities.

Really. They did. And some people actually bought them.

The advance-decline line cratered, with losers leading gainers by a 7:2 ratio, and new lows continue to close the gap on daily new highs, a trend metric that may just flip over if today's losses are indeed presaging something un-funny about tomorrow's delayed October non-farm jobs data, due out an hour before the opening bell. The way to read this is that the government is likely to report that something in the range of 120-150,000 new jobs were created during the month, which would be more proof of economic improvement, exactly what the market doesn't want. Either that, or it's going to be a real stink-bomb, because the forecast is only for 100,000.

Business as usual, my friends. Monkey business, that is.

Dow 15,593.98, -152.90 (0.97%)
Nasdaq 3,857.33, -74.61 (1.90%)
S&P 500 1,747.15, -23.34 (1.32%)
10-Yr Bond 2.61%, -0.03
NYSE Volume 4,092,416,000
Nasdaq Volume 2,196,542,750
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 1276-4371
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 197-101
WTI crude oil: 94.20, -0.60
Gold: 1,308.50, -9.30
Silver: 21.66, -0.111
Corn: 420.50, -0.75

Friday, June 14, 2013

Stocks Finish Lower; Dow, S&P Down 4th Week of Last Five

Bears took back control on Friday, sending the major averages to their fourth session loss of the week. Thursday was the only up day for the markets.

In case anyone wants to figure out what's going on, good luck. Between Fed jawboning and interest rate speculation, VIX movements and the Fed's relentless bond-buying, it's a mixed bag, but the bears seem to have an edge during this period between economic data and second quarter earnings releases, which begin in just over three weeks time.

The Dow and S&P registered their fourth weekly loss in the last five. The strangest indicator came in the form of new highs vs. new lows, where the string of wins by the new 52-week lows was cut off at three, Friday's tape showing the new highs with an unusual advantage on such a largely lower day. Those are telling signals, but more will be revealed about direction upon the conclusion of the FOMC meeting, Tuesday and Wednesday of next week, culminating in Bernanke's press conference.

Bias still remains to the downside.

Outside the market, continuing scandals are rocking the capitol, and the US has committed "something" to the Syrian rebels, though details thus far have been sketchy.

As they say in the old school of hard knocks, "another week, another half a dollar."

Dow 15,070.18, -105.90 (0.70%)
NASDAQ 3,423.56, -21.81 (0.63%)
S&P 500 1,626.73, -9.63 (0.59%)
NYSE Composite 9,263.69, -67.69 (0.73%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,422,469,500
NYSE Volume 3,241,179,500
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 2534-3951
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 161-53
WTI crude oil: 97.85, +1.16
Gold: 1,388.10, +10.30
Silver: 21.96, +0.377

Monday, April 29, 2013

Stocks Ramp Higher, But Gold and Silver Outshine

This is one crazy market.

Considering that there are nearly 50 million Americans on food stamps, earnings reports are showing a slowdown in top and bottom-line growth and recent economic indicators suggest the economy is shrinking rather than improving, stocks continue go up regardless of any and all warning signs, today approaching all-time highs on the S&P and the Dow Jones Industrials.

It's obviously all about the Bernanke bucks, risk-free money inserted into the market via the primary dealers with nowhere to go - since the banks haven't increased lending since 2007 - except into speculative investments, or, in a word: stocks.

The data de jure came from the Dallas Fed, which posted a sickening -15.6 on it's monthly manufacturing index, on expectations of a 5.0 reading, down sharply from last month's 7.40 number. Additionally, personal spending and personal income matched up gains of 0.2% each for March, both down sharply from February.

With $85 billion a month coming directly from the central bank, should one expect anything else? Probably not. Data simply doesn't matter any more. The issue is that the Fed's stimulative activity is only helping the top 10%, particularly those invested in stocks. Savers have been beaten nearly to death due to the record-low yields in fixed investments, so the middle class has been effectively short-changed and turned into nothing but debt slaves.

There are alternative, as has been pointed out expressly on this blog for many years. Land, gold, silver, art, and other tangible assets (especially machinery which is capable of producing products which produce income) may not show daily, weekly or quarterly gains like stocks, but neither are they taxed if held closely.

In the cases of gold, silver and real estate - if owned outright without a mortgage - these hard assets can also be used as loan collateral, to purchase even more assets, or, if one is accustomed to a bit of risk, produce leverage. Bottom line, they are preservers of wealth, as has clearly been the case over the last 10-12 years in which the precious metals have tripled, quadrupled or more, depending upon one's entry point.

Today's stock market gains, though solid, were not as good as those in the precious metals. While the major averages were up between 0.72 and 0.85%, gold gained 0.95 and silver outpaced them all with a solid 1.53% gain, not bad for one day.

But, one needs to appreciate gold and silver not for gains or falls in the market. Even with the smash-down two weeks ago, holders of physical metal haven't lost a thing. They still have the same amount of American silver eagles (ASE) or Kruggerrands, bars, coins or jewelry. And they will have them when markets implode, when the currency crisis comes full circle or when paper investments go up in flames, as they always do.

Besides the obvious notion that all of the stock indices are down sharply against gold or silver over the past 12 years, the precious metals remain the ultimate store of value. Why else would central banks - especially China, Russia and other Asian countries - and their citizens be buying in record amounts?

Hold 'em and don't fold 'em.

Dow 14,818.75, +106.20 (0.72%)
NASDAQ 3,307.02, +27.76 (0.85%)
S&P 500 1,593.61, +11.37 (0.72%)
NYSE Composite 9,237.90, +68.00 (0.74%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,458,762,250
NYSE Volume 2,954,210,000
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 4645-1800
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 399-25 (extreme, again)
WTI crude oil: 94.26, +1.26
Gold: 1,467.40, +13.80
Silver: 24.12, +0.364

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

BOJ Eases; Housing a Little Better; Oil Takes Another Hit

OK, it's getting a little stupid with the incessant chorus of monetization of government (and bank debt).

Today, the Bank of Japan (BOJ) joined in, announcing something along the lines of a couple quadrillion yen to be added to liquidity over the next six to eight months. That may not be correct, but the numbers were large, the editor is too tired from cutting down dead limbs (from actual trees), and the time period is rather irrelevant, since the BOJ has been doing this kind of thing for 20-odd years, with obvious effect: keeping the Japanese economy mired in a semi-permanent state alternating between inflation and depression.

Markets took the news in stride, as usual, bounced around a bit, eventually ending only slightly higher on low volume. That's the story for now, and, while it doesn't change much, some day it will. In the meantime, we're taking our own advice and buying land, seeds (tomatoes, tobacco, broccoli, etc.), silver and maybe some working firearms.

There was what might be called "encouraging" news on the housing front. Housing starts (officially, a shovel in the ground or a stake being placed on a lot by a surveyor) came in at 750K in August, but that was below forecast, though up from the July figure of 733K, which was revised downward from 746K, so, expect the August figures to be revised lower as well, for a net gain of, well, who knows?

Existing home sales for August came in at an annual run-rate of 4.82 million, up from an unrevised 4.47 million in July and well ahead of forecasts. That was the best of the news, because August building permits, viewed as an indicator of current demand, fell from 812K in July to 803K, putting something of a damper on the "animal spirits" which keep calling the bottom in the housing market month after month.

Is this the bottom? Maybe, though that depends on perspective and how far out you wish to project. Give housing another four years of ZIRP, massive MBS buying and monetization of the federal debt and see where we are then.

Even better news came from the oil commodity complex, where the price of crude took another massive hit. There's no telling where the selling is coming from, or why, though it certainly seems fishy given the closeness to the general election - just six short weeks away - and the inherently inflationary effect of Bernanke's QEternity, but, it's welcome relief for drivers in the US, at least.

Dow 13,577.96, +13.32(0.10%)
NASDAQ 3,182.62, +4.82(0.15%)
S&P 5001,461.05, +1.73 (0.12%)
NYSE Composite 8,400.31, +12.87 (0.15%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,826,526,125
NYSE Volume 3,409,506,250
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 2914-2500
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 315-28
WTI crude oil: 91.98, -3.31
Gold: 1,771.70, +0.50
Silver: 34.59, -0.13

Friday, August 3, 2012

Markets Soar on NFP Data; End Week with Paltry Gains

Bernanke didn't deliver. Draghi promised much, but fell fell well short in the court of public opinion.

The BLS, however, with its July non-farm payroll report, hit a home run, reporting an increase of 163,000 net new jobs, well beyond average expectations of 85,000, which was good enough for the investariat to send stocks screaming higher as the week closed out with a winning session after four straight losers.

Friday's gains were enough to just about cover the losses for the week, even though volume was the lowest of the five days and the official unemployment rate ticked up to 8.3%. For the week, the Dow Jones Industrials added 20 points and some change, the S&P gained five, while the NASDAQ picked up nine points.

The NYSE Composite index added 27 points, making the week as a whole much ado about nothing in particular.

Noting that the BLS figures are highly suspect and likely politically-contrived, the prior month's figure of an 80,000 gain was revised to 64,000, casting a bit of a pall on the madness of numbers. Investors (using the term lightly) didn't care, sending stocks near three-month highs.

Naturally, most of the gains were made in the opening minutes of trading, closing out profits to all but the privileged few HFTs and insider, bankster types who always seem to be the most profitable in the market.

Once the initial burst of activity had concluded, the market drifted the rest of the session in a very tight range. For instance, the Dow, after 9:45 am EDT, didn't move in either direction by more than 30 points. This is exactly the kind of frightened trading one would assume in a headline-driven, mostly-artificial market.

The week's activity leaves open some very poignant questions. Since last week's two-day burst was derived from hope for relief from the Fed and ECB in the form of more easing of monetary policy or, in the ECB's case, a more robust lending facility with which to bail out failing banks and sovereigns, why then would a positive reading on employment send stocks higher after both the Fed and ECB disappointed?

Apparently, Wall Street gets it either way. Poor economic conditions produce lax monetary policy (and stock gains), but job growth seemingly blunts the argument for more easing, while showing that the economy is on the road to recovery. A win for Wall Street either way, though long-time market observers might view such duplicity with a dollop of disdain.

Chartists may wish to point out the Dow's double top pattern, though still at levels below the year's highs made in the first week of May. The other major indices display similar patterns, with the broadest measures, the NASDAQ and NYSE Composite, showing many trading gaps along the road higher.

It goes without saying that the current market environment is highly reactive and immediate, especially to the upside. Valuations, which, of course, everybody gives the short shrift these days, are fairly rich, especially with corporate profits mostly down from a year ago and many companies missing revenue targets in the second quarter.

Being the end of the week, and payday or some kind of day for the masters of the universe, the pattern has recently been to end with a loud bang, followed by celebrations at favored watering holes or house parties in the Hamptons.

It's the middle of summer and the rich have to play, after all.

Dow 13,096.17, +217.29 (1.69%)
NASDAQ 2,967.90, +58.13 (2.00%)
S&P 500 1,390.99, +25.99 (1.90%)
NYSE Composite 7,935.35, +169.75 (2.19%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,696,452,375
NYSE Volume 3,499,269,750
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 4479-1107
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 286-70
WTI crude oil: 91.40, +4.27
Gold: 1,609.30, +18.60
Silver: 27.80, +0.81

Monday, July 30, 2012

Markets Flat Ahead of Fed, ECB, Jobs Data

Following the two-day, euro-induced-free-money rally that closed out last week, stocks to a breather on low volume Monday, ahead of three key events later in the week.

On Wednesday, following the Fed's FOMC policy meeting, it is widely expected that Bernanke and friends will have found sufficient weakness in the US economy to promote another round of QE, which will probably take the form of a furtherance of Operation Twist, plus continued handouts of low interest rate money to the major banks to keep the carry trade going.

While the anticipated Fed action has already been widely lauded and traded upon on Wall Street, their efforts up to this point have done nothing to repair the damaged economy. Rather, it's created a kind of non-virtuous cycle wherein banks get money, don't lend it and the main street economy continues to suffer.

Evidence was seen in Friday's announcement that the economy grew at a rate of just 1.5% in the second quarter and continued weakness in the jobs and real estate markets.

Meanwhile over in Euro-land, the finance crowd awaits some kind of firm action by the ECB when the leaders meet on Thursday. At issue is setting up a credit facility large enough to recapitalize Spain's ailing banking sector, most of which is already insolvent and nearing an illiquid state.

As in the US, central bank debt schemes have been largely insufficient to boost the economies of Europe; all these can-kicking efforts seem to be doing is forestalling the inevitable collapse of the Euro, which fell to $1.2258, retreating from a three-week high of $1.2390 made on Friday against the US dollar on Monday.

News out today suggests that Thursday's meeting will be more style than substance and that any bold action may be as many as five weeks away. A formal request for a bailout by Spain, in addition to the already-proposed bailout of their insolvent banks, and approval on technical issues by a German high court are still issues that will not have been resolved by the end of this week.

On Friday, the BLS reports non-farm payroll data for July, which also could throw sand on the perma-bullish fire of the central bankers.

Considering last week's big run-up, there may be a bit of "sell the news" sentiment afoot, regardless of what decisions and announcements are made by the Fed and the ECB.

Dow 13,073.01, -2.65 (0.02%)
NASDAQ 2,945.84, -12.25 (0.41%)
S&P 500 1,385.30, -0.67 (0.05%)
NYSE Composite 7,911.04, -1.13 (0.01%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,482,648,250
NYSE Volume 3,197,376,750
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 2384-3161
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 262-65
WTI crude oil: 89.78, -0.35
Gold: 1,619.70, +1.70
Silver: 28.03, +0.54

Monday, June 4, 2012

Markets Take a Breather, But Issues Remain Unresolved

US markets took a bit of a breather on Monday as news flow from Europe was more a trickle rather than a deluge and the only data that moved US indices was factory orders for April, which came in below forecast at -0.6% on expectations of a move lower of -0.3%. March was revised lower - from -1.9% to -2.1% - which made the current numbers look better by comparison.

After opening briefly to the upside, stocks quickly turned red, even before the first half hour of trading, a signal that the more experienced traders were still trimming their risk exposure, but stocks stabilized, traded in a narrow range, bottomed between noon and 2:00 pm before rallying fairly strongly into the close.

If today was something resembling a dead cat bounce, the kitty remained room temperature, and the bounce was more of a flopping over on one side, that being the upside on the NASDAQ. Essentially, following the worst decline of the year this past Friday, traders might actually be encouraged with a session in which the Dow fell by less than 20 points and the NASDAQ actually ended slightly higher with the S&P unchanged. In the current environment, that kind of performance is about the best one could hope to see.

The somnabulent tone of trading did not prevent another negative read on the advance-decline line nor a persistent gap between new highs and new lows, both of which continue to indicate worsening conditions.

It was a lackluster session on average volume in a wait-and-see scenario. Elections in Greece are the main focus of global markets, with the nation going to the polls on June 17 to try and elect a new government after the previous round could not produce a ruling coalition.

Hope is that the Greek people will do the right thing, which, to the technocratic base of european politics, would be to form a government that favors remaining in the Eurozone and swallowing the bitter pill of austerity, though even the most ardent supporters of the unified currency will concede that the continent faces further problems and keeping the union intact is only a first step.

While Greek voters may indeed vote for a continuation of the current ruinous policies, there is a heightened awareness that the tide of populism in Athens could produce a more radical government that eventually rejects the euro and favors a return to the drachma as the nation's official currency. Such an outcome would likely produce massive dislocations of capital not only in Europe, but worldwide.

Another topic of discussion on the street is one of whether or not the Federal Reserve will signal or engage in another round of QE, which would provide temporary relief to markets, though, as has been seen with the previous two rounds, it would probably amount to nothing more than a sugar coating over economic conditions that are unstable at best and deflationary and point to recession at worst.

The FOMC is set to meet again on June 19 and 20 with a press conference with FED chairman Ben Bernanke and a summary of Economic Projections following the policy decision, Prior to that, Bernanke is set to testify before the Congressional Joint Economic Committee on Thursday of this week and the calendar is full of other Fed speakers who might give a clue to the next move by the nation's central bankers.

Speculation is rising that the Fed will be forced into a position favoring more easing, since without it, stocks and the general economy don't appear to have enough momentum to continue growing on their own. The same logic applies to Europe, where the message is to bail out, loan and print as much as is needed to keep the titanic economy from listing and sinking.

The main problem is that the issues that contributed to the crisis - now nearly four years old - have still not been resolved, the main point being the necessary deflation of the global credit bubble, which has not occurred. Instead policy has pointed to even more credit creation, prompting the need for more and more of the same policies that will not provide a long term solution. The entire vicious cycle is spelled out in some detail by Charles Hughes Smith on his Of Two Minds blog, an essential read for those not quite equipped to handle the myriad details of credit, collateral and derivatives.

Basically, Smith opines that the problems of the crisis have remained unfixed and continuation of current policies only are buying time before an ultimate collapse. Along similar lines, investor George Soros recently quipped that Europe has only three months in which to get its act together, a time frame that coincides almost neatly with the upcoming US elections in November. Should Europe stumble, fall, crash and burn within the near term, the tide will almost certainly turn against president Obama and toward Republican candidate Mitt (Adolph) Romney.

That seems to be the preferred strategy of the clandestine rulers of US politics, as any further slippage into the abyss of global depression could then be blamed on Mr. Romney's predecessor, just has Obama, even three-and-a-half years into his term of office, continues to lay blame on former president Bush.

The truth is that each president has had his own set of blunders and misfortune, and not all of the economic distress can be placed upon their shoulders. Congressional dithering and inaction and the global banking cartel are responsible for at least two thirds of the malaise, if not all of it.

The coming two weeks will be ones of nail-biting and indecision, with a fairly light schedule of news and data flow, all of which seems to in the range from bad to horrifying of late. The Greeks, Bernanke, and to some extent, the parliamentary elections in France on June 10 and 17 should be the major catalysts for market in the near term.

Much of what's already occurred and what will happen is still murky, and, since markets hate uncertainty, the chances for a rally in the near term are quite slim. A continued correction and possible bear market conditions (down 20% or more from recent highs) have become distinct possibilities.

Dow 12,101.46, -17.11 (0.14%)
NASDAQ 2,760.01, +12.53 (0.46%)
S&P 500 1,278.18, +0.14 (0.01%)
NYSE Composite 7,286.74, -5.49 (0.08%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,661,424,125
NYSE Volume 3,922,442,750
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 2564-3054
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 36-293
WTI crude oil: 83.98, +0.75
Gold: 1,613.90, -8.20
Silver: 28.01, -0.51

Friday, February 25, 2011

Short Attention Span Investing

These days, investors have extremely short memories. The Ponzi system that is running - and ruining - Wall Street likes it that way because they can profit from excess trading and wild swings in prices.

Just four days ago, the world seemed to be about to end. Lybia was exploding and the oil we get from the Middle East was about to be cut off. Panic was rampant. Too bad it was all a lie and the big move in oil prices due more to speculation than the madness of kings and monarchs.

The US gets the vast majority of its oil from Canada, Mexico, Nigeria and Venezuela, though Saudi Arabia is third on the list. Lybia isn't even in the Top 15 and Algeria's contribution amounts to more of a rounding error than a vital statistic.

Like the manufactured gasoline shortages of the 70s, the recent oil scare was purely for the entertainment and profit of the privileged class of investors who rig the game and they did just fine, thank you, now having sold their shares at the top and repurchased at a better price, which, of course, they will pimp and pump to the half dozen retail investors remaining solvent until the next "disaster du jour."

Stocks remain overvalued since the few days of decline did little to deflate the current bubble. There's really no good reason to own any equities at all unless you have a vested stake in a certain company's fortunes or can derive a substantial dividend without any risk (impossible).

Gold and silver have sold off a bit as the week dragged on from panic to placidity, though they remain the best investments and nothing that happens between now and the end of time (2012?) will change that. In fact, one need not even tie up money in precious metals. Cash is still useful, as are some of the things it buys, like hard capital goods, machinery, tools, select art and rarities, for which there will always be a market.

In any case, Wall Street saw fit to end the week on a high note, though they didn't exactly make much of a dent in the big declines from Tuesday and Wednesday. Thank goodness it was a short week or it would have likely ended at new highs.

Dow 12,130.45, +61.95 (0.51%)
NASDAQ 2,781.05, +43.15 (1.58%)
S&P 500 1,319.88, +13.78 (1.06%)
NYSE Composite 8,378.04, +101.75 (1.23%)

Winners led losers by an outrageous margin, 5291-1272, confirming the belief that insiders executed a perfect pump-dump and buy on the unsuspecting, foolish public once again. That kind of disparity is usually reserved for days led by stunning positive news, though nowadays any good POMO from the Fed will suffice, apparently. Volume was once again in the sewer, as has been the norm. There is always higher relative volume on sell-offs than on purely positive sessions.

On the NASDAQ, there were 88 new highs and 22 new lows. There were 135 new highs and 12 new lows on the NYSE. Thank you Chairman Comrade Bernanke!

NASDAQ Volume 1,894,895,125
NYSE Volume 4,380,597,000

Crude oil gained 60 cents, to close at $97.88, but was up 9% for the week. Get ready to start pushing your car to work. Gold lost $6.50 in value, to $1,409.30, and silver was down 27 cents, though the recent run has put the price near or at 30-year-highs.

And just in case you don't actually believe the CPI measures inflation properly, here's one man's figures on how much prices are actually rising.

Ah, well, enjoy the weekend. Spring Training is well underway. In fact the World Champion Giants played the Arizona Diamondbacks in the first game today. No results yet, probably because they play in Arizona, where news travels slowly.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Silver, 10-Year Note Are New Safety Plays

Let's dispense with the general recap right away:

The first thing that jumps out is how absurdly out of step the major indices are, with the Dow plowing ahead by nearly 6/10 of 1% and the other indices flat. This is as it has been for many months. There are extreme inequities in equities, to coin a phrase and it is a certain sign of manipulation and flights of both fancy and safety.

Dow 12,391.25, +73.11 (0.59%)
NASDAQ 2,833.95, +2.37 (0.08%)
S&P 500 1,343.01, +2.58 (0.19%)
NYSE Composite 8,507.90, +10.49 (0.12%)

Advancers finished ahead of decliners, 3600-2902. On the NASDAQ there were 248 new highs, 14 new lows. On the NYSE, new highs led new lows, 350-8. Volume was well short of being exciting.

NASDAQ Volume 2,123,685,000
NYSE Volume 4,421,542,500

As the Middle East becomes ever more the hotbed of revolution, with uprisings in nearly every country across North Africa and the Persian Gulf, investors are seeking safety and finding a comfortable place to park their money in commodities in general, but silver in particular.

Silver rocketed again today in price as buyers piled in prior to the three-day weekend, pushing the price up to $32.30, a gain of 73 cents, and even higher after the close in New York. By the time markets open in the US on Tuesday, silver could be selling for $35/ounce, so powerful is the short-covering move and subsequent break-out. Gold is closing in on all-time highs again, gaining $3.50 today, to finish at $1,388.60 in NY. Oddly enough, oil futures were down on the day, losing 16 cents, to $86.20, seemingly wanting to settle somewhere between $80 and $85 per barrel, a price with which most - both suppliers and buyers - can live.

The other area receiving an inordinate amount of attention, as Chairman Bernanke nukes the dollar, is the 10-year note, which continued to rally today, pushing yields down to 3.58% at the close. The price of the 10-year is still 100 basis points higher than it was during the summer, thanks to the inflationary effect of the Fed's ZIRP and QE2. Still, money has to go somewhere and the smart money is peeling out of overpriced stocks and into the relative safety of bonds.

For our money, silver still looks like the very best raw investment, bar none. One should be looking for deals on autos and machinery these days, before inflation gets out of control.

A three-day weekend means not having to listen to the talking heads on CNBC for an entire 72 hours. Bliss!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

US Stocks Gain on Treasury Plan Rumor and Innuendo

Briefly, how the Dow gained 400 points after losing 450 on Wednesday:

  • Before the markets open, the Federal Reserve, along with the European Central Bank, the Bank of England, the Bank of Japan and the Swiss National Bank inject $180 billion into into financial markets in an effort to add liquidity.

  • By 10:00 am, the plan seems to be working. The Dow Jones Industrials are up 200 points.

  • Investors, still shaken from Monday and Wednesday's fallout, begin to sell. By noon, the Dow is unchanged. By 1:00 pm, it is down nearly 150 points.

  • In a rocky afternoon session, the Dow regains its positive footing, but by 2:45 it is just above the unchanged mark.

  • CNBC reports that Treasury Secretary Paulson is in talks with congress about creating a pool for bad debt, similar to the Resolution Trust Corp. which helped clean up the savings & loan mess in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

  • By 3:00 pm, the Dow is back up 200 points and adds another 200 in the closing hour.

Naturally, the idea behind the Fed money-pumping and Paulson's late-day desperate jawboning are efforts in futility. Bad debt is bad debt, plain and simple. Wall St. wheelers and dealers made bonehead loans without proper regulatory supervision and now the federal government is supposed to bail them out.

Throwing money at the markets in overnight loans and swaps has proven - over the last 13 months of declining stock values - to be a purely stop-gap affair. Paulson's plan has little chance of finding sponsors in congress and even less opportunity to be acted upon anytime soon. Congress goes into recess at the end of the month, less than two weeks ahead.

But, that doesn't stop the CNBC equity pimps from applauding every single rumor or gesture by either Treasury Secretary Paulson or Fed head Bernanke. The two are have been anointed as infallible. And the gullibility of investors cannot be underestimated. Today's late surge was supposed to indicate that the crisis had passed... at least for now.

Elsewhere, Morgan Stanley (MS), one of only two remaining investment banks (the other is Goldman Sachs), is apparently in talks to be acquired by Wachovia Bank (WB). As odd as that combination sounds, Wachovia, itself under scrutiny be investors for a shaky balance sheet, rocketed up 59% on the day, from 9.12 to 14.50. Morgan Stanley gained over 3%.

Apparently, combining two failing companies into one will magically transform the remaining single entity into a financial powerhouse. Over the past 12 months, Wachovia has lost 75-80% of shareholder value. It traded as high as 53 per share last year. Morgan Stanley has dropped from nearly 70 to 22, a 68% decline.

Washington Mutual or WaMu, the nation's largest savings and loan bank, also got a boost, though hardly one of any significance, gaining 98 cents to close at 2.99. The stock is down more than 80% from a year ago. Goldman Sachs is attempting to find a buyer or additional funds for the troubled institution.

It's a real morass of bad money chasing more bad money. Wall Street's finances haven't been in such a state of chaos since the Great Depression and these mergers and fixes still fail to address the underlying cause - highly leveraged debt-to-equity and derivatives of staggering magnitude.

These repairs also don't offer any hope to the hosing market or the flagging economy. They are nothing more than chimeras, designed to keep the public unaware of the significance of the crisis. 98 out of 100 Americans actually don't have any idea of what is really occurring, but they do know that - in an overall sense of the game - today's gains canceled out yesterday's losses.

Dow 11,019.69 +410.03; NASDAQ 2,199.10 +100.25; S&P 500 1,206.51 +50.12; NYSE Composite 7,775.16 +334.77

The late-day rally lifted most boats but not all. Advancing issues had a huge edge over losers, 4811-1648. It was not enough to register one of the most unbalanced reading in new highs vs. new lows. 169 stocks made new highs, but 1438 reached new 52-week lows.

Gold was once again in the spotlight, rising $46.50, to close in New York at $897.00. Gold is up $118 in just two days. Silver gained $1.03 to $12.70. The move in the metals begs the question: If everything is all good now, why are investors flocking to safe havens like the metals and bonds?

Oil even managed a small gain of 58 cents, to close at $97.54, after briefly topping the $100 mark earlier in the day. Strangely enough, what was the topic of heated discussion just weeks ago - oil - has now faded to the back pages.

Volume was absolutely off the charts in one of the most volatile and high volume days of the year. Considering so much money was pumped into the markets by central bankers, that should not be a surprise. Nor should the dramatic climb of the indices. After all, most of the trading was nothing more than shady self-dealing.

NYSE Volume 2,430,078,000
NASDAQ Volume 3,914,326,000

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Bernanke Mentions Bank Failures, Market Swoons

Ben Bernanke, in his second day of testimony to the House Financial Services Committee, finally let the cat out of the bag, saying, "I expect there will be some failures," referring to smaller, regional banks which got in over their heads in mortgage financing.

Pointing out that the larger, money center banks had sufficient capital ratios, Bernanke made it clear that he didn't anticipate "any serious problems of that sort," with larger banking interests.

The only problem with the Chairman's statement is that the bigger banks are the ones with the serious problems, a few of which, including Citigroup, Merrill Lynch, JP Morgan (Chase), have had to scurry to raise funds from foreign governments in so-called "sovereign Funds" from countries such as Abu Dhabi, Kuwait, Singapore, and Dubai.

Smaller, regional banks are generally more circumspect and conservative in their financing and investing operations.

Bernanke's words stunned the markets, but he used a velvet hammer to deliver them, knowing full well that the larger banks are teetering on the brink of insolvency and, so serious are their liquidity and confidence problems, that they are loathe to lend to anyone but those customers with perfect credit portfolios.

Stocks were down across the board, with some of the hardest hit in the banking and financial sector. The Dow ended its streak of four straight positive gains with a pullback from resistance above the 12,725 area.

Dow 12,582.18 -112.10; NASDAQ 2,331.57 -22.21; S&P 500 1,367.68 -12.34; NYSE Composite 9,221.88 -71.01

Those calling for a bottom or resumption of the bull market (HA!) should likely take this as a warning that the January 22-23 lows are there to be retested and likely broken to the downside.

Corporate earnings have by and largely been uninspiring, new unemployment claims were up sharply this week (+19,000) and the banking crisis is hiding behind the housing slump, which only seems to worsen with each passing day.

A couple of notes about housing are worth mentioning. Some estimates put the value of all US households at around $20 million. Thus, if prices dropped 9%, as recently reported, that's a $1.8 TRILLION loss in perceived value. That has a sting.

Secondly, realtors mention that the slump has hut most in large cities, and especially in Florida and California. 2nd and 3rd tier metropolitan areas (cities under 300,000) and many rural communities never experienced the dramatic rise in real estate values and thus are not witnessing severe discounting in prices.

Overall, the action on Thursday was decidedly negative. Losing issues beat gainers by a hearty 5-2 margin, 4323-1944. New lows continued to hold the upper hand on new highs, 233-135, a condition which has now persisted for some four months.

Oil priced at a new record of $102.60, up a whopping $2.95 on the day. Gold gained $6.50 to close at another record high of $967.50. Silver continued to skyrocket, up another 38 cents to $19.71.

Those guys who were telling you to buy gold last year, the year before and the year before that? They were right. And, judging from the looks of things, it's still not too late. Many experts are expecting the precious shiny stuff to easily reach $1500 over the next 18-24 months.

NYSE Volume 3,814,476,250
NASDAQ Volume 2,017,081,000

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Bernanke, Paulson Speak, Markets Sink

One would suppose, with three-quarters of the Plunge Protection Team (PPT) busy testifying before congress, that there would be nobody at the controls to prevent a market sell-off.

That's precisely what happened - be it coincidence or otherwise - on Thursday, as Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and SEC Chairman Christopher Cox delivered testimony on the economy to Senate Banking Committee members.

In their remarks, both Bernanke and Paulson both indicated they felt the economy was in a somewhat delicate condition, owing mostly to a continuing credit crisis in which bankers have had difficulty lending to any but the most credit-worthy applicants.

What their remarks did not reveal, though hinted at, was that the bankers themselves were the cause of the precarious credit conditions, by participating in the massive fraud and deception that is now the subprime mortgage and related derivative investment mess.

And what a mess it is. Bank of America report released today suggested that the losses related to subprime mortgages was more than $7.7 trillion globally.

Another money center was hit with unfortunate fallout on Thursday, adding to the market's woes. Swiss financial giant UBS revealed a net loss of 4.4 billion Swiss francs ($4.0 billion dollars, $2.7 billion euros) in 2007, including an $18 billion writedown in damaged securities.

Dow 12,376.98 -175.26; NASDAQ 2,332.54 -41.39; S&P 500 1,348.86 -18.35; NYSE Composite 8,968.41 -105.07

Today's losses nearly matched yesterday's outsized gains, and even though the markets are higher for the week, momentum has clearly swung back to the bears. Declining issues outpaced advancers, 4720-1530, while new lows expanded the gap over new highs, 203-97.

Friday's economic reports include the NY Empire State Index and capacity utilization, though neither will likely weigh more on investors than today's dire and apprehensive assertions by Paulson, Cox and Bernanke.

Volume continues to be on the tepid side, as money largely sits, awaiting a safe entry point or going elsewhere.

Oil gained another $2.19 today, closing at $95.46. For the second day in a row, precious metals barely budged. Gold was up 80 cents to $911.00; silver lost 10 cents to $17,26.

Here's a tip. Buy sugar futures and sell corn futures. It's seven times more efficient to produce ethanol from sugar than from corn. On top of that, Tata Motors (TTM) is financing in a company which has tested and is producing a car that runs on air. That should serve as quite a blow to the oil barons.

NYSE Volume 3,630,146,750
NASDAQ Volume 2,270,238,000

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

PPT Rallies Markets, Raises False Hopes

I've mentioned the Plunge Protection Team (PPT) on this blog more than just a few times. While some people think that the President's Working Group on Financial Markets is some kind of chimera that I and other tin-hat conspiracy nuts have created out of whole cloth, there's more than enough evidence - including today's mythic 631-point rally - to prove that the PPT does indeed exist and now operates almost in plain sight.

Here are just three articles concerning the PPT from fairly credible sources:

THE TRAGEDY OF THE US STOCKMARKET Part 2 - PPT failing, panic in Washington...

Gold will rise, US Dollar would burn

Plunge Protection Team Now Official

There are many more which can be found using any search engine, but try this Google News search for links to current articles on the PPT.

After the absurd move today, rallying the Dow from a low of 11,644.81 to a high of 12,276.67, there should be no doubt that the US economy is in the midst of a serious crisis. The problem is that 95% of Americans don't know this because they will see the stock market rebounded today. Half will not know that the Dow was down more than 300 points. The other half will see that but simply not care.

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Economic reporters never mention the PPT, and always assign turnaround movements in the middle of market collapses as either bargain hunting, program trading or tied to the price of oil. So, the average Joe or Jane with money in their 401k thinks everything is OK. All the while the US dollar continues to sink into a black hole on the PPT's profligate spending in US equity markets.

All of this PPT-induced buying began at 12:45, when the markets bottomed out for the second straight day and it continued without interruption right through to the close.

Dow 12,270.17 +298.98; NASDAQ 2,316.41 +24.14; S&P 500 1,338.60 +28.10; NYSE Composite 8,805.68 +144.51

I have seen many a strange event on the markets, but today's takes the cake, the ice cream, plate, fork and napkin. Yesterday, I called the market rally the biggest fraud ever perpetrated in financial markets. I was wrong. Today's action takes that prize, hands down.

Let me be clear. Small investors in America are neither sophisticated or very smart. They get the majority of their information from television (CNBC) or paid shills, invest mostly in mutual funds which they barely comprehend and probably spend less than two hours per week analyzing market trends, individual stocks or financial events.

On the other hand, Americans still trust their federal government which is a major mistake. Here's a short list of non-credible functions, offices and people in the highest positions of power in the United States:

  • The president and his administration and cabinet

  • Congress: both houses are equally inept and unworthy of trust

  • The Federal Reserve, the Chairman (Ben Bernanke) and the Board of Governors

  • Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson

  • Mainstream Media, especially ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX (lapdogs of the government)

  • The SEC

  • CEOs of any major corporation and all of the Dow companies

Thus, the not-so-clandestine operatives of the PPT get to manipulate markets without impunity, resulting in erratic and unexplainable movements like today. This inspires hope in the little people, even though that hope is based on nothing more than a government printing press spitting out $100 bills as fast as it can and operatives in the stock markets buying everything in sight with both hands.

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Market internals show just exactly how ridiculous today's 300-point gain on the Dow really is. Volume was the highest in a long time, surpassing yesterday's highest of 2008. That makes sense, since the PPT had to buy a lot of stocks while people were busy selling them and then covering their short positions as the fraudulent rise overwhelmed everything.

Advancers finally got a leg up on decliners, 4234-2198, but new lows were again dramatically ahead of new highs, 864-60.

Oil slipped by $2.22 to $86.99. Gold closed at $883.10, -7.20, while silver fell by 14 cents to $15.97.

Unless there's any doubt, nobody should be trading stocks unless they have a solid understanding of economics and the workings of the PPT, as the former is fundamental and the latter is a market dynamic which cannot be understated.

Stocks will eventually fall again, retracing the lows of today and yesterday. Within months, if not weeks, the indices should be well below today's levels, though due to the activity of the PPT, the timing of the collapse is difficult to discern.

If you are long stocks or call options, you should not be playing in this market. It's a very dangerous playground and some of the kids carry knives. If you're short or in puts - the advisable position - keep your stops fairly tight and a sharp eye on radical movements like today's. 600-point gains can drastically alter your profits.

NYSE Volume 6,765,203,000
NASDAQ Volume 3,585,647,750

Friday, January 11, 2008

Wall Street Imploding over Credit Concerns

Wall Street was in retreat mode from the opening to closing bells on Friday as investors sold stocks amid an ongoing credit and banking crisis.

Today's headliners were American Express (AXP) and Merrill Lynch (MER), both of which were seen suffering the consequences of an eroding US economy.

American Express was down more than 10% as the company warned that it would miss first quarter analyst estimates due to having to bolster reserves for delinquent credit card users. Stocks of other credit card companies such as Discover, MasterCard and CapitalOne also suffered losses on Friday as panic selling took hold of virtually anything even rumored to be close to a financial, banking or credit company.

Merrill Lynch joined a growing number of banking/brokerages that are having to write off billions of dollars worth of near-worthless credit-backed paper, due to the unwinding of subprime mortgages and a gnawing mortgage meltdown which is showing no signs of abating. The company reportedly will have to write down as much as $15 billion in the most recent quarter alone. More losses may be forthcoming for Merrill and other banking/finance concerns.

There was no doubt about the direction of stocks on Friday, as the selling began at the opening bell and did not relent all day long. Investors are finally awakening to the depth and seriousness of the credit crisis engulfing the entire world economy.

Dow 12,606.30 -246.79; NASDAQ 2,439.94 -48.58; S&P 500 1,401.02 -19.31; NYSE Composite 9,347.47 -143.29

While Fed head Ben Bernanke has pretty much promised more interest rate cuts, it's becoming increasingly apparent that the Fed and
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other central banks can do little to prevent consumers from falling behind on everything from mortgage payments to credit card bills as the most basic of necessities, food and energy, continue to rise in price and eat away at family budgets. Easy credit, from 2000 though 2006, is the culprit and easing interest rates to make money even more affordable is clearly not the answer.

In the most obvious indicators that are tracked here, declining stocks beat back advancers by 4344-2020. New lows, which have consistently led new highs since November 1, 2006, expanded the bulge once again, 516-96.

From a technical standpoint, all the major indices closed at or near new lows for the new year, all within the closing bottoms put in on Tuesday of this week. The late-day Wednesday PPT-led closing rally and Thursday's Bernanke bounce were nearly completely repudiated on Friday.

Although 2007 will go down as a positive-return year for US stocks, those gains have all but been eviscerated in the first 8 trading days of 2008, and the worst may yet be forthcoming. According to the steadfast January Barometer, which is 85% accurate, the direction of stocks in January carries a strong correlation to the direction for the remainder of the year. 2008 currently looks like an iron-clad lock to be a negative one for investors, though Bernanke and Co. will have the final say when they will almost surely announce a rate cut of somewhere between 50 and 100 basis points on January 30.

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All of this has somewhat of a snowball effect. As homeowners default and banks and mortgagors suffer losses, equity investors also take a hit. When homeowners and consumers are squeezed, they liquidate assets, including stock portfolios, in order to pay for necessities. Outflows from funds accelerate and there's less money to go into stocks. A declining market is inevitable as is recession.

What's worse, our uninspired leaders in government and finance show little wherewithal in extracting us from this morass. Taking a cue from the political debate, if there ever was a time for change - and we're talking about major changes in policy and implementation - now is the time.

NYSE Volume 4,438,587,500
NASDAQ Volume 2,355,680,750

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Are the Markets FED Up?

The FOMC of the Federal Reserve Board reduced, as expected, the federal funds rate by 25 basis points, or 0.25% to 4.50%. This was the second consecutive reduction in the federal funds rate, following September's 50 basis point cut.

The markets responded with common bravado, with the major indices up sharply. In the statement released today, the Fed stated that following this reduction, the inflation risks roughly parallel that of economic deterioration, meaning that they may pause when they next meet on December 11.

Read the full Fed statement.

Dow 13,930.01 +137.54; NASDAQ 2,859.12 +42.41; S&P 500 1,549.38 +18.36; NYSE Composite 10,311.61 +146.64

Essentially, the Fed knows they cannot lower rates without regard to the intense pricing pressure from commodities, especially oil, because doing so would risk the erosion of the dollar even further. This puts Bernanke and the Fed in quite the prickly position. Wall Street and the Republicans want softer rates and a solid economy, while economists everywhere are telling them that the US dollar cannot take any more of a beating. Somewhere in the middle is the US population, seemingly stuck between a stagnant economy and higher prices for everything - stagflation.

What stood out in today's trading was the action of the economically-sensitive banking sector and the overall muted reaction to the smallest cut the Fed could make. The Dow, just prior to the release, was already up about 90 points on news that 3rd quarter GDP checked in at a solid 3.9%, so it only added 40 points on the rate news.

Stocks such as Countrywide Financial (CFC), Citigroup (C), Merrill-Lynch (MER) and Bank of America (BAC), actually lost ground following the release. All but Countrywide - which dropped a full point after the release - regained all or most of the ground given up, mostly due to short-covering rallies. The banking sector is in crisis mode and many investors are acutely aware of the condition of credit markets.

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Breadth was actually solid, with advancing issues leading decliners by a 22-9 margin. New highs outpaced new lows, 420-233.

As if to magnify the folly of the Fed's latest move, oil for December delivery advanced by a huge number, up $4.15 to close at $94.53. Gold closed sharply higher - up $8.20 to $796.00 - as did silver, gaining 13 cents to $14.46.

The commodity markets responded even more bluntly than the equity markets to Bernanke's boneheaded maneuvers over the past two FOMC meetings. One has to question both the validity of government data and the wisdom of the Fed as currently composed. On Friday, October Non-Farm Payroll data is announced prior to the open and that data will shed more light on the economy.

Let's all join hands and pray that the Fed did the right thing at the right time.... On the other hand, let's all go out and have a couple of drinks. We're going to need something to stiffen our resolve for what's ahead for the US economy - and it isn't a pretty picture.

Short bank and financial stocks. Bank failures are a sorry possibility and more severe economic disruptions will occur in 2008.

NYSE Volume 3,957,900,250
NASDAQ Volume 2,593,399,750

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Crash Averted by PPT

The absolute garbage coming from the Federal Reserve in the form of jawboning, daily repurchase agreements and soon-to-be-announced round of rate cuts, have distorted and perverted the US equity markets to a point at which there should be no investor confidence whatsoever.

With the markets down significantly all day, the Fed and Treasury, under the guise of the Plunge Protection Team (PPT, or, more specifically, the President's Working Group on Financial Markets) sent stocks soaring off their lows and nearly into positive territory. The most egregious escapade was on the Dow, which went from being down 190 points at 2:15 to UNCHANGED at 3:15. Right around 3:10 ET, the index went absolutely parabolic, gaining 70 points in under four minutes.

There are no brokerages, investors or arbitrageurs on the planet who could have accomplished such a monumental market-moving feat other than the PPT, working in concert with the nation's largest brokerages, Merrill Lynch (more about them later), Goldman Sachs, et. al.

The fraud perpetrated upon the people of the United States is one which purports that our financial markets are safe and secure, when in fact they are propped up daily by infusions of cash from the Federal Reserve and brokerages working in concert.

Only some late day selling by honest market participants kept the markets from a complete recovery into positive territory. That the Dow finished the day anywhere near positive is an affront to every educated trader on the planet. I take these matters personally, since it is my money (and others) being toyed with by the Fed.

The unmitigated actions by the Fed of late have become so pronounced and obvious to seasoned market watchers as to be laughable, were it not for the fact that they are pumping billions of dollars into the markets to avoid a complete and utter capitulation of the equity markets. With the worldwide credit markets already in a state of seizure, the Fed and Treasury actions are a desperate propping up by a bunch who are effectively destroying the value of the US Dollar every day. They deserve nothing less than a monumental market crash followed by ouster from office and criminal proceedings.

It's sick. It should stop, but it won't. We're under a fascist regime, so all lies are allowed, even big ones that affect the lives of every man woman and child in the country and millions more who haven't even been born.

Dow 13,675.25 -0.98; NASDAQ 2,774.76 -24.50; S&P 500 1,515.88 Down 3.71; NYSE Composite 10,009.30 -31.69

Despite the outright rigging by the Fed, PPT, Goldman, etc., stocks sagged again on Wednesday as the overhang of the mortgage malaise continues to haunt any company even remotely associated with the housing industry.

Merrill Lynch, one closely aligned by the weight of their mortgage portfolio, got the ball rolling downhill before the markets opened, offering a third quarter report that the officers of the company wish had been chewed up by a friendly dog.

Merrill (MER) lost so much money this quarter it won't fit on the screen. They were pounded most of the day and according to reports, investors were withdrawing money from Merrill trading accounts as quickly as they could.

As sickening as the corrupt Fed intervention into today's (and every day's) market was, declines outnumbered advances 2 to 1 and new lows distanced themselves from new highs, 353-161. It's a very sick market which should have closed at or near the intraday lows.

Oil was up another $1.83 to $87.10, gold gained $2.50 to $765.60, and silver slipped 6 cents to $13.59

But, really, how did the Dow lose less than a point? The US economy is virtually on its knees. That's without a doubt, despite what the president, Ben Bernanke, Hank Paulson, or any other paid shill tells you.

NYSE Volume 3,803,483,500
NASDAQ Volume 2,739,684,250

Thursday, August 9, 2007


Let's call a spade a spade.

This market is all but wiped out, as is the US economy. We'll be lucky if we're not invaded by a foreign power.

We've had a president in office for the past 6 1/2 years - and for the most part, a compliant Congress of his party - who's done everything in his power to dismantle the social fabric and the constitution and spend and borrow every last dime of our nation's wealth.

The policies of George W. Bush and the lack of regulation and oversight of the administration and congress have put the nation on the precipice of capitulation. Our financial system is about to implode under the weight of bad loans made right under the eyes of our elected and non-elected officials. The former and current Secretaries of the Treasury and Chairmen of the Fed, Alan Greenspan and Bernanke, are the main delinquents. The current holders of those offices should be immediately relieved of their duties and the president should be impeached. They have failed us miserably and probably engaged in criminal activity. At least in the President, Vice President and Attorney General's case, we are sure that they did.

Those who do not agree should take account. Our bridges and roads are crumbling, we spend billions a month in a war effort that has produced no tangible result except death and destruction, and now our financial institutions are under siege.

If that's not enough, maybe you'd prefer to wait until some of the banks fail or we go to war with Iran or the president declares martial law. Maybe then you'll wake up from your stupidity-induced stupor and see what liberals and progressives have been screaming about.

Or maybe you're content watching and believing in whatever lies they tell you on FOX News. In that case, go ahead and stick your head in the sand. The real intellectual forces of this country have no use for you and your kind.

Dow 13,270.68 -387.18; NASDAQ 2,556.49 -56.49; S&P 500 1,453.09 -44.40; NYSE Composite 9,449.31 -296.89

The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 380 points today. That's one hefty loss. The other indices followed and it's very likely that the losses would have been larger had not the PPT (Plunge Protection Team, aka the President's Working Group on Financial Markets) been stepping in to stem losses.

Meanwhile, Mr. Bush is heading out of town for a 3 week vacation, but he made sure to mention, before he left, that taxes on corporations should be lowered. After all, Bush made the tax system safe for millionaires and billionaires, why not multi-national corporations who have little to no allegiance to the United States of America?

More ill-advised policy. Just what we need.

Market internals were not as bad as one would expect. Declining issues outpaced advancers by a 15-6 margin. There were 197 new highs, but 606 new lows.

Oil futures closed down 56 cents, to $71.59. Gold and silver were absolutely shattered, with gold off $13.50 and silver down 47 cents. A buying opportunity.

By the way, if you think today was bad, it was only the 2nd worst day of the year, and there's more downside ahead - a lot more.

The Dow, S&P and NASDAQ are all still positive for the year, but one gets the felling that it's a temporary condition. The Dow closed 2006 at 12,463. We're getting closer.