Showing posts with label Real Estate. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Real Estate. Show all posts

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Weekend Wrap: Trade, Recession, Currency Fears Stoke Week-Ending Sell-Off

These days, it doesn't take much to spook markets.

That stands to reason, with all of the US major indices near all-time highs conjoined with a divisive political environment, global trade tensions, and a corrupted financial system run by central bankers bent on the globalization of currencies and nations.

Thus, on Friday, after Fed Chairman, Jay Powell, spoke to the assembled cognoscenti at Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and President Trump doubled down on his tariff mandate towards China, the runners, scalpers, and money-changers on Wall Street were so spooked that one might have assumed they'd seen the ghost of legendary China short-seller, Jim Chanos, stalking the trading floor, even though - as far as is known - Mr. Chanos is still alive and kicking the shorts out of the Chinese market.

Stocks had opened only marginally in the red on Friday and were improving into the eleven o'clock hour before suddenly reversing course, heading into the abyss, the Dow shedding more than 400 points in a matter of minutes.

With Wall Street struggling to regain some semblance of balance and propriety, stocks drifted lower, cratering in the final hour with the Dow Industrials down nearly 750 points before gaining back another hundred into the closing bell.

It was ugly. It was impressive. At the end of the day, it seemed completely appropriate.

The fuel for growth was fading fast and has been since well before Friday's melt-down. All of the fancy tricks the Fed and their central banking buddies had employed to goose equities skyward over the past decade were being exposed as fraudulent, artificial, unnecessary, and eventually harmful to the operation of what previously had been free markets.

Wall Street has lost confidence in the Fed's forward guidance, which, according to Mr. Powell, is decidedly negative. The Trump tariffs are a sideshow to the already-failing economies of the developed nations, slowing precipitously and taking down the emerging giants of China and India with them.

Over the weekend, while the leaders of the G7 powerhouse nations debate and will likely confirm that globalization is a crumbling edifice of one-percenter greed and that the world needs to be adjusted toward something that serves people other than just the mega-corporate interests and the skimming habits of the ultra-wealthy.

As has been of considerable mention here the past few days, negative interest-bearing sovereign debt instruments - those wildly popular $19 trillion worth of bonds - are ringing the death-knell of fiat currencies and central bank interference with the normal operation of capitalist design.

For now, the shock waves of fading confidence in the global Ponzi and counterfeit schemes of stock buybacks, quantitative easing, and negative interest rates is contained largely to the Wall Street crowd, but, it is spreading and the uproar will increase as stocks fall, ordinary people worry about their jobs and their futures, and the central bankers moan and cajole and mumble and stumble and fall.

Remnants of the global economic structure previously known as Bretton Woods are being shredded on a daily basis. A new world order is on the way, but any transition - like the one which dashed national currencies into one euro a few decades past - is going to be painful and consequential.

Sadly, when all the smoke is blown away and the dust settled, the planet will still largely be governed by the same morons and their predecessors who brought all of this upon us and their economic agents of destruction. The new currency regiment will be talked about as more fair, more balanced, more equitable, but those in the know will have already understood that it will be more of the same, damaging to the middle classes while barely scraping off a scintilla of the assets held by the rich and powerful.

Americans, Europeans, Japanese and all citizens are being shafted, and it's going to hurt.

The long-delayed reckoning from the global crisis of 2008 is about to be unleashed. Unless one holds hard assets such as precious metals, real estate, and/or income-producing assets like a productive business or needed service, one is likely to feel more pain than would otherwise be prescribed by the lords of finance.

At the Close, Friday, August 23, 2019:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 25,628.90, -623.34 (-2.37%)
NASDAQ: 7,751.77, -239.62 (-3.00%)
S&P 500: 2,847.11, -75.84 (-2.59%)
NYSE Composite: 12,416.45, -272.01 (-2.14%)

For the Week:
Dow: -257.11 (-0.99%)
NASDAQ: -144.23 (-1.83%)
S&P 500: -41.57 (-1.44%)
NYSE Composite: -163.96 (-1.30%)
Dow Transports: -227.58 (-2.28%)

Sunday, December 30, 2018

WEEKEND WRAP: With Continued Volatility In Stocks, Is It Time To Consider Alternative Investment Asset Classes?

To say the least, this was one wild week.

Monday opened with word that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had phoned six major banks and the Plunge Protection Team to assure that the banks had adequate liquidity to survive a significant downturn. There were two problem with Mnuchin making these calls and then making them public. First, nobody was thinking about bank liquidity. Second, alerting the PPT suggests that there are significant economic issues facing the market.

Mnuchin initiated a panic, good for -653 points on the Dow, on a day in which markets closed at 1:00 pm. That was Christmas Eve.

The day after Christmas, Wednesday, the Dow set a record for points gained in one session. It was a spectacular day for anybody in the bullish camp. All the other indices were up more than four percent, another first.

On Thursday, stocks were slumping badly again, but then, the rally from nowhere produced a positive finish, boosting the Dow more than 600 points from 2:15 pm into the close, for a net gain on the day of 260 points.

On Friday, the opposite occurred. The Dow Industrials were up 240 points at three o'clock, but closed down 76.

Volatility. It's what's for Christmas, it appears.

When it was all over the week turned out to be a winner, the first in four weeks of December. Since the start of October, there have been nine weekly losses on the Dow, with just five weekly gains. The net result of this wicked roller-coaster of a market is a Dow Jones Industrial Average that's down nearly 2500 points in December and 3766 points from October 3.

While the week's heavy lifting (most likely done by our friends at the PPT) kept the Dow out of bear market territory, it - and the other major indices - are still deep in the correction zone, and all indices are down for the year. Since there's only one trading day left in 2018, this year is a good bet to end up a loser, despite the best efforts of the pumpers, panderers, shills, and jokers in the financial field to separate you from your money with promises of outstanding gains.

Every stock pumper in the world mouths the word "diversification" as a key element leading to positive investment results. The problem with their kind of diversification is that it normally references one, maybe two asset classes: stocks, and then, maybe, bonds.

Such short-sighted thinking obscures all the other asset classes, broadly, real estate, commodities, currencies, art, collectibles, precious metals and gemstones, vehicles, business equipment, private equity, cash, cash equivalents, and human capital.

There are plenty of opportunities in small business development, where ownership can be hands-on or hands-free, with the potential to grow a local business within a community. President Donald Trump (and many other private businessmen) is one good example of how much money can be made in real estate investment and privately-owned businesses.

People who held on to their Spiderman, X-Men, and Fantastic Four comic books are smiling broadly. So too, those who kept baseball and football cards for more than 50 years. The value of a Mickey Mantle rookie card today is astronomical compared to its original cost (less than a penny).

With the recent volatility in stocks, people may be considering diversifying out of stocks and into other asset classes. In the coming year and beyond, presentation of alternative money-making and investment opportunities will be a focus of Money Daily.

Here's to looking forward at a year of diversifying out of strictly stocks in a portfolio.

In advance: Happy New Year!

Dow Jones Industrial Average December Scorecard:

Date Close Gain/Loss Cum. G/L
12/3/18 25,826.43 +287.97 +287.97
12/4/18 25,027.07 -799.36 -511.39
12/6/18 24,947.67 -79.40 -590.79
12/7/18 24,388.95 -558.72 -1149.51
12/10/18 24,423.26 +34.31 -1115.20
12/11/18 24,370.24 -53.02 -1168.22
12/12/18 24,527.27 +157.03 -1011.19
12/13/18 24,597.38 +70.11 -941.08
12/14/18 24,100.51 -496.87 -1437.95
12/17/18 23,592.98 -507.53 -1945.58
12/18/18 23,675.64 +82.66 -1862.92
12/19/18 23,323.66 -351.98 -2214.90
12/20/18 22,859.60 -464.06 -2678.96
12/21/18 22,445.37 -414.23 -3093.19
12/24/18 21,792.20 -653.17 -3746.36
12/26/18 22,878.45 +1086.25 -2660.11
12/27/18 23,138.82 +260.37 -2399.74
12/28/18 23,062.40 -76.42 -2476.16

At the Close, Friday, December 28, 2018:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 23,062.40, -76.42 (-0.33%)
NASDAQ: 6,584.52, +5.03 (+0.08%)
S&P 500: 2,485.74, -3.09 (-0.12%)
NYSE Composite: 11,290.95, +5.64 (+0.05%)

For the Week:
Dow: +617.03 (+2.75%)
NASDAQ: +251.53 (+3.97%)
S&P 500: +69.12 (+2.86%)
NYSE Composite: +254.11 (+2.30%)

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Dow Closes With Losses; Is This 2007 All Over Again?

The Dow spent the day criss-crossing the unchanged line - 20 times to be exact - before finally capitulating late in the day, closing lower for the third time in four days, the losing sessions outweighing the sole winner by a margin of some 398 points.

Among the various reasons for the recent declines are the usual suspects: trade and tariffs, emerging market weakness, soaring bond yields, and widespread political unrest, not only in the United States, but elsewhere in the world, particularly Europe, where nationalism is on the rise in opposition to hard-line European Union bureaucracy and technocrats.

Italy is the most recent focal point, where the latest government consists of parties warring within themselves, with each other, and with the political apparatus that overarches all things European from Brussels. The Italian government, like most modern nations, is saddled with largely unplayable debt, seeking solutions that preclude involvement from either the ECB or the IMF, a task for only the brave or the foolhardy.

As much as can be said for the political turmoil within the Eurozone, it remains cobbled together by an overtaxed citizenry, ripe for revolt from the constraints upon income and general freedom. As was the case with Greece a few years back, the EU intends imposition of austerity upon the Italians and is facing stiff resistance from the general population and government officials alike.

Political sentiment aside, the canary in the US equity coal mine is the downfall of the treasury market, which has seen rising yields almost on a daily basis since the last FOMC meeting concluded September 26, the well-placed fear that the Fed has reached too far in implementing its own brand of monetary austerity by flooding markets with their own overpriced securities. The resultant condition is the most basic of economics: oversupply causes prices to fall, yields to rise.

Adding to investor skittishness are upcoming third quarter corporate reports, which promise to be a bagful of not-well-hidden disappointment, given the strength of the dollar versus other currencies and corporate struggles to balance their domestic books with those outside the US. Any corporation with large exposure to China or other emerging markets is likely to have felt some currency pressure during a third quarter which saw rapid acceleration in the dollar complex. Most corporations are simply not nimble enough to adjust to quick changes in currency valuations, leading to losses on the international side of the ledger book.

Valuations could also matter once again. Since the economy in the US is seen as quite robust and strong at the present, investors may want to question their portfolio allocations. Good things do not last forever, and while the current rally under President Trump has been impressive, it has come at the end of a long, albeit often sluggish, recovery period.

All of this brings up the point of today's headline, the eerie similarity to the market of 2007, which presaged not only a massive recession, but a stock market collapse of mammoth proportions, a real estate bust, and vocal recriminations directed at the banking cartel, which, as we all know, came to naught.

In 2007, the Dow peaked on July 11, closing at 14,000.41, but was promptly beaten down to 12,845.78 at the close on August 16. It bounced all the way back to 14,164.53, on October 16, but was spent. By November 26, the day after Thanksgiving, the industrials closed at 12,743.44 and continued to flounder from there until the final catastrophic month of October 2008.

The chart reads similarly, though more compressed in 2018. The Dow made a fresh all-time high on September 20 (26,656.98) and closed higher the following day. On October 3, a new record close was put in, at 26,828.39, but the index has come off that number by nearly 400 points as of Tuesday's close.

It is surely too soon to call for a trend change, but, if 2018 is anything like 2007, the most recent highs could be all she wrote, the proof not available for maybe another month or two, but the Dow bears watching if it cannot continue the long bull run.

Dow Jones Industrial Average October Scorecard:

Date Close Gain/Loss Cum. G/L
10/1/18 26,651.21 +192.90 +192.90
10/2/18 26,773.94 +122.73 +315.63
10/3/18 26,828.39 +54.45 +370.08
10/4/18 26,627.48 -200.91 +169.17
10/5/18 26,447.05 -180.43 -11.26
10/8/18 26,486.78 +39.73 +28.47
10/9/18 26,430.57 -56.21 -27.74

At the Close, Tuesday, October 9, 2018:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 26,430.57, -56.21 (-0.21%)
NASDAQ: 7,738.02, +2.07 (+0.03%)
S&P 500: 2,880.34, -4.09 (-0.14%)
NYSE Composite: 12,960.57, -39.56 (-0.30%)

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Markets Becoming More Volatile By The Day; Italian Banks, British Real Estate Hit Hard

It's getting a little scary out there in finance-land.

Following the epic exercise in individual democracy in Great Britain, the world's elitist bankers and political forces have been scampering from one impaired asset class to another, the latest and most prominent being Italian banks and British Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs).

Since Monday, three separate REITs in Britain have shut down redemptions in the wake of panicked outflows since the Brexit vote.
On Tuesday, Standard Life and Aviva both halted redemptions in their U.K.-focused property funds, which are pooled investments that hold real estate, similar to a REIT. Later in the day, M&G Investments joined them.

As for the Italian banking sector (recall that Mario Draghi, current head of the ECB, mismanaged most of Italy's financial escapades a decade ago), FUGGEDABOUTIT!

Just today, short-selling was banned in shares of Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena, Italy's third-largest bank. Other banks in Italy are in crisis mode, with a huge amount of non-performing loans hanging over a weakening economic picture.

Here in the new world, stocks were slammed as investors suddenly noticed that the major indices were once again closing in on all-time highs. Realizing that the fundamentals didn't support such extreme valuations, it was risk off all day, with the three biggies spending the entire session in the red.

Silver continued its impressive run, closing at 19.91 in New York (where the manipulation occurs, though lately isn't working), but gunning up as trading opened in the Far East.

Here are the results, suckers:
S&P 500: 2,088.55, -14.40 (0.68%)
Dow: 17,840.62, -108.75 (0.61%)
NASDAQ: 4,822.90, -39.67 (0.82%)

Crude Oil 46.65 +0.11% Gold 1,364.10 +0.40% EUR/USD 1.1061 -0.05% 10-Yr Bond 1.37 -6.11% Corn 356.75 -0.35% Copper 2.18 -0.21% Silver 20.28 +1.87% Natural Gas 2.78 +0.43% Russell 2000 1,139.45 -1.50% VIX 15.58 +5.48% BATS 1000 20,677.17 0.00% GBP/USD 1.2961 -0.45% USD/JPY 101.1910 -0.51%

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Stocks, Oil Whacked Again; 10-Year Note at 1.86%; Yellen's Fed in Shambles

It's official.

The groundhog didn't see his shadow, and Janet Yellen didn't see the recession just ahead, proving, within a shadow of doubt, that animals have better sense than most humans.

At least in the case of furry rodents versus doctors of economics, the rodentia class is in a class all its own. Punxsutawney Phil, the most famous of ground hog prognosticators, came outside this morning and reassured everybody in the Northeast that the most mild winter in decades would continue, and, to boot, be short-lived.

By not seeing his shadow, Phil assuaged the assembled crowd that what remains of winter would be over within two weeks, rather than the usual six week span that extends nearly to the first day of Spring, March 20.

Despite this being a leap year, which adds a full day to the cruel month of February, residents in the most densely-populated area of the country seem to be settled in for a short stay on the chilly side.

In upstate New York, there is little to no snow on the ground. What remains are a few remnants of shoveled piles that take a little longer to melt, though even that should be gone by tomorrow, as temperatures from Buffalo to Albany are expected to approach sixty degrees on Wednesday.

Similar circumstances prevail throughout the Mid-Atlantic region and into New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Massachusetts. The milder-than-normal conditions have resulted in lower use of heating fuels such as oil and natural gas, both of which are hovering around decades-long lows.

As for the Federal Reserve and the captain of that sinking ship, Janet Yellen, she and her hench-fellows seem to be on the wrong side of economic history, considering that since their historic rate hike in mid-December, interest rates have gone in the opposite direction, the 10-year note today closing at 1.86%, as the winds of global deflation and tight labor conditions continue to push consumer demand and consumption lower and lower.

Compounding the complexity of the Fed's non-tenable situation are the twin engines of stocks and oil, both of which have hit stall speed in 2016. WTI crude close in New York within whispering distance of the $30 mark, while the major stock indices were battered into submission by a combination of reduced earnings capacity and a growing confidence gap from investors.

Even with last week's brave showing by the markets in the face of a 2015 fourth quarter that slipped to 0.7% growth, stocks were unable to regain the footing which took the Dow 400 points higher on Friday as the Bank of Japan endorsed negative interest rates on its treasury bonds extending though eight years.

Supposedly, cheap, easy money was good news for the stock market. However, with the BOJ cancelling a treasury auction today due to lack of interest (no pun intended) from selected participants, equity markets around the world backtracked towards the lows of January. Apparently, there aren't many out there who see it as a prudent idea to pay somebody to hold your money.

Negative interest rate policy, aka NIRP, is the death-knell of central bankers. Traditionally, banks paid OUT interest on savings, but, in this decade of upside-down economics, the glorious kings and queens of monetary policy are sticking to the belief that people are so afraid of losing what they've earned that they will pay to have the banks hold it for them.

Mattresses and shotguns are back in style, kids, but nobody seems to have told the central bankers. Everybody from simple savers to mega-millionaires are losing confidence in a clearly broken system, pulling their assets out and into cash, precious metals, gemstones, art, real estate, or other stores of value that have stood the test of time. The only buyers of government debt are governments, a condition which cannot be sustained long.

Truth be known, the Fed, the ECB, BOJ and PBOC are all aware of this condition and have yet to devise a strategy that will resolve the liquidity and solvency crunch with a minimum of pain. Pain will come to many, precisely those holding debt which cannot be repaid. Ideally, this epoch of economic history will see the end of central banking with fiat currencies and fractional reserves.

We may be within weeks or months of a global reset, a change in the nature of money which will tear at the fabric of society itself.

Stay tuned. This is only the middle of the show which started in 2008.

Today's crap shoot:
S&P 500: 1,903.03, -36.35 (1.87%)
Dow: 16,153.54, -295.64 (1.80%)
NASDAQ: 4,516.95, -103.42 (2.24%)

Crude Oil 30.02 -5.06% Gold 1,129.20 +0.11% EUR/USD 1.0920 +0.27% 10-Yr Bond 1.8640 -5.19% Corn 372.00 +0.20% Copper 2.05 -0.29% Silver 14.31 -0.26% Natural Gas 2.03 -5.81% Russell 2000 1,008.84 -2.28% VIX 21.98 +10.01% BATS 1000 20,356.76 -1.72% GBP/USD 1.4411 -0.10% USD/JPY 119.84

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Stocks Confused in Advance of Yellen, Fed Rates; A Glimpse into the Collapse of Upstate New York

Shockingly, the Dow industrials were lower on the day while the momentum-chasing NASDAQ stocks finished with a gain on the day before Janet Yellen and the FOMC issue a rate announcement.

Obviously, rates are not going to move at this meeting, but, what most market observers will be glued to come 2:00 pm EDT on Wednesday is the wording of the FOMC statement, specifically, the use of the "patient" in terms of how the Federal Reserve is viewing their pre-announced rate increase.

The Fed has been careful not to give an exact date or attach any hard figures to any proposed rate increase, only to remain in a prudent position of non-committed bliss.

That they prefer to be shrouded in this kind of monetary mystery has been more than a little disturbing to markets. Many operators would prefer the good old days of endless QE and ZIRP without any mention of a dreadful, future rate increase. However, the Federal Reserve has itself backed into a corner in which it will damage the equity markets with a rate increase and potentially upset the delicate bond-balancing act which has kept rates too low for too long.

It is self-evident that the Fed must do something. The only questions remaining to be answered are what will they do and when will they do it. Traders, speculators, and gamblers of all stripes are hoping to glean some knowledge from the Fed's statement tomorrow.

In the meantime, many are saying this prayer:

The FED is my shepherd, I shall not want.
They maketh me to lie down in fields of digital plenty; they leadeth me to financial liquidity;
They safeguard my portfolio; they leadeth me in paths of security for their financial sake.
Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of default, I shall fear no Credit Default Swaps,
For they art with me; their words and actions comfort me.
They have prepared a table of ZIRP and QE before me, in the presence of China and Russia; they have annointed me with POMO; my balances runneth over.
Surely, the American reserve currency shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the House of the Almighty Dollar forever and ever.

...and hoping for the best.

A Glimpse Into the Collapsing Nature of Upstate New York

Up here in Rochester, NY, there's a 1/2 hour show every Sunday by the area's largest real estate firm, called the "Nothnagle Gallery of Homes."

It's a good idea to catch it every week, because it provides a fascinating insight into a market that predominantly is a shuffling from one generation to another, without growth, and nearing death thoes due to a variety of economic ad social forces.

At the start of the show are the nice, expensive, executive homes, all over $400,000, some of them pretty decent with acreage, about half of them vacant. As the show continues, they display the moderately-priced category, 135k-250k. Not so good, smaller lots, older houses, more than half vacant, but, this week, a twist. They showed two houses under construction. Really, with the Tyvek™ showing and all. Priced over 200K.

Dead stop. Builders around here are nailed to a cross with with steel. Population is declining, there's a glut of bank REO that's been sitting and deteriorating for years and about 20-30% of everybody in the metro area is either in foreclosure, pre-foreclosure, about to be, underwater, or owes back taxes of two years or more. A massive implosion is coming to upstate NY (Syracuse and Rochester; Buffalo already in the proverbial pooper) which will take down not only the real estate market but the city governments and some of the older suburbs (hopefully state .gov too, but that's another story). Population decline and aging, lack of jobs, crumbling infrastructure, huge municipal pension costs and ineffective (and that's being nice) local governments are feeding the descent into chaos. Rochester, Syracuse and Buffalo's inner cities are crime-ridden, FSA (welfare) strongholds. The city school districts are a complete and utter disaster. High wages for teachers, low graduation rates, scandals, union vs. administration fights are common, as are fights, stabbings, gun confiscations, etc. TPTB are trying to ship some of the little minority cretins out to the suburbs in what they call something like "city-county partnership opportunity" or employing some other liberal wonderland imagery, but the voters in more than a few suburbs have shot down the school board recommendations, saying, in effect, "keep my schools white."

Trouble is brewing here, where the property taxes are the highest in the nation. Shocked was a fellow from South Carolina last week when told that a 30-year mortgage on a $100,000 house here would cost less monthly than the taxes.

That's the truth from an area of the country that's been stripped bare of manufacturing over the years and suffers from too many social programs, sponsored by too few - and becoming fewer every week - taxpayers.

Dow 17,849.08, -128.34 (-0.71%)
S&P 500 2,074.28, -6.91 (-0.33%)
NASDAQ 4,937.44, +7.93 (0.16%)

Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Biggest Bubble of All Time is About to Be Popped

Money Daily stopped being a daily post blog in March, 2014. While the name remains the same, the posts are now on an intermittent basis, as conditions warrant, though it is advised to read the archives (from 2006-2014) regularly, even daily, for insights and historical perspective.

The handwriting, so to speak, is all over Wall Street. What has been the biggest financial bubble in the history of the world is on the verge of busting, or, what could be better still, slowly deflating.

After the crash of 2008-09, the Federal Reserve, in conjunction with central banks around the globe, injected massive amounts of liquidity into the fiat world currency markets, bolstering everything from junk bonds to consumer credit, but especially equities, otherwise known as stocks.

Since March 9, 2009, the major equity indices in the US - and, to a large degree, around the world - have rebounded on the strength of the Fed's largesse, nothing else. Now that the Fed has begun unwinding QE, the "juice" is being withdrawn. There will be no backstop for equities in the guise of unlimited liquidity from the Fed. The plan - already underway - is to reduce the amount of asset (bond) purchases by the Fed from their high of $85 billion per month, to zero. While it is unlikely the Fed will ever get to zero without reversing course or, at least, slowing the pace of their withdrawal, the March FOMC meeting will mark the third consecutive lowering of the monthly purchase level, timed in accordance with the 10-per-year FOMC schedule.

The Fed first announced in December, 2013 that it would be reducing purchases in January, 2014, and did the same in their first meeting of 2014, in January, lowering their purchase level to $65 billion in February. Since there was no meeting in February, they are expected to announce another $10 billion reduction at the March meeting next week (March 18-19). If they carry through with this expected drop to $55 billion, the market cracks which first occurred in January of this year, may turn into wholesale breaks, sending index levels below their recent lows, highlighted by the January 31 selloff.

With the S&P recovering all of its January and February losses and making new all-time highs earlier this month (the NASDAQ also made new 14-year highs), the Dow Jones Industrials did not, setting up the scenario for a bear market, according to strict Dow Theory.

If the Dow, having fallen short of its most recent high (16,588.25), continues on its path lower, exceeding the interim low of 15,340.69 (Feb. 4), this will confirm that a change in the primary tend has occurred, and a secular bear market is underway. This bear market could last anywhere from five to 20 years, possibly longer, because the recent, primary bull market - the second longest in market history - was built upon a foundation of incredibly easy money, low interest rates and global fiat currencies, unprecedented in financial history.

The fallout could be severe, popping the biggest financial asset bubble of all time, in stocks, affecting everything from individual stocks to your pension, IRA or 401k to muni bonds. In other words, be prepared for the biggest financial collapse of all time, because the last five years have been nothing but pure financial fantasy, and it's all about to come crashing to an end.

There are sure signs that the global economy is shrieking and straining to remain relevant and above water, but after blowing bubbles recently in dotcom stocks (1997-2001) and real estate (2003-2007), the Fed has reflated the economy with trillions of paper dollars, augmented by similarly spurious activities in Europe, China and Japan. The financial bubble created by central banks is of a magnitude much larger - possibly four to six times larger - than the sub-prime-induced housing meltdown, putting the figure of financial assets seriously at risk somewhere between $20 and $40 trillion dollars, an amount so unfathomable that nothing short of pure currency collapses can sufficiently make account.

(As this post is being composed (March 13, 2014, 1:10 pm EDT), the Dow Jones Industrial average has broken through its 50-day-moving average, down 194 points on the day.)

Beyond just charts and the scary finances of the central banks, China is the linchpin by which the financial dam may be breached. For the past two to three months, data out of the world's second-largest economy has been trending lower, especially in the areas of industrial production and exporting. In fact, China actually released data that showed it suffered a current account deficit, with imports exceeding exports, a very frightening development for one of the world's few export economies and a major trading partner with the US and Europe.

What the China data underscores is the overall weakness in US and European (developed) markets. The fraud of financialization has finally produced a result incompatible with the ponzi-scheme-like mantra of the central bankers. Consumers have been and are strapped for cash, a result of over-exuberant government spending, massive income disparity between the rich and poor and stagnant or declining wages in the middle of a labor shortfall crisis.

There are signs everywhere that the global economy is about to be brought back to reality, including, but by no means limited to, recent poor US unemployment data, a false housing recovery (inundated with cash buyers, flippers and speculation), inability of the government to prosecute bankers and financial operatives for mortgage and other frauds, declining adherence to the constitution and the trampling of civil rights, bogus car sales data with channel stuffing rampant, blaming the weather for poor economic results (seriously, the holiday shopping season was a complete bust), and overvaluation of speculative IPOs, tech stocks and other momentum stocks, enterprise valuations of stocks in the billions of dollars, based on nothing but pure speculation.

Nothing will stop the wreckage that the Fed and global central banks working in collusion have set in motion. The numbers are ghastly and overwhelming and the warnings have been written about for years. The time to prepare was yesterday, though there is still time, but thought processes must change. Status and wealth should not be measured by the size of one's McMansion, the price of one's car or the depth of one's stock portfolio. True wealth consists of something along these lines: a fully-paid-for home on five or more acres of land, two-thirds of it arable, food and water storage to last at least a year, a horde of cash, gold and/or silver, absolutely ZERO DEBT, and the ability and weaponry to defend it all.

Ask yourself, who among you can make claim to that, because that is real wealth, not the paper promises from Wall Street or Washington.

It's coming. And it may be approaching even faster than anyone wants to consider (think Ukraine).

Good luck.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Fake, Fake, Fake Rally After Non-Farm Payroll Jobs Disappointment

With baited breath, the world awaits the January non-farm payroll report, and, when it is released, and it is far worse, far weaker than expected, stocks go straight up.

Yes, that's exactly what happened. Yes, it defies logic. NO, we're not buying it.

Just in case anybody hasn't noticed, banks, brokers and high government officials have variously been accused - and some even admitted (though untried and none convicted) - of manipulating Libor rates, FX markets, precious metals, mortgages, commodities, municipal bonds and probably every other financial asset where a market is made.

So, should it surprise anyone if stocks are manipulated, rigged, fixed, flogged, whipped and played to the whims of the rentier class?

No, it certainly should not.

While the handwriting is plain as day on the Wall Street walls, scrolled in the signature style of the PPT.

When the announcement was made at 8:30 am ET Friday morning, that the US created a mere 113,000 jobs in January - after posting a horrifying 74,000 (upgraded to 75,000 this morning) for December - stock futures headed due south, sending the implied opens for the major indices to morning lows.

However, within minutes, those losses in the futures markets were wiped away, as the futures galloped up, up and away, pointing to a counterintuitive higher open for US markets.

The Dow, together with Thursday's vapor ramp, put in the best two-day performance since October, and US markets still haven't had a 10% correction since August of 2011.

Apparently, one should believe that the lower jobs numbers are somehow good for the economy, in that the Fed may begin to "un-taper" their recent tapering of bond purchases and bring the legendary punch bowl back to the Wall Street jubilee, where the connected truly do get "money for nothing" and the chicks (and coke) for free.

Apparently, one should believe that $100-per-barrel crude oil and $3.50-4.00-a-gallon gas are good for the economy.

We wisened investors should also believe that gold is permanently priced at $1250 per ounce, silver at $20, all mortgage-backed securities are worth 100% of their par value, real estate never goes down, Janet Yellen and the rest of her Fed brethren have the best interests of the US citizenry at heart, pigs fly and flying unicorns that poop rainbows are real and are stabled in the basement of the Mariner-Eccles building.

We should embrace a president who openly lies, a congress which will not impeach, a spy agency who reads this, knows you are reading it, listens in on everything, everywhere, all the time, a steadily-declining median household income even in the face of the top 10% making more than ever, part-time jobs replacing full-time ones, taxes that only go up, regulations on everything and penalties for anything not covered by regulations.

It's all good, all the time, even if you're losing your home, having your kids taken from you and starving to death. At this pace, as the US economy plunges even deeper into depression than it already has, stocks should set all-time highs endlessly, without pause, forever.

For the record, Money Daily will stick to its call made days ago, that the market has turned from bull to bear, be proven wrong, but understand that nothing is really as it seems. As conditions in the real world worsen, they'll only get better on Wall Street, in Washington and on the paper facade that is CNBC and Bloomberg. Buy it, own it, be it.

Good is evil. War is peace. Love is hate. Stay short and get slaughtered. After all, if Wall Street doesn't take your phony paper money, Washington will.

Emerging market economies will always be emerging, and never become "developed" even if their GDP is larger than that of all the developed nations combined. And, besides, they don't matter.

George Orwell would be proud.

We have always been at war with Eastasia... or Eurasia.

DOW 15,794.08, +165.55 (+1.06%)
NASDAQ 4,125.86, +68.74 (+1.69%)
S&P 1,797.02, +23.59 (+1.33%)
10-Yr Note 100.57, +0.44 (+0.44%) Yield: 2.68%
NASDAQ Volume 1.92 Bil
NYSE Volume 3.75 Bil
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 4216-1466
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 141-44
WTI crude oil: 99.88, +2.04
Gold: 1,262.90, +5.70
Silver: 19.94, +0.008
Corn: 444.25, +1.25

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Another Dismal Day in the Dumps for Stock Owners

Certainly, nobody is going to feel sorry for the Wall Street lemmings, vultures and whales for another losing day on stocks. After all, the major averages are up more than 25% on the year and a good number of individual issues are up much more than that, many having doubled in price over the past 48 weeks.

So, excuse us if we cry crocodile tears for well-heeled investors and speculators.

There is, however, a little bit of a problem in the markets, and it is completely and everlastingly tied to the Federal reserve and their Zero Interest Rate Policy (ZIRP) and continuing quantitative easing (QE), about which there is much debate, constrnation and confusion.

The final meeting of the year for the FOMC is slated for next Tuesday and Wednesday, and, while nobody in their right mind expects this august body to announce any rate policy changes, there is the small matter of decreasing the amount of securities the Fed is buying every month (QE) from the current $85 billion to something less than that, otherwise known as "tapering."

CNBCs Steve Liesman, who has a pipeline directly to and from the Fed, announced today that tapering would be announced at the December meeting. That news, and the final acceptance and future implementation of the Volker Rule, sent stocks backpedaling from the outset. The Volker Rule, in essence, disallows banks from engaging in speculative trading with depositors' money, something the various agencies feel was responsible for at least a part of the financial crisis of the past five years.

The rule puts severe restrictions on what banks can and can't do in terms of proprietary trading (i.e., speculating), but it is dense, long, deep, and riddled with potential loopholes for crafty lawyers and bankers to slither all kinds of nefarious doings through. The Volker Rule document - three years and 585 pages in the making - is, in reality, nothing more than a full-employment bill for litigation attorneys. Bully for them.

QE, and, more specifically, the tapering of QE, is another animal altogether. The Fed has been jawboning about the possibility of scaling back their bond purchases - $45 billion in treasuries and $40 billion in MBS - since May, with varying degrees of success. Wall Street banks, being the main beneficiaries of the program, would like the policy to extend to infinity and beyond, though they know in their dark heart of hearts that it must come to some kind of conclusion. The US economy cannot be force-fed money by the central bank forever.

Besides the program being excessively beneficial to banks and somewhat harmful to small businesses, consumers and emerging market nations, there is another problem that the Fed may never have considered. Due to their monopolizing of the MBS and treasury markets, the available bond issuance is dwindling, so much so, that the Fed may have no choice but to wind down such programs.

The other side of the equation is such that the Fed has so far crowded out potential bidders that there may not be many who actually want to participate. Thus, many in the bond world see even a slight decrease of buying by the Fed as a potential for higher interest rates, including interest on government debt itself, which is already a large portion of the Federal budget but could grow into a behemoth should the federal government have to begin paying back interest at higher and higher rates.

These are the unforeseen, though somewhat predictable, ramifications of the Fed's actions, actions that forestalled an implosion of the financial system and the insolvency of many of the world's largest financial institutions, dating back to the halcyon days of 2008 and $800 billion in TARP money and then-Fed Chairman Hank Paulson holding a gun to the economy's head.

So, Liesman may be bluffing at the behest of the Fed, or he could have just issued the warning shot to the markets that the plundering of assets with free money is about to come to an end.

The signs that the policy has run its course are profligate: record art and collectible car auctions, record high-end real estate prices, record stock prices.

Enough is enough. The party is about to come to a crashing, cataclysmic conclusion, and as cataclysms usually are, this one is not likely to be pretty.

Technically speaking, the advance-decline line deteriorated again today, the gap between new highs and new lows continues to show signs of shrinking and potentially flipping, and outside of Friday's massive vapor-rise, stocks have fallen every day since Thanksgiving.

The good news (for some) is that commodity prices took a lift today, with silver and gold leading the way.

DOW 15,973.13, -52.40 (-0.33%)
NASDAQ 4,060.49, -8.26 (-0.20%)
S&P 1,802.62, -5.75, (-0.32%)
10-Yr Note 99.43, +0.37 (+0.37%), Yield: 2.80%
NASDAQ Volume 1.71 Bil
NYSE Volume 3.07 Bil
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 2115-3553
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 206-113
WTI crude oil: 98.51, +1.17
Gold: 1,261.10, +26.90
Silver: 20.32, +0.614
Corn: 436.00, -2.00

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Why There's No Inflation and No Growth... (and why that's good for some)

Stocks were up modestly on Tuesday, as is the usual practice during the week of Black Friday Thanksgiving. There's a general feeling of well-being about, and, even though the gains this year have been the best since something like 1997, buyers of stocks know how to do nothing else, so they keep on buying. Actually, the turn-about in the inal half hour erased most of the day's gains on the Dow and S&P, especially. The NASDAQ finished above 4000, for the first time since 2000, when it crossed that threshold from the other side.

Stocks, bought with ridiculously cheap money via the Fed, are, and have been, producing fatastic returns for many investors and holders of pensions, 401ks, IRAs, etc., but the nagging suspicion that it can't really be this easy continues to gnaw at the fringes of consciousness.

For now, it really is this easy. There's no compelling reason to do anything but buy more stocks, not sell and keep watching them go higher. It's a very powerful positive feedback loop. The Fed's continuous debt-purchasing and zero-bound interest rates fuel the stock market, have contributed greatly to the rebound in real estate prices, but, stubbornly, unemployment simply won't go down appreciably, and that's an issue, though most of the barons of the financial world can't, or don't, really care about the ordinary citizens struggling to eke out a living.

Also troubling is the idea that all this debt-binge-buying by the Fed hasn't produced inflation, which, according to all Keynesian estimates on the topic, should be raging by now.

But, something un-funny happened on Ben Bernanke's way to the printing press. While the Federal Reserve and the behemoth banks have been busy leveraging up, the average American (and European) has been leveraging down, using the limited free money that comes their way to pay down debt, stop spending frivolously and horror of horrors, save.

Official statistics will deny that Americans are saving anything at all. Many, for certain, are not. In fact, HELOC loans are once again on the rise. But others, quietly, off-the-radar, have been squirreling away small amounts, mostly in cash, though some in gold, silver, bulk foods, and saving in other ways like repairing an aging vehicle instead of buying a new one, shopping at discount stores, buying online, bartering and other creative ways that are having an unseen impact because they are individually so small as to be unnoticeable, but collectively, they become huge.

Imagine, for a minute, the impact of 10,000 people individually not buying one Starbucks coffee per week. On the individual basis, it's three or four dollars. Collectively, however, it's $30-40,000. Then start adding up the other ways people are saving. Driving less or coordinating their driving to do many tasks on one trip. A couple of dollars a week. Home gardens that can shave $10 to $40 off a family's food bill in season is another hidden savings the statisticians can't capture with their computers. There are many, many more practical methods people are using today to save on everything from food to fuel to... well, you name it. Cut your own hair, heat with firewood partially, buy clothes at thrift stores, eat out less (or not at all), don't go to movies, and on and on and on.

The Fed doesn't get it. Wall Street doesn't get it. Most public employees don't get it. They're conditioned to be like their co-workers. Buy a new car, or lease one. Eat out for lunch. See the latest movies. Buy new clothes. They, and the 47 million on food stamps, are keeping the economy just clinging to life. But, despite the added liquidity by the Fed, it's not working so well. Corporations aren't beating their revenue figures. Bottom lines are good, but much of it is due to shrinking the number of shares outstanding via stock repurchase programs, which also add to the stock market boom.

But, there's a horde of people out there who are getting out of the system, cutting their cable bills, credit cards, magazine subscriptions, and, soon, because of the nightmare that is ObamaCare, their monthly health insurance bill.

Some, like economists at the Fed or analysts on Wall Street, might call these types an underclass. In reality, they are the new freedom class, untying the knot of debt, freeing their minds from the day-to-day toil and keeping up with the Joneses mentality that feeds the corporate machine.

The signs of frugality and savings - despite the overblown hype of Black Friday being bellowed by the big merchants - are everywhere. Gold, silver, bitcoin, eBay, Craigslist, barter exchanges, healthy, home-grown foods instead of corporate fast-food mulch, economy cars, hybrids and public transportation are all taking the bluster out of the Wall Street boom.

When the dust settles, when the Fed stops printing to infinity and the economy begins to normalize, there's an old adage used by printers, manufacturers and writers of software that will be apropos: "Garbage In, Garbage Out."

The garbage in is the cheap money the Fed has been printing nilly-willy. The garbage out will be a steady, possibly spectacular, stock market decline. It may not be a crash, happening all of a sudden, but there will be a bear market, eventually. After all, this bull run began in March 2009. It's now a 57-month old bull, which, by most measures, is a little long in the tooth. The signs are everywhere. Corporate profits are of exceedingly poor quality (garbage out).

When this era of cheap money comes to an end - and end it will - many who made money all along will be left holding stocks worth much less than what they paid for them. Many of the companies represented by these stocks will have upside-down balance sheets because of all the stock they bought back at nose-bleed prices. And that's going to be a real problem, causing more layoffs, consolidations, and bankruptcies (yes, we still have them). JC Penny will be the first to go. They're overdue and probably will file within months after the holiday season, which, for them, will be a disaster. They will be followed by Sears, and then after the retailers get moving in the wrong direction, the filings will snowball.

Garbage in, garbage out. Those who've been saving, rejecting the debt-slave system and prepping will be much less affected, already living well within their means and enjoying it.

Happy Thanksgiving!

DOW 16,072.80, +0.26 (+0.00%)
NASDAQ 4,017.75, +23.18 (+0.58%)
S&P 1,802.75, +0.27 (+0.02%)
10-Yr Note 100.36, +0.31 (+0.31%)
NASDAQ Volume 1.79 Bil
NYSE Volume 3.40 Bil
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 3292-2338
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 431-93
WTI crude oil: 93.68, -0.41
Gold: 1,241.40, +0.20
Silver: 19.85, -0.034
Corn: 424.75, -6.50

Friday, August 10, 2012

Our Dysfunctional Economy Won't Be Repaired Until Bankers Go to Jail

The popular phrase, "it's better to light a candle than curse the darkness," was once spoken in public by Peter Benenson, the English lawyer and founder of Amnesty International, at a Human Rights Day ceremony on 10th December 1961. There are disputes over the origin of this nugget of wisdom, some attributing it as an "ancient Chinese proverb."

Whatever the case, Mr. Benenson, and the American Christopher Society, which adopted the phrase as its motto, certainly had meritorious intentions in keeping to the spirit of the words.

When it comes to our current economic climate and the out-of-control, corrupt worldwide banking and political liaison, the cabal of bankers and politicians are the darkness, and, as much as one tries to be at all times civil, they need to be cursed.

Market manipulations aside, this week could well have been the utter, disgusting end of years of rigging, price, fixing, fraud and associated crimes, none of which having been prosecuted.

It's been mentioned in this space before that the end of manipulation is eventual failure or stagnation and this week was a prime example. Sure, it's summer and the height of vacation season, but the entire range of trade over the past five days on the Dow Jones Industrials was 115 points. On the NASDAQ, 45 points, while the S&P 500 vacillated between a low of 1391 and a high of 1406, which, incidentally, was close to where it closed on Friday. The S&P finished higher every day this week, though the biggest gain was a whopping seven points.

By the way, all of todays gains were made in the final 40 minutes of trading and the day's volume was embarrassing. Free and fair markets - that's what we used to have in the United States. What we have now is a dangerous, insider-controlled contrivance.

Were there a way to "light a candle" amidst the fraud that has enveloped our financial, political and media systems, it would probably be blown out in an instant. We the people are seemingly bred to watch, listen, obey and not ask questions. The banking elite, however, can do no wrong, as evidenced by a number of stories which emerged from the flotsam of the week that wasn't.

On Tuesday, the CFTC shut down a four-year-long investigation into silver market manipulation, focusing on JP Morgan and HSBC, saying there was insufficient evidence to bring any charges.

Thursday, the US Department of Justice decided not to pursue criminal charges against Goldman Sachs or any of its employees on mortgage securities fraud, concluding "that the burden of proof to bring a criminal case could not be met based on the law and facts as they exist at this time.” The investigation, which took over a year, was prompted by Goldman Sach's CEO Lloyd Blankfein testifying to a congressional panel that the firm actually took the opposite sides of trades that they sold to their clients. But, that's not sufficient for the bought-and-paid-for invisible man, Eric Holder, to bring a case forward. (Here's an idea: to help balance the budget, why not just shut down the DoJ? They apparently aren't interested in prosecuting anybody connected with the financial industry for anything. Big savings there.)

Thursday night, CBS ran, as the second story on their nightly national "news" broadcast, that the housing market was finally recovering (this probably was the sixth or seventh time over the past two years the shills at CBS had run such a story). Why then does Gary Shilling suggest that existing home prices could fall another 20%?

Flood of Foreclosures Could Cause Home Prices to Drop 20%: Gary Shilling

So, make up your own mind. Is the banking system, government oversight and the media working for you and your fellow citizens? Or are there two levels of justice in the USA (and probably everywhere else): one for rich bankers and one for the rest of us? Can we really trust our leaders to do the right things for the people? Or are we caught up in a fascist corporotocracy that feeds upon individuals for the benefit of the rich and powerful?

Go ahead and curse the darkness, because it needs to be cursed. Then light a candle. Take care of your family and friends and do something for yourself, like buying some raw land, growing some of your own vegetables, or investing in physical gold or silver.

To close out the week, or, if you're in need of additional reinforced rancor over the weekend, check out the latest Keiser Report, with Max Keiser and Stacy Herbert, below:

Dow 13,207.95, +42.76 (0.32%)
NASDAQ 3,020.86, +2.22 (0.07%)
S&P 500 1,405.86, +3.06 (0.22%)
NYSE Composite 8,042.59, +17.58 (0.22%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,568,909,750
NYSE Volume 2,586,105,500
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 2753-2759
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 153-43
WTI crude oil: 92.87, -0.49
Gold: 1,622.80, +2.60
Silver: 28.06, -0.04

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Poor Data Undermines Fed Pumping Effort

Well, there's nothing the Federal Reserve can do about a collapsing economy, after all.

Data from the housing sector today suggests that despite pumping literally trillions into the US financial system, the original canary in the coal mine, residential real estate, is still lying prone on the operating table, unable to move, dead as a doornail. And yet, the Fed and the federal government still insists that spending more money (creating more debt) is the ultimate fix-all.

One has to wonder just when the American public will have had enough of this disaster in centrally-planned economics. The banks have been spared, though they remain among the worst investments listed. The government has exceeded the debt limit (yesterday), and is now raiding the retirement funds of public employees. The federal employees are the first to be robbed. Next will be state pension funds, so you teachers out there, adjust your lifestyle pans accordingly as you're about to receive a very unwanted haircut.

The numbers coming from the real estate sector can be characterized as nothing less than a national disaster. Housing starts and building permits fell to unprecedented lows at 523,000 and 521,000 (annualized), respectively. The numbers for housing starts (new homes) represents a 23% decline from a year ago, while the permit figures for new home construction fell 4% from March.

All in all, it's simply horrible environment in which to be building new homes. The level of new home construction has been at the lowest level since the government began keeping track and continued to decline. There's simply too much shadow inventory being held onto by the banks, who don't want to realize losses on the many homes that are either already REO, in the foreclosure process or where the homeowner is already more than three months behind.

The market for new homes is absolutely the thinnest it's ever been and it doesn't appear to be getting any better.

Adding to the ongoing economic catastrophe were figures on industrial production - flat for April - and capacity utilization, which may have peaked in March, at 77%. April's figure came in at 76.9%, and will likely be revised lower.

Thus, we have a stalled industrial sector, a dead residential housing market, slow to no job creation and the recession was supposed to have ended more than two years ago.

Face it, folks, your government is not in favor of prosperity for the average American. If congress and the administration were serious about jobs and growth and not preoccupied with fighting wars on drugs and terror and meddling into the affairs of other countries, none of this would be happening. We've been sold out, lied to and yet there are fewer and fewer voices of protest. One supposes that Americans have had enough, yet are so worn down by joblessness, violence, foreclosures, regulations and intrusions that they haven't got the energy to complain.

Wall Street is feeling the stress as well. The Dow Jones Industrials were down a nifty 170 points in the early going, but, as usual, when the Fed money comes into play, reversed course and finished with a smaller loss. The other indices were down as well, except the NASDAQ, which posted a fractional gain, probably from being so viciously sold off the prior two sessions.

The "go away in May" crowd seems to have it about right. During the month - today being the 12th trading day in May of 21 total, so we're past the mid-point - the NASDQ is down 90 points, the Dow is off 330 and the S&P has shed some 34 points. It's not a great amount, yet, though it is already a 2-3% decline. Slow death. The S&P has been down eight of the 12 sessions in May. The correction is underway.

Dow 12,479.42, -68.95 (0.55%)
NASDAQ 2,783.21, +0.90 (0.03%)
S&P 500 1,328.98, -0.49 (0.04%)
NYSE Compos 8,333.07, -3.52 (0.04%)

Declining issues danced past advancers, 3815-2713. NASDAQ recorded just 28 new highs and 83 new lows, the second day in succession that the lows have been on the high side. The NYSE continues to resist flipping negative, as new highs outnumbered new lows, 80-47. Volume was moderate, another ominous signal on a down day.

NASDAQ Volume 2,190,797,000
NYSE Volume 4,459,555,500

WTI crude dropped 46 cents, to $96.91, though it traded significantly lower for much of the session. High gas prices, in spite of slack demand and 15% lower crude, persists, however, with the US average at $3.94, down only a few cents from its peak. Just a few hours ago, a group of Democratic Senators called for an FTC probe of oil refiners, suggesting that price-fixing has occurred. Rest assured that it is nothing more than a dog-and-pony show as the senators are merely grandstanding, knowing full well that their campaigns are largely financed by these very companies.

The hit squad was out in full riot gear in the metals markets, sending gold down $4.80, to $1485.00 and sending silver below $33/ounce, before it rebounded to post a gain of 35 cents, currently at $33.95. It should be apparent to all that the forced de-leveraging in precious metals is not about to abate, and prices could tumble quite a bit further, especially where gold is concerned.

A discussion is underway in Washington as to whether it would be prudent to sell some of the gold held at Fort Knox to keep the government running. Presidential candidate Ron Paul feels it's a good idea, though he faces opposition, notably from President Obama. The US gold reserves are valued presently at roughly $370 billion.

All along, the government sits back and watches in a silent stupor, as the United States of America, and its constitution, is slowly ground to dust. And not a word of protest was heard.

Monday, April 4, 2011

No Volume, No Follow-through After Jobs Data

With the markets closing Friday in a state of ebullience and optimism, the Monday morning hangover was worse than expected.

Stocks got out of the gate well, with the averages hitting their highs of the day early on, but there was no catalyst and thus, no enthusiasm for either buying or selling, though tech stocks suffered more than most.

Stocks drifted in listless fashion on what will almost certainly turn out to be one of the five lowest trading volume sessions of the year thus far. Appetite for risk has been muted by world events, the least of which being the continuing saga of the nuclear reactors melting down at Fukushima Daiichi facility in Japan.

High levels of radiation have been found hither and fro, even in the United States, where air and water readings were above safe levels in communities from the West coast all the way east to Pennsylvania.

As for Japan itself, the situation appears even more out of control, as both the government and TEPCO, the utility company responsible for the failures, have run out of viable options for containment. If not for the "fear factor" the mainstream media would be full of horror stories, but the prevailing wisdom is not to alarm the populace over what looks to be already as bad as or worse than the disaster of Chernobyl, 25 years ago, a man-made calamity now estimated to have caused over a million deaths and multiple times that number in birth defects, miscarriages, and diseases.

With Japan's nuclear woes - where the "dead zone" is expected to eventually be 30 to 40 miles in all directions from the plant - the general mood of the people is a thinly-disguised panic and a heightened level of distrust of authorities. Said distrust is with good cause. The officials handling the situation are either incompetent, stupid, afraid or a combination of all three, and have yet to reassure the Japanese people of anything, other than the situation remains a catastrophe with potential to become even worse.

High gas prices have also put a damper on the proceedings worldwide, with both Brent crude and West Texas Intermediate (WTI) hitting 33-month highs on the day. Continued unrest in the oil-rich Middle East and North African countries - Libya, Bahrain, Kuwait, Yemen and now Ivory Coast - haven't helped slow down the oil rally and the onset of $4/gallon gas in the US.

So, little surprise that nothing is moving in the world of high finance.

Dow 12,400.03, +23.31 (0.19%)
NASDAQ 2,789.19, -0.41 (0.01%)
S&P 500 1,332.87, +0.46 (0.03%)
NYSE Composite 8,482.41, +13.07 (0.15%)

The level of disdain could be clearly seen in market internals. Advancing issues narrowly bettered decliners on the day, 3006-2630, though NASDAQ new highs soared against new lows, 222-30, while on the NYSE, the bias was the same, with new highs beating new lows, 259-15. As mentioned earlier, volume was extremely light.

NASDAQ Volume 1,679,897,000
NYSE Volume 3,273,874,500

WTI crude futures hit $108.47, a gain of 53 cents, the highest level since June of 2008. Prices above $4.00 per gallon for regular unleaded have been reported in New York, Chicago and various California locales.

Gold inched closer to all-time highs, gaining $4.10, to $1,433.00, while silver exploded to 31-year highs, ending the NY session on the COMEX at $38.49, on a gain of 76 cents (2%).

The stark comparisons between the economic climate today and that of 2008 could not be clearer. High oil and gas prices, a stagnating stock market close to multi-year highs nearing the end of a long bull run, ramping foreclosures and falling real estate values, and political uncertainty carry all the trademarks which eventually led to the great unwinding in Fall 2008.

Three years hence, after trillions of dollars in stimulus, the very same banks that caused the calamity before are still leveraged to the hilt, hiding liabilities off the books and still in denial over their true, illiquid conditions.

For mood to change so impressively from good to bad over the weekend is stunning. Americans and the world at large should be prepared for another round of asset-crushing deflation once the Fed decides to stop printing dollars into existence come June.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

It's Not as Good as They're Saying; Lows-Highs Flip

To anyone who follows capital markets and the world of high finance closely, the material deficiencies in the US and global "growth" stories are glaring and have been for many months. While the financial press - CNBC, the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg - and the spokespeople for the various central governments around the world continue to feed the public the "recovery" fable, the facts, now beginning to see the light of day, contend that the global economy is still, two-and-a-half years after the grand cascading crash of 2008, in precarious straits.

Five separate stories sealed the fate for global markets today, beginning with China's announcement late Wednesday night (in America) that their trade balance was negative for the month of February.

About the same time, RealtyTrac delivered news that foreclosures had come to nearly a halt in the United States, with their numbers for February dropping 14 percent from the previous month and a 27 percent decrease from February 2010. Normally, that would be good news, but in the current environment of illegal and unethical actions by large, foreclosing banks, it meant that the mess that began in October, 2010 with the robo-signing scandal, was keeping banks from courthouses and clogging up the real estate market in a worsening manner.

Prior to the market opening, two more news items spooked the investment community. First, Moody's downgraded Spain's debt (about time for that!) to Aa2 and then, at 8:30 am on the East coast, the double whammy of new unemployment claims (397,000) and the US trade deficit, which expanded to -$46.3 billion in January.

Then, in mid-afternoon, as if the market had not received enough bad news, a story out of Saudi Arabia said that protesters had been fired upon by government troops.

That final bit of news sent the major indices - which had recovered somewhat off the day's lows - down once more, and stocks finished the session breaking into new depths.

The Dow and S&P broke through various levels of support, with the Dow finishing under the 12,000 mark for the first time in two months and the S&P crashing through it's 55-DMA. The NASDAQ and NYSE Composite each suffered similar pain.

It's becoming plain and clear to everybody living in the real world - not the fantasy land of fund managers, politicians and central bankers - that things are not going so well. Housing is an absolute catastrophe, global trade is grinding down due to higher imput costs and soaring energy prices, Europe is a full-blown basket case on the brink of dissolving, and US stocks are so wickedly overvalued that the path of least resistance is to sell them all, hurriedly, on the first sign of negative news, and there certainly was plenty of that to go around today.

Dow 11,984.61, -228.48 (1.87%)
NASDAQ 2,701.02, -50.70 (1.84%)
S&P 500 1,295.11, -24.91 (1.89%)
NYSE Composite 8,200.07, -179.37 (2.14%)

Declining issues led advancers, 5501-1072, a ratio of better than 5:1. New highs on the NASDAQ were just 33, overtaken by 68 new lows. On the NYSE, just 27 new highs and 31 new lows. This is a critical juncture for the markets, because if the number of new lows remain higher than new highs on a daily basis for long, say, six to eight trading days, it would confirm a hard change of direction, which has been in the cards since the double-engulfing session last Tuesday.

Volume was elevated as is the usual case when sellers outnumber buyers.

NASDAQ Volume 2,374,073,000
NYSE Volume 5,320,324,500

Commodities also took it on the chin, though in not such a dramatic fashion as stocks. Crude oil futures on the NYMEX fell $1.68, to $102.70, due to massive oversupply in the US of unrefined crude. Gold slipped $17.10, but remained below the psychologically-important $1400 level, ending the day at $1,412.50. Silver also was sold off, losing $98 cents, to finish at $35.07, though it should be noted that on days of hard reversals, a lot of precious metals are liquidated by speculators to cover margin calls.

A final note should not be ignored. Bill Gross' PIMCO, the world's largest fixed income family of funds, has slashed its holdings of Treasuries to ZERO. This news, first reported by the avant garde financial blog,, holds unknown, but potentially damaging conditions. Gross and PIMCO have more or less registered a vote of "no confidence" on the policies of the US government and the Federal Reserve Corporation.

With stocks hammered down repeatedly over the past two weeks, the highs of February 18 look like specs on the horizon and the truth about the real conditions in the global and US markets is finally coming out. The cataclysm begun by the Wall Street banks in 2003-2006 and accelerated by then-Treasury Secretary's $700 billion holdup of the US mint in October, 2008, has many more acts still to be played out.

The rush for the exits began a week ago and the passageway out is beginning to get quite crowded.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Stocks Surge on Slim News

Despite indications that Friday's non-farm payroll data is going to disappoint - or maybe because of that - stocks continued to trundle forward and have now put together the makings of a fairly nice week of gains.

All of the major indices are poised to post their third weekly gain in the last four and, as of today's close, all but the NYSE Composite are positive for the year.

Data which has been released this week has been mixed, though slightly positive overall. Initial unemployment claims dropped off by 29,000 in the most recent week, but are still stubbornly high at 469,000. A number closer to 300,000 would be indicative that layoffs have stopped and that re-hiring was about to resume, though market participants aren't holding their collective breaths in anticipation of that number. Factory orders showed an impressive 1.7% gain in January, following a solid 1.5% advance in December.

The canary in the coal mine, however, continued to be housing. Pending home sales fell 7.6% in January according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), which, to almost nobody's surprise, was blamed on the weather, even though the worst storms of the season came in February, not January. Thus, any attempts to paint lipstick on the pig that is residential housing are likely to induce ridicule and groaning.

With the nation almost completely mortgaged to the government due to guarantees by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the other alphabet soup names of agencies sopping up the upside-down mortgage market, there is little hope that the heartland of America's middle class is going to rebound any time soon. Jobs and housing continue to haunt the best efforts of government and financiers, like Freddie Kruger, who just seems to never go away for good.

While Wall Street can whoop it up over earnings and percentages, most of America is suffering, especially state governments. Roughly 4 out of 5 are going to need further assistance from the feds in closing gaping budget shortfalls this year, after being bailed out in 2009. Turning the sublime into the ridiculous, the federal government is about as bankrupt as most of Bernie Madoff's investors, so that, in effect, the states are borrowing borrowed money.

We have come to the point in our history that the obvious cannot be overlooked, though the media and government officials try their best to obfuscate the truth in hopes of retaining or gaining office. Adding together all of the debt - most of it piled on in recent years - and including the unfunded and underfunded mandates such as Medicare and Social Security, every American living today is in hock to the tune of about $430,000.

Any economist who tells you that the money will be paid back is simply a jack-ass lacking common sense. The incredible tax burden needed to hoist such a huge burden off the backs of American citizens would relegate today's and future wage-earners to a level usually reserved for indentured servants. Some make the case that due to the high tax burden already imposed, most Americans are nothing more than wage slaves already, a point that cannot be made too finely nor too bluntly.

While the mechanics of the economy whirr ever onward, the plight of the individual continues to deteriorate. Pay raises, once a commonplace theme in most business environments, have been all but obliterated since the late 1990s, except, of course, in government positions, where financial discipline has been abrogated and handed over to the debt-runners in congress and the presidency. The lower classes get welfare checks and other comforts from the largess of the Treasury; the upper class needs no such relief, having written all they need into the tax codes, leaving the vast middle class in a squeezed situation such as today's, where wages hardly cover the costs associated with common living.

Saving, that relic from the past that our parents and grandparents tried to imbue into us, has been replaced by debt, and that debt has exploded to unreasonable levels in just the past twenty years, threatening to destroy the entire fabric the social compact upon which our country was founded and currently operates.

Retirement, the biggest sham ever invented, is going to be thrust from the American lexicon within the next decade as baby-boom generation workers begin to add to the debt burden in increasing numbers. Taking away benefits from earners is still taboo in Washington, DC, though the decision to either cut benefits or raise taxes will soon be an unavoidable choice, probably within five to six years, if the union lasts that long.

The final insult to the idealist "peace and love" crowd from the 60s will be termination of Social Security for all intents and purposes. Benefits will still be doled out in some form or another, though the level of payments will be ludicrously low in comparison to what previous generations took out. Like all other social entitlement programs, Social Security and Medicare in particular are nothing more than vast Ponzi schemes, using current revenue to pay current beneficiaries. Within years, even possibly months, the balance will tip toward the recipients outnumbering the payers, sending the entire system further into default (It's already over the brink, though nobody will admit it).

What happens when the economy of a nation, brought down by debt burdens too weighty to maintain, implodes, is not a secret. The obvious first victims will be the lame and indigent, as government stipends are reduced or completely shut off. Next would be the chronically poor and illiterate, who do not possess enough brain power or initiative to fend for themselves.

The upper class will feel only slight pain, most of the anguish being sustained by the 60-70% of the population in the middle. Good jobs will be hard to come by, families will be forced to live together as in the Great Depression of the 1930s, and, though prices for everything from food to fuel will be forced lower (though that's arguable in the case of utilities and health care, which will raise prices on fewer customers to meet costs), few will be able to afford much more than basic necessities.

All of this is why it's important to know what your money is doing and where you are putting it to work. As explained recently, the only viable investments for the average middle class American today are cash, capital goods, and capital-producing goods such as food, fuel, seeds and tools of trade. All else is speculative and more than likely doomed. There are those who preach that gold will be the savior of assets and wealth, and that may be true, though most middle class people would more than likely have to sell any gold assets in order to meet day-to-day expenses in a post-crash economy.

In any case, there are trillions of dollars being fed into and out of the Wall Street stock machinery and today was a good day for them. Few of those who toil in the financial services industry have any idea of the train wreck that is just ahead, so, let their folly be your entertainment.

Dow 10,444.14, +47.38 (0.46%)
NASDAQ 2,292.31, +11.63 (0.51%)
S&P 500 1,122.97, +4.18 (0.37%)
NYSE Composite 7,173.07, +8.41 (0.12%)

Gainers outnumbered losers on the day, 3651-2790. There were 427 new highs to a paltry 27 new lows, as we approach the anniversary of the market bottom - March 9, 2009 - now just three trading days away.

NYSE Volume 4,448,901,500
NASDAQ Volume 2,062,605,875

Commodities took a bit of a breather. Oil was actually down 25 cents, to $80.62. Gold slipped $9.60, to $1,133.70, while silver fell 10 cents, to $17.23.

Tomorrow's release of non-farm payroll data for February probably won't cause much of a ruffle since expectations have been sufficiently dampened all week. It's a near certainty that the numbers will be worse than last month, and consequently blamed on the weather.

Markets and what passes for economic understanding have reached a new low, now that we can blame Mother Nature for our economic shortcomings.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Sub-prime Submersion

As noted yesterday, dark clouds appeared over Wall Street in the form of defaulting sub-prime lenders, notably, New Century Financial (NEW), and sent the indices reeling on Tuesday.

New Century, which specialized in sub-prime mortgage loans, said on Monday that it may not be able to meet financial obligations of more than $8 billion. Trading on the shares were halted at 1.66 Monday, a loss of more than 96% from its high of 51.97, reached about a year ago. The stock briefly traded higher than 60 in December 2004. Trading continued to be suspended on the issue throughout Tuesday as the NYSE considered delisting and a criminal probe was initiated.

It was a truly horrible day to own stocks. The Dow, S&P, NASDAQ and NYSE Composite all opened lower and continued selling throughout the session, closing at or near the lows of the day.

Dow 12,075.96 -242.66; NASDAQ 2,350.57 -51.72; S&P 500 1,377.95 -28.65; NYSE Composite 8,926.28 -194.05

According to, shares of Bear Stearns (BSC), Lehman (LEH) and Morgan Stanley (MS) experienced losses of 6% or more on exposure to the bad debts of the beleaguered sub-prime market.

Apparently, the damage from mortgage defaults is more severe than those involved have been letting on. It's been suggested that as many as 25% of sub-prime mortgages initiated between 2003 and early 2006 - at the height of the real estate boom - may result in foreclosure and default.

The fault lies not only in the borrowers, whose desire to own an American home outstripped their ability to pay, but in the lenders, whose shady dealings and unethical practices put people who could scarcely afford them into homes with little or no down payment.

The terms of some of these loans are so onerous as to make normal lenders shriek with horror. Interest only loans with increasing principle were all the rage near the end of the boom. Another contributing factor was the rampant speculation on housing which pushed prices beyond normal affordability.

Real estate prices in some of the more overheated markets, such as Southern California, Washington, D.C., Boston and Florida, will take years to weed out the excesses. Homes that typically were selling in the range of 400,000-500,000 in 2005, today will fetch little more than half that amount, leaving many homeowners upside down - mortgage balances higher than the value of their homes. With unappetizing options of staying put and paying or selling at a loss, there are serious grumblings in suburbia.

Of course, with every loser there is a winner or two. Those homeowners who sold at the top of the market and downsized are likely ahead by tens of thousands of dollars. But there's little to no free cash floating around for investment in stocks, and that's crippling Wall Street today and will have a longer term affect as the housing bust deepens.

As this correction and mortgage blow-up extends, more days like this should be expected. Suburban middle and upper-middle class homeowners with little disposable income is not going to boost the economy. On the heels 4th quarter 2006 GDP growth of merely 2.2%, the 1st quarter of 2007 isn't shaping up to be much better. When economic indicators - like today's stalled retail numbers - begin to show little to no growth or outright declines, the other shoe shall have fallen.

Almost unnoticed amid the carnage was another decline in the price of oil, which lost 98 cents to close at $57.93, its lowest close in 3 weeks. Gold and silver continued their long, slow, clumsy, rangebound trade. Gold ended fixed at 649.40, -0.90. Silver ended the day at 12.96, a loss of 13 cents.

Declining issues outpaced advancing ones by a nearly 5-1 margin, while the measure of new highs to new lows flipped over, an ominous signal going forward. There were a combined 154 new highs to 225 new lows on the NYSE and NASDAQ.

New lows must reach a number beyond 350 before a bottom can even be considered close. We're not there yet. In fact, the Dow is still above the March 5 interim low of 12,039.11. There's more - probably much more - selling to come.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Three in a Row for the Dow, but Trouble is Brewing

Could the markets be on to something? The Dow Jones Industrials rose for the third consecutive session on Monday, adding 42 points and with that, completing a 2% gain off the lows of last week.

Dow 12,318.62 +42.30; NASDAQ 2,402.29 +14.74; S&P 500 1,406.60 +3.75; NYSE Composite 9,120.93 +25.94

As we see from the numbers above, the other indices tagged along for the ride. And what a nice ride it was, though most investors thought better of it. To say that the volume was thin would be overstating the case. Especially on the NASDAQ, it was nothing short of anemic.

But the markets made the best of it, putting on the bravest of brave faces and likely cheering the drop in the price of oil, which fell 1.14 to $58.91, a welcome number for anyone who owns (or is paying off a 6-year loan on) a car.

In the absence of any noteworthy news, little things could make a huge difference in this directionless market. Some of the smallest things are little movements in interest rates, which are heading higher thanks no doubt to the seeming end of easy money, particularly in the mortgage arena. There, a company called New Century Financial Corp. is about to go completely belly up, taking down $8 billion in bad money with it.

What worries Wall Street is that New Century's collapse could cause a tsunami in financial markets. The company specialized in sub-prime loans, or more succinctly, mortgage loans to people who probably shouldn't have them. CNNMoney has a good article on the subject.

New Century originated many of these sub-prime loans, packaged them up and resold them to other willing buyers on Wall Street. Among the companies with financial agreements with New Century are some which should know better, like Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs and others. These giants will be able to absorb whatever shock might occur in a default or bankruptcy by New Century, which seems all but certain, but the damage will spread.

Lenders will tighten up requirements for home buyers, interest rates may hitch up a bit, people get worried and everyone goes home losers. At a time when the economy is cooling off to a significant degree, the last thing the suits on Wall Street need is a soft real estate market, rising interest rates and sour-pussed bankers.

There's a bit of unraveling about to happen and it will only fuel selling into an already unsteady market. Get ready for another 3-4% decline on the major indices over the next few weeks. I've said it was coming and here it is, on a silver sub-prime platter.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Blind Men Leading the Clueless: Late Day Selling Sinks US Equities

Yes, indeed, the dead cat bounced yesterday, but it lost its legs in the process. The follow-up to Tuesday's one-sided trade up was a complete dud. While the Dow briefly traded nearly 50 points higher, at the end of the day the sellers took all US equity indices back into red territory.

Dow 12,192.45 -15.14; NASDAQ 2,374.64 -10.50; S&P 500 1,391.97 -3.44; NYSE Composite 8,999.20 -6.81

The short leg today signify little buying interest. Any other explanation should be viewed with appropriate skepticism. Following the meltdown of Feb. 27, yesterday's rally was simply relief, as I said clearly and emphatically yesterday.

But here's a direct quote from (I believe), which posts directly to the market overview page on Yahoo! Finance, a site that is probably the most frequented of any in the financial world.

Since yesterday's huge rally was based as little on fundamentals as was last week's meltdown, and indicative of short covering activity amid an increasingly pessimistic mindset, today's breather wasn't overly disconcerting. In fact, some semblance of stabilization provides some hope that a bottom may have been put in place.

Now, I have a couple of problems with this. First, it's sugarcoating the past two weeks+ of trading in which the Dow has fallen in 9 of the last 11 sessions. The other indices have generally followed suit. February 27 was not an isolated event, even if it was somewhat contrived. Second, I don't know exactly how the author squares "short covering activity amid an increasingly pessimistic mindset" with "based as little on fundamentals as was last week's meltdown..." because if there is an increasingly pessimistic mindset, shorts wouldn't bother to cover and last Tuesday's meltdown was based on fundamentals - a fundamentally overbought market.

Third, that last line is a true gem and should end up in the annals of other official-sounding gibberish. "Some hope that a bottom may have been put in place" is like saying, "we're happy none of the survivors were killed," or "sure Kennedy was killed but Connally was only injured." Serious damage was done last week and it wasn't exactly unforeseen. Anyone hoping that a bottom is now in place is really pushing the envelope of stupidity right into the face of investors they hope are clueless.

There's more evidence that corporate media thinks the American public is stupid. As if we needed any more proof, writers Robin Farzad and David Henry penned the cover story for this week's edition (dated March 12, 2007) of BusinessWeek. In it they and their editors actually have the raw nerve to use this as a sub-head: "Volatility is back. Ominous signs loom. But the outlook for U.S. markets is surprisingly upbeat."

For them, maybe, but there are thousands of people with money in 401k's and other investments who aren't exactly rejoicing over a 400-point one-day drop on the Dow. The trading sessions which preceded and followed that ugly Tuesday aren't exactly joy-inspiring either.

The authors cite a glut of private equity money and other cash sitting on the sidelines and the fact that overseas markets still seem riskier than US stocks as examples for the "upbeat" feel. They also cite that the market was up on Feb. 28, as another reason not to worry, which certainly is reassuring, especially when it was down the following day, the day after that and so on...

These authors have an amazing nerve to think they can accurately read the market's signals and then tell us everything is OK. It truly is the blind leading the clueless.

Meanwhile, reports that the housing bubble has burst into full-blown collapse are beginning to emerge. It's not just sub-prime loans that are going bust, but buyers who purchased homes via adjustable rate vehicles at grossly inflated prices with little or no equity are being dragged into foreclosure as well. It's simple math. If you bought a home in 2003, 2004, 2005 or 2006 for $500,000 and today it's only going to fetch $400,000, you lose. And it's happening all over the country, but especially in Florida and California, which just happen to be two of the largest real estate markets in the USA.

The real culprits are interest-only adjustable-rate mortgages, which spread like wildfire through the mortgage industry as housing prices ramped beyond the reach of most Americans. Insidious lending practices let the buying boom continue, until every last loser with a job had his or her own home, affordable or not (most times, not).

Well, if our homes don't kill us, we can count on our cars taking every last nickel. Oil was up another $1.13 today to close at $61.82. The beneficent big oil companies just can't get enough, can they?

Gold gained 6.70 to 652.90; silver followed dutifully along, rising 12 cents to $13.11 per Troy ounce.