Showing posts with label Switzerland. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Switzerland. Show all posts

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Crushes Stocks, Commodities, Oil, Gold, Silver; Crisis Appears To Be Accelerating

(Simultaneously published at Downtown Magazine)

As ugly goes, this past week ranks right up there with bearded lady or three-eyed ogre status.

Over the course of just five trading sessions, stocks lost more than ten percent on all the main indices. The Dow topped the list with a drop of 12.36%. The week and the preceding Thursday and Friday (all but the NASDAQ are sporting seven-day losing streaks marked the fastest that stocks fell into correction territory, officially designated as a 10% slide.

What's worse - if there's anything worse than shaving a couple trillion off the American market cap balance sheet - is that the rush to sell hardly seems to be over. The last week of February looks more like the beginning of something more severe, and with the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) just beginning to make an impact in the United States, there isn't much talk about "buying the dip" at this particular juncture.

Just because everybody loves numbers, here are the current losses from the respective tops and the levels needed to reach down to a 20% loss, the designated level at which would kick in a bear market. Bear in mind that stocks recently hit all-time highs.

Dow: Top: 29,551.42 (2/12/20); Current: 25,409.36 (-14.02%); Bear Market (-20%): 23,641.14
NASDAQ: Top: 9,817.18 (2/19/20); Current: 8,567.37 (-12.74%); Bear Market(-20%): 7,853.74
S&P 500: Top: 3,386.15 (2/19/20); Current: 2,954.22 (-13.76%); Bear Market (-20%): 2,708.92
NYSE: Top: 14,183.20 (1/17/20); Current: 12,380.97 (-12.71%); Bear Market (-20%): 11,346.56

The potential for a bear market are palpable for more reasons than just the threat of COVID-19 spreading across the great expanse of the United States. A widespread outbreak, like the one in China, would be devastating, but already there are strong indications that community transmission has already taken place in the state of Washington, in Chicago, and in California.

Widespread infections that close schools and businesses would only be the tip of the issue. Large public gatherings - and that is a concern with baseball's regular season less than a month away - would carry warnings to the public. Many would likely stay away just out of personal caution, but hope is that the department of Heath and Human Services (HHS), CDC and Vice President Pence's executive branch team will keep community outbreaks well contained. However, France and Switzerland have banned large gatherings over 5,000, and cancelled all sporting events. Imagine the same for the United States in just a few weeks. It could happen. It may not.

Possibly also working against the virus is time. Many similar viruses, like the flu, die off naturally or lose their effectiveness and ability to transmit and spread.

On he other hand, the aftereffects from China's production slowdown have not been fully felt and won't be evident until companies report first quarter results. That's early April and beyond, giving the markets more than a month to navigate whatever trend emerges.

Stocks were significantly overvalued when the slide began; today they are less so, though still hanging in the high end in the valuation regimen. There is more room on the downside. All through 2019, companies were not reporting robust results. The S&P was generally flat on earnings yet stocks rose. Capacity Utilization and Productivity have also shown signs of a slowdown, even prior to the coronavirus event.

While unemployment remains a bright spot, business expansion has been slow to nearly nothing. A slew of variables - in effect the market's wall of worry - are mixed and unresolved. With sentiment now having shifted violently from greed to fear, any bad or marginal data is going to get the bum's rush, encouraging more selling.

Elsewhere, crude oil took a massive hit during the week. WTI crude closed at $54.88 on February 20, but by Friday of this week had dropped to $44.76 per barrel, a slide of 18.45%.

Precious metals abruptly went negative midweek after rallying for the better part of the last month. The silver continuous contract closed Friday at $16.46, the lowest price since last July. Gold topped out at $1691.70 per ounce on Monday, but by Friday could be purchased for $1566.70, more than a hundred dollar discount. Four straight down days snapped a rally in gold that started in late November, 2019. The gold price remains elevated, having only caught down to a price that was last seen the first week of February.

Particularly telling was action in the treasury market and bonds overall. The entire yield curve was decimated with the benchmark 10-year note checking in at an all-time low of 1.13%. The 30-year bond also posted a record low yield at 1.65% on Friday. With inversion on the short end - the 6-month bill is yielding 1.11 - the 2-year, 3-year, and 5-year are yielding 0.86%, 0.85%, and 0.89%, respectively.

With everybody from President Trump on down calling on the Federal Reserve to get into the act, rumors began circulating late Thursday that the Fed would coordinate with other central banks for some kind of symmetric cuts in overnight rates as early as Sunday, though as of this writing, nothing has come of it. The Fed is virtually guaranteed to cut by at least 25 basis points at its next FOMC meeting, on March 17-18, though for many in the markets, that seems a long time off and may in fact be too late to have much influence.

It wasn't just treasuries feeling the heat. According to Doug Noland's Credit Bubble Bulletin, "There were no investment-grade deals for the first time in 18 months, as $25bn of sales were postponed awaiting more favorable market conditions."

If credit markets begin to seize up, which appears to be the evolving case, the Fed will have no choice but to lower the federal funds rate prior to the meeting. 50 basis points would appear appropriate if the virus continues to spread not just in the US, but around the world. More than 60 countries have at least one case of the virus and the United States, Australia, and Thailand have reported their first deaths just in the past 24 hours.

Preparedness is the key to surviving whatever form the crisis takes, be it medical or economic. Households should have on hand at least a three-week supply of food and other essentials at the minimum. Investors should have moved money into safe havens, as many did. Money market funds and bonds provide some relief from the roller coaster of stocks. Precious metals usually provide some protection, but, as was the case in 2008, gold and silver fell off dramatically as stores of the metals were sold in order to shore up cash liquidity. Back then, they were the first commodities to recover, besting the markets by a number of months, though right now, they don't appear to be stunning buying opportunities.

If the worst case scenario occurs and there are wide ranging quarantines, travel restrictions and cancelation of public gatherings, expect nothing short of a complete meltdown of the financial system and conditions which have never been seen before. A stock market decline of 60-70 percent would be a real possibility. The entire rip to the downside could take as long as 18 months or as little as six.

That's not to say that a total collapse will occur. There may be mitigating factors in the interim, plus the advent of warmer weather with higher humidity might slow down the virus, but market direction has turned violently to the negative. Now is not the time to jump in a buy equities as most rallies will likely be met with strong resistance and more selling.

Presently, everything is up in the air, including the virus and the world's finances.

At the Close, Friday, February 28, 2020:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 25,409.36, -357.28 (-1.39%)
NASDAQ: 8,567.37, +0.89 (+0.01%)
S&P 500: 2,954.22, -24.54 (-0.82%)
NYSE: 12,380.97, -166.29 (-1.33%)

For the Week:
Dow: -3583.05 (-12.36%)
NASDAQ: -1009.22 (-10.54%)
S&P 500: -383.53 (-11.49%)
NYSE: -1594.81 (-11.41%)

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Sweden Done With Negative Rates; How Does The World Reverse Course?

From the land that gave us the Volvo and Greta Thunberg, comes news that the nation of Sweden has abandoned its five-year-long experiment with negative interest rates.

The news is actually about a week old, but, being that there was so much going on between the impeachment of President Trump, the China trade deal, and the public's general disinterest with anything not related to either the NFL or Christmas, that the Riksbank raising its overnight repo interest rate from -0.25% to 0.0% hardly warranted notice.

Nonetheless, the global response was as expected from the groupthink of the central bank community. Rates instantly rose, and a chorus of seemingly smart-sounding people recited verses calling for fiscal measures to be undertaken immediately, to counteract the anti-stimulative effect of cancelling out the negative rates that are, in turn, cancelling out currencies around the globe.

According to the central banking community, debt and spending must be promoted by governments as the bankers have done all they could do to alter the flow of goods and services and money in a positive direction. The Swedes have failed, and with that, so too the central banks of the Europe Union nations, Japan, Denmark, Hungary, and Switzerland.

What comes now is general consensus on the direction of economies and globalized financial repression. More spending must be undertaken by governments, on infrastructure, military hardware, green initiatives, social programs and anything else the politicians can get behind and garner more votes for themselves, virtue-signaling that they are the saviors of the free and not-so-free world.

Such a plan could not be concocted by a more smarmy gaggle of decrepit geezers and their enabling political hacks. The worldwide crackdown on savings was not efficient enough to erase decades of excess and misanthropic misadventures into economic dystopia. Now the banking and political community will expose the world to even more egregious profligate spending that will no doubt benefit few, mostly politicians and bankers.

While the Riksbank ponders life in the frozen wasteland formerly recognizable as a stable nation, the rest of the world trudges dangerously close to the financial abyss that negative interest rates have created. Reversing interest rates to a standard resembling something almost normal might prove a costly enterprise. After all, most corporations have been feasting upon low rates for so long, buying back their own stock and artificially raising equity share prices by a process of market starvation, a change that will ultimately cost more could very likely corrupt the process and actually foment a global recession.

Not to worry. The central bankers will no doubt have a solution for that as well while pointing their gnarly fingers the way of their political cronies as world economies lurch from bad policies to worse. With Christine Lagarde recently replacing Mario Draghi as president of the ECB, there's little doubt that the failed policies of her predecessor will be enhanced by more high-sounding rhetorical nonsense that will help speed the spiraling down of society into an inescapable morass.

Well, how about that. It's Christmas!

At the Close, Monday, December 23, 2019:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 28,551.53, +96.44 (+0.34%)
NASDAQ: 8,945.65, +20.69 (+0.23%)
S&P 500: 3,224.01, +2.79 (+0.09%)
NYSE Composite: 13,899.99, +10.74 (+0.08%)

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Stocks Finish Week With Gains, Remain Range-Bound

If one were to view Friday's market action in a vacuum, without context, one would think everything is just peachy in Wall Street wonderland. The NFP jobs report for June was solid and the major indices put up strong gains to close out the week.

But, nothing exists in isolation.

Taking a little bit broader view, over the shortened, four-day week, all that Friday's gains managed to do was life all the major indices from red to green for the week, with the exception of the NYSE Composite, which finished just nine points underwater, but, not to worry, nobody pays attention to the "comp" anymore, even though it is the most diverse, broadest of the majors.

Fraud, manipulation, massive central bank intervention?

Yes, sure, of course. Since central banks have been the primary drivers of the eight year recovery since the GFC, why would anybody believe they have stopped their high-stakes involvement. Lowering interest rates - even to negative - didn't work. Massive injections of funny fiat money didn't work. Talking about how the labor market and the general economy was doing so great (it isn't) didn't work, so, why not resort to outright purchasing of equities in a vain attempt to create a "wealth effect?"

Of course, the Fed will never admit to such activity, but Switzerland (SNB), Japan (BOJ), and the European Central Bank (ECB) have all openly been buying stocks for the past few years, at least, and probably longer.

Therefore, the entire week of trading was a nonsensical, uneventful kabuki play, designed to give the impression that all is well and there's no reason to sell... anything... even though many did. As they say in the current newsspeak nomenclature, a major league nothing-burger.

Balderdash. You're being culled, cuckolded, marinated, stuffed, and baked by people who control your baseless currency when you could be using that same valueless "money" to purchase goods, food, machinery of trade, gold, silver (currently on sale, as it has been for four years running), land, land and more land, some with actual buildings erected.

But, no. Americans (not to the exclusion of Canadiens, Japanese, and Euroland dwellers) instead purchase garbage college educations for garbage jobs, cell phones, 70-inch TVs, overpriced cars (mainly on leases), and run up enormous amounts of credit card and other debt for baseball tickets and extraordinary "experiences."

With the US government $19.965 trillion in debt, something along the lines of 10,000 seniors retiring every day, underfunded pensions galore, and monstrous debt and unfunded liabilities under-and-overhanging nearly every developed nation...

Good luck with that.

At the Close, 7/7/17:
Dow: 21,414.34, +94.30 (0.44%)
NASDAQ: 6,153.08, +63.61 (1.04%)
S&P 500: 2,425.18, +15.43 (0.64%)
NYSE Composite: 11,752.98, +50.55 (0.43%)

For the week:
Dow: +64.71 (0.30%)
NASDAQ: +12.66 (0.21%)
S&P 500: +1.77 (0.07%)
NYSE Composite: -8.72 (-0.07)

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Globalism Is Dead And Dying At Davos

As the world prepares for a new American era to begin with the inauguration of Donald J. Trump as the 45th president of the United States, the global elites are gathered at Davos to interpret the condition of the world economy.

Ian Goldin, a professor of globalization and development at Oxford University spoke briefly at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, saying,
“You can’t stop managing an entangled environment by disconnecting. This is the fundamental mistake of Brexit, of Trump, and of so many others. We are not simply connected. We are entangled. Our lives, our destinies are intertwined. What happens in China, what happens in Indonesia, what happens in India, what happens across Europe, and what happens in North America, across Africa and Latin America will affect all of us in dramatic new ways. The idea that somehow we can forge our future in an insular way, even for the biggest countries like the U.S., is a fantasy.”
Obviously, Mr. Goldin has been smoking too much of what he's been growing over the past couple of decades. To put it into a more precise perspective, Mr. Goldin kneels at the altar of globalization, thus, he's unprepared to express or even admit that there's any other opinion or world view than the one he personally promotes.

If one were living in a rural area in America, or India, or the Congo, even, the effects of global initiatives like those espoused and implemented by the people at Davos would be minimal, at best. One would still water plants, feed livestock, wash eggs, and perform all the other chores of a minimal farming/subsistence lifestyle. Mr. Goldin, being of the elitist character, has virtually no concept of digging holes for posts, erecting fences, germinating seed, slaughtering hogs, gathering chicken eggs daily, and so on. He's about as disconnected from the reality of everyday life as one could possibly be, viewing the world from his ivory tower at Oxford as he glances up briefly from his reading of some other obviously clueless professor emeritus or other "authority" whose mantra to which he subscribes.

Therefore, as we've seen in the Brexit movement and the election of Donald Trump as the next president of the United States of America, the globalist agenda is dead in the water, disconnected and disintegrating. The annual fete at Davos - through the media filter, at least - gives everyone an opportunity to see firsthand just how audaciously and vigorously the gathered elitists continue to promote their agendas. Liberalism, diversity, and globalism are all joined together into a kind of religion of the rich and powerful, but, the masses need not adhere to what is looking increasingly like failed policy.

If globalism has taken thirty or forty years to expand itself into monstrosities such as the European Union, the Arab Spring, and unadulterated acceptance of gay marriage, it's likely going to take an equal amount of time to dismantle its various parts and replace them with more stable value systems. As the globalists retreat from their worn-out traditions and values, popular uprisings will accelerate the decline. It starts, as do all major moral or political or economic upheavals, on the fringes of society, in the hinterlands, so to speak, before spreading to all ranges of the spectrum, from old to young, from the countryside to the cityscape.

We are at the beginning of a new age, one which promises the demise of authority at all levels from local to supranational and more freedom for the working classes and ordinary citizens.

On cue, one day before the actual inauguration of the man all the "experts" said had no chance of winning, Donald Trump, world markets continued a dizzy dance of denial and suspense, especially the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which spasmodically descended today to a point below where it began the year, closing at its lowest level since Decemeber 30 of last year (19,732.40, -72.32 (-0.37%)).

Though the drop in percentage terms was hardly sensational, the level is of more immediate concern. Since December 12, the intraday level never fell below 19,718, the mark made on the final day of trading for 2016, December 30.

While broader indices, the S&P 500 and the NASDAQ, retained a positive tilt for 2017, it has been the Dow that garnered the most attention of late, especially over its historic (failed) attempt to crack the 20,000 level.

With Trump taking the oath of office at noon tomorrow, the question on every trader's mind is how the markets will respond. With a whimper or a yawn, or might the Dow set aim again for an historic close?

At The Close 1.19.16:
Dow 19,732.40, -72.32 (-0.37%)
NASDAQ: 5,540.08, -15.57 (-0.28%)
S&P 500: 2,263.69, -8.20 (-0.36%)
NYSE Composite: 11,151.69, -44.41 (-0.40%)

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

This Crash Has Been Interrupted... for now

While the world's richest and most-influential types were sipping Valpolicella, stuffing themselves full of petit fours at the World Economic Forum in Davos, markets around the world were in turmoil.

Wednesday saw Asian markets fall completely out of bed, with the Nikkei falling into bear market territory for the first time, and Hong Knog's Hang Seng Index off by nearly 750 points and four percent. For a change, it wasn't the Shanghai SSE leading the way. It was down a mere one percent.

Spilling over into the European session, the feeling continued, just as it had almost every day of the new year. The Dax was a relative out-performer, with the German shares off just 2.82%, better, by comparison, than the FTSE 100 (-3.46) and the CAC 40 (-3.45). In effect, the day was a massive loss for holders of European stocks.

In the US, stocks were slammed at the opening bell, a knee-jerk reaction to the worldwide carnage, and the three major indices continued lower until just after noon, with the Dow recording a loss of 566 points.

But, all of a sudden, something changed. The Dow, S&P and NASDAQ all began moving the other way, as if somebody had turned a loose screw or flipped a faulty switch, metaphors which may be closer to the truth than anyone would admit to, in the age of HFT and sophisticated algos.

The afternoon was all about erasing the embarrassment of the morning session, and it was done with considerable gusto and untold amounts of money from god-know-whom-or-where. The NASDAQ erased a 125-point decline, moving steadily higher to edge into positive territory in the final hour, though it could not hold onto gains, falling back into the red in the final 20 minutes of trading.

The losses in the other two indices were a little stickier, though the Dow improved dramatically, finishing down by just short of 250 points. The S&P lost 22.

So, what happened? Nothing, really, except that short sellers took profits midday, then sat back and counted their money, supposedly. The smart money - and there always is smart money - is currently on red. And it's going to stay there until the selling stops, which, if the past two weeks are any indication, won't be any time soon.

For instance, the Dow still has 1200 points to get to bear market territory. The NASDAQ and S&P are similarly down about 15% from their highs (last May) and will need a little more time. Don't be surprised if there's a snap-back rally with some ferocity over the next two days as options expire on Friday.

What may be of more technical interest (no pun intended) is the yield on the ten-year note, which closed today under 2.00% for the first time in nearly a year. Following the federal funds rate hike in December, rates were supposed to rise. They've gone in the opposite direction, to the Fed's dismay. Look for the Federal Reserve to call an emergency meeting in the not-so-distant future if the selling doesn't abate shortly.

S&P 500: 1,859.33, -22.00 (1.17%)
Dow: 15,766.74, -249.28 (1.56%)
NASDSAQ: 4,471.69, -5.26 (0.12%)

Crude Oil 26.76 -5.97% Gold 1,101.20 +1.11% EUR/USD 1.0891 -0.18% 10-Yr Bond 1.9840 -2.51% Corn 368.00 +0.07% Copper 1.98 +0.13% Silver 14.17 +0.35% Natural Gas 2.14 +2.58% Russell 2000 999.31 +0.45% VIX 27.59 +5.91% BATS 1000 19,792.43 -1.24% GBP/USD 1.4193 +0.22% USD/JPY 116.9350 -0.60%

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Santa (Ben Bernanke) Arrives Early in Europe; Gold, Silver Surge

Stocks worldwide were up sharply Wednesday on the news that the Federal Reserve, in conjunction with the Central Banks of Canada, England, Japan, Switzerland and the European Central Bank (ECB) agreed to lower the pricing on the existing temporary U.S. dollar liquidity swap arrangements by 50 basis points.

It was an early Christmas gift that sparked a speculative rally and kept Europe from unraveling, again.

What we've repeatedly heard is that the current calamities of the Euro-zone are nothing like those encountered on American soil in 2008.

The plain fact that banks in Europe are under dire stress and in need of liquidity not only reprises 2008, but adds a crescendo affect that's akin to adding the NY Philharmonic, the Ohio State marching band and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir to the efforts of the Boston Pops.

Stresses on European banks, especially those in France, Belgium and Italy, have been exacerbating on a near-daily basis, with the potential for global contagion even greater than when Lehman Bros. was allowed to flail and fail.

Thus, as some unknown Europe-based bank was about to go under - rumors say $265 million in overnight borrowings from the ECB was the tip-off - the global elitist Central Bankers conspired to lift liquidity by lowering the borrowing rates on US Dollar swap arrangements by 50 basis points (1/2 percent).

Magically, not only was the global Ponzi financial system saved for the day, week or month, but the added benefit of having global equity markets spike 3-4% higher came along as an intended consequence. Yes, the globalists know what they're doing. Too bad for them that it doesn't work long term, as we know so well from recent history, circa September, 2008.

Here's a post, by none other than some character calling himself John Galt, that has both the 2008 and current Federal Reserve press releases. The similarities are striking, but also magnificent was the 2008 aftermath, the worst financial crisis of the last 70 or so years, and the resultant crash of the equity markets.

So, Santa came to town (Europe) dressed as Ben Bernanke, with his trusty elf, Tim Geithner, in tow, passing off presents to the good (and bad) bankers across the continent. While this constitutes Christmas and a Santa Claus Rally about a month prematurely, what can Europe and the global economy expect when the holiday actually arrives on December 25, lumps of coal, or perhaps soaring gold and silver prices?

The actual timing of the eventual collapse is still unknown, though this desperation move seems to indicate that the global financial structure is crumbling faster than the "unseen hands" of the central banks can prop it up. A dive in equities may not coincide with Christmas - that would be a shame - but rather sometime in early 2012, likely in the first quarter and quite possibly in January as profits are taken early in the year on stocks pumped to unwieldy heights in December. The net results being a relatively weaker dollar and higher prices for just about anything one consumes or needs. When the crash comes, of course, the Euro will descend and the dollar will rise, though the effect is probably short-term, until the Easter Bunny fills up those empty bank liquidity baskets again.

As the adage implies, this massive liquidity gift may indeed have a silver lining, encrusted with much-higher-priced gold.

Prior to the Fed's announcement, the People's Bank of China cut bank reserve requirements for the first time in three years, by 0.5%, amid signs that the Chinese economy is slowing due to slack demand for China's exports, particularly from Europe.

After the announcement, with futures up dramatically, ADP released its November Employment Change results, showing the creation of 206,000 private sector jobs during the month. The private survey is a regular precursor to Friday's BLS non-farm payroll data.

Third quarter productivity was measured as up 2.3%, while unit labor costs fell 2.5% as companies hunker down, doing more with fewer employees.

Fifteen minutes into the trading session, Chicago PMI reported a big jump, from 58.4 in October to 62.6 in November. It was an unnecessary boost to a market which had already spiked higher at the open.

There was no fade in this one-day rally, coming conveniently on the last day of the month, traditionally the day reserved for "window dressing" by fund managers. Stocks were up monstrously on the open and continued along a high, flat line for the rest of the session, until a final short-covering episode in the final fifteen minutes pushed indices even higher.

Just speculating, but it had to be one of the best market moves of the year, if not the best. Volume was sufficient, though not overwhelming. The late-day surge may be indicating that even more easy money will flow from the Fed to the hampered Eurozone.

As to whether the moves in stocks are sustainable and the even more important question of whether or not Europe is "fixed," the answers will only be known at some future date. The most cogent commentaries on Europe suggest that today's coordinated central bank motivation only covers over a dire condition in the European banking sector and is nothing more than a liquidity band-aid on a solvency open gash. Europe's funding problems remain unresolved, though any mention of default or collapse has probably been delayed by a few weeks or a month.

And just in case you're worried about food shortages or another recession, the Obama administration and congress actually did accomplish something, recently having lifted the five-year-old ban on slaughtering horses in America. Not to worry, though. Americans won't be eating Little Red Pony or Trigger any time soon (we hope). The meat will likely be shipped to Japan or Europe. However, if this is a trend-setter, cans of Lassie, Rin Tin Tin or Boo Boo Kitty may be in supermarkets soon. Dog food and cat food may take on newer, twisted meanings.

Dow 12,045.68, +490.05 (4.24%)
NASDAQ 2,620.34, +104.83 (4.17%)
S&P 500 1,246.96, +51.77 (4.33%)
NYSE Composite 7,484.49, +334.78 (4.68%)
NASDAQ Volume 2,386,048,000
NYSE Volume 5,808,163,500
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 4913-861
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 161-68 (this has rolled over)
WTI crude oil: 100.36. +0.56
Gold: 1,745.50, +32.10
Silver: 32.73, +0.88

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Harrisburg, PA Bankrupt, Max Keiser, Angela Merkel, Nicolas Zarkozy, Switzerland WIR, Google Earnings

Stocks vacillated today somewhat like they're supposed to in normal times, though these are no normal times in which we are living. Tape-watching in the age of high frequency trading and intellectual dispiritedness has an intoxicating allure and can become addictive.

Sparing the details, stocks were lower in the morning and staged a half-hearted rally on low volume in the afternoon. Sound familiar? Yes, computers. Kind of just going with the flow, or lack thereof. These last two days of trading could also be interpreted as outward manifestations of the liquidity, solvency and currency confidence crises as various macro sectors of the global economy grind inexorably toward a perceived halt, the term "perceived" included to indicate that markets are not entirely frozen, that there is always some urchin of trade lurching about, no matter how unwieldy the underlying system.

A few news items:
From Wednesday: City of Harrisburg, PA, capitol of Pennsylvania, declares bankruptcy. This is a sad, though poignant story of our times. A city of 46,000 with about $500 million worth of bad debt, or, debt that won't be repaid. Will there be a follow-on effect? Actually, there has to be and the situation is fluid, with the state trying to tell the Harrisburg City Council that they cannot declare bankruptcy. But they did, anyway...

Google Earnings (after the bell, today) - nice, 26% profit increase and other nice metrics. They're rocking, but for search, Bing is better.

Also after the bell, Fitch puts Barclays Bank plc, BNP Paribas, Credit Suisse AG, Deutsche Bank AG, The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc., Morgan Stanley and Societe Generale on Rating Watch Negative. At the same time, Fitch has placed the short-term IDRs of four of the banks on Rating Watch Negative.

Dow 11,478.13, -40.72 (0.35%)
NASDAQ 2,620.24, +15.51 (0.60%)
S&P 500 1,203.66, -3.59 (0.30%)
NYSE Composite 7,229.08, -34.61 (0.48%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,683,142,125
NYSE Volume 4,397,526,500
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 2755-3644
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 20-35 (reversal signal)
WTI crude oil: 84.23, -1.34
Gold: 1,668.50, -14.10
Silver: 31.67, -1.12

I love it when a plan comes together and the clip of the Kaiser Report below fits like a favorite pair of jeans. Plenty from which to watch, enjoy and learn.