Showing posts with label congress. Show all posts
Showing posts with label congress. Show all posts

Friday, May 29, 2020

Trump Ramps Up Social Media Battle; Argentina Continues Defaulting; Gold, Silver Premiums Persist

Not that anybody should be concerned, but Argentina defaulted on a $500 million interest payment a week ago, on May 22nd. Money Daily had been covering the story but slipped up and missed the breaking news over the Memorial Day Weekend. No excuse. We blew it. 20 lashes.

Anyhow, it's not over down Buenos Aires way, as representatives from both sides - the Argentine government and a gaggle of international creditors - continue to seek a solution, setting a June 2nd date for a plan to restructure $66 billion of the country's debt. Realistically, this being the ninth time Argentina has defaulted on its obligations and the third time this century, hopes of reaching any kind of deal that satisfies both the creditor and debtor seems well removed from the realm of the possible.

President Trump issued another executive order Thursday afternoon, this one coming after Twitter tagged a couple of his tweets with fact-checks.

The order calls for new regulations under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act "to make it so that social media companies that engage in censoring or any political conduct will not be able to keep their liability shield," Trump said.

The tweets in question concerned Trump's opposition to mail-in ballots in the upcoming November election, which he believes would result in a cascade of fraud. Twitter added some fact-checking language stating that fraud isn't an issue with absentee ballots.

That, and his announcement of a press conference Friday to address growing concerns over China's dispute with Hong Kong (and now India), sent markets tumbling into the red after making small gains in Thursday's session.

Escalating the situation, early Friday morning, Trump tweeted about the ongoing violence in Minneapolis and elsewhere:

Accessing the President's tweet on the Twitter platform brings up the following message: This Tweet violated the Twitter Rules about glorifying violence. However, Twitter has determined that it may be in the public’s interest for the Tweet to remain accessible. Beside it is a button that gives the user the option to display the tweet or keep it hidden. That seems to be an exercise in futility on Twitter's part, possibly drawing even more attention to the tweet in question than had they just left it alone and allowed the public to decide and debate its appropriateness.

Twitter continues to dig its own grave because the President certainly isn't going to back down when he has the complete arsenal of the Department of Justice at his disposal. It's become rather obvious to just about everybody that Twitter, along with their social media counterparts, Google, Facebook, and others, that these companies have abused their free reign over what gets published and where on the internet for a long time without any oversight. Having set up their own rules and guidelines they've often trampled on first amendment rights of users, citing their status as private companies as cover for their subjective agenda.

It would appear that President Trump is serious about limiting their ability to shape opinion. It's certain that the issue will end up in the courts and may take years to resolve. Meanwhile, the mainstream TV networks, ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, and Fox, and newspapers such as the New York Times and Washington Post continue to spread half-truths, fake news, and outright lies on a regular basis. Whether the president's wrath extends to limitations or punishments for biased reporting in other areas of the media remains to be seen, but there is sure to be intense focus on the media leading up to the November elections.

Elsewhere, confusion reigns supreme in the precious metals space. Since mid-March there has been a schism between the futures price of gold and the spot price, with the gap sometimes great enough to encourage arbitrage in a relatively risk-free trade. Usually, the spot price is a few dollars below the futures bid, but the spread has widened and exhibited volatile behavior recently. Silver has also joined the party, with spot and futures prices deviating sporadically.

Of course, the spot and futures prices are little more than bookmarks these days compared to the premium prices being paid for actual physical metal on eBay. Gold and silver are both sporting heavy premiums, with gold selling at the one ounce level at $120-180 over spot and one ounce silver going for $23-30 when the spot price has been hovering in the $16-17 range. Silver, probably the most undervalued commodity in the world, has approached 100% premiums in recent days.

As more people become aware of the fraudulent nature of futures trading where major players such as JP Morgan Chase are allowed to flaunt size limits and engage in spoofing, naked shorting, and are never forced to stand for delivery, physical markets are becoming the go-to for investors with serious intentions of protecting their wealth with precious metals.

Yields in the treasury space rose across the curve on Thursday, with the 30-year bond hitting 1.47%, a two-month high. The spread between the 2-year note (0.17%) and the 30 is now 130 basis points, 10 points higher than a week ago. Tighter lending conditions may not be in the Fed's best interests at this time, but the present issue is likely one of supply. The Fed has been begging fiscal authorities (congress and the president) to unleash more stimulus spending so as to facilitate the Fed's monetizing of the debt, spreading its largesse to equity market participants.

If the government isn't going to ramp up deficit spending, the Fed will be looking over its shoulder at rising rates with too little supply coming to market. This is just one of the unintended consequences of massive money printing on a global scale. At some point, with all hands outstretched, there's not enough to go around and a struggle is engaged for the scraps thrown to the market. The Fed is committed to buying everything, but if there's not enough everything around, they risk severe impairment of credit markets.

Congress needs to get on the bandwagon with all due alacrity lest the Fed run out of debt to monetize, jeopardizing the massive stock rally they have recently engendered.

Finally, in spite of the price of oil (once again, on the futures market) having roughly doubled over the past month, and with it, rising gas prices at the pump, there's still a massive glut on the supply side and slack demand against it. WTI crude in the $32-36 range is a resistance level the market will find difficult to overcome. Economies aren't roaring back to life following the global lockdowns, rather, they're reengaging in fits and starts, and not nearly at capacity. The major oil producers have done their level best to halt the price decline, but there's only so much production that can be cut from counties whose very existence relies upon regular selling of crude oil.

The summer, if authorities allow free movement, should be affordable, at least as concerns automotive touring.

Friday's trading session opens in a little more than an hour from this posting. With the Dow ahead by nearly 1000 points this week, unless there's a major pullback on Friday, Wall Street will shove another fat week of gains into America's face.

At the Close, Thursday, May 28, 2020:
Dow: 25,400.64, -147.63 (-0.58%)
NASDAQ: 9,368.99, -43.37 (-0.46%)
S&P 500: 3,029.73, -6.40 (-0.21%)
NYSE: 11,804.91, -32.62 (-0.28%)

Thursday, January 2, 2020

2019 Is Done: Stocks Roared, Trump Still President in 2020

2019 is over, and aren't we all so happy.
Donald Trump with Brandi Brandt
on the cover of Playboy magazine, March 1990

By many measures, it was a somewhat unremarkable year, ending with odd and twisted political theater, courtesy of Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, and her merry band of miscreants, led by congresspeople Adam Schiff and Gerald Nadler, chairmen of, respectively, Intelligence and Judiciary committees. In the case of Schiff, the obvious misappropriation of his ilk being somehow related to intelligence was as humorless as it was frightening.

What made Pelosi's gambit significant was not that she impeached a president, but that she impeached one Donald J. Trump, a populist president who apparently did nothing wrong other than defeat the chosen candidate of the left, Hillary Rodham Clinton, in the presidential race of 2016. Thus, three years a a few months hither, Trump is impeached on charges that are as vacuous and ephemeral as the open-and-closed-door hearings themselves: Abuse of Power and Obstruction of Congress, neither of which are codified as criminal acts, and almost assuredly do not rise to the level of "high crimes and misdemeanors" outlined in the US constitution. In the final analysis, Trump's real crime is being nearly universally hated by leading Democrat politicians, movie stars, and the establishment media.

But that was not all.

Pelosi and nearly all of her fellow Democrats in the House voted along strict party lines and then failed to name managers or send the articles of impeachment over to the Senate for a trial, also prescribed by the constitution, leaving the president, and the nation, in a state of suspended impeachment limbo. This final, futile, feckless act of desperation came after months of Pelosi claiming that Trump needed to be impeached as quickly as possible as he posed a grave, immediate threat to our nation's security.

That argument went right out a window high on the Capitol, along with the baby, the bathwater, the Green New Deal, and the electoral hopes of a plethora Democrat candidates for federal offices in November 2020, not the least of which were named Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, and Pete whatever-his-name-is, mayor of South Bend, Indiana.

The funny thing about Mayor Pete, incidentally, is not that he is openly gay (the priests running the University of Notre Dame are still trying to downplay his position), but that the mainstream media almost never mentions this salient fact. Maybe they think that since he looks straight, people will forget or simply overlook his sexual inclination.

That's a good one. The MSM continues to push their agenda, which recently has devolved into a convoluted collection of mistruths, untruths, hidden truths, innuendo, scare tactics, race-baiting, gender-bending, misinformation, disinformation, lies, statistics, more lies, omissions, Facebook posts, deleted Tweets, and Instagram memes, mostly consisting of accusations of President Trump strangling kittens, starting wars, ending wars, killing immigrant children, or otherwise undermining democracy.

It's so sad that it has become almost laughable, but not quite yet. The mainstream media is saving the laugh track stuff for the primaries and general election. Chuck Todd, moderator of NBC's Meet the Press thinks that he, his network, the New York Times and Washington Post more believable than the president. That's how deluded and delusional most of the apparatchik reporters, readers, reciters and anchors are, but none more than the non-journalist, Todd. The mainstream media gave birth to the malady known as TDS (Trump Derangement Syndrome) and they continue to feed it. They're like doctors prescribing amphetamines to meth heads.

2019 finished on a nearly comical note if not for the snarly seriousness of the matter. Attempting to remove a sitting president isn't something that should be undertaken without careful consideration of the consequences. Democrats have not done their homework and have put the American public under considerable stress, needing relief.

For the financial world, New Year's Eve was especially celebratory, with champagne toasts to a grand and glorious annum of outsize gains for stocks. The major indices - following the sudden and sharp declines of 2018's fourth quarter - posted gains as follows:

  • Dow: ended 2018 at 23,327.46; ended 2019 at 28,538.44; 22.34% gain
  • NASDAQ: ended 2018 at 6,635.28; ended 2019 at 8,972.60; 35.25% gain
  • S&P 500: ended 2018 at 2,506.85; ended 2019 at 3,230.78; 28.88% gain
  • NYSE Composite: ended 2018 at 11,374.39; ended 2019 at 13,913.03; 22.32% gain

Those are pretty good numbers.

Will they be repeated in 2020? Advance indications are that the bull market will continue, but, as every prospectus in the history of financial instruments and advisors purports, past performance is no guarantee of future results. Keep that in mind as the Fed will continue to keep flooding the market with liquidity until it decides to stop, which can happen at any time, without much notice.

Concern about the Fed changing its dovish, dulcet tune is not something on the minds of most investors heading into the new year. The Fed has shown itself to be accommodative at all times, no matter the circumstance, and they're likely to continue to be so. What used to be known as "applying the brakes" of an overheating economy by raising interest rates is not a probability in the coming year, as the economy shows about as much potential to overheat as a potato has to become an orange. It's not going to happen, and neither is a recession, because the Fed won't have that.

Precious metals also found bids. Gold posted a marvelous gain of 18.43%, rising from 1279.00 to 1514.75 over the course of 2019.

Silver was similarly impressive, going from 15.47 to 18.05 through the year for a profit of 16.68%.

To the dismay of consumers everywhere, WTI Crude Oil also experienced a rise in price, from 47.09 on January 3, 2019, to 61.68 on December 30, up 30.99%. That sent North American gas prices higher at the pump and elsewhere.

Prices for just about everything anybody would want or need were higher in 2019, by varying amounts. For that, we have the Fed, trade wars, tariffs, and greed to thank.

OK. 2020 is a thing. It's out of beta. Have at it.

At the Close, Tuesday, December 31, 2019:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 28,538.44, +76.30 (+0.27%)
NASDAQ: 8,972.60, +26.61 (+0.30%)
S&P 500: 3,230.78, +9.49 (+0.29%)
NYSE Composite: 13,913.03, +36.88 (+0.27%)

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Despicable Democrats Impeach President Trump, Who Will Be Cleared By The Senate

Well, they've gone and done it.

The Democrat-controlled House of Representatives has voted - completely along party lines - to approve articles of impeachment, which at some point will go to the Senate, where President Donald J. Trump will almost certainly be acquitted in what figures to be a very short trial, with few witnesses, if any.

The reason the trial will be of small duration is because the Democrats, via Adam Schiff's Intelligence Committee, and Jerry Nadler's Judiciary Committee, have already ginned up enough "evidence" of Mr. Trump's supposed "Abuse of Power" and "Obstruction of Congress," that the senators don't really need to see or hear anything else. What they have before them is so flimsy, devoid of substance, and charges the president with actions that are not even crimes, that they will hopefully turn the matter out in a few days. Anything longer-lasting will be just more mud-slinging at a president who has done nothing wrong, certainly nothing even remotely impeachable.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019, was a sad day for the rule of law in the United States of America. The Democrats, led by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, have foisted upon the public a shameless exercise in partisan witch-baiting. The mainstream media deserves just as much public rancor as the House Democrats for not calling these partisan hacks out on their theatrics. This impeachment exercise has been and will continue to be a complete and utter waste of everybody's time. It will accomplish nothing, except possibly to finally rid the lower chamber of congress of the Democrat majority. In that regard, December 18 may end up going down in the history books of a glorious great day of change and retribution, dashing the Democrats into the dustbin of history.

Whatever one's politics, this impeachment fiasco never rose near to seriousness. It was always a goose-chase, a farcical enterprise foisted upon the public by rank amateurs who had nothing better to do with their times in office than to take out their frustrations in a most despicable manner. The Democrats may want to brand Republican supporters as "deplorables," but these cretins masquerading as respectable representatives of the public weal, are truly disgraceful. The sooner this all gets behind the American public, the better.

As far as a market reaction, there wasn't one, as the tiresome "debate" raged on in the House until after markets were closed for the day, though there might be some hint of derision come Thursday after the bell.

Trading has been sluggish, which it usually is in the "lull" week before Christmas, which took a back seat to politics this year. There isn't much with which to move markets. Everybody seems to want to head out of town for the holidays, sooner, rather than later, and who can blame them?

At the Close, Wednesday, December 18, 2019:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 28,239.28, -27.88 (-0.10%)
NASDAQ: 8,827.73, +4.38 (+0.05%)
S&P 500: 3,191.14, -1.38 (-0.04%)
NYSE Composite: 13,799.21, +3.86 (+0.03%)

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

The Year That Was: Investors Bid 2018 GOOD RIDDANCE; Worst Year Since 2008

Should all acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind,
Should all acquaintance be forgot and the days of auld lang syne.
For auld lang syne, my dear, for auld lang syne,
We'll take a cup of kindness yet for the sake of auld lang syne.
Let's have a drink or maybe two or maybe three or four
Or five or six or seven or eight or maybe even more.

A cup of kindness, indeed. It's what some investors would have liked in December, or October, or maybe February or March.

Those were the worst months for stocks.

Dow loss, February, 2018: -1120.19
March, 2018: -926.09
October, 2018: -1341.55
December, 2018: -2211.10

As the year wore on, conditions proceeded to deteriorate for holders of US large cap equities. On the S&P and the NASDAQ, some stocks suffered losses of 30, 40, 50% or more.

Facebook (FB) was the poster child for tech stocks breaking bad. On July 25, the famous brainchild of Mark Zuckerberg topped out at 217.50. As of December 24, it bottomed out at a closing price of 124.06, a 43% loss. It wasn't a very merry Christmas for Facebook. Still, Zuckerberg is still one of the richest persons in the world, just not quite as rich as he used to be.

Netflix (NFLX) was another one being hammered in the second half of the year. Closing at 418.97 on July 9, the streaming video service lost 44% by December 24, closing that session at 233.88.

Stocks weren't the only asset class that was sucker-punched during the year. One standout of the commodities class was crude oil, where the price of a barrel of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) shot up from $60 to $76 in October - coincidentally, on the same day the Dow peaked - before retreating to under $45 nearing the end of December, striking a low of $42.53 on Christmas Day.

In similar manner, precious metals were abused during the year. Gold spent the early part of the year fluctuating in the $1300-1350 per ounce range, never closing above $1352. By June, signs of weakness were appearing, with the metal of kings dipping into the $1200 range, eventually bottoming out at $1178 by August. With stocks on the decline in the fourth quarter, gold was the beneficiary, ending the year at $1278 per ounce.

Silver was damaged more severely. Peaking at $17.52 per ounce on January 25, silver slumped all the way to 13.97 in November. December was the best month of the year for gentleman's coin, as it closed at a five-month high on December 31, with a price of $15.46. Both gold and silver ended the year on high notes, suggesting that they are due for a long-overdue rally.

Bonds were perhaps the most entertaining of the financial assets, with investors watching for an inversion in the treasury yield curve between the two and 10-year notes. While that did not materialize, a smaller inversion between 2 and three-year and the five-year yield presented itself in December, but only persisted for three weeks. The five-year was actually yielding less than both the 2s and 3s on December 4, but corrected back to normalcy - with yields rising over duration - on December 21. Still, it was a wake-up call to investors fearing a recession in 2019 and may have contributed to some of the panic selling during the final month of 2018.

Yield on the barometric 10-year note ended the year at an 11-month low, checking in at 2.69% on New Year's Eve. The 30-year was also pushed lower. By year's end, it was yielding a mere 3.02%, all of this occurring in the face of four quarterly federal funds rate hikes over the course of the annum. Surely, the bond vigilantes are out in force, and as the year of 2018 comes to a close, fear is winning out over greed in rather obvious manner.

What 2019 will bring is anyone's guess, considering the continuing dysfunction coming out of the nation's capitol. Republicans and Democrats are at war, leaving the American people to fend as best they can as casualties or collaterally-damaged bystanders. Rhetoric from both sides of the aisle has been inflamed to a combustible state, and, with the partial government shutdown already in its second week, when the Democrats seize control of the House of Representatives on January 3, chaos will reign.

Despite honest effort from President Trump, nothing good will come out of Washington this year, unless one considers complete rejection of government by the people to be constructive, because that is precisely where the swamp dwellers inside the beltway - with ample assistance from a media that operates as a free press in name only - are taking the country.

2019 may be a year worse than the one preceding it, perhaps much worse, as the political leaders of the greatest nation on the planet can do no better than bicker, posture, and fail in their duties.

Until and unless Washington changes its ways, the financial picture will be clouded by the politicians, whose only aim seems to be one of destroying anything good in the country. While the Democrats can largely be blamed for inciting division, Republicans in the Senate share nearly equal responsibility for not standing up for the public.

Sadly, Washington has made it clear that it wants to be all-important, all the time. The cost will be borne by the people in ways that exceed mere finance.

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 22,878.45 +260.37 -2399.74
12/28/18 23,062.40 -76.42 -2476.16
12/31/18 23,327.46 +265.06 -2211.10

At the Close, Monday, December 31, 2019:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 23,327.46, +265.06 (+1.15%)
NASDAQ: 6,635.28, +50.76 (+0.77%)
S&P 500: 2,506.85, +21.11 (+0.85%)
NYSE Composite: 11,374.39, +83.44 (+0.74%)

Friday, November 16, 2018

Dip-Buyers Send Stocks Off Fresh Lows; Cory Booker, Poster Boy For Peak Stupidity

As stocks touched down on some key support levels, investors took the initiative to load up on what they perceived as undervalued shares, sending stocks off morning lows to afternoon highs, with NASDAQ dumb money leading the charge higher.

The major indices were under pressure early in the session, dropping to levels at which the year began, wiping out nearly all of the gains since last December. Call it coincidence or a propensity for chart-watching dip-buying, but there was no other catalyst to Thursday's mini-rally other than valuations.

On the downside, Britain seems to be completely flummoxed by ongoing Brexit negotiations, with resignations in Prime Minister Theresa May's cabinet over the compromise deal presented to the House of Commons this week. Rumors of a no confidence vote are circulating as the Brexit issue continues to derail any progress England can make in extricating itself from the European Union. The referendum, passed in early 2016, called for an exit by March of 2019, though that date now appears less certain. The issues are complex and threaten to tear the country apart.

In a completely unrelated note, America has finally achieved PEAK STUPIDITY, and its poster boy is the senator from New Jersey, Cory Booker.

Booker's proposal for "Baby Bonds" as a way to shrink the wealth gap is about as far left an approach as could be considered... without laughing.

Booker's idea is to give every newborn $1000 at birth and up to another $2000 every year thereafter - based on the parents' income, of course - until that child reaches the age of 18, or, in other words, just in time to take out a government-funded student loan, or, pay for maybe a few years of college themselves.

It's just this kind of insanity that American citizens have to endure from its government that causes angst, apathy, or confrontation between liberals and conservatives. The US has had a massive welfare program in place - that rewards having more children with higher benefits - for more than 50 years, and it's done nothing to reduce poverty or improve living conditions for chronically poor people.

With people like Booker being elected and re-elected to high government positions of power, is there any wonder why the United States are so disunited?

Despite the higher close on Thursday, investors should not be enthusiastic about an extension to the short-term rally which was likely the result more of short-covering and corporate buybacks than the actual taking of new positions in stocks. Sentiment remains murky with a bias to the downside.

Dow Jones Industrial Average November Scorecard:

Date Close Gain/Loss Cum. G/L
11/1/18 25,380.74 +264.98 +264.98
11/2/18 25,270.83 -109.91 +155.07
11/5/18 25,461.70 +190.87 +345.94
11/6/18 25,635.01 +173.31 +519.25
11/7/18 26,180.30 +545.29 +1064.54
11/8/18 26,191.22 +10.92 +1075.46
11/9/18 25,989.30 -201.92 +873.54
11/12/18 25,387.18 -602.12 +271.42
11/13/18 25,286.49 -100.69 +170.27
11/14/18 25,080.50 -205.99 -35.72
11/15/18 25,289.27 +208.77 +173.05

At the Close, Thursday, November 15, 2018:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 25,289.27, +208.77 (+0.83%)
NASDAQ: 7,259.03, +122.64 (+1.72%)
S&P 500: 2,730.20, +28.62 (+1.06%)
NYSE Composite: 12,361.52, +86.03 (+0.70%)

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Donald Trump Is Goldilocks In Disguise; Stocks Rally; Treasury Yields Rocket Higher

Odd thing about politics: As soon as one man comes into the picture promising to fix everything that's broken with the US economy, all the other politicians instantly hate him, fight him, and actively try to get rid of him... by any means necessary.

That man, of course, is none other than the current president, Donald J. Trump, who has fended off non-stop assaults from Democrats, members of his own party, even having to defend himself against attacks from within his own administration, such as the FBI and the Justice Department.

Meanwhile, Trump, while he hasn't kept all of his election promises, has delivered on a good number of them, especially those dealing with the economy, trade, and taxes.

Trump has cut taxes for many, he's re-negotiated bad trade deals such as NAFTA, and he's presided over an economy that by most accounts is booming.

Yet, the vast majority of politicians, bureaucrats, and Baltway insiders still want him gone. They'd love to impeach him, shame him into resigning, or otherwise undermine his America First policies.


Because they're jealous, and they're petty, and Trump has exposed them as swamp dwellers whose sole interests are enriching themselves at the public's expense and getting re-elected.

Trump has delivered - with assistance from the Federal Reserve and some members of congress - the United States into the goldilocks economy: not too hot, not too cold, just right. Stocks are up, yields on treasury bonds are rising, but inflation and unemployment are low. There's so much good going o in the US economy it's actually difficult to find problem areas.

401k accounts are fatter, paychecks have less tax taken from them, incomes are rising. Just what about all of this isn't to like? Ask Diane Feinstein, Chuck (sellout) Schumer, Nancy Pelosi or any of a handful of petty thieves masquerading as honorable congress-people. They have no answer and they're worried about losing their prestige and power in the upcoming mid-term elections. That's why they and their lackeys in the media are so intent on tearing down everything related to Trump and his successes. They accuse his Supreme Court nominee of sexual assault that supposedly happened more than 35 years ago, when Brett Kavenaugh - who will almost surely be confirmed by the Senate - was a teenager in high school.

The attacks and assaults will continue up to the November elections and beyond. Russia and collusion will be thumbed up again by the wicked special prosecutor from hell (and hopefully soon to return there). The New York Times will continue to run stories in vain attempts to tarnish President Trump's image. None of it will work. The American people see results and see through the media attacks, the howling senatorial rhetoric, and the baseless accusations. Jobs are plentiful. Money is flowing. Things are good, very good.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at yet another record high today, despite backing off substantially from intra-day highs. The yield on the benchmark 10-year-note reached the highest point in more than a decade, at 3.16%, a number that has Fed officials smiling, lenders beaming, and most consumers and small business owners a little bit piqued, but still not worried or upset. Interest rates are still low compared to other times; mortgages are reasonably priced. With business prosperity, the cost of money should be a little higher and it's not at a point that it does damage to one's bottom line.

Goldilocks has arrived and his name is Trump.

(Plus, baseball playoffs are underway and Alabama is #1 in college football.)

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

At the Close, Wednesday, October 3, 2018:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 26,828.39, +54.45 (+0.20%)
NASDAQ: 8,025.08, +25.54 (+0.32%)
S&P 500: 2,925.51, +2.08 (+0.07%)
NYSE Composite: 13,118.55, +12.54 (+0.10%)

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

FAANGs Whacked Again As Investors Pull Back From Tech Space

Netflix was murdered in trading on Wednesday as investors reacted to a report by Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty that Apple plans to launch a competing video service though the company has to date made no announcement.

It was enough to take seriously, and money flowed out of Netflix (NFLX) to the tune of a 22.42-point decline, off a whopping 6.17% at the close. Apple's stock barely budged, but in fact was down 1.49 (-0.65%).

A day after topping $1 trillion in market cap, Amazon (AMZN) shed 44 points to close at 1994.82, a solid two-percent decline.

Alphabet (GOOG), parent of Google was lower by 10.82 (-0.88%), and Tesla lost nearly three percent, closing at 280.74, reaching its lowest closing point since May 25.

Facebook lost nearly four points to finish the day at 167.18, a four-month low.

All of this trading occurred while tech executives were brought before congress to testify in a wide-ranging probe of the unregulated social media space. Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg and Twitter’s Jack Dorsey faced congressional scrutiny before a select committee of senators and House representatives. It's political theater at its very best, with lawmakers preening and getting in good soundbites in the lead to the midterm elections in two months.

Wishing for nothing less than to regulate free speech on the internet, congress is unlikely to have much impact upon the operation of the social media behemoths. As private enterprises, these mammoth companies are free to do as they please, from banning users who upset their dilettante views to promoting largely socialist idealism.

While the hearings make for some useful political jabbing, the congress shows by its naive use of forums such as these that they are as much a part of the problem as the companies themselves. Since most politicians use social media platforms to promote their particular agendas, dragging big company executives to Capitol Hill is more red herring than serious hearings.

While congress browbeats, investors are keenly aware that some of these companies are seriously overvalued. Tesla, for instance, is down 100 points in less than a month's time, exceeding a 25% decline. Facebook is off 50 points since July 25 and is likewise trading under bear market conditions, down nearly 24% over the last six weeks.

With the current round of tech profit-taking having a serious effect on investor confidence in the space, the staid stocks of the Dow gained slightly on the day, barely moving the needle. Elsewhere, stocks were roiled worldwide, as emerging market conditions continue to deteriorate.

The September swoon is gathering momentum and a more severe decline may be dead ahead for US stocks despite a booming economy and low unemployment. The main problems are rising interest rates and fundamental overvaluation issues.

Dow Jones Industrial Average September Scorecard:

Date Close Gain/Loss Cum. G/L
9/4/18 25,952.48 -12.34 -12.34
9/5/18 25,974.99 +22.51 +10.17

At the Close, Wednesday, September 5, 2018:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 25,974.99, +22.51 (+0.09%)
NASDAQ: 7,995.17, -96.07 (-1.19%)
S&P 500: 2,888.60, -8.12 (-0.28%)
NYSE Composite: 12,968.55, -1.31 (-0.01%)

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Oil, Silver Lead Commodity Charge As Stocks Languish

James Comey, Andrew McCabe, Loretta Lynch, and yes, Hillary Clinton were cited in a letter from 11 Republican members of the US House of Representatives requesting the Department of Justice to open criminal investigations on those and others.

While that news was and is still hardly being reported in the mainstream media, these potential criminal referrals may auger a turning point in the quiet coup attempt that has swallowed up most of Washington DC and harassed the Trump White House from day one of his presidency through the Mueller probe.

Interestingly, anything even remotely related to wrongdoing by the president gets front page, bleeding headlines from the usual fake news sources, but, when Democrats or Hillary loyalists are involved, crickets. It will be up to DOJ head Jeff Sessions to determine if investigations and indictments are in order. By the body language of the ongoing swamp fight, he will go after the people who went after President Trump.

On the equity markets, it was a day of churning stocks and stomachs as the Dow Industrials hugged the unchanged line all day, while the NASDAQ and S&P 500 rode higher midday but had weak closes, suggesting that tomorrow and possibly Friday - which is stock options expiration day - may not be so robust. The likely causes of the sudden sluggishness in stocks could have been the Fed's Beige Book, released today, in which a majority of participants expressed concerns over President Trump's proposed tariffs, or the fear that the above-referenced referrals resulting in indictments, earnings that were good but not good enough, or, the relentless rise in the price of oil, which has now been joined by precious metals and other hard commodities, notably copper and zinc.

WTI crude oil, which not six months ago was trading below $50, spiked today beyond $68 per barrel, the highest price in 2 1/2 years. Silver was on fire today, rising well over the $17/ounce mark to finish the day in New York at $17.20. Gold had a more-subdued gain, but copper and zinc have been quietly building momentum over the past few weeks.

A spike in commodity prices signal two things, neither of which are necessarily good for stocks, and they could indeed be bad. First, a surge in commodity prices signals inflation at the base of the economy (also, lumber is, and has been very expensive for a while) and it also notes investors seeking safety, away from riskier assets, like stocks. On the downside for everybody, high oil prices translate to higher prices at the pump, which eventually damages consumers, much like an additional tax. Higher energy costs harm all kinds of industries as well.

If oil continues to rise and pull the rest of the commodity complex along could shape trading in stocks over the coming weeks and months. While its too early to call it a trend, silver has been set to break out for months, and is currently at a 2 1/2 month high.

Dow Jones Industrial Average April Scorecard:

Date Close Gain/Loss Cum. G/L
4/2/18 23,644.19 -458.92 -458.92
4/3/18 24,033.36 +389.17 -69.75
4/4/18 24,264.30 +230.94 +161.19
4/5/18 24,505.22 +240.92 +402.11
4/6/18 23,932.76 -572.46 -170.35
4/9/18 23,979.10 +46.34 -134.01
4/10/18 24,407.86 +428.76 +294.66
4/11/18 24,189.45 -218.55 +76.11
4/12/18 24,483.05 +293.60 +369.71
4/13/18 24,360.14 -122.91 +247.80
4/16/18 24,573.04 +212.90 +460.70
4/17/18 24,786.63 +213.59 +674.29
4/18/18 24,748.07 -38.56 +635.73

At the Close, Wednesday, April 18, 2018:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 24,748.07, -38.56 (-0.16%)
NASDAQ: 7,295.24, +14.14 (+0.19%)
S&P 500: 2,708.64, +2.25 (+0.08%)
NYSE Composite: 12,732.85, +27.09 (+0.21%)

Monday, April 16, 2018

Stocks Close Out Week on Sour Note, But Still Post Weekly Gains

For the superstitious, Friday the 13th was not a disaster, but it wasn't particularly pleasant either, as stocks spent the entire session underwater, unable to follow through on gains from the previous day.

The up-and-down, give-and-take between bulls and bears has been a feature of the equity markets since late January. Thus far in April, the Dow has finished with gains in six session, closing down in four. An overview of the market presents a picture of a market without direction, as geo-political events, fundamental conditions, and economic data collide.

Being the middle of earnings season, the bulls appear to have at least a short-term advantage, especially since the US - along with France and Great Britain - chose to launch targeted attacks on Syria late Friday, giving markets ample time to digest the ramifications, which, at this point, appear limited.

Heading into the third full week of the second quarter, earnings from top companies will provide the catalyst for traders. There's a widely-held assumption that companies are going to put up good - if not great - first quarter reports, aided by tax benefits from the overhaul provided by congress and the president in December.

This would be a good week to take account of positions and perhaps take some profits off the table. Markets tend to be a little less volatile and generally trade higher during earnings seasons.

There isn't a FOMC rate policy meeting during April, and the May 1-2 meeting is probably going to result in no action being taken. The next Fed-driven stock market move won't be until the June 12-13 affair, when the Fed is expected to raise the federal funds rate another 25 basis points. While it doesn't sound like much, it will be the seventh such hike since the Fed got off the zero-bound in December 2015. It will push the rate to 1.75-2.00%, a significant figure sure to have an impact not only on stocks, but on the finances of individuals, families, businesses and governments.

Presently, this is the proverbial calm before the storm.

Dow Jones Industrial Average April Scorecard:

Date Close Gain/Loss Cum. G/L
4/2/18 23,644.19 -458.92 -458.92
4/3/18 24,033.36 +389.17 -69.75
4/4/18 24,264.30 +230.94 +161.19
4/5/18 24,505.22 +240.92 +402.11
4/6/18 23,932.76 -572.46 -170.35
4/9/18 23,979.10 +46.34 -134.01
4/10/18 24,407.86 +428.76 +294.66
4/11/18 24,189.45 -218.55 +76.11
4/12/18 24,483.05 +293.60 +369.71
4/13/18 24,360.14 -122.91 +247.80

At the Close, Friday, April 13, 2018:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 24,360.14, -122.91 (-0.50%)
NASDAQ: 7,106.65, -33.60 (-0.47%)
S&P 500: 2,656.30, -7.69 (-0.29%)
NYSE Composite: 12,546.05, -34.17 (-0.27%)

For the Week:
Dow: +427.38 (+1.79%)
NASDAQ: +191.54 (+2.77%)
S&P 500: +51.83 (+1.99%)
NYSE Composite: +196.94 (+1.59%)

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Stocks Crash Post-Fed Rate Hikes, But The Media Will Still Falsely Blame President Trump

Here are just a few of the headline items for the week that ended with two disastrous days after the FOMC policy rate decision to raise the federal funds rate to 1.50-1.75%, the sixth rate hike in the last 27 months and probably the one largest policy mistake in the history of the Federal Reserve System, an unconstitutional private banking system that has wreaked havoc on not only the economy of the United States of America, but of the entire planet.

Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 426 points, closing out the week at it's lowest level since November 22, 2017. The Dow is off nearly 1500 points for the month of March, a worse decline than that of February. In just the past week, the Dow has shed some 1410 points, a 5.67% drop.

The S&P 500 fell 5.9% on the week, the biggest drop in more than two years.

The NASDAQ 100 plunged 7.3% in the week, the most since August 2015. All of the major averages are negative for the year, except for the NASDAQ.

Scapegoating the tariffs put forward by President Trump has been the sport of the week on the likes of CNN, NBC, CBS, ABC. Surely, the Sunday talk shows will be hooting and hollering over what bad judgement the president has shown, when, in fact, it is the Federal Reserve's radical policies over the past ten years that have caused major distortions on Wall Street, a false sense of security in stocks as sound investments, impoverishment of many retirees who were denied any meaningful interest income on their savings due to the Fed's zero interest rate policy that prevailed from 2008 though 2015.

Meanwhile, the Fed, in a position to cause much further damage to the economy by raising rates while the nation is heavily indebted, has done just so, and has not backed off from its planned position to unwind its bloated balance sheet, and actually increase its sales of securities in the second half of 2008.

While the tariffs President Trump has put forward are certain to cause some disruption in some segments of the economy, they are not, on their own merit, the ultimate cause for a stock market collapse, such as is occurring presently.

There can be no other culprit than the Federal Reserve for the recent stock market volatility and massive outflows from stocks. Their policies have been the guiding force before, during and after the Great Financial Crisis of 2007-09, so there should be no doubting that their policies are still guiding investment decisions.

The entire global economic structure is currently under assault by coordinated central bank intervention, ongoing massive stock and bond buying and selling beyond their charters, and the continuing issuance of debt as fiat money on a global basis.

From the US federal government to individual citizens, the signs of financial stress are at breaking points. The federal government, already "officially" $21 trillion in debt, on Friday passed an omnibus spending bill of $1.3 trillion, causing further debt issuance and higher debt servicing costs thanks to the Fed's rate increases.

Corporations, which have binged on stock buybacks since 2009 and most recently increased their level of indebtedness and slothful management with the recent repatriation of an estimated $2 trillion based on the tax reform enacted by congress and singed into law by the president recently.

Individuals are more indebted than ever before, with credit card and student debt at all-time highs, variable rate mortgages increasingly difficult to service while incomes have barely budged for the past 20 years.

Additionally, the tax burden on some of the wealthiest Americans, with incomes over $100,000 per year, is upwards of 50%, enslaving these people to endless payments for governments (local, state, and federal) that have displayed absolutely no fiscal restraint.

Continued declines in the stock market are going to impact pension funds throughout the world, both pubic and private. Most public pension funds are massively underfunded, and heavily invested in stocks. A severe downturn - which has just begun - will bankrupt these entities, causing them to renew on promises made to workers.

A heavily-concentrated media will assure the public that the stock market collapse is entirely the fault of one man, President Donald J. Trump, while the true criminals of extortion and debt slavery are the central banks and their private, unconstitutional banking system, which has been favored and kept afloat by a supine congress.

Dow Jones Industrial Average March Scorecard:

Date Close Gain/Loss Cum. G/L
3/1/18 24,608.98 -420.22 -420.22
3/2/18 24,538.06 -70.92 -491.14
3/5/18 24,874.76 +336.70 -154.44
3/6/18 24,884.12 +9.36 -145.08
3/7/18 24,801.36 -82.76 -227.84
3/8/18 24,895.21 +93.85 -133.99
3/9/18 25,335.74 +440.53 +306.54
3/12/18 25,178.61 -157.13 +149.41
3/13/18 25,007.03, -171.58 -22.17
3/14/18 24,758.12 -248.91 -271.08
3/15/18 24,873.66 +115.54 -155.54
3/16/18 24,946.51 +72.85 -82.69
3/19/18 24,610.91 -335.60 -418.29
3/20/18 24,727.27 +116.36 -301.93
3/21/18 24,682.31 -44.96 -346.89
3/22/18 23,957.89 -724.42 -1071.31
3/22/18 23,533.20 -424.69 -1496.00

At the Close, Friday, March 23, 2018:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 23,533.20, -424.69 (-1.77%)
NASDAQ: 6,992.67, -174.01 (-2.43%)
S&P 500: 2,588.26, -55.43 (-2.10%)
NYSE Composite: 12,177.70, -199.69 (-1.61%)

For the Week:
Dow: -1413.31 (-5.67%)
NASDAQ: -489.32 (-6.54%)
S&P 500: -163.75 (-5.95%)
NYSE Composite: -606.68 (-4.75%)

Friday, January 19, 2018

Does Wall Street Take a Government Shutdown Seriously?

Late Thursday afternoon, US stock indices took a decided turn to the downside as legislators in Washington DC failed to agree upon a plan to meep the US government operating past Friday night.

A favorite parlor game for the noise-makers in the nation's capitol, threatening to shut down the government because there's no budget or continuing resolution may have become passe´ to the general population, but Wall Street may take the issue a bit more seriously.

A partial shutdown of the federal government - because it doesn't really shut down critical operations or necessary functions - isn't taken seriously, though it could become a real issue, if it were, in fact, an absolute reality.

Considering the amounts of money the federal government handles on a regular basis, a complete shut-down would be devastating to the nation's economy. Imagine welfare, social security, and disability recipients not receiving their regular checks or direct deposits.

Imagine the nation's largest workforce going without paychecks for an extended period. Imagine the US Postal Service shut down, the entire military on leave, contractors idled, and an assortment of other regular activities closed, ceased, ended. The US treasury would cease operations, causing all US treasury bonds to become worthless.

Least of all, the bickering by members of congress would least be missed, since they are the supposedly responsible people.

An actual shutdown is a scary thought. Trying to scare the populace with a fake shutdown, caused solely by inter-party disagreements and politics, may be nothing now, but it could be seen as a conditioning effort for a true federal failure.

In such a case, the president would likely declare martial law, a necessary action to ensure civility, especially in cities. That's unlikely to happen at this juncture, but, the more the politicians play politics instead of enacting laws that do good for the American people, the closer the nations comes to a severe and lasting crisis.

Passing a two, three, or four-week resolution merely kicks the can down the road a little, making the government appear no better than that of a third-world banana republic.

If that's what's happening, all investors should take appropriate actions to safeguard not only their liquid assets invested in stocks and bonds, but also move to protect their friends and families.

The United States is headed for disaster if the congress and the news media continues on the destructive path of irresolution, political posturing, fear-mongering, and division.

Let's hope it doesn't begin to unravel further over the weekend.

At the Close, Thursday, January 18, 2018:
Dow: 26,017.81, -97.84 (-0.37%)
NASDAQ: 7,296.05, -2.23 (-0.03%)
S&P 500: 2,798.03, -4.53 (-0.16%)
NYSE Composite: 13,315.91, -36.48 (-0.27%)

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Stocks Slip As Congress Readies Tax Bill For President Trump's Signature

In what can only be described as a premature "buy the rumor, sell the news" moment, stocks gave up early gains and ended uniformly on the downside as the House and Senate passed the tax reform bill that's been the focus of news and speculation the past three weeks.

With only a minor tweaking needing to be handled by the House on Wednesday morning, the bill will travel to the president's desk for his signature, confirming a promise to have a tax bill before Christmas and essentially ending the individual mandate for the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) by reducing the penalty for not having health insurance to zero ($0.00).

The inclusion of the mandate-crushing language in the bill was a masterstroke for Republicans, who failed to repeal (and replace) the morally-flawed Obamacare legislation earlier in the year, but manages to effectively make non-compliance a victimless violation.

While Democrats are furious over this development, which will undeniably send premiums even further into the stratosphere, those millions of people who neither can afford nor need healthcare coverage (think healthy people in their 20s through 50s) will be freed from the tyranny of a law that never should have been.

Otherwise, the tax reform legislation is great for corporations and marginally good for individuals, depending upon income level and family size. Overall, the fresh 500 pages of tax code will likely make the United States more competitive in global markets and put more money in people's pockets.

Wall Street, which has been pricing in the tax plan nearly every day in December, is poised to take its gains, take a few days off, and continue next week with a bona fide "Santa Claus rally" which will extend the gains for the year.

If stocks take the indicated course, January should commence with some serious tax-selling profit taking. After that, it's anybody's guess how much longer the bull market can continue.

At the Close, Tuesday, December 19, 2017:
Dow: 24,754.75, -37.45 (-0.15%)
NASDAQ: 6,963.85, -30.91 (-0.44%)
S&P 500: 2,681.47, -8.69 (-0.32%)
NYSE Composite: 12,747.54, -38.28 (-0.30%)

Sunday, December 17, 2017

With Rubio and Corker Backing Tax Plan, Stocks Take Off

Maybe the scuttlebutt about Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Bob Corker (R-TN) being persuaded to vote for the long-awaited tax reform plan circulating in the congress caused stocks to career higher on Friday, but the more likely catalyst was probably much more mundane: the expirations of options on a quad-witching day.

There were certainly a boatload of long bets on individual stock and index options, and, since the market is so overtly controlled by a handful of "whales" it was simple business to boost stocks throughout the day no matter what the news of the day portended.

Anybody who doesn't believe the market is rigged to go higher - incessantly - in support of central bank plans to intercede in global markets by buying assets and printing fiat, is simply fooling themselves.

Thus, bears have been declawed, pension funds and IRA are becoming whole (or, at least less underfunded) and top stock holders have been handed capital gains on a silver platter with little to no effort or brainpower on their parts.

Since congress appears poised to pass the pending tax legislation in the coming week, investors are sure to get a gift-wrapped Christmas present in advance of the give-away holiday.

2017 will go down in history as one of the best ever for stock market investors. The major averages are well into the green and some individual stocks are boasting gains of 30, 40, 50 percent or more.

Happy Holidays. Keep Dreaming.

At the Close, Friday, December 15, 2017:
Dow: 24,651.74, +143.08 (+0.58%)
NASDAQ: 6,936.58, +80.06 (+1.17%)
S&P 500: 2,675.81, +23.80 (+0.90%)
NYSE Composite: 12,699.68, +70.61 (+0.56%)

For the Week:
Dow: +322.58 (+1.33%)
NASDAQ: +96.50 (+1.41%)
S&P 500: +24.31 (+0.92%)
NYSE Composite: +56.62 (+0.45%)

Friday, December 15, 2017

Stocks Stumble As Marco Rubio Voices Concern Over Republican Tax Plan

Appropriately, with the latest installment of the "Star Wars" franchise opening in cinema theaters around the country, Wall Street sensed a disturbance in the "force," the force being Janet Yellen and her merry band of storm trooping central bankers, the disturbance being upstart senator "little" Marco Rubio, who inadvisably pondered that he may not cast his vote in favor of the magnificent GOP tax plan that's been bandied about the halls of congress for months.

The former presidential candidate and current senator from Florida, Rubio voiced concerns over a minuscule detail in the overall grand scheme, the child tax credit, and on Friday morning made it clear that unless the amount of the credit that is deductible ($1,100 of $2,000) is increased, he's voting against the plan.

Notwithstanding Rubio's need to be seen, heard and appear important on occasion, his grandstanding is purely designed as entertainment value over the weekend for the cable news outlets. A final rollout of the bill and votes will come next week, just prior to congress' two-week holiday vacation.

Also adding to the folly is John McCain, who was hospitalized this week with complications from his cancer treatment, may not be present for a vote, should his condition worsen. Republicans cannot survive more than two defections, and Senator Bob Corker, the statist senator from Tennessee is staunchly opposed to the measure, purely out of hatred for president Trump.

Failure of the bill's passage would be a blow to Wall Street being that the measure approves a reduction of corporate taxes from 35 percent to 21 percent, something for which major corporations - many of which pay little to no federal tax already - have been lobbying for years.

Thus, with doubt overshadowing the happy passage of bellwether legislation, stocks took a notable turn for the worse on Thursday. The loss ended a string of five straight days higher on the Dow, and an overall run-up from 23,200 to beyond 24,600 over the past month.

As is the usual case, there's probably nothing about which to worry, since the Fed has Wall Street's back, front, and middle, and little tolerance for anything more than a few hundred point drop on the hallowed Dow Jones Industrial Average.

With Christmas a little more than a week away, neither congress, the Fed, nor Wall Street want to appear as Scrooges or Grinches, much less a poor likeness of Darth Vader or the death planet, especially with heavy upside bets on options and futures, which expire today. Trying not to mix metaphors - but failing badly - Friday is a quad witching day.

Happy trading, and happy Friday.

At the Close, Thursday, December 14, 2017:
Dow: 24,508.66, -76.77 (-0.31%)
NASDAQ: 6,856.53, -19.27 (-0.28%)
S&P 500: 2,652.01, -10.84 (-0.41%)
NYSE Composite: 12,629.07, -70.41 (-0.55%)

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Stocks Under Pressure; Bulls All Die At Some Point

Anybody who believes that this current bull market - fueled by easy money policies from central banks, fake statistics, and enormous government deficits - will continue much longer needs to take a reality check.

Just for those who cannot or will not see the forest for the trees, the following:

  • The 10-year-note is stuck in a perpetual yield range of 2.3-something.
  • Stocks have been going sideways for week.
  • There's almost no chance that the congress will pass any kind of tax reform bill this year as they are doing nothing more than posturing for the midterm elections.
  • The national debt continues to soar to new heights, despite happy talk from the administration (remember, congress holds the purse-strings).
  • The percentage of people in the workforce is still at near-record lows.
  • The Us trade deficit with China is not shrinking.
  • State pension plans and many private pension plans are underfunded by trillions of dollars.
  • Voting doesn't matter (see the fiasco over Roy Moore)
  • Corporate profits are beginning to show serious signs of a slowdown (GE, Chipolte, others)
  • Foreclosures, bankruptcies, student loan defaults are rising.

That is just a sampling, and today's market, in form with the past few sessions, took a nosedive at the open only to recover thanks to spirited heavy lifting by the PPT or central bank cronies on the heaviest volume in five months.

The Dow was down 168 points shortly after 10:00 am ET, only to close with a marginal loss. Even at its lowest point, the index was 900 points above its 50-day moving average.

Stocks are as overpriced as they've ever been, setting up for a crash of enormous proportions.

It's coming, but nobody knows when or why it will occur. The Fed is still insistent upon raising interest rates again in December, at a time at which the economy is neither growing fast enough to warrant such behavior nor robust enough to withstand repeated rate hikes.

Over the years, the Federal Reserve has caused more crashes and recessions than it will admit. Uncontrollable spending by government and cascading business and individual debt is reaching unprecedented heights, worse than preceding the Great Financial Crisis of 2007-09.

Extreme caution is advised.

At the Close, Tuesday, November 14, 2017:
Dow: 23,409.47, -30.23 (-0.13%)
NASDAQ: 6,737.87, -19.72 (-0.29%)
S&P 500: 2,578.87, -5.97 (-0.23%)
NYSE Composite: 12,280.11, -36.71 (-0.30%)

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Stocks Slide for Week as Wall Street Sees Little Hope for Tax Reform

For the week, the Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 0.50% finishing with its first weekly decline after eight straight weekly gains, though the blue chip index remained less than 150 points from an all-time closing high set on Wednesday, November 8.

The S&P 500 finished the week lower as well, but only marginally so. It was the S&P's first weekly decline in nine weeks. The NASDAQ posted its first weekly loss in seven weeks. Both the NASDAQ and S&P closed at record highs on Wednesday as well.

The one index that did not reach record highs during the week past was also the broadest. The NYSE Composite index closed down for the second week in the past three, but those losses were more than offset by gains in the prior six weeks.

In general, analysts blamed congress for the poor performance in equities, citing the lack of a clear path to a tax overhaul that was a cornerstone of President Trump's winning strategy of a year ago. The House and Senate both introduced measures that vary widely and seem unlikely to offer much in the way of relief for individuals or businesses. Rolled out on Thursday, the Senate version pushes for a permanent (until they change it) tax rate of 20% for corporations, but delays implementing the proposed rate until 2019.

Both versions increase the standard deduction to $12,000 for individuals and $24,000 for married couples filing joint returns, but the congress and the media fail to mention that both versions cut out the personal exemption, which was $4,050 in 2016. That leaves the net gain for most single taxpayers at $1,650, and $3,300 for couples.

The standard deduction for 2016 was $6300 for singles, and $12,600 for married couples.

With Democrats generally understood to oppose any Republican plan, the chances for passage this year of either bill remain slim. President Trump and conservative leaders in the Senate face any number of challenges from the likes of Ted Cruz, John McCain, Bob Corker and others who have either stated their opposition to the measures or are likely to vote against any changes to the intricate, pitfall-ridden federal income tax code.

As far as Wall Street is concerned, lowering the corporate tax and the tax on offshore profits are at the top of the wish list, but, little is being done to address their concerns with a congress largely already focused on being re-elected in the 2018 midterms, now less than a year away.

It has become more than obvious to most Americans that congress is an inept, bought-and-paid body, loyal only to special interests which fund their expensive campaigns. Any thoughts of providing relief to beleaguered taxpayers or companies are beyond their admittedly limited legislative scope.

Thus, investors should treat any talk of reform coming from the mouths of elected officials in Washington as nothing more than make believe rhetoric, designed solely to make themselves appear to be working when they are, in fact, not.

At the Close, Friday, November 10, 2017:
Dow: 23,422.21, -39.73 (-0.17%)
NASDAQ: 6,750.94, +0.89 (+0.01%)
S&P 500: 2,582.30, -2.32 (-0.09%)
NYSE Composite: 12,322.60, -17.06 (-0.14%)

For the Week:
Dow: -116.98 (-0.50%)
NASDAQ: -13.50 (-0.20%)
S&P 500: -5.54 (-0.21%)
NYSE Composite: -50.46 (-0.41%)

Friday, November 10, 2017

Stocks Balk at Indecisive Congressional Tax Reform Efforts

Stocks tumbled at midweek as prospects for comprehensive tax reform dimmed in Washington.

The Senate was roundly blamed for the poor performance on the session, as a handful of Republicans expressed doubts over the version of the package submitted by the House days earlier.

A Republican bill was presented, with significant changes, including a permanent 20% business tax rate which would be implemented in 2019. The delay of more than a year concerned investors, though such concern is largely a canard, being that the effective rate for most significant corporations is about 14%.

As the day wore on the pain subsided and late buying boosted averages, though not enough to offset an across-the-board decline, putting the major indices in the red for the week.

Without a positive narrative and strategy for tax reform forthcoming for the congress, it appears that President Trump will be thwarted once again in his efforts to Make American Great Again, though many may argue that his initial tax proposals fell far short of any significant, progressive changes to the tax code.

Simplification would be an effective measure towards keeping the Trump loyalists in camp, but that does not appear to be on the congressional agenda, as per usual.

There's spreading sentiment that nothing will be done in terms of tax reform, which, like Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid, and immigration, has serious problems which year after year seem to defy the ability of congress to implement meaningful change. The more convenient route of promising change and delivering nothing of consequence appears to be the overriding theme of a congress that's essentially done nothing of benefit to the general population for the past twenty years.

As far as Wall Street is concerned, Washington is more a parody, a thinly-veiled lie at effective governance and thus it is, more often than not, discounted as meaningless.

The declines of Wednesday will be considered a sign of weakness, though most will express the opinion that "it's only a flesh wound."

At the Close, Thursday, November 9, 2017:
Dow: 23,461.94, -101.42 (-0.43%)
NASDAQ: 6,750.05, -39.06 (-0.58%)
S&P 500: 2,584.62, -9.76 (-0.38%)
NYSE Composite: 12,339.66, -45.05 (-0.36%)

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Stocks Bounce, but Fail to Erase Previous Losses; Congressional Republicans in Shock

Stocks rebounded from Tuesday's drubbing, but not nearly enough to erase the damage done, a classic dead cat bounce.

News was heavy, most of it coming out of Washington, where President Donald Trump reportedly reached agreement with congressional democrats on not only a debt ceiling increase but funding for hurricane Harvey victims and at least the outline of a continuing resolution. The proposed legislative deal would fund the government through December 15, upsetting - only in Washington - Republicans, who hoped for a longer debate on all of the issues.

Obviously, Trump has determined that with friends like his fellow Republicans in congress, he doesn't need enemies, thus making compromises with Democrats. It's actually - for a fellow who's supposedly not a politician - pretty smart politics. Republicans, included Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell and House leader, Paul Ryan, were reportedly angered over the development.

Wall Street was immediately impressed, though stocks tailed off noticeably into the close.

Trump also tamped down recent bellicosity toward North Korea, hoping that China would do more to keep leader Kim Jong-un on a short leash.

Federal Reserve vice-chairman, Stanley Fischer announced that he would retire from his position on October 13, a surprise leaving open one of the most prestigious seats in Washington and a puzzler for Fed watchers. Fischer cited personal reasons for his decision, but speculation is that the departure has more to do with health than money, but suspect that Janet Yellen will be out at the culmination of her term in February.

Hurricane Irma continued to barrel towards Florida, the Fed's beige book revealed that members thought the economy was showing signs of improvement, though the continuing bemoaning over a lack of inflation was prominent.

While stocks improved modestly, the effect was greater on fixed income and precious metals. Gold and silver halted their recent advances and bond yields rose, with the 10-year note increasing to 2.11%

Overall, nothing was settled, except that Washington might actually avoid the drama that usually surrounds debt ceiling and budget debates, which is actually quite a positive development.

Trump making deals? Who knew?

At the Close, 9/6/17:
Dow: 21,807.64, +54.33 (+0.25%)
NASDAQ: 6,393.31, +17.74 (+0.28%)
S&P 500: 2,465.54, +7.69 (+0.31%)
NYSE Composite: 11,872.92, +45.77 (+0.39%)

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Dow Set To Rise Over 22,000; ADP Report Shows 178,000 July Jobs

For a change, all of the major indices moved in the same direction on the day. While the Dow set a new closing all-time high, it fell short of the 22,000 milestone, though the NYSE Composite squeaked by the 12,000 mark by a mere 0.02 points.

With earnings news continuing to come out in fairly rosy fashion, the latest from Apple (AAPL), reporting better-than-expected iPhone sales, revenue and earnings per share.

As August rolls along, there appear to be few impediments to further gains in stocks. Earnings reports will begin to slow to a trickle, but there is no FOMC meeting this month, and congress is likely to take at least two weeks off after wasting the first two weeks of the month posturing and posing over health care and/or tax reform.

It's unlikely that congress will accomplish anything of import, as their record of accomplishments since Donald Trump became president is shallow and thin.

Of some significance is Friday's release of July non-farm payroll numbers. Wednesday morning, ADP released their proprietary payroll data for the month, showing 178,000 new private sector jobs created in July. Expectations were for 185,000, after June disappointed with just 158,000 jobs created.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) publishes its data on the first Friday of the month, at 8:30 am ET.

Whether the jobs data is good or bad may be immaterial, as the market has a tendency to take either without much pause. Just about everybody knows the economy is stuck in low gear, with the Fed and other central banks' backing and active in the markets.

22,000 on the Dow is a no-brainer. Unless war is launched against North Korea or some other great geo-political development occurs, nothing significant is likely to happen until congress reconvenes in September and attempts to craft a budget and hurdle the debt ceiling.

If there's ever been a time to break out the "all clear" foghorn, this could be it.

Still, it's advisable to keep close stops on positions because surprises routinely occur when complacency is high.

At the Close, 8/1/17:
Dow: 21,963.92, +72.80 (0.33%)
NASDAQ: 6,362.94, +14.81 (0.23%)
S&P 500: 2,476.35, +6.05 (0.24%)
NYSE Composite: 12,000.02, +32.35 (0.27%)

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

WARNING: Congressional Democrats Are Detrimental To The Health Of The Stock Market

Just in case anybody's keeping score, Monday marked the eighth straight day of losses for the Dow Jones Industrial Average. Only the buoyant NASDAQ finished with gains, a sign that there are still plenty of speculative players plying "animal spirits" despite evidence to the contrary, i.e., the VIX spiked above 13, stocks cannot maintain momentum. The eight straight losing sessions is the longest for the Dow since August 2011.

Primary drivers for the recent about face from all-time highs are politicians in Washington, now about to erupt into all-out war between the two parties over everything from the fake "Russians hacked the election" story, to blocking the confirmation of Trump's nominee for the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch, to walking back and away from House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R). Claiming he is unfit for the job, Democrats are calling for him to step down, amid accusations that he met secretly with President Trump over concerns that the incoming president was bugged by outgoing president Barack Obama's administration in November, December and January.

The Kafkaesque nature of recent developments in congress can only help make Wall Street even more jittery than it already is. Democrats have been bolstered by the stumbling attempt by Republicans in the House to overturn Obamacare, as Speak of the House, Paul Ryan, cancelled a vote on the proposed measure, which was hastily prepared and loaded with amendments and proposals that left the bill dead on arrival.

It has become crystal clear that Democrats in congress are still upset of losing the presidential election last November and trying to obstruct and delay any attempts by the current administration to fix what is wrong with the country. The new delaying tactics are designed to extend to the next recess, on April 7, at which point the Democrats can return to their districts and/or devise new tactics to thwart the smooth operation of government over a two-week span. Congress won't reconvene until the 25th of April once the recess is called.

The obvious battle being waged in Washington is not good for anyone investing in anything (except safe havens: bonds silver, gold), until one side emerges victorious and a path forward can be envisioned. Since there's little to no chance of either side claiming a decisive victory, investors should be aware and prepared for a long period of indecision and therefore, wild swings in markets and individual stocks. Nothing is safe within an environment of stealth, obfuscation, denial, lies, and feigned surprise as exists in the halls of congress leading the political sphere.

A well-defined move of funds to cash, bonds, and precious metals will offer a signal that a bear market is dead ahead, something which should be expected to occur in any case, as the current bull run is overextended and built upon mountains of debt and stock buybacks.

Developments to come - both from Washington and Wall Street - may prove deadly to bullish sentiment and frightening to anyone who still has a memory of what "normal" should look like.


At The Close 3.27.17:
Dow: 20,550.98, -45.74 (-0.22%)
NASDAQ: 5,840.37, +11.64 (0.20%)
S&P 500: 2,341.59, -2.39 (-0.10%)
NYSE Composite: 11,414.33, -4.56 (-0.04%)