Showing posts with label debt ceiling. Show all posts
Showing posts with label debt ceiling. Show all posts

Sunday, November 19, 2017

US Equites In Danger Zone After Very Volatile Week

The US economy isn't exactly on its back, but it also isn't growing by the phony 3+ percent the government reported in the past two quarters.

Speaking strictly from an economist's perspective, the US government GDP figures include grossly-inflated government spending and just about every spare dollar their statisticians can unearth from the mainland, Alaska and Hawaii.

GDP-watching is a Wall Street phenomena, serving the interests of the corporatists who need to return dividends or share growth to stockholders. Thus, it adds impetus to the argument that investing in US corporations is a good idea. That may or may not be true, depending largely upon which corporation is attracting the investing dollars.

Obviously, the FAANGs (Facebook (FB), Apple (AAPL), Amazon (AMZN), Netflix (NFLX), and Google (Alphabet, GOOG) have been the most attractive of the past six to eight years, while quite a few have faltered. Most of the stocks making gains since the GFC of 2007-09 have been the result of massive stock buybacks, a dubious distinction, as these high-fliers are the ones most prone to collapse in the case of a market rout.

They've diluted their shares and have deployed capital in one of the worst ways, buying back shares in order to boost EPS (earnings per share). Having fewer shares available while keeping profits at roughly the same level improves EPS, but it does not expand the business potential. Banks and financials are especially guilty in this regard. They're over-leveraged and will pay a price, but their executives and shareholders are happy little clams, for now.

When the share price falls, and dividends are slashed, the shareholders will be singing a different tune. The executives will be long gone because they've proven to care only about their own pockets and bonuses.

In any case, stocks ran through a very volatile week, punctuated by a massive dead-cat-bounce rally on Thursday which stanched some of the losses incurred since all-time highs the previous Tuesday.

There could be a waterfall effect developing, because confidence is waning. The holiday shopping season - which is demonstrably longer than last year's - should provide a boost, but the economy is lurching closer to two important events: the December Fed meeting and the expected rate hike, and another round of negotiations in congress over the debt ceiling limit, both mid-month.

Elsewhere, oil remains at elevated levels, above $55/barrel for WTI crude, gold and silver were bounced around but appear ready for a breakout (as they have too many times in the past four years, with nothing to show), bonds were flatter still.

At the Close, Friday, November 17, 2017:
Dow: 23,358.24, -100.12 (-0.43%)
NASDAQ 6,782.79, -10.50 (-0.15%)
S&P 500: 2,578.85, -6.79 (-0.26%)
NYSE Composite: 12,302.89, -0.39 (0.00%)

For the Week:
Dow: -63.97 (-0.27%)
NASDAQ: +31.85 (+0.47%)
S&P 500: -3.45 (-0.13%)
NYSE Composite: -19.71 (-0.16%)

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%)

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Stocks Flat, Gold, Silver, Bonds Explode Higher

Editor's Note: Money Daily is eventually going to move to its own server at, but issues implementing the blogging platform while integrating ad serving has kept the blog from being fully integrated. Thus, for the time being, until these issues resolved, the blog will appear here.

Stocks were relatively unmoved as the world's central bankers wrapped up their annual economic symposium at Jackson Hole, Wyoming over the weekend.

What did move were precious metals and bonds, both boosted by ambiguous speeches by Fed Chair, Janet Yellen, and ECB president, Mario Draghi.

Both speakers failed to address the bubbling equity markets, and instead opted for a can-kicking, all is well, "stay the course" approach. Markets were effectively unimpressed, though fixed investments saw massive gains.

The benchmark 10-year note was bid, knocking the yield down to 2.16, and to levels not seen since before last year's November elections, at 2.09% just prior to the Tuesday open.

Gold has blown through resistance at the psychologically-important $1300 level, kicking up to $1325 in early Tuesday futures trading. Silver also advanced, blasting through $17, hovering in the $17.60 range at this time.

Stock futures are down massively, setting Tuesday up for a massive downdraft.

With congress coming back to debate the debt ceiling and federal budget and the FOMC meeting in September, the final days of August appear to be presaging the volatile days and weeks ahead.

Hang on to your hats. This looks to be a wild ride.

At the Close, August 28, 2017:
Dow: 21,808.40, -5.27 (-0.02%)
NASDAQ: 6,283.02, +17.37 (+0.28%)
S&P 500: 2,444.24, +1.19 (+0.05%)
NYSE Composite: 11,800.22, -11.81 (-0.10%)

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Stocks Close Week Trending Lower; Trouble Brewing

After Thursday's all-around rout, traders entered Friday's session with apprehension and doubt, pondering whether the recovery facade had finally been broken, exposing the wickedly overpriced nature of global equites, and especially US stocks.

After a sluggish start to trading, stocks eventually turned positive midday, but failed to keep an even keel as the major indices fell in unison for the second consecutive day, ending the week on an ominous note.

While Friday's losses were nothing compared to those from the day prior, they were, nevertheless, a continuation of the downdraft since last week's North Korea scare sent stocks well below their prior highs and, in the case of the S&P 500 and NASDAQ, below their 50-day moving averages.

In addition to the uniformity of the declines, stocks spent their second straight week on the downside for only the fourth time since the election of Donald Trump as president.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average, which had been the leader in the gains for the year, finished just above its 50-dma, the signs of slowing clearly evident.

With earnings reports from the second quarter winding down, analysts and traders will be focused on economic data, which has been - for years - less than stellar. Also of concern is the Federal Reserve's stance on tightening credit and unwinding their massive balance sheet, at the same time congress and the president will be engaging in budget and debt ceiling wrangling, making for a September to remember.

Still not an absolute trend - stocks are generally down only 2-3% the past two weeks - there will eventually come a time when the long bull run since March, 2009 will come to an end, and it figures not be be pretty. Anyone with short-term views will be taken aback at any sign of decay in the financial system, though, for those old enough and wizened enough to understand past history and general economics, a general pullback will be nothing more than the ordinariness of the business cycle, this one interrupted by the machinations and experimental policies of the global central bank cartel, led the the Fed, the ECB, the Bank of Japan (BOJ), and the People's Bank of China (PBOC), which together have stuffed more than $16 trillion onto their collective balance sheets.

Unwinding this massive spending spree without collateral damage will be a monumental task, even for those empowered to oversee the world's financial order.

Fireworks are coming. Stock up on adult beverages and snacks.

At the Close, Friday, August 18, 2017:
Dow: 21,674.51, -76.22 (-0.35%)
NASDAQ: 6,216.53, -5.39 (-0.09%)
S&P 500 2,425.55, -4.46 (-0.18%)
NYSE Composite: 11,699.83, -12.88 (-0.11%)

For the Week:
Dow: -183.81 (-0.84%)
NASDAQ: -40.03 (-0.64%)
S&P 500: -15.77 (-0.65%)
NYSE Composite: -63.38 (-0.54%)

Thursday, October 17, 2013

OK, Back to Work, Slaves! S&P Hits All-Time High

Grateful that the shutdown is behind us, President Disingenuous could help but take a victory lap with a press conference this morning (Why is he always late? Very annoying.) reminding all the faithful citizens that those overpaid, barely-stressed government workers are patriot and essential. Funny, we thought they furloughed the non-essential ones. And, yes, they're all getting paid for the two weeks they didn't work.

Oh, well.

People better get straight with this and quick. The debt limit was NOT increased, it was SUSPENDED, the President now having authority to issue as much debt as he pleases, unless congress disapproves via a joint resolution - which the president would veto - and the congress would need a 2/3rds majority to override, which, with the current makeup on congress, is all but impossible.

So, essentially, there is no debt limit any more, thanks to provisions in the bill supported by Mitch McConnell (that's right, numbskulls, there's no Red team or Blue team, just one team) and signed into law by the supine congress on Wednesday, October 16, 2013.

That explains why the president, when asked last night if we'll be doing this all over again in three months, quickly turned on his heels while heading for the exit after his presser, and replied simply, "No."

This also explains quite a bit about how things actually operate in the capitol. They scare us to bejeezus, and then, in the dead of the night, right before their artificial deadline, when everybody is zoned out from boredom or anxiety, throw in language that subverts and changes the way they do business.

From here on out, the president can just run the tab up as high as he likes, and congress won't make a peep about it, because, as they'll surely tell us, they can't muster the votes to override a veto. Essentially, the United States no longer has a debt limit or debt ceiling, call it what you like. It has been suspended.

Read the actual bill:

Nice job, for government work.

PS: We're screwed.

On the other hand, we all might take this advice: Why I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Currency Collapse

Dow 15,371.65, -2.18 (0.01%)
Nasdaq 3,863.15, +23.71 (0.62%)
S&P 500 1,733.15, +11.61 (0.67%)
10-Yr Bond 2.59%, -0.08
NYSE Volume 3,433,423,500
Nasdaq Volume 1,931,481,625
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 4282-1351
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 554-41
WTI crude oil: 100.67, -1.62
Gold: 1,323.00, +40.70
Silver: 21.95, +0.582
Corn: 443.00, +0.25

Monday, October 7, 2013

Government Shutdown Day 7: Debt Ceiling Begins to Take Precedence; Silver-Corn Trade Plummets

Remember a few weeks ago, when everybody (including Money Daily) was saying that the government wouldn't shut down? And then, when it did, all the pundits and "important" people saying it would only last a day or two?

Well, those predictions were all wrong. Now, what we're hearing is that the shutdown (which isn't really a shutdown, because 83% of the federal government is up and running) will meld into the debt ceiling deadline, which is October 17, but, but, but, some of the same predictors from before are now saying that there's no chance the politicians won't have a deal on the debt ceiling, or that the government won't go into default.

Wrong, wrong, wrong. The two sides are as far apart, ideologically, as they were a week ago, two weeks ago, two months ago, plus they have the added kicker of ObamaCare, the federal heath insurance program this is largely a fiasco of proportions only the federal government could accomplish, the main website for signing up only partially-functional, replete with glitches, shutdowns, "waiting rooms," and other assorted disasters. It is undeniably the worst rollout of any federal program in living memory (*some of our editors are pretty old, but don't predate WWII).

Imagine if this government were in charge of planning and executing D-Day, the invasion of Normandy which eventually resulted in ending World War II? Hitler would have won, after having laughed his tail off at our incompetence.

So, think that the US government won't violate its citizens again by exceeding the deadline for raising the debt limit? Think again. They've already done so. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew has been employing "extraordinary measures" - that's Wahington-speak for raiding the pension funds of federal employees - since mid-August and those funds are running out fast.

If the government doesn't raise the debt limit by October 17, nobody will notice at first, except maybe some of those future federal pensioners, whose trust funds would remain empty and funded only at the behest of congressional appropriation prioritization. In other words, federal employees might end up without pensions - or with greatly reduced pensions - should the US decide that their funding is not a top priority. Suppose there's a war, a natural disaster, or other unforeseen event that would require quick funding by the government? What might happen to those unfunded pensions?

Of course, most people see that condition as far-fetched, but, in reality, it is closer than one would want to believe. The various federal employee trust funds have already been drained, just like Social Security and Medicare, each of which poses an even more serious, existential problem than the current government funding issues.

So, eventually, all of this will be resolved, either by wise political will or abject bungling and failure, which is what we have now. Anyone even remotely believing that our current crop of grade B politicians will do anything more than apply remedial, short-term fixes to long-term problems is kidding themselves and not approaching the situation with the required seriousness.

The US government, because of 100 years of debt servitude to the Federal Reserve, willful neglect of fiscal prudence and outright incompetence has been pushed to the brink of disaster, a disaster which took decades to create, but which can come crashing down in a matter of days, and those days are numbered.

Despite the various voices in the media - especially on CNBC - who publicly appear to be not at all concerned about the government shutdown and debt ceiling issues, are privately fearful that the politicians are either inept and incapable of fixing the mess they've created or have planed the entire charade all along.

We will find out soon enough.

As for the public markets of the financial world, a state of semi-paralysis has taken hold. The usual buy-on-the-dip screamers have been silenced, now merely whispering about possibly buying a few selected stocks, as volume - already at lowered levels - has cratered, the result of relentless stock buybacks over the past four years and a market juiced by the funny money of QE and ZIRP from the Federal Reserve. There's less stock available to purchase, and most of it is overpriced, with average P/E ratios in the 16-17 range, a touch high for an economy embroiled in a severe recession or possible depression.

Since the government shutdown began officially on Tuesday, October 1, the Dow is down 194 points, most of that accounted for just today, and, bear in mind that the Dow kicked out three losing companies and replaced them with high-fliers Goldman Sachs, Nike and Visa just two weeks ago. The usually-ebullient NASDAQ is off by just 1.10 points and the S&P has shed a little more than 15 points, again, most of that being gnawed off today.

What's more worrying for stock junkies is that the A-D line took a severe downturn today, with losers outpacing gainers by a 7-2 margin and the gap between stocks making new 52-week highs and lows was the slightest since mid-August.

Market internals are indicating a degree of concern, but the mouthpieces for financial firms aren't openly expressing of it, yet.

For those taking a more esoteric view, consider the relationship of silver to corn. According to no less an authority as Adam Smith (yes, the one who wrote The Wealth of Nations in 1776), a decline in the real price of corn, expressed in silver (i.e., one could buy more corn for the same amount of silver or could buy the same amount of corn for less silver), is a certain sign of deflation, and that particular metric has been bleeding all summer, as the price of corn has declined while silver - even though its price is substantially manipulated to the downside - has remained stuck in a range of $21-23/ounce.

The reality is that without central banks and their agents stomping down on the price of silver and gold, the deflationists would have an irrefutable argument that the economy of the United States is close to, if not already in, a severe depression.

Dow 14,936.24, -136.34 (0.90%)
Nasdaq 3,770.38, -37.38 (0.98%)
S&P 500 1,676.12, -14.38 (0.85%)
10-Yr Bond 2.63%, -0.02
NYSE Volume 2,676,265,500
Nasdaq Volume 1,452,687,750
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 1321-4288
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 135-67
WTI crude oil: 103.03, -0.81
Gold: 1,325.10, +15.20
Silver: 22.39, +0.634
Corn: 449.25, +6.00

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

America's Economy - and Society - is Grinding to a Halt

What a mess!

Stocks were down for the fifth consecutive session on Wednesday as congress fails to grasp the seriousness of any situation, be it the budget (substitue a continuing resolution), Obamacare (possibly the worst law ever passed) or the debt ceiling (due to run out of extraordinary measures by October 17, according to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew).

Meanwhile, the country does a slow burn; jobs aren't being created, business is stuck between bad choices and worse choices; governments - federal, state and local - can't make their budgets work.

Deflation has been taking hold in a rather large way, despite the best (wosrt) efforts by the Fed, through QE, to stimulate through inflation (another bad idea). There isn't any growth in manufacturing, the lifeblood of any economy, in the United States for thirty years. Our debts keep soaring. The Fed - and most other institutions - are failing the American people. Only the top 1% or maybe as little as 1/10 of the top 1% or as much as the top 10% are benefiting from centrally-planned economics.

There is no stock market, no price discovery mechanisms which can be reliably trusted, since the Fed now dominates all markets, from stocks to gold, silver, commodities, stocks and most especially, bonds, where the Federal Reserve is not only the buyer of last resort, they are also the first in line.

Obvious to anybody with an eye for such things, the recovery economics engineered over the past five years since the collapse of Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, Lehman Brothers and assorted collateral damages, are simply not working, yet the government, in cahoots with the Fed, continues to support and maintain the same policies.

Maybe it's time for a reset, a revolution, some kind of change, but the NSA monitors every movement of the American public, keeping public protest to an absolute minimum, in shades strangely reminiscent of pre-war Germany in the late 1930s. we are all at risk, from the poorest to the richest, yet the richest feel secure that they are entitled to, and thus, have more, enough to sustain themselves through any crisis.

They are wrong, as history calmly reassures; the fall of the Roman empire, the French Revolution being only the two most prominent examples of mass chaos.

In five more days the federal government faces a shutdown of "non-essential" services. In two weeks after that, without authority for more borrowing, the US government will legally default on some of its obligations. Of course, those less-well-connected will feel the pinch first, the insiders, later, though by forces beyond the ken of their limited imaginations.

Here at Money Daily, we do not espouse default, disorder and carnage because it is damaging to everyone, but especially to those least able to protect themselves against it, which would include probably 90% of the population. Take a look around. How many of your neighbors can manage their own gardens, feed themselves, grow from seed, if necessary? How about you, yourself?

Sadly, the American public is so poorly educated in basic survival skills such as farming, gardening, water and fuel management, health and safety that a catastrophic condition renders most of the population at very high risk of disease and death.

Is this the kind of world we imagined to leave to the next generation? The human race is so deficient in so many aspects that survival of the entire species is questionable. The problems are enormous, but most will go back to their TV sets and TV dinners, ignoring the threats which are all around them, hoping beyond hope that government - the same one that caused and foments many of the issues and problems we face - will be there to support them and save them.

Readers of this blog may call us alarmists, but the signs of collapse of the system - of all systems - are abundant, though normalcy bias and cognitive dissonance prevent most from any meaningful understanding.

We could be days away from a complete tearing of the social fabric. Are you prepared? Do you even care?

The race to the bottom is accelerating, and there are no winners.

Here's the latest edition of the Keiser Report, for a glimpse into the kind of world in which we live:

Dow 15,273.26, -61.33 (0.40%)
Nasdaq 3,761.10, -7.16 (0.19%)
S&P 500 1,692.77, -4.65 (0.27%)
10-Yr Bond 2.61%, -0.04
NYSE Volume 3,403,673,000
Nasdaq Volume 1,791,265,125
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 3174-3322
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 258-38
WTI crude oil: 102.66, -0.47
Gold: 1,336.20, +19.90
Silver: 21.89, +0.30

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Dow Hits Five-Year High; Why Isn't Anyone Celebrating?

Money has to go somewhere, and today it went straight into equities, pushing the Dow to a five-year high.

Whether or not this euphoric advance was based on anything more than the Fed's continuing POMO operations remains to be seen.

Housing starts and building permits for December were figuratively "through the roof," though on Main Street America, people are wondering just who it is that is buying all these new homes.

In the real economy - the one that functions on dollars and cents, not swaps, repos, debt financing and accounting fantasies - it still feels like a recession. Stores are largely empty, incomes are still declining overall and the bulk of the US consumer class has just been hit with a 2% tax increase, thanks to the assembled dunces in congress and at the White House.

Unemployment claims today came in at a multi-month low of 335,000, though continuing claims increased from 3127K to 3214K in one week, so, something at the BLS isn't quite adding up, though that's largely been the case since 2006 or before.

The Philadelphia Fed index of economic activity printed a -5.8 for the current month, following a positive 4.6 in December. This reading comes on the heels of Empire Manufacturing (NY state) showing a -7.8 after a -7.3.

If none of this makes any sense to you, consider that Boeing (BA), after having all of their 787 "Dreamliners" (make that "Nightmare Flight") grounded by the FAA (note: this is after years and years of delays and missed deadlines), shares of the nation's top plane builder finished up 92 cents (1.24%).

Beyond that, ZeroHedge notes that if you strip out the gains made by Bank of America - the top performing Dow stock of 2012 - for releasing loan loss reserves (an accounting trick), the bank actually lost something on the order of $2.5 billion last year.

Regular readers (or at least those who check the stats at the bottom of each post) will take note that new highs - new lows has today reached the pinnacle of absurdity.

Even in the very, very, very best of times there were always more than eight stocks hitting new 52-week lows, it's only natural in a normal, competitive environment. The number of new lows since the first of the year has been hovering in the teems for the most part. The money gushing from the Federal Reserve to the primary dealers to the stock market is causing the most unbalanced market ever witnessed.

And the debt ceiling increase that needs to be approved, but just seems to sit there, like a 300000000-ton weight over the US economy, ah, don't worry about that. Our "leaders" will find a way to ix that, certainly, positively, without a doubt.

We live in Wonderland. Sadly, only those who pad their wallets on Wall Street get to be either the Cheshire Cat, Mad Hatter or Alice.

Dow 13,596.02, +84.79 (0.63%)
NASDAQ 3,136.00, +18.46 (0.59%)
S&P 500 1,480.98, +8.31 (0.56%)
NYSE Composite 8,766.54, +55.98 (0.64%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,734,349,250
NYSE Volume 3,966,953,250
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 4628-1787
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 525-8
WTI crude oil: 95.49, +1.25
Gold: 1,690.80, +7.60
Silver: 31.81, +0.268

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Why Stocks Were Down Today and Other Ramblings... and Links

Getting right to the point, stocks slipped a little bit more today, oddly enough, right around another 50 points were knocked off the Dow. why is that odd, you ask?

Well, if you were going to dismantle something and didn't want anyone to take notice, you'd do it a little bit at a time, right? So, after a 50-point drop yesterday, another 55 points today receives little fanfare. Anything over 100 on the Dow, in either direction, gets the attention of Bob Pisani and the other market-watching noobs on CNBC and Bloomberg, and you don't want them going around shouting, "hey, look at this!" but 50 points, not so much.

The point is that stocks went down today (and yesterday) because that's the way the Goldman Sachs and Merrill Lynch's roll. If there were any good reason to bid stocks up, they certainly would have, but, that all got taken care of on January 2nd, to the tune of a 300-point rally. Now it's profit-taking harvest time for the quick-traders out there making all the loot, but, you know, they don't want anyone thinking it's time to head for the hills because there's a flood of bad stuff coming our way.

Uh-uh. Can't have that. The muppets must not be allowed to understand anything that is really happening. Only the global elitists are privy to the inside baseball stuff.

So, what's that bad stuff heading our way? How about a nasty, well-orchestrated fight over the debt ceiling that leads directly to a government shutdown? It has been mentioned only a few dozen times just this week, though every political empty hat says they want to avoid that at all costs. (Rubbish: we all know how loathe the pols in Washington are to actually do any work and how much they relish leisure time.)

So, yes, get ready for that, and that would precipitate some selling of stocks. Once the big guys get their profits, then the little people can take losses, all the while the talking head analysts saying things like, "this is just a little correction," or "stocks will rebound in the second half" (like Notre Dame did last night? Let's hope not).

It's been almost two weeks since the latest market moving event - the fiscal cliff miasma - so, a new crisis can't really be far off. Things should start getting heated up in a few more days or maybe around the end of January, once the new members of congress are all schooled up on their new roles and understand the rules of the game.

Yep, the debt ceiling showdown should prove to be some of the best political theatre of the year, and maybe the most disruptive. The Republicans keep threatening it, and they don't want to look like the boy who cried wolf, so, this time, they'll probably do it, and it will last maybe two or three weeks before a compromise is reached. Naturally, such a compromise will solve nothing except to get most of the furloughed federal employees back on the job, slow down the "recovery" a little and provice cover for Wall Street's anticipated lousy earnings.

So, that's why stocks were down today, but they'll be up sooner or later, and trade sideways a bit before the real deal comes down. Then, they'll drop like rocks from a tower, and it will be YOUR MONEY losing value, not THEIRS.

BTW: Alcoa (AA) kicked off earnings season after the bell, posting in-line earnings per share of six cents, which says plenty about the health of this global giant and the world economy in general. Their outlook is for aluminum demand to increase seven percent this year, due to, get this, increased demand from the aerospace industry (read: defense contractors). Whether or not that hike in demand ever materializes, well, we will just have to stay tuned. In the meantime, Alcoa is still a sub-$10 stock, which it's been for close to a year now. There's a reason for that.

Yesterday, I (that being me, Fearless Rick) opined on these pages that something was broken, though I could not quite put my finger on exactly what "it" was that had gone amiss, ending with the gloomy prospect that maybe everything was broken.

Of course, there are innumerable things broken in America and around the world, but there are many more that work, like the Internet, for instance. You're reading this, after all, on the internet. That works.

What's not working, and hasn't been for a long time is the media, but the internet is beginning to take care of that. Most people under the age of 30 get the majority of their news and opinion-making articles from the internet, not mainstream TV, newspapers or (heaven forbid!) the radio, so there's hope on that front.

So, thinking that I must find out just what it is that's broken, research ensued, which consisted of a couple of adult beverages and some internet surfing.

Well, I was right. The entire global economic system is broken, and has been broken for a long time, but I already knew that. I just didn't know exactly how badly broken it was until I came across this exceptional piece of video (8 parts) by one Ann Barnhardt, and her aptly-titled dissertation, The Economy Is Going To Implode...And You Deserve to now Why.

Ms. Barnhardt breaks the complexities of the modern global economy down to a very understandable, though frighteningly-real level that just about everyone (including politicians and tin-horn local office-holders) can understand. One may or may not agree with her approach or her views, but nobody can argue with the math, which presents an unshakable case for economic calamity. This is must viewing for anyone who wishes to understand why everything seems to be heading downhill in America or to relieve - at least for a short time - that nagging feeling that something is broken. Here's part one of the video series.

Just in case you were busy watching the disgrace of Notre Dame at the hands of Alabama last night, and missed this, here's Alex Jones going ballistic over gun control on the Piers Morgan Show. And, in case you don't know who Alex Jones is, well, you're probably just another sheeple, or maybe a sleeple (that's people who appear awake but are actually sleeping). So, here's a link to Enjoy the video rant.

Dow 13,328.85, -55.44 (0.41%)
NASDAQ 3,091.81, -7.00 (0.23%)
S&P 500 1,457.15, -4.74 (0.32%)
NYSE Composite 8,604.38, -32.53 (0.38%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,743,272,375
NYSE Volume 3,757,457,750
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 3003-3411
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 302-13
WTI crude oil: 93.15, -0.04
Gold: 1,662.20, +15.90
Silver: 30.46, +0.383

Monday, January 7, 2013

Something is Broken

Ever get that nagging feeling that something isn't quite right, you don't know what it is, but you're sure something important is broken, and it's going to cause problems?

That seemed to be the sense of things today. This marking the first day of the first full week of trading, and, after that spectacular, fiscal-cliff-solution-induced-rally last Wednesday, stocks have been just spinning their wheels.

Maybe it's the end of the holidays and getting back to reality, or, for those of us up in the North country, the dreary, dank, dark and depressing days of winter (only 73 mare days until Spring!), but there's a problem out there lurking that's bigger than the upcoming debt ceiling fight, the next unemployment report or whether we dip back into a recession.

It's the kind of feeling that pervaded Germany during the rise of Naziism, in which people didn't trust each other any more, everybody was on guard against some unseen, invisible, but just under the surface threat.

To put one's finger on it exactly would be a stroke of luck - or genius - but let's take a stab at it.

The house of cards the US has built up after the fall of the TBTF banks back in 2008 seems to be crumbling, and, like a house of cards, it starts at the top, where those on the bottom or even in the middle, can't see the collapse coming.

After the nonsensical debate and drawn-out rhetoric over the so-called "fiscal cliff," congress delivered a solution that was only half a solution, that being the taxation part. The hard part, cutting spending, is still ahead, and anybody who knows anything about how Washington has worked for the past thirty years knows that the congress and the president aren't willing or able to cut programs in any meaningful way.

So, the political structure at the top of the pyramidical structure called our society isn't working, and that's going to cause problems down below. The bankers, politicians and corporations currently at the top of the food chain don't seem to have adequate answers, only mildly appeasing artical solutions and glad=handing all around while the suppress and repress the rest of society. Eventually, one little slip up, one mistake, one good blow of wind from out of the blue takes the top cards off the structure and down tumbles everything into a massive, wrecked heap.

How long can the nation survive with clowns twirling dishes on stoks and juggling balls in the air at the top of the structure? So far, about four years, but it hasn't been pretty. There's just this feeling that it's all going to get worse.

Maybe if we turned Dow theory on its head, and noticed that the transportation average had moved to a technical, secular bear market back in July and August of 2011, and hasn't recovered to exceed the previous highs, and the Industrials since then have made a concerted, upside move based on nothing but short-covering rallies, asset inflation thanks to continual pumping by the Federal Reserve, that would give us all a clue to where things are going.

Or, maybe the Federal Reserve, the OCC and Fannie Mae all settling up with the banks on the first Monday of the New Year is a what? Coincidence? And nobody is concerned?

Maybe it's the breakdown of the relationship between the A-D line and the new highs vs. new lows. Maybe it's the flu. Maybe it's gold being constantly hammered down, or silver stuck in perpetuity at $30/ounce. And, maybe those are just symptoms.

Something is broken, for sure. Nobody is sure exactly what it is, but it could be everything.

Dow 13,384.29, -50.92 (0.38%)
NASDAQ 3,098.81, -2.85 (0.09%)
S&P 500 1,461.89, -4.58 (0.31%)
NYSE Composite 8,636.91, -30.77 (0.35%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,702,506,875
NYSE Volume 3,513,878,500
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 2852-3657
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 286-15
WTI crude oil: 93.19, +0.10
Gold: 1,646.30, -2.60
Silver: 30.08, +0.136

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

No News, No Earnings, No Data, No Volume Means Nothing Much for Stocks

The Wall Street HTF machines must have been cranked up to maximum momentum on yet another day without any notable news or data, because stocks, after an early dive into the red, continued an inexorable advance throughout the session, pushing all major indices to positive or flat closes.

Despite Alcoa (AA) announcing in-line earnings on Monday, there haven't been any companies of import releasing full year and 4th quarter results this week. That should all change next week when the market will be inundated with quarterly and year-end reports from a plethora of firms, but so far this week, the markets have had little to move on in either direction.

Instead of pouring into or out of positions, as is often the case in the first few weeks of a new year, traders have been stuck in neutral the past five sessions, and the rest of the week doesn't offer much in the way of market-moving events or news.

The fed released its beige book, detailing what everybody already knows: that the US economy is limping along, unemployment remains a stubborn problem, housing is still weak and December retail was something of a non-event. Even word from the almighty Federal Reserve did nothing to move stocks.

Down 63 points shortly after 10:00 am ET, the Dow finally pushed into positive territory in the final 20 minutes of trading before falling back to red at the close. Leading the slow surge, the NASDAQ had been positive most of the session, with the S&P following the Dow's path, finally finishing with a fractional gain.

One notable item not mentioned around the trading posts was the upcoming debacle of another debt ceiling increase, just five months after the congress and president Obama wrangled over raising the ceiling last August. Our brilliant leaders have managed to blow through some $900 billion in fresh debt since then and will need another rise, which was negotiated in the initial bill.

President Obama is set to ask congress for another $1.2 to $1.5 trillion in a matter of days. The congress will have 15 days to decide whether to grant Mr. Obama his wish. Meanwhile, the debt ceiling will be once again breached, and, after appropriate dummy theater, the congress will oblige. The rhetoric should be especially thick this time around, especially with debate on whether to keep the inappropriately-named payroll tax decrease for the remainder of the year. That deal runs out at the end of February.

Political junkies will enjoy the show; the rest of us will entertain emotions from boredom to disgust. Thank God for the NFL playoffs.

Dow 12,449.45, -13.02 (0.10%)
NASDAQ 2,710.76, +8.26 (0.31%)
S&P 500 1,292.48, +0.40 (0.03%)
NYSE Composite 7,662.17, -6.73 (0.09%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,712,712,875
NYSE Volume 3,965,303,250
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 3208-2391
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 112-36
WTI crude oil: 101.73, -0.51
Gold: 1,639.60, +8.10
Silver: 29.89, +0.08

Friday, November 18, 2011

Rough Week for Stocks Ends Mixed; Markets Gripped by fear and Uncertainty

Despite some favorable economic news during the course of the week, market participants mostly shunned equities as Europe's ongoing crisis and the lack of a deal by the congressional super-committee kept money mostly on the sidelines or taking profits (and losses).

Since the US stock market has become more akin to a day-trading casino than an investment culture, traders now routinely react swiftly to breaking news and events, preferring to stay out of the way or grab quick profits as the tableau of international economic falderal unfolds. The week was marked by more speculation than actual news, as Italian and Spanish 10-year notes criss-crossed the 7% yield threshold and Germany continues to balk at being the savior of the Southern nations, even as Chancellor Angela Merkel admitted that her country was ready to cede some degree of sovereignty in order to salvage what's left of the European monetary union.

Germany holds the key to whether the decade-old European Union will survive, being the largest and strongest economy in the region. While Merkel has made pronouncements pleasing to her neighbors to the West and South, she is losing a degree of favor at home, as many Germans don't exactly share her views and dislike the role of Germany as the bailout nation for weaker economies.

Funding for Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain has become an issue so delicate and abstract that one solution offered was for the ECB to loan money to the IMF, which would then fund the ailing nations, though that kind of Ponzi scheme would only work to relieve the ECB of their presumptive role of being the "lender of last resort" such as the US Federal Reserve was during the 2008 crisis.

It's a touchy situation in Europe, with new governments in Italy and Greece, both tottering on the brink of default, though Greece's predicament - with no new funding coming soon - is degrees more perilous.

Here in the USA, congressional members have not exactly been forthright in their effort to reach a compromise on the roughly $1.2 trillion in budget cuts which was the mandated approach after the August debt ceiling debacle.

With the US public debt officially exceeding $15 trillion on Thursday and the prospects for another $1 trillion-plus deficit in the coming fiscal year, one would think that congress and their "super-committee" would have found some resolution before their November 23rd deadline, but, as usual, congressional members are deadlocked, mostly along party lines, with Republicans steadfastly refusing to approve anything which even smells like a tax hike and Democrats seemingly all too happy to allow the blame to accrue to their across-the-aisle counterparts.

With the deadline looming just five days ahead, members of the committee are pondering letting the deadline pass, which would trigger automatic spending-cuts, otherwise known as sequestration, though that approach is also riddled with question marks as some members have openly suggested that even those automatic cuts could be ripped asunder, primarily because of opposition to cuts to the Department of Defense.

The comedy of errors which began last Spring with the threatened shutdown of the federal government over budget issues threatens the US credit rating, already taken down a notch in August by Standard and Poor's. Failure to reach agreement might not engender another rating cut, though scuttling the previously agreed-to automatic cuts just might cause S&P to downgrade the US again.

Against this backdrop of a do-nothing congress without political will or wherewithal, and a fractured Europe an landscape, one can hardly blame traders for seeking the safety of cash or Treasuries. Volume on the stock exchanges this week has been dismal, exacerbated by a missing $600 million in investor funds courtesy of the recently-bankrupt MF Global. The fund, run by former Goldman Sachs CEO and New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine, made heavy bets on European debt and found themselves in too deep. The current thinking is that MF Global used client funds to shore up losing positions before going belly-up, a practice that is wholly criminal.

However, since nobody ever goes to trial or jail for financial follies in the US, regulators are being very tight-lipped about the matter, even though reputations have already been badly tarnished and over half a billion dollars is either unavailable or lost.

For the week, the Dow Jones Industrials took it on the chin to the tune of a 357-point decline. The S&P 500 fell 50 points during the week, the NASDAQ down 106 points and the NYSE Composite off by 294 points, hardly a ringing endorsement during a week that ended with options expiration, normally the forebear of a rally.

Maybe, with all the hurt, pain, fear and uncertainty, the big money went short.

Dow 11,796.16, +25.43 (0.22%)
NASDAQ 2,572.50, -15.49 (0.60%)
S&P 500 1,215.65, -0.48 (0.04%)
NYSE Composite 7,282.47, +8.32 (0.11%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,754,685,000
NYSE Volume 3,679,453,750
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 3011-2563
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 40-128
WTI crude oil: 97.41, -1.41
Gold: 1,725.10, +4.90
Silver: 32.42, +0.92

Monday, August 1, 2011

Down to the Wire on Debt Ceiling Compromise

Over the weekend, House majority leader John Boehner genuflected to the Tea Party coalition of Republicans, put forth a bill that was sure to pass the House and die and the Senate, and that's exactly what happened.

By Monday morning, however, Senate majority leader Harry Reid had put together a compromise plan that has more chance of passing both bodies before the clock strikes midnight on the debt ceiling issue. Reid's plan calls for an initial $1 trillion in deficit reductions, all in the form of spending cuts, has a trigger for more cuts by Thanksgiving and puts the onus of delivering on mandatory cuts - should debate in congress not find suitable agreement - on a welve-member committee made up of six Republicans and six Democrats which would then make mandatory cuts to both Medicare and Defense spending among other programs.

While all this wrangling was going on the markets were closed over the weekend, but opened Monday morning in a very positive mood, with all major indices hitting their highs of the day within minutes after the opening bell.

The euphoric spirit was short-lived. At 10:00 am EDT, the ISM Index for July came in at 50.9, on expectations of a reading of 54.0. The sharp contraction - from 55.3 in June, reminded traders that whether or not the debt ceiling is raised, the US economy continues to stall out, sending all of the indices into free-fall. The Dow, which was up 139 points at the open, was lower by 100 points just 35 minutes later. Stocks continued to slide until the noon hour, bouncing off the bottom and finally rallying into the close, though all finished in negative territory.

For the Dow Jones Industrials, it was the seventh consecutive losing session, an event which has not occurred since 2002. And, as the market players took off their trading aprons and headed home, there still was no vote on the Reid plan, though indications were that both houses of congress would approve the measure and the president would sign it into law.

The debt ceiling, if the bill passes, will be raised to over $16.4 trillion, which should be enough to keep the Washington spendthrifts happy until after the 2012 elections. A vote is supposed to happen this afternoon or tonight, though no timetable has been announced.

What is annoying, or amusing, depending on your state of mind, is how the congress can waste so much time arguing, to only come up with a bill that satisfies nobody. The Tea Party faction held the public debt hostage, and likely will come out looking like winners in the end, though, typical of Washington, all will claim victory when actually nobody won a thing.

Meanwhile, we still await the vote, which is still somewhat in doubt.

Dow 12,132.49, -10.75 (0.09%)
NASDAQ 2,744.61, -11.77 (0.43%)
S&P 500 1,286.94, -5.34 (0.41%)
NYSE Composite 8,040.94, -38.50 (0.48%)

On the day, decliners beat advancers, 3416-3189. On the NASDAQ, 36 new highs were overshadowed by 99 new lows, while the NYSE registered 35 new highs and 93 new lows, making the combined total in favor of new lows, 192-71, continuing the sell signal. Volume was somewhat robust, as the kleptomaniacs behind the HFT (high frequency trading) computers shaved fractions from everyone on the way up, down and back up again.

NASDAQ Volume 2,176,811,750
NYSE Volume 4,948,650,500

Fortunately, crude oil, which was up sharply in the opening minutes of live trading, also reversed course and ended lower by 81 cents, at $94.89. Gold was also whipsawed, but ended down $9.50, at $1,621.70. Silver met a similar fate, losing 59 cents, to $39.31.

Whether or not the debt ceiling increase and debt reduction bill becomes law before the markets open tomorrow is in the hands of congress and president Obama, but the real test for markets will come later in the week, on Friday, when July non-farm payroll data is released. The market is expecting an increase of only 84,000 jobs, which would be bad enough to send stocks tumbling again. Many believe that number will not be met or even come close to, and that it's entirely possible that a number in the 20-30,000 range may be in store.

We'll get a preview on Wednesday, when ADP releases its private payroll report for the same period.

Money Daily will publish a special post, with more details, if and when the House and Senate approve the proposed legislation.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Traders Still Positive on Debt Limit Deal; Markets Spooked

It could have been so much worse.

US stocks took another tumble Friday, on revisions to 1st and 2nd quarter GDP and fears that the debt ceiling debate in Washington was running out of time.

An hour prior to the opening bell, the government reported its second revision to second quarter GDP, which came in at a measly 1.3%, but the greater shock was the revision to first quarter GDP, which was revised lower, from 1.9% growth to a frighteningly-low 0.4%. That sent shock waves through the futures market and US indices fell sharply at the open, hitting the lows of the day within the first 15 minutes of trading.

Just before 10:00 am EDT, Chicago PMI was reported to have fallen to 58.8 in July, lower than forecast, from 61.1 the prior month. That wasn't bad enough news, however, to shake off the nascent rally on rumors and hope that congress would decide on a debt ceiling increase by the end of the day or over the weekend.

As the session wore on, stocks moved sharply on any unfounded rumors, but eventually gave way late in the day, as lawmakers in the House of Representatives agreed, 236-186, to begin debate on House majority leader John Boehner's debt ceiling proposal, which had been in limbo since Tuesday because the measure did not have the backing of the Tea Party wing of the Republican party and - even if it did pass the House - was seen as almost certain to fail in the Senate. An actual vote on the measure is expected to come around 6:00 pm EDT Friday.

At the end of the day and end of the week, with no resolution on the debt issue and economic data overshadowing even the best corporate second quarter reports, the Dow finished lower for the sixth straight day, the S&P down for the last five, and the NASDAQ in negative territory for the fourth day out of the last five. On Thursday, the NASDAQ registered a gain of just over one-and-a-half points.

For the week, the Dow lost 538 points, a 4% decline. The S&P slipped 53 points, the NASDAQ shed 102 points and the NYSE composite fell by 328 points.

As bad as it was, stocks actually recovered half of their earlier losses on Friday. Still, it was the worst weekly performance for US indices in a year.

Dow 12,143.24, -96.87 (0.79%)
NASDAQ 2,756.38, -9.87 (0.36%)
S&P 500 1,292.28, -8.39 (0.65%)
NYSE Composite 8,079.44, -44.59 (0.55%)

Declining issues again dominated advancers, 4113-2476, and the gap between the expanding number of new lows and shrinking new highs worsened. On the NASDAQ, there were just 26 new highs, as compared to 114 new lows. The NYSE showed even worse, with just 16 new highs and 177 new lows. The combined totals of 42 new highs against 291 new lows is sending the strongest sell signal imaginable. Even if the congress does find a way to pass a debt ceiling increase by Tuesday, August 2, the damage for wasting time has been done the Moody's and S&P will likely downgrade US debt in short order, as they both have warned would occur if serious measures were not taken at this impasse.

Add to that the non-recovery "recovery" which has been represented by high unemployment and falling home prices and the recipe for further declines in equities is writ large.

Volume on the day was strong, another sign of a weakening stock market poised on the brink of turning losses into a major correction and a resumption of the bear market.

NASDAQ Volume 2,274,169,000
NYSE Volume 5,045,403,000

Among other interesting notes were the 10-year, which rose in price, but slumped in yield, down to 2.80%. The 30-year bond also hit a fresh low yield of 4.13%.

Oil took some losses, down $1.74, to $95.70. Gold made another intra-day high of $1637.50, before settling back to close at $1,628.30, up $14.90 for the day. Silver was up 31 cents, to $40.11 per ounce.

With the markets suffering their worst weekly losses in a year - coincidentally at the same time top economists are partying at their annual convention in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, the same place that Fed Chairman announced the launch of QE2 last summer - the onus is on the congress to come with a plan that appeases not only both parties but the ratings agencies as well.

While it is doubtful they would let the August 2 date pass without a debt ceiling increase, the chances of them passing a bill before then that actually cuts spending appropriately are still quite long.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Hope Fades in Late-Day Selling

There really was no good reason for stocks to start the day higher, but they did, probably in response to initial unemployment claims falling below 400,000 for the first time in three months.

The actual figure was 398,000, and was probably significantly fudged and will almost certainly be revised higher next week, but in a market this tense, anything that even hints of being good news is taken and such, so off went the speculators and day-traders, looking for quick, easy, short-term profits.

Some were undeniably successful, as a good number of stocks made significant gains and the NASDAQ rebounded nicely, up more than 30 points, after Wednesday's debacle.

Highs of the day were right around noon, and form there it was all downhill, with an especially sharp decline at the 2:00 hour. With the exception of the NASDAQ, which finished with a gain of just over one point, all of the major indices finished in the red for the fourth straight session.

Dow 12,240.11, -62.44 (0.51%)
NASDAQ 2,766.25, +1.46 (0.05%)
S&P 500 1,300.67, -4.22 (0.32%)
NYSE Composite 8,124.03, -29.18 (0.36%)

Once again, declining issues led advancers, 3744-2735. NASDAQ new highs numbered a mere 18, with 83 new lows. On the NYSE, new highs were outnumbered by new lows, 25-107. This puts the combined total at 43 new highs and 190 new lows, screaming for continued selling. Volume was healthy for a change, though most of it was on the downside.

NASDAQ Volume 2,105,143,250
NYSE Volume 4,957,269,500

Commodities hugged the flat line for the most part. Crude oil was up just 4 cents, to $97.44. Gold slipped $1.70, to $1,613.40. Silver still is being suppressed by the likes of JP Morgan and HSBC, falling another 77 cents, to $39.79.

Kitco's Live 24-hour spot silver chart clearly shows that once silver is traded in the Hong Kong market, prices are relatively stable, but wild swings - mostly to the negative - occur with regularity during the NY GLOBEX and NYMEX daily sessions. The big banks have their shorts in place and have been waging a losing battle for the past three years. Despite their mendacious efforts at keeping the price of silver down, they have already failed miserably and it is only a matter of time before the entire global silver market comes unglued and price soars past $50, $60, even $70 per ounce.

Silver has been a top performer the past five years or so, and should continue to do well as the fiat currency regime comes crashing down. Price is quite high at the present, but eventually, holders will be rewarded.

It appears that there will be no debt ceiling solution before the weekend, leaving the fools in Washington with nothing else to do but pass a stand-alone debt ceiling raise, which is what should have been happening all along. The Republicans in the House have perverted and conjoined the debt ceiling with the budget and long-term finances, and they will look like the fools of the foolish when all is said and done come Tuesday.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

D-Day Minus Six: Beware Falling Stocks; Dow, NASDAQ in Second-Worst Decline of 2011

It is now just six days from August 2nd, the day the government of the United States of America either passes a bill increasing the debt ceiling or begins defaulting on said debt, which is fast approaching $15 trillion.

Through accounting gimmicks and "borrowing" from the pension funds of federal employees, the government has thus far avoiding making either the commitment to borrow more or claim deadbeat status and suffer a beating at the hands of the ratings agencies in the form of credit downgrades and subsequent higher interest payments.

Make no bones about it, it is time for the American people to come to grips with the reality that the officials in Washington are not doing the jobs they are paid to do, nor have they represented the best interests of the American people for quite a long time (at least the past 11 years).

If the debt ceiling is not raised, calamity will surely ensue, which is why both sides - Republicans and Democrats, except for a few ardent Tea Partiers - have repeatedly expressed sentiment that the debt ceiling must be raised by August 2nd, no matter the outcome of budget negotiations. In truth, both sides are coming to the realization that their parties are far apart and that no budget issues or long-term spending should have become tied to the debt ceiling issue. They are separate matters which should be dealt with separately.

Nonetheless, the politicians continue their annoying Kabuki theatre while the American public seethes over their inability to compromise, act like reasonable adults and do what they were elected to do.

Wall Street has taken notice as well, logging losses in each of the first three days of this week, with no end to the selling yet in sight. To say that our "leaders" have taken a walk to the end of the plank would be putting it mildly. This issue should never have gotten to this point and those wishing to play fast and loose with the US economy should be given a hearly heave-ho and be dutifully shoved off the plank and into the drink.

What both parties have done - though especially the Republicans, who picked this fight - is shrink from their responsibilities, putting politics ahead of their oaths. It is a shameful chapter in American governance which should never be allowed to be repeated, though the general consensus is that more of the same will be forthcoming as the 2012 election season heats up.

The leaders of both parties should be henceforth removed from office for putting the stability and good faith and credit of America at extreme risk. After that, the herd of politicians being led by money from various lobbyists should be summarily removed from office. The entire congress could run better with many fewer members, preferably none of those presently constituting that formerly-august body.

The American public want change, need change and have been promised change, but all it has gotten is a sordid soap opera of bad politics and even worse outcomes. We have reached the brink and it is very nearly time to throw off the yoke of oppression by the governors and take matters in hand in a more efficient and direct manner. Nothing gets done in Washington any more; maybe it's time to shut it down.

The wealthy barons of Wall Street, those who funded the campaigns and lined the pockets of these moronic, imbecilic politicians, should also be brought to task, something Attorney General Eric Holder seems reluctant to pursue. After all, Wall Street keeps him in nice suits and fancy offices. He should be impeached.

Today's losses on the major indices were the second-largest of 2011 (except for the S&P, for which it was the third-largest), surpassing the 68 points the NASDAQ lost on January 28, but less than the 77 point decline on February 22, though more than the 66 point loss on June 1.

The Dow dropped 166, 179 and 279 points, and the S&P fell 23, 28 and 30 points on the same dates, respectively.

Dow 12,302.55, -198.75 (1.59%)
NASDAQ 2,764.79, -75.17 (2.65%)
S&P 500 1,304.89, -27.05 (2.03%)
NYSE Composite 8,153.21, -178.46 (2.14%)

Declining issues slaughtered advancers, 5875-804. New highs on the NASDAQ numbered only 15, while new lows expanded to 89. On the NYSE, there were 28 new highs and 105 new lows. The combined totals of 43 new highs and 194 new lows puts this indicator clearly in the "sell signal" category. Volume was dynamic and huge. Make no doubt about it: this was a rout.

NASDAQ Volume 2,310,879,750
NYSE Volume 5,074,647,000

Commodities were rather tame throughout the equity carnage. WTI oil fell $2.19, to $97.40, from an artificial and fully inflated high point. Gold dipped $1.70, to $1,615.10, while silver fell a modest 13 cents, to $40.57. The losses in the precious metals are temporary, likely the result of margin calls. Eventually, if stocks continue to take on water, money will gush into gold and silver.

The delay in raising the debt ceiling was not the only issue making for a horrible day on Wall Street. Durable goods orders fell 2.1% in June, further evidence that the economy is slowing.

Tomorrow's initial unemployment claims reading from the BLS could be the proverbial straw that breaks this market's back. Should the number come in above 420,000, stocks could pick right up where they left off today, severely to the downside.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

No Debt Ceiling Deal Sends Stocks Lower Again

While the plutocrats in Washington dither away valuable time trying to figure out the most politically-expedient way out of their self-imposed debt ceiling crisis, the rest of the world goes on, mostly oblivious to the debacle in the capitol.

Stocks, however, as money substitutes, aren't taking the "no news" as good news. In fact, markets are absolutely terrified, not that the current congress and president will find a solution by the artificial August 2 deadline, but that their efforts will be so futile and pointless that the ratings agencies will lower the US debt/credit rating from its now pristine AAA sovereign status.

While the majority of people neither understand nor care about this delicious little surprise coming down the road like a 60-ton freighter, Wall Street and other governments are frightened out of their boots because a drop in the US rating would add something like $100 billion of cost - in interest - to the annual federal budget, which is already way out of whack.

Whether it be Obama's refusal to put a concise deal on the table, or the Tea Party wing of the Republican party insistence that there be no revenue enhancements in any kind of deal, the result will be the same as it has been for the past 12 years for congress and the presidency: abject failure, and a hike in interest rates.

Without poring over details of how the past three years have played out, we are approaching a seminal moment in the history of the United States of America and in the financial policies post-Bretton Woods. Nixon's closure of the gold window was the first inflection point, at which currencies were no longer backed by gold. The accumulation of nearly $15 trillion in debt and the failure of government to not only foresee the problem, but then to not be able to deal with it, is the second great event.

With just seven days until the government begins defaulting on some debt, markets are skittering about like schoolchildren at recess and there's nobody in his or her right mind who wishes to be exposed to inordinate risk at this point. With each passing day that there is not a deal and signed legislation increasing the debt ceiling, expect markets to recoil in terror. By Friday, we could be witnessing an all-out crash as many participants choose to sit on the side rather than engage in the dizzying dance of death.

The outflows from stocks were seen mostly at the end of the day, when the major indices peaked just after 2:00 pm EDT. From there until the close it was nearly free-fall, with all of the day's tiny gains wiped out in a flurry of near-panic selling.

One hates to beat a dead horse, but this debt ceiling debate is still alive and kicking, barely, and it will dominate financial news until something - anything - is done to rectify the situation. Absolutely nobody is holding their breath waiting for that, however.

Naturally, there were swing trades and day trades made during the session, but nobody is staking out new positions in the most uncertain market of the past two-and-a-half years.

Dow 12,501.30, -91.50 (0.73%)
NASDAQ 2,839.96, -2.84 (0.10%)
S&P 500 1,331.94, -5.49 (0.41%)
NYSE Composite 8,331.67, -25.90 (0.31%)

Declining issues overwhelmed advancers for the second straight day this week, 4096-2434. NASDAQ new highs 29; new lows: 36. NYSE new highs: 44; new lows: 46. Combined totals: 73 new highs, 82 new lows, a slight shift to the negative for that particular indicator. Volume was reliatively light, as expected.

NASDAQ Volume 1,716,556,125
NYSE Volume 3,988,655,750

Crude oil advanced modestly, up 39 cents, to $99.59. Gold racked up another record high, gaining $4.60, to $1,616.80. Silver notched a 38 cent increase, to $40.70.

The S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price index showed marginal gains of one per cent in the month-to-month numbers, but most of the 20 cites surveyed showed declines on a year-over-year basis.

New home sales sunk to 312,000 on an annualized basis in June. Some analysts were calling the number "unexpected," while the home construction industry has been in outright depression for more than three years.

Any further declines will be "expected" and those acting surprised will be executed by a firing squad of Mexican construction workers, as soon as they can be rounded up from immigration detention centers. (That's a joke, folks.)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Correlation Trade, Weak Dollar, Hot Air Boost Stocks

About the only thing hotter than stocks on this 21st of July, 2011, was the weather, with temperatures hovering around the 100-degree mark in much of the nation, but especially in the Midwest, Mid-Atlantic and East coast. But the correlation trade - short dollars, long stocks - was in effect throughout the session, which meant that stocks had to soar... and they did, closing in on the nearly three-year highs set back in late April.

Coming off a string of recent earnings report beats by the likes of Google (GOOG), Apple (AAPL) and IBM, one would have expected the NASDAQ to lead the way, but it was the S&P and Dow Industrials which showed the greatest percentage gains of the day.

It's obvious to anyone with more than a passing interest that the banks have been at their manipulative best of late as financial stocks have led the way each of the past two sessions, even as these very banks put in quarterly earnings showing losses, pay no dividends, are largely insolvent and the nation lurches ever closer to a debt default and ratings downgrade, the latter being all but inevitable after the well-rehearsed clown show in Washington, DC.

One can hardly blame the elitist banking class for boosting their own portfolios at this juncture. After all, its been proven that whatever risks they take will be guaranteed to win, since the US government is back-stopping the whole TBTF crowd. They might as well take while the taking is good. It may not be the same in a fortnight or so.

For the rest of us, the alternative for the day was to find air-conditioning, drink plenty of fluids and watch the circus from afar. The risks of trading in stocks is far too high for the average plebeian. And so it goes, that the rich get richer. The poor, and, especially those stuck in the middle, may get the ultimate revenge as more and more people turn their backs on the world's most corrupt system of governance and finance and default in record numbers on school loans, car loans, mortgages, credit cards and all manner of financial obligations.

The end to this grand farce of fiat money is coming, regardless of the degree of normalcy bias built into us all from TV and the media. The waiting, admittedly, is a royal pain. Either way, it's death by deflation or inflation (which seems to be winning lately), or both.

Dow 12,724.41, +152.50 (1.21%)
NASDAQ 2,834.43, +20.20 (0.72%)
S&P 500 1,343.80, +17.96 (1.35%)
NYSE Composite 8,411.45, +129.62 (1.57%)

As one would expect, advancing stocks beat back decliners in a big way, 4901-1692. On the NASDAQ new highs reached 88, while new lows came in at 25. The NYSE had even more of a pronounced bias, with 154 new highs and 20 new lows. The combined total of 242 new highs and 45 new lows would seem to suggest that the rally has legs, though one never knows when or if Europe will fall completely apart at the seams, sending the Euro lower, the dollar higher and stocks down. Volume was actually quite fantastic. Perhaps some new suckers (investors) were brought into the foray.

NASDAQ Volume 2,253,718,500
NYSE Volume 4,812,432,500

As goes the dollar, so - in the opposite direction - goes oil, and with the dollar down, WTI crude leapt back over the $100/barrel mark in the early part of the session, but backed off to close up only 73 cents, at $99.13.

Naturally, gold and silver were hammered to death, with gold losing $9.90, to $1,587.00, and silver falling 61 cents, to $38.95 per ounce.

The conditions are about to change - for silver, at least - as the Hong Kong Exchange will introduce a silver futures trading mechanism at the open of business on Friday, which will be shortly after 8:00 pm EDT. By this time tomorrow, the price in Hong Kong may be $44 per ounce and quite a bit lower here in the states.

We shall see soon enough.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

No Follow-Through Off Tuesday Smash-Up; Hong Kong to Trade Silver Futures

Stocks lingered near the flat line for nearly the entire session, eventually succumbing to selling pressure late in the day, making Tuesday's low-volume rally appear more spin than substance. As usual, in a stunning reversal of fortune, financial stocks were the top-performing sector, up 1.02%, while six of the twelve sectors showed losses and the highest percentage gainer among the six winners - outside of financials - was basic materials, up 0.45%.

The big beat by the banking sector was highly attributable to the fact that the majority of trading on Wall Street is handled by these very firms, proving once more that the too-big-to-fail banks operate without scrutiny from the SEC or any other regulatory body, as self-dealing and insider trading runs rampant.

Sizing up the market as a whole, one could surmise that it is in desperate straits, stuck above the 200 and 50-day moving averages and just below the nominal highs of late April. A steady diet of sideways trading should be of benefit to the high frequency and momentum hedge funds and day-traders, but it's a difficult balance to maintain, especially when one is highly leveraged, as most of the larger firms are.

Having reached the midpoint of earnings season, it is notable that the major indices are less than one per cent higher than when second quarter earnings began in earnest on July 11 and lower than where they were just prior to the onslaught of corporate reporting. It's an amusing scenario, even as most companies have met or exceeded expectations, albeit, for many firms, lowered ones.

With the debt ceiling debate in Washington nearing end-game, stocks seem to be running in place, pacing off the worry of just what kind of stunt the clowns in congress will pull off next, the latest rumor calling for a short term interim raising of the debt ceiling, or having President Obama employ his powers under the 14th amendment, which, according to Bill Clinton, gives the president authority to raise the debt limit without requiring congressional approval.

The key take-away is 10 words from section 4 of the amendment, which says, “The validity of the public debt shall not be questioned."

In typical obstructionist fashion members of the Republican party have already begun questioning the assumption that the president could go solo on a debt ceiling raise, with some members mentioning impeachment and lawsuits.

If nothing else, invoking the constitution on shaky legal grounds would no doubt wind up under the purview of the Supreme Court, take months to wrangle over and eventually end up with a nice downgrade in the US credit rating and higher interest rates for all. That would effectively defeat the whole intent of the Republican and Tea parties for starting this fight, as losses to the Treasury in terms of increased spending to cover higher interest on borrowings would cause even deeper deficits in years to come.

As it is, Moody's and S&P have already raised eyebrows and issued warnings about taking the debt ceiling issue too far afield, and there's a chance that even if an agreement is cobbled together, a rating downgrade could already be in the cards.

After a while, this entire escapade of Washington Gone Wild becomes a futile, badly-managed fiasco. The debt ceiling should never have been tied to budget considerations in the first place. In the end, the Tea Party wing of the Republican party has to be seen as the unwise villain in this sordid, sick affair.

Dow 12,571.91, -15.51 (0.12%)
NASDAQ 2,814.23, -12.29 (0.43%)
S&P 500 1,325.84, -0.89 (0.07%)
NYSE Composite 8,281.83, +27.45 (0.33%)

On the day, winners and losers were nearly split evenly, with 3289 advancing and 3241 declining. On the NASDAQ, there were 71 new highs and 34 new lows. New highs led new lows, 95-19 on the NYSE. The combined total of 166 new highs and 53 new lows is a positive sign for marketeers, though comparisons will be harder to beat come September, October and November, as stocks scored heavy gains in those months last year. Volume was the same as every other day this year: sluggish.

NASDAQ Volume 1,874,350,375
NYSE Volume 3,767,229,500

WTI crude oil was down for much of the session, but finished 64 cents higher, at $98.14. Gold was off $4.20, to $1,596.90, and silver dropped 66 cents, at $39.56, though it traded below $38.50 earlier in the day.

Tomorrow will mark the final day of singularity for the COMEX silver market as Hong Kong will begin trading a dollar-denominated silver futures contract on July 22, tapping into rising demand for all metals coming from China. This could potentially create an enormous run-up in the price of silver, as the Hong Kong exchange will be seen as an offset to COMEX (and Anglo-American) hegemony.

It will be interesting to watch the vicious price swings once the exchange gets its feet wet and orders begin flowing from not only China, but India and other Pac-Rim nations as well. Many are hoping that the Hong Kong exchange will operate in an honest fashion, exposing the manipulative ways of the COMEX and the shorting strategies of JP Morgan Chase and HSBC.

A new player in the global silver trade might be just what the doctor ordered for holders and hoarders of silver.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Italy Settles Down, But Stocks Slide Again; Google Amazes

With the continuing debt crisis in Europe taking an unusual day of rest, US stocks opened on the upside but could not maintain momentum as stalled talks over the US debt ceiling weighed heavily.

It's almost a certainty that the government clowns in Washington will come to a compromise solution similar to the budget deal in May - too little, almost too late, and sure to not address the most pressing US issues, those being housing, jobs and our very own burgeoning debt crisis.

With both sides still at odds over the scope and details, the nation is paralyzed by indecision, regulations and a tax policy that has - like the rest of the federal government - gone off the rails.

In Italy, austerity measures were passed, allowing the Italian government to issue much-needed 5-and-15-year bonds to finance continuing operations. The plan has many facets, and should (though it won't) serve as a blueprint for US measures.

That did not, however, help traders in US equities, which has this week given back much of the gains made over last week's spectacular five-day rally. Markets hate uncertainty, and even in the midst of earnings season, US stocks are very much a mixed bag of tricks, teetering on the brink of collapse.

It was a fine day for Google (GOOG), though, as the giant internet search and service company boasted profits well above Street estimates. Reporting after the closing bell, the company reported $6.92 billion in net revenue in the second quarter of 2011 and non-GAAP earnings per share of $8.74 on expectations of $6.54 billion in revenue and earnings per share of $7.87. The stock was trading up 12% in after-hours, up more than 63 points.

Dow 12,437.12, -54.49 (0.44%)
NASDAQ 2,762.67, -34.25 (1.22%)
S&P 500 1,308.87, -8.85 (0.67%)
NYSE Composite 8,191.13, -55.67 (0.68%)

Declining issues beat back advancers, 5019-1495. Though the headline numbers were hardly spectacular, except for the NASDAQ, which lost 1.22% on the day, selling was broad-based. NASDAQ stocks showed 56 new highs and 35 new lows, while the NYSE posted 46 new highs and 45 new lows. The combined total spread of 102 new highs and 80 new lows continues to deteriorate. Volume on the day was relatively solid, though that should be bearish for investors.

NASDAQ Volume 1,923,346,875
NYSE Volume 4,298,657,500

Economic data was mixed and uninspiring. Initial unemployment claims dropped to 405,000, though it was the 16th consecutive week above 400,000, another non-encouraging sign. Retail sales for June came in at plus 0.1%, and the PPI actually fell 0.4%, though the core number, which excludes food and energy, rose 0.3%. Business inventories were up 1.0% in May, as companies cited slack demand.

Commodities were also mixed. WTI crude oil fell sharply, down $2.36, to $95.69. Gold, though, set another new record high, gaining $3.40, to $1,589.30. Silver added 54 cents, gaining to $38.69 per ounce.

With the week drawing to a quick conclusion, Friday's data features the June CPI reading, the Michigan survey of consumer confidence and earnings from Citigroup (C).