Showing posts with label recession. Show all posts
Showing posts with label recession. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Recession Arrives as First Quarter GDP Contracts By 4.8%; Companies Cutting Dividends at Record Pace

Dispensing with the usual diatribe over coronavirus and the botched government response, today's edition of Money Daily will focus on stocks that pay out quarterly dividends, the mother's milk of investing, as Larry Kudlow might phrase it.

But first, US first quarter 2020 GDP was just announced at 8:30 am ET, and the result was as Money Daily predicted, a decline of 4.8%. A few weeks back, various analysts from the likes of Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Goldman Sachs were making projections for second quarter GDP losses, somewhat overlooking what we considered obvious: a negative number for 1Q GDP. While the corporate analysts were busy downplaying the effect of a nationwide lockdown on business activity, they were missing an existential point.

Assuming that the second quarter was going to be in the red, a decline in first quarter GDP would satisfy the textbook requirement for a recession, which is two consecutive quarters of declining GDP growth. The definition is something of a non sequiter because nothing in nature actually grows at a negative rate. A truer definition might be worded as "two consecutive quarters of contraction," and that's now in play meaning one might as well assume that there's already a recession, and it started roughly the second week of February, when the world started to become focused on coronavirus and how to halt its spread.

Thus, we have the first quarter contraction of 4.8%, which will be revised twice, in late May and again in late June, though the number is so far into the red that there's no practical probability of it being revised into the positive. Second quarter GDP will be an outright train wreck. Figure on something on the order of -40% just for openers. That kind of number will have even the most ardent equity investor seeking safe harbor and scurrying away from stocks. Even today's figure should give everyone pause, and, in normal times, stocks would be falling into the ocean, but, thanks to the generosity of the Federal Reserve, the major indices will likely post more gains.

Underscoring the absurdity of the Fed's fool's errand - one in which they will bankrupt themselves - stock futures all soared higher on this morning's GDP announcement. How's that for in-your-face obstinance and stupidity?

Along with higher stock prices (unbelievable), the political ramifications are stupendous. This places the economy and a recession as front-and-center issues for the election season. Second quarter results will be in place come late July, and they will be undeniably ugly, since April was a complete washout and May isn't going to look much better. There are still vast swaths of the economy that are not operating at even 50% of optimal productivity and others that are not operating at all. Small businesses were shut down across the country for roughly six weeks to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars in lost revenue and GDP, to say nothing of the lack of velocity in the economy. From late March through all of April and into May, velocity was basically stalled out.

What this means in terms of elections is the very real possibility of a President Biden and a takeover by the Democrats of the Senate, which would give the socialist movement firm footing in the three important branches of the federal government, the presidency, the House, and the Senate, which spells doomsday for America because socialist ideology will only exacerbate the already horrid condition of money-printing and profligate spending. It's doubtful that any of this has been factored into the Wall Street calculations. Current prices on the major indices and in "recovering" individual stocks reflect that, glowingly.

With the opening bell just minutes away, Money Daily will wrap here for Wednesday morning, cutting a little short the look at dividend stocks.

Wolf Richter of penned a noteworthy post on Tuesday, titled, Dividend Massacre in This Crisis is Already Breaking Records, But it Just Started, within which he details the number of companies which have already slashed or canceled their dividend payouts and how 2020 compares to other recent years in which dividends were targeted, 2001, 2008, and 2009.

What investors often lose sight of in times of financial turmoil is how mathematics deceives and often leads to false conclusions when considering buying a particular stock.

Picking up this theme on Thursday, along with the latest unemployment figures, the 30 stocks that comprise the Dow Jones Industrial Average - all of which pay dividends - will be examined, with considered opinion on whether or not these companies will maintain, increase, reduce or cancel their normal dividend payouts.

For today, the recession has arrived, though many in the know already think we're at the beginning of what is being hailed as "The Greater Depression."

At the Close, Tuesday, April 28, 2020:
Dow: 24,101.55, -32.23 (-0.13%)
NASDAQ: 8,607.73, -122.43 (-1.40%)
S&P 500: 2,863.39, -15.09 (-0.52%)
NYSE: 11,319.70, +54.86 (+0.49%)

Saturday, March 14, 2020

WEEKEND WRAP: Cancel Everything Else, But Stock and Bond Markets Will Remain Open

Despite Friday's massive rally, this past week was one of the worst on record for Wall Street, as the Dow lost another 10 percent and the NYSE Composite, the broadest measure of equities in the United States, dropped more than 12 percent, below levels last seen in late 2016.

With all the major indices ensconced in bear market territory (-20%), which the Dow entered on Wednesday afternoon, Friday's jaunt to the upside was more short-covering and a boatload of pent-up, falsely-placed optimism than anything positive, manifesting itself in the final 27 minutes of trading while President Trump was declaring a national emergency over the COVID-19 crisis, the outbreak declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) two days prior.

The week in financial markets was literally one for the record books, with record gains and losses recorded on all US indices, Friday's meteoric rise becoming the largest one-day gain on the Dow, NASDAQ, and S&P 500, just a day after the biggest point losses. Market volatility has been off the charts as well, as the VIX has remained at an inflated level over the past three weeks, rising as high as 77.54 on Friday before coming down through the week-ending rally.

Putting that into perspective, the VIX closed at 17.08 on February 21. On Thursday, March 12, it ended the session at 75.47, and Friday, 57.83. These are extraordinary numbers.

It wasn't just stocks that were battered and bruised during the week. Bonds took painful hits at the long end of the curve, the 10-year note yield rising from 0.54% on Monday to 0.94% on Friday. Yield on the 20-year was up 44 basis points, from 0.87 to 1.31%. The 30-year bond yield went from 0.99 to 1.56, an enormous, 57 basis point move in just four days.

Shorter duration offerings were bought, sending yields in the other direction, which helped steepen the curve and iron out most of the inversion. Top-to-bottom, the curve was at a mere 73 basis points on Monday, increasing to 128 by Friday.

The most perplexing trade had to be precious metals, which were whipsawed to unforeseen levels as the week wore on. Gold, which had rocketed to 1683.65 on March 6, plummeted to 1529.90 on Friday. Silver fell from a high of 18.78 on February 24 to a close Friday of 14.69. That puts the gold:silver ratio at a record, 104.15.

Closings and cancellations were all the rage late in the week. The NBA canceled their remaining regular season games, as did the NHL. The NCAA cancelled the annual Men's and Women's basketball tournaments and all the major conferences canceled the remainder of their championships. Major League Baseball suspended all Spring Training games and pushed back the opening of the regular season temporarily by two weeks, from March 26th to April 9, at the earliest.

Broadway shows were cancelled in New York, as were any gatherings of 500 or more, throughout the state. California banned gatherings of 250 or more. Disney closed all of its major resort properties, including Disney World in Florida, and halted production on a number of films in progress.

More than 46,000 schools had announced closures by week's end. In Europe, Italy closed its borders, followed by Spain on Saturday. Just about any kind of social activity involving an audience has been shut down indefinitely. DollyWorld in Tennessee closed its doors on Friday. Augusta National postponed the Masters golf tournament and did not specify a date for when it would be held.

For many people, the cancellation of sporting events, shows, and theme parks leaves them with little to do. All cruise lines are on hiatus and President Trump imposed a travel ban to and from Europe and included Great Britain and Ireland on Saturday.

Shopping for essentials seemed to be on the mind of quite a few. Stores like Costco, Wal-Mart and other large grocery chains (Kroger's, Wegman's) saw some shelves emptied quickly, especially the staples, bread, milk, and toilet paper, which was apparently the hottest commodity on the planet this past week. The Players Championship, which was halted on Thursday due to darkness, never got the second round started, cancelling the event and dividing half the prize money evenly among players.

What will continue is the pursuit of money and all its derivatives in equity, bond, and commodity markets, as of this writing. Markets should open Monday as scheduled, though floor traders at the NYSE will surely be screened upon entering the building. Most trading is done electronically, and many traders are working from home instead of offices on Wall Street, throughout Manhattan and in New Jersey and Connecticut.

The Fed has promised as much as $1.5 trillion in repo operations and probably more will be needed. Additionally, the FOMC meeting this Tuesday and Wednesday promises to be of paramount interest, with expectations of another 75 to 100 basis points cut to the federal funds rate, bringing it effectively to the zero bound. The Fed executed an emergency cut of 50 basis points on March 3rd, bringing the overnight lending rate to 1.00-1.25% The Bank of England cut its main bank rate to 0.25% with a 50 basis point slash on March 11.

As the economy weighs the impacts of COVID-19 on the business community and global economies, the threat of recession looms large in all developed nations. With markets turning decidedly bearish since the spread of the disease expanded out of mainland China, companies are looking at major disruptions to business and first quarter earnings. If the crisis is an extended one, second quarter results will also be impacted to a greater degree than they already are.

Estimates for US GDP in the first quarter were already low, teetering around 1.5 to 2.0 percent and that will certainly come in lower than expected, but economists believe the hit to the second quarter (April-June) will be even greater, with some calling for a GDP decline of three to four percent.

With all that's gone on over the course of the past three weeks, nothing is for certain as the market searches for a bottom. While it's nearly assured that Thursday's knee-shaking rout will not prove to be the ultimate drop point, it brings some interesting perspectives to light, particularly, what if the virus does actually peter out with the onset of warmer weather and all this emergency preparedness turns out to be major overkill in addition to being a major buzz kill?

If conditions begin to improve rapidly, the impact to the second quarter would be minimal and first quarter results might actually be skewed positively due to all the panic buying by the general public. That would certainly wrong-foot any number of investors, sending alternate shock waves back at the bears.

Opinion is still out on how long this state of emergency will exist and whether measures will become more severe in coming weeks remains to be seen. The outbreak in the United States has not been particularly alarming, with 2,569 cases and now, 51 deaths, though those numbers continue to accelerate and probably will exceed 8,000 and 200 over the coming week. Most cases are mild, but lack of testing due to fumbling incompetence at the CDC and being slow in preparing overall might cause the numbers to spike.

Whatever the case, the money people will carry on, Washington will bail out anybody and anything with freshly printed greenbacks and the deficit will soar even further into the stratosphere. The global economy has reached a point of no return and is rapidly applying the principles of Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) to a system that has basically be dysfunctional since October 2008.

At the Close, Friday, March 13, 2020:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 23,185.62, +1,985.00 (+9.36%)
NASDAQ: 7,874.88, +673.07 (+9.35%)
S&P 500: 2,711.02, +230.38 (+9.29%)
NYSE: 10,851.98, +791.21 (+7.86%)

For the Week:
Dow: -2679.16 (-10.36%)
NASDAQ: -700.74 (-8.17%)
S&P 500: -261.35 (-8.79%)
NYSE: -1500.06 (-12.14%)

Friday, February 21, 2020

JP Morgan Says No Recession This Year; Professional Handicappers Likely To Want Some of That Action

What catches the eye this morning is the headline on Yahoo! Finance, "Recession odds haven't been this low in 15 months."

That's remarkable for any number of reasons, chief among them the idea that somebody actually calculates odds on whether or not the US GDP is going to go negative for two consecutive quarters (the classic definition of a recession) and the idea that these odds are so low.

The article goes on to tell that it's JP Morgan making the odds, as their quantitative model of the US economy is in a very positive state. The firm makes odds at 3:1 that the US economy will enter a recession this year. So, anyone wishing to plunk down a shekel, drachma, euro, or yen on JP Morgan's table would get three back if the economy tanks. It would not be too much of an assumption to think that Morgan would hold the bet, put it in an interest-bearing account and make a few bucks in the interim as the earliest this could possibly pay out would be well after the end of the second quarter, like August, or, in the event that a recession occurred in the thrid and fourth quarter, the firm could be holding the dough until well into 2021.

Anyone of the belief that the US economy will not turn down, gets short-ended to the tune of 1:3, putting up three units to make one. Morgan would surely like that wager, being that they'd be holding - and investing - three times the amount of the potential payout. It's always good for the house that punters like favorites. It's also well known amongst the brotherhood of gamblers that favorites only pay out 1/3 of the time at race tracks and less than half the time on flat wagers on say, sporting events.

Unless one has a doom and gloom attitude toward investing, the favored play would be the short side, even though the payout will be minimal. According to the boys at Morgan, this is about as sure a thing as Muhammad Ali in a 15-rounder against a 120-pond nun.

We'll pass. Oddsmakers are notorious for being wrong. Just ask Joe Namath, quarterback of the 1969 Jets, who went into Super Bowl III as a 15-point underdog, guaranteed a victory and managed to beat the heavily favored Baltimore Colts, 16-7. It's almost a sure thing that the analysts at JP Morgan are equally clueless about putting up ridiculous numbers on the chance of recession when the real issue is how long the continued depression will carry forward.

According to James Rickards, famous gold investor, the US economy has been in a depression at least since 2008, when the entire global economic structure came within 23 trillion dollars of complete meltdown. Those 23 trill were supplied after the fact by our friends at the Federal Reserve and their friends at other central banks. Rickards' assertion is that the US economy suffered a near-death experience in 2008 and economic activity, though not negative for long, has been sub-par, which qualifies, in his mind, as a depression.

He's got plenty of evidence to back up his claim, notably the Great Depression of the 1930s, in which GDP mostly grew year-over-year, but at a snails pace, not keeping up with population growth or inflation. Today's situation is different, in that population growth in the US is pretty much stagnant, but GDP growth since then has been bolstered by changes in definition and plenty of funny money printed up by the Fed. The 2-2.5 percent growth that has been the hallmark of the past 12 years has not kept pace with inflation, the official numbers be damned.

With evidence piling up that coronavirus will continue to spread and that industrial production and unemployment may have peaked, there's at least a distinct possibility that US GDP will slow to about 1.5 to 1.7 percent for 2020. While there may not be a recession, the economy is almost certain to struggle with slack demand caused by fear of catching something worse than the flu. People can't be blamed for not wanting to get sick or dying, but they will be, with certain segments of the population eschewing the occasional night out on the town, attending a sporting event or generally avoiding close human contact.

When the coronavirus (COVID-19) claims a few lives in the US, watch the panic. It's already well underway in China, with Japan, South Korea and Hong Kong about to be sharing the sentiment. The virus will plague the US and many other nations, particularly those in Europe, already on the brink of an actual recession, because quarantines have not been sufficiently enforced on most travel, particularly by air.

The virus has shown to have an incubation period of anywhere from five to 24 days, so there are likely multiple carriers everywhere. In a few weeks time, the number of reported cases will begin to spike in non-Asian countries and then it will be too late. The big hope is that warmer weather will slow the spread, as it usually does with these kinds of infectious diseases.

We'll see. But, if you're looking for better odds, better head to the race track. Long shots often arrive at the wire in time.

At the Close, Thursday, February 20, 2020:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 29,219.98, -128.05 (-0.44%)
NASDAQ: 9,750.96, -66.21 (-0.67%)
S&P 500: 3,373.23, -12.92 (-0.38%)
NYSE: 14,061.48, -25.65 (-0.18%)

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Stocks Slide As IMF Revises Global Growth Projections Lower... Again

In the Senate, the impeachment trial of President Trump is well underway, though some Senators are wondering how the House managers can keep up their opening statement for another 16 hours without being laughed out of the chamber.

Adam Schiff, Gerold Nadler and their associates dithered and danced around the same tired narrative that's been their staple for the past six months and nobody is really buying it. Perhaps that's why stocks slumped late in the day, due to overwhelming boredom.

Impeachment aside, stocks were off to a solid start on Wednesday, but failed to make much progress, with the Dow actually ending in the red after being up 124 points early in the session.

There are be a plethora of reasons to be selling stocks at this juncture, main among them valuation, but the continuing slowdown in global trade and potential for most of Europe to fall into a recession are probably the most "top of mind" as winter winds blow cold across the Northern Hemisphere.

Lowering its 2019 forecast (a little late) for the sixth straight time, the IMF dropped expectations for global growth to 2.9%, down 0.1 from it's previous 3.0% expectation. Most of the data is already in place. The IMF, like everyone else, is monitoring fourth quarter results from corporations around the world.

In what has to be regarded as somewhat on the cheeky side, the IMF also lowered its 2020 forecast, from 3.4% to 3.3%. It's ludicrous to believe that the amalgamated egoistic economists at the IMF can get any prediction right, especially one calling for improvement when the early evidence is clearly favoring decline. Within a few months, these brainiacs will be revising their crystal ball projections and tea leaf readings to something more aligned with reality.

Considering that the US, at least, is at the far end of an 11-year bull market, some slowdown would be expected and it's notable that the brain-dead at the IMF cannot fathom the declining birth rate effects of demographics in developed countries, most of which have fallen below replacement figures.

With cheerleaders like those at the IMF and the relentless money creation by the Fed, there's little wonder the rich get richer as fake predictions are afforded the most credence.

At some point, the Fed will stop printing or the dollar will hyper-inflate. At that point, the IMF can revise upward and still find itself woefully behind the curve.

At the Close, Wednesday, January 22, 2020:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 29,186.27, -9.77 (-0.03%)
NASDAQ: 9,383.77, +12.96 (+0.14%)
S&P 500: 3,321.75, +0.96 (+0.03%)
NYSE: 14,110.24, +0.26 (+0.00%)

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Stocks Struggle Second Straight Monday; Paul Volker Passes

In what is beginning to look like a recurrent theme, stocks struggled to open the week, with all the major US indices down on the day.

This is the same condition that prevailed last week. Stocks were down hard to start the week, only to be rescued on Friday by a surprisingly good jobs report.

That may not be the case this time around. There will be no salvation by numbers later on the week. Market participants will have to deal with the troika of incessant impeachment hearings, troubling trade talks, and fruitless Federal Reserve operations.

It's no secret that the Fed has opened the spigots again, starting in September with what they're currently calling "not QE," a series of open market operations conducted on a daily basis that was originally intended to ease the malaise in overnight lending markets, and, while still performing that function, has morphed into another monstrosity, already having increased the size of the Fed balance sheet by some $300 billion.

And this will go on at least through the first quarter of next year, and probably further, because once the Fed shuts down the free money booth, there will be carnage, which is not to say there won't be carnage beforehand or that they will ever be able to completely close down their operations of largesse to the yield-starved banks.

Beyond the ordinary absurdities that has become the financial world, a moment of pause was given to mourn the passing of former Fed Chairman Paul Volker, who served in that post from August 1979 to August 1987, under presidents Carter and Reagan. Widely credited as the man to defeat the high inflation of the 70s and 80s through the use of tight money controls and ridiculously high interest rates, Volker was first seen as ridiculous, then hated, and finally emerged an American hero, rescuing the US economy from a terrific bout of inflation, unemployment, and a deep recession - caused, in part, by his raising of the federal funds rate from 11% to a record 20% - in 1981-82, that lasted 16 months.

Volker died Sunday. He was 92.

At the Close, Monday, December 9, 2019:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 27,909.60, -105.46 (-0.38%)
NASDAQ: 8,621.83, -34.70 (-0.40%)
S&P 500: 3,135.96, -9.95 (-0.32%)
NYSE Composite: 13,555.07, -33.22 (-0.24%)

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Disturbance in the Force? Stocks Suffer Losses

Dow Components Apple (AAPL) and Home Depot (HD) sent the Dow Industrials lower, dragging the tech sector, NASDAQ and S&P 500 down with it.

With third quarter results not as good as expectations, there's pressure on US stocks, especially now that China has balked again at phase one of the proposed on-again, off-again trade deal between the globe's two largest economies.

Also weighing on equites are repeated stories of recession fears from Europe, especially in the major economies: Germany, France, and Italy. Brexit is still not resolved and there's renewed optimism among remainers that the result of the 2016 referendum might still be overturned. As Europe is one of the major US trading powers, what happens over the pond affects many companies in the US.

Bond yields dipped again, especially at the long end of the treasury curve, with the 10-year note falling to a yield of 1.74%. With the Fed now officially on hold, bond vigilantes may have their day in the sun, pushing yields down to near record levels if the holiday season doesn't produce a bounty of stock buys.

Markets are at an unusual crossroads with many swirling stories that have the potential to send equities flying in either direction. What looks like a sideways trading regimen may hold sway the remainder of the year, though more and more economists and predictors are saying that a recession in the United States is not a foregone conclusion for 2020.

Third quarter results from a plethora of companies are now in the books and though most beat expectations, such were lowered and cannot be counted on to produce a buying frenzy. A repeat of last year's monumental losses in December could reoccur, though the Fed and nefarious forces behind the scenes have the power to deflect losses and turn indices around on various dimes.

Control is in the hands of the algorithms and central bankers. Don't expect much downside as long as hope for a trade deal remains present.

At the Close, Wednesday, November 20, 2019:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 27,821.09, -112.93 (-0.40%)
NASDAQ: 8,526.73, -43.93 (-0.51%)
S&P 500: 3,108.46, -11.72 (-0.38%)
NYSE Composite: 13,419.30, -47.05 (-0.35%)

Sunday, November 10, 2019

WEEKEND WRAP: Stocks Set Records; Bonds, Precious Metals Battered

The three major averages - Dow, NASDAQ, S&P 500 - all reached record territory this week, and, despite some give-back on Wednesday, closed out the week with all-time high closing prices. The lone laggard was the NYSE Composite, which hasn't yet managed to get back to January 2018 levels, but it is close, within 250 points.

Catalysts for the massive run-up through October and into November were supposed breakthroughs in the ongoing US-China trade deadlock and the Fed's 25 basis point cut in the federal funds rate last Wednesday (October 30). Positive news, or even the hint of such, was enough to ignite stocks in the US while Europe tetters on the verge of recession.

Gains made during the past five or six weeks look to be locked in for year-end, but there's barely a sniff of selling among the investment crowd. New records could be set in the indices through Thanksgiving, Black Friday and beyond, especially if indications of renewed vigor in manufacturing develops. It's been dragging lately, but the sector is wide and varied. Some states are doing well as opposed to ones like New York, which has lost 10,000 manufacturing jobs this year, and some sub-sectors are outperforming. Metal tooling is seeing a revival thanks to tariffs on steel, while semiconductors are slumping.

While stocks continued on their merry way to equity nirvana, fixed investment took a beating, especially in the case of the benchmark 10-year note, which appears headed back above two percent, closing out this week with a yield of 1.94%, the highest since July 31 (2.02%). The long end of the curve is certainly steepening, and in a hurry. The 30-year bond checked out on Friday with a yield of 2.43, just a basis point below the closing on August 1 (2.44%).

The short end of the treasury yield curve is still flat, with the difference between 1-month bills and the 5-year note a mere 18 basis points (1.56-1.74%). The curve has maintained an un-inverted posture for nearly three months now, since the 2s-10s crossed for three days in August of this year. That brief period of inversion did engender some recession fears at the time, but they have been allayed by the curve settling into a more orderly regimen.

Recession still being a possibility, always, chances of it occurring anytime soon were quelled when third quarter GDP came in hotter than expected, at 1.9%. Not a good number, the fact that it was above most estimates (1.6%) was enough to hold off the bears. If the measurement holds for the next two estimates of third quarter GDP, the absolute earliest recession bells could ring would be after the first quarter of 2020, if both the fourth quarter of 2019 and first of 2020 were negative, and those are some pretty big ifs.

Thus, it's unlikely that the US will encounter a recession - or at least have one reported - until after the second quarter of 2020, but the economy is looking like it will continue to grow, albeit modestly, until at least the elections in November, good news for President Trump and Republicans in general, and not-so-good for Democrats who wail about everything, even when nothing is amiss in any major way.

Also hammered were precious metals, with silver falling below the Maginot line of $17/ounce late in the week to close out at $16.77. Gold fell from right around $1500/ounce to end the week at its lowest level since the start of October, at $1458.80.

If interest rates continue to climb, it could exacerbate the bearish tone already developing in the metals. To holders, it may not be such a big deal, but more of an opportunity to buy more on the supposed cheap. Precious metals have been out of favor since their massive run-up from 1999 to 2011, and there seems to be no end in sight for the overall bear regime that has taken hold.

One has to consider the rationale for gold or silver as one of protection, so, from a buyer's standpoint there's absolutely nothing wrong with holding or storing some of the shiny stuff. It still maintains value, though it has been fluctuating greatly over the past 20 years, but what hasn't. Gold and silver still provide peace of mind and a store of value that is better, over the longest of terms, than any other investment, save possibly real estate, the difference being that no taxes have to be paid on the shiny metals.

Outlooking for the next seven weeks through Christmas is decidedly positive for stocks, which is all anybody really seems to care about these days. Pension funds are all in, as many have to be, in hopes that there will not be massive underfunding for the retiring baby boomers.

In the most simplistic of ways, stocks may be overvalued, but the rising yields on bonds may tempt some of the less-daring speculators to dive into a safety play. Worse things have happened, but, for now, there seems to be a nice balancing act between the Fed, the government, business, and heavily-indebted consumers, the latter group buoying and buying into the great money scheme of the longest bull market in history.

Some day, it will all come to a screeching halt. By most measures, it's not stopping any time soon.

At the Close, Friday, November 8, 2019:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 27,681.24, +6.44 (+0.02%)
NASDAQ: 8,475.31, +40.80 (+0.48%)
S&P 500: 3,093.08, +7.90 (+0.26%)
NYSE Composite: 13,407.80, +12.26 (+0.09%)

For the Week:
Dow: +333.88 (+1.22%)
NASDAQ: +88.92 (+1.06%)
S&P 500: +26.17 (+0.85%)
NYSE Composite: +107.54 (+0.81%)

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Fed's FOMC Delivers Rate Cut; Markets Respond Positively

Following the Fed's FOMC announcement of another 25 basis point cut to he federal funds rate - the thrid in the last four months - stocks took off for new heights, with the S&P posting another new all-time high, just two days after breaking through to a record close.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended the session 212 points off its all-time high, the NASDAQ just 36 points shy of a record, and the NYSE Composite closed less than 400 points from its January 2018 record.

With three-quarters of a point shaved off the key target interest rate for Fed watchers, the overnight lending rate stands in a range of 1.5% to 1.75% and the Fed's language suggests that it will not cut rates automatically at its next meeting (December) or any future meeting.

What the somewhat hawkish stance means for markets is that the flow of money is going to be stanched at some point, and that point may have already occurred, though adroit rate watchers expect further pressures on the economy that would force the Fed's hand in the first and second quarter of next year.

There are already signs that the economy is slipping, though the first estimate of third quarter GDP came in above expectations (1.6%) at 1.9% for the recently closed-out time frame, so it's not apparent that the US economy will be facing recession any time soon.

All of this makes for an interest final two months of the year for investors. Will we see a repeat of last year's December dive or are there enough animal spirits to keep the stock market churning higher?

Only time will tell.

At the Close, Wednesday, October 30, 2019:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 27,186.69, +115.29 (+0.43%)
NASDAQ: 8,303.98, +27.13 (+0.33%)
S&P 500: 3,046.77, +9.88 (+0.33%)
NYSE Composite: 13,244.01, +34.41 (+0.26%)

Sunday, October 6, 2019

WEEKEND WRAP: Stocks Bounce Badly, Bonds Rally In Charged Political, Economic Environment

Stocks ripped higher on Friday after September non-farm payrolls missed estimates, stoking expectations of another 25 basis point rate cut by the FOMC in their upcoming, October 29-30, meeting.

All US indices posted gains over one percent, offsetting about half of the losses made during Tuesday and Wednesday sessions. Despite the huge Friday gains, three of the four major indices finished in the red for a third straight weekly decline as fears of an upcoming recession, continued parlor games in Washington fueling fears of an impeachment of President Trump, and ongoing fits and starts in trade negotiations with China outweighed monetary politics and policy direction.

The NASDAQ was the lone survivor, with a gain of just over 1/2 percent.

Jittery as it has been, US equity markets continue to show signs of weakness but not of breaking down in a capitulating move. With third quarter earnings about a week away, there's optimism that corporate America still has not lost its profitable manner, meanwhile, the flight to US treasuries and corporate bonds continued apace throughout the week, with the yield on the 10-year note dropping 17 basis points - from 1.69 to 1.52% - for the week, and losing 38 basis points since the recent bond selloff sent to 10-year yield to a high of 1.90 on September 13.

Friday's closing bond price for the benchmark 10-year is nearing the lows made in late August and early September of 1.47%.

There seems to be little standing in the way of the 10-year note heading below its historic low yield made on July 5, 2016, of 1.37%, as comparable notes in developed nations - Germany, Japan, Switzerland - are all offering negative yields.

How long the treasury complex can withstand the onslaught of buying worldwide is a minor concern since the Fed has already signaled to markets that they were willing and able to offer negative yields, like the rest of the world's developed nations.

The specter of negative yielding bonds looms closer in the US, but is probably at least two years away, if it develops at all. A recession, such as has been predicted for 2020 (and also was predicted for 2019), could push the 10-year below one percent, but it's a long way down to zero for the world's most popular bond and the world's largest economy.

Unless Democrats succeed in unseating President Trump through impeachment or other means, the onus of recession remains, though it could very well be short-lived, since the US has plenty of untapped capital and productivity.

For the present time, it would be prudent to keep a close eye on the impeachment fiasco underway in congress. There's a strong likelihood that push-back by the Trump administration could send the entire bag of nonsense and dubious Democrat claims into the courts, pushing the narrative through the Democrat primaries in Spring 2020 all the way to November's presidential and congressional elections.

That actually could be the plan for Democrats, since they have made some very spurious allegations about the president, but, the mainstream media loves a circus and promotes the impeachment mantra in an unalterable, monotonous, fallacious chorus.

The American public has grown tired of the repeated attempts to besmirch the duly elected chief executive and the result could be an historic landslide victory for Republicans in the fall of 2020. The alternative, should the Democrats and their obedient lackeys in the media succeed is more than likely to cause a rift in the populace - generally between urban liberals and rural conservatives - that could foment tremendous civil unrest and lawlessness. That is the disruption Wall Street - and most of the civilized world - fears most.

Bumpy will be the ride for the economy, politics, and society over then next 12 to 16 months unless the Democrats are exposed and soundly defeated.

At the Close, Friday, October 4, 2019:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 26,573.72, +372.68 (+1.42%)
NASDAQ: 7,982.47, +110.21 (+1.40%)
S&P 500 2,952.01, +41.38 (+1.42%)
NYSE Composite: 12,831.54, +145.78 (+1.15%)

For the Week:
Dow: -246.53 (-0.92%)
NASDAQ: +42.85 (+0.54%)
S&P 500: -9.78 (-0.33%)
NYSE Composite: -140.43 (-1.08%)

Thursday, October 3, 2019

How Deep Will Stocks Dive In October?

On the second day of the fourth quarter, US stocks took a fairly big hit, with the most widely-watches indices each dropping nearly two percent on the day. The current downdraft comes on the heels of two consecutive down weeks in the US markets, but the damage has been relatively mild.

Prior to Tuesday and Wednesday's heavy declines, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down just over 300 points, a little more than a one percent drop. Combined, the Dow fell over 800 points on Monday and Tuesday, making the entire dip about 1100 points, or just over four percent.

This is nothing to be concerned with, for now, though a repeat of 2018, when stocks ripped lower in October and December, should not be ruled out. By many measures, a slew of US equites are significantly overvalued, thanks in large part to the long-running bull market fueled by excess money printing by central banks and corporate buybacks. These are the two major components of the heady bull market and it is readily apparent that neither of these policies are going to end anytime soon.

The Fed is planning another 25 basis point cut in the federal funds rate at their next FOMC meeting, October 29-30 and corporate stock buybacks are still close to all-time high levels. With the pair policies funding all manner of excess, it would not be surprising to see any sharp decline - such as a 10% correction - countered with more easy money policy.

If there is going to be a recession, Europe will undoubtably encounter one before the United States. The EU is being battered by Brexit fears and poor economic data at the same time and its own measures of QE are barely making a dent in the declining economic conditions on the Continent. Thus, investors in the US will likely have advance warning of any GDP suffering.

Bear in mind that an official recession is defined as two consecutive quarters of negative growth. Therefore, a recession doesn't even become apparent until it is well underway. If third quarter GDP returns a positive number, that would indicate that a recession is still at least three months ahead. The world would find out if the US is headed into recession if fourth quarter GDP came in as a negative number, and that would only be reported by late January 2020.

Finally, a recession is not the end of the world for commerce nor stock investing. There will be a general malaise, as the low tide would affect all stocks in some manner, but there will still be winners, most likely in consumer staples, utilities, and dividend plays. If and when dividend-yielding stocks start taking on heavy water, that would be a time for more focused concern.

For now, caution, not panic, is advisable.

At the Close, Wednesday, October 2, 2019:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 26,078.62, -494.42 (-1.86%)
NASDAQ: 7,785.25, -123.44 (-1.56%)
S&P 500: 2,887.61, -52.64 (-1.79%)
NYSE Composite: 12,608.43, -226.92 (-1.77%)

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Stocks Flat on Eurozone Recession Fears; Fed Committed to $1 Trillion Liquidity Injection

Stocks gained early and faded late as poor economic data from Europe dampened the mood on Wall Street at the start of the last week of the third quarter.

Eurozone manufacturing PMI fell to 45.6 on Monday, the worst reading in nearly seven years, with the German manufacturing PMI falling to 41.4 in September from 43.5, the worst number since the fall of Lehman Brothers sparked the global financial crisis.

The poor figures sent European stocks reeling, fearing recession, especially in Germany, Europe's powerhouse, could be right around the corner. US indices were less-affected, though the Dow Industrials was the only index to post a positive close.

At the same time, the US banking system was being monitored, as the Fed continued its series of repo auctions. In this statement from the New York Federal Reserve, the central bank committed to 1.05 trillion in overnight repo auctions through October 10, and at least an additional $90 billion in two-week term repo auctions.

The sudden appearance of repo auctions, with the Fed buying back treasuries or MBS in exchange for ready cash from (supposedly) primary dealers has economists on edge, especially considering the huge amount of excess reserves clogging up the system.

Those not so alarmed point out that these extraordinary repo auctions are the result of a highly-predictable cash crunch for banks as corporations tax payments are due at the end of the quarter. This causes a drain on the system overall, though there was no need for such measures since the Lehman debacle a decade ago.

What happens next in markets is probably more volatility and sideways trading due to uncertainty. Recession fears in the Eurozone are probably real, though the US may actually be in good enough shape to avoid a significant downturn through 2020. The Fed has cut rates twice this year after raising them by decidedly too much. Political forces are bound to keep the Fed honest and operating largely at the behest of the markets and President Trump, who has loudly criticized the Fed's step-behind operations.

At the Close, Monday, September 23, 2019:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 26,949.99, +14.92 (+0.06%)
NASDAQ: 8,112.46, -5.21 (-0.06%)
S&P 500: 2,991.78, -0.29 (-0.01%)
NYSE Composite: 13,085.33, -8.47 (-0.06%)

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Oil and Gas Price Hikes Are a Central Banker Scam

Reiterating what was posted here Sunday in the Weekend Wrap, a recent article by Lance Roberts at Real Investment Advice, brings home the bacon in detail, of how the bottom 80% of all US workers, i.e., earners, is carrying a high debt burden that today cannot even cover basic necessities.

The consumer squeeze is in focus after the attacks on a Saudi oilfield and the Abqaiq refinery, which, according to most sources, will affect five percent of global oil supply. Somehow, cutting off five percent of global supply magically raises oil prices 15 percent.

Without anybody knowing exactly who is behind the attacks, many fingers are being pointed toward Iran, naturally, since the Iranians are fighting a proxy war with Saudi Arabia in Yemen. has a solid account with photos of how the attack might have been staged, who was behind it and future implications.

From a central banker's perspective, the attack and subsequent rise in the global price of oil could not be more opportune on a number of fronts. First, in desperate need of inflation, the bankers get the gift of core inflation in both PPI and CPI. Second, the rise in the price of oil, translated to gas at the pump and some home heating fuel, will show up in the convoluted GDP calculations, just in time for the third quarter and also adding a boost to the fourth if high prices persist.

Further down the road, high input prices and consumer prices for oil and gas should put the brakes on the economy eventually, putting a dent in discretionary spending which could spark a recession in 2020, just in time for the November US elections. Sure, higher prices and profits are good for some, for a while, but eventually, high gas prices act effectively as a tax on all consumers.

If you happen to be a central banker, this sounds great, doesn't it?

There are also political and financial aspects to the story. The attacks come right on the heels of President Trump's firing of John Bolton, the infamous neocon whose penchant for war with Iran was no secret. Conspiracy theorists believe this was long-ago planned, but Bolton's removal as National Security Advisor to the president was the trigger.

There's also the upcoming IPO of Saudi Aramco to consider. Initially, following the attack, the Saudis hinted that they would delay their long-awaited IPO, but now, a day beyond, they say they will forge ahead as planned. At issue is valuation. The Saudis believe the company should be worth $2 trillion at IPO, while the consensus among bankers handling the deal have the figure closer to $1.5 trillion. A lasting boost in the price of oil would naturally add to the valuation, bringing it closer to the level desired by the Saudis, who, after all, have control of the flow of oil, but not the price.

With no culprit positively identified, the entire affair looks to be highly organized - from the accuracy of the missiles and/or drones employed in the attack to the coordinated record trading in the oil futures pits - and the work of people or nations with an agenda. While this may appear far fetched to some, the power of the globalist banking cartel is well-known and could be pulling all the strings behind the scenes. It is not outside the realm of possibility that deep state globalists staged the attacks and price surge. It's also possible the the attacks were completely faked, just to get the price of oil higher.

There has been a glut of global oil supply since the US embarked on its fracking and shale output, becoming the world leader a few years ago. Russia is also pumping like mad, as are most of the OPEC nations. The amount of oil on world markets is so large that even small disruptions should not affect price - which has been falling for over a year - very much, but, in this case, it did.

While there isn't much the general population as a whole can do about higher gas prices outside of mass protests (a likelihood in Europe), there are a few actions the average motorist can take.
  • Plan driving trips - organize your schedule to include multiple stops, thus reducing the amount of gas used rather than making individual trips for each task
  • Seek lower prices - use online resources like to find the lowest prices in your area.
  • Ride-sharing - organize with neighbors, friends and co-workers to share rides heading in similar directions.
  • Drive smarter - slower speeds, properly inflated tires, and good driving habits can significantly reduce your fuel usage.
  • Avoid wasted trips - deciding whether or not a trip is an absolute necessity can cut your overall fuel consumption considerably.
You don't have to buy into the price panic the global banking cartel seeks to impose upon you. As an end-user, you have to power of decision and information at your fingertips to help make wise choices. Share information with your friends, relatives and co-workers. A loose band of informed citizens can thwart the intentions the central bankers. Reduced demand should result in lower prices, eventually.

Most of all, don't buy into the media hype over gas prices, recession or any other narrative (like climate change) that the media water-carriers throw at you.

At the Close, Monday, September 16, 2019:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 27,076.82, -142.70 (-0.52%)
NASDAQ: 8,156.40, +2.86 (+0.04%)
S&P 500: 2,994.17, -3.79 (-0.13%)
NYSE Composite: 13,107.98, -16.36 (-0.12%)

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Stocks Rally On Trump Tariff Turnback; PMs Slammed, Bonds Not Buying It As Curve Inverts

Tuesday's miraculous stock market rally was fueled by the silliest of news.

The US Trade Representative (USTR), led by Robert E. Lighthizer, announced the delay of some of the proposed tariffs to be imposed upon China come September 1, rolling back the date on some consumer-sensitive items to December 15.

The government also mentioned that trade reps from both countries would speak by phone in the near future.

Thus, stocks were off to the races, having been given a big, fat one to knock out of the park.

Obviously, such news only makes for one-day wonders on Wall Street and an opportunity to smack down real money - gold and silver - in the process. Precious metals had extended their rallies and were soaring overnight. Traders in the futures complex felt best to sell, all at once, apparently.

Meanwhile, short-dated treasuries were being whipsawed, with the yield on the 2-year note rising from 1.58% to 1.66%, while the 10-year note gained a smaller amount, the yield rising from 1.65% to 1.68%.

Overnight, as Tuesday turned to Wednesday in the US, the two-year yield briefly surpassed that of the 10-year by one basis point. This marks the first time the 2s-10s have inverted since 2005. Because such an inversion almost always indicates imminent recession, this spurred headlines across the financial media, with Yahoo Finance screaming in all caps, YIELD CURVE INVERTS.

One shouldn't get too excited about this startling, yet widely-anticipated event. Each of the last seven recessions (dating back to 1969) were preceded by the 10-year falling below the 2-year, but in the most recent instance - December 27, 2005 - the recession didn't actually get underway until the third quarter of 2007, as precursor of the Great Financial Crisis (GFC). The last time there was an inverted 2s-10s yield curve was May 2007.

Naturally, haters of President Donald J. Trump are enthusiastically cheering for a recession prior to the 2020 elections, and they may get their wish. Stocks have been running on fumes for about 18 months, a bear market indicated by Dow Theory as far back as April 9, 2018.

The onset of recession, after the first instance of the 2s-10s inversion, normally occurs eight to 24 months hence.

With the hopes of Democrats taking back the White House riding on anything from Russian election interference to trade wars with China to recession, the leftists are pushing on various strings, hoping for something - anything - to trip up the celebrity president.

They have a 15-month lead time on recession, so their chances are about 50/50. If the recession occurs after the election, which Donald J. Trump will almost surely win, they may conclude that having a recession in ones' second term is an impeachable offense.

This story is developing, so watch something else.

[sarcasm noted]

Friday, August 2, 2019

Stocks Slammed As Trump Targets Tariffs At China; Gold Bid; Payrolls, Unemployment Steady

Stocks swooned for the second straight session after President Trump announced that he would be adding a 10% tariff on $300 billion of Chinese imports beginning September 1.

The president noted that China had backed down on previous commitments to purchase farm produce from US farmers and to stem the flow of fentanyl into the United States.

Markets reacted with the usual disfavor, erasing earlier gains and slumping deep into negative territory. Apparently, nothing can help the market disengage from negativity. Wednesday's 1/4-point easing of the federal funds rate caused a mini-crash and Thursday's small tariff hike sent dealers to the sell buttons.

On the same news, gold caught a tailwind, rising from a low of $1400 to nearly $1448 in just over seven hours. Silver also gained, but not nearly in the manner of gold. Silver was around $16.30 an ounce as US trading closed and has been trending lower early Friday morning.

WTI crude oil took a nosedive on Thursday, recording its worst one-day performance in four years, with futures dipping below $54 per barrel in late Thursday trading.

As US markets prepare for the final session of the week, Asian and European indices headed lower, with most of the major bourses down more than two percent. After European PMIs all showed contraction - and with the outlook for a "no deal" Brexit a real possibility by the end of October - traders on the continent are voting with their feet, leaving behind a wake of battered stock prices. Europe is most definitely headed for a recession soon, though a US recession is still not an apparent reality.

While the rest of the world struggles to maintain their economies, under the leadership of Donald Trump, the US appears to have a real advantage, the dollar strengthening while the bond market rallies. The US 10-year treasury blasted through the two percent line on Thursday, currently holding with a yield around 1.89%.

In breaking news, July non-farm payrolls came mostly in line with expectations at 164,000 new jobs added during the month. The unemployment rate held steady at 3.7% and year-over-year wages increased at a 3.2% rate.

Us stock futures are trending off their lows as the opening bell approaches.

At the close, Thursday, August 1, 2019:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 26,583.42, -280.85 (-1.05%)
NASDAQ: 8,111.12, -64.30 (-0.79%)
S&P 500: 2,953.56, -26.82 (-0.90%)
NYSE COMPOSITE: 12,920.82, -145.78 (-1.12%)

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Stocks Tank On Fed Rate Hike (Thank You, Captain Obvious); Transportation Index In Bear Market

What a racket!

As if there was ever any doubt that the Fed would hike the federal funds rate another 25 basis points, stocks shot up at the open and maintained a very positive stance right up until 2:00 pm ET, when the Fed did what everybody knew they would do all along.

Seriously, who in their right mind was buying prior to the rate hike? People with money to burn?

To get an idea of the kind of lunatics trading stocks on Wall Street, the Dow was up just about 300 points at 1:57 pm. By 2:08 pm - following the policy announcement - it was essentially flat... and it went down from there, eventually losing 351 points, closing at a new low for 2018.

Over the same time span, the NASDAQ was up 65 points, but 11 minutes later was down 38. The same fate that befell the Dow was true for NASDAQ, S&P, and NYSE Composite: fresh 2018 lows.

The Transportation Index was absolutely devastated, closing at 9,147.66, down 297.81 points (-3.15%), pushing the transports into bear market territory, down 21% from its September high.

OK, so it was one of those "heads, Fed wins, tails, you lose," kind of deal. There was no way the Fed was going to surprise anybody. It's simply not their style. They telegraph everything they do, because they're so, so important to the proper functioning of the economy, and they never balk at even the most obvious data or implication. Balderdash.

The Fed should be run out of town just like all other central banks have been, but the US sheeple population has put up with this particular band of thieves for the past 105 years. The Fed is why we have booms and busts, never-ending inflation, recessions, absurdly high interest rates on credit cards, and incomes that just don't quite match up with expenses for much of the former middle class.

The good news about the Fed's rate increase is that it may be the last one for a while. They may hike a few times in 2019, or, depending on how the stock market and/or ec responds, they may not hike at all. Meanwhile, they'll keep losing money by unwinding their massive, overvalued bond portfolio of US treasuries and toxic mortgage-backed securities dating from the sub-prime glory days.

Elsewhere, crude oil rallied a little bit, gaining to $47 and change per barrel. Gold and silver were punished, though each was down less than one percent. The real lashing will come tomorrow or at the latest, by the end of the year.

Thus, the Fed, in its infinite wisdom (greed), decided that it would be in its own best interests to destroy the global economy by hiking the overnight and prime rate for the ninth time since 2015.

Happy days for some. tears and more pain to come for many more.

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

At the Close, Wednesday, December 19, 2018:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 23,323.66, -351.98 (-1.49%)
NASDAQ: 6,636.83, -147.08 (-2.17%)
S&P 500: 2,506.96, -39.20 (-1.54%)
NYSE Composite: 11,371.84, -130.32 (-1.13%)

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Friday Meltdown Leaves Stocks Near Lowest Levels of Year; All Major Indices In Correction

After the first week of December ended in tears, there were glimmers of hope for a rebound in stocks as the clock ticked closer to Christmas and the end of the consumer shopping/spending season.

While retail sales - as especially so, online sales - continued strong, stocks suffered through another week of volatility, though it didn't actually present itself until the very end.

The Dow was up a bit over 200 points as of Thursday's close, but at the opening bell on Friday it was apparent those gains would not hold. In the end, the Dow lost nearly 500 points on the day, sent that index into correction, along with the S&P, joining the NASDAQ, NYSE Composite, and the Dow Jones Transportation Average.

The tailwinds of the recent selloff have its roots in October, when the Dow most a cumulative 1,345 points. November's gains were only 426, but the Dow is down another 1438 points in December, challenging the closing low of the year, 23,533.20 on March 23.

Besides the usual concern over profits and/or losses, financial markets have plenty of issues to keep investors up at night. There's the continuing Brexit issues, which nearly cost Prime Minister Teresa May her government, and coming up this week is the Fed's FOMC meeting in which the federal funds rate is supposed to be hiked another 25 basis points, along with the real possibility of a particle government shutdown over budget issues, primarily concerning President Trump's promised border wall, and the funding of such.

So, instead of being perplexed over dollars and cents, Wall Street seems more focused on politics and nonsense, as the relentless - mostly baseless - attacks on Mr. Trump continue to overhang every discussion policy and threaten to throw the entire country into chaos.

Form a technical point of view, stocks are in very dangerous territory. The dreaded "death cross," in which the 50-day moving average falls below the 200-day moving average, occurred last week on the S&P, had already happened in mid-November on the NYSE Composite Index, made its appearance the last day of November on the NASDAQ and is maybe two more days away from happening on the Dow.

It's a fairly obvious phenomenon, which points up near-term weakness. When both the 50 and 200-day moving averages point lower in such a condition, it doesn't take a genius to figure out that a hungry bear is roaming free in the forest.

Despite trading having been buoyant during most recent holiday seasons, this one appears to be rather different. There's a distinct possibility of a global slowdown, especially since retail sales and industrial production in China both slowed in November. While politically-oriented pundits will point to Trump's trade war with the Chinese as the culprit, the issue seems to be more complex and deep-seated than such a superficial analysis suggests. China's economy, built on massive credit expansion, ghost cities, and often spurious economic data, has been booming for 20 years and has been due for a slowdown, correction, or even recession. As is the case with the longest bull market in US history, nothing lasts forever.

Any gains in the coming weeks are likely to be eaten away rather quickly as profit-taking is followed by loss prevention. Even as the Fed raises rates, bond yields should continue trending lower as investors seek safety and shun profligate speculation.

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

At the Close, Friday, December 14, 2018:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 24,100.51, -496.87 (-2.02%)
NASDAQ: 6,910.67, -159.67 (-2.26%)
S&P 500: 2,599.95, -50.59 (-1.91%)
NYSE Composite: 11,755.38, -180.82 (-1.51%)

For the Week:
Dow: -288.44 (-1.18%)
NASDAQ: -58.59 (-0.84%)
S&P 500: -33.13 (-1.26%
NYSE Composite: -186.55 (-1.56%)

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Stocks Gain From Oversold Condition; 1Q GDP 2.0%

Nothing really to see here on the second-to-last trading day of the quarter, as stocks were due for a bit of a relief rally, which is exactly what this was, despite the bad news that first quarter GDP was revised lower, to 2.0% annualized.

The final estimate of GDP came as a bit of a shock to the know-it-alls on Wall Street, who collectively were looking for somewhere between 2.2% and 2.3% for the final figure. The fact that GDP underperformed (despite metrics that include everything other than drug dealing and prostitution) speaks volumes about the true state of the US economy, and, to a larger extent, that of the world.

Fading the Fed's favored position that the economy is solid, one would be better advised to consult one's stock broker or neighbor for a more accurate read on economic conditions. Savvy investors realize that GDP, as much as its inflated figures and inclusion of government expenditures belie a weakened state, isn't a very good measure of the health of an economy. The figures can be massaged and pushed around to fit any narrative, and usually are. What's happening in reality is that any growth is easily being eaten away by inflation, and any profits are funneled to the top 10% of the income gatherers, leaving the bottom 90% craving more and spending on credit while saving little to nothing.

A panoply of exaggerated expectations and flimsy figures is what the government number crunchers present, and it is so putrid that even their best efforts to make it appear palatable fall short. The United States has a hollowed out economy, devoid of a thriving middle class, replaced, over the past 20 years, with debt-ridden wannabes whose status is ultimately dependent on enormous wads of credit, from mortgages to school loans, to credit cards, to auto loans and leases, it is all a huge fallacy.

That stocks are able to even maintain some semblance of vigor is owed only to stock buybacks and the largesse of the central bank, which has fueled the massive facade with enough hot money and hot air to lift what is a limp and lifeless corpse off the deathbed... for now.

Numbers don't lie, and the best come from the bond pits, which was relatively calm, but still flatter in the middle, with the spread on 5s-10s falling to a mere 11 basis points. The 30-year bond remained steady at 2.97%, while the ten year ticked up one bip, making the 10s-30s spread just 13 basis points, which is not much interest for 20 years of waiting. Bonds continue to tell the real story, and it's not a happy one. Credit is tightening, slowly but certainly, and the Fed is creating a chokepoint for the economy which will lead only in one direction, to recession.

Dow Jones Industrial Average June Scorecard:

Date Close Gain/Loss Cum. G/L
6/1/18 24,635.21 +219.37 +219.37
6/4/18 24,813.69 +178.48 +397.85
6/5/18 24,799.98 -13.71 +384.14
6/6/18 25,146.39 +346.41 +730.55
6/7/18 25,241.41 +95.02 +825.57
6/8/18 25,316.53 +75.12 +900.69
6/11/18 25,322.31 +5.78 +906.47
6/12/18 25,320.73 -1.58 +904.89
6/13/18 25,201.20 -119.53 +785.36
6/14/18 25,175.31 -25.89 +759.47
6/15/18 25,090.48 -84.83 +674.64
6/18/18 24,987.47 -103.01 +571.63
6/19/18 24,700.21 -287.26 +284.37
6/20/18 24,657.80 -42.41 +241.96
6/21/18 24,461.70 -196.10 +45.86
6/22/18 24,580.89 +119.19 +165.05
6/25/18 24,252.80 -328.09 -163.04
6/26/18 24,283.11 +30.31 -132.73
6/27/18 24,117.59 -165.52 -298.25
6/28/18 24,216.05 +98.46 -199.79

At the Close, Thursday, June 28, 2018:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 24,216.05, +98.46 (+0.41%)
NASDAQ: 7,503.68, +58.60 (+0.79%)
S&P 500: 2,716.31, +16.68 (+0.62%)
NYSE Composite: 12,475.98, +63.91 (+0.51%)

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Bull or Bear? By October, It Probably Won't Matter

Another day, another boring stock market supposedly awaiting Janet Yellen's annual testimony before the the House Financial Services Committee on Wednesday and the Senate Finance Committee, Thursday.


Janet Yellen's words are worthless. She mouths big words like macro-prudential, as though she actually practices it while heads spin and eyes glaze over trying to comprehend its meaning.

In reality, the term refers to policy actions designed to mitigate systemic risk. It's rubbish. It's Fed-speak. While it sounds good on the surface, everything is at risk, including the entire global financial system that nearly imploded in 2008. If enough companies, or, heaven forbid, banks, default on their obligations, the risk is interconnected, and probably more so than in 2008-09.

There are no safeguards. There are only bigger bets, known as derivatives, credit default swaps (CDS), leverage, and arbitrage.

The system is as fragile now as it was just prior to the Great Financial Crisis (GFC) of 2008-09, and probably, it is even more fragile, simply because the Fed does not have the tools to fight back against deflation and recession, the dual threats to capitalism.

So, Janet Yellen will testify to congress on Wednesday and nothing at all will change. Meanwhile, markets are stuck in neutral, which means, in these absurd times, a tilt toward slightly positive.

Another big YAWN.

The big moves will be in September, when the laid-back congress will be forced to raise the debt ceiling and come up with another annual budget. It's likely to be a wild time, even for this do-nothing congress. President Trump will be holding both Republican and Democrat feet to various fires.

If not September, then October should be another possible meltdown time frame. It always has been, and, with the markets and economy showing severe signs of fraud and stress, a market "event" is long, long overdue.

At the Close, 7/11/17:
Dow: 21,409.07, +0.55 (0.00%)
NASDAQ: 6,193.30, +16.91 (0.27%)
S&P 500: 2,425.53, -1.90 (-0.08%)
NYSE Composite: 11,746.72, -5.07 (-0.04%)

Sunday, June 25, 2017

The Long and Short of the Approaching Recession (Depression)

For those out there reading this short missive, a warning that time and space are constraints upon the lives we live, the bread we bake, the food we eat, the products we produce, the jobs that sustain us and the government that pretends to cater to us.

Time and space - according to most adherents of pure physics - are not constraints upon thinking, thought, creativity and imagination.

Indulgence should be given more, in these days of financial peril and social inequality, to solutions derived in the mind, translated to the body by practicality and functionality.

In both the long and short discussions of current finance, there can be little doubt that the system of capitalism by which the developed world has grown and prospered is under severe strain and the solutions offered by the central bankers and government entities who pretend to know how it all works are nothing more than stop-gap measures intended solely to prevent, or at least, delay, a complete collapse of a fragile, human-made system.

Economics, being mostly theoretical, and therefore, unbound, unfortunately needs to operate in a closed, bound, system, restrained by those old devils of time and space. As has been frequently mentioned in higher-level economic discussions, "infinite growth is unsustainable in a finite world."

With that in mind, this weekend edition of Money Daily offers but a brief insight into the unraveling of the world order of finance already well underway.

On the whole, Friday was a washout to a week in which the major indices - with the notable exception of the NASDAQ - vacillated around the unchanged line. In the current nomenclature, stock indices - wherein the vast bulk of trading is performed by computer algorithms and central banks - are a control mechanism. So long as they are stable or going higher, the general population feels comforted and won't look around for cracks in the not-so-golden facade of global finance. As such, this week was very much like the previous six, or eight, or eighty. It was, in general terms, a big nothing-burger.

But, what does the outsize gain on the NASDAQ tell us, when the other indices were going exactly nowhere fast?

It says that the NASDAQ is where the speculation exists, where all the funny money or phony money is going to seek yield, mostly in tech-land, but also in energy stocks and in short-squeezes on the most-shorted list. It's how the game is being played at the top. If shorts are numerous on a particular equity, that where the money flow will be most pronounced, on the long side. Boom! Instant profits and a great weekend in the Hamptons awaits.

For the rest of us, we are placated with the rest of the market going sideways. At least - we comfort ourselves in saying - it didn't go down, much.

An expanded view looks at a couple of issues. Oil took another beating this week as the glut continues, though this fact is not to be promulgated to the general population. We are led to believe that oil is scarce and the price of gas with which to fill our cars should remain at elevated levels.

Nothing could be further from the truth. A variety of factors, including, but not limited to, better fuel consumption, an aging population, alternative energy sources, stagnant or slowing employment, and a more stay-at-home, economically-depressed middle America, is leading to the reality of oversupply meeting slack or declining demand. Oil will continue to fall until it becomes apparent that the big energy companies are squeezing every last nickel and dime out of consumers in the form of stubbornly high gas prices. At some point, the price of gasoline will merit a meeting with reality and then, gas will average, nationally, under $2.00 a gallon, notwithstanding the absurdly-high state and federal taxes on each and every gallon pumped. It's coming. It cannot be denied.

Overseas, the demise of two Italian banks on Friday was, typically, underreported. Banca Popolare di Vicenza and Veneto Banca, with combined assets of roughly 60 billion euros, were green-lighted by the ECB on Friday for liquidation. In other words, these banks are belly-up, bankrupt, kaput!

The Wall Street Journal, Reuters, Bloomberg, the AP, all reported the story. The mainstream media, such as ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, et. al., i.e, the fake news propagandists, did not.

There you have it. The general public will not be told the truth about the fraility of the banking system for fears people would recall the horrors of the GFC of 2008-09.

Two Italian banks failing may not make the radar of disinterest parties such as the 98% of Americans who don't pay attention to nor understand economics or finance. Neither did the closure of two Bear Stearns funds back in the Spring of 2008. You are now forewarned and forearmed, with knowledge.

The world'd financial system is unwinding and the pace is quickening. Disruptions are already apparent in the forms of capital controls - mostly overseas, but heading to US shores soon - supply chain disorder, falling tax receipts, social unrest, and, most importantly and glaringly obvious, income disparity.

Stay informed, not from the mainstream sources, but from outside. The internet is s treasure trove of information that you're not supposed to know about. It will help you form opinions and strategies by which you can deal with the coming hard times.

Your thoughts and ideas have no limits. Time and space cannot prevent you from thinking, strategizing and planning for your won welfare.

At the Close, 6/23/17:
Dow: 21,394.76, -2.53 (-0.01%)
NASDAQ: 6,265.25, +28.56 (0.46%)
S&P 500: 2,438.30, +3.80 (0.16%)
NYSE Composite: 11,733.20, +20.68 (0.18%)

For the Week:
Dow: +10.48 (0.05%)
NASDAQ: +113.49 (1.84%)
S&P 500: +5.15 (0.21%)
NYSE Composite: -38.83 (-0.33%)

Friday, June 23, 2017

Mixed Stocks Ahead Of Quad-Witching; Fed Gearing Toward Recession

For the second straight session, stocks closed mixed, with the Dow and S&P finishing in the red while the NASDAQ and NYSE Composite registered marginal gains.

Essentially, markets were flat as the trudge through June continues.

As the week draws to a close, Friday looks to be a troublesome day, owing largely to options expiration and the fact that with the exception of the Dow, the major indices are right back where they began the month.

This condition - known as quadruple witching - may result in increased volatility, and, with prices flat, many stock options and futures may close without redemption, i.e., losses.

Quad witching is the simultaneous expiration of options and futures tied to individual stocks and stock indexes occurring on the last month of each quarter.

While the name may sound frightening, it often is not, especially when stocks are gaining, which, over the past eight years, has been more often than not. This quarter may prove a hurdle too high, sending stocks screaming lower.

Psychologically, losing money on a Friday sends traders home to unhappy weekends with thoughts of carnage fresh in their minds, so Monday's trading may prove more prescient in terms of market direction.

Meanwhile, bonds are telling. The 10-year note slipped to 2.15 on Thursday, with the 30-year bond holding steady at 2.72. The curve has continued to flatten, and that could actually be due to the Fed's tightening. With the overnight federal funds rate at 1.00-1.25 - the highest in nearly a decade - the Fed may be - inadvertently or otherwise - prompting the US economy into a recession.

GDP growth continues to flag and employment is stagnant. Raising rates during a period of slow to no growth makes sense only to Federal Reserve governors or others who bear no consequences for their actions.

Friday's action in the markets deserves close attention.

At the Close, 6/22/17:
Dow: 21,397.29, -12.74 (-0.06%)
NASDAQ 6,236.69, +2.73 (0.04%)
S&P 500 2,434.50, -1.11 (-0.05%)
NYSE Composite: 11,712.52, +16.24 (0.14%)