A market with a split personality
Is the market too hot, too cold or just right? Recent data are sending mixed messages, but the likely endgame still seems crystal clear: more money printing.
This week has been a good illustration of the stock market wanting to have its cake and eat it too. On Monday, the ISM Manufacturing Index showed better-than-expected optimism with a reading of 54.8, versus a reading of 53.4 last month. That sparked a rally of about 1%, plus or minus, in the major indices.
Obviously, a better ISM report is a vote for the "Goldilocks" mindset that the Federal Reserve is keeping the economy "just right." As such, it is also less of a catalyst for more help from Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke's money-printing machine.
However, the market did not dwell on that report, as attention quickly turned to other data points.
One came from the Australian central bank, which cut its interest rates by 50 basis points (versus expectations of only 25) because the economy was "somewhat weaker" than forecast. Most people believe that Australia is doing quite well, and it certainly is on a relative, if not absolute, basis. But the speed at which the Reserve Bank of Australia acted shows how little tolerance there is for any slowdown anywhere. (Australia does have rates higher than most, but the point survives.)
(Column continues below video.)
Still working on it
A sign that the economy might be "too cold" rather than "just right" was the midweek ADP employment report, which showed only 119,000 jobs created versus a forecast of 170,000. Obviously, this suggested that this week's nonfarm payroll report, released after this column's deadline, could be on the weak side. (Editor's note: Friday's payroll report was indeed weak, with hiring slower than expected. Read a full report here.)
On the other hand, we all know the ADP report is not always a perfect harbinger of the nonfarm payroll report, which was due out today (after this column was written). If it is right, and the private sector was on the light side while the public sector is shedding jobs, then the government data could be a decent-sized disappointment. (But it is hard to have a big opinion in advance, because of how the Bureau of Labor Statistics data are put together.)
We're owe in it together
Throughout the history of the world, the currency printing press was often not available to solve crises, and in those cases where it was, it was usually abused, which resulted in inflation, currency/bond market collapses, etc. However, as long as people believe -- as they currently do -- that problems can be solved via money printing, why would anyone ever want to take any pain?
Europe is dealing with all of that right now. The Germans are doing fine and don't want to use the printing press, while those who are suffering (Greece, Italy and especially Spain at the moment) don't see why they shouldn't be allowed to. In the end, I think the majority in Europe will win, we will see more money printing and the experiment with austerity will be over.
Here in America, of course, we don't experiment with austerity. We just print money and roll out government bailout programs. I believe we will not make any attempt at serious austerity until the printing press is taken away, via the bond market or currency market. (This is what I call the "funding crisis" ).
Having said that, we have the best brand of capitalism, and despite government attempts at cronyism and socialism, the creative-destruction process is allowed to work here better than most places. That has helped to some degree. But I expect to see the printing press trump austerity until it is no longer a viable option.
Mining stocks second that emotion
Regular readers know I believe in gold and gold-related ideas as protection against the constant money printing, and this week the last two major gold companies reported their earnings results: Barrick Gold (ABX) and Yamana Gold (AUY). Both were in line with estimates, or even slightly better, which means that all the major gold mining companies made their numbers or exceeded expectations, with the exception of Goldcorp (GG).
Thus, it wasn't horrible operations this quarter that have seen mining stocks get destroyed; it is purely market sentiment. That will change when it changes, but it is a good example of the huge role psychology plays in where stocks trade, both on the upside and the downside.
At the time of publication Bill Fleckenstein owned stock in Yamana Gold and Goldcorp, as well as gold.
This world wide inter related economy has a thousand moving parts, most of them bad. It also has lot's of cash waiting on the sidelines for something really positive to happen to point the way out of the mess.
But, unfortunately, there are very few ways to clean up the balance sheets of cities, states, countries, individuals, banks, investment brokerages, insurance companies and way too much debt floating above all of it like gasoline. One spark from any source and we all get burned. And it's simply impossible to know where that spark will come from, so, we tip-toe into the future hoping no one does something stupid.
the stock players are now careful about insider trading, the public is not into buying non USA manufactured items, and if they buy, the moneys go to outside USA banks. Out production capacity has dropped, more junk is put into cars so as to jack up prices. The taxes on properties is skyrocketing, more dependence on public assistance, lots of fake disabilities, energy prices are out of the world, And if any help for the American worker is put into action, the money hungry vultures destroy the programs. This looks like an inflationary depression and the dollar leaving the USA and not returning.
Let's not leave out the 300 pound gorilla in the room- the reason for increased volatilty and cash parked on the sidelines:
Both the smart money and those in the trenches are waiting to see what happens in November.
There is some 'gravity' to what Bill is saying. Noone is interested in what 'stocks' are doing as that is obvious 'manipulation' and said and done. This will continue with the 'button' pushing in legalized arbitrage ... and that is all it is. I get a 'kick' out all this with news that 401K's and pension plans have made money. It is a total 'con'.
Ah, a split personality....? I might agree with some of that...
On one side of the split, is the "PUMP" group...
With the other side of the split, we have the "DUMP" group....
Between the two, they work together to steal investors money...
This pattern has been happing weekly for some time now...
with No stocks changing hands, ...lol
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ABOUT BILL FLECKENSTEIN
This column is a synopsis of Bill Fleckenstein's daily column on his website, FleckensteinCapital.com, which he's been writing on the Internet since 1996. Click here to find Fleckenstein's most recent articles.
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As the devil-may-care bravado of Wall Street marches on, history warns that -- in the end -- there will be the devil to pay.
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