Monday, April 27, 2009

Monday Morning Update: Good News Remains Scarce

This blog has since inception considered Tim Geithner to be the bad penny and asked that his nomination as Treasury Sec'y be withdrawn. Thus it is with positive emotions that an important blog from Naked Capitalism was seen this morning, titled Are the Knives Coming Out for Geithner? If you haven't, please read it.

That post by Yves Smith and the lengthy NY Times article that it keys off of, are not in conjunction with an apparent pandemic of swine flu enough to knock the stock market off its stride.

Yesterday, however, Larry Summers was reported on by Bloomberg as follows:

“I expect the economy will continue to decline,” with “sharp declines in employment for quite some time this year,” Summers said yesterday on “Fox News Sunday.”

In conjunction with this downbeat comment from Dr. Summers, TrimTabs reported today via Email that:

- U.S. Economy in Much Worse Shape Than Wall Street Realizes: Income Tax Withholdings Drop 3.1% Y-o-Y in Past Four Weeks, and TrimTabs Online Job Postings Index Falls 4.2% in April.

In addition, the debt monster is back: Bloomberg reports that companies have sold a record $468 B in debt so far this year (presumably this is a record for this far into a calendar year).

The news remains poor, and a veteran market observer comments (courtesy of Zero Hedge and GreenLightAdvisor Views):

Richard Russell of Dow Theory Letters, provides the following note April 20, 2009:
“(1) The market turned up in a V-shaped reversal off the March 9 low. However, almost all bull markets start with a period of accumulation. This entails a sideways move, sometimes taking weeks or even months. Or it may require a non-confirmation of the Averages as per December 1974. At the March low, we saw neither - no indication of accumulation. And that bothers me.

“(2) At the March lows, we did not see the ‘great values’ that usually accompany major bear market bottoms (i.e. P/E’s in the 5-8 area, average dividend yields of 5-6%).

“(3) The market was severely oversold at the March lows, a condition that often sets off a ‘relief’ (‘let off the pressure’) rally. The advance was probably triggered by the severely oversold condition of the market.

“(4) The one thing a money-manager cannot afford to do is be on the sidelines during ‘what could be’ a major rally. Once the market started up from the March 9 low, many money managers leaped in. The big short positions were immediately squeezed. The rise became a momentum advance. Retail buyers moved in, many trying to retrieve some of their brutal losses.

“(5) The rally moved up ‘too fast’ - action more typical of a bear market rally than the slow, plodding rise that is characteristic of the advance in a new bull market.

“(6) Two groups that led the rally were Financials and Consumer Cyclicals. Interestingly, these two groups contained respectively 5 billion and 2.7 billion shares sold short. This suggests strongly that a significant part of the rally was fired up by short-covering in these two groups (thanks Alan Abelson for this information).

“(7) Many investors and analysts turned optimistic after the market had rallied for only a few weeks. At true bear market bottoms, investors remain stubbornly sceptical or bearish for months after the bottom. Remembering 1974, people were actually angry when I turned bullish at the bottom. I was receiving hate letters and subscription cancellations.

“All of the above have kept me skeptical and cautious about this rally.”

To the above list one might add that around now is the time that a traditional honeymoon period ends for a media-favored new President. The Geithner lashing out of the leading Democratic organ, the Times, may signal a less gauzy picture of the new administration reaching the public, which in turn could lead to a less optimistic view of the future.

We shall see what we shall see.

Copyright (C) Long Lake LLC 2009

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