Monday, January 4, 2010

Up, up and Away!

Greetings good citizen,

Not only do we begin a whole New Year but we also embark on a brand new decade (for those of you who get excited over that sort of thing…)

I hope you all enjoyed your holidays as much as I did…and for anyone who laments the end of the holiday season, take heart…you’ll soon be seeing a lot more of your relations than you ever thought possible!

Um, I just finished perusing the Daily Rag and challenging my math skills by counting how many open positions were advertised in the Help Wanted section…it’s been averaging 7 jobs for the past five months…but today I had a finger left over…no, not nine jobs but four (jobs, total!) (And you’re being mighty picky by stating that your thumb ‘technically’ isn’t a finger…)

Anyway, did I wish you all a ‘Happy Freaking New Years’ yet?

Just don’t ask what there is to be happy about, or better yet, be advised that ‘happy’ is a relative term…

Which is another way of pointing out that you’re a lot happier then you realize you are, to hear those zany Libertarians tell it, you should be ecstatic to be permitted to draw another breath while you ponder all of the things you are ‘free’ to do. (And understand the ONLY reason those pricks aren’t charging you to breathe is because nobody can make a convincing case that they ‘own’ the air…)

But that aside, with the holiday’s over, the real ‘investment season’ begins as investors position themselves to coin tons of cash so they can ‘sell in May then go away’…

Nice work when you can get it, eh?

Well, it looks like 2010
is off to a great start
if, as the ‘help wanted’ ads prove, for no particularly good reason…

Markets Start New Year With a Leap

Published: January 4, 2010

Encouraging reports on manufacturing on three continents pushed markets higher on Monday, the latest indications that the economy continued to recover despite jitters in the housing markets. [What do you suppose they’re ‘manufacturing’, foreclosure notices?]

The Dow Jones industrial average rose more than 166 points or 1.6 percent in afternoon trading, and the broader Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index was up about 1.6 percent, amplifying earlier gains in markets in Europe and Asia.

An increase in commodity prices lifted shares of oil and gas producers and companies that make industrial materials like plastic and chemicals. Oil futures topped $81 a barrel, their highest levels in two months, on concerns about an energy dispute between Russia and its neighbor Belarus. [Um, geez—I’m going to guess that tomorrow we’ll be told that the sinking USD is the underlying cause behind the sudden jump in energy/commodity/equity prices…they have, of late, gone hand in hand. Is it just me or does anyone else have a hard time turning a massive loss in purchasing power into ‘good news’? (While the already wealthy wax even wealthier… WTF!)]

The Nasdaq got a lift from an analyst’s report that upgraded shares of the Intel Corporation, whose shares were about 2.8 percent higher. The Nasdaq was 1.6 percent higher by late morning.

Investors embraced a report from the Institute for Supply Management showing that manufacturing activity rose in December, bolstered by increases in new orders, inventories and employment. [Wait a minute Slim, isn’t today the first working day of the New Year? So who the fuck was putting this data together over the holiday weekend, or, more succinctly, just how ‘accurate’ are these obviously ‘slap-dash’ figures? Yet the Dow still rises 160 + points on this decidedly ‘shaky’ information…]

The group’s manufacturing index rose to 55.9 from 53.6 in November. It was the highest reading since April 2006, but economists warned that the recovery in manufacturing could wane as businesses finish restocking their depleted inventories. [Left to our feeble imaginations is the issue of how much smaller our manufacturing sector is four years after it’s last ‘positive’ reading. A smaller manufacturing sector would make a positive reading less difficult to achieve. Just as the overall size of US payrolls continue to diminish, which is scary all by itself because some people are paying themselves huge sums and the total is still dropping!]

“Much will depend on the consumer,” Joshua Shapiro, chief United States economist at MFR, wrote in a research note, “and we feel that the headwinds for consumer spending (the foremost of which are ravaged balance sheets and lingering labor market weakness) remain too brisk to expect much help on this front.” [Which naturally begs the question of just who is buying ‘the stepped up production of three continents’? Isn’t this just one more example of pundits talking out of their backsides because that’s what they’re paid to do?]

European shares were buoyed by a report showing that manufacturing output in the euro zone rose in December at the fastest pace since September 2007. The final Markit Eurozone manufacturing purchasing managers index rose to 51.6 points in December from 51.2 in November, in line with an earlier estimate, marking the fifth consecutive month of improvement. [Um, if it’s been moving up by a tenth of a percent a month, that’s some mighty feeble ‘improvement’.]

Rob Dobson, an economist at Markit, said that the data confirmed expectations that manufacturing in the region had “ended the year on a positive note,” representing “a marked turnaround from the unprecedented downturn at the start of the year.” [Um, is I too much to expect a concrete example of this? Did they sell more cars or did they build any new production facilities that provided their people with better paying jobs? Is it too much to ask for some specific examples?]

And in China, the latest survey showed that manufacturing activity expanded at the fastest rate on record in December. The HSBC Purchasing Managers’ Index rose to 56.1 from 55.7 a month earlier to reach its highest level since the survey began in April 2004. [Um, really now? You’d think this was a ‘100%’ improvement when it is really the same four tenths of a percent seen here in the US. Understand, China’s ‘manufacturing sector’ is many times larger than it is in the US, so those four tenths of a percent represent a substantial amount more activity than they do here; So we’re still talking ‘apples and oranges’! (More like apples & watermelons…just saying, ya know?)]

On Wall Street, investors seemed to shrug off a government report showing a slump in construction spending, which fell a seasonally adjusted 0.6 percent in November to its lowest levels in six years. The Commerce Department reported that construction spending in November was 13.2 percent lower than November 2008. [This has yet to stop the morons from pointing to (infintisimal) improvements in the ‘month over month’ data.]

Spending on home building fell 1.6 percent, accounting for much of the weakness. [A decided lack of creditworthy customers will also continue to kick the piss out of the Real Estate sector…but hey, let’s not let the facts stand in the way of the ‘recovery’.]

The numbers provided another sign of weakness for the country’s housing market. They could foreshadow more trouble for construction companies, which are struggling with tight credit and a drought of business, as interest rates begin to tick back up.

On Tuesday, investors will receive another indicator of the housing market when the National Association of Realtors releases new figures on pending home sales.

Later this week, the government will release its monthly unemployment report. Forecasts expect the unemployment rate to rise slightly, to 10.1 percent, from 10 in November, and job losses to continue to slow, but some observers say the report could show a net gain in payroll jobs for the first time since the recession began. [And if you believe that I’ve got some prime subterranean real estate you’d be interested in…see my opening remarks…]

Automakers will report their latest sales figures, for December and 2009 overall, on Tuesday.

Shares closed higher in Europe after a mixed session in Asia.

In Tokyo, the benchmark Nikkei 225 stock average closed 1 percent higher. The main Sydney market index, the S&P/ASX 200, rose 0.1 percent. But the Hang Seng index in Hong Kong slipped 0.2 percent, and the Shanghai composite index fell 1 percent.

Among the biggest gainers worldwide was Japan Airlines, which soared 31 percent after a government-controlled lender increased its financing for the distressed carrier.

The FTSE 100 index in London rose 1.6 percent, or 87.46 points to 5,500.34, while the DAX in Frankfurt was up about 1.5 percent or 90.87 points, to 6,048.30. In Paris, the CAC-40 rose 1.97 percent or 77.64 points to 4,013.97.

Gold was up $14.28 at $1,111.60 an ounce.

The dollar, which was lightly traded Friday, was mixed against other currencies. The euro rose to $1.4351 from $1.4337 Friday in New York, while the British pound rose to $1.6170 from $1.6151. The dollar fell to 92.82 yen from 93.02. [Um, geez Louise, it looks like the dollar sank against all of the currencies shown here…so where’s the ‘mix’?]

The yield on the benchmark 10-year United States Treasury note rose four one-hundredths of a point to 3.87 percent.

Um, last week I had a reader point out that I was never ‘happy’ with the performance of the market…and he was right, I’m not.

Because the ‘performance’ of the market doesn’t tell us anything useful…except that the already wealthy are getting even wealthier for no apparent good reason.

Well, actually, it may be more ‘disturbing’ than that, considering that for the first time in history, the investment banks are now ‘backstopped’ by the US Treasury.

If you don’t think this is ‘a time to worry’, you need to re-think your priorities!

What’s wrong with this picture good citizen? Well, lets start with the top two percent of the population owns 99% of all of the stocks and go from there.

Now we take that little factoid and match it up with the fact that these same two percent have been granted access to the US Treasury at, get this, zero percent interest! They can borrow money for free and invest it in the stock markets…and if they lose it, oh well! The taxpayer will simply lend them more…at no interest!

How else do you suppose the stock market has ‘recovered’ so swiftly…nay, ‘painlessly’?

What has most (rational) observers shaking in their shoes is the fact this can’t go on indefinitely. This is not an ‘economic recovery’ by any stretch of the imagination AND they can’t keep spending like this as revenues dwindle to nothing.

So we are left wondering when we are going to feel that sickening ‘thud’ that comes when you reach the ‘bottom of the barrel’?

All of this ‘Happy Talk’ is merely camouflage for the ‘looting’ of the US treasury…what has most of us seriously worried is how these brazen criminals intend to ‘cover their tracks’.

Bush was sure he would never be ‘brought to justice’...the current gang seems equally as confident…which tells us what precisely?

Perhaps Elliot Spitzer has lifted the curtain and shown us what we already know, that the problem here isn’t a lack of legislation but a lack of enforcement that comes from ‘legislative capture’. When the people charged with upholding the laws turn criminal, it’s time to break out the noose.

Thanks for letting me inside your head,


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