Bernanke Walks Through Confirmation
I expected this but I was still disappointed. Full roll call can be seen here. Make notes for election season.
Visualize the Bull
A reader had mentioned tennis and it got me thinking about a book that changed my life on many levels. The book is by Timothy Gallwey and it is called "The Inner Game of Tennis". A quick check on Amazon shows it has been reprinted and is available. I have a 1974 first edition that my mother found for me years ago at a yard sale. While titled about tennis, the book is really about the inner game of life and can be applied to any endeavor in which the biggest opponent is yourself. What does not qualify?
As I was thinking about the book I remembered a fable used as an example in the section on concentration. I will include it here to set up the next section. It uses plenty of religious themes, but that is not why I found it memorable, but be warned if easily offended by such things:
A seeker after Truth sought out a yoga master and begged him to help him achieve the enlightenment of perfect union with his true self. The Master told him to go into a room and meditate on God for as long as he could. After just two hours the seeker emerged distraught, saying that he could not concentrate, since his mind kept thinking about his much beloved bull he left at home. The Master then told him to return to the room and meditate on his bull. This time the would-be yogi entered the room and after two days had still not emerged. Finally the Master called for him to come out. From within the seeker replied, "I cannot; my horns are too wide to fit through the door." The seeker had reached such a state of concentration that he had lost all sense of separation from his object of concentration.
So why in the world would this pop into my mind?
As I review economic data almost all of it is terrible. Things are not getting better on many fronts, and the best that can be said about the others is they are getting less worse. Yet the bullishness is so pervasive at this time I wonder if these bulls are not just seekers that have looked so long and so hard for positives that they have become the bull through transference of their hopes.
In prior times (disregard the Great Depression, oh, and the 1970s) recovery ALWAYS came right on the heels of a crash. Thus it MUST be so this time. Furiously poring over anything that fits that view they, over time, come to view everything as a positive. One might argue that I can only see the negative of things, and I always take a look from many angles to make sure I am not bending things to my own view. Nobody is perfect though. I would add that I am not trying to sell anyone anything, or get anything I hold to go up in value (nobody likes gold or silver anyways) so I think I may be more open to be impartial.
That all said, I present some graphs or headlines that tell a different story that the "V" shaped recovery that is at hand any second now. You can decide for yourself how this information looks to you.
From Calculated Risk, Fannie Mae (FNM) and Freddie Mac (FRE) delinquency rates:
The words "unlimited guarantee" come to mind.
From Mish, 4 Week Moving Average of Initial Unemployment up 3rd Straight Week:
This is besides the long term unemployed and the many that have given up.
EconomPic with the "gains" in consumer confidence:
The expectations index part must be worth almost the whole number.
Rapid rebound in revenues powering markets? Take away the banking gains due to the myriad of tricks and handouts we always discuss and Rosenberg notes: With 20% Of S&P Reporting, YoY Ex-Fin Revenue Growth Is... Negative
Moving to the "China Miracle", Illusion of Prosperity notes that:
85% of Chinese Cannot Afford Real Estate
There are plenty more China related entries on the site so check them out.
On a technical side of things for those chartists out there, Bespoke has a section up titled:
Percentage of Stocks Above 50-Day Moving Averages
As shown below, the percentage of stocks above their 50-day moving averages in the S&P 500 has dropped to 35%. This is the lowest level seen since mid-2009. Clearly breadth has gotten weak on this pullback. No sectors have more than 50% of stocks above their 50-days, and Consumer Discretionary has the highest reading at 48%. Materials is the weakest sector with a reading of 10%.
Plenty of charts if interested.
Housing Doom trolled their archives to find the most amazing stories they covered over the years as they look now with hindsight:
10 — Bank of America sued for gender bias over bonuses, Reuters 6/25 '09
9 — High Interest Rates Encourage Housing Speculation, Scoop (NZ), 4/24 '07
8 — Swiss Re In CHF1.3B US Life Block Sale To Berkshire, WSJ 1/18 '10
7 — Can’t Sell Your Home? Maybe It’s Priced Too Low, NYT 7/11 '07
6 — "Re-jiggered accounting methods gave Freddie Mac a boost Wednesday when investors rallied over better-than-expected losses", Forbes 5/14 '08
5 — Cooling U.S. economy good for Canadian housing market, CanWest 9/16 '06
4 — Barclays Capital to charter ships to move commodities, SmartBrief 4/26 '08
3 — Ambac Rises as Bond Insurers Try to Tap Treasury Plan, Bloomberg 10/17 '08
2 — Bank of America Says ‘Thank Goodness’ for Countrywide, Bloomberg 3/13 '09
1 — SEC Issues Climate-Risk Guidance Despite Tough Political Environment, NYT 1/28 '10
Classic. #7 and #2 are the best.