On Thursday, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke testifies before the Joint Economic Committee on the economic outlook in Washington. It's a big deal every time Ben opens his mouth, but this time is of particular importance because the US economy is visibly slowing down as the effects of QE2 wear off and Europe is yet again on the precipice of disaster. Therefore I'd say it's a given that we will get some form of stimulus, whether it be an extension of QE Mini-Me, another Operation Twist or a full blown QE3. Time will tell if Ben takes Schwarzenegger's advice to "Get to the Choppa!"
One thing that caught my attention today was the rumblings that the Fed is considering direct bailout assistance to the European Union. Of course they could certainly use our help, but enough is enough already! Never mind the argument that we have enough of our own starving banks in our own country, but lending them money so they can go deeper in debt to…pay off their debts is absolutely ludicrous. As is said in Facing Goliath - How to Triumph in the Dangerous Market Ahead:
"The deficit spending and the Feds massive expansion have prevented the economy from falling harder, but no one in their right mind would argue that these actions have "fixed" what is broken. The truth is the government can't fix what is broken. It's not big or powerful enough to do so…and it just makes it worse in the end!"
Yet, there is little that will prevent Helicopter Ben from printing more money and throwing it on the debt fire. Unfortunately for all of us, the markets are addicted to it. Of course the right solution is to let the free market system come to its point of equilibrium. It would be ugly for a little while, but it would flush out the waste and what was rebuilt would be stronger than before. After all, the answer to too much debt is not more debt. All it does is allow the bubble to grow bigger which means more pain when it burst. Wimpy must be a descendent of Bernanke's:
"'Ill gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today."
I fear that anything less than a full blown QE3, complete with an expansion of the Fed's balance sheet, will disappoint the markets. Given that stocks have already started to roll over with almost 40% of stocks down over 20% and 20% down over 30%, massive deterioration is well underway. Stocks do not peak all at once on the day the market makes a new high, and when the indexes peak, most stocks are already in a bear market.
However, and this is a BIG however, if Ben comes through with a new printing press project for the treasury, growth stocks and especially commodities will soar with the eagles. For that traders will want to start buying Goldcorp. (GG), Barrick Gold Corp (ABX), SPDR Gold Shares (GLD), Power Shares Double Gold (DGP), Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF (GDX), Newmont Mining Corp. (NEM), , Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. (FCX), PowerShares DB Gold Double Long ETN for the not so faint of heart, plus Silver Wheaton Corp. (SLW) and ProShares Ultra Silver (AGQ) and Fortuna Silver Mines (FSM).
On the growth stock front SPDR the big growth names will boom so head to the mountains, the mountains like the S&P 500 (SPY), SPDR Select Sector Fund - Financial (XLF), iShares MSCI Emerging Index Fund (EEM), Emerging Markets Consumer ETF (ECON), Brazil (EWZ), PowerShares QQQ Trust, Series 1 (QQQ), iShares Russell 2000 (IWM) and iShares FTSE China 25 Index Fund (FXI). For the very nimble investor trader types, stay with the movers of Apple (AAPL), which will benefit from new products coming out in a few months as well other leading companies that will continue to rise the innovation wave like Google (GOOG), Intel Corporation (INTC), Qualcomm (QCOM), Microsoft (MSFT), Cisco Systems (CSCO), Dell (DELL), Caterpillar (CAT), General Electric (GE) and Yahoo (YHOO), Red Hat Inc. (RHT), Schlumberger (SLB), VMware Inc. (VMW).
For those looking to play a little safer, focus on dividend stocks and MLPs such Terra Nitrogen (TNH), Legacy Reserves (LGCY), Vanguard Natural Resources (VNR) and BrietBurn Energy (BBEP) and healthcare REIT's related to the aging baby boomers such as Healthcare Properties (HCP), Senior Housing (SNH) and IShares Healthcare (IYH).