I want to say thanks to everyone that participated in yesterday's conference call. I hope I was able to clear a few things up that come in handy not in good times but during crisis moments in the market. I will say all the suggestions on how to make our service better were warmly received and will be implemented.
I wanted to be with you alone and talk about the weather
But traditions I can trace against the child in your face
Won't escape my attention
You keep your distance with a system of touch and gentle persuasion
I'm lost in admiration, could I need you this much
Oh, you're wasting my time, you're just, just, just wasting time
Something happens and I'm head over heels
I never find out till I'm head over heels
Something happens and I'm head over heels
Ah, don't take my heart, don't break my heart
Don't, don't, don't throw it away (Throw it away...Throw it away...)
Tears for Fears
The market could be in for some sideways sledding after a rather remarkable pop from what was the cusp of a big correction. Volume is drying up and even good earnings reports aren't moving the needle. Under normal circumstances when a stock like Goldman jumps a couple bucks immediately after posting what appears to be boffo earnings results only to shift gears deeper into the negative it's a red flag. But many stocks are priced for near term perfection. Yes, there's a difference between priced for perfection and simply getting a little ahead of actual developments.
Under the current scenario we could see that long awaited pullback which will be tempting to sell into but probably wiser to buy into.
In the meantime, we'll have to listen to management try to talk up disappointments, mostly by pointing to macro and industry conditions. When that doesn't work all CEOs have a small glass case next to the portrait of the company's founder that reads: "In case of punk earnings and no other excuses break."
Inside a scroll unfolds with these words:
It was the weather.
System of Touch and Gentle Persuasion
Today, Ben Bernanke is at it again! He'll be speaking and Wall Street will be listening. The question is will the Fed chairman get smoother or revert back to his clumsy handling of that May call that sent the street scurrying for cover? I think Ben's figured it out... just think about the exit around the corner and give it to the street more or less straight with swagger and confidence. Heck, it is not going to be your problem, and legacies for former Fed chairmen seem to melt faster than sands in an hourglass.
Even Paul Volcker, the toughest fed chair in my lifetime, squandered his legacy to get his name on legislation that mucks up the works and solves nothing.
Be gentle, Ben, but be persuasive, too.
Written Statement Highlights
Bernanke begins his statement focused on housing on the same day we see yet another decline in mortgage applications and major misses on housing starts and building permits. The telling part is positive home sales, housing prices and residential construction are supported by low mortgage rates that add confidence to housing and the economy. Well... the housing rally hasn't caught on with Main Street and unlike the stock market prices haven't roared back. Moreover, if investor money slows we could see a dip that could be very demoralizing.
Verdict - although the Fed has an official mandate of maximum employment and stable prices (read low inflation) Bernanke has been fixated on housing and he will not risk any hiccups in that recovery which has to be passed from foreign money and Wall Street investors to newlyweds looking to buy starter homes.
On jobs Bernanke was really honest saying the situation is "far from satisfactory," pointing out the unemployment rate remain well above its "longer-run normal levels" and underemployment and long term unemployment are "still much too high."
Verdict - The fed isn't going to buy into a phony unemployment rate driven by millions of job dropouts and tons of part time jobs. Also, we have a crisis of chronic long term unemployment that threatens to create a new permanent underclass of formerly proud American workers. Pumping in money hasn't helped this but it's the only tool the Fed has.