We learned last week that our individual net worth has zoomed all the way back to the same levels as those of 1991.
Yesterday, we got the report that crude oil inventories are now at levels last witnessed back in 1990.
And then there are economic projections for our economy which continue to move in reverse.
Twenty-seven years ago we got a kick out of Michael J Fox and company in the hilarious "Back to the Future." We all remember the plot and how a supped-up DeLorean took its occupants back in time. That was fantasy, but we have learned you can actually go back in time in real life-in a broken down jalopy. In our case, that jalopy is the administration policies that have ripped the guts out of business. Negativity and the ad nauseam blame game doesn't just wear down businesses, it diverts all eyes from the prize and everyone into defensive positions. Hence, an economy and a nation that's moving backwards at the speed of a modified sports car.
According to Cap Gemini, only North America endured a decline in its high net worth individual population from 2010 to 2011. The White House is winning the battle, America is losing the war.
Tempest in Teapot
When the dust settled, the market was unchanged. Yet, between the open and closing bell, the market was all over the place. If we could roll out all the action, it would reach from here to the moon. The Federal Reserve keeps trying to nudge Washington, with Bernanke going as far as to echo Jamie Dimon on the fiscal cliff (a little more refined and subdued but said the same thing). The savings grace was an effort to let the Street know the Fed will take action if things get worse and then they predicted things will get worse.
* GDP now 1.9% to 2.4% from April assumption 2.4% to 2.9%
* Unemployment rate now 8.0% to 8.2% from April assumption 7.8% to 8.0%
* PCE Inflation now 1.2% to 1.7% from April assumption 1.9% to 2.0%
There was a distinct war between buyers and sellers after the Fed decision and Bernanke's press conference, so we saw fear and greed at the same time ... although, these emotions came in waves. We remain in that macabre place of wanting slightly disappointing news so we get easy money. At some point, we must have a stock market powered by great news and great policy. I did find it interesting that utilities sold off big time, this sector has been the place to hide out for those in the fear camp, it could mean an itch to find a cheaper hiding place. Or, it could also mean smart money is ready to buy dips.
The big problem continues to be a lack of leadership, which makes gaining traction almost impossible.
While we grapple for direction and look for decisiveness in government and markets I hope the pendulum doesn't swing from its current state of frustrating indifference to fear. Moreover, we still can unlock and unleash the nation's greatness. I find it ironic that Bernanke admitted to being "too optimistic" about the recovery when he was making his victory lap and television appearances. He should be optimistic now that recovery is still possible instead of letting the world know things are getting worse but it's not enough to be heading for the cliff of doom, we must be freefalling into the abyss before he'll act.
Premature celebration seems to afflict the White House and Federal Reserve and now both are paralyzed to act on the inevitable that doesn't have to be the inevitable.
The market reflects that frustrating indifference in pre-opening activity, still seeking a catalyst, something to instill confidence. The Fed is buying time and the market is marking time but time is moving backwards with respect to our wallets.
It wouldn't be so bad to move backwards if a sense of civilly, faith and patriotism came along for the ride. But while the engine of commerce is shut down and assets lose value the denigration of morals marches ahead without a care in the world.