WASHINGTON, August 14, 2012 – We’re back in Washington DC after our somewhat excellent adventure out west. During our travels—a good old-fashioned roadtrip during which we experienced a serious mechanical breakdown in our old and usually reliable 2003 Saturn VUE—we’d hoped to more or less report live from various areas of the country. But we fell down on the job, largely due to seriously spotty wireless coverage in various locales. Connectivity was available wherever we stayed overnight. But, like the animals in Animal Farm, some wireless systems proved more equal than others.
Anyhow, we’re back, and will log in a journal of our travels over at our other business column, “The Prudent Man,” in the coming days to catch you up. One of the benefits of traveling like this is that you get to check out how local businesses are doing as well as what the average American citizen in “flyover country” is actually thinking about things. We hope you’ll find our variously datelined post-reports interesting and enlightening. You’ll never see these observations in things like “the polls,” which purport to reflect the national mood in the run-up to Election 2012 but often don’t.
Meanwhile, back in the market, we picked a good two-week period to be more or less absent. Nothing much happened except the usual bouts of frantic, weird trading, driven as it always is these days by the algos and HFTs who’ve made a mockery out of investing as the SEC looks on passively, sitting on its collective hands lest its officials and appointees lose out on lucrative Wall Street offers once they’ve left “public” service. Indeed.
Big news while we were on the road: The Knight flash-crash debacle, which may yet drive that big trading firm out of biz but probably not; and the somewhat unexpected choice, by nearly-anointed Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney of House numbers guru Paul Ryan as his choice for Veep/Running Mate in the fall elections.
Romney’s choice shores up his weak conservative support quite considerably, puts Wisconsin in play for the Republicans, and may, at long last, force a serious debate on the Democrats’ headlong and heedless drive to transform the U.S. into a Euro-Socialist state—you know, the kind that’s failing big time right now before our very eyes. It remains to be seen whether the American voter has seen enough of Hope and Change to consciously choose going back to the future, as in the future that was envisioned by Ronald Reagan who almost achieved it after the disastrous Carter presidency.
Market-wise, however, the Knight debacle, after a short panic, was shrugged off, and the Ryan pick hasn’t yet had any viable effect on the averages. Today’s trading, as of 10:30 a.m. EDT, is typically listless and dull. Who knows what will get kicked up this afternoon when the blatant manipulation of stocks and averages usually gets into high gear?
Tone this morning is lightly positive, but it doesn’t mean much, with retail traders continuing to stuff money into their mattresses while many pros are enjoying a couple of weeks out at their mansions in the Hamptons, having avoided even the tiniest bit of suffering during our ongoing Great Recession/Great Depression II. As Jesse’s Café Américain recently observed, “Europe is on vacation, and all but the hard core momentum traders are on strike in the US.”
At this very same site—always loaded with incredibly useful information as well as pithy and sometimes acrid market observations—the author commented yesterday on the increasingly silly coverage of the market by the once relatively reliable CNBC:
“In one of his rare appearances on the ‘mainstream media’ Bill Black educates the CNBC news anchor Maria Bartiromo and news contributor Bethany Maclean on the nature of financial fraud.
“It is interesting to see the NBC news people acting as apologists for the financial powers, trotting out false arguments and talking over or rushing past the facts when they are presented. At least Bloomberg is more straightforward in their presentation of blatant hucksterism, making little pretense to journalism or presenting any other side of the Wall Street story. They are salespeople and spokesmodels for the financial industry and the monied interests.
“Just putting a letter or two in front of a storied call sign, as in the case of MSNBC and CNBC, does not protect that brand from the tarnish of increasingly low standards and future scandal.”
Amen to that. (Clip appears below.)
But wait! There’s more. On August 12, Jesse posted some interesting verbiage regarding President Andrew Jackson’s controversial termination of the Second Bank of the United States back in 1834. Arguably an earlier iteration of the current Federal Reserve—actually, sort of a hybrid, vaguely like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac—that earlier institution roused the ire of America’s first genuinely populist president, remembered today in most high school history books as the guy who let people with muddy boots into his Inaugural festivities in the White House. (One view of that event is pictured at the top of this article.)
Old Hickory was not one to mince words, as we learn, via Jesse, from some meeting minutes recorded by bankers during their not-very-pleasant 1834 meeting with Jackson, whose piquant observations were as follows:
“Gentlemen! I too have been a close observer of the doings of the Bank of the United States. I have had men watching you for a long time, and am convinced that you have used the funds of the bank to speculate in the breadstuffs of the country.
“When you won, you divided the profits amongst you, and when you lost, you charged it to the bank. You tell me that if I take the deposits from the bank and annul its charter I shall ruin ten thousand families. That may be true, gentlemen, but that is your sin!
“Should I let you go on, you will ruin fifty thousand families, and that would be my sin! You are a den of vipers and thieves. I have determined to rout you out, and by the Eternal, (bringing his fist down on the table) I will rout you out.”
Remind you of anything, folks? Like the recent observation that taxpayers will ultimately have lost bigtime on the GM bailout while the administration’s union cronies made out like bandits? Or like the way that every single Wall Street banker and investment banker has continued to live in high style (including outrageous bonuses) as the country’s middle class withers away like Lenin’s state was supposed to?
Maybe Andy Jackson wasn’t such a plebian Yahoo after all. Could a blueprint for our own future be hiding in this now-neglected bit of history? An interesting thought for today.
Have a good one.
Disclaimer: The author of this column maintains several active trading and investment portfolios and owns residential and investment real estate.
Positions mentioned above describe this author’s own investment decisions and should not be construed as either buy or sell recommendations. The current market is highly treacherous and all investors travel at their own risk, so caution should be exercised at all times.
Illustrations, charts, commentary, and analysis are only the author’s view of current or historical market activity and don’t constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any security or contract. Views, indications, and analysis aren’t necessarily predictive of any future market or government action. Rather they indicate the author’s opinion as to a range of possibilities that may occur going forward.
References to other reporters, analysts, pundits, or commentators are illustrative only and do not necessarily represent an endorsement of such individuals’ points of view. If specific investment vehicles are mentioned in any article under this column heading, the author will always fully disclose any active or contemplated investments in said vehicles.
Read more of Terry’s news and reviews at Curtain Up! in the Entertain Us neighborhood of the Washington Times Communities. For Terry’s investing and political insights, visit his Communities columns, The Prudent Man and Morning Market Maven, in Business.
Follow Terry on Twitter @terryp17
This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities @ WashingtonTimes.com. Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media. REPRINTING TWTC CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND/OR PAYMENT IS THEFT AND PUNISHABLE BY LAW.