WASHINGTON, July 20, 2012 – Another short column today, as we’ve only just returned our home in the Virginia suburbs of DC this morning after being delayed by another in a string of really serious thunderstorms. Power is out again for many DC area residents this morning, mostly courtesy of local electric utility, Potomac Electric Power (PEPCO), the usual suspect in such things.
We confess to being minimally invested in PEPCO stock (POM) for its swell dividend, much of which, local customers contend, should be funneled back into better electric service. PEPCO claims it’s doing its best, which until recently at least was probably not the case. (But there is that dividend for those who choose to collect rather than argue.)
On the other hand, various jurisdictions in the People’s Republic of Maryland have tended, at least in the past, to object to PEPCO’s tree-trimming efforts, hence permitting the existence of more massive trees in suburban areas that have an alarming propensity of seeking out PEPCO power lines when the are toppled by storms. Makes about as much sense as the PEPCO hierarchy’s fat salaries, we’d guess.
Thus it is in this area, where at least two-thirds of the area’s populace seems to consist of government and private sector lawyers who are never too rich or too time constrained to initiate legal actions or threats against utilities—or any company for that matter—whether justified or not. Many of them, in turn, probably invest in PEPCO stock. It’s one of the tedious things about living here. Nothing changes but everything costs. A lot.
Meanwhile, speaking of underperformance and litigation—the market opened down just a few minutes ago, with big traders dumping positions as they head for a weekend in the Hamptons, not wanting to be very long with the middle eastern situation deteriorating rapidly. Oil has been spiking up lately as a result (which we are seeing again at the pumps) and certain certainties are getting roiled once again.
The market does finally appear to be in the throes of a tentative rally that most recently has been involving tech. But we have yet to embrace any trend, as the Iranians can and will throw a wrench into things at some point since their cynical game of perpetual “negotiations” is now at an end with sanctions in place. What a mess.
And speaking of messes, what about our economy, or lack thereof. Unemployment is galloping back up again even as the administration casually starts promoting food stamp aid to illegal immigrants, further adding to the deficit in an attempt to sew up more (illegal) votes. The Founding Fathers are spinning in their graves.
It’s probably best to take a pass on trading anything today, although nipping off a profit here or there—if you have one on two—might be a productive use of time.
Who knows? You might end up in a theater this weekend, watching the latest installment of the Batman-Dark Knight trilogy, insecure in the knowledge that one of that film’s post-apocalyptic types might be planning your destruction in said theater, emulating the murderous vigilantism of one such dark ninja last night in a Denver-area movieplex. We live in unpleasant times, and the market offers only one aspect of this continuing uncertainty.
Here in DC, we can’t easily head for the Hamptons. But, barring more destructive thunderstorms in our future, Chesapeake Bay, Ocean City, MD, and the Delaware beaches aren’t far away. So perhaps it’s best to adjourn to one of these pleasant destinations for the weekend rather than hanging around here and worrying about stocks or the return of the Dark Knight.
Since we’ve been gone for a few days, we’ll do the market worrying for you, at least this morning. But then, we’ll probably adjourn somewhere, too, even if it’s only on the couch for a well-deserved long nap—which is what this market’s manic-depressive mood swings are likely to induce today. Have a good weekend, and we’ll see you Monday.
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.
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