'Groundhog Day' on Wall Street

Endless fail loop continues as Europe dithers, DC slithers.

WASHINGTON, November 21, 2012 – We’re back after our Thanksgiving holiday hiatus and guess what? We’re opening this brief column with another of our mixed metaphors, declaring today a Bill Murray-style “Groundhog Day” even though we’re writing this from the environs of the nation’s capitol city and not from Punxsutawney Pa. or Woodstock, Il. (where the film takes place.) The film’s legion of fans, of course, will remember that Murray is doomed to relive the 24 hours of Groundhog Day again and again. Darned if these markets aren’t feeling the same way.

At last Wednesday afternoon’s close, Europe was a mess, we were perched on the fiscal cliff in the U.S. as Congress went home for the holidays instead of doing what they’re allegedly paid to do. Meanwhile, killing went on in the Middle East even as a ceasefire between Israel and the Iranian-fueled thugs of Hamas was allegedly being negotiated.

Since we’re busily mixing metaphors, doesn’t this particular groundhog remind you of Penelope a little bit? You know, Ulysses’ numero uno who kept the suitors at bay by weaving and reweaving a tapestry for years and years. A little like how Congress and the Eurocrats are solving the fiscal mess they and their crony capitalist pals created, right?


And today, what do we have. Europe is still a mess, mesmerized by the Greek mess, which, frankly, will never be solved satisfactorily. Congressional snake oil salespersons have slithered back into town, but Harry Reid is more interested in limiting filibusters than he is in doing another deal with the Republicans that will involve kicking the can down the road. And, while there’s allegedly a truce between Israel and Hamas (at least the last time we looked there was supposed to be), somehow people are still getting killed over there.

Sure, last Friday was a short trading day, gamed to the upside by the one hedge fund that was still around to trade, making mincemeat out of the markets and setting them up for some downside today. Which is what’s happening right now, at least as of 10:35 a.m. EST. So what’s really changed since last Wednesday. Precisely nothing. Like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic, right? (Oops, layering on another metaphor, or, more precisely, a simile in this case.)

We’re moving a few items around in our portfolios, adding a little more to gold, dabbling in silver again (SLV) and checking our various confused advisory services, none of which have been doing us a lot of good lately since the HFT nonsense in the markets has pretty much made a mockery of trading and investing systems that once worked pretty well.

So let’s mostly sit back today and let the smoke clear until we can stop repeating Groundhog Day, at least long enough to figure out how to get ourselves out of our endless do-nothing do-loop.

Disclaimer: The author of this column maintains several active trading and investment portfolios and owns residential and investment real estate. He is currently long IAU, SLV, MCP, and bits and pieces of Schwab ETFs as the occasion may warrant; and continues to hold medium term corporate and municipal bonds.

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




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Terry Ponick

Now writing on investing, politics, music, movies and theater for the Washington Times Communities, Terry was formerly the longtime music and culture critic for the Washington Times print edition (1994-2009) before moving online with Communities in 2010.  



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