Wall Street: Gone Fishin' until today's market close

Waiting for Alcoa, platinum coins, Angelo Mozillo, and other boring things. Photo: public domain

WASHINGTON, January 8, 2013 – The Maven is thinking back—way back—to his more literary past and trying to remember: was it Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer or was it his Huckleberry Finn that concluded with a final epilogue labeled “Chapter the Last: Nothing More to Write”? At any rate, it feels like that this morning, since it’s already approaching 11:30 a.m. and there’s no clear market trend to write about. Still digesting last week’s big move, the Dow is wobbly and down another 60 points or so, while the S&P 500 and the NASDAQ also seem to be contemplating being and nothingness, along with their respective metaphorical navels. But nothing definitive. 

Oh sure, stories abound, but they’re rather thin gruel. Bank of America is paying yet another heavy fine to reimburse Fannie Mae for all the bogus mortgages the bank acquired when it was forced—by the Government—to buy the criminal mortgage enterprise otherwise known as Countrywide. What’s weird about this is that Fannie and Countrywide actually colluded in the Democrat-instigated scam that led to the liar loans and bizarrely constructed mortgage pools that eventually helped crash the entire market for everything in 2007-2009 in a sickening serial implosion of this criminal fiscal enterprise. 

Even weirder was the fact that this entire pile of nonsense was caused by the socialistic notion that everybody—no matter what their financial condition—should get a cheap housing loan. So why bother to even qualify. We soon had—and still have—the answer to that question. But the greater question is: why punish the banks by fining them for doing what the Government essentially ordered them to do? 

Oh, well, it scarcely matters. Nobody’s bonuses or fat salaries, in our out of Government got cut much, save for a few low-level sacrificial lambs. And former Countrywide CEO Angelo Mozillo who paid off enough Democrat politicians with sweet loan deals to guarantee he’ll never get prosecuted for anything. So, the feckless Bank of America, its stockholders, et. al., get to pay for the sins of Angelo, his pal Chris Dodd, and other faux lefties who brought this country to its knees and aim to keep it there. Strange justice, this. 

In any event, people are pretty much hardened to this stuff these days in the Land of the (formerly) Free and the Home of the (once) Brave. The U.S. is clearly no longer a democracy for anyone who bothers to check under the hood. Which is essentially why the Government is going to attempt next to accomplish the very difficult trick of criminalizing self-defense by trying to first limit the sales of guns and then confiscate them. After all, if too many people do, in fact, look under the hood, the French and Russian Revolutions may look, in retrospect, like the proverbial Sunday picnic in the park. 

But this is the future. The present, apparently, is more creative. Someone, somewhere, has floated a brilliant idea to get us out of the current fiscal mess. To wit, due to some kind of arcane quirk in the law, apparently Treasury could print a big, fat platinum coin without asking the Federal Reserve’s permission. It could put, say, a $1T (that’s trillion) dollar valuation on the coin, park it in a vault, and then use it to buy back a whole batch of U.S. debt from the Federal Reserve, thus retiring it and saving the entire universe (or at least the politicians and crony capitalists) from hyperinflation while retiring the bulk of that troublesome debt the Republicans keep nattering on about. 

The whole notion is based on the fact that this mythic platinum coin is worth whatever Treasury Secretary Geithner or his successor say it is. And since the somewhat tarnished “full faith and credit” of the U.S. government would be behind the move, the $1T coin would actually be worth what we say it is, somehow magically wiping out a goodly chunk of our debt. Where’s Harry Houdini—or even David Copperfield—when we need them? 

In any event, this kind of shinola is all we have to write about today as we await Alcoa’s (AA) earnings statement after today’s close. Alcoa’s statement is always the first in the current earnings season, this one reporting mostly 4th quarter numbers, 2012. An endless parade of other reports will then follow over the next 3-4 weeks causing the market to dive up or down accordingly, as euphoria over some earnings gives way to despair over others. Problem is, these days one “earnings season” seems simply to morph into the next after a week or two, since these reports straggle out over such a long period of time. 

That said, given the usual kind of nonsense that goes on during “earnings season,” when you couple it with “Fiscal Cliff 2: The Return of Jason Voorhees,” get set for a spring consisting of short bursts of giddy euphoria, followed by horrendous trading days during which suicide seems to be the very best investment strategy to follow. 

But as for today, at least thus far, it looks like the kind of day where the late American poet, Archibald MacLeish might observe “the silence, the pall, of nothing, nothing, nothing…nothing at all.” Which would have been a great way for Mark Twain to close that Chapter the Last, come to think of it.

 

Disclaimer: The author of this column maintains several active trading and investment portfolios and owns residential and investment real estate. 

Any 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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