Growing fears of a Greek government debt default have sent the Euro plummeting in today's trading session. It has also fueled a mad rush back into US bonds after the bottom fell out of that same market in yesterday's session. As I mentioned in my post last evening, the US bond market was liable to reverse course in a heartbeat as soon as the fear index rose once again. That is exactly what happened.
Investors fear a domino-like contagion effect upon the big European banks holding a substantial portion of Greek debt. Combine that with an Empire State Manufacturing Index reading of negative 7.8 (anything below zero shows contraction) plus a 0.3% rise in the core CPI reading (the sharpest rise since 2008), and stocks were hammered while the long bond regained most if not all of its huge losses from yesterday.
What we have here in the US seems more and more like the stagflation of the late 1970's - a slowing economy in which prices continue to rise - a notable exception being that wages are going nowhere. None of this is positive for consumer spending moving forward. While US companies that do a large portion of business overseas are showing good earnings, it is not translating into growth at a sufficient pace to put a dent in the lousy job market.
Oddly enough, I read some news this morning that housing prices in the Silicon Valley are surging as new found wealth from the recent technology IPO's has fueled what looks like another one of those insanely stupid buying binges with all the new rich kids tripping over themselves to bid up the price of their newest status symbol. In some cases they are bidding ABOVE the asking price. It was that same sort of imbecilic psychology that helped contribute to the housing bubble in many communities across the nation back in 2004-2007. I am sure the realtors there are extremely happy but I have to shake my head in bewilderment that many in this nation never seem to learn a single thing.
I think that is what happens when money is made too easily and too quickly instead of sysymetically increased year over year. Don't get me wrong, I begrude no ones success, but there is something that happens to those who find themselves suddenly extremely wealthy. They lose a sense of the value of wealth and how difficult it is to make it and hold onto it. Show me someone who has made a lot of money and then lost it, only to make it back through hard work and I will show you someone who is far more careful of it and far more frugal than those who meet with sudden success. More often than not, it goes straight to their head. It is said that youth is wasted on the young and foolish. I think the same thing could be said of riches on the young and foolish.
Back to the markets however - the collapse in the Euro has sent the US Dollar surging higher as risk trades from yesterday are being yanked off today. This is why I keep saying to traders - do not let any single day's price action fool you into thinking a trend is developing and spur you into placing large positions on. Only the dipsticks that run the hedge funds do that sort of thing. (As you can tell I have nothing but contempt for the majority of hedge fund managers - they are the worst traders on the planet). Smart traders will look at this schizophrenic market behavior and reduce position size or just get out altogether and enjoy some hobbies. Let these other fools shred each other to pieces. You can still trade but just trade in size that will not seriously hurt you if you are on the wrong side of the daily price action.
As the risk trades come off, the equity markets sink ever lower and the commodity markets see further downside. The S&P 500 is getting perilously close to the 1250 level, the level at which it goes negative for the year and at which it threatens to put in a double top on the longer term weekly chart. Should it do so, consumer confidence will fall off the charts. Consumer spending will suffer as the psychological impact of losses in their 401K and other retirement accounts, combined with home values that are also underwater, dampens the desire for big ticket items and forces further retrenchment on that part of the US economic engine. All this will do is build further pressure on the Fed to act. And thus the addiction to monetary stimulus continues until the junkie is hopelessly ruined.
Earlier in the session, gold had recaptured broken support near $1530 and looked like it was attempting to get its footing there. As the equity markets dropped near midsession, the unwind in the risk trades derailed it and took it lower towards $1520. I might add here however that in terms of both the Euro and the British Pound, gold is holding very firm. That should keep it supported in US Dollar terms and prevent a sharper selloff such as what we are seeing in the grains, fiber and energy markets.
As can be expected in this sort of environment, the Continuous Commodity Index is taking a sharp hit and has sunk below 650. As long as it stays above 640 it is still range bound however. A decline through that level which cannot be recaptured quickly will not be good news for commodity bulls as it will reflect the return of the deflation mindset. Rest assured that Bernanke and company are closely watching this chart also.
The Dollar's rally has it strongly back above the 50 day moving average. What is more important that that however is the fact that is has now reached the 100 day moving average. It fell below this critical moving average in January of this year and has been unable to put in a close above it since that time. Should it manage to push past 76 one has to give the move higher respect from a technical perspective. If it can push above 76.50 and hold those gains, we could see the Dollar make a run towards 78 in short order.
"When misguided public opinion honors what is despicable and despises what is honorable, punishes virtue and rewards vice, encourages what is harmful and discourages what is useful, applauds falsehood and smothers truth under indifference or insult, a nation turns its back on progress and can be restored only by the terrible lessons of catastrophe." … Frederic Bastiat
Evil talks about tolerance only when it’s weak. When it gains the upper hand, its vanity always requires the destruction of the good and the innocent, because the example of good and innocent lives is an ongoing witness against it. So it always has been. So it always will be. And America has no special immunity to becoming an enemy of its own founding beliefs about human freedom, human dignity, the limited power of the state, and the sovereignty of God. – Archbishop Chaput
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