RF's Financial News

RF's Financial News

Sunday, May 30, 2010

This week in Barrons - 5-30-10

This Week in Barrons – 5-30-10:

Whistling Past the GraveYard...
Each day we are confronted with some form of bad news – whether it’s concerning the oil slick in the gulf, the bombing of people in Afghanistan, the increased tensions in Iraq, the sinking of a South Korean ship by a North Korean missile, or the debt problems of Italy, Portugal, Spain, Ireland, the U.K., and yes – the U.S. Yet there is always a large portion of news that simply doesn't make it to the nightly headlines. I find it fascinating that the average person knows quite a bit about the basics of what's going on in Greece yet doesn't know that 777 banks (here in the U.S.) are on the "critical list" and that we seem to see 1 to 5 go bankrupt each week. Just the other day - local ‘news’ guy remarked about the incredible fall in mortgage agreements – and how that coincided with the expiration of the $8,000 tax credit - but experts don't believe it's cause for alarm. Huh? The minute "Uncle Sugar" stops giving out free money, mortgage applications crash...yet that's not reason for alarm? And what about ‘strategic defaults’ – I heard from another friend in Arizona just this week à “because the house is no longer worth what we paid for it, let’s stop paying our mortgage because it will be a while before they kick us out – and when they do – we’ll RENT a better place for less money anyway.”

But understand that the glut of foreclosed homes is getting so large – that banks are allowing ‘squatters’. The rationale goes something like this: “If we kick them out, the house will deteriorate - thieves will take the appliances and the copper pipes – we’ll have to hire a property manager to cut the grass, etc. And if I allow "squatters" to just live there rent free - at least the house should be marketable some day in the future.” Do you hear a lot about this on your nightly news? I didn't think so. Imagine if that got out about ‘squatters’ – and how that would spiral out of control?

Now – if you take anything from this weeks ‘rant’ it’s the following:
A USA TODAY analysis of government data finds: Paychecks from private businesses shrank to their smallest share of personal income in U.S. history during the first quarter of this year. At the same time, government-provided benefits - from Social Security, unemployment insurance, food stamps and other programs - rose to a record high during the first three months of 2010! That means that ‘paychecks’ are being ‘replaced’ by government programs in a very big way! Not only is it a reflection on Obama’s “robust recovery” – but it’s also a reflection on how the government is attempting to win over voters – and continue thru the next election! Couple this with 17.6% unemployment (U6), a $13 Trillion deficit (putting the U.S. in the ranks of Argentina for backwards economies), and unemployment benefits being extended past 99 weeks – ugh à “What Recovery?”

Finally – this weeks’ Jobs Report is going to be crucial to the health of the market. To that end – the government needs to show a dramatic increase in job creation in order to sustain any kind of belief in the system. After all – we’ve lost 8 million jobs in the past few years – only to be replaced by a census work ‘up-tick’. Ah – but more and more news is leaking about these census workers. One census worker – last week – Naomi Cohn – told the Washington Post that
she was hired and fired a number of times by Census. Each time she was fired – she was hired back. It seems by doing this – Census is able to report the creation of a new job to the Labor Department. Here's a note from another Census worker -- this one from Manhattan: "I am on my fourth rehire with the 2010 Census. I have been hired, trained for a week, given a few hours of work, then laid off. So my unemployed self now counts for four new jobs.”

So no matter what the jobs report or any of the other cheerleaders tell you, you cannot square up a sound and growing economy with a fact that paychecks make up less income to the U.S. than any other time in our history, and handouts are at record highs. We’re in a recession – soft depression - but it's not all that evident to people because of food stamps, 99 weeks of unemployment, strategic defaults, banks allowing deadbeats to live in their homes. However, the hard depression still lies ahead.

The Market:
In percentage terms – we just put in the worst May since 1940. We shorted the bulk of the fall, caught some nice dollars on the bounce, and then "got flat". Now of course – where is the market going from here? In the somewhat longer term it's going "down' – I think we will visit DOW 9000 this summer. But in the short-term - they are doing what they can to rally a bounce. We have the jobs report coming up and the bulls will be trying to tell us how great it's going to be. If they get enough momentum, they could bounce us for another 300 - 400 points to the upside. But in the end, somewhere in June or the beginning of July – I think we’ll be looking at DOW 9000.

With that in mind, we are looking to load up on the "dark side" - meaning shorts and inverse ETFs when the time is right. We usually try and time our addition of such trades to coincide with a market bounce, but that's not always possible. So, for the next few days we'll be watching the reaction to the jobs run up, and the ultimate results. Whether we get a big bounce or not, the fact is that we'll be very light on the upside, and heavier on the downside. Why? Because (as you have seen) the market can fall a whole lot faster than it can rise. So, we'll be light on any bounce and heavier on the pullback.

Please let me wish a very Happy Memorial Day Weekend to everyone. I should have talked about Memorial Day and it's meaning, but let's just say I’m old enough to understand and to have been touched by it’s meaning and memory.

Let’s assess where we are - selling the DIA Short and the VXX as well we still have:
- GG at $43
- IAG at $17
- SLW at $18
- SSRI at $20
- GDXJ at $27
- GLD at $115.86
- NG at $6.64
- PHYS at $11.65

If you’d like to view my actual stock trades - feel free to sign up as a twitter follower – “taylorpamm” is my nickname on Twitter – fyi.

Remember the Blog http://rfcfinancialnews.blogspot.com/
Until next week – be safe.

R.F. Culbertson

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