Good Saturday morning!  Another week of up/down/all around slamma/jamma trading. Markets did not have alot to show for all their exertions, ending pretty much where they began.  I guess we can thank China, Microsoft, Gentle Ben, Oil, Gold and Silver for our trials and tribulations this week. All in all, its been pretty nuts, and nothing sums it up better than this cartoon, Its now official . . . we have no idea what’s going on.

Ahh, but enough frivolity — once again, it is another gorgeous weekend in the North East, and rather than fritter away the time chitchatting, lets plow headlong into this week’s linkfest:

• China tightened rates this week, and we were about to head into a nasty sell off. That was averted by Fed Chair Bernanke’s dovish testimony to the JEC. The markets reversed on the phrase "even if in the
Committee’s judgement the risks to its objectives are not entirely balanced, at
some point in the future the Committee may decide to take no action at one or
more meetings;
"  And thus, we keep getting reminded that It’s the data, stupid;

File this under Uh-Oh: After the prior week’s big 200 point one day rally, I wrote (on April 19th) that the worst case scenario for the markets were a Pause/Resume scenario.  Guess what? That is precisely what the Fed Chair implied with that quote above; The Pause/Resume scenario is now increasingly likely;  Jim Jubak, writing before gentle Ben’s testimony, explained why interest rates will march higher;

• In other economic news, the WSJ reports that GDP Up, Wages Stagnant (If no WSJ, go here). GDP and Durable Goods data are a perfect example of why you must look at the series, and not rely on a single data point.

Follow the bouncing email: In a related but amusing item, a reader sent me the the Columbia Business School Follies clip for "Every Change of Rate," a terrific parody of Bernanke and Glenn Hubbard; I dutifully blogged it, the WSJ Marketbeat picked it up, I forwarded it to Kudlow’s producers who put it on the show that night. The Columbia grad students ended up on Power Lunch the next day. I’m telling you, this email/internet thingie is gonna be big one day;

• As bad as things may be for Detroit, product remains the key to success in the car biz. Proof: the hot Ford Mustang;

• With Gasoline over $3 (blame Congress for the poorly thought out Ethanol plan), there were lots of interesting energy news: Some have proposed global cooperation as a way to bring prices down (Ha!). Some companies are allowing Telecommuting as a way to deal with High Gas Prices — and it seems to be working; Business Week notes these are surprisingly dark days For Energy Efficiency; Its not only gasoline, but electricity too — deregulation of electric markets is also pinching consumers;

• One of my favorite blogs looks at what it costs to fill up big SUVs in California (note: the prices are for regular, but many of these big trucks require premium); The NYT blames a Trading Frenzy" as adding to the oil price rises

• No wonder the WH is ahoppin: Charts from several sources (including our own Paul Kedrosky) note the correlation between Gasoline Prices & Presidential Approval

• After Bernanke’s JEC testimony, I opined "I think Gold — and most of the commodities — just got a whole lot sexier;" We saw Gold jump almost $20 the next day, Copper is at record, (some think the cycle may last years), and the Silver ETF traded 2.342 Mln shares on its 1st day;   

• The longer cycle perspective comes from Marc Faber, who stated that "Gold May Rise 10-Fold If Dow Triples;" Or not: Veteran S&P beating fund manager Bill Miller warns that the sudden enthusiasm for commodities is very late in the cycle; it reminds him of the love of tech circa 1999;   

• Slate’s Dan Gross notes that All this Globalization used to drive down prices; Not anymore;   

• Meanwhile, in the Middle East: it appears the military is in Iraq for the long haul. Iraqi Strife is seeping into the Saudi Kingdom; Troublesome Iran deals two blows to U.S. at global oil talks

• Cornell’s Walter LaFeber has trained three of the last four Advisers for National Security, plus a top member of Dick Cheney’s staff. So I sat up and paid attention when he penned an article explaining Why Condi Rice’s Foreign Policy Approach Is Flawed

• Over a dozen links and no mention of housing? Let’s rectify that:

-Good overview from Waxchovia:  The Outlook for the Housing Market: The Music Has Not Ended, but the Beat Has Certainly Changed (pdf);

-Consistent with that: Strength in the Housing market has shifted to new regions;

-A look at the top 7 Coolest Real Estate Web 2.0 Sites;

-The Real Estate Journal continues to mull over whether we will have a Soft Landing or a Crash for the Housing Market?   

-You know my views on the bubble issue, but I still found this interesting: Marching Through The Phases Of The Housing Bubble;

– The Global Association of Risk Professionals (GARP) looks at Deciphering Smoke Signals in the US Housing Market in Today’s Economy;

• Lots of news from China this week (notice a trend?)It seems that Google has a China Problem (and vice versa); Jon Markman thinks explains How China is winning the oil race; Finally, The International Herald Tribune looks at the huge imbalances in the U.S. current account withg China, in the amusingly titled Bubble, schmubble – foil or trouble;

• This week saw the long awaited return of the Apprenticed Investor series with Seven Steps for Handling Stock Tips; It was motivated by the ginormous spike in bulletin board volume; On a related note, the WSJ offers How to Tell if You’re Going Too Far Taking on More Risk;

• A "Contrarian’s contrarian" goes for the Incubators ICGE and CMGI;

• Earnings have been coming in strong, and lots of folk say that’s the basis for their bullishness; Not Marty Zweig or Ned Davis, who quantifiably show what you can expect from Earnings and Subsequent Market Performance;

• Thanks to the real estate boom, a lumpy recovery, and the dividend/capital gains tax cuts, your percentage of after tax assets/net worth has likely changed significantly over the past 5 years. It depends upon where you are in the economic scale. I was surprised to learn that the bottom 25% had a negative net worh.

• Fascinating chapter in the book How People Learn about (available on their website)  How Experts Differ from Novices;  Experts think in terms of core concepts or big ideas, while Novices’ are more likely to search for pat answers that fit their everyday intuitions. Consider the repercussions this has for Investors, and how they process information; 

• Moving to the world of Science, we learn that: Black Holes are Actually Green; (See this cool NASA Black Hole Simulation); Men and Women are Wired Different Emotionally (duh); and the Milken Institute’s Not If, But When: The Economic Impact of the Coming Flu Pandemic;

• On the Tech side, some interesting reading: Bob Cringely thinks Apple will buy Adobe, and challenge Microsoft Office;  Peter Abilla discusses his interview & job offer from Google;  we should expect some cool stuff on Geodata from both Google and Microsoft;  With Sun’s Scott McNealy stepping down from Sun, perhaps its time to get a grip ‘hairball,’ and other McNealyisms; Here are some Gadgets for the Lazy;  Lastly, the sexy fun geeky Women of Mac World Expo;

• Two interesting Food & Drink related items: The NYT lays out the explosive growth of Australia’s YellowTail winery; (I’m a big fan of Australian and New Zelaland wines) Also, a Mediterranean diet may repel Alzheimer’s;

• So much music related news: The RIAA sued a family that doesn’t have a PC (more here); They lose their attempts to force a Guardian Ad litem; This blog covers all the RIAA’s lawsuits; The Allman Bros and Cheap Trick sue Sony,
claiming they are getting ripped off on downloads (how can the Labels claim "breakage" of downloads, as if they are not physical
records or CD? What weasels!); The Canadian Music Creators Coalition warns the RIAA that "Suing Our Fans is Destructive;" The Consumer Electronics Association finds their voice, and finally asks: Who Are You Calling "Pirate"?  Lastly, in Cost Per Minute, we learn Compact Discs Are Not A Good Value;

Bruce Springsteen hits the road once more, channels Peter Seeger on his new CD; (click through for video of the song John Henry); Arriving this week was my copy of the 30th Anniversary 3-Disc Set of Born to Run, which I will update you on in the future;

• The WSJ pegs In the Wee Small Hours as the Best Album Sinatra Made; While that’s an impossible task, you can’t go wrong with that album; Any of the discs he recorded with Nelson Riddle are terrific;

• I’ve liked Metacritic for years; Its a great way to get a sense of what is getting good critical reviews; United 93 scored very well;

The Movie Timeline is the history of everything, taken from one simple premise: that everything you see in the movies is true, so long as it’s reported in a movie somewhere…

• Hysterical:  Christian Rocker Dan "Southpaw" Smith makes a biblical parody of "Baby Got Back" (as seen on VH1’s WebJunk)

Sorta mixed reviews for James O’Shaughnessy Predicting the Markets of Tomorrow‘ (I’m still interested, having liked his prior What Works on Wall Street);   Also interesting:   American Theocracy: The Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21stCentury is getting good reviews (I have read not it yet);   

• Finally, via GMSV, two for the Sci-Fi buffs:  Spock gets his own My Space page; and Jedi Breakfast (which is not suitable for the easily offended)

I’m off to enjoy the great outdoors! You should too!

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  1. Dianna commented on Apr 30

    As to the “long haul”, I’d add another link too… this weekend, the radio show, On the Media ( explored the administration’s branding of this war as the “long war”.

  2. B commented on Apr 30

    Lots of great links there. If Bush and the leading politicians had to go on TV and respond to Tim Russert every week, they’d get off their ass and do something. I had to chuckle while watching MTP. A clueless Democratic politician, a journalist, a lobbyist, a Wall Streeter and the Energy Secretary. See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil. That was a very interesting show. I give credit to Cramer for standing up for capitalism and his comment about Raymond versus Katie Curic/Kuric?? Although, I think Raymond should have abstained from such excess or deferred at this time of heightened emotions.

    So, I see Bush on TV last week and he said he expected oil companies to invest their profits in alternative fuels. Well, I saw Lee Raymond some months ago say that they were an oil company and they weren’t going to invest in alternative energy. Disconnect? Since when is Exxon required to invest in alternative energy? Might the politicians get their collective heads out of their asses and come of with a national energy policy that includes more than tax benefits for oil companies. The Energy Department. A paradox. Created thirty years ago to ensure we wouldn’t recreate the OPEC mess of the 70s. Worked really well. They’d be better off handing that money back to consumers in the form of a gas tax reduction and blowing the department up.

    Now I did find one thing rather hilarious. A Wall Streeter, Cramer, telling an MIT PhD in chemical engineering, the Energy Secretary that ethanol does not blend well with gasoline to which the Energy Secretary scoffed. Cramer couldn’t even draw the molecular formula for water. Christ, everyone on Wall Street is a f*cking expert. There was an obvious gaff with this rollout but I don’t think it had much to do with blending the two products.

    Why didn’t they talk about Wall Street’s renewed interest in hard assets driving up the price of oil? The NYT had an interesting article on Saturday. Uh…speculators possibly driving the price up. But others in the article said speculators couldn’t drive the price up. I guess that is plausible that Wall Street couldn’t drive the price of oil up. That is, if you believe they had nothing to do with also driving equities up to the bubble in 2000. Funny that the CEO of BP seemed to intimate this was all bullsh*t driven by greedy trading bastards and not supply/demand.

    The net of Meet The Press is that the Federal Government has no plan and no clue. More of the “deer in the headlights” we saw in Iraq, Katrina, etc, etc, etc.

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