When all you read is gloom, turn here for a much different perspective.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Your Blogroll of Affirmative Prognosticators for 2009 - Because Everyone Else has you Bummin'

Would you like affirming news on the US Economy from some other folks other than yours truly? Here’s your list. Because I truly do wish you all the success in 2009.

10. Jeff Krogh, Senior Vice President of Stifel Nicolaus, believes that Q4 2008 will be the worst quarter of this recession. Krogh predicts that things will improve soon after having bottomed out in this December quarter.

9. David Sterman, RealMoney Contributor at TheStreet.com predicts, The Obama stimulus plan will help to create positive employment numbers in the second half of 2009.”

8. On Yahoo biz, Sterman also proports, The next bull market begins. By the end of 2009, investors flock to small caps, as they have done near the end of previous downturns.”

7. David Hallerman, Senior Analyst at eMarketer, asserts that “Video Ad spending will rise by 45% to reach $850 million. And Search marketing spending will grow by 14.9% in 2009, to $12.3 billion.

6. Kirk Shinkle at the The Ticker on usnews.com prognosticates that, “Global imbalances will improve markedly." The long-awaited correction of the gaping global imbalances is happening with a vengeance. The U.S. current-account deficit, which was $731 billion in 2007 and likely to come in at $660 billion this year, will plummet to $282 billion in 2009.

5. Walter Derzko of Smart Economy”, observes that “Innovation is not just alive and well, but thriving. Opportunity-savvy entrepreneurs will launch brand-new-to-the-world, industry-defining businesses in 2009-2010, despite all the gloom and doom…”

4. MLive.com reports that at the 56th annual Economic Outlook Conference, economists Joan Crary, Stanley Sedo and Janet Wolfe predict that US Government “fiscal policies put into place to address the current economic crisis will be successful.

3. David Bianco, a strategist over at UBS, thinks the S&P 500 will end 2009 at 1,300 points -- up 55%

2. Daryl Montgomery from the New York Investment Meet-up Group reports, “We are actually highly optimistic about the prospects for profitable investing in 2009. You make the most money by buying assets when they are inexpensive and next year’s economy is going to lead to lots of opportunity…”

1. And if you are on "Main St","Wall St", or driving on any US street, TheBostonChannel reports that Joe Petrowski, CEO of Gulf Oil, is boldly predicting pump prices falling to $1 a gallon in early 2009. "The oil market is a manic-depressive market. It tends to overshoot. The market overshot last summer on the high side. Oil never should have gone to $147, but it did and it can." Petrowski bets the slide in oil prices will continue to fall dramatically possibly reaching $20 per barrel.

Wishing you all the best in 2009, because there is always good news somewhere, let's find some more together next year.


Monday, December 29, 2008

New Year's Week Safe Harbor Statement - Part 2

The past performance of the US Economy is no indication of future results.  But these ten "good news" charts seem compelling to me.

1.  Credit provided by US Commercial Banks will continue to increase, just like their lending has in all of 2008:

2.  Unemployment during the current recession will not return to the peek rate of the Great Depression nor the recession rate of the early 1980s:

3. The Mid-Tier Banking sector will continue to be healthy, strong, and growing in numbers. (No depositors will run them)

4.  Lending Rates to Banks (Fed Funds Rate) and to consumers (Prime rates, and those indexed to prime), will continue for and extended time at unprecidented low levels.

5.  Gas and Oil Prices in 2009 will not return to their speculative peak prices of mid-2008.

Thanks today to the Federal Reserve, Celent, and CARPE DIEM for chart inspiration.

More future and safe harbor statements as we approach the Time's Square countdown...  (tomorrow's post - Top Good News Cherry Pick Predictions for 2009)
This blog entry includes statements that qualify as forward-looking statements under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These forward-looking statements include statements about the following topics: expectations regarding future US Economic financial results, including GDP, interest rates, real estate valuations, consumer confidence, corporate earnings, US customer demand, US inventory levels, falling gasoline prices, acceptance of new market products, customer order patterns, factory utilization, CEO compensation, taxes, mortgage notes, US stock future dividends; ongoing proxy contests, and the nature of macro-economic, industry and market trends. Forward-looking statements are subject to certain risks and uncertainties that could cause actual US economic results to differ materially.(*)
(*) If you choose to add your comments below, you are covered by the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995

Sunday, December 28, 2008

New Year's Week Safe Harbor Statements - Part 1

The past performance of the US Economy is no indication of future results.  There is a 50-50 chance that this is good news.

As we move through this week and contemplate 2009, consider these axioms...

1. The catalyst necessary for change can come from multiple directions. A stock's catalyst for change can be internal or external.  Change in the US Economy comes both from within *and* from everywhere else.  (See Stock Casting)

2. Historical data is not useless, but it is never as simple as looking at past performance.  If you look at world economies (in the same way you examine blue chip stocks), past volatility gives you some appreciation of future risk.  When you invest in a troubled market or stock, you take the risk based on the hope of a large payout later. In many cases,  the larger risk you take, the higher future payout. (See Efficient Market Canada)

3. 50-50 statements are always overstatements or understatements of fact, whether in weather forecasts, politics, or economics. (See dotCrime Manifesto).  Will the US Auto Industry survive?  I'd say there is a fifty-fifty chance.

4. Even though we can't predict the weather accurately beyond 2-3 days (and most times less) and even though our laws give us safe haven from the uncertainties of the macro economy, any advisor who tells you that "past performance is no indicator," gets the boot.  What if your weather source said, "I have no indicator of future results"?  (See the Confident Trader)

5. Look at your own life experience in 2008.  Does this past year indicate to you what is in store for you in 2009?  Are you certain?  (See London Calling)  Are you certain that the US Economy will be worse in 2008 than in 2009?  I'm not.

More Future Results and Safe Harbor Statements as we approach the Time's Square countdown...  (tomorrow's post - 10 Charts from the Past)

This blog entry includes statements that qualify as forward-looking statements under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These forward-looking statements include statements about the following topics: expectations regarding future US Economic financial results, including GDP, interest rates, real estate valuations, consumer confidence, corporate earnings, US customer demand, US inventory levels, falling gasoline prices, acceptance of new market products, customer order patterns, factory utilization, CEO compensation, taxes, mortgage notes, US stock future dividends; ongoing proxy contests, and the nature of macro-economic, industry and market trends. Forward-looking statements are subject to certain risks and uncertainties that could cause actual US economic results to differ materially.(*)

(*) If you choose to add your comments below, you are covered by the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995

Friday, December 26, 2008

It Is Not So Bleak Afterall...

Look what popped up in the Wall Street Journal yesterday (12/26/2008):

The Economic News Isn't All Bleak

there are also reasons to think the economy could rebound quickly.”


The journal reports “it's now almost universally assumed things will get worse before they get better.”  The article goes on to show however, that similar assertions by those with "current conventional wisdom” were proved dramatically incorrect.  Remember the quote, “the majority is wrong?”

Predictions of recessions and depressions are all based on past dips, monetary policy action, and the ensuing recovery.  But the events and world government responses in the past few months have had no precedent at all.  None.

If economic activity did indeed come to almost a screeching halt in October and early November because of a credit crunch between banks, why is it beyond our wisdom to suggest that that activity could rebound even more quickly?

Further we haven’t seen wars, revolutions, or other disturbances anywhere as a result of this financial "turmoil."  Add to that, the scores of companies outside the financial sector with clean, strong balance sheets ready to invest.   And a new US administration ready to spend on infrastructure at a rate not seen for decades...

As for the US consumer, homeowner net worth might be down, but – at today’s valuations we still have $45 trillion in equity.   (By my quick calculations, that equates to about $150K for every man, woman and child in the US.  Or about $600K for a family of four!)

It is heartning to see the WSJ publish such questioning of the gloomy current conventional wisdom.  It is a breath of fresh air to see scrutinizing of the unjustified faith in past patterns that do not remotely match any of the events of the past few months.

It is very appropriate to suggest that if  indeed the economy turned down quickly in Sept, Oct, and Nov, that we all should be quite open to the possibility of a quick reversal in Dec, Jan, and Feb.

No Boxing Day Blues This Year for Shoppers

The early reports are in from around the world. It appears as though this is going to be the "busiest Boxing Day sale in living memory." Today, December 26, 2008, may live on in the annals of history as the "Boxing Day Bonanza of 2008."

Discounts as high as 90% have been reported.

500,000 shoppers were expected in London's Oxfort Street district. And some US department stores reported record numbers of shoppers in line as early as 5am. J.C. Penney Co. was offering 70% off its gold jewelry opening it's doors at 5:30am. Even those stores with no pre-dawn hours at least opened early -- and plan to stay open later than normal.

And there is more good news online. It appears that E-commerce was actually helped by inclement weather in much of the country. Perhaps because many shoppers were anticipating a white Christmas or icy roads, Amazon reported their holiday sales are up -- way up. And bowing to the positive trending online, Target focused much of their Boxing Day efforts at driving customers to their e-commerce operation for discounts and free shipping on over 30,000 items.

Summing up the online season, Amazon said that this holiday season was its "best ever."

I am sure you'll read about retail gloom elsewhere, but if you are out shopping today or online at Amazon, you no doubt are one happy shopper. And let's face it, where else would you be today?

Share your Boxing Day Bonanza experience with the rest of us in the comments section below...

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Three 2008 Christmas Presents from the US Economy

As Christmas 2008 approaches, let's pause and see what the US Economy has given you this December:

1) Do you have a Home Equity Line of Credit? If so, according to Standard and Poor's Research, your balance is likely to be somewhere between $50,000 and $60,000. This means that in December 2007 your payment was about $400. This December? You know. It is closer to $200. That means two crisp $100 bills in your stocking.

2) Now you and I know that you don't pay off your credit card balances every month. That's because the average US household balance is now at about $10,000. But if you have negotiated well, your card balance is indexed to the prime rate. Even if your rate is not prime, it is probably indexed to prime and your interest rate is now almost 5% lower this year than at Christmas time last year. Guess what? Your credit card interest payments on that $10K are going to be at least $500 less next year.

3) And what about wages?  What does Santa have in store? Here is the latest Federal reserve chart on wages:

And the US Department of Labor
indicates that hourly wages will be up by $.07 an hour.  If you work 160 hours next month, that means another $11 in your pocket.  (Excluding those double-time hours)

But wait, I want to leave you with just one more present.  I know I said you were only going to get three, but you know -- it's the holiday season...

The average price of gasoline is now down $2.50 per gallon since its peak at $4 in July.

As you fill up that 20 gallon tank on Boxing Day this Friday, put another $50 in your pocket.

Happy Holidays

Monday, December 22, 2008

Refinance Your Debt At 0%

So remember that national debt?

If you've forgotten, have a look here for the up to date totals...

It is approaching $35,000 per citizen.

But guess what? Did you hear that the Federal reserve is selling bonds? And they are selling them at almost 0%. So what does that mean? Why is that good news?

It means that the more they can sell at close to zero, the less interest we as taxpayers have to pay on the total debt.

This is even better news for law-makers as they consider funding new infrastructure and other stimulus programs. The ability of the government to go into debt has never been less painful. And particularly for the shrewd congressperson who realizes that the payback in taxes will more than cover what is borrowed, now is the time to fund those initiatives.

And with respect to the $35,000 that is my part of the debt, Chairman Bernanke, please see if you can refinance it with some of those big banks at 0%. While your at it, if there is no payback period specified, I'd love another 35K at 0%.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Prices are Falling

The inflation report released by the government on Tuesday showed that the Consumer Price Index was 3 percent lower last month than it had been three months earlier.

What does that mean? It means the cost of living is going down. That's right, down.

Now some of you may have caught this good news story in the papers and what did they try to do -- turn it into bad news... how? By talking about the evils of deflation.

Deflation is bad for the economy only if prices fall significantly below what it takes to produce the products measured by the deflation index.

But in this case what is really occuring is not widespread price declines, but a huge fall in the cost of energy. We've covered the gasoline decline here. And since then, oil prices continue to fall. For
most of the year, high energy prices have caused consumer prices to soar, reaching a 17-year high in July. But energy prices have fallen about 70% since then.

It is extremely noteworthy that most of the other prices in the core of the price index have remained steady. This is double good news. Significantly lowered energy prices have helped every American with their monthly (if not weekly) budget. The risks of deflation are very slim.

Let's enjoy the lower cost of living while we can...

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Dire Commentary on the U.S. Economy Overblown

For Mark Hirschey, Professor of Business at the University of Kansas, much of the dire commentary on the U.S. economy is significantly overblown.

Hirschey is the co-author of “Investments: Analysis and Behavior” (McGraw-Hill, 2008), a textbook that combines the study of behavioral finance with an introduction to the field of investments.   This KU economics research expert has also written 100s of other scholarly economics publications.

Hirschey agrees with much of what has been blogged here.

On the Stock Market:  “On average, stocks go up, the history of the U.S. stock market is a slow, steady advance punctuated by sharp, irregular declines. We’re in a huge irregular decline right now, but that’s pretty rare and usually they don’t last very long. If you look through the last 50 years, this is the ninth sharp bear market — and usually they last a fairly limited period of time... expect stock prices to be much higher a year or 18 months out.”  (See Bottom Feeding)

On Housing Price Declines:  “The boom-and-bust cycle in home prices has had little effect on homeowners in 34 of 50 states, a fact almost always omitted in discussions of the housing market. There are a number of things you have to keep in mind when you characterize this decline. First of all, it’s not uniform across the United States. The epicenter of the decline is California, Nevada, Arizona and Florida. Home prices nationwide are down about 9 to 10 percent from the peak only because there have been 25 to 30 percent declines in those major markets. As the economy recovers, expect to see continued rising prices in places untouched by the boom and the bust.” (See Must Come Up)

On The 1920s and 30s:  “The Great Depression and the current economic situation have very little in common. During the Great Depression you saw unemployment of 25 to 30 percent. We presently have unemployment in the 6-plus percent range and people are concerned it might go to 8 percent." (See Jobs)

On The Timing of a Recovery: "The typical recession lasts less than 18 months.  The National Bureau of Economic Research says we entered a recession in December 2007 — and I believe it.  If you look at history as a guide here, it would suggest that sometime between now and the Fourth of July in 2009, you’d expect business to once again turn up and start to reflect the basic strengths of the U.S. economy.” (See Macro Market)

Thanks for the Good News Professor!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A Massive Refinancing Boom - Seriously

No doubt thousands of Americans were contacting their mortgage brokers today.

For those paying attention, news about the Federal Reserve's decision to cut its key interest rate to nearly zero, had them rushing to refinance to something lower than 5.5 percent.

Many reports have folks locking in rates almost a full percentage point lower than yesterday's quotes.

Across the country, mortgage brokers are reporting a surge of calls from borrowers seeking to take advantage of the Fed's historic decision. Brokers were routinely quoting mortgage rates of close to 4.5 percent for people with good credit.

It was a continuation of the good news since late November for anyone looking to lock in a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage. In the past 3 weeks alone, mortgage applicatons have surged by the greatest amount in history.

"We're going to see just a massive refinancing boom," said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Economy.com, who estimates that up to 10 million U.S. borrowers will wind up refinancing their existing notes.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

No Credit Crunch (For Most Banks)

You ready for this? A new report says there is no credit crunch.  Everyone agrees there's a financial crisis, obviously, but access to credit is not the problem.  The new report comes from the financial services consultant Celent, an international strategy group dedicated to helping leading financial firms sustain their business advantage.

The vast majority of the numbers that are used in their report actually come directly from the US Federal Reserve, and in area after area what is uncovered is a tremedous amount of lending.  In other words: a lot of the things being said about the credit crisis or the nature of the financial crisis aren't born out by the Fed's numbers. The report finds that bank lending is at a record high, consumer credit is at a record high, and inter-bank lending is at a record high. Credit is actually flowing extremely well. (According the Fed's own data -- see chart)

What we do have is a few very large institutions that are in financial difficulty and it is those firms that are having a hard time obtaining credit. 

However, their are a huge number of banks out there who didn't make bad bets, who didn't get very involved in the subprime markets, and they're doing just fine with no credit problems at all. 

The Celent report points to a number of institutions that took very, very large risks and in hindsight, very poor risks -- and got caught. They significantly lowered their lending standards, and as a result lost lots of money. But the report points out that it's not all banks that did that, in fact, the majority of banks did *not* do that. Unfortunately, among some of the top banks in the country, there's a fair number that got caught in their own risky business.

The good news is that the majority of banks did not.

Have a look at your local bank's website and you are likely to find a posting similiar to this from FirstBank Holding Company of Lakewood, Colorado:

  • Stability   Strength   Safety

·         Solid History
FirstBank was founded in Lakewood, Colorado, in 1963. FirstBank is employee owned with a long term focus. We have over 100 officers and nearly 600 employees with more than 10 years of experience with FirstBank.

·         Strong Financial Position
FirstBank is well capitalized according to all regulatory guidelines.  FirstBank's assets total $9.3 billion as of September 30, and deposits were $7.9 billion.  FirstBank continues to experience solid growth in both assets and deposits.

·         Excellent Earnings
FirstBank reported outstanding results for the first nine months of 2008.  FirstBank’s net income was $95,146,000 through the third quarter of 2008, up 29% from $73,631,000 last year.

·         Unique FDIC Insurance Options
While most banks can only insure up to $250,000 of your money through the FDIC, FirstBank’s 25 separate charters make it possible for your deposits to be insured up to $6.25 million, keeping your money safe and secure. FirstBank also plans to participate in an FDIC program which will provide full FDIC coverage of non-interest bearing checking accounts through December 31, 2009.

·         No Subprime Involvement
FirstBank does not originate, hold, or purchase subprime mortgage loans or securities. Continued focus on credit quality has enabled us to succeed in all economic cycles.

·         Open for Business
FirstBank has 126 locations in three states serving over 600,000 customers. Our strong financial position enables us to meet the credit needs of the customers and communities


Monday, December 15, 2008

Inter-bank lending rates in free-fall since October

Why are Libor rate declines a good thing?

1) Back in October, all we heard was that banks would not loan money to each other... that the credit markets were "frozen."  Well, that is no longer the case -- short term lending is on the rise as indicted by the falling international LIBOR rates.

2) Many adjustable mortgages and home equity lines of credit (HELOC) are set by the LIBOR as their INDEX.

Let's say that one fine borrower has a HELOC on her home for $50,000 and that her interest rate payments are set by the LIBOR index + 2%.

See the charts below.  Back in October her interest rate would have been 6.3%.  But this month her rate will be somewhere south of 4.3%...

On her $50K note, her interest payment was $263 on October 15.  But on her payment due today she only owes $179.  That's $84 more for her pocket this month.  

Will she save it?  Pay down the principal on her note?  Or buy me a nice Christmas gift?  

I'd say any of those senarios are good news to her.

12 month Libor

6-month Libor

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Remembering 1975 - The Majority was Wrong

Does anyone remember the stock market crash of October 1973? Over the next 15 months world stock markets collapsed. In the UK the FT 30 index fell by 70%. The holidays of 1974 into the new year of 1975 was not merry. President Nixon decided not to light the National Christmas tree!

All the talking heads agreed: the end was near. Oil was about to be rationed, thermostats were turned down in all federal buildings to 68 degrees, and 55 mph speed limits were imposed to save gas. An energy crisis was upon us. And the Department of Energy got a Cabinet level position in the White House.

But what happened next? In January 1975, the FT index jumped 25% and in the next 12 months was up over 100%.

And what are "they" telling us now? "Things are bad right now, but they're going to get a lot worse. Apparently it'll be as bad as the Great Depression."

So why does this post offer a "good news" perspective? Because history continues to tell us that when it comes to economics, "the majority is always wrong."

Remember it has been less than 6 months since all the financial experts were predicting rampant inflation, oil over $200 a barrel, and gold over $2,000 an ounce. Yet now the same experts tell us deflation is the problem, oil and gold have plummeted. And every news outlet has a new story on economic bad news.

The majority was wrong in Jan 1975 -- one of the best buying opportunities ever in the stock market. Now the majority is wrong again.

Sounds like good news for 2009!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

More Good News in the Housing Market

The National Association of Realtors (NAR), brought us continued good news in the housing market today.  Despite the turmoil in the economy, the overall level of pending home sales has been remarkably stable over the past year, said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist. “...access to safe, affordable mortgages will bring more buyers into the market.... NAR’s housing affordability index is likely to remain quite favorable in 2009."

An additional government report released today also claims that despite all the dire conditions reported in most news outlets,  "the majority of markets continue to show growth in home values over the last five years."  In fact in the last half decade, the following markets did quite well:

- Honolulu was up 78.7 percent
- Virginia Beach was up 72.6 percent
- Flagstaff, Ariz.: up 66.5 percent
- Bellingham, Wash.: up 65.6 percent
- Wilmington, N.C.: up 62.1 percent
- Baltimore: up 60.6 percent

Further, the NAR now predicts that the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage will probably decline to at least 5.6 percent in the first quarter of 2009.  (Remember we already blogged about the surge that is now occuring in mortgage applications)

And if all that wasn't enough good news for one day, Yun further observes that "California in particular has seen an exceptional turnaround in buying activity.  Many foreclosed homes have enticed buyers to take advantage of deeply discounted prices.  'Fence sitters' are beginning to do a lot more home searches.  That will result in a large set of potential buyers for the upcoming spring buying season."

Good news?

Monday, December 8, 2008

And what about jobs?

"President-elect Barack Obama is focusing his economic recovery strategy on making the biggest investment in the nation’s infrastructure since Eisenhower's plan for the interstate highway system.

Speaking yesterday at a Chicago news conference and on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Obama said state governors have many such projects that are “shovel ready,” meaning they could be undertaken swiftly and have an immediate impact on jobs." - Bloomberg.

For those of you not familiar with the history leading up to FDR taking office: From 1929-1933, unemployment in the U.S. increased dramatically from 4% to 25%. In addition, manufacturing output was reduced by approximately a third from its historical peak. Prices fell drastically causing a deflation of currency values, which made the repayments of any debts much harder. The mining, lumber, and agriculture industries were hit especially hard by the drop in values. The outgoing Hoover administration claimed, "There is knowing more to be done. We have done all that we can do."

But in the first 120 days of 1933, the FDR administration and Congress past all 34 initiatives proposed by the new leaders. Have a look at the results:

With the statements of Obama yesterday and throughout the campaign, the next 8 years look extremely bright.

Now that's good news!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Would you believe consumer spending is up?

Yes, the title is correct. According to reports out this past week, consumer spending was up over last year for both Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Market Watch reported that "strong discounts brought U.S. consumers to the stores on 'Black Friday' -- the traditional first day of the holiday shopping season -- with estimated sales rising 3% from last year."

And consumers kept the momentum going on Cyber Monday... according to comScore, "Online shoppers spent $846 million on Dec. 1, a 15% increase over the Monday after Thanksgiving last year." It was the second largest online spending day on record.

Oh yes, and while we were finding great deals online, gas prices continued to fall.

Friday, December 5, 2008

What went down, must come up

Would you believe that housing prices are on the rise? 

Believe it or not, in the third quarter of 2008 according to the National Association of Realtors, "28 out of 152 metropolitan statistical areas showed increases in median existing single-family home prices." That is over 18%. Said another way, one in five major metropolitan areas are experiencing a rise in the value of their homes.
If you don't believe me. Read the whole story here.

And, as the chart to the left suggests, the national decline in home values is beginning to level off.

Further evidence of a this housing market turn-around was reported on Wednesday (12/3).  Mortgage applications surged by the largest amount on record in the last week of November as a new Federal Reserve program pushed interest rates down to their lowest level in more than 3 years. The Mortgage Bankers Association said its seasonally adjusted index of mortgage applications, which includes both purchase and refinance loans, for the week ended November 28 "soared a by a record 112.1%"

You heard that right my friend. Mortgage applications are soaring. I doubt they are sub-prime.

It's December 2008, Ho, ho, ho.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Bottom Feeding...

And the market keeps testing the bottom.

Tomorrow folks will wake up and see that alas, the market is way oversold yet again.

So two more developments seem highly likely.... much lower mortgage rates as the powers that be consider plans to lower long term rates to 4.5%. I never dreamed I would see that in my lifetime. It is surreal.

Looks like next week short term rates will come down another 1/2 percent. For folks with adjustable rate mortgages and any type of debt tied to the prime rate, monthly cash flow should be better right now than at any time in the last several years.

So, gas prices are way down. Mortgage payments are way down. Credit card payments are way down. Credit to the consumer, home buyers, and investors is flowing nicely.

This is not the great depression my friends. This is a buyers' market. Buy some stock. Buy some investment real estate. Buy oil if if you must, but buy something of tangible value. You will probably never see it's price this low again.

While others are lamenting their paper losses and moving their 401Ks into bonds and money markets, the time is ripe to move money in to depressed assets.

I am betting that 2 years from now you will be incredibly glad you took the counter-intuitive risk.
It's good news.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Mumbai, Black Friday, Cyber Monday

So did any of you get up at 4a on Friday to go shopping? If so, did it appear to you that consumer confidence was low?

I found it very interesting that the US stock market was not phased at all by the 24x7 reports of terror in the streets of India's financial district.

From the reports in the retail sectors of the US in the early morning, the lines were long and unfortunately the stampedes were deadly! The prediction of a significant decline in consumer spending this holiday season seem grossly exaggerated. Consumer sentiment may not be strong, but from the parking lots of Walmart it certainly did not appear to be weak.

And the market continued its weekly advance on what was a slow trading day.

Cyber Monday is almost here, with an almost instant reading on just how the spending season may unfold.

The market seems poised for a comeback. Perhaps it is time for a breakout session.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

All business eyes on the macro market

With the election behind us, all industries, including recession-proof sectors have their eyes on the macro market. Despite the continued volatility in the stock market, some positive macro economic market indicators have emerged.

With oil prices continuing to fall, the US consumer is gaining significant savings at their local gas station. Since a peak in mid-summer, the price for a gallon of unleaded as fallen almost $2. With the US consuming close to 390 million gallons a day, that savings translates to a $780 million dollar stimulus package for US citizens with no congressional action required.

The business credit markets continue to thaw. According to Bloomberg, borrowing volumes are up by more than 10 times what they were in early October. In a further indication of a world market economy on the mend -- large international banks like Chase and Citigroup are lending to their counterparts like HSBC Bank of Europe.

And the market for commercial paper — the unsecured debt that companies sell for short-term financing — continues to improve. Just a few weeks ago, even the strongest companies like AT&T were having trouble selling paper for longer than overnight. Now, investors are starting to step back in and buy paper with 30-day and 60-day maturities.

And surprisingly in a Reuters report released on 11/14, US consumer confidence actually rose in November from October’s depressed reading.

October was tough. A recession is already likely. But significant economic engineering on the global market scene has already produced some positive results.

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