Tuesday, September 1, 2009

View from the Top

For those of you who haven't been to the Seattle area, that's Mount Rainier up there, taken from the SE side of the mountain. I took the picture a couple of weeks ago. Mountain tops are beautiful, aren't they? Problem is you can't stay at the top forever, you eventually have to go back down the other side.

In my opinion, today's sell off has been a long time coming. Of course, if you've read this blog at all, seen me on TV, heard me on radio, or seen me quoted in print... you already knew that.

What really killed me this morning was listening to some folks trying to hype the economic releases as positive. Look, we're in a pretty down time right now. If you don't think that the folks who put out those releases are trying to highlight the happiest stuff they can, you're naive. Let's take them one by one.

ISM Manfacturing: Headline number was better than expected, coming in at 52.9 vs expectations for 50.5. HOWEVER, you have to look behind the headline number. Looks like Cash for Clunkers is part of the pop – drew down inventories and there’s some restocking going on there. Is it sustainable? No, but the lower level wasn’t sustainable either. Employment is still declining – manufacturers aren’t confident about this or they’d be hiring. Prices paid is going up, which could mean that inflation is coming down the road, perhaps at a faster pace than most expect.

Yes, right now we're dealing more with deflation than inflation. But what if we can't sell bonds and need to increase interest rates? Yes, the dollar has been getting stronger. For me, that's a head scratcher. I certainly don't think the US is the safety currency or economy at this point. In fact, for our clients, I'm deliberately betting that the dollar gets weaker, strengthening commodities.

Pending Home Sales: Those are sales contracts... NOT completed sales. People still have to get loans, which are darn hard to get these days. Which leads to my next topic...

Construction Spending: This is the one that kills me... Year over year residential spending is down 26.4% (not-seasonally adjusted). But everything's okay folks. Really.

If you need a reason that the market tanked today, part of it was the stuff above. Part of it was what's coming down the pike at us. If you want more insight into what joy may be coming, follow jtsmith24 on Twitter - smart guy, good insights into the economy. You can follow me there too (PattyEdwards) for more timely, intraday, updates.

Take some profits folks. There's no reason to be a hero.

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