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Posts Tagged ‘Obama Administration’

Who am I to say that Ben Bernanke is wrong? After all, Bernanke went to Harvard and graduated with honors and his economics PHD from MIT. Then of course he has all of the political appointments and now is the Federal Reserve Chairman. There was someone else who had a list a mile long of credentials. In fact, he was the former Federal Reserve Chairman – Alan Greenspan. It is documented with a list a mile long of critical mistakes that were made in his part in blowing up one of the greatest debt bubbles of all time.

So, don’t let the credentials fool you. In short, Ben Bernanke wants to save the planet by purchasing billions of dollars of US Treasuries or said in another way, lend billions of dollars to the US to keep US debt a float. Buying a Us Treasury Bond is the equivalent of lending money to the United States. His logic? The Fed buys billions of dollars of US Treasuries, then mortgage rates will go down and interest rates on loans will do down further encouraging businesses and consumers to borrow and spend. This in turn might invigorate the economy and ease unemployment.

Let’s take a look at the main reason why this is a dangerous bet. I have many more. The problem is limited space.

Have you ever seen a kid blow a bubble as big as it will go? The child keeps blowing and blowing and the bubble gets bigger and bigger. The eyes of the child show the disbelief that the bubble hasn’t popped yet as more air is forced into the gum. Our bond market is one big juicy fruit bubble already. Let’s blow some more air into that bubble and see what happens.

By pouring billions of dollars into Tresuary bonds, prices of bonds (in theory) will continue to go up and interest rates fall. Common sense will tell you that prices of bonds are going up for no good reason. Thus they turn into the equivalent of worthless internet stocks that went up in price based on nothing material. This has the makings of a massive bubble. Riddle me this – what happens when that bubble bursts? Interest rates sky rocket. Isn’t that what he is trying to prevent in the first place?

There is also the notion that people are going to spend, spend, and spend because of low rates. If that were the case, people and companies would have already been doing it. Let’s face it, you need confidence to borrow money. I will just say two words why that isn’t going to happen – OBAMA ADMINISTRATION.

Further, how did that first round of 100’s of billions of dollars do for us? I don’t think that I need to answer that question.

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Not only does the jobs report released last Friday give us a real dose of reality, it also puts an emphasis on the importance of November’s vote to get rid of the socialists that continue to do nothing to help those that are unemployed beyond keeping them on the Government dole through unemployment benefits.   Let’s look at the numbers.

The jobs report showed a loss of 131,000 jobs this past month. Some of that loss is to be expected due to the laying off of census worker jobs that were temporary and never should have been counted in the first place.  Then the Department of Labor went back to June’s numbers and said that those numbers were not quite right.  They stated that June’s unemployment number was actually an additional 100,000 loss in jobs. 

The private sector jobs are the most important.  We couldn’t care less how many jobs the Government is creating.  When we start relying on the Government to create jobs we have a real problem.   There were only 71,000 private sector jobs created which was much less than expected.   The irony is that, in a sense, some of those jobs are government created as well.  Barron’s reported, over the weekend, that the bulk of those jobs “reflect the fact that the auto makers didn’t shut down as they usually do in July to change models.” 

I guess the auto industry, a large majority of whom the government controls, is too busy building those $41,000 electric cars that go 40 miles on a single charge.    So, are those really private sector jobs when the Government owns so much of the auto industry?  

There are a few charts that I would love to share with you if I could get them to load. One chart shows the drop off in employment this go around.  It is the steepest drop since the 30’s.  Then there is the chart that shows private sector jobs revealing an even steeper drop.   Said in another way, this is the worst job situation that we have had since the days of soup lines and the great depression.

So, what is the solution?  I am sure that we will see Ben Bernanke dig in his magic bag of tricks and pull out some more stimuli.  Sorry to be so pessimistic… I don’t know that it matters nor does it fix the problem.   Small Businesses and corporations are not hiring because they don’t trust the White House and this march towards a socialistic state.  If the Obama administration and the rest of the politicians would start supporting capitalism, companies would begin to find that sense of confidence.      What are the chances of that happening?

The reality is that we should be creating 300,000 plus jobs each month.  Said in another way, we need to be creating that many jobs just to start a real recovery.

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Every Friday, all across the country, bankers hold their breath.  This is the day that the FDIC chooses to show up and take over banks that are on the verge of failure.  This past Friday, FDIC employees were especially busy when they showed up at 9 different banks.   The banks had combined assets of 19.4 billion dollars. 

On Sunday one of the largest bankruptcies in corporate history occurred.  CIT who lends money to hundreds of thousands small to medium business filed for bankruptcy protection.  This could have some pretty large ripple effects.

The problem is the lack of capital to those lenders and banks who focus on the small business owner.  The Obama and Bush Administrations failed miserably in taking care of  the heartbeat of America, the small business owner.   Take that capital they are dealing out like candy and give it to those banks that service the small business owner.  Further, if you want to solve the unemployment problem in this country, help the small and medium sized businesses.  Of course, that would be the promotion of capitalism which is something none of the politicians seem to understand.

The Obama Administration stated that they might infuse money to small banks if they will agree to lend to small businesses.  The Obama Administration needs to get a backbone.  If they are going to give money to the big banks,  put stipulations on the money and stop requesting what they want the banks to do in return of receiving the bail-out money.  They are dealing all of this money out to the big banks and at the same time wanting these big banks to stop abusing credit card customers and start lending it.   Here is an idea – STOP GIVING MONEY WITHOUT STIPULATIONS!!  Go ahead and give money to the small banks without stipulations and they still will not lend it out.  It is all about survival.

You got to love bank nationalization and the march to socialism.

Levels to Watch

Let’s take a look at the price levels on the S&P 500 because some damage was done last week.   We have broken through some pretty significant price levels.  However, the BIG ones are in front of us.  The range to watch on the S&P 500 is 989 to 918.  It will be interesting to see what happens around those levels.  Yes, this is a wide range.  However, it does give you a good range in which to monitor risk if you are heavily invested in stocks.   Remember, the question is always,  “Is the rise in the stock market from March a new bull market or just a bear market rally?”  The answer to that question is crucial to the future of your invested money.

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This should be an interesting week in the markets.  We have the end of the quarter which typically produces some volatility for the market.  We also have the very important unemployment report that will be due out on Friday.  The unemployment indicator has become one of most important monthly indicators.  Although employment is considered a lagging indicator (an indicator that is one of the last to recover), its continued weakness might be signaling a bigger problem.  In his weekly newsletter John Mauldin wrote about the unemployment situation from another perspective.  To sign up for John’s free newsletter go to www.frontlinethoughts.com

He wrote that it takes the creation of 15 million jobs just to get us back to normal employment around 5%.  He makes that estimate by assuming the monthly job destruction will soon becoming to an end.  I think that he estimates another 500,000 jobs will be lost.  He writes, “that means that to get back to 5% unemployment within five years we need to see, on average, the creation of 250,000 jobs per month.  As an Average!!”   

Then he states these statistics:

“If you take the best year, which was 2006, you get an average monthly growth of 232,000. If you average the ten years from 1999, you get average monthly job growth of 50,000. If you take the average job growth from 1989 until now, you get an average of 91,000 a month. If you take the best ten years I could find, which would be 1991-2000, the average is still only 150,000. That is a long way from 250,000.”

I equate the destruction in employment much like a perfect storm.  The damage has been so great that it will take a long time to recover.  Both the Bush and the Obama Administrations allowed the unemployment situation to get this bad without doing anything about it.  In fact, I still don’t see anything in the works to fix this problem.  The stimulus bill will create mostly government based jobs.  However, I don’t think it will create enough to even put a dent in these numbers.

So, do you think that the market already expects the unemployment situation to remain this ugly?  Of course, there is the notion of a job-less recovery (which that has never made sense).  However, I think that this situation goes well beyond a typical unemployment problem.  Can the market continue to remain positive in the midst of so many people being affected by lack of employment?  I personally think that we see this problem manifest slowly and at some point the markets feel the impact. 

I know that this is far from positive but it is important to see all sides so that you can make prudent decisions with retirement dollars.

Levels to Watch on the S&P 500

From time to time, I like to point out important price levels on the S&P 500. 

Above 1080 – Positive

Between 1080 and 1043 – Neutral

Below 1041-Negative

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The recession is declared to be over or over soon states many media outlets on Friday.  Unemployment was not as bad as expected and it appears that we are starting to lose less jobs. All of that is good news and it took the media and Wall Street no time at all to react positively. 

 

I really do regret taking the opposing view on this one.  I would like for it to be true.  There are just a few problems.  We have 14.462 million people unemployed.  The number is likely higher. This is the estimate from the Department of Labor.  Where are these people going to get jobs?  Unless you are ready to pick up a shovel and get on the Obama job creation bus, you might just be out of luck.  Once again, the Obama administration does not have a plan in place to fix the job situation. 

 

Looking back to 1948 (as far back as records take us), there has never been as big of a spike in the number of those unemployed.  The closest spike that you can find was between 1979 and 1982.  In 43 months, the unemployment numbers jumped 106% to a high of 12.051 million people. Today, in just 33 months the unemployment numbers jumped 125% to 14.462 million.  The following is a chart from www.freelunch.com that illustrates this dramatic rise.

I think that the monthly unemployment numbers could continue to look better.  However, that doesn’t mean that companies are hiring. I think that it means that companies have cut as far as they can cut.  Those lay-offs might start to slow.  Until there is a solution to the problem that over 14 million people are facing, we will continue to have this crisis. 

 

Regarding the market…the 1929 comparison that I wrote about still tracks very closely.  I would still suggest that there is extreme risk on the table.  As long as we stay below 1020 on the S&P 500, that will remain the case.

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Well, the results of the stress tests were revealed this past week.  It turned out to be much ado about nothing.  In fact, most of the banking stocks went up on the news.  It does leave the question as to what the Obama Administration is really trying to accomplish through a process that didn’t make much sense.  For now, we will leave speculation for speculation’s sake.

I found it interesting as to the criteria that was used in stress testing the banks.  They were looking for how the banks would react to the worst case economic situation.  Over the weekend, Alan Abelson wrote about the criteria in his article in Barrons:

“The “worst-case scenario,” as the cliché goes, that the Fed crew was able to dream up was one in which the unemployment rate, already a hair under 9%, would rise to 10.3% next year, housing prices would fall another 22%, and the economy — which has been shrinking at more than a 6% annual rate the past two quarters — would contract at a 3.3% pace.”

Well, I think that we could easily see 10.3% in unemployment.  Of course, that is dependent on how aggressive the Government gets with their monthly job “estimate.”  A decline in growth of 3.3% is also not unlikely.  That scenario would produce 599 billion dollars of loss for the banking system.  Now can you imagine the armageddon outlook if you were to come up with a realistic worst case scenario?  

Then there were the unemployment numbers.  I wrote about the numbers in detail on the Prudent Money Blog this morning.  It is funny that no one is writing about the creation of the 226,000 jobs out of thin air estimated by the Government in the jobs report.  Can the Obama Administration really pull off this illusion making everyone think that everything really isn’t that bad?

Well, the stock market certainly thinks so.  The market continued the rally this past week.  Thus far, the S&P 500 is up 40% from the price level of 666.  This falls right in line with what happened in the 1929 bear market.  The major stock market rally in that bear market was up 46%.  Keep in mind that even with this stock market rally, we are still a little bit over -40% from the highs in October 2007. 

I put together a very detailed analysis in my recent letter to my clients.  After going through that process, I have some very strong technical evidence that this is nothing more than a bear market rally and its days are numbered. 

Keep in mind that everything gets exaggerated in this type of bear market.  The moves both up and down are much bigger.  Guard your risk very closely!

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The bottom line is that we are in the eye of the storm right now and the foreclosure situation could potentially fall back into crisis mode.  Now, I think that we can handle it a little better this time around, however, this is a risk that no one is anticipating.  I guess the thought is that the Obama administration has this handled.  The truth is that we don’t have solutions for this problem. We only have ways to make the situation more tolerable. 

 

 

 

 

I have been writing over the past few days about what Wall Street is not really paying attention to right now.  I made the same argument back in late 2006 and early 2007 that there was a category 5 financial storm brewing and Wall Street is ignoring the risk.  Well, there is still yet another category 5 storm brewing. 

The storm consists of many components.  Yesterday, I wrote about unemployment.  Today, the root of the whole financial crisis could potentially be raising its ugly head again.  Now, I want to keep this very general so that you can see the risk. This is a discussion that can even get over my head at times. 

Let’s start at the beginning, where all of this started.  The mortgage industry became greedy and gave mortgages to millions of people who could not really afford them.  Upfront, these mortgages seemed affordable.  However, something very horrible happened and the interest rate and the payments changed.  The mortgage “re-set.” It changed in such a way that people could not afford to keep their homes.  They couldn’t refinance and the home went into foreclosure.

The foreclosure crisis is causing all of the problems.  So, in order to get past the credit crisis, we need to get past the foreclosure problem.  Well, unfortunately, between the second half of 2007 and 2008, hundreds of billions of dollars worth of these mortgages were re-set, causing countless numbers of people to lose their homes.  Then we had a slowdown in the number of re-sets. At this time, the re-sets are starting back up again.  Take a look at this chart:

mortgage-re-sets

You can see all of the green at the beginning of the chart.  That is the escalating number of mortgages that re-set.  Then you can see it died down again.  Well, different types of mortgages are facing re-sets.  Unfortunately, it appears to be a larger problem.  Look at how high that graph spikes!

The bottom line is that we are in the eye of the storm right now and the foreclosure situation could potentially fall back into crisis mode.  Now, I think that we can handle it a little better this time around, however, this is a risk that no one is anticipating.  I guess the thought is that the Obama administration has this handled.  The truth is that we don’t have solutions for this problem. We only have ways to make the situation more tolerable.

I don’t think we are out of the woods yet.  The determining factor is the foreclosure situation and it appears that we still have a ways to go. The good news is that we might get a fairly long period of time where things start to look better.  For those mortgages that go into foreclosure, it will take 6 months or so to work themselves into the system.

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