Here’s the news of the week – and how we see it here at McAlvany Wealth Management:

1. Elysian Dreams (Not for Literalists)

The Financial Reform Bill passed.  We will have consumer protections. There will no longer be unsound lending practices. Capital requirements for banks will be managed and regulated. The unwinding of systemic threats will be left to the most capable of market operators (business experience not required).

These and other goals have been reached with this massive (2,300-page) piece of legislation.  Let’s thank Barney Frank and Christopher Dodd, along with the courageous Republicans and Democrats that supported the bill, for their efforts to make America safe.

With gratitude, we should reflect on what has made America great.  Surely the greatness of this country derives from its rules and regulations.  What would we be without legislation?  Surely it has always been about safety.  Can you imagine a world where risk abounds and people flit around carelessly – without every possible protective measure guiding them peacefully through life?

Surely the “seen hand” of government can add more to productivity and growth in our economy than “free” markets.  If Barney Frank has taught us anything, it is surely that the unseen hand of the market is an evil that can only be overcome by the sheer weight of moral outrage measured in pages and pontification, and weighing in at about 23.5 lbs. (I have to guess at the weight, not knowing the stock of paper our DC heroes use on these epic projects).

This weekend, I’ll wonder, in fact, how we came this far (over 200 lucky years) without so profound a contribution.  I’ll always wonder where we would be if only we had had the state in control of the financial world from the outset – and everything else for that matter (they do a better job).

I’m so glad to see bi-partisan participation.  Isn’t it neat to see differences set aside on issues that will determine the fate of this nation – voting as one on our behalf?  It is comforting to know that, with all the confusion and chaos in the world, you really don’t even have to choose between parties. They both generously serve the American public and our interests.   Every two- and four-year election is really more about entertainment as we go to the polls and cast our votes for the same team.

At the end of a week like this, I’m surprised the market ended on such a dour note.  With so much hope for reform and so much control shifting from New York to DC (where the truly noble people congregate), it’s odd to see the market sell off so strongly.  Doesn’t the market know that this is a good piece of legislation?  Don’t investors see that the benefits of this legislation are as numerous as the pages it contains — and more?  Mr. Market is getting it all wrong.

Mr. Market, go up now.  All is well.  All is properly legislated.  You can go up now!  Take Courage, be filled with hope … you have to, according to page 1700, paragraph 3, section 7.

2. On a Serious Note …

Dr. Copper, crude oil, platinum, palladium, the Dow, S&P, and NASDAQ – what do these charts all have in common?  Looking at each on its own, you’ll observe an unnerving trend which implies that the economic juices flowing for nearly a year are now running out.  We can guess by the numerous technical crosses of the fifty-day moving average below the two-hundred-day moving averages that the trend is now decidedly down, and caution is now an imperative.  This applies to not just one sector, but many.  It is not one chart that has our attention, but a whole panoply.

Copper is found in virtually everything.  Crude oil runs virtually everything. The industrial metals (precious as they may be), along with the broad market indexes, are all speaking to us as investors.  Do you understand what they are saying?  What do these declining trends indicate or anticipate?  Should we reflect on home sales?  How did GE’s earnings turn out?

Of course, there are the exceptions in this earnings season, as we have recently noted.  But of all the companies with breadth across this expansive economy of ours, GE truly is a bellwether.  And it disappointed.  So whatever chart you look at, be it copper, oil, the Dow, retail stocks, the NASDAQ (excepting Gold and Silver); whatever statistic related to housing and/or consumer credit; and whatever other measure of sentiment you draw on (if the picture of these commodities and stock indices is not enough) – including the University of Michigan measure of consumer confidence released this week; what you find is anxiety expressing itself.  What you see is a picture of uncertainty and the human response to that sensation as it develops into acute fear (95.7% of all NYSE volume was down volume on Friday – not good).   Ironically, the same week a massive piece of “fix-it” legislation is passed, that Michigan study finds that confidence in the government’s economic policies has fallen to the lowest level since the start of the Obama administration.

Are we moving toward a nightmare rather than some Elysian dream?  Our fear is that we will be in the nightmare well before Ol’ Saint Nick delivers his lumps of coal and switches to the bankers of Wall Street – and the best-intentioned politicians in DC.

Have a great weekend!

David Burgess
VP Investment Management

David McAlvany
President and CEO