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October, Monday 24, 2011

DOW + 104 = 11913SPX + 15 = 1254NAS + 61 = 269910 YR YLD +=2.23%OIL +.32 = 91.58GOLD + 11.30 = 1654.30SILV + .34 = 31.84PLAT + 34.00 = 1545.00 Five years ago, the real estate bubble started to leak. Three years ago, the global financial economy nearly collapsed. Today, we got a plan to save all the embattled, underwater homeowners of America. Hallelujah and pass the potato salad. Now you realize that 23% of all existing mortgages are underwater; plus banks are sitting on home equity loans and second mortgages at the original values, not market values. If you marked to market all the negative equity – then all of the big banks in America would be insolvent. The big banks are living on life support tossed their way by the government and the Federal Reserve; this is a situation that seems destined to result in another crisis. And so today, the Obama administration announced plans to help troubled homeowners. Actually, homeowners who benefit would just be coincidental – understand that this plan is really designed to help the banks. The Home Affordable Refinance Program, or HARP, was started in 2009. It lets homeowners refinance their mortgages at lower rates. But few people have signed up. Many “underwater” borrowers — those who owe more than their homes are worth — couldn’t qualify under the program. Roughly 22.5 percent of U.S. homeowners, about 11 million, are underwater, according to CoreLogic, a real estate data firm. As of Aug. 31, …

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October, Friday 21, 2011

DOW + 267=11808SPX + 22 = 1238NAS + 38 = 263710 YR YLD +=2.20%OIL +1.46 = 87.53GOLD +21.80 = 1643.00SILV +. 82 = 31.50PLAT +20.00 = 1516.00 Today we had two bits of news that bolster the stock market. First, the rumors that the Federal Reserve might, maybe, possibly consider Quantitative Easing Round 3 – in other words the Federal Reserve might throw FREE MONEY at the markets. The second bit to bolster the markets was a jolt of optimism that there is at least slightly improved visibility on the path to nearing a resolution of the European sovereign debt crisis and the troika would pass out FREE MONEY. Just in case you were wondering why Wall Street is hated – this is it. Wall Street should have been celebrating the fact that a coalition of allies managed to take out Kadaffi in Libya in a relatively short period of time and with zero loss of US soldiers lives AND President Obama announced this morning that the United States will withdraw nearly all troops from Iraq by the end of the year, effectively bringing the war in Iraq to an end. He said the last American troops will depart the country by January 1 “with their heads held high, proud of their success, and knowing that the American people stand united in our support for our troops.”  The truth is that Wall Street doesn’t give a tinker’s dam about supporting our troops; there is no recognition of the sacrifices made …

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October, Thursday 20, 2011

DOW + 37 = 11,541SPX +5= 1215NAS – 5 = 259810 YR YLD +=2.18%OIL – .66 = 85.45GOLD –22.50 = 1621.20SILV – .65 = 30.68PLAT –22.00 = 1501.00 The European leaders will be meeting tomorrow and through the weekend; they are expected to unveil their Grand Magical Stupendous Super Plan to solve all the problems by November 3. Don’t hold your breath. Sarkozy and Merkel promise a magic potion. They will probably deliver; the magic potion may be temporarily intoxicating, however I suspect it will prove to be little more than snake oil. France and Germany disagree over the best way to bolster the facility, with Paris fearing its triple-A credit rating could come under threat if the wrong method is chosen. Germany can’t leverage the 50% of the funds they have already committed to the EFSF – that would require a referendum to change their constitution – and that will never get passed. That’s why they’ve called on the IMF to backstop the increased leverage. However, so far the IMF and the US Treasury, the number one donor to the IMF says no, go back into negotiations. This is the sticking point – How to scale up the European Financial Stability Facility – the $600 billion dollar fund that has already been used to bailout Portugal and Ireland. Failure to agree on leveraging the EFSF will further damage confidence in the euro zone. In July, banks and insurers agreed to contribute 50 billion euros to reducing Greece’s debt via …

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October, Wednesday 19, 2011

DOW – 72 = 11,504SPX – 15 = 1,209NAS – 53 = 260410 YR YLD +=2.15%OIL – .07 = 86.04GOLD –12.40 = 1643.70SILV – .81 = 31.33PLAT – 17.00 = 1521.00 We have too much to cover today. We’ll deal with the craziness in the first half hour, then we’ll settle down in the second half hour and try to restore some financial balance, our guest is David Harris from Harris Investment Advisors, and we’ll be talking about some basic financial planning ideas and maybe how to deal with an uncertain world. Balance. Balance. Let’s get to work two main areas: Europe has gone crazy, and Bernanke is trying to move from crazy to nasty crazy. First is Euroland. Greece is on strike – the whole country is frozen by a general strike. Now, I have heard a whole lot of derisive comments about the Occupy Wall Street crowd; maybe they’re dupes fallen under the control of one ruling element or another; maybe they’re dolts for not understanding the issues to the satisfaction of one group or another. I went down to the Occupy Phoenix demonstration over the weekend; there were a few unique characters there – nothing wrong with unique characters – but there were a whole lot of people that could have been at the check out line of any grocery store. I talked with a few of the people and they seemed like they had a decent understanding of issues. The TV crews were filming the crowd …

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October, Tuesday 18, 2011

DOW + 180 = 11,577SPX + 24 = 1,225NAS + 42 = 265710 YR YLD – = 2.15%OIL +.39 = 86.77GOLD – 15.60 = 1656.10SILV +.24 = 32.14PLAT – 19.00 = 1535.00 Sometimes I wonder if I should even read the closing numbers – does it really matter that the Dow Industrials dropped a couple hundred points yesterday or that it bounced this morning? No; probably not. Maybe the daily scoreboard gives you some feel for the rhythm of the market, for the prevailing sentiment; then again, maybe not. Over the years, I’ve talked about trends in the market. One of my favorite phrases is that a trend in place is more likely to remain in place than it is to change – until it changes. Trends are not infinite. No pattern is perpetual. The greater the expectation, the more you should question the premise. And I’m reminded of the Mark Twain quote – History doesn’t repeat but it does rhyme. There’s a reason for this – it’s because we’re human and we have imperfect and selective memories. History rhymes because we put our unique human imprint on it, just enough to make minor alterations on the trajectory through time. You may remember a long ago wound, but a recent cut still stings and because it stings, it moves to the front of your thoughts and it colors your thinking; it might make you skittish; it might make you cautious; it might freeze you in your tracks; or maybe the …

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October, Monday 17, 2011

DOW –247= 11,397SPX –23= 1200NAS –52 = 261410 YR YLD – = 2.15%OIL – .11 = 86.27GOLD – 9.10 = 1671.70SILV – .36 = 31.90PLAT – 3.00 = 1559.00 Let’s start with a look at Wall Street. We start with a Merger Monday – normally a positive for Wall Street – today, not so much. Kinder Morgan agreed to acquire El Paso Pipeline Partners in a deal that valued the company for $20.7 billion and including debt at $37 billion. The deal is expected to close by the second quarter next year. The combined company is going to be one of the largest transporters of crude oil, natural gas and CO2. AmeriGas Partners agreed to acquire the propane operations of Energy Transfer Partners,for $2.9 billion. The transaction is expected to close in late 2011 or beginning of 2012. Brigham Exploration Company agreed to merger with Norway based Statoil ASA. Brigham will receive $4.4 billion in cashand the offer expected to commence by end of this month. With the purchase the company will extend its shale gas fields to Montana and North Dakota based fields and will deepen its involvement in unconventional oil exploration. Merger activity was not enough to lift Wall Street, in large part because we still have some problems in Europe. The G-20 was meeting in Germany over the weekend. They wrapped up their meeting saying they would likely adopt a five-point plan next weekend when they meet in Brussels. The plan would likely include recapitalizing banks and …

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October, Friday 07, 2011

DOW – 20 = 11,103SPX – 9 = 1,155NAS – 27 = 2,47910 YR YLD = 2.06%OIL – .84 = 81.75GOLD – 11.60 = 1639.70SILV -.66 = 31.37PLATINUM – 18.00 = 1502.00 The U-6 unemployment rate — including people who must settle for part-time jobs or have given up searching entirely — has SURGED to 16.5%, the worst this year! FORWARD LOOKING indicators of employment are deteriorating. Consumers just polled by the Conference Board said it was harder to find work now than at any point since 1983! And job placement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas tracked more than 115-thousand corporate layoff announcements last month alone, the most since April of 2009. The headline unemployemnt rate held steady at 9.1%. The economy added 103,00 jobs last month. That is not enough jobs to lower the unemployment rate. The August number was revised from zero job gains to 57,000. In September, the private sector added 137,000 jobs — decent but nothing to write home about — while the government sector cut 34,000 jobs. Since January 2010, the private sector has added 2.556 million jobs while government has cut 503,000. In January 2010, 82.6 percent of payroll jobs were in the private sector; today, the total is 83.2 percent. Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve reported total borrowing dropped $9.5 billion in August. In July, borrowing increased $11.9 billion. The overall decline lowered total borrowing to a seasonally adjusted $2.44 trillion. Borrowing is just 2.1 percent higher than the recent low hit in September of …

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October, Tuesday 04, 2011

DOW + 153 = 10,808SPX + 24 = 1,123NAS + 68 = 240410 YR YLD = 1.78%OIL + 2.47 = 78.14Dec Gold + 11.70 = 1627.70 Dec Silver + .27 = 30.11 You’ve probably heard that old rhyme – “Sell in May and go away”. The thinking is that May through October represents the six worst months in the market. If you took $10,000 and invested in stocks 60 years ago and you just invested from November to April, your investment would have grown to $527,288. If you invested from May through October, you would have lost $474. So, today’s lesson is “do not invest when stocks go down, but its okay to invest when stocks go up. Wow. This investing stuff is easy. The S&P 500 hit a high of 1370 on April 29, today it closed at 1096 – marking a 20% decline; the technical definition of a bear market. The explanation offered daily is the European situation is what’s taking a toll on Wall Street. David Goldman, the former head of credit research at Bank of America says the situation in Greece is hopeless, but not serious; yea, that’s a good line. Ha ha. He contends this is not a rerun of the Lehman Brothers collapse in 2008. Nobody knew then what lurked on the balance sheets of major banks in terms of mortgage derivatives, least of all their chief executives, who were particularly clueless. Really? I remember when Dick Fuld , the former CEO of Lehman …

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October, Friday 14, 2011

DOW + 166  = 11644SPX  + 20 = 1224NAS +47 = 266710 YR YLD +=2.23%OIL +3.11 = 87.34GOLD +13.20 = 1680.80SILV +.34 = 32.26PLAT + 23.00 = 1557.00 Reminder: Financial Balance with David Harris starts Wednesday. Open Phone Friday. Eat the Bankers – buy the book before they make it into a movie Sunday – Hard Money Watch with guest Jim LilesMonday – Our scheduled guest on the Review will be Dr. Ravi Batra The Commerce Department said retail sales rose 1.1 percent in September, with strong auto purchases providing a big boost. Sales for August and July were revised higher as well. The University of Michigan Consumer confidence survey dropped to 57.5 for October – down from 59.5 in September. The G-20 finance ministers and central bankers are meeting for the next couple of days in Paris. The expectation is that they will not completely resolve the European economic crisis, but they won’t allow everything to implode. One idea being floated was to double the size of the IMF’s bailout fund. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and his Canadian and Australian counterparts poured cold water on the idea. The IMF’s dominant shareholders, including the United States, Japan, Germany and China are content that the fund’s $380 billion worth of resources is enough. It looks like the plan is to make the Euro-banks accept bigger losses on the Greek debt and then leverage the EFSF to recapitalize the banks. The more the banks lose, the more they’ll get bailed out. Standard and …

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October, Thursday 13, 2011

DOW – 40 = 11478SPX – 3 = 1203NAS + 15 = 2620 10 YR YLD – = 2.16%OIL – 1.10 = 84.47GOLD – 7.90 = 1666.60SILV – .76 = 31.92PLAT – 16.00 = 1539.00 It’s earnings season and today it felt a little like rabbit hunting season. Today’s rabbit was JPMorgan Chase; the first major bank to report. They posted profit of $4.3 billion, or $1.02 per share, topping estimates of 91 cents per share but down from $4.4 billion in profit from the third quarter a year ago. Apparently, profit of more than $1 billion per month just isn’t enough. Of course, I look at the big banks’ earnings and I just don’t believe what I see any more. Part of JPMorgans earnings was largely due to an accounting quirk related to the bank’s debt falling in price. According to the Financial Times, the so-called debt value adjustment added 29 cents a share to JPMorgan’s after tax earnings, boosting its net earnings to $1.02 per share. Are the earnings based on mark to market or mark to make believe? Do we really have any idea what the true liabilities are? How many toxic assets still remain on the books? What is their true exposure to a European contagion? Do they just make this stuff up? What would happen if the Occupy Wall Street protesters swarm over Jamie Dimon’s house like a swarm of locust? Fitch Rating placed bank of America, Morgan Stanley, and Goldman Sachs on review for …

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