We Got Took
December 15, 2003
Japan got it. Singapore got it. Australia got it. India got it. Germany got it. France got it. Even our last true ally and bombing partner the United Kingdom got it. Yep, the stock markets in all these countries and more went up and STAYED UP in celebration of the long-awaited capture of the mutha of all tyrants, Saddam Hussein.
Yet, Americans, always itching for an opportunity to show-off our irreverent independence and disregard for international norms, decided that the true and proper way to celebrate our own success was to not only to unceremoniously kick out the DJ, sweep away all the party favors, and throw away the beer nuts, but we had to completely bulldoze the house and start setting the neighborhood ablaze! The American stock market was up, then it was flat, then it was decidedly down. And that my friends is the "thank you very much" we sent off to our fine citizens risking their lives for our economic security.
Sure, I am over-stating and dramatizing, but I do it to emphasize the following point. The market is still in the "sell on the news mode." Given the constant and persistent selling we have seen in response to good news, it is *amazing* to me that somehow the market continues to save itself in the last possible minute to secure the general up-trend. I had earlier thought that I saw signs that the market's penchant for selling into the party was over. I thought that once the market got some unexpected good news (not only Saddam is now ours but also the Fed underhandedly promised to keep interest rates low until maybe 2005!), the market would get ready for the next leg up. Looks like I was wrong on both counts. In fact, my expectation that the markets would soon put these milestones in the rear view mirror is becoming more and more of a hope on the wings of a butterfly than a podium to pound my fist on.
Your intrepid market reporter is literally at a loss for words at this point (imagine that?). This market is tough as nails and refuses to give in to easy interpretation by the bulls or the bears. I feel for all our worldly brethren who will wake up the next morning in their respective time zones to find that all that money they threw into the party has been turned into so much confetti. They thought they got it, but instead they got took. Well, perhaps they deserve it since 95% of them didn't support the war anyway. Maybe that was all part of our "plan" from the beginning. After all, we had the nerve to ask them to forgive Iraqi loans while denying them post-war reconstruction contracts (talk about blood money!), so we had to figure out some way to get the funds. If they are not careful, we might next start exporting all those Weapons of Mass Destruction Saddam will certainly reveal to us - those same weapons that look so obvious from thousands of miles up in space, but somehow disappear like a mirage once you get up, close, and personal.
Anyway, hard to say what comes next. Perhaps this one day will end up just being yet another one of those tough days and a blip on the overall action. Perhaps it is just another day giving me an excuse to try to make the financial markets seem interesting and important and pliable to my poetic prognostications. But almost everything I see tells my intuition that a top in this market is finally at hand - if not now, then very soon. The Nasdaq seems to be teetering, and I cannot imagine the other major indices surviving a breakdown of the Nasdaq's blistering leadership. Not at this juncture anyway. The money men and the big institutions have recently used EVERY opportunity possible to cash in their profits from this rally and distribute stock to those who will undoubtedly be left holding the bag in the near future. And yet, nine months of a rally (even with the last three being mostly churn) have caused my bearish tendencies to get too shy to come out to play and frolic in typical reckless abandon. Then again, that is the whole point of a bear rally: to put even the best of you to sleep while you should be cashing out with the rest of the party poopers. Decisions, decisions...