12/31/12…happy new year???

TB’s Final Song of the Year:

You got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em
Know when to walk away and know when to run
You never count your money when you’re sittin’ at the table
There’ll be time enough for countin’ when the dealing’s done

Every gambler knows that the secret to survivin’
Is knowin’ what to throw away and knowing what to keep
( From: http://www.elyrics.net )
‘Cause every hand’s a winner and every hand’s a loser
And the best that you can hope for is to die in your sleep

And when he finished speakin’, he turned back towards the window
Crushed out his cigarette and faded off to sleep
And somewhere in the darkness the gambler, he broke even
But in his final words I found an ace that I could keep

You got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em
Know when to walk away and know when to run
You never count your money when you’re sittin’ at the table
There’ll be time enough for countin’ when the dealing’s done

…from ‘The Gambler’ by Don Schlitz, as sung by Kenny Rogers – what could better describe what our stock market has eroded to? How tragically pathetic. TB

More on gambling from The Friars Club Encyclopedia of Jokes: “If there was not action around, he would play Solitaire-and bet against himself.” – Groucho Marx

“We spend $48 billion in lotter tickets. You can’t trust us with our money. How you planning for your retirement? Powerball! – Wanda Sykes

“Las Vegas is the only town in the country where you can have a good time without enjoying yourself.” – Joe E. Lewis

Bloomberg Quote of the Day: “You only live once but if you do it right, once is enough.” – Mae West

This week’s holiday shortened economic calendar is packed with important indicators. The highlight of the week will be the December Employment Situation (Friday). We will also get the December ISM Manufacturing Survey and November Construction Spending (Wednesday), the December ADP National Employment Report and December Motor Vehicle Sales (Thursday), and the December ISM Non-Manufacturing Survey and November Factory Orders (Friday). In addition, the Federal Reserve will release the minutes to the December 13th – 14th FOMC meeting (Thursday). Courtesy of Steve Wood, Insight Economics, Walnut Creek, CA

Bloomberg Top Stories:

*Taxes Set to Rise for Almost All U.S. Workers as Budget Deal Still elusive – ‘workers’ is the operative word…but who cares about them? TB

*U.S. Index Futures Signal Drop Amid Cliff Talks as Copper Gains in China – BLUFF!!!

*Birinyi Odds Favor S&P 500 Record in 2013 as Individuals Return to Stocks – uh huh!

*Gold Heads for Longest Winning Streak Since 1920 on Central Bank Stimulus – ??? wait…it is off 8% since the $1801.50 high on 2/23…and 2nd peak on 10/5 at $1800!!!

*Dollar Advances for Second Day Against Euro as Budget Deadline Approaches

*Polish Zloty Led Gains in 2012 With ForInt While yen Weakened – a crazy year!

*Arizona Stadium Proves Trojan Horse as Taxpayers Pay Everyone – such a deal!

*U.K. Risk of Triple-Dip Recession Recedes as Business Confidence Improves

*For-Profit Nursing Homes Lead in Medicare Overcharging While Care Suffers – and you wonder why health care costs are out of control…2 words: FOR PROFIT!!!

*Congress Dysfunction as Deadline Arrives Now Poses Risks for 2013 Agenda

*Chavez Suffers Complications After Fourth Cancer Operation – good riddance!

*New Year’s Countdown to Higher Taxes Starts as Congress’s Work Unfinished

The fiscal ‘bluff’ continues while grown men…and women…act like children ignoring what is needed to keep us afloat. They see everything as ‘half empty’ – wouldn’t growing the economy while cutting spending sensibly prevent the crisis? Yes, but they don’t see the problem as the financial crisis which destroyed household wealth and with it economic growth. Total NYSE volume fell to 2.4B on Friday from 2.83B shares vs Wednesday’s 2.27B shares. Contrast to Monday’s shortened session which was a 12 month low at just 1.24B shares vs 4.74B on Friday’s quadruple witching – the 12 month high…back to back??? Trades executed on the floor of the NYSE also dipped to a still weak 535M shares vs 567M vs 476M from 286M shares (new 12 month low) vs 1.88B – also the 12-month HIGH. All indices were weaker by about 1% and in contrast to Thursday’s drop and subsequent recovery stocks went out near the lows, the close was well below Thursday’s lows. Advance/declines and Breadth were negative for a third day by 2.1x/4.8x on NYSE and 2x/4.2x on Nasdaq. This is not a real market…it’s a casino!

Global stocks are mixed with France, Japan and Korea up, the rest down. U.S. futures are higher but Dow futures traded in a 120 point range! DOW +66; SPX +9.50; NDQ +12.50…remember, hedgies would love to see index funds forced to rebalance at higher levels…portends a very weak January…at least!

The bond market is weaker. The 10 yr note is 1.72% vs 1.70%, and the 30 yr 2.89% vs 2.83%. TIPS are also weaker at 0.35% vs 0.30%, but still a far cry from the 0.22% record low on 12/6! Libor is starting to slip 0.306%, 3 months, and 0.508% six months. Little change in foreign bond rates overnight with Greece at 11.45%.

Gold closed weaker Friday at $1655.90 -$7.60, still barely above the lowest close since 8/22! It remains way below the 40/50 day moving averages and the 200 day – $1667! – Overnight it is up $6.40 to $1662.30. Crude did little following Wednesday’s huge rally closing at $90.80 -.07 – just below the highest since 10/22 and well above the 40/50 day, with res at the 200 day: $92.05. Overnight it is $90.31 -.50.  Hard to believe Gold is up for the year but you could have gone to cash back in February and done way better! You would be up 13.4% instead of 5.2%.

…what a way to end the year…with the clowns sitting in Washington while the Capitol burns. At least Nero fiddled! This is a crisis of their own making. It is also how the GOP pays homage to its big backers like Sheldon Adelman…here is an eye-opening article by Robert Reich: Billionaires and the GOP

Too bad that all of these ideologues can only see things in terms of cutting spending…which of course they should do…and they know it since it was the GOP and George W. Bush who created this problem by flinching at the first sign of a recession in more than a decade…chainweighted GDP never even dipped but it gave them the catalyst they wanted to cut taxes…they even created the myth that a dividend tax cut was necessary since millions of Americans own stocks…they do…mostly in their IRA’s and 401(k)’s which will be taxed as ordinary income when withdrawn! Meanwhile the wealthiest get the benefit. Nothing new here except it helps explain whey the top 2% got well over 90% of the benefit creating the widest wealth gap in more than a century.

Not once has the GOP blamed the financial sector which has given them solid backing. Instead they say ‘we all are to blame.’ Horse manure! Just because someone asks for a loan no one had to give it to them…and they even helped them manipulate the numbers so they qualified…in order to reap big commissions…as they did with steering minorities who could qualify for conventional mortgages into subprime.

Daily we read about ‘record’ settlements by the banks…the same ones, over and over: JPMorganChase, BofA, Citi, Wells Fargo…yet these fines don’t even equal the profit they made off them! Plus we bailed them all out…and increased their attractiveness to foreigners by insuring the remain too big to fail.

One particularly egregious act was by JPMorgan and Citi for charging fees to municipal issuers that included lobbying expense…expressly prohibited! The total fines were less than three million but it is the thought that counts! Still no one has gone to jail…or even been brought to trial…and these same folks tried to buy the election. It stinks!

The fiscal ‘bluff’ is just that…also a diversionary means like the shell game so you don’t see what the real issues are. TB predicts more of the same for 2013…sadly.

TB keeps hearing how much better off you are with a college degree than just a high school diploma…but are you really? After tuition, student loans, etc…sure you make more but in either category wages have not risen since 1995. Take a minute to look at this table… education and wage statistics We have definitely failed to make a better life for our children and now we are working on doing the same for our grandchildren. Meanwhile in Washington they are saying $250k isn’t that much money…then compare to the $50k in the tables! The gap is here and it is widening by the minute. That’s enough!

Wishing all of you the happiest of new years!

TB

. . .  – – –  . . . (SOS!)  . . .   – – –  . . .  (SOS!) . . .   – – –  . . .  (SOS!)

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