Via Mark J. Grant, authr of Out of the Box,
“One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see fine pictures, and, if it were possible, to speak a few reasonable words.”
-Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
At the beginning of World War II, the term "shell shock" was banned by the British Army, though the phrase "postconcussional syndrome" was used to describe similar traumatic conditions. Pick whichever words you like but lately it seems to me that the world’s investors are in this state of economic reaction; shell shocked. Yes, France is downgraded, no decision about Greece, no truce in Gaza, Spain joining Alice in the rabbit hole, recession in Europe, America fiddling about with no resolution in sight and “ho hum, ho hum pass the cookies if you please.”
“Poetry and Hums aren’t things which you get, they’re things which get you. And all you can do is go where they can find you.”
-Pooh’s Little Instruction Book
The world’s central banks have manufactured the money, we have enough sloshing about to invest it, corporate earnings are down, well, nevermind, we have to do something with the stuff so we may as well put it somewhere and it is not the beat that goes on but the throb of the investment world lulled into lethargy by all of the shells that have flown overhead and landed nowhere. It is like the investment world is on Xanax where the sea is perceived as dead calm, regardless of the eight foot swells, or so it appears to us as we sit on the shore but what does it matter anyway. I am reminded of my youth and Mad Magazine, “What Me Worry.”
“I once had a rose named after me and I was very flattered. But I was not pleased to read the description in the catalogue: no good in a bed, but fine up against a wall.”
The plain fact is nothing much is going right because nothing much is getting done. Yes, we have promises aplenty that things will get done, that everything will be just fine, that worries are an unnecessary aggravation and can only cause stress and acute angina but the dead calm when calm is not the state of the ocean is what concerns me. I recall the spring of 2008 when I first began warning about the effects of all of the easy money and no documentation loans and squared and cubed CDO’s that were being touted as the next new things and sliced bread for any and all money managers. I warned about it all and was “ho hummed” by not only the Street but by many institutions. I find myself recalling those times because I think we are in another market now where some kind of mood elevating drugs have been blown into Wall Street and we are wandering about in some sort of Purple Haze where everything glistens with some sort of sheen and we are numbed by the constant barrage of political rhetoric.
“They are funny things; accidents. You never have them until you are having them.”
-Winnie the Pooh
This all, of course, can change in a New York second. For those of you in other parts of the world this measure of time is the shortest span known to nuclear physicists or to be found anywhere in the universe. There are many definitions of course but generally it is thought of as the moment between a light turning green on 5th Avenue and the honk of the horn from some cab that is behind you. This New York second also operates in Einstein’s Theory of Relativity where the world is asleep and then receives a wake-up call as the New York second has a causal effect. The investment world is operating in this sort of lull now and with the weather getting colder I am not sure if anyone is dressed appropriately. It may all just be a matter of interpretation though. There is the recent story of the young trader who had just arrived from Estonia and was so proud of himself. He had just executed a perfect parallel parking maneuver on Park Avenue and after he returned to his car some hours later he was just ecstatic to see the official government salutation for a great job done where the note said, “Parking Fine.”
The Wizard, the Sages and yours truly all wish you and your family a Happy Thanksgiving. Eat a lot of turkey, don’t try to imitate one. Chomp on all of the mashed potatoes that you can. Imbibe the cranberry sauce until your mouth can hold no more. Remember to give thanks for what is really important and offer a blessing for those that have less. Finally if you have some confusion about your investments or just wonder what to do next there is always the tried and true solution at this time of year that can fix everything! Just call the Butterball Hotline. All problems solved!