Friday, September 30, 2011

2012, here we come.... (#10)

Historically 90% of all American economic expansions have been of less than three years' duration. So perhaps one ought not to be so surprised that things appear to be about to go in the other, wrong direction. Yet I still cling to the view that, left to its own devices, the US economy has (or had) the ability to muddle through this situation.

The trouble is that would require a hypothetical situation in which everyone is constrained to act like jurors in an on-going trial, and thereby prevented from reading or viewing any commentary on its progress. For such is the condition of modern communications that all prophecies even Mayan ones tend to be self-fulfilling. (Mea culpa...)

The nature of short selling is that it helps to bring about the desired situation while creating a backlog of negative sentiment. Economic data published this week may not have been as scary as it might have been, but now the prevalent expectation has been recalibrated based on events in August. The hedge fungus and other speculators have been back on the case of the global banking system since the current crisis entered a new phase around the time the House Republicans revealed the true nature of their insanity. As John Lanchester puts it:

"The disturbing thing about the whole process wasn't so much that the Tea Partiers were irrational as that they were irrationalist; they were consciously pursuing a course of action which made no economic sense, as part of a world-view which is essentially theological."

Lanchester compares Rumsfeld's known and unknown unknowns with what investors might describe as risk and uncertainty. The former is the natural state of affairs, the environment in which they function, the latter is 'uncharted territory' and thus much harder to operate within, as well as being fairly terrifying.

As we commence viewing Act III of this particular Greek tragedy, all other stock market signals are being drowned out by emotive headlines. CNBC's Jeff Cox explains..

"In a normal market, the wide disparity between the Dow Jones Industrial Average and technicals would be screaming an ugly message, but these are not normal times. That's because the massive amount of headline risk—market moves driven by the constant churn of big news events—is at an apex"

So none of the usual risk signals really count right now and the Greek 'news event' is not a risk signal at all, for it has been cloaked in the unknown unknown of uncertainty (and the irrationality of that perverse doomsday faction within the GOP).

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