Posts filed under “Currency”
Paul Brodsky & Lee Quaintance run QB Partners, a private macro-oriented investment fund based in New York.”
In our sparsely populated office – a beacon of both waste and hope – hangs a framed poster of Albert
Einstein and his quote: “imagination is more important than knowledge.” The poster is different from
the other “art” hanging on our walls – not because of its cheesy cheapness or because it makes an
otherwise stark white wall only slightly more interesting. (That is common in our office, where
taciturn riveters laze on I-Beams perched 800 feet above what would become Rockefeller Plaza.).
No, the Einstein poster is different because its simple declarative is neither ironic nor banal. The
most brilliant man of his time noted the importance of imagination, which we’re sure was an
acknowledgement of its scarcity.
Maybe Einstein recognized early something the rest of us just confirmed? Senators McCain and
Obama spent two years competing to convince us that each was more naturally at ease with political
dynamism and that change was the secret sauce to fix a world where US democracy- and wealth-
spreading machines had run into a ditch. People didn’t need convincing. The wars became pointless
to most Americans and the economy became more important to most people than merely glancing at
the closing level of the Dow Jones Industrial Average. Within this context, electing Obama would be
a rational choice – not because his ideology was necessarily better for the times but because the
country’s economic situation had no precedent from which age or experience would add any value.
Change seemed like a reasonable priority and Americans voted for the candidate they felt could
execute it best – the one with the better imagination.
There are no formal elections held on Wall Street, where daily money flows are the only votes cast.
Such a free-market approach should, theoretically, reflect (or guide) confidence levels as well as the
speed and quality of capital formation and regulation. But it isn’t that easy. The markets are
comprised and dominated by dedicated investors – institutions that must allocate all their money into
markets no matter what the outlook, and by extrapolators – Pavlovian sages who can recite
conditional responses chapter and verse – why the market or economy should go in a certain
direction because “eight out of the last ten times this did that, then…” and who shame their flocks
(usually with a chuckle and wink) “not to buy into the notion that this time is different!”
Well, this time is different. You know that and we know that, but an expert can’t be an expert if he
doesn’t have expertise (real or perceived) and expertise regarding the current economic situation
can’t be extrapolated. It must be game-theoried and theoretically applied. It must be imagined, the
way a German patent clerk did while global academic institutional extrapolators did not.
Wow, back to 1954: The Bank of England unexpectedly slashed the benchmark interest rate by 1.5 percentage points as policy makers tried to contain the damage caused by a recession. The nine-member Monetary Policy Committee, led by Governor Mervyn King, slashed the bank rate to 3 percent. The move was predicted by none of the…Read More
Not too shabby a week — plus 11% across the major indices, with some areas even stronger. Of course, that comes from deeply oversold levels, with stocks peak trough down 27% within October. The key question going forward is whether or not this past week’s snapback rally has legs. But rather than guess about that, let’s look at some of the more intriguing data points from October 2008.
Gee, I picked a bad month to stop sniffing glue:
• October was the worst month for the Standard & Poor’s index of 500 stocks in 21 years — since the 1987 stock market crash. (NYT)
• The Dow dropped 14% drop over the past four weeks — the biggest October decline since 1987, when the crash sent markets down 23% for the month. The S&P 500 was down 17%, and Nasdaq fell 18%. This ranked as the 15th worst monthly decline for the Dow Industrials since 1900.
• October 2008 was the most volatile in the 80-year history of the S.& P. 500. (see NYT chart, at right)
• We had the most down days in a single month since August 1973. (Marketwatch)
• Compare 3 recent SPX Bear Markets: -46% from October 2007; Compare that with 1973-74 down 48% over 23 months. The 2000-03 bear was 49 percent over nearly 3 years.
• The S&P 500 had the most volatile month since November 1929 (1% moves higher or lower).
• October had two days where the indices were up more than 9% — the 10th time this has occurred over the past 80 years. (NYT)
• During an eight-day losing streak at the beginning of the month, the Dow lost 2,396 points.
• Consider days with 4% moves up or down: None from 2003 through 2007; Three throughout the 1950s and two in the 1960s. October 2008? 9 days with four percent plus or minus. That edges out September 1932′s record of 8. (NYT)
• The Dow had its second-biggest point drop on record, of 733 points. The Dow posted two of it biggest point gains, climbing by 936 points (October 13th) and 889 (October 28th)
Bill Moyers sits down with former Nixon White House strategist and political and economic critic Kevin Phillips, whose latest book BAD MONEY: RECKLESS FINANCE, FAILED POLITICS, AND THE GLOBAL CRISIS OF AMERICAN CAPITALISM explores the role that the crumbling financial sector played in the now-fragile American economy.
September 19, 2008