Daily Investment Interpretations

November 1, 2010


2010-11-1 (Monday Night):    Just like Friday, stocks yo-yoed up and down today, and ended about where they started, as the markets waited for Tuesday (the elections) and Wednesday (the Fed) to show their colors.  The first estimate of third-quarter GDP was announced today. It was 2% annualized. The NASDAQ Composite fell 2.57 points (-0.1%) to 2,504.84  The Dow adjusted up again 6.13 points (0.06%) to close at 11,124.62, and the S&P 500 tiptoed up a measly  1.12 points (0.09%) to end at 1,184.38. Oil rose to $83.23 a barrel, and Gold dropped to $1,353. The VIX jumped 0.63 to 21.83.
   Follow the higher rates   In investing in emerging markets, this article recommends investing in those markets where interest rates have already peaked, rather than those in which rates are on the way up. He ends up suggesting South Korea as a promising target.
   Who will point the way?   Mark Hulbert examines which industry sectors are apt to power the markets higher.
   Frank Rich on "The Grand Old Plot Against the Tea Party"   "ONE dirty little secret of the 2010 election is that it won’t be a political tragedy for Democrats if a Tea Party icon like Sharron Angle or Joe Miller ends up in the United States Senate. Angle, now synonymous with racist ads sliming Hispanics, and Miller, already on record threatening a government shutdown, are fired up and ready to go as symbols of G.O.P. extremism for 2012 and beyond. What’s not so secret is that some Republicans will be just as happy if some of these characters lose, and for the same reason. But whatever Tuesday’s results, this much is certain: The Tea Party’s hopes for actually effecting change in Washington will start being dashed the morning after. The ordinary Americans in this movement lack the numbers and financial clout to muscle their way into the back rooms of Republican power no matter how well their candidates perform.
    "Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News and Wall Street Journal have been arduous in promoting and inflating Tea Party events and celebrities to this propagandistic end. The more the Tea Party looks as if it’s calling the shots in the G.O.P., the easier it is to distract attention from those who are actually calling them — namely, those who’ve cashed in and cashed out as ordinary Americans lost their jobs, homes and 401(k)’s. Typical of this smokescreen is a new book titled “Mad as Hell,” published this fall by a Murdoch imprint. In it, the pollsters Scott Rasmussen and Douglas Schoen make the case, as they recently put it in Politico, that the Tea Party is “the most powerful and potent force in America.”
    "An August CNN poll found that 2 percent of Americans consider themselves active members of the Tea Party."
"But those Americans, like all the others on the short end of the 2008 crash, have reason to be mad as hell. And their numbers will surely grow once the Republican establishment’s panacea of tax cuts proves as ineffectual at creating jobs, saving homes and cutting deficits as the half-measures of the Obama White House and the Democratic Congress. The tempest, however, will not be contained within the tiny Tea Party but will instead overrun the Republican Party itself, where Palin, with Murdoch and Beck at her back, waits in the wings to “take back America” not just from Obama but from the G.O.P. country club elites now mocking her. By then — after another two years of political gridlock and economic sclerosis — the equally disillusioned right and left may have a showdown that makes this election year look as benign as Woodstock."
    This article brings out the corruption in our political system, in this case, in the Republican Party, that has landed us in 22nd place on the world's corruption list.
    Ross Douthat on "How We Got Here"  "From the early 1990s through the 2008 election, Americans grew steadily more liberal. Voters became more supportive of government spending and more sympathetic toward the poor. They were increasingly secular and increasingly likely to favor gay marriage. They were more worried about climate change and more inclined to support universal health care. And not surprisingly, they were more and more likely to identify as Democrats. This trend wasn’t just a blip created by the Bush administration’s unpopularity, as some conservatives hopefully suggested. It was a significant, long-running shift, pushed along by deeper demographic forces."
    "But since Barack Obama took the oath of office, the country’s leftward momentum has reversed itself. In some cases, nearly 20 years of liberal gains have been erased in 20 months. Americans are more likely to self-identify as conservative than at any point since Bill Clinton’s first term. They’ve become more skeptical of government and more anxious about deficits and taxes. They’re more inclined to identify as pro-life and anti-gun control, more doubtful about global warming, more hostile to regulation. And, not surprisingly, they’re more likely to consider voting Republican on Tuesday."
    "The Obama Democrats, by contrast, tried to push through health care reform and climate legislation with the unemployment rate stuck at a 28-year high. On health care, they won a costly victory. On cap-and-trade, they forced vulnerable congressmen to cast a controversial vote, and came away with nothing to show for it. In both cases, they reaped a backlash, while defining themselves as ideological and intensely out-of-touch. At the same time, their legislative maneuverings — the buy-offs and back-room deals, the inevitable coziness with lobbyists — exposed the weakness of modern liberal governance: it tends to be stymied and corrupted by the very welfare state that it’s seeking to expand. Many of Barack Obama’s supporters expected him to be another Franklin Roosevelt, energetically experimenting with one program after another. But Roosevelt didn’t have to cope with the web of interest groups that’s gradually woven itself around the government his New Deal helped build. And while Obama twisted in these webs, the public gradually decided that it liked bigger government more in theory than in practice.
    "Nor have Obama’s political instincts helped him through these difficulties. Presidents always take more blame than they deserve for political misfortune, but Obama’s style has invited disillusionment. His messianic campaign raised impossible hopes (particularly among Comedy Central viewers, apparently), and he has made a habit of baldly overpromising, whether the subject is the unemployment rate or the health care bill. Obama seems as if he would have been a wonderful chief executive in an era of prosperity and consensus, when he could have given soaring speeches every week and made us all feel tingly about America. But he’s miscast as a partisan scrapper, and unpersuasive when he tries to feel the country’s economic pain.