Thursday, July 24, 2008

We Don't Need No Stinking Capitulation

The economy looks bad, but when experts demand a 5% or more down day before buying stocks, we may have to wait a long time for a real recovery. Market experts, including Barry Ritholtz (, want capitulation, or one day of panic; however, the markets have placed rules to prevent large down days. The new rules against naked short selling are another brick in the wall against a Depression-era one-day dip. In addition, Grasso instituted trading curbs ("circuit breakers") to prevent exactly what the experts want. Meanwhile, Congress continues to consider regulations against ICE and other trading exchanges to prevent instability. If the experts and mutual fund managers want something the exchanges and government are actively preventing, even good economic data may get cast aside as we create a self-fulfilling sideways market.

The facts are that oil has come down from its high, and the American dollar is slowly recuperating. The dollar has already decreased so much the Mexican and Canadian currencies are the ones that look overvalued. The European Central Bank (ECB) has to maintain or increase interest rates to keep its superior edge on the dollar, and at some point, EU citizens will be screaming bloody murder when growth slows or stops. We forget that Europe has many powerful and influential companies that want to sell their own products abroad and are becoming angry at the U.S. dollar's weakness.

As for oil, barring an Israeli attack on Iran or vice-versa, oil will decrease in price. Commodities experts have been denying a supply issue for months. In the absence of a supply issue, oil prices will decrease as Americans use less oil--unless the law of supply and demand suddenly vanishes.

I am no Pollyanna, but with money markets offering 2%, and CDs not much better, if investors don't take some action, inflation (running around 5%) will destroy their purchasing power. Having said that, why is the market discounting technology companies, many of which have plenty of cash and were not involved directly in subprime, finance, or housing? If I'm Intel (INTC), Google (GOOG), ST Microelectronics (STM), Microsft (MSFT), Brocade Communications (BRCD), Taiwan Semiconductor (TSM), or MEMC (WFR), I'm beginning to wonder if the American stock market is an inefficient way of valuing my company. After Sarbanes-Oxley, why would a rational company want to have an IPO in this irrational market?

Disclosure: I own shares or plan on buying shares in the above companies.

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