Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Junkie in the Pool and False Idols: Faith in Wall Street and The Fed Has Eroded

The Debt-Junkie Market has been pulled from the pool, gasping for breath, but nobody thinks he's healthy: faith in the Fed and wall Street has been irrevocably lost.

PODCAST ALERT: Steve over at Two Beers With Steve kindly interviewed me last week, and here's the podcast of the discussion on investing and much more. Thank you, Steve, for the chance to talk about my new book and the future of investing.

Oversold rallies notwithstanding, the Debt-Junkie Market just stumbled into the pool and was barely saved from drowning. The stock market party isn't over for strictly technical reasons, though the technical damage is severe.

The party's over for a much deeper reason: faith that the Fed can fix the economy has faded, and participants no longer believe Wall Street's self-serving hype about the recovery and rising markets. Oh sure, people go through the motions of expressing faith in the market, in corporate profits rising forever, in official pronouncements of the Fed's omnipotence, and in whatever snapback rally is in play at the moment, but it's all for show; nobody really believes any of it, they just don't want to be the odd man out by confessing their loss of faith in the false idols. America Is Just Going Through the Motions(November 19, 2010).

The financial Status Quo has an unsolvable problem: reality isn't swayed by propaganda. Does anyone really believe another couple years of low interest rates and a snapback rally or two will fix what's broken in the U.S. and global economies?

Hasn't it been made abundantly clear that super-low interest rates only fuel speculation and malinvestment?

This loss of faith is not a temporary phenomenon but rather a sea change in the zeitgeist, somewhat akin to the loss of trust in a partner caught cheating: you can never go back to what existed before, even though you go through the motions of a return to normalcy.

I have covered this systemic loss of faith in the Status Quo many times--a process of delegitimization that is reflected in declining participation, withdrawal of funds, and increased skepticism of official pronouncements and statistical "proof" that the Status Quo is healthy and sustainable.

When Belief in the System Fades (March 12, 2008)

When Belief in the System Fades, Stock Market Version (March 26, 2010)

What we're seeing is a gradual, generational abandonment of the stock market as a trustworthy place to secure wealth. The closest analogy is the 1970s, when participants' euphoric belief in the permanence of the go-go stock market of the late 1960s was slowly destroyed, along with their wealth.

There are plentiful signs that the quasi-religious faith in stocks has reached an apex and begun a long, slow slide. For example, the Q ratio leaped to previously unimaginable heights, and is still far above its previous lows registered when people had lost faith in the market and its institutional cheerleaders (The Fed, Wall Street, etc.)

The value of the stock market relative to the GDP (a proxy for the real economy) has been at historically high levels for decades:

Here's what markets look like once institutional credibility has been lost: note the long decline in the Dow through the 1930s and the Nikkei market in the 90s. Yes, there were rallies lasting several years, but the markets never recovered the wealth that had been wiped out in their declines.

Faith in the Fed and Wall Street has eroded because their bailouts failed to repair the real economy or household balance sheets. If all the Federal/Fed backstops are included, the total exceeds $23 trillion, but let's see where the most visible $10 trillion ended up:

Over on the fiscal side, the Federal government has borrowed and blown some $6 trillion over the past four years in debt-enabled "stimulus." And how much did that torrent of debt accomplish? Looks like it yielded a negative return: the experiment was a failure.

Meanwhile, back in the real economy, labor's share of the national income has dropped:

And so has household income.

Rather than question the loss of faith in the Fed's magic wand and Wall Street's perpetual cheerleading, we might ask why it's taken so long for people to realize the Fed is a clueless cabal of cargo-cultists in servitude to the rigged game known as Wall Street, and the only solution is to opt out of playing the market.

The Debt-Junkie Market has been pulled from pool, dripping wet and mumbling, but the onlookers' frothy party conversations have dwindled to whispers. Yes, the Market has been "saved" once again, and the Fed will undoubtedly continue announcing new Methadone treatments that it promises will work wonders.

But anyone looking at the haggard, bent wastrel standing on the pool deck, arms scarred with tracks from previous Fed "treatments," is forgiven for excusing themselves: the party's over, even if the hosts are loudly declaring it has barely begun.

If you no longer believe in Wall Street's cheerleading, you might be interested in my new book An Unconventional Guide to Investing in Troubled Times, now available in Kindle ebook format. You can read the ebook on any computer, smart phone, iPad, etc.Click here for links to Kindle apps and Chapter One.

Readers forum:

My new book An Unconventional Guide to Investing in Troubled Times is available in Kindle ebook format. You can read the ebook now on any computer, smart phone, iPad, etc. Click here for more info about Kindle apps and the book.

Order Survival+: Structuring Prosperity for Yourself and the Nation (free bits) (Mobi ebook) (Kindle) or Survival+ The Primer (Kindle) or Weblogs & New Media: Marketing in Crisis (free bits) (Kindle) or from your local bookseller.

Of Two Minds Kindle edition: Of Two Minds blog-Kindle

Thank you, Jon D. ($10/mo), for your phenomenally generous subscription to this site -- I am greatly honored by your support and readership. Thank you, Rebecca D. ($10), for your much-appreciated generous contribution to this site -- I am greatly honored by your support and readership.

Terms of Service

All content on this blog is provided by Trewe LLC for informational purposes only. The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site. The owner will not be liable for any errors or omissions in this information nor for the availability of this information. The owner will not be liable for any losses, injuries, or damages from the display or use of this information. These terms and conditions of use are subject to change at anytime and without notice.

Our Privacy Policy:

Correspondents' email is strictly confidential. This site does not collect digital data from visitors or distribute cookies. Advertisements served by third-party advertising networks such as Adsense and Investing Channel may use cookies or collect information from visitors for the purpose of Interest-Based Advertising; if you wish to opt out of Interest-Based Advertising, please go to Opt out of interest-based advertising (The Network Advertising Initiative)
If you have other privacy concerns relating to advertisements, please contact advertisers directly. Websites and blog links on the site's blog roll are posted at my discretion.

Our Commission Policy:

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. I also earn a commission on purchases of precious metals via BullionVault. I receive no fees or compensation for any other non-advertising links or content posted
on my site.

  © Blogger templates Newspaper III by 2008

Back to TOP