Here we are going into what should be by all accounts one of the most festive times of the year. If one were to listen to most of the commentary coming from the mouths of what are proclaimed as the “smart-crowd” you would think we should be dancing in the streets, buying everything, and anything within arms reach, and much, much more.
Yet, anyone who owns, runs, or works for a business will tell you in private they are either paralyzed by uncertainty, or worse, they’re just scared to death. It just seems nothing makes sense as to what they know – and what they’re being told they should believe.
I talk directly with people who are entrepreneurs and business professionals. One glaringly impression that gets made to me over, and over again, is they literally can’t make heads or tails out of not only who to believe, but also what data to believe.
Everything they once thought they knew has not only been stood on its head, but in many cases the data or information they once used as touchstones as “to keep an eye on the ball” as to where the economy is possibly going – has now turned into a game having more in common trying to watch a ball with a street magician. And in my opinion; it just got a whole lot worse.
Turn on any “news” outlet and what will be touted in some form of giddy-esque fashion is the markets are once again hitting new all time highs. And not only will this Christmas be better than expected, it will be better because people will now enjoy a sudden rush of unrealized gains now that gasoline is plummeting. Sounds like a festive holiday season made to order.
Well it is, just not for Main St. Yes, it will cost one less to drive that boulevard, but stopping and shopping? Probably better to stay in the car and drive around looking at all the pretty displays. It’s cheaper, maybe more memorable, and the chances of being shot drop lower than a bargain basement discount.
If things have been so good for retailing, and the stock market the once “gauge of gauges” for optimism and health of an economy is once again at all time highs; then how can you have people such as long time retail consultants that cut their teeth in both good and bad times comment on both the state of malls, as well as the very people who shop in them like Howard Davidowitz (and he is not some glass half empty styled analyst, far from it) when he states:
“They’re trying to change; they’re trying to get different kinds of anchors, discount stores … [But] what’s going on is the customers don’t have the fucking money. That’s it. This isn’t rocket science.” as reported in a story appearing in The Guardian™ when asked about malls and their challenges just this year.
Although I agree with him, the Federal Reserve (Fed.) seems to believe the retail economy is “rocket science”. Just listen to a press conference to clear any doubt.
I don’t know how many readers listened to the Fed. Chair Janet Yellen read her prepared remarks on the recent meeting. Personally I was left slack-jawed when I heard her summarize the expectations for the employment situation going forward.
The assumption stated (I’m paraphrasing to give the example) is that based upon the unemployment figures currently which are now under 6%. The committee sees reaching their target of maximum employment in about a year or so. Yes, you read that correctly, full employment is just around the corner based upon the data they use today. All I could think was: Are you seriously making that in a public statement? I mean – really?
If you’re a person in any way shape manner or form that needs reliable data to help formulate your decision on whether to open a new division, relocation, and more where employment data was critical to that discussion: Would you take seriously a person who stated where you were proposing to go was to be at full employment with a year or so knowing full well over 90 million of that base are jobless?
Of course not. You’ld throw them out of your office. Yet – that’s what the head of all monetary policy in that local not only says, but will base decisions that impact you directly going forward. Happy Holidays!
If your only interest is in Wall Street itself – then you should embrace the bubbly. Why? As posted by ZeroHedge™ “Fed To The Rescue” The Plunge Protection Team Makes The Front Page.
So adulterated have the markets now shown themselves to be, none other than the most G rated, of G rated newspapers for financial literacy the USA Today™ front paged the Fed.’s omnipotence. No one needs to hide the “chair” behind the curtains any longer. It’s now so obvious and accepted by everyone they can run the full frontal nudity of this assault to free market capitalism on the front page to an adoring public.
You’re told to turn your eyes from any hint that retail sales might actually be flashing a warning sign with an unexpected drop. However, you are told to embrace the “bubbly” with both hands because the markets rallied in a manner not seen in years based on; great economic figures? Retail blowout reports from Black Friday sales? Massive retail upticks that people have needed to only arrive in panel vans or trucks capable of hauling home all those new presents for girls and boys? Nope. It was not only based on no new data, but just one new word: Patient.
Yes, you can re-read that till your mind gels and strews out your ears. That is what led to nearly 1000 market points. Most business people could stand there all day and never “get” the causation. However, if you’re a banker on Wall Street, it’s Merry Christmas enjoy the holidays.
If you understand “Fed. speak” or global politics where nuances and words are taken to have very specific meanings (don’t look for this in the main stream media they’ve abandoned this analysis long ago) you heard the fear in the Fed.’s statement that things are so fragile, so reliant on their intervention, the word “patient” which for all intents and purposes was supposedly the first indicator that the Fed was serious about changing its meddling – patiently punted.
Instead of changing its language from “a considerable time” to the more ominous “patient” (i.e., implying could happen sooner than later) they added the “patient” while also leaving in the “considerable time” in fear the headline reading, algorithmic, high frequency trading machines would run wild. (Yes, I spelled that all out on purpose to make one remember what “trading” is today. I think it’s important not to forget that.)
One of the greatest issues with this whole process that just infuriates me and is one of the main reasons why I took on trying to explain all this mind numbing minutia to entrepreneurs and business people alike is for the very reasons the people out here trying to build, and work their business can’t make any sense of just what the hell is going on half the time.
They don’t have the luxury of sitting back wondering if what the Fed. does today might impact how they have to prepare and run their business tomorrow. And anyone who tries to tell you that it doesn’t and you should just not pay attention it, and just be happy in your 401K is either a con man – or a fool. Most of the stuff coming across the wires if just nonsense, Pure – unadulterated – nonsense!
I was perusing the financial media networks after listening to the Fed. Chair give her press conference where I happened to hear a breath of sanity expressed by Melissa Francis on her show “Money with Melissa Francis” on Fox Business™ when she made a very pointed remark when trying to fish out implications going forward. (I’m paraphrasing) “If the Fed. can just keep the markets afloat – then why do we need free markets at all?” She was making it rhetorically but she’s right on the money. And this is where it gets more dangerous by the day. Because some do believe that to be true. aka Keynesian’s.
Right now it’s a Keynesian wonderland with Wall Street year-end bonuses abound for everyone. With data made up, adulterated, or meant to mean anything you would like. Just plug-in what you want, and if that light don’t light, don’t worry, plug-in another one. And don’t worry about the cost. They’re free, or at the least, they’re made off shore in a country that doesn’t have the same labor standards or pay scales that we demand here, but not too worry, we don’t talk about that here in Keynes-ville. (It helps the earnings report you get that right?)
What’s Keynes-ville you ask? Oh you remember that charming old Christmas story that plays every year with Jimmy Stewart. You know, where he was frightened of the prospects of a futuristic “Potters-ville?”
Well that’s the old make-believe version from theaters of yesteryear. But now we have it in full stunning detail with no funky headset or internet connection is needed to see to enjoy. Just venture into any downtown where currently over 90 million American unemployed reside.
It’s not a movie – It’s a running nightmare with no end in sight if the elites believe we could be at “full employment” in a little more than a year or so if we just let them continue on the way they’re going unabated.
Talk about a stocking stuffer. That’s more like giving us Santa’s boot.
In the teeth!
© 2014 Mark St.Cyr MarkStCyr.com