Statistically speaking, the Fed’s heroic actions conquered the Great Recession years ago.The economy has been growing at a measurable clip, statistically speaking, with the unemployment rate inching lower over the years, though again, that’s just statistically speaking. But most Americans, struggling to make ends meet in the real economy far from the hoopla, hype, and buzz of Wall Street or Silicon Valley, have a more accurate answer.
Now that we learned that the 85 richest folks own as much as the poorest 3.5 billion, we want to know where they’re staying when they come to town for dinner. We already know where the poorest 3.5 billion are staying: in shacks, hovels, and moldy apartment blocks.
I thought we’d never see “Merger Monday” again, the concept. But now, the unthinkable happened, the zombie phrase has walked back into the scene. Like in the bubble days of 2007: the big numbers were there, the deal exuberance, the craziness, the hoopla.
Hidden in the middle of the 25-page minutes of the last meeting, under the most wooden and convoluted prose, the Fed issued a doozie of a warning: it fretted about financial stability. It named soaring forward P/E ratios, stock buybacks, margin credit, and leveraged loans.
Central banks rule! We’ve seen it in 2013. They’ve accomplished the impossible: separating stock markets from the economies they’re based on. But in 2014, the US and China are trying to unwind these crazy policies – without taking down the entire global economy.
Number one is Palo Alto, epicenter of Silicon Valley craziness, where home prices are now 40% higher than they were at their prior bubble peak. What are we calling this phenomenon? Bubble? Nope. “Housing recovery.” But the middle class has hit a wall.
Treasuries have been skidding, and the 10-year yield hit the psycho-sound barrier of 3%. What happened last time this phenomenon occurred? Well, yields bounced off and fell – because the mayhem they’d triggered gave the Fed conniptions and caused it to back off.
There have been three mega-crashes in my investing lifetime, and three concurrent peaks in margin debt. In April, margin debt broke the record set in 2007 and has continued to rise. Over the last three months, it has soared 10.9%. Are we there yet?
Financial engineering had a glorious year. Now finally, after five years, the crazy fun is back, and the good thing is: this time, it’s different. This time, the smart money is selling!
Discount retailer Loehmann’s did what other retailers – and a large number of other junk-rated companies – will do once the Fed allows a sense of reality into the markets: it filed for bankruptcy. Investors had refused to fund further losses.