There are two general schools of thought when it comes to markets: One is that markets are perfect and that they reflect all known information at every instant, and thus, properly discount everything including the future down to a gnat’s behind. Nice theory.
The second view is that markets are fundamentally irrational and that while some dribs and drabs about the future make be known, for the most part people are greedy, secretive, self-centered, ego maniacs who will do anything to make an additional nickel in markets including bankrupting companies, ripping out pension benefits, and coming up with incredibly complex algorithms in order to “front-run” trades by everyone they can. The notion that individual market participants can in any way be considered rational is thus easily put to rest with a thoughtful read of financial headlines.
Now…the topper on all this (and we may see it, at least at this morning’s open) is that the rational markets crowd believes that while yes, there may be a few rotten apples (like former presidential bundlers who can misplace a billion, or a trading commission which can’t find gold manipulation although they seem intent on aluminum, on average the markets are still rational.
This morning’s first framing question is, therefore, how many crazy people can you put into a room full of people before you can quantify the whole room as “A bunch of crazy [irrational] people?”
Not that the stock market participants stand alone, mind you. We have the foreign exchange traders, the commodity players, the Fed…just about anyone whose hands touch money seem to come down with a touch of insanity. It’s as though touching money makes folks crazy.
Take the US House, for example, please.
The House last night voted to send the Senate a bill which would force the federal budget mess into conference committee. This was talked about back in April, but now with Obamacare up, guess what? Both parties are using every dirty trick in the book to blame one another and it’s just a fine debacle.
Worse (or at least more evidence of money also impairing the capacity for reasonable thought) while the democorps were whining about how the Statue of Liberty would close today, the republicorps were busily pointing out that the Obamacare program should at least treat all people the same, whether they happen to work for a small employers, or themselves, which really are being treated differently that participants who work for corporations, in which case there’s an additional year of grace before being mandated to take part in what Justice Roberts correctly reminds us is really a tax.
Since I was up half the night watching CSPAN coverage on this, it occurs to me this morning that the democorps lied, at least insofar as the government shutdown is not complete. Oh, and yes, banks will still be open, so despite 800,000 federal employees sitting home twiddling theirs, the world will continue.
Even during the shutdown, those at the top of the personnel heap will get (look surprised, please? Just pretend…) special treatment including overtime and comp pay.
The republicorps, on the other hand, are sticking by their guns, and so the likelihood is high that this could stretch out for a while. The House conference move will be sent over to a Senate where Harry Reid says there will be no “negotiating with a gun at our head.”
Latest rabid headlines out this morning point out that members of Congress and their staffs, will be able to get abortion coverage, even though such costs are largely taxpayer sponsored.
And on this, the markets, which were somehow goosed into closing down only 128 on the Dow yesterday, are poised weakly rally today at the open.
Let me add this all up for you:
The House is crazy (Passing a continuing resolution which is a dead duck from the get-go.)
The Senate is crazy, not agreeing to evenly apply the healthcare tax to ALL Americans, not making up arbitrary tax classes between Big Corporate employees (cattle/chattel/worker bees) and small-fry regular folks.
Wall St. is crazy for not being able to spot insanity, although this can, one supposes, be overlooked, since they already have contracts with the crazy House and Senate to look the other way on some things and favorable tax (like not at all) on others.
Out of the block, therefore, we have Obamacare online and available, the House and Senate being slipshod and political, and the stock market about to show us what a fine job of being irrational they can put on.
In short, it is with a nod to Stephen King’s Dreamcatcher, SSDD. (Same shit, different day.)
More after this…
Sandbox and Oil Notes
If you think the current spectacle in Washington is something now, just drop by in about 10-years when the momentary respite from Peak Oil shows up, after getting furloughed by the current rash of oil and gas fracking projects which are causing most people to lose sight of the larger (resource constrained) picture.
To keep this part of the big picture in focus, we keep a very close eye on developments surrounding the kingdom of Saudi Arabia and note that:
“Saudi cleric warns driving could damage woman’s ovaries” is getting huge play. Still, women would like to be able to drive in the kingdom.
The Obama administration is, to put it bluntly, pissing off the Saudis by trying to jawbone rather than tire-iron the Iranians and the Syrians.
And, in what may be the oddest (or perhaps prescient) move of all: Young Saudi men are mounting their cars on piles of rocks in strange new art trend.”
New Flu Story
You ever get one of those “Hmmm…why are they doing THAT?” kind of feelings? Here’s a press release from Health and Human Services under the headline “HHS boosts national capacity to produce pandemic flu vaccines.”
To boost the nation’s ability to manufacture influenza vaccine quickly in a pandemic, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services today established a fill and finish manufacturing network, which will cover the final steps in the vaccine manufacturing process. Led by HHS, the network supplements the capacity that influenza vaccine manufacturers currently have, potentially increasing national capacity to produce influenza vaccine by 20 percent.
And we’re doing this why?
Retool the old song “Harvest Moon” with these new lyrics and we certainly have an oddly timed news story: “Shine on, shine on plastic moon, up in the sky….”
The plastic moon, turns out, is Titan, and it’s up in the sky only if you happen to be on Saturn, but come on, ain’t it strange that at harvest moon we get a moon story?
I hate to admit this, but I do enjoy playing Grand Theft Auto…and the latest version online was released about two hours ago (if you got up earlier enough to read this morning’s column.