Merry or Scary?

{Reader Note:  Coping with a cranky computer this morning so our usual formatting may not be as crisp as usual.  You may need to use your back button to read the whole column this morning until the problem is resolved.  Early this morning it was be a writer or computer geek.  Guess you can tell which one I picked.

Not to worry, computers live in fear of me and I will beat some respect into this i7-920 POS as soon as this morning’s report is done…for now, now computers were harmed in the making of this morning’s report.  That is, however, subject to change.}

Oh, sure, nice rally yesterday in the market.  But this morning, Santa’s apparently going to step out for a toke and a dram, at least that’s what the futures are hinting at.  One reason?  A press release from ShopperTrak has us wondering if the Old Fat Feller has lost his sway over the instant gratification crowd.  Why wait for one day a year, after all?

“Last week was the last chance for procrastinators to finish last-minute holiday shopping, but the weather prevented many from getting to the stores. ShopperTrak – the world’s largest counter and analyzer of retail shopper traffic – reported that for the week of Dec. 16 to Dec. 22, GAFO* in-store retail sales decreased by 3.1 percent from the same week last year. Retail brick-and-mortar shopper traffic decreased by 21.2 percent compared to the same time period in 2012.

“Bad weather throughout the country kept some shoppers away from stores,” said Bill Martin, ShopperTrak founder. “This past week was their final opportunity to complete their holiday shopping before Christmas – and though many did finish making their purchases, retailers did not see as many shoppers as last year.”

Despite more markdowns and promotional efforts from retailers, “Super Saturday” (Dec. 21) saw a decrease in retail sales by 0.7 percent compared to 2012. In-store shopper traffic decreased 18.1 percent from the same day last year. ShopperTrak predicts after-holiday markdowns to drive robust retail sales and store traffic days to come, particularly the day after Christmas (Dec. 26) and the following Saturday (Dec. 28). “

Aha!  Did I, or did I not tell you that a) we are in a long wave economic decline and b) that we are in the bounce part of a multi-wave decline and c) that people who believe the myth of “recovery” should be treated for Stockholm Syndrome?


Oh…that:  (Wikipedia, please?)

Stockholm syndrome, or capture–bonding, is a psychological phenomenon in which hostages express empathy and sympathy and have positive feelings toward their captors, sometimes to the point of defending them. These feelings are generally considered irrational in light of the danger or risk endured by the victims, who essentially mistake a lack of abuse from their captors for an act of kindness.[1][2] The FBI‘s Hostage Barricade Database System shows that roughly 8% of victims show evidence of Stockholm syndrome…”

Just so you’re clear on the roles here:  The Captors are you and me (consumers) and the hostage holders are an assortment of government (try not paying your taxes) and corporations (try to avoid “Buy now!” messages).  100% of Americans show symptoms.

All of which eventually heads us into a major market decline (1,640 on the S&P or, better, 1.540) in  the Spring, then a summer rally, and then a larger decline comes into focus next fall.

For this morning, though, only one important question left for each of us to answer personally:  Is this Merry or is it Scary Christmas?

The big name firms on Wall St. won’t be hanging around long to find out:  The market closes early today.  And after running the shorts this week to jam markets up to new all-time highs, someone’s got to take some time off to count all that delish money they’re making…

Say, This is Exciting!

Not.  See if you can stay awake through this morning’s Durable Goods report…here comes New Orders…

 New orders for manufactured durable goods in November increased $8.2 billion or 3.5 percent to $241.6 billion, the U.S. Census Bureau announced today. This increase, up three of the last four months, followed a 0.7 percent October decrease. Excluding transportation, new orders increased 1.2 percent. Excluding defense, new orders increased 3.5 percent.

Transportation equipment, also up three of the last four months, led the increase, $6.3 billion or 8.4 percent to $81.2 billion. This was led by nondefense aircraft and parts, which increased $3.9 billion.


Shipments of manufactured durable goods in November, up four consecutive months, increased $4.1 billion or 1.8 percent to $238.3 billion. This was at the highest level since the series was first published on a NAICS basis in 1992, and followed a 0.6 percent October increase.

Unfilled Orders

Unfilled orders for manufactured durable goods in November, up nine of the last ten months, increased $10.5 billion or 1.0 percent to $1,058.5 billion. This was at the highest level since the series was first published on a NAICS.”

OK, reality checks:  Other than Boeing deliveries up, how does the rest of the “good news” water down when we back out transportation?  And, don’t forget that this is all based on “prices” not on “units sold”.  Which means, when the Fed is passing out free money on street corners for its pals, of course the dollars involved will launch moonward.

It’s the ‘down on the ground part” that matters.  Still, for those that own banks and governments, this is how the charade plays out in dollars.

One-Day Whoopee

An Obamacare deadline has been quietly extended by one day.  The question is when will the next delay be announced?

Pick a War, Any War Dept:  Sudan Mass Killings

Not the kind of thing to scarf down without a double Americano tall:  Mass Ethnic Killings are reported in the Sudan by the BBC today.

Since we have a military which is running our of things to war over, Sudan looks like the next theatre, at least for a while until something larger can be ginned up in the Middle East or in the Senkaku Islands off China.

MEANTIME, our project is finding all kinds of language popping up about Egypt and, in particular, about that big car bombing.

In our odd little bubble of word frequency analysis, “Egypt” has been popping up in word frequency tables for over a week and that could mean that as we roll through the holiday there will be a drift of headline attention over to matters on the Nile.

End of World Delayed

A lot of “End of the Worlders” and what I affectionately call the “Dust Bunny Set” (hiding under the bed, and all) have been keeping a close eye on the International Space Station.  That’s because of some remote viewing and mystic-type reports that the ISS will be abandoned just before the crap hits the fan globally on Third Rock.

Well, looks like the End of the World (EoW) is back on hold with a spacewalk planned today which could finish repairs to the ISS cooling system.

Darn.  This means you’ll likely have to file an income tax return in April 2014, then, doesn’t it?

I Should Work for Government, Dept.

Federal workers are getting a pay raise of 1% – the first in four years. How the political hacks can spew things like calling this a “modest but important step” against a background of this economy makes me certain that there’s a niche for rehab/treatment of elected officialdumb.

Sugar Plum Fairies Dept.

Go read how the Huffington Post is still not profitable, but thinks that might happen in 2014.

Attention AOL Execs:  I will sell you for a hell of a lost less than $315 million and it will break even first year!

Say,  if we promote immigration with no holds barred long enough, maybe you can find a free writer like Ures truly…