Somebody please make a decision
Steve Cook on Disciplined Investing

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Economics

   This Week’s Data

    Weekly mortgage applications (secondary indicator) rose 7.1%.

    Weekly jobless claims rose 9.000 versus expectations of a 6,000 increase.
    http://www.calculatedriskblog.com/2009/03/unemployment-claims-continued-claims-at.html

    February’s budget deficit reached $192.8 billion:
    http://econompicdata.blogspot.com/2009/03/budget-cliff-dive-february.html

    Libor rates climbing again:   
    http://econompicdata.blogspot.com/2009/03/libor-on-rise.html

   Other

    Next up, the life insurers:
    http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2009/03/next-up-life-insurers/

    What bank nationalization looks like:
    http://www.clubforgrowth.org/2009/03/heres_what_nationalization_loo.php

    The Senate passed the pork laden $400 billion omnibus spending bill.  You can link to the actual vote count to see how your elected official voted:
    http://www.clubforgrowth.org/2009/03/senate_passes_porkinfested_omn.php

    And comments from minority leader McConnell:
    http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=Yzc0ODMzZTIwZWFlM2Y1NGRkMGM2ZWQzOTk0OGYxZTM=

    And Obama signs it accompanied by the admonition that it will absolutely, positively be the last irresponsible spending bill that He will sign--yeah, right.
   
    The argument for mark to market ‘lite’:
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123672700679188601.html

Politics

  Domestic

More fallout from over regulation:
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123672811446488841.html

Warning: this is a more partisan editorial than I normally will allow myself to include in the narrative; but Jonah Goldberg is not acerbic in his analysis--and that’s my rationalization:
http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=Y2Y5ZWI3MmRjOTljZDY5NjBiNTUxYWQxODE4NTFhOTE=

  International War Against Radical Islam

The Market
    
    Technical

    How oversold are we?
    http://bespokeinvest.typepad.com/bespoke/2009/03/market-still-oversold.html

**********************************

    Yesterday, the indices (DJIA 6930, S&P 721) were able to hold those big gains racked up on Tuesday--but just barely so.  Nevertheless, that in and of itself is a moral victory in that most big rallies recently have been followed by big declines the following day.  Volume shrank and the volatility remained above its February to present uptrend (a negative) though breadth was good.  My focus remains on whether or not the S&P can break above the 741 level.   Absent that, it seems to me that there is virtually no technical argument that a bottom has been made.
http://bespokeinvest.typepad.com/bespoke/2009/03/sp-500-nears-resistance.html

    On another matter, I noted in yesterday’s Subscriber Alert that the price of gold had traded back above October 2008 to present uptrend though only marginally so.  Nevertheless, as long as the trend remains up, I am not going to disturb this holding.

   Fundamental
  
          The CEO of JP Morgan in a speech yesterday echoed the theme set by Citigroup on Tuesday, that is, that the bank had been profitable in the first two months of this year.  I am a lot more inclined to accept this man’s statement as true than that of the Citigroup CEO.  As cynical as I might have sounded yesterday, I do think that this adds marginally to the potential validity of the notion that banks may be in better financial shape than most investors believe.
 
    Of course, they may need to be since internal improvement seems to be the only alternative banks have for getting out of the current mess.  After all, we are still waiting for the bail out plan.  OMG I feel another rant going on.  Will somebody in this administration please make a decision?.  I can’t remember a more process driven government where everyone talks an ‘A’ game but nobody does diddly.  Our economy is faltering with unemployment rising (see above); malfeasance in the housing is the root cause of that crisis, the toxic assets on financial institutions books are the result.  Yet day after day we are listening to pontifications about health care, stem cell research, energy policy, health care, reaching out to Iran and Syria, meeting with the G20--none of which does anything to address the above problems.  No one seems capable of making the tough decisions it is going to require to get the US economy out of the doldrums.  For God sakes, somebody make a decision.

    OK maybe someone will do something.  Yesterday Mary Schapiro, the new head of the SEC, said that she was considering reinstating the up tick rule and a modification of the mark to market rule (see yesterday’s Morning Call).  Before getting too excited, considering is not deciding.
   
    Fourth quarter earnings summary:
    http://bespokeinvest.typepad.com/bespoke/2009/03/earnings-growth-estimates-the-bad-the-bad-and-the-ugly.html





Posted 03-12-2009 8:32 AM by Steve Cook