Tuesday, July 7, 2009

First Four Trading Days Review

The 'Helicopter Economics Investing Guide' is meant to help educate people on how to make profitable investing choices in the current economic environment. In addition to the term helicopter economics, we have also coined the term, helicopternomics, to describe the current monetary and fiscal policies of the U.S. government and to update the old-fashioned term wheelbarrow economics.

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The message from the markets has been quite clear in the last four trading days. The big money is negative and taking its money out. All indices had significant drops today, leaving the first of the quarter indicator highly negative. Technicals deteriorated even further. About the only thing that was up today was the U.S. dollar, although bonds rallied after today's auction was over. The dollar and bonds should be tanking big time. Oil went down even more and the reason for its decline, natural gas and other commodities has now become clear.

The Dow closed down 161 points today, even further below its 50-day and 200-day moving averages. The 50-day is below the 200-day and both are declining, a typical bear pattern. Nasdaq, the strongest of the averages pierced its 50-day today, closing down 41 points. The S&P fell 18 points and broke and closed below its 200-day today after breaking below its 50-day last Thursday. The Russell 2000 fell 10 points and managed to hold just above its 200-day. All and all, a pretty ugly situation.

Light Sweet crude closed at 62.93, but was even lower during the day. Oil has dropped 12% since last Wednesday. While the media is claiming its because it was overpriced and the economy is bad, this is not the reason (as usual, if the press reports it, you should first assume the explanation is wrong). What has happened is CFTC (Commodity Futures Trading Commission) says it wants to crack down on rampant speculation in the energy markets, by imposing position limits for commodities of finite supply (which is every commodity). The commission is planning hearings and is also considering raising margin requirements. One of the major implications of this proposal is that ETFs will have quotas imposed on them. The big money players presumably had the news before the public and shorted into it. Will the CTFC investigate this? Don't hold your breath. The people who are supposed to be stopped from speculating are the small investors like yourself, not the big insiders.

A quote from the CFTC news, "The government's use of free markets via auctions to help find prices for hard-to-sell assets in the financial sector shows how adept supply and demand are at setting values. But when it comes to commodities that people, industries, economies and nations depend on, the susceptibility of free markets to manipulation can prove dangerous". Free markets are indeed dangerous to a government that doesn't like the prices they set because it continually overinflates its currency. So we must save the free markets by destroying them! Huh???

It is interesting that this attempt to control rampant speculation in oil is taking place one year exactly after oil peaked at $147 a barrel and while it is now trading in the 60s. Something doesn't seem to make sense with this picture. This move is effectively an attempt to create price controls on commodities (by a government that is constantly telling us that there is deflation and a big risk of prices falling). The only things price controls are effective in creating is big shortages and black markets. They ultimately cause prices to go higher than they would have. When you can't get any gas for your car two years from now you'll at least know why.

NEXT: Commodity Shortage Disaster in the Making

Daryl Montgomery
Organizer,New York Investing meetup

This posting is editorial opinion. Like all other postings for this blog, there is no intention to endorse the purchase or sale of any security.

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