The “sequester that wouldn’t happen” kicked into reality last Friday. So far all the dire warnings of job losses, airport delays and threats to national security haven’t materialized but give it a month for the effects to kick in. Meanwhile the Stock Market seems to have not noticed and is reaching new pinnacles for a third say. If you read the financial pages of the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal, you’d think the economy was on a rapid road to recovery, yet the economy continues to languish, along with the middle class and manufacturing as naked capitalism founder Yves Smith noted:
It’s hard to fathom the celebratory mood in the US markets, save that the moneyed classes are benefitting from a wall of liquidity reminiscent of early 2007, when risk spreads across virtually all types of lending shrank to scarily low levels. Then the culprit was not well understood, although Gillian Tett discerned that CDOs were a huge source of leverage, and in April 2007, an analyst, Henry Maxey at Ruffler, LLC, did an impressive job of piecing together how levered structured credit strategies were driving market liquidity.
Now it’s a lot easier to see what is afoot. The Fed has been trying to reflate asset values to goose the real economy. What it has done instead is goose the incomes of the top 1% while everyone else is on the whole worse off. But the central bank is suffering from a very bad case of “if the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail” syndrome. It’s unwilling or unable to admit that its program is working only for a very few. It has convinced itself that if it just keeps on the same failed path long enough, things will turn around.
The Guardian‘s US finance and economics editor, Heidi Moore explains why this rally is not an indicator of US economic growth and why we shouldn’t trust the Dow:
The last time the Dow hit a high, in 2007, the Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank were already collaborating on a global economic bailout, and Bear Stearns collapsed six months later. Before that, the high was in January 2000, only about three months before the market started a long, ugly downward slide in the wake of the tech boom. Go back further, in 1987, when the Dow hit a temporary high before the recession of the late 1980s and early 1990s hit. In 1966, the Dow hit 1,000 and by 1967 the economy began a long downward slide into the stagflation of the 1970s and the recession of the early 1980s.
None of that, however, beats the Dow’s high in September 1929, just weeks before the giant crash that ushered in the Great Depression. The Dow cannot defy gravity. The higher it rises, the harder it will fall.
So when the Dow is high, you should smile – briefly. Then duck.
If you’re getting a bad feeling about this, you should.
On MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show Tuesday, Rachel’s guests Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel Prize-winning economist and Frank Rich, New York Magazine writer-at-large discuss the stock market and corporate profits reaching record setting heights while most Americans see their wages stagnant and unemployment rates barely moving.
Transcript can be read here