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Kass: 'Don't Fight the Fed.' How Quaint

Regardless of the Fed's actions, the odds favoring a 2008 recession have been increasing daily and until recently have been almost entirely ignored.

Political Consequences

After the LTCM mess in 1998, the Republican Congress was firmly in control and so was the security of lower taxes for both individuals and corporations. This is not the case in 2007, as the rising odds of a recession and the possible perception that the Fed is working as an agent for corporate America to bail out the hedge funds and troubled lenders already follows the Democratic midterm election victories of 2006.

Also, the growing schism between the haves and the have-nots in 2007 over 1998 will likely serve to give the Democrats the 2008 presidential election on a silver platter -- and with it, the headwinds of rising trade protectionism and higher taxes.

"Don't fight the Fed," a phrase promulgated by Marty Zweig, is one of those nonrigorous "truisms" that may no longer be useful. The markets in August 2007 have had the expected and Pavlovian reaction by immediately soaring; this is just what occurred on Jan. 3, 2001, after another surprise rate cut.

Back then, the Fed and the markets briefly thought that the threat of recession had been eliminated. It had not; we entered a recession soon thereafter. Today, the financial system is far more levered (and stressed) than in 2001, and a reduction in interest rates would simply ease a small portion of the pain of the debt excesses since 2000.

Our investment eyes need to be washed by tears once in a while so that we can see the markets and economy with a clearer view again. From my perch, we are in one such period. Everybody is going to hurt.

Fight the Fed.
At time of publication, Kass held no positions in the stocks mentioned, although holdings can change at any time.

Doug Kass is founder and president of Seabreeze Partners Management, Inc., and the general partner and investment manager of Seabreeze Partners Short LP and Seabreeze Partners Short Offshore Fund, Ltd. Until 1996, he was senior portfolio manager at Omega Advisors, a $6 billion investment partnership. Before that he was executive senior vice president and director of institutional equities of First Albany Corporation and JW Charles/CSG. He also was a General Partner of Glickenhaus & Co., and held various positions with Putnam Management and Kidder, Peabody. Kass received his bachelor's from Alfred University, and received a master's of business administration in finance from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School in 1972. He co-authored "Citibank: The Ralph Nader Report" with Nader and the Center for the Study of Responsive Law and currently serves as a guest host on CNBC's "Squawk Box."
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