There is an undeniable trend in reality television: If the star of the show ain't a-yellin', they ain't doing their jobs of entertaining viewers -- and unhappy viewers mean kissing goodbye those precious advertising dollars. (Sorry, Facebook (FB), there are none for you). But this isn't yelling just for the sake of yelling; it's to enact change in a person that is badly in need of help. Look no further than Spike's "Bar Rescue," in which an expert bar developer swoops into save the finances of a troubled hole in the wall, or Fox's "Kitchen Nightmares," in which a world-renowned chef fixes restaurants and families. It's touching, I know. These are no longer "Little House on the Prairie" TV-watching days, that's for sure.
After some deep thought, I have concluded these trained professionals are on to something with their verbal shock treatment. Considering this is trading-day eight of my bearishness, and likely day eight of the bulls sending emails indicating that I am nutso, here is the deal on this particular move to the sidelines call. Before we can return for a swim in the pool of optimism, there are specific fundamental events that will have to transpire. Let's be brutally honest: We are flying near blind into important dates next month with tired themes for the bulls, and the bears are still doing dot-connecting rather than sitting back and watching the fruits of their labor.
When the heavy hitters return to their desks next week, stocks leveraged to the good fortunes of the U.S. economy had best perk up -- no excuses. If we can get FedEx (FDX)
or UPS (UPS)
working, that'd be great, but a key cog in the wheel of the bulls is that a strengthening labor market will transmit to reaccelerating gross domestic product growth in the third and fourth quarters. If there's no sign of life in companies bringing in above 50% of their annual revenue domestically, throw a caution flag. That's especially relevant since the Street is overly bullish on cyclicals.
Beneath all of the attack ads from both parties, there is a presidential challenger in presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney who has meaningfully closed the opinion-poll gap with a sitting president. The pendulum will have to swing further in order to pique the interest of the market to a stronger degree than we have seen thus far. Call me crazy, but if Romney pulls ahead of President Obama, the market may just place on its Reagan glasses. Yes, it's a different time and place, but the optics would be such that the economy could extract itself from a sluggish post-recession recovery quicker than feared -- and avert significant fiscal cliff downside.