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.
Volume: 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.
Romney: 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.