It's nearly two weeks into my tour of bear-infested woods, and so far I have held up OK. There was a successful, sentiment-infused trading call Tuesday that had me concerned midday, but all's well that ends well. Now we stand in front of the full-fledged circus -- the Fed symposium at Jackson Hole, Wyo. -- that my young pack of finance-sector wolf friends are calling "J-Hole." With it comes an etched-in-stone position that the great Bearded Wonder will bring tears through the ducts of those long the market.
To that, I say: Maybe, maybe not. I still wouldn't close the door on a positive surprise. Who really has any clue save for the piece of paper that holds Bernanke's speech and perhaps, his wife, staffers and former Fed chief Alan Greenspan? (Come on, you know they chat.) We can throw guesses at the wall -- the wall of worry, that is -- and hope and pray they stick. We can yell over people and present valid, well-articulated differing opinions. But until the words roll off the tongue of the market's favorite Santa lookalike -- and gift-giver in his own right -- this market is a reactionary one, and it's difficult to be proactive into it, given the ginormity of this truly, epic, magical moment in time.
What we can do is listen to this Rick Ross song and be the "boss and plan the shots." In other words, we should exit our investing comfort zones and find -- and prepare for -- things that many people are thoroughly forgetting in the near term. Take charge, in other words. There are a couple of universes out there flashing red signals, or at least they are to this fella.
Universe No. 1: China
The trading action in emerging-market ETFs, such as in the iShares FTSE/Xinhua China 25 Index (FXI), iShares MSCI Taiwan Index (EWT) and Barclays Bank Plc iPath ETNs linked to the MSCI India Total Return Index (INP) are red flags on the outlook for China. Another area of concern is how steel stocks traded -- among them AK Steel (AKS - Get Report), U.S. Steel (X) and Nucor (NUE) -- before a disappointing earnings report from Joy Global (JOY - Get Report), with its negative comments on China demand. Joy Global, of course, is a pure play overseas name.