Weekend Report: OK, We're Calm. Now What? - TheStreet

Weekend Report: OK, We're Calm. Now What?

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Where do we go now?

Some stuff has gotten better during the last two weeks -- Treasuries, the

Dow

-- while other things languish (the dollar, all fixed-income besides Treasuries, emerging markets).

It's a little late to call the stock market's recent surge a "false rally," but last week is generally interpreted as a reaction to the

Federal Reserve's

rate cut and the recent stability (that is, no defaults) out of the major foreign markets. The positive reform steps in Japan, including the nationalization of

Long Term Credit Bank

, and the impending announcement of a recovery effort by Russian officials have enhanced the current worldview, however briefly.

It's been enough to get people thinking that the

Federal Open Market Committee

might be done cutting interest rates. The soundness in the domestic economy underpins that point -- housing and labor are strong, despite the weakness in exporting and manufacturing. Bunk, according to

Jim Cramer.

One strategist said a few weeks ago that most of the "gloom and doom" is coming out of New York, the financial markets' ground zero. In contrast, the other regions of the country, while soft in manufacturing, are not as overwhelmed about the travails in the financial markets.

"Doom" himself, former

Salomon Brothers

economist

Henry Kaufman

, now head of his own company, said Friday that we're not out of the woods yet. "It's far more difficult now for the Fed to contain the full dimension of

this crisis," said Kaufman. "We knew Mexico had a problem; in the '70s, there was the inflation problem. It was very clear and very direct then."

Japan could be in for a rough week -- various employment and industrial production surveys are scheduled to be released, and economists believe that the

Nikkei 225

, which rose 6.5% last week to 14,144.7, could fall as far as 13,500. In early trading the Nikkei was off 282.43, or 2%, to 13,862.27.

Possibly the deepest of all the black holes, Russia, is expected to announce details of an economic plan early this week.

Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov

is meeting with his ministers to devise a program.

"Primakov has done well. He has achieved political stability ... but at the expense of economic stability," former

Prime Minister Sergei Kiriyenko

said today.

In Brazil, key allies of President

Fernando Henrique Cardoso

were elected today, though Cardoso's supporters lost elections in other states. Cardoso is seeking to rein in spending and pass budgetary reforms in the reeling country.

The

IMF

, the U.S. and other countries are expected to lend a total of $30 billion to South America's largest nation. These elections are perceived as determining the breadth of Cardoso's power during his second term.

Sao Paulo state Gov. Mario Covas, a member of Cardoso's party, had 56% of the vote with 57% counted as of 6 p.m. EST. In the state of Rio de Janeiro, Anthony Garotinho, a radio announcer who opposes Cardoso's policies, had 86% of the vote. Opposition parties were also ahead in the polls in the states of Minas Gerais and Rio Grande do Sul.

Investing in the Future

Or, preparation of cold appetizers.

The New York Times'

Amanda Hesser explores the current demand for restaurant workers, they of the long hours, middling pay ($12.55 a hour for a line cook at

Le Cirque

) and exquisite preparation (this reporter's recent visit to

Jo Jo

confirms this).

"I try to tell people who come here that they're investing in their future," said Alex Lee, the sous chef at

Cafe Boulud

in New York, the

Times

writes. Annual job growth in the food preparation and service industries has grown, on average, by 3.3 million, according to the

Times

.

Gretchen Morgenson's

Market Watch column delineates the reactions by the equity or fixed-income markets to the Fed rate cut. To stocks, it's a rousing success. To the fixed-income market, it's fair to middling.

TSC

probed the subject

one week after the surprise Oct. 15 rate cut.

As the clock ticks, so do the days of the Year 2000 stocks. As the

Times

points out, the millenium party may arrive without these stocks. Even though the

Bloomberg Year 2000

index is still up 34.9% from the beginning of 1996, it's down 20% since the beginning of 1997.

Ubiquitous?

Alan Abelson's

column in

Barron's

marks the return to "dullness," what with the stock market's three points and a cloud-of-dust rally, the loss of

Viagra's

luster and the end of baseball season. (As if watching

Steinbrenner's

trillion-dollar

Yankee

team manhandling the likes of the

Tampa Bay Devil Rays

had us spellbound.) Abelson predicts a revival of Viagra now that the rally is on, as "real men don't dally between the sheets when something as precious as their portfolio is in trouble." Any snide comments about Viagra should be directed to economics correspondent

James Padinha

.

More seriously, Abelson quotes an investment strategist,

Bob Brunson

, as comparing the decline to a ball bouncing down a flight of stairs, each bounce higher than the last.

The recent decline in the U.S. dollar is producing a "collective sigh of relief" in boardrooms, writes

William Pesek Jr.

The Big Three automobile manufacturers, as well as high-tech companies such as

IBM

(IBM) - Get Report

and

Microsoft

(MSFT) - Get Report

, stand to gain because of the demand for their products in Japan and Asia.

Much to our greater pleasure,

Barron's

released its now-annual ranking of the best Web sites for investors.

TSC

managed a seventh-place finish, due in part to our "ubiquitous head pundit," (yes, Cramer),

Herb Greenberg

, and our editorial voice, which in a chart ranked as one of our best attributes, along with our "timeliness."

Leading the pack was

Microsoft MoneyCentral

, recognized for its ability to generate portfolios and assist investors in researching securities in a thoughtful and simple manner. Rounding out the top five were

CBS MarketWatch

,

Yahoo!

,

CNNfn

and

Quicken.com

.