Editor's note: This article originally appeared on RealMoney.com at 6:09 a.m. EDT
You don't need me to tell you it's awful out there. You don't need me to tell you that there's no quick fix for any of these things. But what might help you understand why it feels so bad this time is that I have never, in my career, seen so many companies go off track at the same time. This is one unbelievable moment, and it is made more horrible by the day as companies' stocks just get pummeled, causing people to then question the very viability of the companies involved.
First, obviously, are
( FNM) and
( FRE). We don't know what will happen, but we do know that their futures are much darker than their pasts. Their best hope: a Democrat becomes president and shows the usual love to both. But as investments, they are pretty much perma-losers going forward. The losses are that heavy. Yes, it is true that two years from now they will be better, but will the government let them limp through to that? View them as calls on a Democratic win.
We all know that
( NCC) are in trouble.
Bank of America
says it isn't in trouble, but obviously the market doesn't believe management because the stock failed to rally when it said its dividend was safe. Any short-selling hedge fund could hire 30 actors and have them line up at a Washington Mutual or two and get a bank run going. Then we would have to hear about a "hasty" Treasury department plan to bail out WM. Hasty? How can these guys not see it coming?
Securities and Exchange Commission
Chairman Christopher Cox on Tuesday said the regulator
on naked short-selling of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, helping to lift financial stocks in afternoon trading.
Cox said in testimony to the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday that the agency will require short-sellers "to pre-borrow shares" of the two government-sponsored mortgage giants and broker-dealers, including
( MER) and
. The new restrictions are called for under a temporary emergency order that expires in 30 days.
Cox's comments come as the financial markets slipped and then recovered on Tuesday amid sobering comments from
Chairman Ben Bernanke. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson also provided testimony and further clarification on the proposed
of the two mortgage giants.)
No revelation that Lehman or Merrill's in the soup, although I do marvel that at no price do they seem interesting to anyone -- value guys, takeover guys, or acquirers in general. But how about
Marshall & Ilsley
( CNB) and
Their charts are indicating there is much more devastation ahead. Every one of them is small enough to fail, and no one would give a darn. If the FDIC follows the trail blazed by
( IMB) it would be great because IndyMac Federal isn't foreclosing anymore. Get rid of the foreclosures, get rid of some of the overhang. But is that the plan, or do they have
no place to put the foreclosed loans
We know that the Gang of Four --
( PMI) and
( ABK) -- has been obliterated, a long-running saga of puffing by management and disastrous numbers. These companies are important, even if everyone seems to think that they have gone down without much repercussion other than the 40th story about how private mortgage insurers are now raising rates. Golly gee, who is paying them anything? They don't have enough money to pay the bank back for heaven's sake!
For example, they are very important to
, which seems to have found no bottom. None at all. Remember that funny dividend boost at AIG? What was that about?
There are tons of other financial insurers no one's paying attention to that seem to go down pretty constantly. An outfit like
seems like it is a wasting asset. Or how about
, which is selling well below book value?
Then there is everything auto, not just
(although do you really need anything else to go wrong there?) -- outfits like
( KRX) aren't going to get through this one unscathed.
Or how about the homebuilders? Does anyone think that
will all make it? I don't. How about that nifty Lennar upgrade by UBS? Sold to you,
, along with all of the toxic mortgages you STILL OWN!
I am not even going to include the airlines, they are all hopeless in my opinion, except for maybe
. They are charities.
Other areas have problems -- retail has some busted stocks, and so do restaurants.
? How about
-- where's that headed?
You can see some techs folding, but only a handful. Maybe because only
is on the fiscal ropes do people see "
" in tech, whatever that means.
The problem is that the dire stocks, the ones I have listed, are so numerous and so concentrated with so little hope for rescue that it is hard to imagine anything but more downside for these stocks and therefore more downside for the rest of the market, simply because they are so glaring, are owned by so many mutual funds and have so many roles to play in the real economy.
We know that things have gotten out of control because the IndyMac collapse -- widely predicted -- used a huge amount of the surplus the FDIC has, suddenly making the safety net seem like a flimsy piece of Brawny.
The bottom line here -- there is too much going wrong right now, too much to put us anywhere near sound footing. I suspect that every rally will be met with selling until we see a multitude of collapses like IndyMac.
I am not going to search for positives in any of these groups yet, and if they rally off the decision by the Treasury to make more explicit the Fannie and Freddie guarantees, I would scale out of them once again on any short squeeze like the one we had at yesterday's opening.
Someone asked me yesterday, "When do we bottom?" I said it wouldn't be until all the banks that have to fail do so and GM files bankruptcy along with Ford. I said it matter-of-factly, because I meant it and because it is obvious.
At the time of publication, Cramer had no positions in the stocks mentioned.
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