This blog post originally appeared on RealMoney Silver on Jan. 15 at 8:31 a.m. EST.
Interest rates and commodities are again turning lower, the world's economy is deteriorating, and we appear to be in a synchronized global recession.
Investor fear is rising, as measured by the VIX, which is trading above the 50 level for the first time in a month.
The availability of credit is extremely limited on all levels. As an acquaintance of mine reminded me last night, the irony is that excessive leverage in the banking industry got us into the current mess, now the deleveraging of the system is prolonging the mess!
Many, including myself at times, have suggested that the equity market has begun to discount lower corporate profit expectations, but frankly, there is zero visibility to anyone's 2009-2010 forecasts or of the period's likely trajectory. These
profit forecasts amount to a moving target, which for now is a target moving ever lower.
Despite improvement in certain credit measurements (Libor, swaps, etc.), credit remains dear as the transmission of credit is still clogged. For example, jumbo mortgages are unattainable to almost anyone, and even conforming mortgages are
despite lower mortgage rates.
Despite targeted policy aimed at stabilizing the residential real estate market, the decline in home prices continues (though it appears the rate of decline is moderating). On Tuesday,
reported a 45.6% cancelation rate in its latest quarter; its orders were down by 56% year over year.
The banking industry remains unstable, with a never-ending need for new capital and continuing write-offs, which are translating into the aforementioned tighter lending standards and the renewed notion that the
and the Treasury are "pushing on a string." More specifically,
is on the ropes (and is technically insolvent), and
Bank of America
for its merger with
Even cash cow
And all throughout these newsworthy events, the media spend a good portion of the day chronicling Madoff's bail appearances and following his car from his apartment to court.
It's a sad state of affairs, so bad that the President-elect's nominations of the incoming
chairman and the Treasury Secretary are in jeopardy.
Perhaps these are the sort of conditions that make for a market bottom, but I can write with some confidence that these are not conditions upon which our stock market can make any meaningful progress.
I wish it was different, but we have to be realists.
Doug Kass writes daily for
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Know What You Own:
Citigroup and Bank of America operate within the money center bank industry, and some of the other stocks in the field include
Royal Bank of Canada
. For more on the value of knowing what you own, visit TheStreet.com's
At the time of publication, Kass and/or his funds were long Microsoft and short Beazer, although holdings can change at any time.
Doug Kass is founder and president of Seabreeze Partners Management, Inc., and the general partner and investment manager of Seabreeze Partners Short LP and Seabreeze Partners Long/Short LP.