Good holiday weekend! It's been the first positive week in a while, and the action saw the year-to-date performance of the S&P 500 (briefly) join the Nasdaq as negative for the year. (The Nazz is now down slightly YTD.)
Why the markets caved this month looks to be more than a mere case of seasonal affective disorder, and we will delve into a variety of possible causes this morn. But since it's the official kickoff to summer, we range far and wide to bring you all manner of sources on all kinds of topics. Bring the laptop with wireless Internet access to the beach and go at it: We got ourselves a monster linkfest!
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¿ Barron's asks, " What's the bigger Bubble: S&P500 or CRB?" The answer may surprise you. ( If no Barron's subscription, go here.) ¿ This month, commodities got whacked, while emerging markets melted down. So why did these markets tank? Quite a few theories abound: Pick your favorite theory. Mixing and matching are not only allowed, they're encouraged! ¿ My favorite pick as most ironic explanation dates from January 2004: The Great Humiliator. The bull won't be over, wrote Ken Fisher, until the bears throw in the towel. Merrill's Richard Bernstein and Morgan Stanley's Stephen Roach -- both excellent strategists with a very bearish tilt -- did just that in early May, just in time for the global whackage. ¿ SPEAKING OF CONTRARY INDICATORS: Just before the selloff, the WSJ front page trumpeted, " Behind Surging Stock Market: Old-Fashioned Economic Boom." (if no WSJ, go here.) Was it a coincidence that just before the rally, we saw these two headlines: Bears on Street Ask 'How Far?' Amid Pullback (if no WSJ, go here) and Bulls Retreat Worldwide as May Rally Turns to Rout. We all know market timing can be a cruel mistress, but . . . man, whatta bitch. ¿ Let's not just point fingers at macro strategists and journalists -- Forbes asks the question, " How good are fundie analysts at forecasting earnings?" As it turns out, not very. ¿ Fed Chair Bernanke sent a letter to Jim Saxton, chairman of the Joint Economic Committee. In it he ( shudder) said that the CPI Overstates Inflation. (Puh-Leeze!) ¿ Incidentally, anyone else notice the brief yield curve inversion this week? ¿ I agree with Alan Farley: We could see a rally this summer up to the old highs, then it'll be time to Cue The Fat Lady.
¿ What have corporate executives learned from Enron? Apparently, not a hell of a lot. Dan Gross reminds us that Fannie Maeundefined, Refco (RFXCQ.PK) , and the options backdating scandal are all post Sarbanes-Oxley: Lay and Skilling Aren't the Only Guilty Ones. ¿ The comparisons between this market and the 1987 Crash do not hold up particularly well. ¿ The cover of The Economist this week refers not to the U.S. equity markets, but instead to the housing/real estate market. This makes it less of a buy signal for stocks. ¿ John Hussman notes the Textbook Warnings: "Market risk tends to be unusually rewarding when market valuations are low and interest rates are falling. ... Similarly, market risk tends to be poorly rewarded when market valuations are rich and interest rates are rising." ¿ Stock Futures & Options Magazine offers this primer on how to use trends to time entries: Trading with the Trend: It's as Easy as ABC. ¿ The other bad comparison is 1995. I bring in a guest blogger for Dear God, Please stop talking about 1994-95.
¿ If you trade for a living, you probably will go through 3 Phases of Trading Business Maturity. ¿ What happens when a lawyer tries to auction his future Social Security benefits on eBay (EBAY) - Get eBay Inc. Report? GOING ONCE, TWICE. ¿ Back in January, I advised readers to buy volatility. I expect there to be another good entry point for VIX calls sometime next month. (Readers are advised that because these are European style options, they expire on Tuesdays.) Meanwhile, here's a broad overview of VIX commentary: So much Inflation data, so little time:¿ William R. White, head of the monetary and economic department at the Bank for International Settlements, asks, "Is price stability enough?" ( PDF of working paper) John Mauldin has more on this.
¿ It's not quite here yet: Stagflation. It's the same old dilemma all Fed chairs face. ¿ WWGD? (What Would Greenspan Do?)
¿ The shills and Montebanks are coming out in force on Owners' Equivalent Rent and Inflation. ¿ And in case you missed it the first time, Bernanke says price indexes overstate inflation.
¿ Meanwhile the former chair of the CEA, Greg Mankiw, is blogging.
¿ The Indonesia quake toll is up to 3,000. ¿ Good Question: Why is GM's stock rallying to a six-month high?¿ Interesting real estate and housing developments:¿ Energy and Commodity news has kept us busy also:¿ Since no one has whined too loudly about our POLITICAL links, here are some more:So much tech news this week, its hard to know where to begin:¿ 10 fast-growing tech companies¿ Bob Cringely in a two parter, noted Google (GOOG) - Get Alphabet Inc. Class C ReportDoesn't Have to Try Nearly as Hard as Microsoft. (Part I is Why Microsoft Is Headed Down and Google Is Headed Up.) ¿ Two consecutive weeks with a Paul Kedrosky link: Fire Steve Ballmer Now. Also, see this on The geek who took on Microsoft. ¿ As Mister Softee slips further behind, Apple (AAPL) - Get Apple Inc. Report continues to push the envelope: This is so %^$%# awesome: Nike + Apple = Cool Gadgets. ¿ MP3newswire points out there are actually other MP3 players: iPod Killers for Summer 2006. ¿ Funny Da Vinci Code Apple parody/mashup¿ Global Language Mapping¿ 25 Things I Learned on Google Trends¿ How insane is this: Nuclear weapon PC case mod. ¿ Via Clicked, come three cool links:
¿ This weekend kicks off the summer movie season, and there's lots of good stuff out there worth reading. On the small screen, after a slow start, the Sopranos has started getting interesting again. (A pool cue? Ouch!) The Office is one of the few recent British sitcom transplants that work well in the U.S. (See the definitive guideto the original on BBC.) It's a car wreck, in a Curb Your Enthusiasmkinda way. If you are not yet a fan, there is a marathon this Thursdayof four episodes on NBC. Catch Steve Carell in all his annoying brilliance. Also worth watching (now in reruns): Extras. Ricky Gervais -- co-creator and lead in the original "The Office" -- creates and stars in this dark satire about acting. There are only six episodesout so far. You must catch Kate Winslet, outfitted in a Nun's Habit,trying to teach Ashley Jensen how to indulge her new boyfriendsphone-sex fetish. Hysterical! ¿ Some interesting music linksBlender, whose lists usually blow, has more hits than misses with its 50 Worst Things Ever to Happen to Music. They get off on the wrong foot with No. 50, naming Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band "malignant." (Imbeciles) Stereophile magazine has an interesting piece on XMSR this month: All of XM's Trials. I have a good quote in it, based on this post Will XMSR Customer Complaints Kill its Stock? The answer, unfortunately, turned out to be yes, as the stock is down 61% over the past year. Listening wise, I've been enjoying a few things: I've never been the biggest Miles Davis fan, but I really am enjoying this 4-disc set : The Blue Note & Capitol Years. If you like Trip-Hop/Acid Jazz,check out the better cuts on The Rebirth of Cool or Jazzmatazz And I am stricken with how fabulous the sound quality is on the Sarah McLachlan Storytellers DVD. One of my favorite unknown bands, Roman Candle, has a new disc coming out next month: The Wee Hours Revue. You probably never heard of the band's outstanding debut album, Says Pop, "a joyful assortment of finely crafted rock, country, and pop tunes." If FM radio didn't suck so bad, this is the sort of music you would be hearing more of. Finely crafted lyrics mated with delightful melodies, delivered by a tight five-some. Its a great beach listen, too. ¿ In the world of literature this week: Working on the "Great American Novel" over the weekend? Lifehacker points to the freeware program yWriter that helps budding fiction writers "break each novel into chapters, break each chapter into one or more scenes, and give each scene a goal, some conflict and an outcome." A study by Lulu finds the Life-Expectancy of Bestsellers Plummets. But the book I am most excited about is by Legg Mason strategist Michael J. Mauboussin: More Than You Know: Finding Financial Wisdom in Unconventional Places. To get a flavor of what his work is like, read " What Have You Learned in the Past 2 Seconds. (PDF) In case it rains over the long holiday weekend where you are, here are a few amusing items to keep you out of trouble:¿ Hilarity ensues: I love most of the stuff this Google search finds. ¿ DealBreaker.com cracked me up on Thursday with this headline: Impending Enron Verdict Slays Everyone At CNBC. ¿ 10 Steps You Can Take To Guarantee Failure. ¿ Will Ferrell Bloopers. ¿ Is this a real product? The Egg McMuffin Machine. ¿ People sending you email junk? Send them here: Thanks No. ¿ A series of car crashes captured by a security camera in a tunnel in Russia -- be sure to see the two trucks at the end.
- Japan Sank the Market- Inflation- Chinese Bank IPOs- Hedge funds (a new "contagion", or a catalyst reshaping global investment?)
- Complacency- Overseas correction was due- No, it's just an equities correction, says Merrill's Bob Doll.
- It's just a commodities correction, says the editor of Commodities Trends.
Time To Buy Volatility, Sell Stocks ( Forbes) The Calm Before The Storm ( InvestorsInsight) Low Volatility pointing to some "Big Moves" in Investment Markets! (PDF)
We see the continued deceleration, with a 7.3% decline last month. Northern Trust had some excellent charts on Housing Market Cool Down, and New Home Sales. Particularly hurt: Florida Home flippers' investments flop as Housing prices in S. Fla. remain in a rut. Barron's cover story is on housing inventory, The Big Glut (free to MarketWatch readers). These are 16 real estate Web sites that can save you time and money.
What has been driving gold prices? A shift in the global distribution of holders. CNN/Money looks at How hedge funds, traders, and Big Oil are really driving gas prices. What is commodities "backwardation?"You can check out spot prices on energy markets via Bloomberg and EIA/National Energy Information Center. Meanwhile, Gas Prices Aren't Deterring Summer Travelers.
- This was a surprise: Intelligence Czar Can Waive SEC Rules. - Amusing equal opportunity takedown of both political parties Walt Handelsman: No place like home. (flash cartoon) - Murray Waas discusses a Rove-Novak telephone call, and what it means to the Plame leak investigators. - My friend in the Nassau Conservative Party is "off the reservation" when it comes to the President. This apparently, is part of a national trend, according to the author of How Big Government Republicans Hijacked the Conservative Cause in Bush's Base Betrayal. - I was surprised that the conservative base is abandoning the President, thinking the drop in Bush's popularity was more likely to be due to liberal and moderate Republicans. That seems to be happening, too, according to Gallup reports showing a Large Drop in Support for Bush. - The Roper Center at UConn looks at presidential approval ratings going back to Roosevelt. - A reader sends in this chart, which looks at presidential approval ratings and net midterm congressional seat gains/losses. Since the 1970s, there is a very strong correlation between a president's approval rating and how well his party does in the midterms. - Meanwhile, regardless of your politics, this is a great list: The 50 greatest conservative rock songs, courtesy of National Review. - From Polling Report comes this surprising collection of polls on religion. - Are wars actually cyclical? Interesting graphic history. - The Washington Post has a big overview on The Threat of Climate Change. - And because we are equal opportunity offenders, Howard Dean reassures Democrats: 'WE WILL FIND A WAY TO SCREW THIS UP'
- Why do people contribute? What makes people spend their free time contributing to group sites? Who are these people, and do they already exist or can they be made? - The BBC offers a slide show of a new dam in China, telling the story pretty well for only ten photos. - "I've heard rumors about a pilot who demonstrated that you can pour a drink in the cockpit while doing a barrel roll and not spill a drop." Scroll ahead to 2:09.
Fortune looks at The Future of Hollywood. The WSJ breaks the Box-Office Code (free). Also, in films now, Love Is a Four-Letter Word (requires a WSJ sub). Fortune says John Lasseter is Pixar's magic man.
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Barry Ritholtz is the chief market strategist for Ritholtz Research, an independent institutional research firm, specializing in the analysis of macroeconomic trends and the capital markets. The firm's variant perspectives are applied to the fixed income, equity and commodity markets, both domestically and internationally. Other areas of research coverage also include consumer, real estate, geopolitics, technology and digital media. Ritholtz is also president of Ritholtz Capital Partners (RCP), a New York based hedge fund. RCP is driven by the analysis performed by Ritholtz Research. Ritholtz appreciates your feedback;
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