This column was originally published on RealMoney on Feb. 13 at 3:17 p.m. EST. It's being republished as a bonus for TheStreet.com readers.
With the takeouts of
, plus the declines in the infrastructure stocks and the oil service plays, you are getting an "even the leadership's being slaughtered" selloff.
Again, if we accept the notion that this is a market where, like the
Kraken roller coaster, you go up, you go down, you get sick to your stomach and then you get out exactly where you started, this is actually "good" news. You can't find a bottom until the leadership is taken out and shot, Valentine's Day Massacre style -- and won't the bears love that if it happens.
I have always subscribed to the theory that first to fall is the speculative gunk, then the companies with decent fundamentals but not a lot of growth and therefore not a lot of price-to-earnings ratio power and then, and only then, the darlings. Every darling must be slaughtered to refuel.
What bothers me about this cycle is that it should be obvious to everyone. It should be, simply, a given. Instead, during the decline, the "end of the worlders" step up to the plate, with their gravitas and their strong views, and scare the heck out of everyone. They rarely get called on the carpet, in part because the journalists so love the tension. Before I got my own show I was always so beaten down by the insistence on having "both sides" always represented, even if it turned out that we had nothing but "hack bears" to make the case.
They certainly sounded more rigorous than the bulls, but that's typical, too. It is a more rigorous position to argue the negative about virtually any aspect of the stock market because the market is based on faith. You can't take these shares to the companies and get your money back and there are no guarantees, a la vacuum cleaners. The economy always seems like it's teetering, either because when it is so strong it attracts the devil
, and when it is so weak it seems downright scary and the bears will tell you that this time it is different and the Fed won't be able to jumpstart things.
Plus, the rigor can easily be equated to delicious scare tactics that the bulls can't muster. It is much easier to clear a crowded theatre with fire than it is with, "Good opportunity outside the movie if you hurry!" Sometimes in my career I have longed to be a bear, just so I could get on television all the time because the tube needs its bear quotient. Alas, I am stuck trying to
find the bull market, so that occasional desire truly messes with my mantra.
Focus on the negatives if you wish. They sound horrible, like the proverbial haunted forest or creepy basement. But remember, the forest ends in a
development, and you can always turn the lights on.
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