NEW YORK (Real Money) -- It's giving you every reason to sell off. Somehow, even though Black Friday obviously can't have been as strong as Black Fridays of the past because stores opened on Thanksgiving, the press has pronounced the holiday season a bust.
Somehow, despite a wholesale shift in spending to online, we don't bother to account for it in holiday spending. Somehow we have decided that the consumer is, once again, tapped out -- and, no matter how many times the consumer hasn't actually been tapped out, the press has ruled she has been. If you believe these stories, then just go short Target (TGT) and Wal-Mart (WMT). They are the two that stand for this weakness. Dump some J.C. Penney (JCP), too. I think these are sucker trades, as they reflect a ton of gloom, but there's always someone out there who didn't get the memo.
Another reason the market can sell off is that interest rates are still inching higher. The further away Treasury yields go from 2.5%, the more we will have the pernicious discussion of Fed tapering/lost control/worthless money, etc., that has bird-dogged us for ages. Every time I see Marc Faber of Gloom, Doom and Boom fame, I am reminded that this cohort never dies -- these people who consistently think that this is the market's last breath.
This man has had big shoes to fill, having to take up the space left by both Meredith Whitney and Nouriel Roubini. Sometimes I wonder: If his newsletter weren't so catchily named, would we would have to deal with this man's prattle ever again? In all of the years I have known or read him, in almost ever critical juncture, he's been negative -- the boom a prelude only to gloom and doom -- that I am amazed that he is still in the Rolodex of the bookers out there. It doesn't matter. There's always bear fodder, so we might as well trot out this cynic and let him ramble on about the world's end. It's a gloomy job, and someone has to do it.
The market can sell off because the headlines about health care are as grim as ever, and we are finally seeing exactly what little testing the government did on the Web site before it took this thing live. Still, Oracle (ORCL) is the only big company that has come up as being part of the problem initially: The New York Times snuck in a little mention of it in the paper's investigation of the story. The lovers and apologists for Oracle will conveniently overlook that alleged screw-up. I kept looking for Caterpillar (CAT) and Cisco (CSCO) in there as two companies that botched things. But, then again, I don't think they were involved, not that a nexus is needed for these guys to blow it.
Lost in all of this gloom, doom and kaboom is, alas, the kaboom, because we keep getting some pretty darned good earnings. This is something that never seems to fit into the calculus of Faber and the others who get ginned up when we need to verify how bogus the whole market rally is.