NEW YORK (Real Money) -- Almost everyone I know has two emotions about this market: They hate it and they fear it.
They hate it because they can't figure it out. They fear it because, if they can't figure it out, then something must be very wrong that they just either can't see or can't get their arms around.
Now, some of this fear comes from the fact that no one I know -- and I've canvassed the best desks -- has a clue why interest rates went down last week on some very strong U.S. data. The only plausible flight-to-quality provokers I heard were as follows:
1. Russia attacking the Ukraine under the premise that "Ukrainian bandits" provoked them;
2. Japan's new taxes could cause a Great Recession; and
3. Something in China is so awry after those pathetic export and import numbers that the country is near a "collapse" to a 5% gross-domestic-product growth level, down from 7%.
Yep, something is happening in each or all three countries that is so scary and frightening that it has some very in-the-know people buying U.S. bonds. Is it flight-to-quality? Or is it that there is no quality anywhere else -- particularly in Europe, which has extremely low rates and less stability -- so the money, in search of a decent yield, comes here?
Among those who are buying bonds, whatever these folks fear, they presumably fear it for a legitimate reason. The money's too big to be a couple of yahoos buying. The usual underlying reason -- the economy is rolling over -- just isn't the case in the U.S. Employment is too strong; sales are too great. We also know Europe is better, not worse. But China, Japan and Russia-Ukraine are all bad and worrisome, and each one could lead to some sort of worldwide slowdown if they get out of hand.
But if that's the case, why is the truly global commodity of oil going up and not down?