Monday, April 18, 2005

Reading NYT Financial Tea Leaves

Cute URL promising tea reading skills

My very Victorian great godmother lived for more than 100 years. One of the quaint things she taught me aside from sitting up very straight in a chair, shoulders back and don't make too much noise or a little bird will peck your eyes out, she loved to brew tea with loose leaf and would then examine the pattern to see what it revealed. I couldn't, for the life of me, figure out the tea leaves. They looked like a jumble or if they looked like anything, it was a bunny rabbit or a duck. "How can you see the future this way?" I asked her. She laughed.

"Eventually, you will figure it out on your own," she promised me.

Well, I am grown up and can read tea leaves. You shred the NYT and pour boiling water over it and then read the mushed up paper. Voila! Future is there!

Here is today's tea leaf reading, first the raw data and then the fortune telling:

Sudden Bearish Sentiment Underlines Fears on Economy

OK. This goes under "duh, no kidding, Sherlock".

fter last week's market plunge - when America's three main stock gauges fell more than 3 percent - Wall Street and unusually nervous individual investors are looking to the flood of earnings reports this week to see how optimistic corporate America is in its outlook for the economy.

Official optimism usually is the last thing that dies in corporate America. After a year into the Great Depression, some corporate owners admitted something was a little amiss.

Whether or not the answer on the economic outlook from corporate executives is positive, it is clear that the mood of the investors has changed markedly. Investors finally seem to believe that high crude oil and gasoline prices are curtailing consumer spending, slowing economic growth and cutting into corporate earnings.

Geeze, one begins to think that investors might have used the internet to see the news especially from overseas! Like, really bad news streaming in daily. The NYT and WP and American TV have tried their best to hide this disturbing news but alas, the internet foils them every time.

The shift in mood and economic outlook has been so swift that Federal Reserve officials appear to have been caught flat-footed.

All panics happen this way. Everyone believes the propaganda and follows the leader when suddenly they notice they are marching on thin air and they panic. This is actually sensible. But the leaders are justifiably mystified. Like Wiley E. Coyote, they hang mid air, legs spinning. Seems OK! Acme is going to work this time!

Recklessly, Americans have set events into motion that we can't understand for some reason. We launched Japan into China and the resounding boom has been heard around the world. Everyone (except for the writers at American papers) noticed and understood this is our Concord event. Our Krakatoa. The great experiment, "Let's see what the Chinese will do if we get nasty with them" is being answered loud and clear. So everyone is now hesitating. Will sane people intervene and stop this? Or is this our doomsday?

Even if the market stabilizes, it is not clear that it can get back onto a track to new highs. That is because stocks are falling now on a surge in fears of slower economic growth. But if that concern passes, then investors are likely to be faced with the consequences of stronger growth: inflation pressures and higher interest rates from the Federal Reserve.

The pretense that our Federal Reserve runs anything is hilarious. Readers of this blog know that I find this particularily funny. We have no Reserve. Nada. It is gone, dear readers. We have obligations and debts! And every few months we go out into the Brave New World and order them to buy our debts so we can keep on going. Alas, one of the nations keeping us from bankruptcy is Japan and the other is China. Both, involved in a deadly duel that can start a world war, will be in no mood or condition to massage our debt cycle. Thus, sane investors are becoming very worried. They should be hysterical.

A rebound in foreign markets, where some benchmark stock gauges dropped more than 4 percent last week, could help confidence, but foreign investors usually look to Wall Street to stabilize a global fall in the markets. In Tokyo, the Nikkei average of 225 stocks fell 369.48, or 3.3 percent, to 11,001.21 at the 11 a.m. lunch break.

Oh yes, the fabled "foreign markets". Two of the biggest economies of the world are....(thank you, tea leaves) China and Japan. And they are busy attacking each other and snarling threats and having riots. Indeed, great for business if you are selling nuclear bombs.

And where is this stuff in the NYT article? Do you see any mention of China? What? Wooozzzzat? Deciphering economic news stories is easy. Assume 90% of the information is missing and the remaining 10% is misleading. Then you too can see into the future and can plan accordingly.

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