Good morning. Lots of folks are talking about the idea that the stock market is experiencing a case of déjà vu all over again at the present time. Given the similar chart patterns seen over the past two summers, the eerily familiar soft patch facing the economy once again, the similarities in the factors driving the action, and the general feeling that for the third summer in a row the outlook doesn't look very bright, I can't really blame anyone who might be looking ahead to the next month with some trepidation. The bottom line is that August is coming and if memory serves, last year's results were downright ugly.
However, I'm going to take off my bear cap for a moment on this fine Wednesday morning and try to look at the current macro picture as objectively as possible. Remember, Ms. Market doesn't give a hoot what any of us think, so we might as well check our egos and our opinions at the door and try to see things as they are instead of how we'd like them to be.
Sure, things in Europe (EZU) aren't going to get better any time soon. Yes, the economies of China (FXI) and the U.S. (SPY) are slowing at the moment. No, the boys and girls in Washington aren't going to suddenly start playing nice or accomplish anything on the fiscal front before November. And yes, earnings may have peaked for the time being. However, in listening to Mr. Bernanke's Q&A with the Senate Banking Committee yesterday, it occurred to me that the path forward is now fairly clear.
No, the Fed Chairman most definitely did not provide the little boyz playing with their computer toys any hints that another fix of QE was on the way. And not surprisingly, traders did throw a temper tantrum when they didn't get what they wanted - to the tune of about 150 Dow (DIA) points to the downside. (And as a quick aside, the fact that the computers can manipulate the market as quickly as they do these days continues to disturb me.) However, Mr. Bernanke did make it clear that he and the rest of the FOMC cavalry most definitely will ride again - if needed.
Thus, the key (well, to me anyway) is that there is no uncertainty as far as the Fed is concerned. Unlike last year at this time, there aren't any big glaring question marks hanging over the market's head. Greece (GREK) is not going to leave the EU in the near future. The Eurozone (EZU) is working on shoring up their banking system. In addition, there is no debt ceiling to worry about at the moment (the projections I've seen suggest that the earliest the U.S. would bump into its limits on borrowing again is early October). And China is going to do something, sometime to stimulate growth (however, officials may want to wait a few more months for the new leaders to take office).