Shaken and Not Stirring

Charles Payne
Posted: Aug 02, 2012 12:01 AM
The enemy increaseth every day;
We, at the height, are ready to decline.
There is a tide in the affairs of men,
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitter, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat,
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.
Julius Caesar

Watching the opening of the Olympic Games in London, I felt at times like I was watching a Tim Burton movie. There is no doubt it had its moments, but when I summed it all up the games seemed like a post mortem on what was once the greatest nation in the world. It felt like a nation ready to say to the world that the sun does set, indeed. It felt like a nation, obviously proud of its past but living on those memories and a bunch of fictional characters (I'm not talking about the Queen) to carry the day. At least, the ceremony paid homage to the role of industry that put the Great in Britain. However, it was clearly an evening that admitted the height had been reached, and decline has taken over.

The Olympics have long become much more than sports, a tool for nations to make announcements to the world. It's been mostly a coming out party. A chance to tell the world to watch out because here we come. The 2016 games in Brazil promise to serve such notice like 1964 told the world Japan was back and 2008 said China had the population, the ingenuity and the will to be great. It was an amazing debut, and in my book, better than London. I understand in this new elite world we should embrace mediocrity, and in fact, frown upon efforts to be extraordinary. But, I don't think any nation can put it in neutral and think its future bright.

There is a new war, a kind of Cold War II, which sees a shift of power to the east from the west. While the west is fixated on closing income inequality gaps by punishing hard and smart workers, the east and other parts of the compass are simply plowing ahead. They understand the same tide will lift all boats and those that crest higher more than likely will have earned it and those that put in less elbow grease will still see an improvement in quality of life.

America won the Cold War with:

Strong US Dollar
Ronald Reagan

England is continuing to watch this current struggle between east and west reminiscing about:

Mary Poppins
James Bond
Harry Potter

And what of America? I fear we are on such a full sea now and must dig deep to not only remember our great past, but honor it by continuing the legacy rather than living vicariously through it. The enemy that increases every day is the enemy of doubt, envy, and fear, stoked by harsh rhetoric which aims to remove all pillars of strength from self/individual, to religious to legal (constitution) and replace it with a Big Brother, Father, and Mother. The clock is ticking. If we don't change course, the next time we get the Olympic Games the tide will find us where the United Kingdom dwells today.

Hey, Jude, then it will be too late to make it better.

The Clock Stopped Ticking ...

... in the stock market yesterday. The session saw an amazing two-day rally come to a screeching halt, but there was no big selloff, which made the day a major moral victory. It seems nuts that a large part of this rally would be in anticipation of the ECB springing into action this week when it's 95% against the odds. Maybe Wall Street is living in a Danny Boyle-Tim Burton world where we know one thing but allow the imagination to warp our reactions. Of course considering this would be the third time for the ECB and Fed to step to the plate with something magical, the real trick would be to lure investors back on the assumption that it is coming rather than pull a rabbit out of hat that lays an egg.

On that note, however, there are so many stocks that are significantly undervalued. This earning season has served the purpose of exposing those stocks where traditional price discovery has failed miserably. It underscores a reality that can't break free of that same fear and self-loathing. It's a good sign when these stocks pop although it's frustrating to ride them lower or for many sell at a loss out of impatience or anger. For now, however, the bias has shifted to the upside and a large part of it has to do with fundamentals of great companies. While all eyes are on money printing machines on either side of the Atlantic, don't forget there are legitimate profits being made and too often ignored.