Doubting America

Charles Payne
Posted: Aug 11, 2012 12:01 AM
The long mechanic pacing to and fro,
The set gray life, and apathetic end.
Love and Duty

This week we have seen the lowest four day stretch of volume of any non-holiday period since 2007. The lack of volume has been a "problem" for the market for years now. The situation points to a state of apathy or as they say on the street "a lack of conviction." The thing is money can and has been made in this period; in fact, the market doubled in a three year period, on virtually no volume. For me, I'd like to look at this lack of volume for what it means for the nation. If the stock market is a proxy for our economy then the lack of volume is speaking to alarming concerns.

(The dynamics of the market have changed with respect to the impact of global wealth and growth impacting share prices but I still believe volume is a great American-centric gauge.)

I saw where there was a deliberate campaign to stoke doubt and self-loathing into the American psyche more than four years ago. That campaign has been very successful. It's being pushed by those that think the world should have a single, non-religious, government that hands down rules based on an interpretation of fairness rather than merit. It would be a world stripped of ambition and individualism.

I think our stock market is beginning to reflect the success of that campaign in America through the lack of volume. We have hit that stage that Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi called "apathy" in work life but in our society writ large.

When we love our work, we reach that state of "flow" (see above), and I suspect if there was the same satisfaction with the direction of the country there would be a similar state of flow and it would reverberate in the aura of the nation and volume in the stock market. Each day, that optimal state of intrinsic motivation is being stripped away with comments from President Obama like "you didn't build that" or "successful people have no values." Coupled with movie themes, television themes, and natural frustration that comes with a never-ending recession, and we have lost our state of concentration.

America is needs that feeling of great absorption, engagement and fulfillment, and to encourage and celebrate skill before we completely forget how to do those things.

The stock market can continue to climb even as Americans wallow in loathing, but that would only point to a shift in the global psychology of optimal experience. I fret about rallies on low volume because it means sharp pullbacks on bad news, but I fret more because it means more and more Americans have fallen into the trap designed to strip away our greatness.