In community college Economics 101 students learn that there can be dips in bull markets. Usually these are caused by a single event like a change in the party that runs Congress. The same holds true for bear markets. Suckers jump in on one piece of news or another. The market spikes up. A week later, it’s gone.
The Fannie Mae (FNM) and Freddie Mac (FRE) rescue pushed the market higher and may do so for a few days. In Asia, they know better. The rally never made it beyond the first 24 hours. Markets turned down in Day Two.
The overwhelming evidence is that almost no one benefited from the government taking over the agencies. The rest of the economy is in the toilet. A lot of data has come out in the last day underscoring that point.
The well-regarded Manpower Employment Outlook Survey’s look at corporate hiring plans found that a net 9% of firms expect to hire in the fourth quarter, down from 12% in the previous quarter, and 18% for the fourth quarter a year ago. According to MarketWatch, this is the longest string of quarterly declines in two decades.
A quick glance over at the Forrester study of IT spending found that 43% of companies have cut IT spending this year. How can companies like Oracle (ORCL), Microsoft (MSFT), and IBM (IBM) have strong earnings into next year with that kind of trend?
A Bloomberg News survey of 39 economists showed that they believe pending US home sales dropped again in July.
All three pieces of data are less than 24 hours old.
The market really did not rally. A few stocks did. GE (GE) sits at $29, still relatively near multi-year lows. Boeing (BA) faces a strike which could go on for months. That will hurt earnings and employment at scores of its suppliers. Boeing’s shares could clearly drop. Ford (F) is barely off a 20-year low. The same could be said of Microsoft (MSFT).
If the stock prices of Washington Mutual (WM) and Lehman (LEH) tell any tale it is that they will have to be rescued or cease to exist as independent companies.
Most of the seminal stocks in key industries are still well down and have little prospect of recovery.
If a recession is defined by the breadth of its damage, this is already a powerful one.
Douglas A. McIntyre