Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Short View?

John Authers in the Short View feature at The Financial Times Reports reports that, with the recent U.S. stock market declines, we are now in the second most severe market downturn in the last century. He reaches that conclusion by taking the beginning of the current market decline all the way back to 2001, making the fair point that, taking into consideration fluctuations in the value of the dollar and such, the October 2007 market peak approximated the turn of the century dot.com peak, so that three three big market declines of the last hundred years were 1929-1937, 1966-1974 and now 2000-2009. The current episode is roughly as severe as the 1966-74 episode, more moderate than the 1929-37 episode, and slightly longer than either of the other two.

I'm not sure this is the short view of things, but interesting nonetheless. And it underlines the point that we've bought ourselves one hell of a recession with the declines in asset values that have already occurred and that further declines in the stock market will be discounting, in effect, a recession.

My instincts lead me to forecast a great deal more misery, but more in the general economy than the one financial markets. One more catharsis in the financial markets as later in the year the U.S. government reaches a political resolution to the problems of the four money center banks controlling 64% of U.S. commercial deposits, then a long, slow slog as the economy continues to sag, residential real estate values continue to decline, and we all adjust to an economy less focused on the financial services sector, the U.S. consumer, and real estate appreciation (residential and commercial). Not just long and slow, but sour, wretched and bitter, as well.

There you have it. A prediction, like a sonnet, has a certain form. The key rule is, never include a date and a number in the same sentence. Mark this prediction 'complied.'

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