Tuesday, December 23, 2008

News Creep

(Picture my neighbor, Ryan, took in Ecuador).

While I can think of a couple of CNBC news anchors that I could slap that description to, I'm talking about how content creeps into the news stream. Specifically, I'm seeing more commentators talk about how bad the economy will be.

It will come as no surprise that Nouriel Roubini is among the list or even Marc Faber or Peter Schiff--all three have been punishingly persistent in their view of the economy. Within the last week, I've seen Wilbur Ross, Muhammed El-Erian, the most recent FOMC statement, Stanley Fischer (Governor, Bank of Israel. B. Bernanke's thesis advisor), speak of stresses that they see in the economy. It's only been within the last week or so that we received confirmation that we were in a recession beginning December 2007. (I had predicted in August 2007 that we'd be in a global recession within a year of that date, and expected it late Spring).

Bad economic news seems to 'creep' into the the media system. First there appears to be some wild-eyed Cassandra's in their white robes and sandwich boards proclaiming the end of the world (Roubini, Schiff, Faber). These proclamations are delivered while most of the crowd is still hyperventilating , and then we see more evidential matter that confirms the worrisome news and it creeps into the system.

There were almost NO references to deflation, or Japan, or Depression. Now, we see these words mentioned daily--to include an L-bottom recovery--rather than a quick rebound. Roger Nusbaum said something on his blog that I found interesting. Specifically, he stated that with the market having dropped so far already, it had to be a very small probability that the market would fall another 30% or so.

I'm firmly in the camp that no one really knows, and Roger never (and didn't) gives predictions. Folks like to look at our current situation and compare it to other bear markets. This bear market is very different than all but two bear markets: US 1932 and Japan's bear market. If one were to narrow the population to these two for comparative purposes, then the probabilities of falling further would appear to be a bit higher.

Madoff....while there are many things that are upsetting about this story, none is more upsetting than the lazy hedge fund managers that parked a high % of their money (if not all of it) in this fund to let Madoff do the heavy lifting (rapid movement of shells!) while they did not even do a modicum of due diligence but continued to collect fees. In my view, their lack of fiduciary responsibility to their clients is no less reprehensible than Madoff's crimes.

We shrank our Christmas to people in our lives in order to give to others. Yesterday I made a donation to the Central Virginia Foodbank. I also purchased two Kuranda dog beds. These are dog beds that shelters like to get. They are both hygienic and comfortable. One went to our New Kent Animal Shelter, and the other to Lenoir County SPCA. If you are looking for a way to support your local animal shelter, you can likely see what they need on their website. Also, many are listed on PetFinder.com If you are interested in donating a bed, it is an easy process. Just click on the link and enter your local shelter's name. Most have a "donate" button for a bed or other gift.