Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Dow 7600? Believe it

As the 4th quarter moves steadily towards the holidays and businesses across the nation collectively hold their breath, I decided to look forward to 2009. What are some of the things that I see coming economically in the new year?

Dow Jones Index at 7600. Yep that’s a bleak statement. It’s not what anyone is asking for in their wishlist to Santa this year (except a few masochistic short-sellers). This is definitely a lump of coal.

But I will say something that you really aren’t expecting. That’s the upside in my view.

The 4th quarter of 2008 is going to be bad. Very Bad. We all know it. We knew it when before Halloween businesses were already getting their Christmas displays in order. They needed sales that bad. And still do.

Unemployment is up, financial companies are laying off people in the thousands, and the prospect of inflation looms larger by the day. Add to that recipe a Democratic President (a historically bad indicator for the economy) who’s policies – based on his voting records – are extremely left leaning, a Democrat-led Congress, the worst Speaker of the House ever, and you get a big mess.

But there is the fact that over $1.2 trillion has been spent this year to bailout the mortgage and credit crisis. The money has been the worst spent money I have seen since Waterworld was made. And the fact that no one has control over how or where this money is being spent, just means that it is being spent poorly and ineffectively.

So all that is left to look forward to is the thought that the auto makers are now first in line to ask for their own bailout, to be followed by retailers, pharmaceuticals, airlines and probably every other industry in America. And Congress will likely pony up the money for each of them.

But let us not forget that Congress has included the people in their spend at will program. So far a 2nd stimulus plan is being conceived, growing from an initial hidden $50 billion, to $150 to $300, and now is being speculated at $500 billion dollars. Nancy Pelosi doesn’t just screw up, she does it with swings to the bleachers.

Any one of these things would not hurt the stock market that much. And the by-product of severely deflated oil prices would be a boon to business in the mid-term. But it’s all happening at once. Saving on energy doesn’t matter much when you have no sales revenue.

The weakness in the stock market can bee seen in that just before the presidential election, the big institutions watched the polls and sold to get out of the way before President Obama was voted in. His promises to raise taxes, and his historic voting record were not overlooked. The only pause in selling came to allow smaller investors a chance to buy into the market and raise prices for the next wave of selling. My guess is that most of the money is sitting in cash right now, waiting for an opportunity in anything but stocks. At least in the U.S.

This means that New York City will get crushed this year. Bonuses from financials are getting scrutinized and thus being cut across the board. That means less money in the tri-state area, and thus a bad Northeast holiday season. That means the east coast will suffer and the nation as a rippling effect.

I’m sure some believe the polispeak that Wall Street and Main Street are separate – a concept only politicians could come up with. But this is how I see it all playing out.

Holiday sales will be off from last years rate, further pressuring the Dow Jones Index. Unemployment will increase going into the New Year, and inflation will start to rise.

President Obama will get inaugurated and the Dow will drop 500 points. This is not a racial reaction, but a political one. Within a week or so of that date a $300 billion 2nd stimulus plan will be passes raising the market temporarily. Several forward indicators will suggest a negative 4th quarter and 1st quarter 2009. Home sales will drop again – due to fewer loan approvals. Home prices should drop in proportion, with foreclosures increasing.

Oil prices should stabilize at around $65 - $70 per barrel to start the year as speculation and alternative investments will drive the price higher. Gold and precious metals should all increase dramatically in a similar manner to that of 2008. Growth in China will likely stall as well, especially since the boost from the Olympics will have faded.

President Obama will be forced to state that he will not raise corporate taxes, and a smaller increase in capital gains will be proposed. Taxes will increase roughly 3% on all income groups.

HD television service will cause a disruption across the nation and millions realize they need different television set, and will spike retail sales – but this is a false increase in the economy. It will be read as a positive indicator by politicians though.

Several mid-sized financials will fail, blame will go to short-sellers and corporate greed. Increased regulations will be passed that will not address the potential for bad business decisions, and the markets will sell again in fear of a more socialized America. The first rounds of nationalized healthcare will be discussed. The national debt will run higher, the deficit even more so as new spending will have no check from Congress.

Confidence in the U.S. Treasuries will weaken, and several nations will begin to sell in hopes of buying national debt of England and a few isolated nations. There will not be a run on America as this would instantly plunge the world into a depression. But the fear will accelerate pressure on the markets. The Fed will lower interest rates again to counter these fears, and to again increase loan availability. Inflation will start to gain attention in the media.

Unemployment will hit a 20 year high, again raising fears of a depression. And Iran and Russia will take aggressive stances in the world stage. Oil will run on this fear, as will gold. But direct crisis will be averted for the time being.

I expect all of this to happen in the first quarter of 2009. It is my expectation that to some degree every item I mentioned will occur. The importance and effect of each of these items will depend on timing and reaction as they all play off of each other. But the net result will be a 7600 Dow Jones Index, or lower.

I expect that this will be the bottom of the market. Smaller investors will flee the markets, and discussion of Federal intervention to save 401K’s will begin. This will also be seen as socialistic, but the need will outweigh these fears. The market will likely hover in this bottom range for the 2nd Quarter.

I’m not sure what might happen next.

I hope that I am wrong an most of these expectations. I would love to see the market gain confidence and rally in the face of these events. I hope that President Obama can rise to the occasion and lift the economic and personal spirits. But that is yet to be seen.

If I am as correct as I was in 2008, then 60 – 70% of what I have said will occur, though not exactly in my timeframe. Take that as you will.

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