Thursday, September 15, 2011

The DOWnward Slide

The Dow is at 11000 and its value represents the increase in value from way back in 1898, when the DJIA was started. It is a great little indicator; it gives the investor some perspective on where he has been and how far he has come. There is one major problem; the index has lost all perspective. It’s up and down movement don’t display current gains and losses; they reflect the historic gains and losses from when the average started.

A little understood concept, stocks bought and sold on Wall Street have nothing to do with the companies that own them. If an investor buys IBM stock, IBM doesn’t give a damn about the transaction. Upon the investors purchase, the transfer agent (another process) notifies IBM that there has been a transfer of ownership of shares to someone new. IBM makes a note that they have a new owner with an address to pay dividends to and also send proxy voting ballots when necessary. Of course if you buy 10 million shares, that’s a horse of different color.

At the present dividend rates, the Dow 30 Stocks are priced well and support their dividend rates. This is their only link to the real world. Stocks out there that pay no dividend are not linked to anything other than the greater fool theory. The South Sea Company bubble of the 1700’s reminds me of Google today (fabulous riches awaited the “well informed” investor).

Where is the money made on Wall Street? It’s in commissions for buying and selling. So a high volume day is one that generates lots of earnings (there is a buy and sell commission for every trade). The question everyone asks on Wall Street is; “How do you make a million dollars in the market?” The answer still is, “Start with two million dollars.”

What will happen to our market in the future? Probably it will be similar to what happened to Japan; their market went from a high of 39,000 in December of 1989 to 8,500 today. It took twenty years, to get there.

When times are tough, there comes the need to raise money for survival. The natural instinct with financial investments is to sell the good stuff and keep the dogs—in the hope they will come back. Of course when things get real bad, everything gets doggy. All of our retirement fund managers are doing just that, holding on to the dogs. It’s the only way for a manager to preserve his job. Sell and you will have nothing left to manage. Investors will move to "better performing funds."

Have you ever noticed that people run out of money very suddenly and become bankrupt (Bernie Madoff comes to mind)? In reality, it is a very slow process that reaches a point to where the individual gives up—that’s the sudden part of it. They really made no mistakes, it’s just that the financial rules changed over time and they didn’t adjust accordingly. They expected the old rules to hold firm.

How will this all end? The stock market is just like the real estate market. With one minor difference, when your neighbor sells his stock, it determines the present value of yours. There is no jingle mail with stocks. Watch for a big drop in stocks not supported by a dividend or ones that cut their dividend.

Of course the downward slide of your stock equity in non dividend stocks will be invisible. The Dow 30 will be untouched. Everyone is investing in exotic trades with more zing (index funds come to mind).

Bernanke and Geithner claim the damage from the PIIGS has been contained while the Treasury is paying zero interest in spite of the 8% inflation rate. This financial Ponzi scheme is worse than the housing crisis back in 2006. It's a little like using a hooker as a last chance sperm donor; it kind of works for all the wrong reasons.

The stock and bond markets are the last game in town, gather 'round and faites vos jeux.


Jason said...


The real ponzi scheme is government debt. Check this video out from the IMF:

Advanced country debt levels

Three shocking things. First, the level of debt in advanced countries. Second, the size of adjustment needed to return to fiscal sustainability. Third, the lame policy options outlined in the last two minutes.

I despair.

dearieme said...

OK, but where should we stash our wealth? Particularly those of us whose wealth is modest.

Jim in San Marcos said...

Hi Jason

Thank you for the link

Jim in San Marcos said...

Hi Dearieme

Not sure. Sail boats are getting cheap as are airplanes. You might want to improve your standard of living at bargain basement prices. There is a lot of stuff out there at decent prices, the only trouble is, it is not for everyone.