Economics

Read This Story About Stocks On Track for Their Worst Year Since 1937 and Then Tells Me What It Means Exactly…

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Continuing the less-than-stellar reporting of the financial sector, this AP story has the attention-grabbing headline "Stocks are on track for their worst year since 1937," without really explaining what that means. "Stocks are on track for their worst year since 1937," announces the story (hence the headline), without detailing how or in what ways. Ah well, context really doesn't matter, does it?

GM, the story says, is at its 1950 price, which kind of makes sense given the product that company makes. Ford, another rusted-out industrial-era giant, is tanking too. Which leads to a real problem, even beyond the $25 billion these two welfare kings (along with Chrysler) have already gotten from the feds. It's no secret that the Big 2.5 (sorry, Chrysler, the truth can be so hurtful) are dying to unload their pension and health-care liabilities onto the American taxpayer. Current and future conditions make it likely that they'll get their wish.

Look for a new 'roided-up stimulus package too:

"We have to prop up consumption," Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, said in an interview.

The new proposal would be far greater than the $60 billion stimulus package that the House passed in September, Frank said. The Senate has not acted on the earlier bill, which was dwarfed in attention and scope by the sums being pledged to Wall Street companies and commercial banks.

And look for a new drop in the Dow, too. President Bush is going to speak about the market today, and that always seems to take a couple hundred (thousand) points off the index, doesn't it? The AP suggests various factors are to blame for yesterday's big dip (electronic trading, late-day execution of trades) but a humongous chunk has got to be related to the evolving plans of the Bush admin to first push a useless bailout through Congress and then announce plans to nationalize banks via direct purchase of equity. If I could only get out of this damn wheelchair (but I can't, I can't!), maybe I'd be moving into cash or gold coins hawked by G. Gordon Liddy too.

reason on the bailout.

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  1. Markets hate uncertainty. And the worst uncertainty of all is when the ref has changed the rules and has made clear that he’s going to keep changing the rules for a while.

  2. Quick! More heroin for the junkie economy!

    doom
    Dooom
    DOOOOM

  3. “Look, the market is going down because we did some unpredictable shit! We have to stop it from going down. Let’s do some more unpredictable shit!”

    Genius!

  4. I know shit’s bad right now with all that starvin’ bullshit. And the dust storms. And we runnin’ out of french fries and burrito coverings. But I got a solution.

  5. We have had a completely disfunctional political class in both Europe and the US for what about 20 years now? Maybe more. I peg the fall of the political class to when Tip O’Neil died and Jim Wright took over as speaker. From that we got the Bork debacle and from all of that we got Newt Gingrich and Clinton and 90s and so forth.

    This is the first real crisis they have ever faced and they are all panicing and screwing it up. We have nothing but mediocrities at the top of our government and major institutions. How did we get here? I don’t think it is because everyone is a crook. The heads of those banks who got themselves under water are not crooks as much as they are just stupid. We have been promoting suck assness and stupidity in nearly every sociatal institution for hte last 20 years or more. Now, we have no one with any brains anywhere near to the top of any institution in the country. We are now going to have to pay the price for that.

  6. “Stocks are on track for their worst year since 1937,” without really explaining what that means.

    Does it really need to be explained what that means? It means, “Stock market declines are expected to be the largest (percentage) since 1937”. If the sports section said, “Yankees on track for worst season since 19XX”, do you need them to spell out that they mean win-loss record? It’s an inane nit pick.

  7. And the worst uncertainty of all is when the ref has changed the rules and has made clear that he’s going to keep changing the rules for a while.

    They’re playing Calvinball with our money.

  8. That idiot Wagoner is rushing hither and thither, assuring everybody GM isn’t going to file bankruptcy. And we know what that usually means…..

  9. Well aren’t you just a ray of sunshine this morning, John.

  10. I know shit’s bad right now with all that starvin’ bullshit. And the dust storms. And we runnin’ out of french fries and burrito coverings. But I got a solution.

    You know, I just watched Idiocracy last Saturday and wasn’t particularly impressed. I like Mike Judge, but the movie was heavy-handed, seriously lacked wit, and was itself stupid on many levels.

  11. Yes I am Joe. Be honest now, don’t you think Reagan, Tip O’Neil and Paul Volker would be doing a better job handling this than the current crowd? Those three may not have been super geniuses, but at least they could have talked to each other and worried about something beyond how to stick it to the other guy in the next news cycle.

  12. “I like Mike Judge, but the movie was heavy-handed, seriously lacked wit, and was itself stupid on many levels.”

    Are you talking about Mike Judge or the last five seasons or so of South Park?

  13. Epi,
    The stupidity in Idiocracy is meta-stupidity which makes it smart.

    Speaking of stupid, I just remembered yesterday that I do have a 401k. Whoops! guess I won’t miss that money so much since I never actually held it. Ah well. It’s nothing compared to the value I lost on my condo. Thankfully, the whole situation has gone beyond depressing into funny.

  14. Are you talking about Mike Judge or the last five seasons or so of South Park?

    Did you watch Wednesday’s episode, Mr. South Park Hater?

    South Park isn’t about subtlety.

  15. John,

    Yes, I do. Reagan, O’Neil, and Volker.

    People who keep their heads, and work quietly behind closed doors to reach a practical consensus instead of, as you say, focusing on sticking it to the other guy in public.

  16. I have never invested a lot in 401ks for two reasons. First, I figured the government would probably find a way to fuck up the stock market and kill my wealth at some point before I retire. Second, even if they didn’t, by the time I retire the government will no doubt come and take any wealth I have built up in the name of fairness. It just won’t be right for me to live better in my retirement than someone who smoked crack and begged their whole life.

  17. I would make only the following change to John @ 9:49am:

    I don’t think it is just because everyone is a crook.

  18. “How do they keep it so fresh after 56 episodes?”

  19. The stupidity in Idiocracy is meta-stupidity which makes it smart.

    I disagree. I saw where, at times, he was going for that, but I was disappointed with the “durr, stupid, durr” monotony of the whole thing.

  20. Thankfully, the whole situation has gone beyond depressing into funny.

    Yep. Those of us with negative net worths finally get a chance to laugh.

  21. Reagan and O’Neil certainly weren’t shy about sticking it to the other guy, but they realized that there is a time and place for that – and there is a time and place to, well, put country first, as it were, and not try to use every single event to take a chunk out of the opposition, but try to accomplish something with them.

    And even when they were politicking, they did so with an awareness that they’re going to have to sit down and work with the other guy at some point, so they’d best not completely poison the atmosphere.

  22. I found Idiocracy to get better with multiple viewings.

  23. have never invested a lot in 401ks for two reasons. First, I figured the government would probably find a way to fuck up the stock market and kill my wealth at some point before I retire.

    So where do you invest your money, under the mattress?

  24. Joe, they did Social Security Reform, the 1982 budget bill and the 1986 tax reform together. That is a pretty good record. Difficult to imagine anyone getting that much done now. Compare that to Clinton and Gingrich in 1996. They were close to solving a fair amount of the medicare and medicaide problems but when it came down to it, they just couldn’t resist sticking to each other and the deal fell through and the country was worse off for it.

  25. I found Idiocracy to get better with multiple viewings.

    I don’t think I’m going to give it that chance. I have so many other things to watch.

  26. “So where do you invest your money, under the mattress?”

    I spent it and enjoyed it while I was young and could. Who the hell wants to be rich when you are old and no one will sleep with you on a $1000 bet? What good is that?

  27. I think everyone looks better when you look back on them. It’s the, “Things were way better back in the …” syndrome. Dems and Reps were just as viciously partisan back then. Not to mention, the 80s were a time when we were exiting an extended secular bear market, so of course it looks better than right now when we’re in the thick of the shit. The proper comparison to today would be the Nixon/Ford/Carter era.

  28. I spent it and enjoyed it while I was young and could. Who the hell wants to be rich when you are old and no one will sleep with you on a $1000 bet? What good is that?

    I’d rather just not work when I’m 60 and enjoy my twilight years without being a burden on further generations. Especially if I could turn $1 today into $20 in 30 years. Despite the shit going down, time is on my side and I’m doubling down on my investments as we speak.

  29. So where do you invest your money, under the mattress?

    Hookers and blow? Is that an “investment”, technically? It’s an investment in FUN!

  30. John,

    Think back to the buget/tax deal GHW Bush and the Democratic Congress cut in 1990 (or was it ’91?) You might not like the bill, but that’s another example of the cooperation and accomplishment you’re talking about.

    If I had to pick the moment things changed, I’d say it was the 1992 campaign. Soviet spy, drug runner, murderer.

  31. I don’t think I’m going to give it that chance. I have so many other things to watch.

    You have to do what you have to do man.

  32. Oh come on, under the Clinton White House they actually created a budget surplus, reformed welfare, signed NAFTA and helped clean up crime. Things always seem more contentious in recent memory than they do in the past. People whitewash history, which is why so many people remember high school and college as the “golden years” because they forget about all the shit they had to wade through and how bad all the Ramen and Mac and Cheese they ate really was.

  33. I’d rather just not work when I’m 60 and enjoy my twilight years without being a burden on further generations. Especially if I could turn $1 today into $20 in 30 years. Despite the shit going down, time is on my side and I’m doubling down on my investments as we speak.

    Same here. I’m still hoping to retire in 10 years. But maybe John will have the last laugh; who knows?

  34. ’bout time this groundless exuberance came to an end…too bad we’re tapped to make the pinheads whole…

  35. That idiot Wagoner is rushing hither and thither, assuring everybody GM isn’t going to file bankruptcy. And we know what that usually means…..

    Reminds me of when the premier of the old USSR would get a “cold”.

  36. The fundamentals of General Motors are strong.

  37. If I had to pick the moment things changed, I’d say it was the 1992 campaign. Soviet spy, drug runner, murderer.

    You’re absolutely right, Joe. For the first time in the history of the United States, unfounded smears were directed at a political candidate. Everything changed.

  38. they actually created a budget surplus

    Nope. Never happened. They had a projected one. And it might have happened. But it never got there.

  39. Amazing what you can do to an argument with words like “first” and “everything.”

    Boy, I’m sure never going to say that there were no smears directed at candidates before 1992 again. Oh, wait….

  40. OK Joe, stick with just saying that “things changed.” That’s about as solid a position as “time passed.”

  41. Who the hell wants to be rich when you are old and no one will sleep with you on a $1000 bet? What good is that?

    Beats being poor when are old and no one will sleep with you on a $1000 bet.

  42. What does Chauncey Gardiner have to say?

  43. Nope. Never happened. They had a projected one. And it might have happened. But it never got there.

    History begs to differ.

  44. I think I’ll stick with what I actually wrote, thanks anyway.

  45. We have to prop up consumption

    I hate you John Maynard Keynes. Consumption spending is the last and least to fall in a recession but somehow it still gets blamed for causing it.

  46. Who is to say I am going to be poor when I am old? I am an attorney, I could work into my 1990s and plan to. I like to work. Also, I have a government retirement, which is likly more secure than a 401K. I don’t want to be poor when I am old but really have no interest in dying wealthy. Any money I have in the bank when I die is just money I worked for but never got to enjoy. Screw that.

  47. GM, the story says, is at its 1950 price, which kind of makes sense given the product that company makes.

    President Bush is going to speak about the market today, and that always seems to take a couple hundred (thousand) points off the index, doesn’t it?

    Nick, two great zingers, LOL and splurting coffee out my nose.

  48. Who the hell wants to be rich when you are old and no one will sleep with you on a $1000 bet? What good is that?

    But they might sleep with you for $1000 fee.

  49. Things sure have gone swell since we elected a Democrat majority in Congress. Does anyone remember the euphoria spewing from a certain frequent commenter after the last election? Barney Frank will make a wonderful Federal Reserve chairman, don’t you think? Or don’t you?

  50. Not to be outonde in the race to produce the most over-the-top reporting, MSNBC is now yelling “Is this the end of American capitalism?”

    One thing is different from earlier bear markets…a lot of the media is really going bats**t.

  51. a lot of the media is really going bats**t

    Of course they are. Keep up the economics hysteria long enough and Obama can win on a “It’s the economy, stupid” wave just like Clinton92. And GOP is doing the same thing under the theory that bashing a bad economy is a way to distance McCain from Bush.

    I’ve got no proof, of course. But this is what I’d do in their positions.

  52. John,

    I could work into my 1990s

    When you take the sandtrout as your skin, do you think you’ll keep cloning and killing me?

  53. When you take the sandtrout as your skin, do you think you’ll keep cloning and killing me?

    Someone explain that joke to Naga, I don’t have the energy.

  54. There was a letter on the Corner that made a good point. When FDR came to power we really did have a limited government. It was still the age of Lockner. Now we have had over 70 years of massive federal intrusion into the economy, yet we end up with a bubble that is as bad or worse than the ones we had in the bad old pre New Deal days and also if you go back enough a decade of stagflation in the 1970s. Suppose Obama wins and has 65 Democratic Senators to do his bidding. Just what the hell is he going to do short of outright communism that is not already being done? Regardless of who wins this election, people are going to find out in the next year or so that there are not government sollutions to this. Moreover, the government cannot spend too much more than it is already spending and people are not going to tolerate grossly raising taxes. In the end this may be a blessing in disguise. It may finally end the idea that the government can somehow regulate away the business cycle. The media is inevitably wrong about most things and usually when they are saying something the loudest it is wishful thinking and defensiveness on their part because they are seriously worried that their world view is threatened. Everytime I read some media maven screaming the “end of capitalism”, I really wonder if it might instead be the opposite and the end of government run capitalism.

  55. We have nothing but mediocrities at the top of our government and major institutions.

    The sad thing is that these mediocrities are supposedly our so-called “elites”. In case you haven’t noticed, our most recent Presidents have all gone to Yale and/or Harvard, and these clubs run all the major financial establishments.

    It may be time to downgrade the reputations of some of these institutions of higher learning like the market is downgrading General Motors.

  56. When you take the sandtrout as your skin, do you think you’ll keep cloning and killing me?

    joe, I knew Duncan Idaho, Duncan Idaho was a friend of mine, and you, sir, are no Duncan Idaho.

  57. “It may be time to downgrade the reputations of some of these institutions of higher learning like the market is downgrading General Motors.”

    Someone wrote a couple of years ago that Harvard and Yale are the GM and Ford of education and it is about 1968 or so. We need to seriously ask the question of how it is that so many of our top people are just so incompetant. I think the sorry state of our elite universities plays a role in that.

  58. That was really uncalled for, Duke.

  59. That idiot Wagoner is rushing hither and thither,

    I always wondered if has imitation wood panels for his abs and obliques.

  60. I found Idiocracy to get better with multiple viewings.

    Just like The Exorcist!

  61. Its debate season, I couldnt resist. 🙂

  62. Joe,

    You just don’t see enough Dune references on here.

  63. We need to seriously ask the question of how it is that so many of our top people are just so incompetant. I think the sorry state of our elite universities plays a role in that.

    There’s never a good round of purging and public beheadings when you need them.

  64. You just don’t see enough Dune references on here.

    One may not be too many, but two definitely is.

  65. Try purging someone with “tenure.” It’s not quick or easy, even when a teacher/professor obviously needs to be fired ASAP.

    But on the point of lowering “elite” schools reputations, I couldn’t agree more, and eventually such reputation lowering would have to reflect in faculty salaries, if not job-security. Or they could just go broke & get bailed out by the taxpayers, like their smartest students just did. Sigh.

  66. “Read This Story About Stocks On Track for Their Worst Year Since 1937 and Then Tells Me What It Means Exactly…”

    It means people are sheep.

  67. This story about derivatives means we’re WAAAAY more-fucked than the news media’s political establishment wants to admit.

  68. Show of hands: Who’s fondled their firearms at least once over the last few weeks? Be honest. We won’t judge.

  69. “Who is to say I am going to be poor when I am old? I am an attorney, I could work into my 1990s and plan to. I like to work”

    Me too. My grandfather was born in 1880 and didn’t retire until he was 75. An attorney friend of mine practiced law, sat on boards and also a Governor’s taskforce until he passed away in his nineties.

    I had an opportunity to not work for three years beginning when I was 22. I read wherever my interests took me, traveled, studied music, and got plenty of rest, but it got boring at times because most of the time, people were at work.

  70. “Things sure have gone swell since we elected a Democrat majority in Congress. Does anyone remember the euphoria spewing from a certain frequent commenter after the last election? ”

    But we’re a nation enamored of “firsts” and qualified or not, Pelosi filled that need.

    Next up, Barack Obama.

  71. because they forget about all the shit they had to wade through and how bad all the Ramen and Mac and Cheese they ate really was.

    But they were so much freer then…*sigh*

  72. “Now we have had over 70 years of massive federal intrusion into the economy, yet we end up with a bubble that is as bad or worse than the ones we had in the bad old pre New Deal days”

    I have always been pro Old Deal.

  73. One thing is different from earlier bear markets…a lot of the media is really going bats**t.

    This whole thing was caused by a whole bunch of mortgages going delinquent.

    What is the mortgage delinquency rate?

  74. If you want to have some fun with the DOOM! and GLOOM! headlines, head on over to Yahoo news and see how many stories you can count that are accompanied by pictures of worried-looking traders. Most of them look like they were caught in the act of yawning or wiping their face. I wonder how many are old stock photos?

  75. Ha Ha! People said I was stupid to move my funds to a money market account two months ago, and now the stock market’s tanking. Wait, they’re getting bailed out with my tax money? You’ve got to be f*&^ing kidding me.

  76. “Try purging someone with “tenure.” It’s not quick or easy, even when a teacher/professor obviously needs to be fired ASAP.”

    As my Native American ancestors user to say, that’s a load of buffalo crap.

  77. John at 11:21 am
    Right On! There was a commentary by ?John Kay? at the Financial Times about how regulators can’t know the future any better than the CEO’s, don’t get paid as much, and can’t swim against the tide either. As someone who is a bureaucrat, most of the time we don’t know the right answer, and when we do, it is so unpopular we can’t do it anyway (Ask yourself, who was calling for higher interest rates in 2002 – other than Jim Grant??)

  78. “Stocks are on track for their worst year since 1937,” without really explaining what that means.

    Uh, it means exactly what you’d think it means: any broad measure of the US stock market shows valuations have declined more in percentage terms this year than any other since 1937.

    Really awful yearly declines in the S&P 500 since 1950
    2008 YTD: -42%
    1974: -30%
    2002: -23%
    1973: -17%

    Oh come on, under the Clinton White House they actually created a budget surplus

    Really, that’s only if you ignore interest and “other items”, and the vast majority of that came from Social Security surpluses being used to buy government securities. Intergovernmental holdings are a real component of debt, and the national debt has increased steadily ever year for a long time. Clinton was much better budget-wise than Bush, obviously, but declaring a surplus requires some real accounting sleight of hand.

    The media is inevitably wrong about most things and usually when they are saying something the loudest it is wishful thinking and defensiveness on their part because they are seriously worried that their world view is threatened.

    I’d highly recommend any Jim Rogers Bloomberg video (like here). He gets real condescending when interviewers stress that we need to DO SOMETHING.

    People said I was stupid to move my funds to a money market account two months ago, and now the stock market’s tanking. Wait, they’re getting bailed out with my tax money? You’ve got to be f*&^ing kidding me.

    Well, the government’s also guaranteeing up to $3 trillion-ish in money market funds.

    What is the mortgage delinquency rate?

    2-3% are 90-day delinquent.

  79. But on the point of lowering “elite” schools reputations, I couldn’t agree more, and eventually such reputation lowering would have to reflect in faculty salaries, if not job-security. Or they could just go broke & get bailed out by the taxpayers, like their smartest students just did. Sigh.

    Oh, I wasn’t talking about academics per se, but the class of elites they have disgorged into our system who have done such a bang up job.

    Something along the lines of a French Revolution would be a great release of tension right about now, assuming people don’t get so uptight over mob rule and all.

  80. Damn, looking like the DJIA is probably going to close in the 7k’s today.

  81. Or I’m just going to stop making predictions because that shit just jumped 100 points as soon as I posted that wtf.

  82. Bingo,

    Post more! You’ll get us out of this crisis!

  83. The goldbugs are coming out of the woodwork now. BTW, that this rag is showing an ad by G. Gordon Liddy shows that they’ve gone crazy the man is psychopath who tells people to shoot government agents!

  84. These pension funds should never have been held by the originating company. Has Enron not taught a thing or two?

  85. Bingo has doomed us all.

  86. Dooom… Gloooooom….

    *Watches the Dow hit 20,000*

  87. Bingo has saved us all! Woo! Steak and golden showers for everybody!

  88. Uh, that’s not what golden showers means.

  89. It means people are sheep.

    The toughest thing to face for me in all this has been just how much of a sheep I turned out to be.

    What makes it worse is that I don’t have the excuse of not knowing any better.

    Yep. Those of us with negative net worths finally get a chance to laugh.

    Agreed, but only in the sense that I laugh because otherwise I would cry.

  90. Whatever, joe. You don’t know nothing!

    [click, click urbandictionary.com] [search: golden showers]

    Urp. Gack.

    I’ll never look at a tarp on a bed the same way again…

  91. “[click, click urbandictionary.com] [search: golden showers]”

    Women peeing is hot!

  92. I like my urine where it belongs. In balloons flying at Noam Chomsky.

  93. Sugarfree,
    That’s gotta be my favorite slip-up on this thread. I’m never going to forget it. “Golden showers for everybody”. Hee hee. I’ve never really seen the appeal of them, myself.

    Kudos to joe for being the first to point out the faux pas.

  94. However, I’m a big fan of steak.

  95. economist,

    It wasn’t a slip up. I’m just sort of gross. Sorry.

  96. Am I allowed to substitue a different side with my steak? I’ll pay extra.

  97. “Golden showers for everybody”.

    Isn’t that exactly what we’re getting, though?

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