Dec

31

 Nothing that worked recently worked today. And that could be the theme for the year. As always, standing on the head, upside down — the way all visitors below 60 must perambulate in my house if they don't care to take their shoes off – was the best procedure. The market went up 20 points on the first day of the year after about the worst year in history. And then it went down 15 points the last day of the year after about the best year in history.

The market finally went down a reasonable percentage after failing to do so for a couple weeks. Reminiscent of what my wife Susan said to me about the 1987 Crash — at least we won't have to worry about truncating the prices (to fit as two-byte integers) in the Radio Shack TRS-80. The last two weeks were good because you didn't have to change the settings of the Old Faithful program developed here 30 years ago (and now, ruefully, the beaten path). You didn't have to change the settings for the extremes as every day this month was yet another 20 period high.

But it was good for those standing on the head to see stocks go down while oil and copper set a new high. And also to see the yield on the 10 year head inevitably to the magic number of 4%, closing at 3.84% and the 30 year bond heading to the magic number of 5%, closing at 4.75%. But squash isn't played that way, as Rainer liked to say. Bonds and stocks are supposed to move inversely.

What a magic moment it will be when yields hit those magic numbers. Perhaps it will finally prove correct, all those who say you can't create jobs by breaking a window and repairing it, or digging holes in the desert, or in this case taking from Peter to provide energy efficient buildings in essential building provided for our infrastructure. On a more down to earth level, one wonders how, if the most solid borrower of all is paying 5% for debt, a mortgage purveyor might require 6% or more. Would that not put a damper on the sector of the economy that involves building?

In keeping with topsy turvy, it is fitting that the two best performing industries in 2009 out of 150 in the S&P grouping were healthcare, up 369%, and automobiles, up 229%, with real estate up 214%, fourth out of 150. The vision of Brer Rabbit comes back: "please, whatever you do, don't pass that health care bill. It will put us out of business." Indeed, Uncle Remus was the best forecaster of all this year besides Bacon, as you had to be adept at begging and shnerring to reap the full monte from your past or futures.

Let us hope, as an astute and good friend said to me, that all your trades next year be winners, and that the opposite side will be taken by… (we will not finish that sentence).


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