Wednesday, March 18, 2020

DOW Breaks 20,000!

I stopped doing this a while back. I had a couple reasons. One was that it was pretty much the same report every time - the market would zoom up or notch back on the what seemed to be the weakest of reasons, and had little enough connections with the functioning of main street, much less Wall Street. We would hit another milestone, the confetti and balloons would drop from the ceiling, some supposed sage heads would tut-tut about a coming "correction" and thing would just go on.

Another reason was the swings have become much more dramatic over time. When I started this, a market surge or drop of 500 points was worth noting. In the past few years, it has become common, and the market extremely volatile, even though it has continued to maintain the upward trend of the past twelve years.

In the past two weeks, that has changed dramatically, and with the arrival of COVID-19, we have gone into a tailspin. Part of it is that at the federal level, we have had a horrible response to the disease, engendering panic in a market that sustains itself on continual growth and good news. But also, at the federal level, we have a pretty empty quiver when it comes to how to handle such an economic situation. We have already given out huge tax cuts (which a lot of firms used to buy back their own stock, a tactic that will someday be taught as being as stupid as buying on margin in 1929). We have already bailed out parts of the economy affected by our bone-headed trade wars. And reducing the lending rate to practically zero only bought us a one-day reprieve before panic has taken hold again and sent us to the present state. For an administration that has used the success of the stock market to offset its own nepotism, incompetency, maliciousness, and authoritarianism, to suddenly have that single aspect of slightly-warped good economic news tank puts them behind the proverbial eight-ball.

The good news (such as it is) is that in the face of the abrogation of federal responsibility, the states and the very corporations that make up the DOW have been stepping up. Washington State has been working to cushion the medical and economic effects of this virus, and has pushed hard for preventive measures to avoid overloading our health care system. Its leaders have been leading, not denying. The state government has put aside funds in a "rainy day" account, and now we are looking a deluge. 

Large corporations have sent their people home to work where they can, and in addition many have seen to help out those small businesses that rely on them and their workers to make their own rent. Small ones have been struggling to keep its workforce paid as their industries are idled.Yes, this is in part enlightened self-interest, in that if everyone gets sick, no one will show up for work, but also in reacting to a this developing threat with positive answers. And lesy you think I have a soft spot for corporations now, there are more than enough mutton-heads in the business community to balance this out.

I have no idea where this goes next. Do we continue the plunge that has wiped out all of the gains since the last inauguration?  Do we suddenly see a rally as the ever-spooked market sees actual improvements in fighting the disease? Will the COVID-19 novel corona virus fizzle out, like SARS did? Will it return in waves, like the Spanish Influenza did a hundred years ago? Is this the newest normal? Regardless, look to the markets as reactive as opposed to determinate, as permanent as a spring breeze, and as reliable as a Facebook meme.

I don't know if I will return to tracking the market. Maybe if it hits 30k again.

More later,

Sunday, March 01, 2020

The Political Desk: Prez Prime Pop-up

Wait a minute, didn't I just VOTE a couple weeks ago?

Yes, yes, I did. And for those keeping score, the Levy for the Kent schools passed, and Chris Porter, beekeeper, got the seat. About ten years ago, only about 4000 people voted in the election, which was generally regarded as dismal and a failure. This time, with the addition of phone tech, they had 6000 people, which was ... still dismal, but improving. Here are some details (Nothing on the KCCD's own site, mind you).

Anyway, no sooner has the dust settled on these minor (minor) elections, then we launch into the March 10th presidential election. And the election book has arrived, with a host of Democrats and one short-fingered vulgarian (one of my favorite ancient insults) running for the GOP. Lemme make some notes here.

All the people running for president on the Democratic party side would make damned fine vice-presidents, including the one that was PREVIOUSLY a Vice President.

Because there is only one candidate on the GOP side of ballot, will there be mischief in Reps voting for Democrats? OF COURSE there will be. The Republicans will want the most beatable Democrat to face off with. The only problem is that every Republican has a different idea of who the most beatable Democrat would be. So it will pretty much spread out.

Will the shooting be over by then? Unlikely. Super Tuesday gets lodged in this week, and that may decide it, but that's unlikely as various candidates get a chunk of the proceedings to render the entire proceedings moot. Similarly, the Washington Primary will not likely get a winner.

This is a real presidential primary, and everyone talks about how this year is a real presidential primary that counts. Previously it had been a toothless beauty contest, the delegates the conventions really selected by caucus, a elbow-throwing political affair for those with the time to engage in it. Democracy, red in tooth and claw. This is an real election, but it comes with an added cost. To vote as a Democrat, you have to declare you're a Democrat, at least for this election. That becomes a part of the public record, and can be accessed by others, including the Democratic party. So if you're a Republican, making trouble in the Democratic primary comes with it a price that you will suddenly get Democrat mailers and phone solicitations. Just warning.

That cuts the other direction, too. The Republican Secretary of State is actually NOT VOTING in the primary, because she would have to publicly declare she was a Republican, and the only Rep on the ballot is Trump. And as the highest-ranking member of the GOP in this state, she really, really, doesn't want to tie herself to that particular anchor.

Now, I'm voting Democratic (quelle surprise!), and have to say from the get-go that I quickly came to conclusion (when there were 20+candidates) that any of them would make a damned fine veep. Yes, including the one with the crystals. Yes, including the one that was a Republican a few years back (The Democratic party is so big-tent they will let Republicans in!). And from there it was a simple realization that, despite all the mud that will be churned up, any one of them would be an improvement over the current squatter the Oval Office right now.  So here's a quick run-down for me.

Michael Bennet - Dropped out. Better than Trump.

Joseph R Biden - Still has the keys from the White House he forgot to return four years ago. Played rascally Uncle Joe to Obama. Current administration really, really wants to gin up a case against him. Better than Trump.

Michael Bloomberg - Billionaire. I mean, real billionaire, as opposed to the multiple bankruptcy guy we have. Has the benefit of representing the class that Trump REALLY wants to like him, but will never like him. Better than Trump.

Cory Booker - Dropped out. Better than Trump.

Pete Buttigieg - Conservative in the way Democrats can be conservative. Young, has more governing experience than the current guy. Better than Trump. [Annnndd ... dropped out].

John Delany - Dropped out. Better than Trump.

Tulsi Gabbard - Dropped out. Better than Trump.

Amy Klobuchar - The Seattle Times likes her. That may or may not make up your mind on her. Still better than Trump.

Deval Patrick - Dropped out. Better than Trump.

Bernie Sanders - He has put in the years, walked the walk, stated out the left of the left wing. Has supporters almost as crazy as Trump's. They're better than Trump. So is he. I like him, but he's not my first choice.

Tom Steyer - The forgotten billionaire. He's also been buying ads during football games. Supports progressive causes. I like him, and am kind of disappointed that he didn't get more traction. What is it, you have be a bozo, a billionaire, AND a New Yorker? Needless to say, much better than Trump. {while writing this, he has dropped out. Still better than Trump.)

Elizabeth Warren - This is my blog, so I have to call it for Ms. Warren. I like here message, I like her background,. I like the way she fights. I will be honest, I am at heart an eat-you-vegetables kind of Democrat. I grumble but I recycle. I complain about taxes but want to make things better for everyone,. I honestly like smart people. So that's what I'm doing - you can do as you see fit, and I'll still like you. And she is so, so, so much better than Trump.

Andrew Yang - Liked him as well. Dropped out. Of course, better than Trump.

So, All of these are capable people. They have experience. They have smarts. Whoever gets the nod will come under fire by the vilest parts of the Trump Party (the Republicans have pretty much ceased to exist except as a venue for graft and corruption). So let's pick the fighters. I'm going with Elizabeth Warren.

More later,