Monday, January 21, 2008

Turbulence expected; the "Fasten seat belt" sign is on

My good stars, that were my former guides,
Have empty left their orbs, and shot their fires
Into the abysm of hell.

Antony and Cleopatra

Further to my posting of Saturday, the financial weather report is calling for a major storm, with downdrafts of 500-plus points on the Dow at the open tomorrow. Did you really think the blowback would never come after years of a bull market based on E-Z credit, people selling off bits of their home equity -- talk about eating the seed corn -- to keep up the buying binge, and stealth inflation?

There is speculation that the Fed will step in with a rate cut of 0.5 or even 0.75 percent before the opening to try to quell the selloff. I don't think it will work, because it will be read as an admission of panic and a sign that things are worse than we imagined. At best it will be a tourniquet, because even if temporarily successful, it will be just more of what got us to this desperate place. The market may be soothed for a few days, but passing around the credit crack pipe cannot substitute for the reform of ends and means in the economy, as I said in the Saturday posting.

What to do if you are heavily invested? Here are my thoughts, for whatever they're worth. [Note: I am not a financial professional and certainly not an investment advisor. Consult your own advisor if you can get through to him or her, and do not rely on anything I say here.]

1. Do not try to front run everyone else. If the institutional money managers are selling tomorrow, you can't get through the door before them. Don't sell after they've done and driven prices to rock bottom. You have nothing to lose by waiting.

2. Either because of a rate cut or a dead-cat bounce, there will probably be an impressive up day sometime this week. If you're going to sell, sell on relative strength.

3. If you're a buyer, don't bottom fish. Wait tell the smoke clears and the view is better. You will have plenty of time, maybe years, for bargain hunting.

4. You've read hundreds of articles telling you not to act on impulse. They're right. Discipline. Have a plan A, a plan B, etc.

Best of American, British, and Irish luck to you!

UPDATE 1/22: No
Götterdämmerung today, just more lousy action, probably while the players try to read the entrails of the Fed's rate cut. I think we'll still see a downtrend for quite a while, but what do I know? No less than any of the experts.


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