Here at "A Dash" we see the Summer of 2009 as a key time for investors. Doug Kass is calling the summer a "snoozefest" but there has been plenty of action within a broad trading range. Some themes have been working. How shall we find new ones?
We started our summer research by identifying and highlighting the most important issues in a quiz format. (While official entries have closed, you can still benefit from recording your own answers first. As we take up each topic, we will reveal the "official" answers.
Finding the right information is always a big challenge for investors, but the current circumstances have created a perfect storm .
Consider these sources:
- Political pundits. Some want to find any possible basis for criticizing the President. Here at "A Dash" we separate the citizen role from the investor role. We hope to continue our long-term results -- making money regardless of which party is in power. Consider the current dilemma.
- The opposing pundits see no hope for any success.
- The "supporting" pundits think that Obama has not gone far enough.
- The impression for the individual investor is that nothing will work.
Many of these ideas may seem tempting. The results range from heart-felt opinions with an emphasis on one viewpoint, to mistaken information, to blatant misinformation. It is a perfect storm for the average investor -- dubious information from all sides.
Pradeep Bonde, one of our featured sources, made this important point in a recent article:
There is always a bull market in conspiracies.Some of the popular investment blogs are active peddlers of conspiracy theories. In fact if you want to quickly become popular in trading blogosphere you should peddle conspiracies.
The article deserves a wide reading, so check out the whole piece to see if you can guess the leading conspiracies.
Let us illustrate with one example, the Fed's monetary policy.
The many critics suggest that the Fed is making a big mistake. They are "debasing" the currency (this word is always present in the critical commentaries) and they have no exit strategy from their policy of monetizing the debt.
The most aggressive criticism illustrates a spike in the money supply. This accusation comes from a noted political commentator who uses charts with no scales and no background. Many investors watch this information on the original source or on youtube. For those who have no money to invest and merely want reinforcement of their political views, this is good entertainment. Anyone trying to get an investment return, is watching the wrong source.
Who would be better? Try Bob McTeer, another of our featured sources. He has the actual Fed credentials lacked by the wannabe commentators, and he is also a political conservative. As we seek out good sources, we consistently find his observations to be the most sensible and most helpful. Here is what he says about the money supply, a subject where he is an expert.....
The money supply spiked, and then flattened out. Pre-spike until now still gives us pretty big numbers, but they are getting smaller every day. Yet, commentators treat the money growth statistics as if the rapid rise is ongoing.
Turning to the different subject of how to lie with statistics, I've seen lots of graphs lately that have had the horizontal axis squeezed together to produce scary money-growth graphs. The most egregious is probably the graph of the monetary base growth dramatic enough to make You Tube. Shame!
As usual, the entire article is worth reading. More people should read Bob McTeer.
To support the McTeer viewpoint, we need a simple chart. Here it is, from the St. Louis Fed.
There are two obvious conclusions:
- A log scale (showing the true percentage relationship over time) and a bit of history shows a very different picture from that of the critics.
- The money supply spike came at the time of the Lehman failure, not during the Obama administration. The Fed reacted to an emergency, and is now adjusting policy.
There are plenty of things to worry about. Fed policy is not one of them.
Many people need to rebuild their retirement accounts. This means understanding how to interpret information.