I have been catching up on my reading after being gone nearly the entire month of July. Earlier this week I commented on the turmoil in the markets and this last week did not disappoint. The S&P started the week at 1198, closed at 1178…if you didn’t tune into the financial networks or read the paper, you would have thought it was a mildly bad week. The reality is the absolute high was 1199 and the low 1101…a full 8.2% swing! I was particularly amused by a “special” daily CNBC broadcast called “The Markets in Turmoil”. When they cut to commercial the music sounded like something out of The Omen…it totally cracked me up. By my recollection, the markets went through similar up and down gyrations before water falling down in the fall of 2008.
In all of my reading, the item that most caught my eye is the attack on Standard & Poors by Washington DC for downgrading the US from AAA to AA+. They are now being investigated by Congress and the SEC for a “politically motivated” decision. How sad…it is no surprise to me that in Washington, the first reaction is politcal…God forbid they actually considered the underlying facts rather that how this interrelates to the next election cycle. The Democratic/ Liberals will vilify anyone who disagrees with their policies and the Republican/Conservatives will leverage all they can into the election next year. Neither party really wants to face the facts.
The ironic thing is Standard & Poors was investigated and demonized for being late to the party in downgrading subprime debt in 2005-2007, which led to the last crisis in 2008-2009. Now they are being punished for actually doing their jobs and giving fair and level-headed analysis on the debt and deficits that the US now has embedded into its fiscal picture for the foreseeable future! Again, not a suprise…the politicians in Washington only know how to spend money (to buy more votes), they have no idea how to create a long-term balanced approach to our Country’s finances and success.
Keep an eye on Europe…if the US is AA+, then France cannot be AAA. The European Monetary Union has a real mess on its hands and it is headed to the breaking point. It will be interesting to see how it all plays out and ultimately what Germany decides to do. Will they bail out the rest of the EU on the backs of their own citizens? There is clearly no compass or playbook for the road we are on.
Have a great week…..