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Wednesday April 13, 2005 - 10:53:30 GMT
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Schizo bonds equals schizo dollar


“There is more sheer larceny per square foot on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange than any place else in the world.”

Richard Ney, The Wall Street Jungle

Note: Yesterday the SEC arrested traders for most of the major specialist firms on the Street and charged them with manipulating stock prices. Richard Ney exposed the complete and total corruption of the specialist system on the NYSE back in 1970. What did he get for his efforts—blackballed by the financial community and fawning financial press. The specialists through their tight and powerful web of interests have been able to maintain and expand their franchise of legal skimming activities for a long time. Time will tell if yesterday’s “crackdown” by the SEC will change anything. I’m not holding my breath.

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schizophrenia n. a mental disease marked by a breakdown in the relation between thoughts, feelings, and actions.

"The bond market requires a psychiatrist," Advisors Financial Center economist Charles Lieberman told the Journal. He said the rally shows the market "is not always attached to reality."

After watching yesterday’s market reaction I have concluded the market is schizoid. But then again, tend to conclude most market reactions are schizoid. I’m not a psychiatrist (but could probably use a good one many times throughout the trading day). Yet, anyone who’s played this game for a while understands that psychology—and a lot of abnormal psychology at that—is a giant part of it.

Feelings, in the form of sentiment, with the motivators of fear and greed, lead to actions that overwhelm any prior rational thought. Thus we get the crème de la crème of market psychology:

Buy/sell the rumor and sell/buy the news.

1) Yesterday, after a blow out trade deficit for the US, the dollar rallied.
2) After the release of Fed notes showing concern over inflation, bond prices soared.

And of course, the reaction to the release of the Fed minutes led to a re-think on the dollar; it’s now lower against the Aussie, C$, and yen; about even against the euro, Swiss, and pound this morning.

Now here is where the rational part comes in. Using the gift of hindsight, I in this morning analysis/rant will make it all sound perfectly sane. (It’s a common methodology of those with Market Strategist on their business cards; wait for the 20-20 hindsight thing before talking and always sound brilliant. Though I play the Market Strategist in this morning piece, I am not one in real life. I realize frequently strategist and trade are mutually exclusive skill sets. The Strategist is about being right; the trader is about doing right. Being right is about soothing your ego. Doing right is what allows one to retire with real cash.)

If the bond guys are right, it means the Fed is faking it, as we talked about in yesterday’s Currency Currents. It means bonds continue to rally and could lead to a belief:

1) The dollar will lose some yield appeal
2) The reflation trade is back in vogue

But if the bond guys do a rethink; or if the Fed does a pre-emptive attack to force a rethink, than the dollar regains yield appeal and a stake is driven through the reflation trade idea (again). Wow! Schizoid to the max!

Determining the course of interest rates is a tough game—it really is a guessing game. We can pretend we know. And we can provide lucid reasons for our pretense, but we cannot know with any degree of statistical significance to suggest anything more than random luck if we are right. Here is why:

“Money is essentially equipped with a driving force of its own. Even if all actors were to know correctly and completely the quantitative data concerning the changes in supply of money (in the broader sense) in the whole economic system, the dates on which such changes were to occur and what individuals were to be fist affected by them, they would not be in a position to know beforehand whether and to what extent the demand for money for cash holding would change and in what temporal sequence and to what extent the prices of various commodities would change,” wrote Ludwig von Mises in his masterpiece Human Action.

And if von Mises doesn’t know, let’s not kid ourselves into believing we or those with “Market Strategist” written on their business cards know. Let’s just do all we can and the best we can; that we can do: Remain open and play the probabilities.

Jack Crooks


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