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Crude oil up, stocks flat, so millennials need to buy stuff

Written By | Aug 9, 2016

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M., Aug. 8, 2016 — Columns have been a bit sparse over the last week or so due to our excellent New Mexico sojourn, which wraps up tomorrow morning at the Albuquerque Sunport at 4:30 a.m. MDT when we queue up at the security line for our flight back to Sin City, aka Washington, D.C.

For years, wags have joked that another great American City, Cleveland, Ohio, is “the Mistake on the Lake.” Well, we’re not particularly looking forward to our return to “Baghdad on the Potomac.” So it goes.

Meanwhile, back on Wall Street—whose manipulated shenanigans we’ve mostly avoided whilst attending the Santa Fe Opera and other events—continued Monday to be, well, manipulated once again as stocks and stock groups continued to rotate for no particular reason.

After what seems like an eternity of dribbling down in price, WTI crude oil futures caught a bid, closing up nearly 3 percent at $43.02 per barrel on rumors that OPEC might actually do something about stabilizing oil prices.

That idiotic hope is roughly parallel to the kind of hope that always arises when Mario Draghi “might” do something to stabilize the euro and the eurozone. But as we’ve learned, we can’t really live on “hopium” in either case, though it’s pretty to think so. All of which is probably why all three U.S. averages ended up at the close not with a bang but a whimper.

Supposedly, markets really react to earnings. If that’s the case, more earnings are due out tomorrow, which may move the needle a bit more one way or the other. But there’s not much else going on of much significance, unless you’ve been enjoying the 24/7 NBC-CNBC-CNN-MSLSD ad hominem onslaught against Donald Trump.

You’d like to think that someone in NBC’s front offices would be getting a little embarrassed over this endless water-carrying for Her Hillaryness. But then again, when did a wealthy socialist ever get embarrassed about anything? Network news has become a laughable disgrace over the last couple of decades, but the blow-dried idiots and sexpots with perfect teeth are still hauling in the big bucks. The Maven often wonders where he went wrong in life when he watches this sorry spectacle.

Back in D.C., you’d think the Federal Reserve would get a little embarrassed, too, over their too-obvious buying and selling (mostly buying) in this market, something they’ve never publicly disclosed even though it’s painfully obvious that no one else is buying stocks. But the U.S.A. of 2016 more closely resembles the Bizarro World of Superman Comics, so what can you expect?

Since we’re in full rant mode this evening, we thought we’d share with you a choice observation that appeared in a ZeroHedge piece today that buttresses our Bizarro World observation. As always with Zero, bold text and other eccentricities are unedited here. Describing a CNBC video, “Tyler Durden” opines:

The following five minutes of fantasy should blow most people’s minds. On the one hand, a “veteran” Wells Fargo asset manager urges Millennials living paycheck-to-paycheck to save “just $26 a week will get to $1 million… because time is on your side.” And on the other hand is a Millennial ‘guru’ who proclaims Millennials should ‘spend now and save later…”

The confusion builds as the “guru” tries to explain how to travel the world, experience “stuff,” and enjoy life more is achievable with no money… simple — millennials are getting married later”??

Enjoy 5 minutes of sheer nonsense that sums up the world that The Fed and Obama have created – no consequences, no accountability, and no responsibility… because, after all, isn’t it every young Americans’ right to do whatever they want whenever they want and if they doesn’t work out, hey the government’s got you covered!!

Neither ZH nor CNBC verbiage actually mentions the names of Dumb and Dumber here, but we’ve ID’d them as Wells Fargo “retirement expert” Joe Ready and “human behavior scientist” and CEO of “The Influencers,” John Levy. (View the Levy video here.)

Ready, of course, misses the obvious.

  1. What in Hades will that $26 per week be worth 40 years from now even with the interest no one is paying on it?
  2. How many millennials–whose degrees seem to primarily involve major, in-demand skill sets like feminist studies, ethnic studies, queer studies and crap studies–actually take home enough pay to save $26 per week, particularly after buying the latest iPhone?

Ready also misses the fact that, according to TheStreet, “A Wells Fargo study shows that most millennials don’t believe they could ever save a million dollars.”

As for Levy’s asininity, Zero has already commented on it more eloquently than the Maven ever could.

Some days, you wonder why you get up in the morning. This Monday was one of them.

Trading diary

Since we’ve been on a working holiday out in the desert Southwest, we haven’t tinkered with the portfolio, which is just as well. After endless gyrations, we’re still about where we were when we left DC.

Our Teekay Tankers (symbol: TNK) took another shellacking before launching yet another feeble recovery, and, after exciting us with a move that took it over $900 per share, our Allergan Preferred (AGN/PRA) has been in smackdown mode, heading back down close to the $866 we initially paid when we started buying it.

The latter move was apparently attributable to the earnings of parent Allergan (AGN) of $3.35 per share with profits easily beating analyst estimates although actual revenues didn’t quite measure up. Earnings are what count for the Maven, but apparently it was smackdown time today as we’ve already noted, so AGN got whacked, and so did the preferred. The latter move makes zero sense, as the preferred will be redeemed in less than two years at $1,000 per share while currently paying out a nifty 6 percent (more or less) dividend.

But then again, it’s a Bizarro World where the government buys stocks hand over fist with pretend money, where today’s allegedly educated kids can’t make any money (and therefore vote socialist), where investors have left the building, where “journalists” are highly paid cheerleaders for America’s Communist Party and where investment gurus prattle on, betraying their ignorance with every word. If the Maven weren’t essentially a cockeyed optimist, he’d be deeply, deeply depressed.

We’ll be up in the air tomorrow. Maybe stocks will be, too. Or maybe not.

Terry Ponick

Biographical Note: Dateline Award-winning music and theater critic for The Connection Newspapers and the Reston-Fairfax Times, Terry was the music critic for the Washington Times print edition (1994-2010) and online Communities (2010-2014). Since 2014, he has been the Senior Business and Entertainment Editor for Communities Digital News (CDN). A former stockbroker and a writer and editor with many interests, he served as editor under contract from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and continues to write on science and business topics. He is a graduate of Georgetown University (BA, MA) and the University of South Carolina where he was awarded a Ph.D. in English and American Literature and co-founded one of the earliest Writing Labs in the country. Twitter: @terryp17