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Dull Monday market action. ‘Waiting for Godot’ on Covid, budget issues

Written By | Dec 7, 2020

WASHINGTON – Nothing much to say today, as dull Monday market action on US exchanges danced to a familiar “Waiting for Godot” tune. Investors seemed focused on the iffy resolution of US Covid policies and Congressional dithering on dealing with Federal budget issues. Both issues could have been avoided if Election 2020 hadn’t been so obviously gamed. But right now, the Washington Powers That Always Want to Be continue to jockey for political advantage. So no definitive answer on either front appears forthcoming. What a mess.

Investors await information that can make or break their investments. Washington could care less…

Joe Biden’s “big win” is still hung up on the Trump Administration’s fully justified vote challenges in several major state tallies. And justifiably so, since impossibilities about in those “final” tallies. Problem is, the GOP was unprepared for the sheer massiveness of the obvious voter fraud. But an army of Trump lawyers can’t get a break either from Republican state legislators or pretty much any judge in the US state and Federal court systems.

They’re all playing a game of chicken and avoidance, knowing full well that if they throw out the fraud and award Trump the election he clearly won, Antifa / BLM will commence to burning all major cities in the US to the ground. And they won’t be wearing masks, either, during those ready-to-launch “peaceful protests.”

As feckless politicians, bureaucrats and judges at all levels thwart the Trump team’s challenges with a game of keep-away geared to run down the election year clock, investors in US stocks keep bidding them up, hoping that all will be well. It won’t. And when investors figure that out, the carnage could be frightening.

Hopium was in short supply during today’s dull Monday market action

That’s why we get days like today, with investors essentially pulling out of profitable positions, perhaps booking some year-end tax loss sales, but still waiting for signs that a budding Santa Claus Rally will soon re-ignite. Big time.

But we learned over the years that Hopium is the rarest of Earth’s elements. Optimists won’t be filing new claims for that ore any time soon.

Also Read: Bullish but inconclusive: Friday stock market action remains puzzling

So that’s why we get things like dull Monday markets. As drama fans learned long ago, “Waiting for Godot” is a fool’s game, because Godot never shows up. Similarly, a satisfying, definitive answer to the Election 2020 travesty will never show up, either, because no one in officialdom wants to make a decision that they feel would automatically threaten their homes and their families. Which shows you how far the US has sunk since Barry Obama occupied the White House throne room.

Investors actively fear a full-scale revolt, and so the dithering and the “Waiting for Godot” re-enactment continues. Problem is, most of us already know how this play ends.

Interactive Brokers, Robinhood were down for the count Monday

Further complicating the dull Monday action: a big, persistent computer outage.  A pair of popular, nontraditional brokerage firms lay at the root of the problem.  This time, Interactive Brokers and the notorious Millennial gambling haven known as Robinhood found themselves in major glitch territory. ZeroHedge was on the case.

“Another day, another chaotic open to the US cash markets (with Nasdaq soaring against Small Caps slumping)… and another major outage for retail traders.

“Interactive Brokers confirms a significant failure in multiple segments of a data storage system, working on recovery and are rerouting to backup centers; expects a “prompt recovery”

“And shortly after IBKR’s outage, Robinhood went down…

“Volumes are noticeably lower today amid the outages, one contact highlights that e-mini S&P futures volumes are lower by around 30%.”

That made today’s mediocre action (or lack thereof) even worse. It’s been our experience that when volumes are low, most moves in individual stocks, whether up or down, are suspect.

Which means, in the end, that today’s dull Monday markets on all exchanges might have amounted to a head fake.

In conclusion…

2020 has been a hell of a time for rational investors. And it looks like you can take that observation to the bank for the rest of the year. Things are bad enough with Executive Branch and Congressional uncertainties. If things go against the way Wall Street bigwigs claim they’re going, any and all bets are off. But right now, we’re still “Waiting for Godot.” And his friends, if he still has any.

Let’s get a good night’s sleep and try this game tomorrow.

– Headline image: Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart in a Broadway production of Samuel Beckett’s absurdist drama, “Waiting for Godot.” (Image via Wikipedia entry on the play, CC 2.0 license)


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