WASHINGTON. We’ve been AWOL a bit this week because the stock market has been relatively boring. Which, after December’s bloodbath, is actually a good thing. But despite the relatively placid Wall Street trading action, weirdness bubbles just beneath the surface. First of all, Sears lives. For now. And CPUSA House member Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (aka, AOC) is virtually certain to join the House Financial Services Committee. And Nancy Pelosi has urged President Trump to skip his State of the Union Address, scheduled for January 29. Because government shutdown.
FLASH! Sears lives!
We repeat: Sears lives! Sort of. Eddie Lampert – the guy who formerly owned and ran Sears and K-Mart into the ground – has prevailed upon what’s left of the company to accept his revised auction bid and sell the retail hunk of junk back to him. The stated goal: to re-animate that colossal wreck. The likely goal: to peddle all the living dead retailer’s still highly valuable real estate off to the highest bidder(s). Which, we think, was Lampert’s original goal anyway.
The presiding judge in the bankruptcy case needs to give the deal his final stamp of approval before it’s a done deal. And approval isn’t certain, because Sears creditors are still grumbling. They no longer trust Lampert for a square deal, for some strange reason.
At any rate, we should have a final temporary verdict on Sears stores, (No details on the even more wretched K-Mart franchise.) So we shall see. But in 21stcentury retail, like many other sectors, either you move fast to make the trend your friend, or the zeitgeist will move you right out of the way and into the dustbin of history.
But if Sears lives, how long does Sears live?
The fate of Sears, while no longer big-time enough to disrupt markets much, still amounts to an overhang on the retail sector. As what’s left of Sears’ competition gradually ebbs, even greater pressure will build on surviving retailers, given the already monstrous footprints of Amazon (trading symbol: AMZN), Walmart (WMT), Costco (COST) and just a few others. We’ll see how that works out in FY 2019.
At any rate, apparently, Sears lives. At least for a little while longer. We’ll see if anyone shops at Sears after the smoke and the bargain basement specials come to an end. (Or maybe they’ll institute Blue Light Specials.) How much longer Sears lives beyond the next month or so remains an open question.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez all set to harass US banks. Can we bear the excitement?
Back in Washington, we have a delightful double play in politics. First of all, Washington’s newest and youngest CPUSA Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is dancing about with joy like some sprightly Ariel. Her happy dance is apparently occasioned by her apparently certain appointment to the all-new business- and banking-hostile House Financial services committee. Wouldn’t you know, Auntie Maxine Waters now chairs that committee.
“Freshman U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is almost certain now to be seated on a powerful committee that will oversee Wall Street and the rest of the banking industry.
“The firebrand New York Democrat needs just a rubber stamp vote to get named to the House Financial Services Committee, according to a Bloomberg report citing sources familiar with the matter. The report indicated that the move is almost certain after getting a recommendation from a steering panel.
“Addressing the situation on Twitter, Ocasio-Cortez herself acknowledged the appointment, saying she is ‘looking forward to digging into’ various finance-related issues such as student loans and postal banking.”
A Washingtonspeak interlude
For those uninitiated into the intricacies of Washingtonspeak, “digging into” means that the business-hating lefties now running this committee will be grandstanding conducting Star Chamber-style hearings intended to smear anyone associated with the banking or financial services industries that makes money. The Honorable Ms. Ocasio-Cortez frolics on. We hope the designated victims enjoy squirming in the spotlight, courtesy of the party they regularly, lavishly and foolishly support. Elections really do have consequences, don’t they?
Government loan sharks set to go postal?
About that “postal banking” stuff? Here’s an even better idea from the new crop of Commies who plan to dominate the House for the next two years. Even old-time Democrats will love this one.
“Postal banking likely will become a significant issue in the days ahead and particularly once the campaign heats up for the Democratic presidential nomination that will be decided in 2020.
“Progressives have been voicing support for a plan in which the U.S. Postal Service would provide multiple banking services, like small-dollar loans and check cashing. Payday lenders have been targeted in the movement for charging what can be exorbitant interest rates on short-term financing.”
In other words, let’s put all those hated private sector loan sharks and payday lenders right out of their immoral business and let the USPS handle it. That way, the 30+ percent interest rates and fees the Dems profess to hate can go right into the Federal coffers to buy more Democrat votes and ballot box stuffing instead of into the pockets of all those filthy capitalists that run the current system. Would this be, effectively, a “regressive tax”? Who cares? It’s the right thing to do! We can afford it!
Better than Hillary
Conservatives and left-liberals alike will enjoy the one-sided financial combat in the days and months to come, though for entirely different reasons. Meanwhile, Ocasio-Cortez will no doubt get plenty of camera time for her entertaining, thoughtless, but unbearably cute Commie diatribes. No doubt we’ll need to pass a Constitutional amendment – soon – to enable this under 35-year old American “patriot” to run for President in 2020. Because fairness. The media apparatchiks will demand it.
Meanwhile, anyone investing in the financial sector this year can expect a roller coaster ride in the stock market. The good news: Any nonsense promoted by the Financial Services Committee will have to get through the full House, the Senate and President Trump to become reality. As of now, at least, there’s a fat chance of that.
Say, let’s forget about the POTUS’ SOU address for 2019. Because horrible government shutdown…
Oh, and just to keep the “disastrous” Federal shutdown on everyone’s minds, our newly-minted, back-to-the-future House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has just penned a billet-doux to President Trump discouraging him from delivering his annual State of the Union Address to both houses of Congress on January 29. Even as Sears lives, perhaps the SOU tradition dies this month in D.C., the onetime free speech capital of the world. The excellent new conservative search site Whatfinger headlines this news (as reported by Fox) “Wait of the Union.” Wish we’d come up with that one.
Anyhow, no matter.
As she fiddles with her ill-fitting dentures, Nancy likely reasons that the President’s SOU bristles with danger for the Party of No. Because security measures will be in the hands of Secret Service and Homeland Security employees who aren’t getting paid. And gosh, something awful could happen. And we all know that absolutely no one in the Democrat Party wants anything bad to happen to the Evil Orange Man, right?
Pelosi suggests that President Trump could deliver his address to Congress in a letter, like presidents used to do back in the 19th century. But what Pelosi wants to avoid is the spectacle that the President is likely intending to provide during this year’s address, which will provoke cheers in the joint chamber from his supporters and boos, hisses and rotten tomatoes from carefully-instructed-beforehand Democrats.
Our bet is on Trump to show up and create a far more entertaining – and educational event – than we’re likely to get from this year’s host-less Oscar telecast.
POTUS, SOU and the headline-driven stock market
As entertaining as this event may be, it will also serve to roil the stock market. Again. Proving, as if we needed proof, that headlines will continue to drive stocks up and down in 2019. Until and unless the news media gets back to its onetime job of reporting the news instead of making it by picking sides and encouraging conflict. It would be nice to get back to normal investing, based on things like PE ratios and technical analysis. But alas, the high speed machines and algos don’t like all that hard stuff.
Meanwhile, all major stock averages are up modestly Wednesday as of 1 p.m. The VIX volatility measure is almost back to normal. And all is apparently well. Except that the McClellan Oscillator is way overbought, and something political is bound to boil over when we least expect it.
Keep calm. All is well.
— Headline image: Cartoon by Branco. Reproduced with permission and by arrangement with Comically Incorrect.