Stocks confused: Mt. Gox goes dark; Ukraine, Turkish lira deteriorate

Bitcoin paper wallet image. (Via Wikipedia)

WASHINGTON, February 26, 2014 – Not much to report this afternoon as numerous disturbing stories have been launched, but none happen to be nearing a conclusion. As a result, by mid-afternoon, Wall Street can’t make up its mind whether to go up or down or decisively overcome its current, Hamlet-like deliberation over whether to head for new highs or go back to tanking like it did in January.

Ukrainian demonstrators last month in Kiev. "Pooty-poots" is up to no good here. Appeasement, anyone? (Image via Wikipedia)
Ukrainian demonstrators last month in Kiev. “Pooty-poots” is up to no good here. Appeasement, anyone? (Image via Wikipedia)

Key issues: Putin is up to his predictable thug activity in the Ukraine. Watch him subdivide that hapless country however he sees fit, à la former Soviet Georgia. At the same time, watch Obamanation and the Euros go “Tsk, tsk,” and do nothing to make Putin pay for this virtually certain land grab, his latest Hitler-style aggression in a sequence meant to re-establish the old U.S.S.R.

We don’t use the Hitler meme lightly here. We use it because the West is likely to pull another Chamberlain appeasement maneuver, like they did when Putin cut off a chunk of Georgia. They never, ever learn that you don’t appease or the other side will help itself to more. The markets know what this all means and they’re not liking it.

In Turkey, in spite of the government’s attempts to pooh-pooh the issue, it’s clear that there’s been graft and malfeasance at the top, and the government is trying to suppress discussion of the issue. (Sound familiar?) As a result, the Turkish lira is again under pressure. The Turkish economy is no pipsqueak. If violence ensues as it has elsewhere in the world, markets will quickly succumb to the pressure.

Meanwhile, in that happy, mythical Japanese Bitcoin Realm known as Mt. Gox, this largest of bitcoin exchanges, has “gone dark,” according to a number of sources. (See related CDN story for more detan is that the Kingdom of Bitcoin has apparently been hacked, big-time, and a good many “wallets” may in fact be virtually or really empty. (See related CDN story for more details.) 

Turkish lira in trouble? Could be. (Image via Wikipedia)
Turkish lira in trouble? Could be. (Image via Wikipedia)

We’ve been skeptical of this weird bitcoin game all along—no real controls or authority—plus, we can’t really believe that “legitimate” governments are going to allow this little scam experiment to continue.

As evidence—the FBI is investigating Mt. Gox and other stuff. Bitcoin to us has always reminded us of “Farmville,” except, somehow, people thought the money was actually real. Maybe it was and maybe it wasn’t, but a lot of it appears to have vaporized which should, in turn, be a tonic for gold which itself was under pressure today due to profit-taking from the recent rally.

So, how much are your virtual bitcoins worth today? (Image via Wikipedia)
So, how much are your virtual bitcoins worth today? (Image via Wikipedia)

All this has not been positive for the market tone today, as stocks rallied somewhat yet again this morning, only to be met with determined selling this afternoon which is pretty much what’s been happening lately as retail seems to snap up the goods which the pros happily sell to them at inflated prices. “So long, suckers,” the pros seem to be saying. Maybe we’d better listen to them and consider exiting early ourselves. The “sell in May” rush, we still fear, may get started way early this year.

Today’s trading tips

Precisely none. Except that, if a couple of your investments have had a good run, now might be the time to lighten up a bit and pocket the change. But don’t get involved in bit coins. Unless you believe in unicorns, too. There are better ways to Go Galt than this.

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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 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