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Tariff Tantrum, Stormy Daniels storm clouds lift. Stocks soar, then sink

Written By | Mar 27, 2018
Tariff Tantrum meets Stormy Daniels

Stormy weather. Cartoon by Branco. (Reproduced by permission. See below)*

WASHINGTON, March 27, 2018: As we’ve noted many times before, what a difference a day makes. Pretty much the entire stock market was taken out back and shot last Friday. The Dow closed horribly down, off another 425 points. Surprisingly, stocks snapped right back to life Monday, March 26. That rally took us right back up some 624 points. Reasons? Relief that last week’s Tariff Tantrum was a waste of effort, at least for now. Ditto the Stormy Daniels nothingburger debut on the PornHub CBS “news” magazine show, “60 Minutes.”.

Then again… Well, you’ll see.

Stormy (Daniels) weather?

In addition, according to CNBC’s Jim Cramer, this past weekend’s Stormy Davis storm passed, more or less without incident. At least for now. noted Cramer,

“The stock market was rising sharply early Monday in part because the Stormy Daniels interview on ‘60 Minutes’ did not deliver a ‘knockout blow’ to Donald Trump’s presidency…

“Cramer said speculation that Daniels could show evidence about her alleged affair with Trump knocked a couple hundred points on the Dow Jones industrial average late Friday afternoon, two days before the interviewed aired.

“They didn’t have a tape,” Cramer said Monday on “Squawk on the Street.” “When you saw no tape, what you did was this morning say, ‘OK, let’s go buying opportunity.'” He added the CBS interview with Daniels was probably not “as imperative on the stock market as people might have felt.”

The ongoing Stormy Daniels noise, however, was not and is not as important as the (currently) easing situation with China. That news caused a huge snapback rally, as CNBC duly noted.

“Stocks soared early Monday, with the Dow up more than 500 points at one stage. Tensions also eased on Wall Street after China said it’s willing to hold talks with the U.S. in order to resolve their differences over trade. Meanwhile, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said Sunday he’s optimistic a trade agreement will ultimately be negotiated with China.”

Oh, goody. Let’s all remember, like that great investing sage Yogi Berra once proclaimed, “It ain’t over ‘til it’s over.” The Tariff Tantrum could start all over again if either President Trump or the Chicoms say anything nasty.

Off to a good start on Tuesday, but then . . .

Things began well enough today. Monday’s happy mood seemed ready to carry over to Tuesday morning. This inspired stocks to pick up the rally where they’d left it Monday afternoon. The Dow Jones Industrials quickly blasted higher as did the S&P 500 and the NASDAQ. So much for Stormy Daniels and that Tariff Tantrum.

But wait a minute.

Oops, it’s a couple of hours after the opening bell and tech stocks are getting creamed again. Facebook (symbol: FB) continues to get reviews almost as awful as this year’s Academy Awards show got. Note: The Cambridge Analytica / Facebook data mining brouhaha would have already faded if all this alleged evildoing had transpired during the Obamanation years. (Oh, wait. It actually did.)

But now that the Trump campaign was / is involved, everyone’s back on their trusty #NeverTrump steeds again, riding to the rescue, of what? Obamanation? Tariff Tantrum, Act II? Stormy weather? Sneak attacks by low-flying, invisible birds?

After tariffs, Stormy Daniels, Nvidia and Tesla hit the fan

Making things worse, the stock of high-flying graphics / AI hardware giant Nvidia (NVDA) also took it on the chops. The company announced it would temporarily halt testing self-driving car products. Likely related to the recent fatal Uber test car accident, that news knocked NVDA down nearly 5 percent. The spillover effect hit Tesla (TSLA) as well, hitting that already grossly overpriced stock for a 6 percent loss. This is still the greatest potential short of the year, but we don’t have the guts to do it.

As we’ve been writing this article, circa 3 p.m. ET, the Dow is now plummeting again, led by what seems like the 10th tech massacre this month. The DJIA is off a negative 240 points (-1.0 percent) and sinking fast. The S&P 500 and the tech-heavy NASDAQ are doing even worse, off 1.25 percent and 2.30 percent respectively. It appears that the Tariff Tantrum just got bumped by Tuesday’s renewed Tech Tantrum. Stormy Daniels is nowhere to be seen.

(UPDATE: The Dow closed down nearly 345 points, after coming back from a -500 plus deficit about half an hour before the final bell. The techy NASDAQ, however, was pancaked, off very nearly 3 percent in a single day. This continuing tech selling panic is largely what’s behind the current massive declines in the market.)

Read also: Smasheroo 2! Wall Street pukes, lays its second egg in a row. Dow off 400+

Can anyone get traction in this bi-polar stock market?

Frankly, this bi-polar market is getting pretty tedious for us. It’s silly to imagine that an otherwise highly profitable economic outlook should inspire such fits of negativity. These wild, bi-polar market swings have caused a resurgence in relatively dormant high-frequency trading activity. The headlines swing the averages to and fro, dragging hapless stocks along with them. Stormy Daniels, Tariff Tantrum, this weekend’s DNC / Soros bought-and-paid-for anti-gun Children’s Crusade, you name it. Whipsaw moves in individual stocks are so overdone these days, you just want to walk away from your portfolios for a month or two until the idiots get this stuff out of their system.

The dominant fake news media gets much of the blame for the current nonsense, no matter what all the hotsy-totsy analysts say. If it’s not a Tariff Tantrum, it’s Stormy Daniels. No, it’s White House leaks. Or maybe it’s Mueller’s never-ending quest to charge Donald Trump with something, anything.

Trashing a fairly elected U.S. president 24/7 for aggressively trying to fix, in a year or two, the nearly terminal economic damage inflicted by his likely criminal White House predecessor it not the media’s job. Covering the news is. Instead, the media applies negative spin around the clock to nearly everything this administration does. It’s bound to have an effect, and it does. On the stock market. We saw this during George W. Bush’s two terms. But that seems to have been a pale warm up for what we’re enduring today in The Swamp.

Tariff Tantrum 2. Or 3?

The nonstop political nonsense has been playing out since the February February Wall Street drubbing. That contract hit sent investors the otherwise sensible message endorsing Newtonian physics as it applies to investments. Namely, everything that goes up must come down. But instead of taking that into consideration, markets chose outright mindless panic over orderly conduct.

You never really know the answers when markets get this volatile. Conviction buying and selling is hard to come by. So you waste time staring at your screen, trying to do a Vulcan mind-meld with Mr. Market, failing miserably at every attempt.

That’s because this market remains 100 percent irrational at the moment. You never know what bit of fake news or opinion will piss off nervous investors next. Or fire up another sequel to this month’s Tariff Tantrum.

Worse yet, mom’s not here any more to make it all stop.

So it’s back to the single malt Irish for us this afternoon. Anything to stay sane until the idiots and morons running the show on Wall Street get the anti-Trump hysteria out of their collective system.

Note: Above cartoon by Branco. Reproduced with permission and by arrangement with Legal Insurrection.


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