WASHINGTON, September 27, 2016 – Proving he is unfit to run for the Presidency, the Maven offers a brief column today, pending a doctor visit for what seems to be an inner ear infection. Thank heaven it’s not a case of Fainting Pneumonia. The Maven’s current ear problem flared up some time last night—perhaps in reaction to what he heard during yesterday evening’s much-touted “Great Debate” between (or among) Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and Clinton aide Lester Holt.
Expecting much, much more given the advance billing, tens of millions of TV viewers departed from their customary Monday Night Football viewing to take in this verbal joust between the Great Deplorable and the Great Prevaricator. The consensus on the show was, more or less, that the first half-hour easily went to The Donald and the second half-hour went to Hillary.
The debate’s third and allegedly deciding half-hour, alas, was a damned mess, objectively leading to what felt like a draw. Yet with “moderator” Lester Holt holding his thumb on the scales throughout—Disadvantage Trump—it’s really hard to claim that anybody won this tangled but fitfully entertaining mess.
We’ll leave the rest of the Monday morning quarterbacking to others, save for noting that the punditocracy predictably gave the victory to a smiling, smirking, condescending Hillary while the bulk of the online instant polls gave the win to The Donald by margins that were nearly as impressive. In other words, half of us still hate the other half while the TV blow-dried media hucksters still love themselves (and their fat salaries) best of all.
Where this all ties in to Tuesday’s trading action is this: Monday’s dismal stock action was being attributed to Trump’s rapid resurgence in the increasingly skewed and unreliable polls—meaning that Wall Street’s and Silicon Valley’s Fat Cats and their Wholly-owned Politicians might soon have to face a new president who owed precisely none of them any allegiance at all. However, directly after last night’s debates, as all those sage TV network-based oracles chimed in to award the debate win to Clinton by a knockout, Tuesday market futures quickly blasted into the stratosphere.
But by this morning, these same futures were negative and stocks opened down before trading further down from there. But, mirabile dictu, as of 1:15 p.m. Tuesday afternoon, all three major averages are trading up around 0.75 percent, with the tech heavy NASDAQ in the lead, currently up 37.85 points. All of which likely means that last night’s debate may have had but a passing influence on the stock market’s trajectory—which trajectory Mr. Market himself has yet to figure out.
So we’ll consign Monday’s political blather to our crowded “Oh well…” Department and leave it there for now, with telecom and tech stocks still taking the lead.
Nothing much again today, as we thin out our failing position in Teekay Tankers (symbol: TNK) a bit more without actually doing much else, although we may trim one of our term preferred stocks, Saratoga Investment Company’s 7.5 percent preferred (SAQ) in case it gets called. Set to officially expire in 2020, these shares have been slowly dropping toward their $25 par value hinting that they might be “called” (redeemed) earlier than their stated maturity date. It’s a dilemma we’ll increasingly be forced to face as many of our high-yielding preferreds will be facing a similar decision time over the next year or two.
The dilemma is this: Do we exit early and book the capital gains while forgoing the kind of massive dividend payouts we may never see again in a lifetime? Or do we simply hold on to the shares and get called? Fortunately, we managed to pick up all but one of the preferred issues we hold at a discount, i.e., below $25 per share, meaning that even if they get called early, we’ll still make a small capital gain. But still, pegged at higher prices now, the capital gain would be bigger if we dumped at least a couple of these positions soon, before that absolutely, positively gonna happen December Fed interest rate increase.
At least our decisions here come down to what level of profit we’re going to accept and when, which is a pretty nice dilemma to have if you’ve ever invested in a portfolio of stocks.
We’ll dither for now, and see if today’s market action continues its upward trajectory or once again sinks back down to earth.
*Cartoon by Branco. Reproduced with permission and by arrangement with LegalInsurrection.