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Pope Benedict resigns. Will markets, DC elites take the hint?

Written By | Feb 11, 2013

WASHINGTON, February 11, 2013 – Switching on the radio early this AM, the nominally Roman Catholic Maven was stunned to learn that Pope Benedict XVI, 85, announced his resignation from the Papacy as of the end of this month. There’ll be a brief interregnum to give the Vatican time to arrange the usual mass gathering of cardinals who’ll gather in Rome to achieve consensus and name Benedict’s successor.

Benedict’s resignation is scarcely unprecedented. As we recall, at least one pope previously resigned his position. About 600 years ago. That said, Benedict’s resignation is apparently based on the fact that his advancing age and increasingly frail health have severely impaired his ability to conduct the kind of evangelistic, activist papacy pioneered by his immediate predecessor, the dynamic John Paul II. Benedict also likely recalls the waning years of John Paul’s papacy, marred by his own obviously declining health.

In other words, based on what he’s seen and experienced, Benedict arrived at the rational decision that he had reached the end of his earthly and pastoral effectiveness. So he’s chosen to bow to reality and allow the papacy to be reinvigorated with new blood.

We dwell on this at length because there’s a lesson here and it’s not just for Catholics. We all have a certain portion of time on this earthly sphere to do our best and accomplish that which we’ve set out to do. But both age and the concurrent passage of time eventually dictate that we step aside at some point, allowing fresh blood—and fresh eyes—to take over and move things wherever the next generation needs to go.

As we pondered the pope’s decision this morning, it occurred to us that both Wall Street and political Washington could benefit from a similar examination of conscience. After generations of increasing—and failing—incremental socialism in this country, it should have become apparent by now that this philosophy has reached the deadest of dead ends. Deprived of its growth engine by Great Depression II, America’s faux socialists have reached the end of the line for their seemingly never-ending Robin Hood game.

The only “rich” that are left in this country, percentage-wise anyway, are DC’s mostly Democrat fat cats and the Wall Street fat cats who keep them in office, the better to dispense taxpayer supported welfare to this country’s major corporations. This elite cadre, supported by their sycophants and minions in academia, entertainment, and the media, no longer possess the objectivity to recognize that, while they may be able to prolong it a bit, their game is over and it’s time for them to move on.

But, like traditional popes, or, for that matter, like long-ruling monarchs such as Great Britain’s Queen Victoria or QE II (as opposed to Ben Bernanke’s QE3), the elites hold on to power and influence seemingly oblivious to the permanent economic ruin they’re leaving behind. It’s time for them to look, listen, and observe what’s going on in the Vatican. When it’s time to move on, it’s time to move on. You’re doing no favors by hanging in there as your ability to effect lasting fiscal and societal improvements is clearly on the wane.

Meanwhile, we’ll always have the trading week. After a mediocre, blizzard-freaked-out Friday, Wall Street looks to open robustly again this morning, with futures up all around at least as of 8 a.m. EST.

As our regular readers know, we’re getting increasingly nervous here and have been paring back most positions. Most traditional indicators are getting toppy, which means it’s at least correction time, the pause that refreshes in any kind of bull market, real or not. Actually, what made us really nervous was an article in this morning’s Wall Street Journal (behind a pay wall) whose headline trumpeted the distinct possibility that the current 2013 bull might very well be a marathon rather than just a sprint. We spot overconfidence and even a bit of dreaded hubris in assertions like that—something that makes us even more nervous than the dunderheadedness in Washington as Fiscal Cliff II: The Sequester draws ever nearer.

Also disconcerting is the Democrats’ continuing unconcern about having a budget. We now hear that the President plans to have his (likely DOA) budget ready for Congress after March 1. In other words, the President doesn’t want to involve himself in budget matters until after he’s inflicted massive political damage on the Republicans for whatever Fiscal Cliff II nonsense lies ahead.

The chutzpah here would normally seem breathtaking, but we’ve seen it too many times now from this President to expect anything less. Even in the heat of battle, both the Clintonistas and the Bushies always plopped their massive Presidential budget proposals on Congressional desks by the traditional first week of February. (The Maven knows this, because he worked on science budget and policy documentation as an outside contractor under both administrations.)

All of which leads us back to our original thought: time for this entire crew, as well as major financial CEOs headquartered in New York, to hand in their resignations and just re-boot the whole darned economy before there’s no economy left to reboot.

Meanwhile, we’ll see just how much further Wall Street heads into Cloud Cuckoo Land this morning. Back tomorrow.

Disclaimer: The author of this column maintains several active trading and investment portfolios and owns residential and investment real estate.

Any positions mentioned above describe this author’s own investment decisions and should not be construed as either buy or sell recommendations. The current market is highly treacherous and all investors travel at their own risk, so caution should be exercised at all times.

Illustrations, charts, commentary, and analysis are only the author’s view of current or historical market activity and don’t constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any security or contract. Views, indications, and analysis aren’t necessarily predictive of any future market or government action. Rather they indicate the author’s opinion as to a range of possibilities that may occur going forward.

References to other reporters, analysts, pundits, or commentators are illustrative only and do not necessarily represent an endorsement of such individuals’ points of view. If specific investment vehicles are mentioned in any ar500ticle under this column heading, the author will always fully disclose any active or contemplated investments in said vehicles.

Follow Terry on Twitter @terryp17


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