The Impossible-To-Please Markets
Watching the last half-hour of trading on Wall Street today was like watching a football game when your team is ahead by a field goal, you've got the ball and you're trying to run out the clock to keep the other team from getting another chance to score.
All people wanted was for the clock to run out -- for 4 p.m. to arrive -- with the markets back in positive territory.
Though it was was not to be so -- the other team got the ball and scored the winning touchdown -- the Dow ended up closing down "only" 128 points, or 1.4 percent.
The S&P 500 closed down a little more than 1 percent and the Nasdaq actually closed up .3 percent.
All of which, these days, counts as a victory.
Especially after the Dow plunged 500 points in the moments after opening, launching a 1,015-point swing -- the most volatile trading day in the Dow's history.
Prior to the late rally, it was the worst week in the history of the Dow. Worse than the 1929 crash, worse than any other.
The markets right now seem to be responding only to expectation and hope of what may come, not reality.
The markets surged when it looked like a bailout would come from the government. Then, when the bailout became a reality, the markets tanked.
The markets cried for a rate cut and went up when it looked like they could get one. Then, when major economies around the world linked arms and actually cut rates, Wall Street shrugged.
Today, analysts were saying the last-hour rally may be attributable to this weekend's G7 summit and the hope -- the hope -- that some further coordinated global relief could come.
In short, the markets are acting like Lotharios who find their thrill in the getting, not the having, of romantic interests. It's all about the chase and the promise. Once gained, the prize inevitably disappoints.
So at least now we know what we're dealing with: A hormone-fueled, 19-year-old college kid.
-- Frank Ahrens
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