Malaise? Jimmy Carter the 2nd? Or a More Severe Problem…..AA+ Ouch!!

I submit to you my friends that there is far more at play here than what your CNBC reporter is peddling to you.  Herewith is my attempt to bring a little clarity to a most serious situation, yet a most curable problem. Let us begin with what I believe is at the core of the current market meltdown.   Please recall our ” Leaders ” in action during the  recent debt ceiling negotiations.  Aside from the fact that they will now put an additional  $2+ trillion on the AMEX card in the next two years which in itself is bad enough, but from my perspective as a market observer for many years I  tend to view this in a slightly different light.  The utter shamelessness and outright demagoguery let alone a classic missed opportunity to actually achieve something worthy and with merit is purely disgusting in my opinion.  This is not lost on investors both large and small, witness the daily selloff for two consecutive weeks.  An absolute and worldwide lack of confidence in leadership is of severe reason for concern.  Our leaders appear petty, clueless, vindictive and unwilling to put the nation first with actual solutions that work.  I have many to offer, yet have not heard a one from D.C..   This my friends is problematic as it is confidence that leads a market and spurs economic activity. This lack of confidence has also shaken investors to the core. After all it is the US consumer that makes up over 70% of our economy.  I know when I lack confidence and visibility, I do not invest, spend or enjoy.  This has a contracting effect on GDP and I venture a supposition that most of you feel the same.  Also lost in the cloud of the  debt talks were the quietly reported figures on GDP.  On the day the President quietly and without the usual rose garden fanfare signed the bill in his office, well  that same morning the GDP was reported at 1.3% for Q2 and Q1 was revised down to 0.4%.  Absolutely devastating and the selloff has continued ever since. Add in the weak job market performance and it is simple to see why investors are worried. To sum things up… weak economy, weak jobs,  toss in massive borrowing and most wasteful and unproductive spending and here we sit.  I almost find it ironic in what Russian Czar Mr. Vlad Putin recently said, ” The US is a parasite on the world economy with all the borrowing it does” . Ironic because of who said it, but I can’t argue with the man.  This my friends is a royal first for yours truly to admit agreement an ideological opposite. But as the old saw goes ” when the US sneezes, the rest of the world catches a cold”.  So Putin is only mildly correct on his assessment.  I submit to you that the world has had the flu for quite some time now.  Witness Europe in its current state of basket case.  Now that is a problem.  Witness Japan with a debt to GDP three times our level and with an aging population to boot and that is a problem.  How about the rising star of China?  I will elaborate in more detail in a later column but suffice to say they have Banking issues that makes us look almost solvent.  So as you see we are truly a global economy and repercussions abound regardless of where the problem begins.  I take comfort in living in the USA as irrespective of what ails us, we have a spirit which can bring us back where we need/want to be.  The title of the column mentions malaise to describe a similar period in the late 70’s.  It literally felt the same as today and the leaders were equally incompetent at the time.  As history proves a successor leader arrived and implemented new and workable policies and before long we received GDP figures in the 7% range.  So I say to you be strong and patient.  Invest prudently towards a brighter future and don’t allow the professionals to steal your shares cheaply in an engineered panic. If you buy at the right price in any asset class, then you should be able to weather the storm clouds.  In other words,  buy bargains as you would any home appliance thus avoiding the ” buy high sell low ” syndrome which fear can produce.  And always keep some cash on the table for the hurricane which allows you to buy your favorite firms at a discount.  And finally, watch the fundamentals and do your homework. At the end of the day, the final and most needed solution to all our ills is a healthy growth rate averaging in the 4% level and as the worlds largest economy the USA must sustain that level on an ongoing basis.   The rest of the world will thrive and recover as well. We are in a position in need of sound economic policies which can assure this pace.  We are not receiving them from our leaders as they are clueless or naive  in the area of economics  or wedded to failed ideologies and not wise or courageous  enough to change course.  Hence it is time for new leaders. A better day will ensue.

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