testI've been a little cranky this holiday season.
Maybe it's been seeing my peers hunched over their computer screens going, "Oh my God! I've got to sell these stocks. But I'm waiting for the year-end rally."
Maybe it's the fact that people in Silicon Alley are no longer talking about the next great start-up due in the spring.
Or maybe it's because I think Jim Carrey is really wasted in movies like The Grinch or that over-conceptualized monster The Truman Show.
Now, I’ve got the post-holiday post-Greenspan rally blues. Regular readers of OnMoney.com will remember that back in November, Jim Ridgeway and I predicted that Greenspan would do something melodramatic fairly soon, and that any action short of a several percentage point drop would prove ineffectual. (See Is The Sky Falling? ) For once, being right has not made my day.
And since the Street has already baked substantial additional rate decreases into
The markets have unparalleled power at the present moment, and with that should go some public scrutiny, more than someone on CNBC wanting to know if profit targets will better the whisper numbers next quarter.
The big Wall Street players can do many things the individual investor cannot do, even with a Level II Nasdaq screen. The pros go off the radar screen when they trade, and execute large orders through intermediaries called "execution shops" that move quickly and discreetly on their behalf around the world. This transaction laundering is essential to their black-box strategies' success.
Ironically, the substantial volatility in markets today, obviously set to increase as the Tech Correction of 2000 works its way through 2001, arises as much from the market's success as from any failures.
American financial markets are now global hot money's primary conduit, which used to be the role of S&Ls, money center bankers confident that Third World countries were too big to fail and other unhappy residents of the Big Financial Dummies' Hall of Fame.
The needs of the bond and stock markets determine the two great levers of the federal government's massive financial machinery -- monetary policy and fiscal policy -- to a great extent. Alan Greenspan heeds the word of the bond markets explicitly and of the stock markets implicitly. As Secretary of the Treasury, Wall Street's Robert Rubin was the adult supervision in Bill Clinton's first term of office, creating the macro-economic structure for the Clinton years by his agreement with Alan Greenspan to pay off the deficit in favor of a bias toward lower long-term rates.
In addition to its role as the not-so-invisible hand shaping the context within which presidents and Congress must create new laws and policies, the market wears many other hats these days. The market now shapes the economy, determines R&D priorities, and provides the symbols and myths that popular culture most reveres: The renegade entrepreneur, the Deadhead tie-dyed engineer, the ponytail webcaster rock music producer, the $2,000 suited $5 million a year stock tout working for some major investment bank as an analyst, the tongue-pierced HTMLer so free he can work 20 hours a day for pizza, low pay and stock options until the caffeine is all gone or he cashes out a millionaire, the venture capitalist-guru who plays in a garage band in California.
These heroes of the market are now the rock stars and pop icons of our lives. They have replaced all nonfinancial intellectuals in front of the cozy fireplace in the American cultural living room.
Maria Bartiromo is the new Greil Marcus.
Randy Komisar is the new Isabel Allende, his book The Monk and the Riddle , is a totally new form of magical realism focusing on the board rooms of Silicon Valley, where the burn rate is Monstro, the Harley is spit-shined, each new day brings with it a stack of new business plans and both the successes and the failures demand a piece of your soul.
Those of us over 30 can only watch in horror and recall the spirit of the 1920s when Broadway musicals were high art, illegal booze was the King-Hell High, jazz was searing and markets were soaring until…well, you know, man, the correction happened -- and happened and happened.
But don't put the rest of the Champagne back in the cellar yet. There's no danger of anything as drastic as all that happening for at least another decade, because the Baby Boomers will be receiving $14 trillion from their parents over the next decade, by way of inheritance, and will be investing it in the markets. So I think I'll just forget about Wall Street's growing pains for now and concentrate on my friend’s problem now. God, will there ever be a rally in...Oh well, you know the stocks I mean. All too well.