Monday, February 08, 2010
Yesterday proved to be a bit of a milestone for your author. For the first time since his knee injury a year ago, Macro Man held a golf club in his hand, as he made it down to the driving range to hit a hundred balls. The good news: there was no noticeable change in his swing due to the layoff. The bad news: there was no noticeable change in his swing due to the layoff, as he sprayed an astonishing assortment of slices, scuffs, and duck hooks over the range at a series of increasingly improbable angles.
Still, it was good to get back out there, and Macro Man looks forward to returning to the course (after all, someone has gotta keep greenskeepers in a job.) Friday, meanwhile, may have seen another return after a lengthy absence. After taking a few quarters off during the furious stock rally from last March, Team 1250 (now rechristened Team 1050?) appears to have emerged from hibernation.
It didn't take much- a selloff of less than 10%- to (evidently) hit the panic button in Washington; why else would the SEC announce that they are mulling new restrictions on short-selling? After an initial flurry, the market seemed happy to shrug off the news, taking the SPX down to fresh lows for the year....only for futures to ramp hard in the last hour of trade. Whether it's Team 1250, the PPT, or simply an assortment of tin-foil hats, Friday's newsflow and price action probably represented the (unwelcome) return of conspiracy theorists to the investment equation.
'Twas interesting to note, meanwhile, that the late-session US rally (whatever its cause) proved insufficient to offer much comfort to Asian equities: y'know, the ones most sensitive to growth and liquidity. The Hang Seng failed to put any dent whatsoever in Friday's gap, and indeed closed near the lows of the last six months. There's a raft of Chinese data this week, followed by Lunar New Year next week, so the next few sessions could prove to be critical for Asian stocks.
Wednesday, meanwhile, sees the return of a certain B. Bernanke, esq. to Capitol Hill to perform the latter-day Humphrey-Hawkins testimony. The subject has been prespecified as a discussion of the Fed's exit strategies, so it could prove critical for markets of every stripe. BB's predecessor, of course, would have tried very hard indeed to say absolutely nothing of substance; Macro Man would be very surprised indeed if BB didn't at least try to do the same thing-or at least keep all of his options open. Pre-committing to a given policy or timetable could potentially throw a serious wobble into markets; as we saw on Friday, that's apparently been deemed unacceptable in certain quarters.
Finally, today has seen an unwelcome return of another sort: it is once again snowing here in SE England. It's just flurries for now, though heavier stuff is expected later in the week; Macro Man (and indeed everyone outside of England's schoolchildren) can only hope that we avoid Snowmageddon: