Monday, September 22, 2008

Panic Isn't Paying

We've had panicky selling in stocks on Thursday morning, only to be sharply reversed in the afternoon. We had panicky stock buying on Friday, only to be reversed in today's trade. Now we're seeing a panicky inflation trade, selling U.S. dollars and buying gold, oil, and basic materials shares This is a market that has been punishing panic, and the latest panic is that the government's rescue plan will flood us with cheap dollars and rising prices. Meanwhile, financial institutions hoard cash and restrict lending, a clearly deflationary dynamic. It wasn't so long ago that markets were pricing in a Fed tightening; until the day of the Fed meetng we were then pricing in a rate cut. Both hopes were dashed. In a time when fears run strong, scenarios tend toward the extreme. The market, so far, is doing a fine job of punishing such extremity.