Thursday, December 8, 2016

Dow 20,000?

There was a book out during the 1999 dotcom boom entitled Dow 36000, which was roundly criticized as fantasy.  Heck sake, I scoffed.  36,000?  No way.  Let's look at a chart as the DOW races toward 20,000, less than a month after passing 19,000.

1,000November 14, 197276 Years
2,000January 8, 198714 Years
3,000April 17, 19914 Years
4,000February 23, 19854 Years
5,000November 21, 19959 Months
6,000October 14, 199611 Months
7,000February 13, 19974 Months
8,000July 16, 19975 Months
9,000April 6, 19989 Months
10,000March 29, 199912 Months
11,000May 3, 19991 Month
12,000October 19, 20067 Years, 5 Months
13,000April 25, 20076 Months
14,000July 17, 20073 Months
15,000May 7, 20135 Years, 10 Months
16,000November 18, 20136 Months
17,000July 3, 20148 Months
18,000December 23, 20145 Months
19,000November 22, 20161 Year, 11 Months

I would have scoffed at 20,000.  But here we are.

The "fundamentals" of the market are debatable, and this in itself sure looks good, and having gone this far, can it get up to 36,000?  Now I say, "who knows, why not?"

The problem is Dow 20,000 in itself does nothing for the 90 million unemployed, for people living paycheck to paycheck, the countless unemployed teens, for peace and prosperity.  Stock buybacks, tax deferral in pension plans, foreign hot "money" flight to USA all feed this growth, but does any of it represent economic growth?

In a free market, prices fall, not rise.  Money flows into new companies making money and somewhat bids up the price.  The established money making companies make nothing but a bit of  dividend income.  (Rock solid REI is a coop they pays out 10% back on your purchases at the end of the year, in lieu of a dividend, and if they have a bad year, they dip into that ten percent, and maybe pay out 6% to their 6 million owners.  I cannot recall a single instance of REI paying less than 10%)

This 20,000 is based on hot stocks that lose money like FANG, Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google (if you count their existential government intel contracts, they are toast.)

Real estate is also hot, another anomaly.  In both instances, the bigger they are, the harder they fall.  If this means all is well, then how come cops and firefighters are cashing out their pensions at these heights?

The result was that hundreds of police officers and firefighters became millionaires while insulated from the whims and risks of the markets. Currently, 517 DROP accounts total in excess of $1 million, according to the city's presentation.
That meant when the fund's investments didn't return at least 8 percent, the entire fund, which all their colleagues depend upon in retirement, paid the price.
The lack of withdrawal restrictions led to a run on the bank once retirees caught wind of the pension system's proposed benefit cuts, which include new limits on DROP. Since Aug. 11, the fund paid out nearly $500 million in lump sums. 

Note a couple of things: 517 millionaire cops and firefighters by pension contributions only, and 500 million paid out in lump sums, since August alone.  Take a wild guess who pulled out their million bucks, each?

(If 517 became millionaires due to pension contributions alone, then more are at $900,000, even more at $800,000, even more than that at $700,000, etc.)

Union solidarity achieved this (plus these are house unions, those pension plans were what was used to buy police and firefighter votes) and note how retirees are now acting "I got mine, Jack!" and in effect robbing those newer contributors from having a more equitable share of a dwindling pot.  Share the pain in union solidarity?

"This is the one issue that we're just not going there," Friar said. "We will not do it. The pension board — we will just not go there. ... You cannot put toothpaste back into the tube."

But to say you will not go there is to admit you have gone there.  The first step is taken.  This is how promises are broken, step by step.  And the police and firefighters, and pensioners, of the 9300 of them in Dallas, 500 have cut and run since August.

During the boom, there would be big national conferences of mayors where countless city workers would get together for five days of sex, drugs rock and roll and come away with cool new ways to buy votes.  "This worked in Kansas City, try it in Portland!" These union plans are an example of this activity.  With ex nihilo credit, you can do anything you want.  This problem is everywhere.

And there is the problem.  Dow 20,000 or 36,000, or 10,000 for that matter is tallied in ex nihilo credit. It does not exist.  It is all politicians promises, as solid as a Clinton promise.  But now those promises are proving false.  Share the pain? "I got mine, Jack!"

Dallas politicians say Dallas will not make up the difference, the taxpayers must.  Ahem.  Dallas politicians charged his off to taxpayers to begin with, and who do the Dallas politicians think they get their money from?  The fate of the pensions are in the hands of people whose brains are rather addled.  Probably all those sex, drugs and rock and roll conferences.

Dow 20,000 is partially made up of pensions such as this, and jacking up the Dow sure contributes some to making people they are rich (even if it is only ex nihilo credit tallies.)  But there is an internal contradiction: the Dow is jacked up sky high, but the pensions are not any more solvent.

In 1982, at the ILWU master contract negotiations in San Francisco, I sat on the management side across the table from the Longshoreman negotiators.  Their "strike issue" was unfunded pension liability.  In 1982 this problem had ot be addressed, it just could not go on.  35 years later, the problem has not been addressed.  Each year, since nothing "bad" happened to those benefitting from ex nihilo credit, there was never any effort to solve the problem.

Now extreme measures are not working.  Jacking up the Dow to dizzying heights cannot do the trick.

Watch out below.

I am looking forward to a renaissance in small business in USA.

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