This note was originally published at 8am on December 23, 2011. INVESTOR and RISK MANAGER SUBSCRIBERS have access to the EARLY LOOK (published by 8am every trading day) and PORTFOLIO IDEAS in real-time.
“Lead on! Lead on! The night is waning fast, and its precious time to me, I know.”
The next 72 hours of our lives in the McCullough household will be some of the most magical of the year. My little girl Callie is old enough now to be aware of Santa. My son Jack, well, he’s probably already peaked at what’s in store for him.
What’s in store for all of us at Christmas time is the wonderful gift of time. Time away from the office. Time away from the screens. Time with the people we love.
When Charles Dickens published A Christmas Carol on December 19th of 1843, it was perceived to be a dark time in Britain. It was a time of hunger. It was a time of class warfare. These are the times we want to avoid.
While the “tale has been viewed by critics like T.A. Jackson and Paul Benjamin Davis as an indictment of 19thcentury industrial capitalism” (Wikipedia), I prefer the context of the economic historian James Henderson as “an attack on Malthus.” (Grand Pursuit, page 6).
Reverend Thomas Robert Malthus is well known for this fear-mongering forecasts about population declines that never came to fruition. He and Thomas Carlyle became the most recognized “political economists” of their time by capitalizing on the Hungry Forties with charlatan lines of storytelling that were not only dark, but backward looking.
Dickens embraced the idea of uncertainty as an opportunity for change. Scrooge was his metaphor for the progressive side of capitalism, illuminating the human heart as the source code for morality.
Today, while Republican and Democrat fear-mongering views about our lives falling over the precipice into the depths of another depression may have captured the headlines of those who are weak enough to believe them, I know you are all stronger than that.
Leadership, principles, and values start in your home. Lead on!
Back to the Global Macro Grind…
I think most Americans have figured out this year that what the stock market does on each and every tick is not what this country runs on. It may not run on Dunkin’s stock price either, but it certainly rides into your favorite coffee shop on the purchasing power of a Dollar, every day.
The most bullish Christmas Carol I can sing to this country this weekend is that the US Dollar Index has risen from the dead. After testing a 30-year low in April of 2011, King Dollar’s ascent has already added up to a +10% gain.
Even the crown of a sheepish looking Political Economist in Chief’s head cannot take the shimmer of hope of continued currency strength away from us this weekend. And while hope is not a risk management process, it will most certainly remain the fulcrum of my daily prayers.
Ben Bernanke wants you to believe in fear so that you will accept a 0% return on your hard earned savings. He wants you to believe that the price you pay at the pump doesn’t take away from what you might be able to put in the bucket when that Salvation Army bell rings.
This is not a political attack. This is called leading from the front lines every day with a progressive idea that our political ideologues on the US economy have not had the courage to try.
By simply getting the US Federal Reserve’s Quantitative Easing out of the way and putting a governor on government spending’s slope, consider what’s happened in the last 6-9 months:
- US GDP Growth has risen from +0.36% in Q1 of 2011 to +1.8% in Q3
- US Unemployment has fallen from 9.2% to 8.6% and weekly jobless claims are now hitting YTD lows
- US Consumer Confidence hit a fresh 6-month high yesterday at 69.9 on the University of Michigan survey (vs 67.7 in NOV)
If I have written this 100 times in the last 6 months, I’ve beaten it onto the Wall Street 2.0 Tape (Twitter) with 10,000 tweets:
Strong Dollar = Strong US Consumption = Strong Employment
Lead on, my capitalist friends, lead on!
My immediate-term support and resistance ranges for Gold, Oil (Brent), and the SP500 are now $1569-1622, $105.95-108.11, and 1228-1259, respectively.
On behalf of my family and firm, Merry Christmas!
Keith R. McCullough
Chief Executive Officer