Thursday, December 5, 2013

No pain, no gain...

Here's paragraph one from a CNBC market update this morning:
U.S. stocks opened lower on Thursday after data had the economy growing more rapidly than expected, adding to thoughts that the Federal Reserve would begin to reduce stimulus sooner than speculated.

Here's a snippet from this afternoon's CNBC article titled Good news or bad? Street expecting strong jobs report: 
November's employment report could be good news for the economy but bad news for stocks.

Economists expect to see about 180,000 jobs added in November, off from October's 204,000 level, and the unemployment rate a 10th lower at 7.2 percent.

Traders, however, are discussing higher whisper numbers well above 200,000, and that has been weighing on stocks and sending bond yields higher on speculation a strong number would speed up the timetable on the Fed's wind-down of its quantitative easing program.

Let's see now, when the economy picks up, corporate earnings pick up, jobs materialize and stocks rise---or at least that's what commonsense would dictate. But here we are, seeing, at last, a number of back-to-back economic indicators (nuances notwithstanding) suggesting that the economy may be finally getting its feet under itself, yet the headlines tell us that that's bad news for the stock market. What gives?

Well, as the article states, it appears as though stocks have sold off (a wee bit) on speculation that the Fed---in light of the economic data---might taper QE sooner than later. Bad news? Well, yeah, but only to the extent that traders (who I distinguish from investors) anticipate that other traders will sell on the news. I've stressed here recently that, in my view, the dreaded QE taper won't be so dreadful for the simple fact that it remains so dreaded. I'll say it again, history suggests that it won't be the punch the market sees coming that'll put it down for the count. More likely that the QE taper, if anything, wobbles its legs a bit. But we'll see---and, please, don't trade on that opinion. In fact, don't trade at all, invest for the long-term.

Speaking of the long-term, yes, a good economy is good for the market. Never forget, however, that whether it's too-tight (or too-loose) Fed policy or some other excuse, gleaned only in hindsight, some event---or, more likely, some flurry of (unforeseen) events---will indeed bring this bull market to its knees. And that is perfectly okay, for it is utterly impossible to achieve long-term investment gains without enduring the occasional pain.

Lastly, if the prospects for the inevitable makes you the least bit anxious, please read again No Do-Overs in Life, or Investing.

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