Figuring Out The Stock Market

As you may know, I pay little attention to what the stock market does on any given day or on any given period shorter than say three or four months. But when it does go up over 6% i do at least notice.

So this evening while I was getting some cardio in, I turned on CNBC to find out why it had rallied. The usual crew seemed to settle on three reasons:

  1. Citibank said it made money in January and February.
  2. Barney Frank is making more noises about suspending mark-to-market.
  3. The uptick rule might be reinstated.

Think about that. Are those three reasons sufficient to cause a blow-out day like this?

So Citi made money in January and February. Oh, by the way, that’s operating income before any assets are marked down or loan losses provisions. The real news would be if they hadn’t made money before these details. A bank that can’t generate positive net interest income when its cost of funds is close to zero has to be run by Martians. You could do it, I could do it, probably your ten year old kid could do it. And the stock market thought this was a good sign for the banking industry?

Barney Frank is all in favor of changing the accounting rules so things look better. Does he really think that people won’t value banks as they please regardless of the artifice he erects? In fact, aren’t they applying their own valuations right now given the games that the banks play with level 3 assets. Maybe I need to tone down this one. Obviously, at least according to the CNBC analysts, the stock market thinks that make believe accounting is a step in the right direction.

Now bringing back the uptick rule might make a little sense as a cause of the rally. Everything I’ve read says that it would effectively eliminate shorting since the price moves are so rapid now. I guess if you’re on the long side, the prospect of the government rigging the game in your favor could induce you to jump back in. Now, I suspect that those evil shorts have already figured out how to game this one and I suspect that those on the long side might come to that same conclusion over cocktails this evening so even though this might have had something to do with the rally today, it may not have any legs.

I guess that tells you why I don’t pay any attention to the short-term swings. It never seems to make any sense particularly when CNBC tells me why it happened.

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