Saturday, January 3, 2009

It's a New Year

And that's kind of exciting. Kind of. There is endless hope and optimism over the fact that the first trading day of 2009 showed fairly strong gains for U.S. stock indices. We'll see. Best Buy (The big electronics retailer that has not filed for bankruptcy protection) releases its 4th-quarter and Christmas sales figures on Friday, January 9. A few other major retailers will be releasing their most recent numbers in the first half of this month. Stock up on Kleenex; there will be tears.

While the Dollar has given back some of its recent gains, oil for February delivery remains below $45 a barrel. This is not only a boon to the American economy and those of our allies, but a hard blow to Putin, Chavez, and the rest of the idiot-savant petro-dollar potentates. They began spending thinking of triple-digit oil prices, and figured they could maintain that spending level even if oil fell all the way to $60. Forty five dollars? Look for spending cuts, tax increases...well, that's about it for options. More debt is out of the question. What sane person would buy Russian or Venezuelan government bonds? Like a Ponzi-scheme organizer whose deals start to unravel, they're reaching ever more desperately for temporary fixes, but the ultimate result is hardly in question. OPEC and Russia will be forced into drastic, long-term retrenchments.

One small corner of the Middle East is aflame, and the U.N. is preparing to leap into action with a sternly-worded statement. It makes you wonder at the U.N.'s silence for 900 days and nights of rocket attacks on Israeli neighborhoods. But after you wonder for a few seconds, you say "Oh, right; it's the U.N." Business as usual. Barack Obama, having learned from his buffoonish statements on the Russian/Georgian mess of a few months back, is keeping quiet. Someone reminded him American has "only one president at a time," and he repeated that to reporters, who then wrote about how wise and noble is The One.

There will be plenty more to excite is in the days and weeks to come. In the mean time, watch your portfolio, and try to dine out occasionally in a favorite restaurant. That sector is facing tough times, as such discretionary spending is on the wane, so a good restaurant deserves our support. As for the not-so-good--maybe someone better will rent the space. It's just creative destruction at work.

No comments: