Today the Dow passed the 10,000 mark. Many saw this as a sign of improvement. Nothing could be further from the truth. The stock market has only the most tenuous contact with reality. Oh yes, bank profits are strong after the taxpayers gave them trillions of dollars in bailout money. But what is the larger economy doing? Nothing has been done to stop the high risk activities of investments firms. The same juvenile decision making that nearly destroyed the financial structure of the United States continues unabated. Unemployment is at a disastrous level. Current statistics have it at 10 percent. This is wishful thinking. The government’s measure of unemployment is heavily modified by many factors to soften the impact. The real unemployment rate is around 16 percent. Local banks across the nation face bad loans of at least 900 billion dollars. This is not going to get better. There are more losses in store. The bleed of continuous foreclosures continue. If this were not bad enough, the weakness of dozens of countries’ economic bleeds into ours, just as our mistakes damaged so many of them.
So, what is the stock market celebrating? We are at the edge of calamity bedeviled by the same factors that so damaged the economy in 2008. No rules have been changed. There only need to be a catalyst to bring the structure down. I sincerely hope that these traders are lucky and we as a nation come out okay. But their conduct, their incredible self confidence and hubris do not bode well for our future.