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Mark's Market Blog

4-18-09: The Best Six Weeks Since 1938

By Mark Lawrence

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The market continued to climb, slightly. This is the best six week performance since 1938. No one bothers to mention what came next in 1938. . .

S& P 500, Jan 16 '09 to April 17 '09

I've sold everything now but my GM. I'm riding that all the way down if it comes to that.

We're getting strong mixed messages. Google, Wells Fargo, Citi, Harley all reported earnings well in excess of expectations, and their stocks leapt upwards. However, the banks still have a lot of write-downs to do, I don't trust these earning reports as indicative of how the year will go. Obama and crew says they see glimmers of light, maybe the worst is behind us. I'm not buying that either: unemployment continues to rise, house prices continue to fall, manufacturers continue to work on reducing inventories. If this was the whole story, perhaps there could be a recovery in six months; however, the Fed and the Treasury have loaned out several trillion dollars. If loaning that money helped the economy expand, then requiring it be paid back will (insert theme from "Jeopardy" here).

Paul Volker, the ex-Fed chairman who licked the inflation of the 70s says he is worried about inflation and a very slow, drawn out recovery. "None of us has seen a decline in economic activity at the rate of speed seen late last year. The financial system is not quite comatose, but it's on life support." The chairman of the NY stock exchange says "The real money investors are still waiting, watching. Once they are convinced, you will know it. The market will have a totally different tone to it."

National Venture Capital Association and PriceWaterhouseCoopers, showed venture capital investment sliced nearly in half, to $3.0 billion in the first quarter of this year compared to $5.7 billion in the previous quarter.

I have little idea what's coming next week. I don't expect much of a change in the markets. However, the week after next is when I think we can all start listening for the hoof beats of the four horses of the apocalypse.

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