Tomorrow is the Vernal Equinox.
Here in the Northern Hemisphere, the beginning of Spring. A time when everything is in balance: the sun crosses the horizon, nighttime and daytime are equal. A time to celebrate the coming of warmer weather and spring flowers.
But not on Wall Street.
Now, you would think that Wall Street of all places would be the happiest right now. Not only do they also see the passing of a cold long winter, but they were the primary beneficiaries of the new Stimulus Package recently passed by Congress and signed into law by President Biden.
This latest package seems destine, like all the rest, to find its way to Wall Street. Since the aggressive support of the economy began, with The Great Financial Recession of 2008-09 has been one of the greatest financial periods in our history. With wealth distributed throughout the upper echelons of society.
The stock market, as measured by the Dow Jones Industrial Average has roughly doubled in just those 12 years. While household financial assets have tripled in that time.
So why is Wall Street suddenly a Gloomy Gus?
There is a unique characteristic of the Street, that almost always looks to the dark side. While the rest of America is preparing to cash our stimulus checks.
Wall Street has already begun to look beyond this latest government boost. And the Street isn't entirely happy with what they see.
Their principal concern at this point is whether the economy can continue to rebound from the destruction caused by the Pandemic.
Certainly, the government cannot go on providing massive stimulus ad infinitum. It's well past time for this economy to get back to a semblance of 2019 before the Pandemic struck.
And this week presented the Street with a ton of bad news.
Now before I begin, I know that it was a bad winter for much of the country, and that will be reflected in some of these numbers.
However, the scope of negative economic data that was delivered this week, has to make you pause.
First up was Retail Sales down 3% for the month of February. Next Industrial Production down 4.2% annualized, manufacturing ditto. Then a measure of the economy that too few pay attention to, and that's Capacity Utilization. How much of the country's plants are actually working? Here we saw a drop of almost 1 3/4%. That's one of the biggest monthly drops I've ever seen in this indicator. And a clear sign that industry is closing factories.
Finally the really big blow yesterday was the jump in initial claims for unemployment. These are people who are applying for unemployment insurance for the very first time. A number the street dearly wanted to see a drop. Instead, it leaped ahead of last week by 45,000.
This means that far from hiring, businesses are still laying people off.
None of this was good news to the Street.
The birds may be signing elsewhere in Manhattan, but on Wall Street, they're still waiting for the sun to shine.