The economy slips toward recession and stocks ignore it. Why? Courage from the average investor perhaps? Confidence in the underlying strength of the economy? Hardly.
Investors are in full flight, trampling each other to get out from under the collapse of the housing industry, just as they rushed out of stocks and into housing after the so-called dot.com bust. Now they are fleeing housing after creating a similar fiasco in that market. But the money has nowhere to go.
The Fed’s solution to every crisis since 1987 has been to pump low-cost money into the financial markets. That’s one reason Wall Street thinks strength over the past four decades while Main Street has turned into a row of double-wides.
The money pump rattled into action again on September 18, when Bernanke and the Fed cut rates by half a point. There was only one excuse: To give the financial markets "confidence" so they can “run smoothly.” Bailing out financial institutions is a central bank theme.
So we have plenty of money sloshing around at the top. But where to put it? Housing is deflating. (Pity the poor homeowner who was counting on that to finance his retirement.) Stocks? It IS rumored some companies have foreign presence. Bonds? Sure, but you’re going to lose real value if inflation kicks up.
The smart money is buying foreign securities. Even if they don’t appreciate in value, you can ride up with the underlying currency. Or at least avoid sliding down with the dollar.