Major market indices were higher last week. The DJIA gained 1.33%, the S&P 500 climbed 1.34%, and the Nasdaq added 2.01%. Growth stocks outperformed value stocks. And the small cap index added 1.28%. The 10-Treasury yield closed 1 basis point lower at 3.40%.
Life does, on occasion, imitate art.
On April 15th, an indie movie producer released the film adaptation of Ayn Rand's classic tome on individualism and accountability, Atlas Shrugged.
The book depicts a not-so-distant future in which innovators and achievers (industrialists, inventors, artists, etc.) are attacked by politicians and people's rights advocates who believe that everyone, regardless of effort, attitude or contribution, deserves the same as everyone else.
Those choosing to do nothing with their lives are no less victims than those incapable of doing anything. And so, everyone, regardless of how apathetic, miscreant or downright lazy, deserves an equal share of the output, production and reward.
The antithesis of meritocracy.
As pressure mounts on society's contributors, these achievers begin to disappear. The "looters" are, much to their consternation, left to contend with all of the issues previously handled by the achievers. And so the story unfolds.
Well, on same day the movie was released, something else occured in our nation's capital.
Jesse Jackson Jr., Representative of the 2nd District in Illinois, took to the House floor and denounced the lack of jobs and opportunity wrought by the innovations of Steve Jobs and his company, Apple.
Click here to watch this 2-minute video.
When congressional leaders begin to denounce our innovators, be they companies or individuals, something is wrong.
When political leaders, and their special interest group constituents, begin to resemble the anti-heroes in Rand's book, a novel that is pro-effort, -heart and -mind, then we have a problem.
When teenagers go through growth spurts, their joints ache as their bodies change and grow. Societies and economies are similar.
Creative destruction leads to a shift in occupational opportunities. But it gives birth to new industries. Jobs. Opportunities.
Creative destruction forces people to move up the technological ladder. Results in a more effective, innovative and productive workforce and population.
How many ironsmiths were forced to become auto mechanics?
Should we have destroyed the type writer because of its adverse affect on the printing press? Avoided the Model T due to its negative impact on carriages? Eschewed stick shifts for buggy whips?
Of course not.
If someone could have shown me how to take my record player for a run, I would have. Instead, I must take my iPod, by Job!
Sitting in lotus position. Breathing from the diaphragm. Moving on...
From mid-March into April, the market lost roughly 7%. Many pundits called an end to the bull market. And bears appeared to have the upper hand.
Then the dollar began to fall. Again. And Japan, the Fed, commodities, all of these became back stories.
Ever since Bernanke announced his policy of QE2 last August, the dollar began to fall. And as it has fallen, the market has risen. When that course has changed, the pattern inverts. It's that simple.
Does the dollar's downward trend (and so the market's upward trend) continue? Let's speculate.
The U.S. housing sector remains mired in a depression. Last week's Philly Fed Report showed a decline in east coast manufacturing. That could result in lower GDP. Fewer jobs.
As the economy slows, ever so slightly, interest rates would be more apt to remain as is. And as other nations raise rates, demand for the dollar drops. And possibly, this provides just enough cover for Helicopter Ben to proceed with QE3. So continuing the cycle. So helping equities.
Speculation? Certainly. But, one need not be a currency trader to note the relationship between the dollar and the S&P 500. And, if this plays out, even to a lesser degree, stocks have reason to rally.
Either way, we hope you'll join us. Stay tuned...