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Bears, bulls, turkeys and change

By Dian Vujovich

I’ve had to laugh about the comments made after the mid-term elections regarding how voters loudly and clearly voted for change. Although no one identified the kind of change the few voters who turned out to express their opinions were looking for, but if it was a change in the markets, none of them must have been paying attention.

If there is one thing markets can reliably and always be counted on
doing, it is change.

Every trading day change happens no matter what market we are speaking of—stocks, bonds, currencies, commodities, etc. In one day there are changes taking place on bid, ask and closing prices. And for every one of those changes comes some sort of imagined vision of how a specific change will impact the future: A future that’s as uncertain in prediction as it was in the accuracy of predicting a coming change.

Forever changing are the bears, the bulls and even the turkeys. Given that Thanksgiving is right around the corner, let’s begin with the turkeys.

Last week I heard that turkey production was at its lowest national level since 1986. That’s a big change particularly since turkey happens to be the preferred meal served on Thanksgiving Day.

I remember frozen turkeys were selling for around 69 cents a pound last year. With that shortage, I expected prices on these birds would be up this year. Turns out, that’s not the case. A number of friends said they found turkey prices at that same level this year. I also heard grocers were keeping the price low, even though the birds were scarcer, to get people into the stores to buy all the other goodies that go along with this meal. No change in price for the bird… but maybe for the fixens’.

As for those bears and bulls, clearly the bulls have been running the show for at least the past number of years on Wall Street. But that will change sometime in the not-so-distant future.

Around the world, other markets haven’t been as up-tick fortunate.

While the S&P 500 (GSPC), for instance, hit record highs this year, according to Yahoo Finance.com, the MSCI All-Country World Excluding U.S. Index was down; Bloomberg reported that the ratio between the MSCI index to the S&P500 is at its lowest level on record.

The bears have had their way with commodities, like gold, oil, copper for a while now. Iron ore prices are at their lowest levels in five years.

Shawn Driscoll, manager of T.Rowe Prices New Era Fund (PRNEX) wrote in the fund’s semiannual report that, “Oil and other commodities will be in the dumps for another decade.” He said it takes,“13 to 15 years for the fundamentals of supply and demand to go to extremes.” My my.

And then there is the U.S. economy.

From a Mother Jones email sent earlier this week came data about the changes that have occurred in our economy since President Obama took office in January 2009. We already know that the markets have soared. The DJIA, for instance has gone from a level of 7,949 in 2009 to 17,573. That’s a change. Employment has also changed. It’s down considerably.

Regarding the big stuff, like GDP, it has grown from minus 5.4 percent in 2009 to a positive 3.5 percent. That’s a hugely big change.

And, our deficit has gone down. The change in deficit GDP percentage has dropped from 9.8 percent in 2009 to 2.8 percent in 2014, according to that same source.

As you can see, change is a natural a part of life on Wall Street. So those who vote for change need to be specific about the changes they’d like to see.

I’m not looking forward to the day when the stock markets turn around but I know it will. That’s because all investors understand that trees don’t grow to the sky and markets can change direction in an instant. As for those turkeys, sometimes turkey prices remain flat no matter what.

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