While recent equity strength appears to be climbing a wall of worry, Bob Savage argues that it will ...
Consider Us Occupied
11/21/2011 7:00 am EST
It’s no wonder the Occupy/Spring movements around the world have sprung, because people really don’t have a lot to feel good about right now, write Pam and Mary Anne Aden of The Aden Forecast.
We were recently at a New Orleans investment conference and had an opportunity to meet many of you. It was interesting to hear how your thoughts echo what we see across the globe
Hearing the uncertainties and problems face to face, it crystallized that we all feel the same. It’s not just the Occupy Wall Street crowd or the European protestors who are frustrated—everyone is being affected in one way or another.
Rich, poor, businesspeople, salaried employees, old, middle-aged, young, or unemployed…they’re all concerned and being affected by the changes happening before our eyes.
This goes way beyond borders and investor concerns. It’s become very personal.
The elderly are receiving little, if any income. In many cases, their plans and hopes for a good retirement have been dashed. Plus, with the markets so volatile, they don’t know where to turn.
Middle-aged working people are struggling too. Their incomes have gone nowhere for decades, and concerns about job security and future retirement are becoming more worrisome. Essentially, they’re nervous, angry, or depressed as a not-so-bright future seems to hang overhead.
The poor and unemployed wonder if they’ll ever get a job, as their ranks grow by the most since records began over 50 years ago. And many young people are feeling the same.
For young people, the situation is also very serious. We talked about this with several people in New Orleans who were deeply concerned. One woman said she feels the need to help her children, and you can understand why.
With youth unemployment at levels last seen during the Great Depression, the consensus is that this young generation doesn’t have the same opportunities that the last several generations have had.
So the older generation has been helping the young, and it looks like that’ll be continuing. In the past, it was usually the other way around.
It’s no wonder then that so many feel the system has failed them. (And if they haven’t been directly affected, they worry they will be—the Misery Index is at a 28-year high). This coincides with a recent poll showing that 75% feel the US is on the wrong track.
As we’ve often discussed, the world has indeed changed, and many of the jobs that used to be available aren’t coming back, not only in the US but throughout most of the Western world. They’ve moved to other countries where the wages are much lower.
Whether people understand this—and all of the other fundamental factors that got the West into the situation it’s in—isn’t really the point. The point is, people are upset, they don’t like what’s happening, and they’re taking action.
This explains why the Occupy Wall Street and the “indignados” movement in Spain (where youth unemployment is almost 50%) have gained momentum in such a short time.
From New York, to Oakland, to European capitals, to Sydney, protests have occurred in hundreds of cities all over the Western world. The protestors blame the banks, Wall Street greed, the governments, war, the rich, capitalism, socialism, and corruption.
The mask of Guy Fawkes, a British revolutionary who tried to buck a religious repression over 400 years ago, has become a symbol for those who are upset with the current system.
Most people didn’t take the protestors very seriously when they started out, not even six months ago in Spain, and two months ago in New York. Many still don’t. They make fun of them.
But despite these views, the protestors have hit a nerve, and this movement is getting stronger. Powerful unions have joined them, and both Bernanke and Obama have acknowledged them.
This is making the markets even more volatile than they already were, and uncertainty remains a constant. In fact, if you look strictly at the world’s fundamental picture, it’s currently not good.
Aside from what’s happening in the West, the Middle East remains uncertain too. Following Qaddafi’s death, Libya appears to be headed for a fundamentalist, Islamic conservative government, and tensions are growing in Syria and Iran. The Arab Spring countries are trying to find their way and, again, it’s still to be seen how it ends up.
With so many uncertainties hanging overhead, it’s best to just turn to the markets. Like we always say, they look ahead and they’ll tell us the story.
The trick is trying to understand what they’re saying. And since they’ve been so volatile, it’s been more difficult.
In fact, it’s hard to remember a time that compares to the present one. The markets are still swinging wildly and simply reacting to the news of the day, which indicates nervousness.
This reflects how people are feeling…nervous and uncertain with spurts of optimism. And that’s what nearly all of the markets are suggesting.
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