The Debt Monkey On Our Backs

We’re scanning markets of the world today and scratching our heads… haven’t we heard this before?

There was a scare at the start of the year — banks were in trouble, the housing market was crashing and unemployment was rising. The S&P fell at a rate unseen in a long, long time. But then, a sucker’s rally! The worst was likely over, they said… stocks were oversold. The U.S. consumer, China and oil companies promised to lead us out of this mess. And of course, the current administration’s new multibillion stimulus plan will kick in any second.

After bottoming in early March, stocks soared well off their lows. With the S&P 500 at break-even for the year, stocks now face an inflection point.

Wait a second… what year is it?


We need not remind you of what happened in the second half of 2008. But it’s not worth worrying about… it’ll be different this time!

Stocks took quite a tumble Thursday. The worse-than-expected jobs report gave traders more than enough reason to be short into the three-day weekend. The S&P 500 fell nearly 3%. Since reaching its 2009 high in early June, the S&P is down 5%.

Major indexes are in trouble again today. The Dow and S&P opened down 0.75%, mostly thanks to sour moods left over from Thursday.

And just as in 2008, the smart money says there is more pain ahead:

“You may have green shoots, whatever you want to call them,” said market sage and author of The Black Swan Nassim Taleb. “You may have temporary relief, but you are still in a world that’s breaking. We’re in the middle of a crash. So if I’m going to forecast something, it is that it’s going to get worse, not better.”

And the root of all our woes, Mr. Taleb? “The monkey on our back is debt.”