my takes on the short and medium term future

There is a lot of talk about the upward gyrations in prices and one can easily look for answers in whatever quarter suits one's taste. Here in the US, the loudest voice seems to attribute this to the growth in demand from places like China and India. Across the Atlantic, speculation is considered as source if the problem.

Recently, I wrote the following in response to a question posted on LinkedIn by a fellow professional (Would you agree with these predictions).

In the best case scenario, we are one to two years away from an unqualified uptrend.

Internationally speaking, follow: Iran-Israel-NATO, the ability and willingness of the Chinese to maintain growth in today's terms.

In the US, follow: elections, war(s) cost/debt, interest rates vs. inflation, policy, institutional restructuring, immigration.

Upon deciding which way the above variables are likely to swing, the particular answers to your questions come closer to one's reach. Right now, it is not the intrinsic state of any one economy that creates as much problem as the general level of uncertainty.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

There is speculation, of course. Even your own government accepts it. Why is it that they don't accept it about the oil and raw materials markets?

July 15, 2008
SEC Rule Will Limit Short Sales

Filed at 6:46 p.m. ET

WASHINGTON/NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. securities regulators plan to issue an emergency rule later on Tuesday to limit certain types of short selling in major financial firms, including Fannie Mae (FNM) and Freddie Mac (FRE).

The rule is the latest effort by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to clamp down on market manipulation that some blame for the demise of investment bank Bear Stearns in March.

The rule is expected to go into effect on Monday and last 30 days. It also applies to big financial firms such as Lehman Brothers (LEH), Goldman Sachs (GS), Merrill Lynch (MER) and Morgan Stanley (MS), the SEC said.

Short sellers arrange to borrow shares they consider overvalued and sell them in hopes of making profit when the price drops.

With financial stocks dropping dramatically over the year, lawmakers have been calling on the SEC to investigate whether short sellers and speculators are behind the move.

Over the weekend, the SEC announced plans to crackdown on false rumors and said it is examining whether broker dealers and investment advisers have controls in place to prevent market manipulation.

The agency's rule change would prevent investors from making "naked" short sales of the biggest financial stocks. A "naked" short sale occurs when an investor sells stock that has not yet been borrowed.

Broker-dealers will sometimes accidentally fail to deliver stocks to investors who have arranged to borrow a stock. If it is done intentionally, it is illegal.

The emergency rule would require a short seller to borrow the securities before executing the sale. It would also require the investor to deliver the securities on the settlement date.

"The new rule will benefit the investment community and help bring more stability to the market," said Dylan Wetherill, president and founder of short interest tracking service

"This rule would help relieve the extreme downward pressure on stocks, that has helped fuel the market down to these levels," he said.

Broker-dealers will sometimes accidentally fail to deliver stocks to investors who have arranged to borrow a stock.

As of June 30, short sellers held about 14 percent of Fannie's outstanding stock, up from around 3 percent last August. For the same time period, shorts held almost 12 percent of Freddie's outstanding stock, up from about 2.7 percent. They also held about 10 percent of Lehman's stock, up from 4.5 percent.

Short sellers say they prevent stocks from becoming overvalued and are an essential feature of the market.

"While no one in Washington did their job, now they are trying to blame short sellers," said William Fleckenstein, president of Fleckenstein Capital, which manages a Seattle-based hedge fund.

"Short sellers don't make stocks go down, if a short seller was trying to push a stock to a price where it didn't belong, it would come back right away," said Fleckenstein, who is not currently short the investment banks or Fannie or Freddie. He had a short position on Fannie, which he covered on Tuesday.

SEC Chairman Christopher Cox told a Senate Banking Committee hearing that the emergency rule would be more effective than the so-called tick test rule, which was repealed June 2007.

The tick test rule only allowed short sales when the last sale price was higher than the previous price. That meant a trader could not short a stock if the movement prior to the short sale is down.

Cox said the SEC is going to look at whether some other kind of a price test might be useful for "circumstances such as those we find ourselves in now."

"We are very open to that," said Cox.

The rule, adopted a decade after the 1929 stock market crash, was designed to prevent short sellers from adding to the downward pressure on a stock that is already falling sharply.

The SEC has already proposed another rule to curb naked short selling abuses and prevent market price manipulation. It is not known when the SEC will adopt this rule.

(Reporting by Rachelle Younglai and Emily Chasan; Editing by Tim Dobbyn and Carol Bishopric)

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