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  • A Jobs Jamboree for Friday 01/08/2010...

    In This Issue..

    * The dollar holds gains...
    * Japanese saber rattling...
    * Geithner in trouble?
    * Commercial Real Estate in trouble...

    Good day... And a Happy Friday to one and all! The first Friday of 2010! So, let's call it a Fabulous Friday, and save the Fantastico for a day when we'll see the temperature at least reach the freezing mark! Our 'snow day' is over, everyone was safe...

    You see, and I hope you don't mind me taking this trip in the past, many years ago, I spend a winter of discontent, I might add, in Des Moines, Iowa... Where it began snowing in November and didn't stop until the first week of May... When I first moved there, I noticed that their street crews didn't plow the roads, and salt them like they did in St. Louis, they just threw cinders on the snow and people drove on it. That's where I really learned to drive on snow... As the years went by, back in St. Louis, dealing with snow, I realized that the way they did it in Des Moines was better!...
  • Risk aversion disappears again...

    In This Issue..

    * Risk aversion has left the building...
    * CIT survives without Fed help...
    * SNB tries to fight the markets...
    * Light week for US data...

    Good day... We had just an amazing weekend of weather here in St. Louis, and this morning is shaping up to be another beautiful day. Friday turned out to be a beautiful day for those who have taken our advice and diversified their holdings out of the dollar. Risk aversion was placed on the back burner again, and investors moved money back out of the dollar into higher yielding currencies. The dollar and yen got sold but all other currencies rallied, and investors also turned back toward gold pushing the metal above $950 for the first time in over a month.

    So what caused all of this confidence? First, the housing data released Friday morning in the US showed a slight pick up in both building permits and housing starts. While the housing markets have a long way to go, the data have given investors an indication that construction may have found a bottom. Not to throw cold water on investors confidence in the building numbers, but while the residential market may be bottoming out, the commercial market continues to tumble. I spoke to a good friend over the weekend who is a commercial real estate developer down in Memphis. He told me that his development pipeline has completely dried up, and even the brokerage side of his business has slowed. The only part of his business which has picked up is the marketing of foreclosed properties. He has shifted his concentration to helping banks and lenders 'work out' of commercial projects which they have taken back onto their books. The economy has kept most companies from opening new stores, and many continue to shut down under performing ones. My good friend tells me most of the people he talks to don't believe the commercial real estate market will turn around until the end of next year. Not good news for the banks who are still reeling from the residential real estate bust....
  • The Treasury Secretary rides to the rescue...

    In This Issue..

    * Geithner rescues the stock market...
    * Commercial real estate, the next big drag...
    * Norway: the new safe haven...
    * China pushes for a new reserve currency...

    It was a dramatic day on Wall Street yesterday, with the major stock indexes surging as much as 6 percent, including the Dow Jones which jumped more than 400 points. The reason for all of this euphoria on Wall Street? A combination of Geithner's plan to rescue the banks from the toxic debt in which many are mired, and a surprisingly large uptick in existing home sales. I touched briefly on the Giethner plan in yesterday's Pfennig and readers know I am more than a little skeptical about its possible success.

    But the housing numbers really caught me off guard. Existing home sales jumped a tremendous 5.1% in February, clearly above all expectations. But Chuck pointed out that the almost 1/2 of the sales were either foreclosures or short sales, hardly what you would call a 'rebound' in home sales! And these additional existing home sales came at deep discounts. The median price for an existing home fell 15.5% in February 2009 to $165,400 as compared to $195,800 in February of 2008....