Steve Russell: Some more lessons in bargain basement investing

Charging Bull, a sculpture in New York City by artist Arturo Di Modica. Photo from Arthur Di Modica

Judge and professor Steve Russell shares a few more lessons from his adventures in bargain basement investing:
This column was begun on a weekend after the stock market took a serious dive, which most market watchers agree was caused by the excellent news on job creation. One of the earliest surprises I got from wading into stock picking was that good news for Main Street is often seen by Wall Street as bad news. In this case, the economy picking up means to Wall Street that the Federal Reserve Bank will raise interest rates from the effective zero the Fed instituted to bring us back from the brink of another Great Depression.

I can’t let this go without observing that everybody knows monetary policy is a blunt instrument for dealing with recession, but the deadlocked, dead head, dead wood, dead end Congress could not put together a serious fiscal policy and Congress forced the Fed’s hand by being asleep at the switch, a slumber from which Congress has yet to awaken.

So, in the week before I started writing, the job numbers surprised to the upside and the stock market went into a swoon, anticipating that the Fed will raise interest rates too soon or too quickly and the recovery will then jump the rails. Or that stocks have been artificially inflated by easy money, which runs investors out of the bond market because bonds don’t pay enough and the money flees to stocks, causing a bubble that will pop when the Fed lets rates rise.

Why do I care? Why should you care?

Neither the Great Depression nor the Great Recession had to happen. They were the result of government policies that did immense harm to you and me. We are mice in an elephant stampede and so far we are failing the duty democracy imposes to herd the elephants. That scenario will not end well for us or for democracy.

Most Indians, like most Americans, own no stocks or bonds directly. However, the lucky few who still can keep one job long enough to earn a retirement income depend for that income on the stock and bond markets that are kept honest and solvent by watchful government regulation. Or not.

Get the Story:
Steve Russell: Permabears and the Bull Run (Indian Country Today 4/9)

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