If you could really dodge a bullet, magicians from Harry Houdini to Penn and Teller would never have had to perfect the ability to catch them in their teeth.
Yet, we may have dodged a bullet this past week.
Forget about the fact that the stock market still seems to like the idea of higher oil prices. We’ve been dodging the impact of increasing oil prices through most of 2016. At some point, however, that will change. That bullet has been an incredibly slow moving one.
What we dodged was a second week of terrible retail earnings and continued over-reaction to the thought that a June 2016 interest rate hike was back on the table, as Federal Reserve Governors are sounding increasingly hawkish.
Not that there wasn’t a reaction to the sense that such an increase was becoming more likely, but some decent earnings data coupled with increased inflation projections could have really fueled an exit for the doors.
It took every last bit of my courage to jump out of a plane.
That was with a parachute and I only did so after suspending all of the logical and rational thoughts that I possessed.
Sometimes you do very uncharacteristic things when you want to impress someone for some other kind of excitement.
No other level of excitement could ever be high enough to get me to further suspend logic to engage in a free fall, though.
I don’t care how exhilarating it might be, staying alive seems more exhilarating to me.
Some free falls don’t require your consent, though and unless you’ve positioned yourself short in advance of the free fall, it’s definitely not an exhilarating process.
The past week was one in which oil wasn’t the prevailing theme even as it had its own large moves.
Instead, it was the free fall of retail, led by Macy’s (M) and Nordstrom (JWN), arguably among the best of the major national retailers, that characterized the stock market.
Of course, Macy’s and then Nordstrom took most every other retailer down with them and were able to drag along many others.
That kind of free fall, though, leaves open the question of exactly where the floor happens to be.
On a positive note, hitting the floor after a market free fall is probably a lot better than hitting the floor following a recreational free fall and you do get the chance to play the game a bit longer.
Depending upon how concrete you are in interpreting the meaning of the concept of “the circle of life,” the beginning and the end of that circle must be identical events as their points in space are coincident.
Various religions and philosophies believe that through a certain life path, another life awaits, but the rigorous requirements of geometry may be put aside in the process.
It’s also not clear that there had been any data dependency in the formulation of the philosophical concept.
Life, death and re-birth almost reads like a stock chart, except that the stock chart is plotted over time.
While new life generally brings joy, a geometric centric definition of “the circle of life” would both begin and end with that kind of joy.
On the other hand, a more philosophical interpretation of the concept has some diametrically different events, death and life, coinciding as the circle is closed.
Philosophy aside, markets have their own circle of life.
Start where you like in defining that circle, but among the components are low interest rates; increasing business investment for growth; increasing productivity; increasing corporate profits; increasing employment; increasing consumer spending; higher prices; higher interest rates; decreasing business investment; decreasing productivity; decreasing employment; decreasing consumer spending and on and on.
That’s more or less a traditional look at the way things usually go, but at the moment it’s hard to know where in that circle we are or if we even have a circle.