October 2008 - The Room

This insightful blog provides a unique perspective on the world that you just won't find anywhere else. The Room is an eclectic mix of geopolitical and market commentary with a personal story thrown in here and there. Never willing to take any subject too seriously, David Galland delivers a "great read" that informs and entertains.

  • The Room - 10/24/2008

    I have woken in the pre-dawn to find our direst predictions coming true, with global stock markets taking yet another pounding and U.S. stock futures limit down. Serving as a proxy for the mindset now gripping governments around the world, French President Sarkozy has announced that the French government will, henceforth, buy shares in important French companies in an attempt to prop them up. 'We will intervene massively whenever a strategic enterprise needs our money,' said Sarkozy, a supposed economic conservative, as he pounded the table on behalf of nationalizing industry. The New Age of big government is upon us. Armed with Harry Potter-like magical monetary wands, they are wildly conjuring a deluge of money from thin air to bind the free market and keep it from facilitating the resolution of economic and investment dislocations created over decades. Bud Conrad tells me he is having a hard time adding up all the fiat money that has been committed to the battle for economic - and, by extension, political - survival over the past couple of months. The numbers rolling off the lips of officialdumb have progressed well past the hundreds of millions, or even hundreds of billions, and have now reached the trillions. In that theme, the Fed announced this week that it would drop over half a trillion - $540 billion, to be exact - on the purchase of suspect commercial paper now clogging the portfolios of 'safe harbor' money market funds. Given that there is a total of $3.4 trillion of your money resting in those very same funds, the commitment of $540 billion - about 16% of the total - should be taken as an indicator of just how bad the problem really is....
  • The Room - 10/03/2008

    We're no longer in Kansas, Dorothy. At this point, the world's financial markets are in the firm grasp of a massive tornado. Our vision is blurred with fast-moving images of abandoned houses, crumbling banks, pontificating politicians, alien-looking Treasury secretaries on one knee, and suicide stock and commodities charts. When the whole mess crashes back on terra firma, the landscape will look considerably different. But, what? We remain convinced that the result, with the unavoidable time lag, will be inflation on an epic, global scale. But if history provides one lesson in rich abundance, it is that the future is unpredictable. Who is to say that the government of these United States -- and of similarly indebted and in-trouble countries "over there" -- aren't too late to the game? Or that even $700 billion, or a trillion... or...?... will not prove to be too little, too late?...
  • The Room - 10/10/2008

    In last week's edition of this meandering missive, I mused as follows... "What, I wonder, will the government do when next week, or the week after maybe, the U.S. stock market takes another header for 500 points? Stay tuned. Meanwhile, gold is at $826, down considerably over the past week. Like when a tsunami sucks the water away from the shore just before hitting, we're in a transition period. I'm not worried about where gold is going next. I wish I could say the same about the world." According to the number crunchers, the U.S. stock market is on track to have its worst week since 1937. Which, as you can see from the DJIA chart here, is an acceleration of the broader trend that has held sway for some time now. While we can't yet say what action the U.S. Government will take next, glancing over the horizon, we see a growing number of countries implementing a euphemistically named "market holiday." In Iceland, all banks and markets are now enjoying a day off. And Kevin Brekke, our Switzerland-based researcher, just wrote that there is a rising call to halt trading in Germany. It would not surprise me in the slightest if the same were to occur in the U.S....
  • The Room - 10/17/2008

    Keeping up with the complex drama now flashing across the global screen is becoming more challenging with each passing day. In lazier days, a scene might be allowed to unfold at a measured pace, the interactions between major characters developed through subtle nuance and lingering shots and close-ups of, perhaps, the furrowing of a brow or the sly upturning of the corner of a mouth. These are not those days. Instead, we are living in the world of 30-second commercials, directed by a speed-addicted music video director, strung together in a nonstop explosion of two-second jump cuts. One minute stock markets are soaring, the next crashing. Gold jumps $20, then falls $40. Banks fail, banks get bailed out. Politicians elbow each other out of the way to throw billions, trillions even, into deep, dark holes. Oil tumbles, then bounces, then tumbles again. While the volatility has allowed me to make some fun money through the all-terrain investment vehicles of futures and options, it has also made the task of trying to keep current on the news and, more importantly, on what's important, daunting indeed....