The US equity markets have given up more than half of their 2012 gains in the last two weeks as the market has plunged more than seven percent in that short space of time. Why? Fear of a weaker economy in the second half is the answer. The economy still seems to be barely moving forward and, with major tax increases on the immediate horizon (January is not far off), a weakish economy could potentially roll into another recession. The odds are probably fifty-fifty.
But, there is no set of circumstances favorable to a strong recovery. An anti-business White House has put so many roadblocks in the way of economic recovery, that the best hope is a muddling through and that is getting increasingly less likely. JP Morgan's travails will strengthen the hands of those bent on straightjacketing the finance industry.
Who loses? The average American seeking credit and small business seeking financing. The enemies that Obama has on his radar screen are, unfortunately, the only people who can provide the jobs necessary to get the economy really going again. So, the war on rich people surges along out of the White House, while Americans search fruitlessly for the job creators. The government has run out of bullets and the entrepreneurial classes are frightened out of their wits by the White House. That's basically what ails the stock market.
But, stocks are cheap. But, they are cheap for a reason. With the steady drumbeat of bad news that will continue to pour out of Europe, it will be difficult for American stocks to mount much of a rally. There will certainly be big up days in brief spurts, but over the next few months, don't expect much out of the stock market. The politicians have given the equity markets too much to ponder over.