How in heck can you tighten or taper when copper's just getting pounded and steel prices can't hold up? How can we think about tapering when Airgas (ARG), which has its fingers in every single pie says non-residential construction is very weak and Terex (TEX) agrees? How do you start tightening when Europe's still in flux and China seems to be going down fast?
How do we base the end of QE3 on homebuilding when we didn't get good homebuilding numbers yesterday?
What's so strong out there besides the heftily-manipulated price of oil? Or do we just decide that enough is enough, job done? Or is there something else at work I heard today which is, "hey, it isn't creating any jobs at all. So what's the point?"
I think that's nonsense. Whatever jobs that can be found are either tied to the wealth effect from housing and stocks or to the energy revolution. The latter Bernanke has no control over, but the former he could drastically trim if he's not careful.
All that said, I think the issue's gotten out of control. If Bernanke does nothing, interest rates go higher. If he says he is going to start tapering, rates go higher. That's Because people believe that rates wouldn't have gone up already if things weren't better. People just seem to think it is time to normalize the curve.
What is the scenario where rates do nothing? Permanent QE3? That's not going to happen. I can't think of one where the 10-year goes back under 2%. Can you?
So, was yesterday's rally based on the idea that shorts fear what he will say, but when he says it they will just blast out of their longs and go short? I think yesterday was all short-covering, literally, by people who feared one more article or one bit of input that said the Fed needs to do more, not less, to help stimulate the economy. I don't believe there was all that much real buying, because who gets long ahead of a meeting where the most obvious outcomes are not so hot?
We've had a lot of rallies like this before Fed meetings and it usually means you will get a big raid on whatever news there is. When it does go down in advance, you can have a post-announcement rally.
That's why I say get in shape for a decline. That's probably the safest way to play it ahead of today's big meeting on the heels of a spectacular day. And if it goes up, just let it run into the bell, as that's the big bad event theory playing out once again.