If we could, we would trade off the eclipse. At least it would be something new. We sure don't have anything worth buying or selling on this news cycle.
We are at a peculiar point right now, a period of a couple of weeks where, historically, nothing has happened yet we get great volatility.
I have thought a lot about these periods and I have learned there is such a thing as random movement.
This morning, for example, FAANG -- Facebook (FB) , Apple (AAPL) , Amazon (AMZN) , Netflix (NFLX) and Google (GOOGL) (now Alphabet) -- are down and we have the usual obituaries being written about them. That's about the right time to do so. When they go down for a couple of days, people like to pronounce them finished. (Facebook, Apple and Alphabet are part of TheStreet's Action Alerts PLUS portfolio.)
But this is what I mean about August. Wouldn't you feel better if you actually knew why they were coming down? Or perhaps even better, if there were even a reason for them to be weak?
Or perhaps best of all, wouldn't it be good to know something good was actually happening at the companies so there would be reasons to buy?
The fact is, though, there's probably nothing going on. They remain dominant in their various industries, as they were when they reported.
At one point in my life, I used to drive myself crazy about this. I can recall a time when I was renting a house on Fire Island and I simply refused to go outside until I could find out what was wrong with Data General and Digital Equipment. I mean I was bonkers. The sellers just kept appearing and appearing. Then the selling extended to Apple. When the market got to Apple, I was completely beside myself.
It turned out to be a great time to buy. But what did I know? We were trading on nothing. The sellers were trading on nothing.
Right now, the usual suspects away from stocks are on hold. There's nothing going on with rates today. The dollar's going the right way for the bulls. Oil's drifting lower. There was no important research outside the footwear industry. Retail away from footwear is recovering, which is important because there's nothing wrong with retail that's not in the mall.
I would be glib if I were just picking an August out of a hat. But there have been so many Augusts like this.
Augusts like two years ago, when we were so worried about China. In fact, two years ago this week, the Dow Jones average went from 17,600 to 15,600 in a couple of days that culminated in a Monday flash crash. Stocks like Celgene (CELG) dropped $127 to $100, where it stayed for couple of minutes. General Electric (GE) had a similar percentage move, as did many other industrials. What happened? A Fed official gave an interview on some satellite radio station talking about the need to increase rates just at a time when the Chinese market was rolling over.
The fact is, nothing was about to change and nothing changed except prices just took a huge tumble.
When it was happening, you couldn't blame it in August. In fact, I remember when David Faber, one of my partners on Squawk on the Street, said he had to leave the desk to make some calls to find out what was going on.
Nothing was going on, except a great chance to buy as we had a confluence of machines that broke down, an errant statement that meant nothing and so few players around that the volatility went nuts.
Could that be happening again? All I can say is there was a lot more evidence of something negative back then than there is now.
A Twitter wag hit me this morning, asking for an apology that I didn't say sell stocks because the president went off the reservation last week about Charlottesville. I will not distinguish the comment with what he called Trump.
I didn't bother to answer him because my charitable trust was a buyer of stocks, not a seller, largely because of that Fire Island/Chinese comment phenomenon that says, "I have been around long enough to know whether there are specific forces at work on many stocks."
And, because I don't believe a 2% decline is a correction.
Nonetheless, here we are. One of the worst weeks of the year in my memory, and nothing's happening, except in the footwear and cosmetics world. If you want to trade off that or the eclipse, be my guest. I am looking for stocks of companies I like that are down and we are telling club members to use the weakness to buy them.
Novel? In this market, I think so.