The market's child-like in its tempestuous demands, lack of discipline and euphoria or disappointment.
I say that because of how the Cramer-Covid 19 is roaring on the news that the Oxford University/AstraZeneca (AZN) drug trial didn't produce something that will save us all and do so next week. Only a child would be disappointed in that news and the buying of all the stocks of companies that do well in an endless pandemic is childlike, too.
That doesn't mean it will be wrong, however. There is money that is put to work every day based on inputs involving the coronavirus and it is incredible how binary things have become even when I could argue they shouldn't be binary at all.
Let's take today's news about the Oxford University/AstraZeneca's experimental vaccine. Today we got an analysis of the Phase One trial of the drug in a magazine called Lancet. Fortunately it didn't kill anyone or make anyone sick beyond headaches and fatigue. Other than that, the genetically engineered virus did create a positive immune response meriting further study before it is given broadly to any population as the vaccine was given to relatively healthy people who were recruited through local advertisements. Who knows how the infirmed those with pre-existing illnesses and the elderly will react to it? Which is why larger tests must be authorized.
Somehow, that very positive news was viewed as negative. I think the buyers all last week, the buyers of the recovery stocks, were expecting much, much more and quickly threw a tantrum, dumping all the cruise line, hotel, airline and mall based REITs, and heading right into all the techs that do well in a protracted pandemic.
Before I go into this I want to say that the buyers and sellers are not politically motivated. They are not making a bet that the administration will get it wrong. In fact, the furious way they are buying the stocks of companies that do well has more to do with the need to stay at home and work - which will be prolonged - than it does whether the president or the states get it right.
At this point it is too late to stop the virus in this country. It is out of control. You don't need a weatherman to know which way the winds blow. We haven't gotten it under control because either we don't want our civil liberties impinged by masks or because we don't think it's that dangerous anymore. I get that. The case rate is soaring, the death rate is falling.
But I would contend that until you know enough people who have had it and either didn't go to the hospital early enough or couldn't get a test quickly enough, you are nuts if you think that we are winning. This is a really, really bad disease and it cannot be minimized and will not be minimized by anyone who has had it. Do you hear people get it and say "hey, it was like a two-day bad cold?" I don't.
We aren't going to do contact trace because we don't have enough tests anyway. Who's fault is that? Who cares? We need to do something to make more tests. By the time we get the results it's too late to matter. And, of course, once again, people act as if letting the government know where you are - integral to contact tracing - is a violation of your civil liberties. I am beginning to believe that this disease is ill-fitting to our culture and proclivities for states rights.
Unlike pretty much every country in Europe and Asia, we need a vaccine to resume any kind of normal as they have elsewhere.
That's why the whole notion of the disappointment about the "results" of the vaccine is so fatuous. We are not going to get a study that says "hallelujah, while we were checking this vaccine for safety it turned out to be so effective that it is time for everyone to line up and take it." That's the childlike fantasy that we have to deal with.
So what gets bought on this disappointment?
First, tech ETFs take off as they always do. That means FAANG, although no matter what Mark Zuckerberg does, anything short of the total repudiation of the president doesn't seem to appease his critics. It is amazing to me that the company has really cleaned up much of what it is said to be doing wrong. I wonder if Disney (DIS) , said to be the largest advertiser, told Facebook (FB) what it wanted to have done to keep their ads. Or did it just presume that Zuckerberg is a bad guy. Frankly, it doesn't matter. As legendary internet pioneer Gary Vaynerchuk said in our Town Hall last week, Instagram is the single greatest ad bargain on earth for small and medium sized businesses. So, the stock didn't get hit. It advanced. Meanwhile, Alphabet (GOOGL) and Amazon (AMZN) got pushes from a major firm with a $800 target boost from Goldman for Amazon, from $3000 to $3800. It amazes me how price target boosts have such an impact these days. I have never seen anything like it.
Plus confidence is crazy high. Microsoft (MSFT) reports on Wednesday. Normally some would be circumspect. But a combination of ETF buying and aggressive taking by individuals pushed it up dramatically.
Many are saying that this is just like 1999 and therefore will lead to a crash of epic proportions. I am not so sure. I am much more from the school that money has to go somewhere and last week it went to the normalcy stocks, the ones from companies that benefit from an instant vaccine that works for all, and this week it's the opposite.
That's why beyond FAANG there's much more buying in the stay at homes: The cloud kings, plus Zoom (ZM) , Ring Central (RNG) , Fortinet (FTNT) , Palo Alto Networks (PANW) , and so many others that make it so you can do business at home without being hacked. They are almost old hat. It's so knee-jerk, but do you think children are any different?
Remember we have now developed a truly roulette market. You can bet on black, which is instant vaccine, the equivalent of passing go and collecting $200 because you bypass that stodgy meddlesome stage three, or you can bet on red which is the shutdown non-economy.
Both have variants. You can bet black, instant vaccine, or you can put money on specific numbers, such as airlines all of which got hit today on soft numbers, or on cruise ships because they are truly double or nothing, or, of course, on Simon Properties (SPG) , the daytrader's dream because it stands for brick and mortar shopping.
Of course, those who believe that the economy's going to shut down and there will be stimulus can hedge by buying Walmart (WMT) , Dollar General (DG) , Target (TGT) and Dollar Tree (DLTR) as well as some calls on the Dow Jones Average.
Now for those who think this is all fanciful what you need to do is get up at 3:30 am and watch the crawl underneath at the bottom of your screen. You will see voracious buying of the economy-wide-open stocks as well as a smattering of buying of tech stocks like Zoom that zoom on anything but perfect vaccine news which we are never going to get.
Remember the Cramer-Covid 19 index, represents close to half of the S&P but, more important, when you lump in financials and healthcare you pretty much get 70% of the market that is either going to go up or do nothing on news like we had from Britain.
And that's exactly what happened.