Personal finance
Burger King slims down for success
The Penguin-Random House merger: 3 takeaways
Dunkin' weathers storm to attract crowds
Inside Wall Street: Bank weathers its own storm
How Sandy will affect shipping business
The whopping US rally that wasn't
Disney acquires Lucasfilm for $4B
Late-inning earnings plays
Gilead's 'son of Viread' passes first test
Auto sales expected to stay strong into 2013
Why Yamana shares are soaring
Archer Daniels Midland is boring and cheap
Stericycle finds treasure in trash
Don't follow Icahn into Netflix
How to trade the US presidential election
David Einhorn is shorting iron ore
What's next for Exxon after Rosneft buy?
Who's right, Main Street or Wall Street?
Hershey shareholders sue for child labor records
China's growth picks up
Europe offsets Johnson Controls' Asia gains
CSX took too heavy a beating
In retail, pessimism doesn't pay
Illumina should reconsider Roche's offer
Who's right, Main Street or Wall Street?
People are getting euphoric out there. Maybe all the negative campaign ads are having a reverse psychology effect. Or maybe the signs of life in the housing market have reanimated dormant animal spirits. Whatever the cause, the Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index has surged to its highest level since early 2008.

Yet at the same time, big money managers on Wall Street are just about the most pessimistic they've been in 14 years, while newsletter writers are also gloomy. And as I've been writing about for weeks, CEO confidence is way down, as are hiring and capital spending plans, with expectations for the future back at late 2008 levels.

So, who is right? Consumers or Wall Street and the CEOs?

As I've said before, CEOs have historically had a better read on what's around the corner. They watch the intersection of demand, supply, and pricing and see the data in real time. Investors are a little behind the curve, since the data they use is at least one month old (major economic figures) or as much as three months old (corporate earnings).

And while stocks have been bouncing around recently, the truer story is being told in ancillary markets, which are suggesting "risk off." Treasury bonds are basing nicely as buyers seek a safe haven. Commodities remain under pressure. The CBOE Volatility Index ($VIX +2.38%) -- Wall Street's "fear gauge" -- is perking up. And junk bonds, which are one of the best gauges of investor confidence, are dropping out of a consolidation pattern and threatening to fall through a 50-day moving average for the first time since the May market meltdown.

What sends this thing over the cliff? A weak jobs report? The outcome of the elections? The economic context is still negative.

If Obama wins, Congress will resist a push for more taxes. If Romney wins, a Democratic Senate will resist maintenance of the Bush tax cuts. The "fiscal cliff" of spending cuts and tax hikes worth some 5% of GDP is still out there -- with the added complication of the Treasury hitting its $16.4 trillion debt ceiling sometime in January or February. The economic consequences of CEO nervousness and a pullback in capital expenditures and hiring plans are still out there.

And in Europe, Germany isn't happy about the growing need for debt writedowns for Greece, nor is Greece happy about the austerity terms Germany is pushing. A Greek court today warned that planned pension cuts and retirement age increases may be unconstitutional, even as the coalition government is losing support from its leftist members.

For now, I am looking to Friday's jobs report for an indication as to who's right. I continue to recommend my clients and readers maintain a defensive posture by focusing on picks like the Direxion 3x Treasury Bull (TMF -3.09%).

Для печати
Microsoft will 'die and disappear' in next few years
Whole Foods' freshness starting to wilt
In a war of attrition, Microsoft will beat Apple again
Asbury Automotive sees strong earnings momentum
Student debtors get the runaround
What to keep in your money survival kit
First-date coupon use is on the rise
Groupon offers NYC dinner in the dark
The worst credit cards of 2012
Post-Sandy, banks waive fees
Homeowners spared costly hurricane deductible
7 ways to commit financial suicide
Why are car loans so easy to get?
Best credit cards after bankruptcy
Get more cash for your old clothes
5 fee-free ways to help Sandy victims
After a flood, frugality can be dangerous
After the storm: Rebuild or move?
My unexpected $2,400 vet bill
Best credit cards for holiday shopping
Downside of a higher retirement age
Prepaid cards are not gift cards
Is the economy destroying love?
Financial lesson from a football game
Book Christmas flights before Black Friday
6 ways to earn extra holiday cash
Holiday shopping? Avoid this retail trick
Many holding out for Cyber Monday
SiriusXM drives straight race to $3 a share
Sandy: Beware the bubble in storm stocks
Starbucks: Buy it, own it, love it
4 Canadian value stocks
What's the White House worth?
Stocks are immune to Washington
EMC strengthens RSA business with acquisition
Russia garners another favorable valuation call
Goldman Sachs slashes partnership ranks
Inside Wall Street: Cheers from Bud and Diageo
4 favorites for a housing rebound
Is Baidu's China reign over?
In 2013, Apple, Facebook will fly, Intel will die
Is AOL's turnaround for real?
Stock buyback blitz continues
Anheuser-Busch pushes higher-alcohol beers
Baidu: Searching for growth in China
Twitter vs. Facebook: The war heats up
Would Disney buy Hasbro?
Vending-machine pizza prepares for US debut
Amazon lockers coming to Staples
Are customers becoming less loyal to Apple?
Focus on earnings, not fiscal cliff
Evergreen stocks: 4 favorite dividend ideas
Visit Statistics