I've been writing a lot lately about the way that Wall Street's bigwigs have been hoping, praying, and maybe even doing a little crazy dance to get a rate cut from the Federal Reserve. Trouble was, the economic news hadn't been swinging Wall Street's way.
Until today. The lackluster jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics would seem to be just the thing to get the Fed's attention, and maybe scare it into a quarter-point or even half-point cut, thus making Wall Street's day. Sure enough, everyone's predicting a rate cut now (though I'm still not so sure), but we've got tickers of fire today. Where's the joy?
Stocks like Harley-Davidson
What gives? Well, certain of the above-mentioned companies have reported lackluster results or updated expectations for the coming months -- and by "update," I mean "downgrade." The obvious reason? Consumers have been pinched, and the Street expects it to get worse.
That crummy-looking jobs report may have been exactly the kind of bad news needed to get a Fed rate cut, but now, finally, Wall Street seems to be realizing that rates alone don't juice stock returns. If consumers get too antsy about jobs and start (gasp) saving their money -- though the evidence so far is that they're not -- many of today's "historically cheap" valuations will look as expensive as those skinny jeans at Needless Markup.
I'm not sure that stock investors have been pricing risk any more carefully than those who bought all that crummy mortgage-backed debt. But that's not all bad, because if we get a real, sustained Wall Street whomping over the next weeks or months, I suspect that the upside potential of good companies won't be properly appreciated, either.
Call me old-fashioned, but that's exactly the kind of stock market I like. Panicky crowds are dumb crowds, and dumb crowds offer the rest of us great bargains. So go ahead and wish, but be careful what you wish for. At the very least, make sure you know what to do if you get it.
At the time of publication, Seth Jayson, a top-ten CAPS player, had no positions in any company mentioned here. See his latest CAPS blog commentary here. View his stock holdings and Fool profile here. Fool rules are here.