The stimulus package is a real disappointment because it could have provided a serious punch to shock the economy into action. Instead it is a typical – albeit much bigger than normal – spending bill, which means it is has more than the normal amount of pork and less of the incentives needed to stimulate capital investment, jobs and profits. But frankly, given the dismal state of the economy, I’ll take any spending in almost any form at this time – yes, even pork – provided it is done soon and in a big way.
The economy can’t wait much longer.
The stock market appears to be in agreement – it has been in freefall since the stimulus package since was signed. The gallows humor about the pricing of financial stocks (You can buy a share of Citigroup for less than the ATM charge for withdrawing cash) epitomizes the depths of despair investors now feel. This morning’s news that the Government might increase its ownership in Citibank would appear to support its continued role as an equity investor (admittedly a big one) and not a nationalizer. Thank you, Senator Dodd (or should I misspell it as Senator Dudd?) for freaking out investors with your ill-chosen comments.
But a more careful look at the numbers might offer some signs of hope. While the market is rattling around at the lows it hit just three months ago in November, fewer stocks are making new lows. The Dow Jones Industrial average (which with American Express, Bank of America, Citigroup, GE, JP Morgan Chase is hardly an industrial average any more) is performing worse than the more economically sensitive S&P500 while the smaller company averages are still well above their November lows.