During my years at Morgan Stanley, we had a good indicator of market tops and bottoms, based on client behavior patterns. I'm not going to itemize those patterns here. They're amusing, yes, but I would embarrass readers who've exhibited that behavior, and that's not my goal. Suffice it to say that when a market was bottoming--stocks, bonds, gold, etc.--we'd walk around the office asking each other, "Did the fat lady sing yet?"
And then one day, a client would call, all panicked, and liquidate their account because they couldn't take it anymore. But it would always be something absurd, like a bond client who couldn't handle the news about the stock market anymore, not realizing that they didn't own any stocks. They'd be in such a frenzy from talking to their friends and watching financial news shows, that there was no talking them out of it. So we'd cash in their bond portfolio--no matter how stupid that decision was, we were obligated to fulfill it. (We had a lot more leeway on saying "no" to stupid purchases, as a matter of fact, we were rather obligated to say "no" to those.)
After finishing the transaction, we'd visit the other brokers in the office and say, "The fat lady just sang!" Everybody would laugh, like "oh, here comes a good story", and then you'd recount what just took place. Several of us would have an outrageous client story of similar magnitude on the same day or two, and that's when we knew we'd passed the bottom of the market. If you were brave, you'd start buying. I was always brave. But that's another blog post. (Ask me about the bond market crash of '94. Even my fellow brokers thought I was nuts when I started buying Treasuries for all my clients.)
Back to politics, we've had a difficult season. The liberal candidate got elected. People have been scared. Their claws have come out. The MSM's been attacking commentators. The Republican leaders have been attacking commentators. Commentators have been attacking Republican leaders and the MSM. The President has acted like a rock star on tour for the express purpose of apologizing for our country's behavior. Citizens have been sitting on their couches watching their new President on television and trembling in their boots--especially our seniors who recall World War II.
Simultaneously, the grassroots activists have been pepping everybody up, holding Tea Parties, Twittering, going to protests and rallies, and encouraging voters that we can field candidates and win in 2010. Go Team Go!
Then last week, I received communications from three stalwart Republicans. Each of them threw their hands up in the air, griped about a lack of leadership, and announced that they're going to hang back now, stop participating, and wait for a leader to emerge. What I wanted to say was, "Okay then, I guess the leader is not YOU!" But that wouldn't be polite, and part of that comes from my disappointment in their behavior. I still love them. And then the fat lady came to mind, and I started to laugh.