The big news spooking the market today is Obama's unknown plan to try to regulate banks. He is now said to be giving former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker the keys to palace and Volcker is rumored to be getting all Glass-Steagall on bankers's asses telling them they can't trade financial securities using their own deposits. Money McBags is usually for the free market (especially if that free market specializes in foie gras or taint cleanings), but large financials firms need to be regulated. They have too much sway over the global economy, like Rasputin had over the Tsaritsa Alexandra or ugly chicks have over former President Bill Clinton.
The other news moving the market today is that China's GDP rose the fastest it has in two years as it grew 10.7% thanks in part to their ability to make really cheap shit and therefore have consumers need to continually replace said really cheap shit when it breaks/tears/poisons them. Q4 economic growth was driven by a $586B stimulus package, subsidies for consumer purchases, a credit-fueled investment boom, and buy one get one free happy endings at local Shanghai massage parlors. The strong growth in China has investors worrying that the Chinese government will finally try to slow down their lending to avoid more of a bubble than they have already created, which in turn will dampen the global economic recovery.
In US macro news, first time claims for unemployment rose last week by 36k to 482k defying analyst expectations for a 4k drop. Money McBags is not going to harp on analysts for getting the number wrong as he knows it's not easy to guess at a number that can be anywhere from 0 to 300MM, but guys (and gals), can we at least get the fucking direction right? You have a 50-50 chance on that one which is slightly better than your odds of not contracting herpes from shaking Tiger Woods' hands, so can we do a little better? Luckily an economist for the U.S. Labor Department (or as it is soon to be renamed, the U.S. Non-Labor Department or simply You're Fucked) cleared everything up by claiming that last week's numbers were higher than expected in part because the Christmas and New Years holidays created a backlog in some states. To quote this brilliant economist: "It is not an economic thing -- it is an administrative thing." He then went on to explain that the recent market crash also "wasn't an economic thing, it was a math thing," John Edwards denials about being some broad's baby daddy "wasn't a lying thing, it was a syntax thing," and for the ladies out there, swallowing after a hummer "isn't a romantic thing, it is a nutrition thing, so bottoms up" (when of course, we all know it is both). The main point is, whether or not the rise in new unemployment claims was due to an anomalous administrative glitch or more people simply losing their fucking jobs (you know, what the statistic actually measures), there were still at least 450k people who recently filed for unemployment so this economy is about as healthy as Amy Winehouse at an all you can smoke crack bar or a Krispy Kreme donut with extra transfats.
Also, the Philly Fed showed the pace of manufacturing slowed a bit in January as the index fell to 15.2 from 22 and was below the expectations of 17. Apparently a positive number still signals growth so since we have no idea of the impact of the relative values of the arbitrary numbers (how much worse is a 15 than a 17? And about 10% is not likely the correct answer), all we can say is that the Philadelphia area produced some shit, though it was likely all stolen by the residents, so should have minimal economic impact.
In stock news EBAY put up a huge quarter as PayPal revenue was up 28% thanks to an uptick in Nigerian princes needing funds to return to their homelands and reclaim their fortunes, while Starbucks (SBUX) beat analyst estimates by quadrupling profits from a year ago. Same store sales were up 4% proving that overpriced coffee may be a giffen good. The biggest stock news of the day though was Goldman Sachs beating profit estimates by raking in $4.95B in the Q. More surprising than Goldman's success under the Obama administration was the Streltsys' profitability during the reign of Ivan the Terrible, the benefits earned by the Imperial Guard during the Napoleonic era, and Haliburton's favorable business wins during Dick Cheney's vice-presidency. Goldman's revenue was mostly inline and their outperformance was caused by putting aside only $16B for bonuses. The pay ratio dropped to 38.5% which means the average worker will be forced to scavenge with only a $500k bonus and with the way the dollar is dropping, that means these poor Goldman employees will only be able to buy one Maybach and 3 nights with Charisma Cappelli (though to be honest, if all 32k employees had 3 nights with young Ms. Cappelli, she may get a little tired, so to those Goldman employees reading this out there, try to be in the first 1k if possible).
As for small stocks, HAFC continues to love it's long time shareholders as it erupts for the second day in a row on no news. As stated yesterday, TBV is somewhere around $3.60 so this stock has plenty of room to move up, but this is very speculative as Money McBags trusts that TBV number about as much as he trusts politicians, Mexican water, and 35 year old virgins. Also, anything that has recently risen, like RICK, is selling off faster than Rachel Uchitel's 10 minutes of fame. This is going to present some buying opportunities for the better companies. Over the past several weeks Money McBags has mentioned several companies he thought were solid but had run up a little too much (CRUS, NTRI, TMRK, heck even INTC) so use this sell off wisely to re-evaluate and make some smart decisions like the guy who married Christina Hendricks. Oh yeah, a big shout out to When Genius Prevailed reader Matthew who has nailed NLS like a 19 year old girl in her first Monsters of Cock video. Kudos on that pick.