It Goes Uppity Up,Up

By David Glenn Cox

The last pillar of faith is a fanatical belief. Despite all logic, is

this reliance on some unseen guiding force that will rescue us. It will

strike down schoolteachers with illness so that we may have another day

to study before the big test. It guides rescuers to find the lost. The

rescued give praise, all praise above while the rescuers just scratch

their heads.

As the investment banks and brokerage houses

advertise their strict adherence to market fundamentals and

mathematical projections. The Stock Market falls prostrate and shouts

praises to his Holy name. The market soars up 300 points, “We are

saved,” they shout, Citigroup earned a profit in the first two months

of the year. “Maybe I can buy that house in the Hamptons after all,

maybe they will bring our bonuses back! Oh, praise his name we are


Citigroup’s stock had risen to a $1.41 by twelve o’clock

a 34% increase in one day. It’s a good sign; maybe this is the bottom

for financials? Bank of America’s stock also rose, sure, why not? If

Citi made a profit then I bet Bank of America could just as easily. GE

is up 16% as is JP Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo oh, hallelujah,

praise his name!

Castaways on desert Islands see phantom ships

sailing across the horizon; those lost in the desert see water mirages.

It is that belief that we will be saved in the face of all logic and

reason. So it is only logical for stockbrokers and pundits to behave as

if the second coming is upon us. Their world is broken and fractured

into a million shiny pieces. Those working on Wall Street today will

never ever live long enough for those good old days to return, so we

can excuse them if they behave exuberantly when the clouds clear and

they strain by moon light to see if Tara is still standing.


are living in a fantasy; Citigroup sold for $57.00 a share a year ago.

So its rise from a buck and a nickel ain’t no great shakes. But they

made money! They made money in the first two months of the year! How

did they make all that money? They started by laying off 52,000

workers, that always helps the bottom line. Then they sold off Smith

Barney Brokerage for 2.7 billion dollars then they sold off Primerica

Financial Services for another $7 billion dollars. It is as if

Citigroup is having a yard sale and yelling. “Look Ma! I’m rich!”


has also sold its stake in the Japanese brokerage house Monex and has

closed branches in this country. Citi has lost money for five straight

quarters; just last week Republican Senators called for an end to

bailing out failing banks, coincidence perhaps? Now this blessed news

Citigroup made money in the first two months of the year. Citigroup was

a sinking ship throwing off her cargo to try and stay afloat and now it

appears that she might make it into port but what does she have left to


This Holy News was in the form of an internal memo by

CEO Vikram Pandit that the bank was profitable in the first two months

of the year. Pandit expressed disappointment with Citigroups stock

price, which he wrote, was based on misconceptions about the banks


“If we’re not at a bottom, we’re a pretty close,” said

Michael Binger, Minneapolis-based fund manager at Thrivent Asset


Bloomberg, “You have to be a little suspicious of

what these major financial leaders say because some of the things

they’ve said in the past haven’t been forthcoming,” said Randy

Frederick, director of trading and derivatives at Charles Schwab &

Co. in Austin, Texas. “Citigroup is the poster child for this whole

financial meltdown.”

“Global stocks rose Tuesday on optimism

over the global economy as top U.S. officials on Monday urged other

countries to step up spending to combat recession. But experts

interviewed on CNBC see this rally as fragile and short-lived.”


you wonder how NASA ever let that bunch get passed them. Citigroup has

sold off it most prestigious and in the good times prosperous assets at

fire sale prices then on a leaked internal document stocks soar? Did

they forget so quickly? Citigroup has received $30 billion in bailout

cash; that the US government and the US taxpayers are on the hook for

306 billion dollars more in loan guarantees.

Only a trip to

Lourdes could bring about a greater belief in miracles. Pandit’s claim

that Citigroup has been profitable is a naive ruse. Making money for

two months is not how you gauge your future, farmers only make money

one or two months a year. You can’t just pick two months at random and

say, “See how good we’re doing?” It’s “The Little Engine That Could”

strategy, “I think I can, I think I can.”

It is in fact a

cynical ploy, a rainmaker promising rain in a drought, a snake oil

salesman selling a miracle cure to the terminally ill. Trying to change

the dynamic through placebo prescriptions. So today they party like its

2005 but soon. Tomorrow maybe, reality will set back in, Tara is gone.

There is no ship on the horizon, there is no water to drink and there

are no more good times on Wall Street or on Main Street.

It is a

market that no longer operates on fundamentals it operates on fear and

hope alone. It is a refugee status, maybe we will be saved or maybe we

are all doomed for tomorrow it goes downdity, down, down. They run in

fear and bluster in faith they boast just to convince themselves

because all they have left is hope and fear and fear is just the

absence of hope.

photo by michael_sanford

Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.