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Stocks' Malaise Lingers
USA Today
Market bears: Lack of karma spells decline
By Adam Shell, USA TODAY' October 16, 2005

NEW YORK — As stocks' malaise lingers, Wall Street bears — the doomsayers who often warn of impending price drops — are getting bolder predicting the 3-year-old bull market is near an end.

The bears' outlook, which more optimistic market players often shrug off, appears to be gaining credence. The reason: The obstacles confronting stocks, ranging from rising interest rates to the threat of higher inflation to soaring home-heating costs and debt-choked consumers, keep mounting.

"A mood shift has occurred," notes Woody Dorsey, a behavioral finance expert at Market Semiotics. "The preponderance of known negatives is finally being recognized."

That's reflected in the Dow Jones industrial average, down 4.6% in 2005. Even after Friday's gains, the Dow has lost value in seven of 10 trading sessions this month, is down 2.7% in the fourth quarter and last week notched its lowest close since May 13. The current bull is also aging, now six months older than the median bull market of 2½ years.

Angst is also evident in the gloomy comments issued by bears:

• Tom Au, author of A Modern Approach to Graham and Dodd Investing, pulls no punches: "This is the beginning of the bear market that I have been predicting." His worries include the poor start in October; the fact this is a post-election year, which has historically been a bad time for stocks, including scary sell-offs in 1929 and 1973; and the absence of the bull market for most of 2005.

"The karma of the market is no longer there," says Au, who predicts a serious downturn lasting into 2007. "People are running scared."

• Peter Schiff, chief global strategist at Euro Pacific Capital, used the "C" word, as in market "crash," in a recent missive to clients. Fueling his anxiety: the belief that inflation is a bigger problem than feared, which will force the Federal Reserve to keep boosting interest rates. Higher borrowing costs, he argues, will burst the housing bubble and throw the economy into recession.

Says Schiff, "There is nothing the Fed can do to combat inflation unless they hike rates aggressively."

• Ken Tower, chief strategist at CyberTrader, says another bad sign is the disinterest in stocks. "It's all about supply and demand, and if you've got no demand for stocks, prices are going lower."

Of course, bulls argue that despite all the negatives, corporate profits are healthy (analysts expect double-digit growth for the next three quarters, Thomson Financial says) and that we are simply in a short-term funk. Milton Ezrati, chief strategist at Lord Abbett, says stocks are cheap and are a "buy."

You have to wonder if reporters live in the real world. The article says we've had a bull market for three years, yet the Dow hasn't budged an inch in five years. Fairy tales are for children.

The deep dark secret on Wall Street is they were ALL wrong - not once, but twice. First, they thought Bill Clinton's tax increase would cause a recession and kill the market and second they thought Bush's tax cut would stimulate investor confidence. The exact opposite happened. Wall Street is suffering from the same ills of the media. They've disconnected themselves from the real world. Fairy tales are for children.