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Pay No Attention To Mounting Volatility

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While everyone else was talking about the anniversary of “Black Monday” last week, we kept reminding anyone who would listen that it was not insignificant that the blackness of that day in 1987 fell on a Monday. The calendar may have read October 19th on Friday but today is a much better proxy for the day that the bottom fell out of the equities markets twenty-years ago. Black Monday, we think, is more like Easter Sunday—we should always commemorate the anniversary on a certain day of the week rather than have the calendar tell us that it’s Black Monday on a Friday.
And Friday was eerily close to the Friday before the original Black Monday. On that day twenty-years ago, the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 4.6%. This past Friday we saw the Dow down 4.1% when the market closed. The Nasdaq saw it’s worst decline since the great Glitch of February. The S&P was down 5.2% in 1987, and 3.9% this past Friday.
Anxiety is everywhere, and not least in the Chicago Board Options Exchange’s implied volatility index. The Vix has climbed back to levels it hasn’t seen since the last week of July, just when the credit and equities markets decided to take a header. And this morning? We’re all over the place this morning. A sharp decline at the open, followed by a bit of a rally led by the Nasdaq. But that was short lived and now we’re back down in slightly negative territory. Which does, we hate to point out, bear a scary resemblance to both that day in 87 and a typical Thursday happy hour for DealBreaker.
It’s completely superstitious to think that market conditions will repeat on anniversaries. What are the odds, right? This two week run-up in the Vix is probably not really telling us anything at all. Market psychology, ten and twenty month trend lines, Fibonacci numbers and, for all we know, the Da Vinci Code all say the equities market will stabilize. Merrill Lynch reports on Thursday, and it only has suffered $5.5 billion in losses from the subprime mortgage market and credit crunch, providing you believe the very people who told us in July that their exposure to subprime was “limited.”
We can’t even talk about this stuff without getting sarcastic. Oh, hey, another market uptick. Maybe everything will be alright after all.