Want to play craps? How about a little roulette? Black jack? Or should we merely play the slots?
On the topic of casinos and gambling, I hope traders, investors, and the general public fully appreciate the extent to which our wards of the state – AIG (NYSE:AIG), Freddie Mac (NYSE:FRE), Fannie Mae (NYSE:FNM), and Citigroup (NYSE:C) have dominated equity trading volumes over the last few weeks. On many days, these stocks have represented upwards of 25% of the overall volume.
I addressed this point in my August 2009 Market Review and wrote,
A large percentage of market volume has centered on those stocks in which Uncle Sam is heavily involved (Citi, AIG, BofA, Freddie, Fannie). I view these particular stocks as very speculative in nature. That said, there are large short bases in these stocks. The shorts were punished during the month. The stocks did trade off significantly on the last day of the month.
Are we supposed to make assessments of our future economic health and overall market performance based upon stocks in which Uncle Sam holds anywhere from a 40-80% equity stake? I think not. I view trading these stocks as pure gambling, not investing. I challenge any analyst who would say otherwise.
What sector of the market is leading the overall market lower today? Financials!! Which companies in particular? Our friendly Market Data page from The Wall Street Journal highlights the following:
So there you have it, 6 of the top 8 most active stocks being traded yesterday are wards of the state, or a close cousin, that being CIT Group (NYSE:CIT). Ford (NYSE:F) is a fully independent entity. Many view General Electric (NYSE:GE) as an extension of the government politically, while the company itself has clearly benefited from government-backed financing.
Don’t take my word for the speculative nature of AIG, Citi, Freddie, and Fannie. The Wall Street Journal highlights the same in writing, Financial Lead Broad Selloff. Specifically the WSJ asserts,
Among the weakest was American International Group, which sank 17%. Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. downgraded AIG to underperform from market perform, estimating that if the government’s support and other goodwill were discounted, AIG would have a negative book value of $6.4 billion.
Mortgage lenders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac also traded lower, falling more than 15% after FBR Capital Markets analyst Paul Miller wrote to clients that “[t]here is no fundamental value remaining” in the companies.
I ask you how much money you want to invest on a long term basis in companies which have negative book value or no fundamental value.
The first rule of gambling is, ‘only play with money you can afford to lose.’ The same is to be said for money put into these companies which just so happen to be dominating the overall market volume.
Come on, brother, give me a hard eight!!