Saturday, April 5, 2008

Are We done yet?

Recession (the "R" word) is a word easily bandied about these days by everybody. It seems that it has become the most used word for Q1-08 already. With job losses in the US, the sub-prime slime, and the recent Bear Stearns Circus, we seem to have our hands full with financial news on a daily basis. Some have started to use the other "R" word, Recovery and have predicted that we have hit the bottom and that Q2 and the second half of 2008 will lead to a recovery. As i thought about this, I just wanted to take a quick snapshot of how our markets have fared over the last 6 months v/s other major markets. So I did a quick computation of percentage drops of
1: % drop 52 week highs v/s the closing numbers for 4/4/08 and
2: % drop of index value at open on Jan 08 v/s closing numbers for 4/4/08.

Here's a rolling snapshot from East to west of some major market indices. Note the numbers are approximate. (All graphs & Numbers from Yahoo Finance)

The worst preforming index:
Shanghai Composite down almost 44% since its 52 week high and down 34.5% YTD

The best (of the Worst)
Dow Jones Industrial Average down 11.7% since its 52 week high and down 7.13% YTD

You decide if US markets have reached the bottom. I know there is no sense in comparing some of these indices directly, but still I thought it was interesting to show the difference in the percentage drops between the majors.

(JAPAN) NIKKEI 225 Index Value: 13,292.22 @ close on 4/4/2008

52wk Range: 11,691.00 - 18,297.00 [% total drop = 27.35%]

Year open at 15,155.73: [% drop YTD 2008 = 12.29%]

(CHINA) SSE Composite Index Value: 3,446.24 @ close on 4/4/2008

52wk Range: 3,271.29 - 6,124.04 [% total drop = 43.72%]

Year open at 5265: [% drop YTD 2008 = 34.5%]

(HONG KONG) HANG SENG Index Value: 24,264.63 @ close on 4/4/2008

52wk Range: 19,386.70 - 31,958.40 [% total drop = 24.07%]

Year open at 27,632.19: [% drop YTD 2008 = 12.18%]

(INDIA) BSE SENSEX Index Value: 15,343.12 @ close on 4/4/2008

52wk Range: 12,904.80 - 21,206.80 [% total drop = 27.64%]

Year open at 20,393: [% drop YTD 2008 = 24.76%]

(GERMANY) DAX Index Value: 6,763.39 @ close on 4/4/2008

52wk Range: 6,167.82 - 8,151.57 [% total drop = 17.02%]

Year open at 8,045.97: [% drop YTD 2008 = 15.93%]

(U.K.) FTSE 100 Index Value: 5,947.10 @ close on 4/4/2008

52wk Range: 5,338.70 - 6,754.10 [% total drop = 11.94%]

Year open at 6,456.89: [% drop from start of 2008 = 7.88%]

(U.S.A.) DJIA Index Value: 12,609.42 @close on 4/4/2008

52wk Range: 11,508.70 - 14,280.00 [% total drop = 11.70%]

Year open at 13,261.82: [% drop from start of 2008 = 7.13%]

(U.S.A.) NASDAQ COMPOSITE Value: 2,370.98 @close on 4/4/2008

52wk Range: 2,155.42 - 2,861.51 [% total drop = 17.16%]

Year open at 2653.91: [% drop from start of 2008 = 10.67%]

Well I sincerely hope that we have reached a bottom in some sense here. I say this because if U.S. markets continue to fall further to be more in line with India and China we have a long way to go to the bottom. Well is the economy in a recession? I was at an Apple store today and the place was humming. Kids and parents buying more gadgets. Heck I myself bought a few items.

As for India, Food Prices Drive India Inflation., rapid inflationary pressures recently forced the government to stop the export of all non-basmati rice. The finance minister even lashed out at western nations regarding the use of corn for ethanol production when the world's poorer countries were going hungry. The rise in food prices is not just in India, it's a worldwide phenomenon. Q&A Rising World Food Prices.

While the inflationary pressures are not so high in the U.S, the prices of wheat and other staples have increased in the past few months. Americans only seem to relate to prices of fuel with increasing urgency, but respond with the "Boiling Frog Syndrome" mentality with respect to the rise in the cost of food.

But some do notice and it's not the poor. It is real surprising that the ones who do notice are the real wealthy. One such person recently came back home after a long vacation and complained about the increased cost of a bagel (from a micro blog post that I follow). Maybe that's why they get wealthy in the first place.

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