Seems like not so long ago, the markets moved every day on “geopolitical concerns.” Overseas news topped the daily headlines, and as crude made its brief but spectacular ascent to $145, every headline seemed to bump it a little higher.
Then the bottom fell out of the housing market, and the financial market, and autos, and retail, and you get the picture. We stopped caring about what was happening overseas; most of us, anyway. There was Lehman’s collapse, and AIG’s, and Bernie Madoff.
Now, with reports that GM’s preparing yet another restructuring plan, and with everybody still stress testing the stress tests, maybe Mr. Market won’t take time out of his busy day to consider non-equities related stories. But something tells us you might start hearing more about “geopolitical concerns” soon. Like today (especially if you live in New York.)
We first heard about the swine flu outbreak in Mexico City from another editor in the newsroom on Friday. More than 80 people have died in the Mexican capital, spurring the government to shut down schools, museums, bars, restaurants and soccer stadiums. Residents have been advised to stay indoors, not shake hands and not kiss other people.
“Don’t worry,” I told me wife Saturday morning. “It’ll never get up here.”
By Saturday afternoon, it did. Eight kids from a Queens high school have the flu.
And reports of it spreading are, well, spreading, like wildfire. Kansas. Great Britain. Montreal. The word pandemic is getting tossed around, as are references to 1918, when the Spanish Flu killed millions.
Nobody’s saying that’s happening now. But it sure does get your attention.
(There’s some talk that Roche’s Tamiflu could be effective in treating this latest swine flu, so for you momentum traders out there, there’s your tip for the day.)
But that’s not the only “geopolitical” story, dear readers. Oh, no.
The Taliban last week took Buner in Pakistan, a district about 60 miles northwest of the capital of Islamabad, “startling Pakistani and American officials with the speed of their advance,” as the New York Times put it.
That’s about the distance from the Pennsylvania-Maryland border to Washington. Could the Taliban have reconstituted enough after being toppled in Afghanistan to launch an attack on the capital of Pakistan? It’s a scary thought. A nuclear-armed Taliban would make AIG’s troubles look like an after-school special.
This weekend, the Pakistani military launched a counterstrike, trying to force Taliban forces back.
Isn’t is so much nicer to just follow the bank crisis?