“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair…, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way…”
The opening line of Charles Dickens famous novel A Tale of Two Cities has never been more prevalent in my mind when discussing the United States, and the markets at this point in time. Every positive is met with skepticism. Every negative is met with ridicule. Mention too many positives and you’re out of touch. Mention too many negatives and you’ve got sour grapes. The unemployment rate is 4.9% as of today; yeah, but labor participation is still poor. Housing prices have rebounded to pre-2008 levels; yeah, and no one can afford a house anymore. More people than ever before have health insurance; yeah, but premiums have doubled for less care. I suppose Charles Dickens was right, it was the best of times, it was the worst of times.
The markets haven’t fared much better with that reasoning. Too many positives and the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates. Too many negatives and the United States is in a full-blown recession. Corporate earnings have been good, but they haven’t been great. The market is still near its all-time highs; however, it’s trending negative right now. The economy is positive, but just barely. Real incomes for Americans are on the rise, but not enough to make up for the last ten years of stagnation. Like I said each statement from any direction, positive or negative. Is met with an equally compelling, and passionate response of why it isn’t so. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.
Within the market and the United States as a whole, it seems that confusion and bewilderment are the stories of the year. It doesn’t even stop there; sports have been in a state of disarray as well. Point in case, the Cubs just won the World Series, and the Raiders are relevant again in football. It seems what was once black is now white, and what was up is down. People are anxious and excited all at the same time. People are exhausted of election coverage, however fearful of what Election Day will bring. One part of the country has recovered while another has been hollowed out. No one pays any taxes, but taxes are too high. It was the best of times, it was the worst of time.
It seems no matter where you turn no one can seem to quite make up their minds on the state of America. The confusion leads to the outlandish controlling the narrative. While the sensible collective quickly get drowned out by the noise. While Americans wait in anxiety and anticipation of Election Day, the sun will still rise and life will go on. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.