March 15, 2001

Bear Market Bounce Won't Last

Traders breathed a sigh of relief this morning on the news that Tokyo's Nikkei 225 index surged 309.24 points to close up 2.6% at 12,152.8. Wall Street took this as a sign that the worst is over -- the global economy isn't crumbling. Get real!

Japan's overwhelming economic crisis -- staggering government debt, banks sitting on a pile of bad loans and swooning exports -- haven't gone away. And here at home, the U.S. economy's substantial problems haven't miraculously disappeared overnight, either.

The evidence continues to mount that the economy is going to get even worse before it gets better. This week alone, Wall Street was cratered by earnings bombshells, retail sales fell much more than expected, and the number of delinquencies on credit card bills, home equity loans, car loans, and personal loans rose across the board, according to the American Bankers Association.

Even Cisco System's CEO John Chambers doesn't see a bottom yet. Sales and earnings are still in a free fall, and Cisco's CEO can't tell investors when the situation will reverse. What Chambers also isn't telling investors is why company insiders sold 2.8 million shares in the past 12 months, but have not bought a single share at seemingly rock-bottom prices. Perhaps they know that there's still time to wait for a bargain.

Cisco isn't the only company preparing for the worst. Motorola just announced an additional 7,000 layoffs to cope with the slowing economy and send a signal to Wall Street that they're trying. Other companies are facing lawsuits (Nortel) and SEC investigations (Amazon) that could send tech stocks tumbling again. The market's dramatic plunge on Monday and Wednesday wasn't the end, and any rally is just another golden opportunity to short stocks.

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