Last night at about seven o’clock, before one single snowflake graced us with its presence, the Westfield, New Jersey public school system sent an avalanche of emails and robocalls proclaiming that classes will be canceled, and schools closed for fear of the upcoming Cyclone Bombogenesis-Blizzard apocalypse.
Today, as I am writing this piece, and looking out the window in our New Jersey office, it looks like a typical January day with some snow sprinkled in. When I was a kid growing-up in Brooklyn, New York, there would never be an email sent to close the schools (put aside the fact that emails weren’t invented yet) unless we had 10 feet of snow covered by 20 feet of solid ice. Even then, your parents would make you walk the five miles uphill to school and 10 miles back home uphill once again. To make matters worse, you did this trek in shorts, tee shirt, and sneakers, while your rotten friends threw snowballs at your head. Okay, so I’m exaggerating a little bit, but I think most of you will agree that we are getting too soft, timid, and afraid as a nation.
What type of example does this send to my daughter (my son is home from college and is sleeping and eating his way through the snowpocolypse, so he doesn’t count right now)? It says to quit when things are just a little challenging and fearful of little snow and wind. To set an example, I endured the perilous journey to my office (don’t worry, it’s only a three minute drive), and didn’t even warm up the car. Then, I walked 30 feet into the building without wearing a hat. Once in the office, the heat was up a little too high, which made me slightly uncomfortable. Now, that’s being rugged.
The Cyclone Bombogenesis-Blizzard did not freeze the stock market from hitting a brand new high. The Dow Jones industrial average, which is a representative bellwether index of the stock market, broke through the 25,000 level for the first time. This is yet another record set after stocks were up 20 percent in 2017 . The red-hot performance is remarkable in light of all the fear of war with North Korea, tensions with Russia, everyone politicizing everything and hating anyone who disagrees with them, and don’t forget the Cyclone Bombogenesis-Blizzard, which will cause all sorts of hardships.
Wall Street and investors attribute the gains to a stronger global economy, cuts in corporate and personal taxes, the potential for large infrasturcre initiatives, deregulations (which completely sucks for my business placing Compliance and regulatory personnel – if anyone cares), and a Congress too busy fighting one-other so that they are not getting anything done to annoy and get in the way of corporations doing their thing.
Some Wall Street analysts claim that 30,000 is right around the corner. Others, like myself, feel that there has to be a pull back. Markets never go straight-up forever. There is always some Black Swan event that shakes investor confidence and knock the market down at least five percent.
Marijuana stocks were pelted by a big wet snow ball thrown at them by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Sessions, aka Mr. Buzzkill, rescinded an Obama-era policy that permitted legalized marijuana to blossom in states across the country. The pot business has blown-up becoming a highly sophisticated, multimillion-dollar cash-money industry. Eight states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for recreational use, and now California, whose sales alone are projected to bring in $1 billion annually in tax revenue, is part of this pot party.
His icy news created a daze and confusion over enforcement and the future of pot. This edict is only days after a new legalization law went into effect in California sending weed stocks soaring. According to his plan, rather than the previous policy of a cool and lenient federal enforcement policy, Sessions will instead let narc federal prosecutors where marijuana is legal decide how aggressively to enforce longstanding, federal law prohibiting it. Bummer, man.
The attorney general has stoked fear about whether it’s cool to grow, buy, or use marijuana in states where the drug is legal.
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) was a bummer too today. The SEC warned investors that they should “exercise caution” with cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, and to be aware that state and federal regulators may not be able to recoup any lost investments from illegal actors (the SEC is not so subtle with their inference).
In a joint statement, SEC Chairman Jay Clayton and Commissioners Kara Stein and Michael Piwowar said,”Many promoters of initial coin offerings (ICOs) and other cryptocurrency investments are not following federal and state securities laws.” The SEC also suggested that they now have to start actually paying attention to this area, as they were totally ignoring it for the longest time hoping that this whole Bitcoin thing was just a passing fancy that would blow away. While regulators are trying to police these quickly growing markets, the SEC urged investors to be vigilant. “The SEC and state securities regulators are pursuing violations, but we again caution you that, if you lose money, there is a substantial risk that our efforts will not result in a recovery of your investment,” the officials said. Dude, that sounds serious!