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“I’ve never seen the consumer, or the Americans just generally, more fearful than this.” Warren Buffett, March 9, 2009

Morning stock market summary

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It’s a quiet morning in the markets ahead of the Non-Farm Payrolls report that is just hitting the tapes as we send this, and that will likely dictate much of the market’s move to close out the week. Recapping the numbers that just hit, the headline reading came in stronger than expected (275K vs 200K), but the last two months were revised down by nearly 170K.  As a result, the Unemployment Rate jumped to 3.9% vs expectations for a level of 3.7%.  Average weekly hours were right in line with forecasts, but average hourly earnings were weaker than expected. While the headline was a beat, it was offset by some downside revisions and the highest unemployment rate since July 2022. The immediate reaction in equity futures was a jump, but they have already pulled in from the initial spike higher

If you didn’t get a chance to catch yesterday’s CNBC interview, you can watch it here.

It’s always darkest before dawn, and unless you’ve been around as long or longer than Warren Buffett, fifteen years ago tomorrow, March 9, 2009, was as dark of a day in the financial world as you’ve ever seen.  A refresher of the news and events that led up to that day are recapped in the chart below, but they don’t even fully reflect the tension of those days where every morning was a different headline leading one to wonder if all they had done to save over the years would disappear in to thin air.  Buffett, never known as someone to exaggerate for a headline commented in a March 9, 2009 interview on CNBC that “the Fed did some things in September when it happened that were vital in keeping the place going. I mean, when the–if they hadn’t insured money market accounts and, in effect, commercial paper, you know, you and I would be meeting at McDonald’s this morning.” Later in the interview, he added “the world almost did come to a stop.”

Fifteen years later, the chart of the S&P 500 and sentiment surrounding it looks much different.  The market is at record highs fueled by hopes for a new era of Ai enhanced productivity, and sentiment is near some of its most bullish levels in years. Another famous saying from Buffett is to “be fearful when others are greedy and to be greedy only when others are fearful”.  We wouldn’t go nearly as far as to say that the current environment is a complete 180-degree turn from March 9, 2009, but don’t expect to see annualized gains of 15% over the next 15 years either.

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