Tuesday, August 30, 2011

August: The Quiet Month?

Needless to say, it has been an eventful end of August on the East Coast, with an earthquake, hurricane and tornado warnings. Hurricane Irene came and went and left Cape May County pretty much intact, minus a few cubic yards of beach sand and some toppled trees. I know there was quite a bit of grumbling about the mandatory evacuation being overkill, and I thought that myself at first, but had the eye of the storm been out to sea a bit more or gone up the Delaware Bay, I think I would have been chest high or worse in water in my living room. Had people stayed, and the worst case scenario happened, there might have been some serious injury, especially in the ranks of the tourists who swell our population exponentially at this time of year. You just have to look north and west for evidence.

Having worked in a school system for a major portion of my life, I equate the purpose and intent of the evacuation with a fire drill. This was the opportunity for the governor and emergency management officials to err on the side of caution and see if the evacuation plans for removing approximately one million people from Cape May County would work. I have to say it did work quite well, even though I know quite a few of the locals, myself included, did remain and the Bull and Bear Tavern was quite packed Friday night. It helped to know I live on just about the highest ground in the county and the area shelter was literally right around the corner!

Speaking of bulls and bears, the month of August, traditionally a time for vacation, has been full of activity and debate. A 17.9% drop in the S&P 500 took us well beyond a correction and very close to bear market territory. However, there has been a rebound off the low of 1,119.46 to 1,210.08 as we prepare for the Labor Day weekend. The aforementioned natural calamities also added to the show. Of course, the politicians exhibited their expertise by taking the debt ceiling debate down to the wire and generating a debt downgrade. Now the Fed, which just ended its meeting in Jackson Hole, announced it effectively can't do much more with monetary policy and that fiscal policy is the solution to our ills. That leaves things to the "Super Committee" born out of the debt ceiling debate. It looks to be an interesting September.