Those of you following such things know that the stock market has been habitually setting new highs this year. These culminating from a relentless ascent since inception of the Federal Reserve’s Quantitative Easing program. The trillions conjured to purchase treasuries and underwater mortgage-backed securities have represented an enormous transfer of wealth from dollar holders to institutional stock and bond holders. In which group are you, dear reader?
Interestingly, there is a great deal of anecdotal evidence to answer that question. Nielson ratings on the CNBC financial and business network normally trend in sympathy with market fortunes. And yet with new highs established daily, CNBC is cratering.
And it is cratering because the multi-charred retail investor no longer trusts the institution of Wall Street–regardless of how enticing its present gyrations. Main Street is coming to understand that swollen market returns are likely nothing more than neon lights above an abattoir. Come in, come in. Won’t you join the fun?
As a result, the Dow surges while the small investor yawns. And this is a dramatic departure from prior bull markets. In previous periods of exuberance the stock market was office and backyard chatter. Strangers waiting in line made small talk about their 401ks. Very young people became paper millionaires and others left fledgling careers to form pan-flashing start-ups. Everyone who was anyone watched CNBC.
And now? Almost no one discusses the stock market unless with their broker. And even fewer bother to spend their evenings having ear-drums pierced by Cramer’s caterwauling. Many simply view the market as a sucker’s bet and have tuned out accordingly.
But this is hardly a mere symptom of wariness toward Wall Street. Americans, that is to say those who happen to be standing upon this geography, have a blossoming distrust for the entire edifice.
So we have an increasingly fractured and dysgenic society of rapidly declining social capital where solid majorities are growing to feel the institutional pillars are untrustworthy and inimical to their interests.
Heckuva job, Libbies!