The financial crisis blame-game has been carrying on for some time. Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan is next up in the firing line. While he defends his actions, stocks and exchange traded funds (ETFs) are continuing along the flat trend seen all week.
Greenspan is widely seen as having missed many of the clues that led to the financial crisis, and today he took to Capitol Hill to defend his action before the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission (FCIC). He denied several accusations: that he kept interest rates so low for so long that it encouraged risky lending and he failed to regulate high-risk loans to borrowers ill-equipped to afford the debt. Greenspan blamed a host of others, but didn’t accept responsibility for his own role. He led the Fed from 1987 until 2006. Financial Select Sector SPDR (NYSEArca: XLF) is up slightly today. [Top 6 ETFs of the First Quarter.]
The mea culpas didn’t come from Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS) in its annual letter to shareholders, either. Clocking in at eight pages, it’s the longest such letter. It also uses the word “client” 56 times, up from 17 in 2008. The firm said it didn’t bet against clients using short positions and said it was one of the first to lower its real estate exposure. iShares Dow Jones U.S. Financial Services (NYSEArca: IYG) is flat this morning; Goldman is 5.3%. [6 ETFs for a Financial Sector Recovery.]
Consumers: Come out, come out, wherever you are. It appears that they’re doing just that, too: an improving job market, better retail sales, higher cargo volumes and rising factory activity signals that American shoppers have stopped the extreme penny-pinching that began not long after the financial crisis hit. SpendingPulse released figures recently that underscore the improvements: purchases of luxury goods rose 22.7% from a year earlier and home furnishing sales increased 13.8%. In fact, year-over-year growth was seen in every major retailing category. Vanguard Consumer Discretionary (NYSEArca: VCR) is flat so far this morning, but up 14.6% year-to-date. [Is Value Lurking in Consumer Staples ETFs?]
The opinions and forecasts expressed herein are solely those of Tom Lydon, and may not actually come to pass. Information on this site should not be used or construed as an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to buy, or a recommendation for any product.