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How Will 2009 End?

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Get ready for a wild ride into year-end.

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A few years ago, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average perched at all-time highs, Minyanville told the tale of risk gone awry.

We spoke of cumulative imbalances, the dangers of derivatives, duality in the dollar and the daunting dynamic of debt. We did so when few wanted to know about the other side of conspicuous consumption; we did so when the systemic risks weren't so obvious.

To be sure, there's no looking back as we edge ahead. Backslaps and victory laps have never been our style, nor does anyone "care" who was right and what went wrong. At the end of the day, traders are only as good as their last trade and media companies are only as valuable as the latest content. I remind myself of that dynamic often as the world shifts from day to day.

That's not to say we're always right; I'll be the first to admit my trading feel chilled for the better part of October. I could ramble on about trying to do too much or getting caught flat-footed by the latest leg of the rally but I'm not one for excuses and you don't have the time. Inherent in Minyanville's editorial mandate of truth and trust is an embedded honesty that you most certainly deserve.

I offer this context as we edge towards the end of a wicked year on Wall Street. As the first two months of 2009 required a fight for survival and the next eight featured one of the sharpest rallies in history, I can't help wonder if we'll see some symmetry into the home stretch. Given how viciously fear morphed to greed, it would be cruelly ironic if that psychological pendulum knocked over the bulls in time for the holidays. See also Will the Holidays Bring Coal or Gold?

What provides a basis for this potential scenario other than the growing disconnect between perception of a recovery and the reality that for most folks, the environment continues to worsen?

We saw textbook technical failures last week after the market broke the 2009 uptrend in the S&P and NDX on Wednesday, back-tested those levels Thursday and failed anew on Friday. As past support is future resistance, the baton has been passed from the bulls to the bears as traders lean against those levels as short-side backstops.

Technical analysis is but one of four primary metrics but with fund managers chasing benchmarks into year-end, we can safely assume that investors will remain reactive -- as they have all year -- with regard to two-sided performance anxiety. The buyers are higher and the sellers are lower; it sounds counter-intuitive and that's because it is.

One Step at a Time

There are always two sides to every trade, as demonstrated by the litany of news this week. Yesterday, the world's most famous investor plunked down $44 billion for Burlington Northern Sante Fe Corp (BNI). Warren Buffett, Chairman & CEO of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (BRK.A), said of the purchase, "It's an all-in wager on the economic future of the United States."
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Positions in S&P, NDX
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