The Market Waits for Godot

 

In college—or high school, if you were really smart–you probably read (and forgot) Samuel Beckett’s great existentialist play, Waiting for Godot.

In that play two vagabonds—or characters we think are vagabonds—named Vladimir and Estragon stand on a bare stage with a tree in the middle and talk in circles. But they always come back to the same thing or person—Godot. “Let’s go.” “We can’t.” “Why not?” “We’re waiting for Godot” “Ah.” If Seinfeld was a TV show about nothing, Godot was a play that went nowhere.

That’s where the stock market—you knew I was going to talk about that sooner or later, didn’t you?—has been the last few weeks: stuck in the middle of a classic tug of war between bulls and bears.

Since hitting all-time highs on January 26th, the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 index sold off in a full correction, falling 10% before bottoming on February 8th. So, for the past month or so, the averages have been meandering up and down, retesting neither the previous high nor low.

What’s causing this and, unlike Godot, does it mean anything?

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