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ISM index a clear V-sign

If this chart does make the case for a V-shaped recovery, then I don't know what does. I have been tracking the relationship between the Institute for Supply Management's Manufacturing Index for more than 10 years, and I have seen it consistently do a great job of forecasting quarterly GDP growth rates. With the October release today, the index is pointing to fourth quarter growth of 4-5%.

Yet I continue to be besieged by negative news and worried investors. Corporations are so worried about the future they are sitting on a trillion dollars of cash, equivalent to about 10% of their assets, according to this morning's Wall St. Journal. Investors are pouring money into bond funds, swelling Bill Gross' Total Return Bond Fund to some $190 billion and making it by far the largest mutual fund. Foreign central banks continue to gobble up Treasury debt by the hundredweight. (And if it weren't the case that the world was desperate for the relative safety of bonds, Treasury would be having a much tougher time financing Washington's trillion-dollar deficits.)

Once again I'll say that the Fed's purchases of Treasury bonds and mortgage-backed securities are not the dominant feature on the bond market landscape. Historically low yields and huge money market funds paying almost nothing are a sign that the world's investors are highly skeptical of just about everything these days. (And of course gold trading at $1060/oz. is just more evidence of the market's fears.) It cannot be the case that the stock market is another bubble in the making when bond yields are so low; it makes a lot more sense to assume that the stock market is about as cheap as the Treasury bond market is rich.

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