Ever since Benjamin Graham created the concept of "Mr. Market", investors have noticed that when the market gets worried, stocks tend to get cheaper. With that in mind, I've been keeping a running tally of all the issues, events and future concerns affecting market behavior at any given moment. Here's a look at what's happening this week in "Lloyd's Wall of Worry." Also, click here to see the interactive Wall of Worry on Minyanville.
WEEK OF NOVEMBER 15-19
WORRY COUNT: 17
CHINA: Kickin' it purely "my way or the highway." Especially treacherous on the rest of us as they are still building their highways.
THE PIIGS: Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain. FYI: News of their demise has been greatly…delayed.
CALIFORNIA AND THE OTHER 49 STATES: Automakers – done. Banks – done. Next on line at the bailout window: Muni Bonds. "Please step up to the white line."
QE II: In the popularity ratings still more dear than a root canal but not by much.
U.S. ECONOMY: This aging heavyweight looks to be making a comeback but don't expect any championship belts.
UNEMPLOYMENT: The good news is we added 151,000 new jobs. The bad news is that's about 100,000 less than needed to keep us from sinking deeper into the jobless quicksand pit.
TAXES: Extend and Pretend-- it ain't just for loans anymore.
HEALTHCARE REFORM: "If I were a cheese what kind of cheese would I be? Umm…that would be Swiss." Give it a year or so.
OBAMA ADMINISTRATION PART II: "Heavy lies the crown."
XMAS 2010: Praying the Repo Man doesn't tow away Santa's sleigh until after he brings some good cheer. Stack of $20s for me, KK!
CURRENCIES: No longer a race to the bottom. More like a slow bumpy roll down into death valley.
HOUSING CRISIS: The reset button doesn't seem to be working here. Might I suggest bulldozers and bonfires?
INFLATION/DEFLATION: The Fed's inflation wish will come true. And then, like old luggage and my gut, it will be with us for a long time.
G20 MEETING: Granted I wasn't expecting any Gold Medals for the U.S., I wasn't expecting a disqualification smack down either.
TERRORISM: I knew there was a reason I always hated changing the toner cartridge.
COMMODITIES: Trying to wrestle them down with higher margin requirements. You mean some people actually pay for these things?
HFT: High Frequency Trading -- a festering boil on our stock market but nothing a penny transaction tax wouldn't clear up. Dr. SEC, we're waiting…?
What is the Wall of Worry?
Since the 1930's, when Benjamin Graham created the concept of Mr. Market, investors have been trying to figure out what's worrying the stock market at any given moment. Oddly, no one has ever kept a list of the concerns -- except for me. I've been managing money for the last 20 years and keeping a running tally of all the things that are bothering investors. It's an important part of my value investment discipline, because when Mr. Market gets nervous, stocks tend to get cheaper.
As Warren Buffett says: "Be fearful when others are greedy and be greedy when others are fearful."
The Wall of Worry will be updated regularly, so keep coming back.