A New Year: the Good and the Bad

Well, it’s a New Year — and it’s full of promise and worry. Like there always is, there’s good news out there and bad news.

The bad news is that current stock market sentiment isn’t good. I have a feeling that the first half of 2008 is going to be a tough one for the main market indices. The market’s got a lot to worry about:

a general slowing of economic activity, a tight credit market, falling housing prices, and $100.00 oil, just to name a few issues.

So, my view is that this lackluster, choppy stock market action is here to stay for the next quarter or two.

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The good news is that the stock market is awfully good at looking beyond the current reality. I’m optimistic about another positive year for stock prices in 2008, with the bulk of the gains in the bottom half of the year based on the market’s appetite to speculate on an economic recovery. All bets are off if we get another major shock to the system (like a geopolitical event or another subprime credit meltdown).

The commodity price cycle is still in full swing and it’s my contention that 2008 is going to be a bullish year for agricultural commodities. Farmers are going to be a lot happier than they were last year. This is good news for the economy because when a farmer does well, he or she always puts that money back into the domestic economy. This is why I’m bullish on Deere & Company (NYSE/DE).

I’m also really bullish on my favorite speculative sector of the stock market: Chinese stocks. In the lead up to the 2008 Summer Olympics, I think we’re going to get all kinds of fast-growing, small-cap Chinese stocks listing on U.S. stock exchanges. In spite of the volatility and the high investment risk, you just can’t find a better group of speculative investment prospects in the marketplace today. It’s very tough to beat an economy that’s growing over 10% a year with a workforce whose sole desire is to work hard and get rich.

So, prepare yourself for some awful stock market action over the near term. We’re going to get more interest-rate cuts from the Federal Reserve, but they have to be careful not to fan the flames of inflation or the whole ship could turn for the worse.