We're in the middle of the worst global health crisis since 1918. That in turn has precipitated the worst economic crisis in 12 years, though it may very well prove to be worse than the decade-long Great Depression of 1929.
Unemployment is at record highs; Thursday's print of 1.877 million new claims was worse than expected, and would've been unthinkable as recently as Presidents Day.
The world is wracked by the worst geopolitical tension since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, and our cities are inflamed by the worst civil unrest since Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated in 1968.
And the markets are within sight of their February highs. The Nasdaq is up almost 8% for the year; the Dow Jones and S&P 500 are off just 8% and 4%, respectively.
And still the Nasdaq is up almost 8% for the year, while the Dow and the S&P 500 are down only about 8% and 4%.
The market is a big, complicated, discounting mechanism. In Business 101, we're taught stock prices reflect future earnings.
But, on balance, companies are not going to make 4% or 8% less than they would during good times. No, the drop in earnings for the second quarter of 2020 is going to be much, much steeper.
But if you listen to the news media, or investment banks' analyst desks, or to government officials, they'll repeat this old story about "future earnings" anyway.
Folks, this is probably the biggest Reality Gap in the country right now. It's the Reality Gap of the decade. And, as always, there are big profits to be had in that gap.
You see, stock markets are no longer about owning a share of a company's future earnings. It's no longer an arena where investors win by making the best long-term predictions, and traders win by predicting what investors will do next.
The truth is that the Big Four - News Media, Madison Ave, Big Government, and the Wall Street Heavyweights - have together turned stock markets into something else altogether.
The Big Four have turned rising markets into a good, much like tap water, public libraries, or electric utilities.