How did everything on Wall Street go horribly right this week?
Is the smell of decay getting kind of bad around here?
Maybe it’s just me.
After all, I’m always smelling something rotten in Wall Street. But it ain’t just rot we’re smelling this week. It’s actually some strange combination of rot and roll.
After all, as half the financial world seems to rot from within, the other half is ripping loose, cranking it to 11.
The most peculiar aspect to this odd split, though, is that nearly every turn of events — good and bad — is running against expectations and reason.
More than ever, surprise has become a contagion.
I’m a journalist, so let’s get the worst part — the good news — over with first.
McDonald’s Corp. MCD, +1.43% left for McDead, surprised everyone and probably even itself by rising. Saved by the McMuffin.
Microsoft Corp. MSFT, +10.80% which was assumed to be making a slow but steady retreat from relevancy, came storming back with an earnings report that had investors with their heads in the (computing) clouds.
Even Amazon.com Inc. AMZN, +6.34% which always existed in the shadow terrain of promised profit, actually reported a legitimate one.
Twitter Inc.’s TWTR, +2.71% new (and old) chief executive officer, Jack Dorsey, fired 300 Twitter workers, then gifted the ones left one-third of his own stock. While we weren’t looking, did Wall Street actually grow a soul?
But not everything in the finance world went horribly right. Quite the contrary.
Americans, who since the advent of time, were reliably known to sit on their couches watching sports and gorging on junk, are apparently doing neither. Coca-Cola Co. KO, -0.80% reported horrible earnings, while ESPN, long the engine of Walt Disney Co.’s DIS, -0.42% earnings, is — like Twitter — firing 300. No one at Disney, though, is giving away any stock. Put that in your mouse ears and smoke it.
Meanwhile, “Big Blue,” that old technology stalwart also known as International Business Machines Corp. IBM, +0.35% has been, thanks to horrible earnings, been redubbed “Medium Blue.”
And Yahoo Inc. YHOO, +3.28% had to reach out to arch-nemesis Google (now a unit of Alphabet Inc. GOOGL, +6.77% ) to save itself. The strange beat went on. It took until this week for Volkswagen AG VOW, -1.21% to suspend its top quality-control official. Oh, and Playboy foreswore nudity.
We have, in short, instead entered a bizarro world. The concept of a bizarro world, originated in Superman comic books and later appropriated by “Seinfeld,” holds that a world can invert, running entirely counter to expectations. Ironically, stocks and bonds sold in bizarro world always go down, which is not happening here.
So we have an unexplained phenomena — a week’s turn of events so unlikely on both the up and down sides, leaving me, a longtime market watcher, with his brow officially stuck on furrow.
And perhaps that is the point.
On Wall Street, surprise is always in store — even for those who have grown to expect it. The stock market is forever about the glaring exception.
Those you think will rot, roll — even as the rollers rot.
Wall Street is always the Kingdom of the Absurd, and there is no better reminder than surviving a week in which that absurdity hit bizarro world proportions.