Maybe just maybe Mr. Market has it right and all the economists have it wrong. Stocks are on a tear and investors seem to be betting on a more robust economy than almost any economist or market strategist. The widely touted date for the market’s low was March 9, 2009 when the S&P 500 closed at 676.53. But the actual flush-out of sellers occurred three days earlier when the index reached a devilish 666 on 3/6/9. Eerie numbers, right you “Code” fans? Today it trades at 989, just 10 points from 999. Hmmm?

This afternoon we find the S&P 500 advancing for the fourth day, up nearly 12% for the week. News on Tuesday that Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit’s remarks in an internal memo saying the bank is having its best quarter since 2007 and comments from regulators in Washington suggesting they may reinstate rules that limit short selling sparked the rally. By Wednesday it looked like it would run out of steam when Thursday’s Retail Sales report demonstrated there was still life in the consumer. The possibility that consumer, the largest part of the US economy combined with the picture Bernie Madoff swiftly and justly being escorted off to jail in handcuffs gave the market it’s second powerful boost upward. This week’s move dramatically demonstrates how fast markets can move on relatively little information.

Just before landing an airplane, the pilot flares back, slowing its speed by transitioning into a stall attitude. After slowing down, he changes pitch into a landing attitude shortly before touching down. The stall essentially drops the plane onto the runway. Stall too early and you get quite a bump. Contents in the overhead bins most definitely shift, if not fall. Stall just right and the plane gently touches the runway, its speed no longer sufficient to keep it aloft. Airline captains get applause when they land a plane like that.

Recent economic signs point to the fact that the Fed may be close to accomplishing its goal to slow the economy enough to keep inflation under control.  There are also signs in the bond markets to indicate that investors think rates are high enough.  Don Hays observes that the short-term money markets (the 90-day T-bills) have consistently anticipated the Fed’s rate hikes for the past year as they hovered just above the Fed Funds rate (set by the Federal Reserve policy board).  In the last few weeks, however, the T-Bill has resisted following the Fed Funds rate higher.  As pointed out last in last week’s Brief, commodity prices have shown signs of topping out.  Money supply growth is slow, industrial production lately weaker, and regional Fed manufacturing surveys are showing weaker activity.