"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way..."
No Virginia, I must admit I haven't read Charles' (Dickens) immortal 'A Tale of Two Cities' classic but for the opening lines above and perhaps one or two paragraphs here and there.
I recalled Charles' words - ok, google helped - as I was going through the financial markets' reaction to the mixed bag news and reports released over the past week.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) raised its global growth forecasts but warned that risks are still elevated and conditions remain fragile.
US retail sales and the leading index rose by more than expected but jobless claims, industrial production, the Empire State and Philly Fed indexes and housing disappointed.
Microsoft, General Electric, Bank of America and Morgan Stanley topped earnings estimates but IBM, Intel and Qualcomm fell short of expectations.
Spain and France's debt auctions met with solid demand but yields on their new issuances rose. German business confidence grew by more than expected in April - the sixth straight month of gains - but presidential elections in France creates a new source of uncertainty for Europe.
China's economy is slowing but authorities are poised to ease policy settings.
My, oh my, no wonder the financial markets find it hard to decide which way to jump. But have no fear the Fed is here. The US Federal Reserve 's FOMC meeting - and Big Benny's subsequent press conference - scheduled for this week should provide markets with the much-needed guidance they're seeking.
Will the Fed declare that it's the best of times and we have everything before us, or just the opposite, that it's the worst of times and we have nothing before us?
But why wait for the Fed announcement? You, I and Irene already know what Big Benny and his colleagues have been thinking for some time now. Nothing before us (no more stimulus) if they expect better times ahead. Everything before us - well, almost everything - if the worst of times is yet to come.
Still looks like a win-win for Wall Street to me.
The Fed's committed to making the recovery stick. And so are all other government and central bank authorities around the world. Simply because it is in no one's best interest to see economies go down the drain. Not even the bears.
A fact highlighted by IMF managing director Christine Lagarde's weekend announcement that the IMF "has secured "commitments that are north of US$430 billion," doubling the Fund's lending capacity and increasing its resources to intervene should it become necessary.
Mademoisselle Lagarde stressed that this "signals the strong resolve of the international community to secure global financial stability and put the world economic recovery on a sounder footing."