by phil - October 19th, 2012 8:30 am
25 years ago today, the market fell 22%.
You never know what's going to panic the markets – since then we've had many other sudden corrections like Black Friday just 2 years later and Black Wednesday in September 1992, we've had the dot.com collapse and 9/11 and whatever you call 2008 and recently we had Dubai and Greece leading to sudden crashes and the ubiquitous flash crash and whatever happened last August (Europe again).
So stock markets are dangerous places to keep your money, on the whole. That's why TZA (ultra-short Russell) is our primary hedge in the Income Portfolio and, as I mentioned in last Wednesday's post, should the S&P fail to hold 1,440, then the Dow has little support all the way down to 13,295 as well. Just this Tuesday, I reiterated a TZA spread Members could use for general portfolio coverage:
Ultra hedges/Bdon – You just can't beat TZA at $15. The Jan $12/15 bull call spread is $1.50 so 100% upside if TZA simply doesn't go any lower. If they do go lower, you can sell the April $11 puts, now .50 for $1 (the Apr $12 puts are .92) before your $1.50 is even out of the money and then you'd be in the Jan $12s at net .50 and worst case is you get assigned at net $11.50 in April but, of course, you can roll or simply accept the assignment and cover and then you have more long-term protection.
We like to buy our protection when the market is going up – it's cheaper that way! TZA was at $14.75 at yesterday's close and the Jan spread was still about the same $1.50 but it's $2.75 in the money – all we need is for TZA to not go down (Russsell not to go up) and we make a tidy profit. That's a good way to hedge because the only way that hedge loses money is if the market breaks higher.
We're not turning bearish yet but, as we're seeing some pretty serious misses (GOOG and CMG yesterday, for example) and some pretty strong reactions to those misses – it is a good time to make sure people do remember the value of hedging. If nothing else, it's a piece of mind that lets us ride out these dips without worry. Also, of course, it's good to…
by phil - September 14th, 2012 8:28 am
$85Bn a month!
Oh boy was I wrong when I said Ben Bernanke wasn't crazy enough to ease into a bull market. Yesterday, he exercised the full power of the Federal Reserve to confiscate your wealth and hand it over to the bankers. That's right, by engaging in what many consider reckless money-printing practices and announcing there is no end in sight, Bernanke caused the Dollar to fall below 79, down from 84 (6%) before all this QE talk began.
That's like taking all $100Tn worth of US Assets – everything you worked for your entire life – and just devaluing them by 6%. Many of our Conservative friends decry the 1% tax on wealth imposed by the French – but at least they are honest about it. At least they debate it and vote on it. Not Bern Bernanke – the Federal Reserve Chairman simply decrees that you will contribute 6% of your dollar-denominated assets towards more bank bail-out and there's no cut-off if you are below the top 2% – this is a confiscation from every man, woman and child in America.
How far down will Dr. Bernanke take your Dollars? That's the beauty of it – there's no limit! He warned Corporate America yesterday that he will continue to give them FREE MONEY as long as they keep refusing to hire more workers. The less American workers they hire – the more money he will give them. Sure, they can hire and spend overseas (most are) because that won't affect US unemployment rates but, if they start hiring Americans – THAT's when he will begin to take away the punch bowl.
See how this scam works?
It is hard to see how another round of QE would help the economy. Long-term interest rates are already at historic lows. With rates this low, even if QE put effective downward pressure on rates — a dubious proposition — the economy would be unlikely to benefit. If a 3.5% mortgage rate is of little consequence, there is no reason to believe that a 3.4% or even 3.3% rate would suddenly produce results.
Nor would quantitative easing result in a burst of money creation, as per traditional monetary policy, because the Fed now pays a quarter-point interest on excess bank reserves. With little growth in the demand for…
by phil - September 11th, 2012 7:50 am
Once again we're waiting on the Fed.
As you can see from the chart on the right, while we had a very impressive break-out last Friday, it was only impressive when you price the indexes in Dollars – priced in Euros, we were unable to break over the 50 dmas, which are in decline in a constant currency. The Dollar stopped going down yesterday and the markets stopped going up – it's a pretty straightforward relationship.
To be bullish on stocks and commodities here means you are bearish on the Dollar at 80 and, of course, bullish on the Euro at $1.28, which just so happens to be its own 50 dma ($1.2827). Should gold be higher than $1,750? Should oil be higher than $96.74? Should AMZN be higher than 260 with a p/e of 313?
It's not just AMZN, of course but that's one of our favorite shorts because, even with the most bullish of forward projections – they are still priced like dot com mania never left us at 8x the valuation of AAPL, who make 41 TIMES more money than AMZN. AAPL makes $25Bn a year on $108Bn in sales, AMZN make $600M on $48Bn in sales. AMZN has been around since 1994 – it's not like they just started doing this stuff. If AMZN doubled their bottom line without increasing sales, then they'd make $1.2Bn on $48Bn in sales, still 1/20th of AAPL's profits.
In order for AMZN to match AAPL's $25Bn in profits, even giving them a free double on margin, they would have to sell $1.8Tn worth of merchandise. That's 4 times bigger than WMT and would essentially mean that AMZN is the only retailer in the United States, with over 90% of the total retail market share. And that's JUST to get to AAPL's valuation! Isn't that completely ridiculous? The suckers buying AMZN don't seem to think so.
It's not just AMZN that has completely unrealistic pricing, of course, with the consumer taking it on the chin, much of Retail is way overpriced for realistic forward prospects. In fact, the p/e ratio of the entire S&P 500 is up to 15 again – about the value at which we usually get our market corrections, while, at the same time, 2012 consensus earnings estimates have fallen off sharply.
by phil - August 17th, 2012 8:28 am
That's how much money yesterday's rally cost. Spain got the green-light on $123Bn from the ECB, most of which goes to just ONE bank (Bankia Group). This news sent Bankia shares up 15% and did wonders for their creditors' stocks as well because, as we know, the best way to get money from a Central Banks is to owe a lot of money to other banks so – borrow, borrow, borrow if you want to survive the Financial Crisis. Spain led Europe higher with a 4% gain on the day and hit another 1.75% early this morning before pulling back.
Also in the Free Money train yesterday was Brazil, who initiated a $65.6Bn stimulus package aimed at much-needed infrastructure ahead of the 2016 Olympics. This is a "just in time" thing for Brazil as 32 of 58 reporting companies in the Bovespa Index missed sales projections this quarter – the worst performance since Q1 2009.
The Olympics have also greatly aided the UK's economy and July Retail Sales were the stars of Europe at +0.3% and August should be good too – it's September, October and November we're worried about. The entire Euro Zone is clearly in a Recession, but it could be argued that it's the same one that started 4 years ago, which some would call a Depression – but not if they want the MSM to listen to them or to keep their Government positions.
Even China is seeing declining exports, with August projected to come in at less than 1% according to ForexLive, who says "China's Government has underestimated the impact of the European debt crisis on trade flows." As you can see from the chart on the right for California, China's export woes are hitting us on this side of the Pacific as well as total state revenues are 10% below projections with HUGE misses in Sales Tax – indicating an extremely beaten-down West Coast consumer.
The state has avoided default by temporarily borrowing from state trust funds, but those accounts will soon need their cash back to continue operating. Today California quickly began trying to sell $10 billion in municipal bonds to fund the record $28 billion they need to keep the lights on. With tax revenue plummeting and the state already the second
by phil - August 16th, 2012 8:25 am
Now we have dueling Fed heads weighing in on QE talk.
CNBC interviewed both Boston's Rosengren (dove), who said not only is QE necessary but that "it needs to be substantial enough that it off sets some of the shocks that we're getting from abroad and some of the concerns that people have with how weak the world economy has been – so we're in a Global slow-down." Isn't that great? He thinks the Global economy is TERRIBLE and that means we should rush out and pay 5-year highs for equities, right? What a silly market we have.
Then CNBC brings on Richard Fisher, who said additional stimulus would have little impact, as we're already at 0.25% and that's clearly not helping and that additional Fed stimulus now would look political and it's the US lawmakers, not the Fed, that need to "get their act together" if they want to stimulate the economy. Elsewhere, Fisher was backed up by KC's Esther George, who said that, at $3Tn on the balance sheet already, the Fed is only buying a future crisis when it comes time to unload these assets on a market that is ill-prepared to absorb them. “It’s always easy to buy,” George said. “We’ve never had to go back into the market to sell this quantity of assets.
Gosh that makes sense!
She said the Fed’s bond holdings further would create a “steeper hill” once policy starts to shift in the face of a stronger recovery. Add to that the burden imposed on savers, George said, and the pressure on pension funds, banks and insurance companies to take investment risks they normally wouldn’t take to earn a bit of income.
She said she didn’t know how Europe’s struggle to save its common currency, the euro, would come out. “Either way they go, the results are going to be dramatic and will be painful,” she said. “I see no short-term solution.”
The drought is likely to drive up food prices globally, if not this year then next, she said. George also noted that rising prices for food, energy and apparel were particularly hard on low-income Americans because those essentials accounted for a relatively large portion of their spending. "We know inflation can move quickly, and we’ll have to watch for that,” she said. The federal deficit and last summer’s contentious effort to raise…
by phil - July 30th, 2012 7:58 am
So, where's our stimulus?
Like good little Pavlovian dogs, we ran back into the markets last week when Mario Draghi rang the stimulus bill – increasing the $60Tn global markets by 5% – that's $3Tn of valuation added in 48 hours on the say-so of a former GS executive that has been put in charge of the European Central bank. What could possibly go wrong with this scenario?
If we can't trust the Investment Bankers who are taking over our Government, who can we trust? So we'll assume that everything WILL be fixed this week and that the ECB, Fed, PBOC, BOE, BOJ and all the little Central Banksters will be pumping enough money into the system to justify a $3,000,000,000,000 increase in Global Equity prices – even though that means, at an average p/e of 15, that all this expected stimulus somehow drops an additional $200Bn to the bottom line of Big Business to justify the bump in valuation.
How many Dollars, Yen, Euros and Yuan do we have to give to Corporations to turn into $200Bn? Well, if it's AMZN – the answer is $15Tn because it takes $50Bn in sales for AMZN to make $600M so figure 75x in sales to make 1x in earnings. Why use AMZN? Well because AMZN is almost 5% of the Nasdaq and it was their amazing run last week, on what rational people would consider poor earnings, that reversed the downtrend initiates by AAPL's (who are 15% of the Nasdaq) miss.
I guess it's obvious why we're short AMZN (see Dave Fry's chart) but let's look at AAPL now, who are quite a bit more efficient at dropping Dollars to the bottom line. Last year, AAPL took in $108Bn and made a profit of $26Bn – now THAT'S a good company! So let's pretend that all companies are as good as AAPL and nowhere near as bad as AMZN at converting sales to profits.
Now to get that additional $200Bn in Corporate Profits we only need about $800Bn in stimulus – assuming, of course, that money actually went to people who would spend it and not to Banksters who are still trying to back-fill multi-Trillion Dollar holes in their mark-to-fantasy balance sheets. $800Bn is a doable number so let's pretend it is enough to justify a 5% bump in the market and now we know…
by phil - July 25th, 2012 7:55 am
Fortunately, we were well-prepared for this eventuality as I had said way back on July 10th, in Member Chat, that AAPL was "too big to succeed" (commentary also featured in Stock World Weekly on the 15th). I also said, at the time regarding AAPL: "Where was my buy point – $555? That's a long way down to support if they fail $600." We had called for taking the bullish AAPL money and running the previous Thursday (July 5th) in my morning Alert to Members, as they topped out that morning at about $610. We were a bit early with that call (AAPL hit $619.87 the next week) but, on the whole, our bearish flip on AAPL (and the broader market) has served us well.
In yesterday's Member Chat, we had one bearish earnings spread on AAPL as well as an aggressive play on SQQQ, the Nasdaq ultra-short, because we expected the Nasdaq to fail along with AAPL (and AMZN is next!) on their earnings. Our SQQQ trade grabbed the Sept $50/60 bull call spread, offset by short puts on some stocks we are accumulating for our Income Portfolio for a net free trade but our dreams of a big pay-off on the spread will be put on hold today as a sudden burst of stimulus talk has turned the indexes back up, with the Dow now 200 points off the bottom in the Futures (7:50) at 12,660.
I already sent out an Alert to our Members this morning, pointing out what manipulated BS this was as the WSJ's Jon Hilsenrath issued what amounted to nothing more than some well-timed speculation on imminent Fed action into yesterday's close that has been picked up by the MSM as a fact and popped the Dow a full 100 points into yesterday's close – erasing 1/2 of a disastrous day in minutes (see Dave Fry's SPY chart). At the moment (7:54), the Dow Futures (/YM) make an excellent short below the 12,650 line so excuse me while I hit "publish" on this partial post so our Members can see it.
Anyway, so where was I? Oh yes, market manipulation by Uncle Rupert and the WSJ is not unexpected with NWS reorganizing and looking for good valuations on the company split. I pointed out to Members seven other articles in which Hilsenrath has…
by phil - July 24th, 2012 8:49 am
Tut, tut, it does not look like rain.
You would think the worst drought in 80 years would merit more than the occasional mention in the Financial media – I've seen CNBC do one-hour specials on the marijuana crops so you'd think actual FOOD would maybe make it a little higher on the list of concerns for the MSM – especially when we are experiencing the worst drought of the past 80 years and the last one that was this bad led to a Global Depression (along with, of course, National Debt Crises and Financial Failures but mission accomplished there already).
You would think the drought has somehow fallen into a Somebody Else's Problem Field, where individuals/populations of individuals choose to decentralize themselves from an issue that may be in critical need of recognition. Such issues may be of large concern to the population as a whole but can easily be a choice of ignorance at an individualistic level. As Douglas Adams explains in The Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy:
An SEP is something we can't see, or don't see, or our brain doesn't let us see, because we think that it's somebody else's problem…. The brain just edits it out, it's like a blind spot. If you look at it directly you won't see it unless you know precisely what it is. Your only hope is to catch it by surprise out of the corner of your eye.The technology involved in making something properly invisible is so mind-bogglingly complex that 999,999,999 times out of a billion it's simpler just to take the thing away and do without it……. The "Somebody Else's Problem field" is much simpler, more effective, and "can be run for over a hundred years on a single torch battery.This is because it relies on people's natural predisposition not to see anything they don't want to, weren't expecting, or can't explain.
by phil - July 23rd, 2012 8:25 am
How great is this? We flipped bearish on Wednesday's poor Beige Book outlook (not to mention drought concerns and Hugh Hendry's warning that "Bad things are going to happen") and Thursday we noted it was looking a little too much like last July, where we fell off a cliff right after options expiration and my very appropriate comment at the end of Thursday morning's post was:
Clack, clack, clack – like a roller coaster going up in the dark, we don't know when we'll get that big "wheeee" but we do know it's coming!
Fortunately, we did not wait with our Long Put List going out in the Thursday Morning Alert to Members at 10:18, with all bearish trade ideas that included these gems:
- AMZN Oct $180 puts at $2.75, still $2.75 – even (all as of Friday's close)
- CMG Sept $350 puts at $5, now $35 – up 600%
- DIA Dec $117 puts at $2.50, now $2.80 – up 12%
- ISRG Jan $350 puts at $1.70, now $5 – up 194%
- MA Jan $290 puts at $2.85, now $3.40 – up 19%
- SPY Oct $120 puts at $1, now $1.15 – up 15%
- V Jan $100 puts at $2, now $2.30 – up 15%
- XRT Jan $53 puts at $2, now $2.20 – up 10%
So a couple of big winners already and, of course, we're done with those (see Stock World Weekly for more trade ideas) and the way we work our Long Put List is to take those winners off the table and utilize our "fresh horses" for the next leg down. Don't worry, we won't run out, there are 13 more picks on deck for our Members with AMZN (above) our top choice for this week (also featured with a slightly different trade in SWW).
Even our aggressive oil puts should be doing well in our small portfolios as well as our bullish VXX trade and, of course, our EDZ and TZA hedges as China dropped 600 points this morning and the Russell is testing our 775 target already. Things may be worse than we thought they were going to be as 775 may not hold on the RUT and that breakdown can lead us to test our -5% lines on the Russell (760), Nasdaq (2,850) and the…
by phil - July 5th, 2012 8:16 am
Before we begin – let's catch up on the Libor scandal:
"The Global Banking Industry relies on London having virtually no regulatory oversight. The bulk of the Global financial crimes occur in London. David Cameron, of course, is keen to protect the franchise of the city of London – it's the big profit center for his country and his Government – essentially peddling in fraud."
That is the key point made by Max Keiser (7:20) in the above video. As Keiser points out, fraud and manipulation are rampant in the Global Financial Markets and have been for years. I've been saying so and we have great systems to profit from the manipulation of fraudulent markets but they wouldn't work so well if the markets were not a sham, would they?
While I'd love to go back to picking value stocks in clean market environment – I'm certainly not holding my breath. Fining BCS $450M for making Billions of Dollars in a conspiracy to defraud Trillions of Dollars of Global investors over periods of years means you shouldn't hold yours either. I'm pretty sure we can expect more of the same for a long, long time.
This morning the Euro and the Dollar have been flying up and down along with our index futures on rumors that China will or won't be easing (100-point swings in the Dow pre-market) or that the ECB will or won't ease and that other countries will or won't kick in stimulus. You know, the same old crap we've been hearing since early June – giving us roughly 10% gains across the International board – even as the Global Economic Data continues to decay:
We are still "constructively bullish" which is what led us to stay cashy and cautious short-term, while holding bullish on our long-term bets. We haven't got any strong downside bets as we have clear lines at those 50 dmas (red) with the 20 dmas (blue) curving up sharply to give us support before we feel compelled to go bearish again. Of course, this "rally" has been a lot of low-volume BS – hence the "cashy and cautious" stance. We have had no reason yet to actually go bearish and, since we added most of our long-term longs in early June – we have quite a while before we do become…