by phil - April 25th, 2012 8:28 am
A meteoric 10% rise pre-market is being celebrated by the Global markets even though it's really only part of the way back to the $644 high that was, very recently, supposed to be a stepping stone on the way to $1,000. Are we really going to get all excited just because AAPL's earnings didn't suck? That seems kind of silly as I'm pretty sure they were never going to get to $1,000 by just earning $10 a share per quarter, were they?
I have nothing bad to say about AAPL. We were bearish on them at $640 but $550 was our buy target and we didn't take direct action on AAPL yesterday as we were worried they might disappoint so our 1:31 bullish trade idea for Members was the QQQ June $60/63 bull call spread at $2.35 and those should be well on their way to $3 this morning as the Qs are up 2% to $66 pre-market already.
I mentioned in yesterday's post that we had already played TQQQ (ultra-long Nasdaq) the day before and that one was the more aggressive May $103/110 bull call spread at $4, selling ISRG Jan $350 puts for $4.40 for a net .40 credit on the $10 spread. Any offset would do, of course but we REALLY wouldn't mind owning ISRG for $350 if it goes on sale (now $560) but, if not, we'll take the free money. As a 3x ultra, TQQQ will be up 6% this morning, already at our $110 goal and, if they can hold it, we're looking at a very nice 150% gain on just the bull spread with a 2,600% gain on the full spread – either way, not a bad way to play!
We had also taken the QQQ MAY $63/66 bull call spread at $1.90 on Monday and that deal was so good we didn't feel we needed an offset. That's the difference between catching the bottom, like we did on Monday and chasing a run, as we did with the Qs on Tuesday – the rewards of being contrarian investors!
One trade that may not be going well for us was the AAPL weekly $575 calls, which we bought for $20.75 against the sale of the May $590s for $22 for a net $1.25 credit. We didn't think AAPL would pop $600 so fast, so we're a…
by phil - April 24th, 2012 8:29 am
If it's Tuesday we must be bouncing!
Clearly, from the recent sell-off, we have a whole lot of bouncing to do. Yesterday we failed our Must Hold lines on the Nasdaq, the NYSE and the Russell (the Dow never got there) and the S&P was briefly below 1,360 and recovered to end the day at 1,366 – still below our weak bounce level of 1,372.
That leaves us in the same place as we were on the 11th, when I titled the morning post – "Weak Bounces and Beige Books." As we expected at the time, we made it to our 1,384 level on the S&P and then failed to hold it and now we come in for our 2nd tests of our 3 significant levels – 1,360, 1,372 and 1,384 – that's our range until it breaks and THEN we can make some directional bets.
In this market chop, our best strategy has been to bet both ways and our virtual $25,000 Portfolio is now up about $16,000 for the year but that's nothing compared to our completely neutral FAS Money Portfolio, which has turned a $2,000 spread into almost $8,000 in profits in the same 4 months – just using our very simple strategy of selling premium on a regular basis:
Last year's FAS Money Portfolio was also a great performer and it's a great time to get started following as the current position is down $706 so you sure didn't miss anything but a loss by taking up the current position. It's a great exercise to set up a virtual portfolio and follow these trades along as we are constantly managing these positions to maximize the amount of premium we sell so it's a great practice portfolio for rolling and adjusting short positions, teaching you the value of BEING THE HOUSE!
Speaking of investing value – don't miss our contest to win 2 passes to Berkshire Hathaway's Annual Shareholder Meeting! Hopefully we'll get a nice report from whoever wins – it's always good to get a little insight into what the Oracle of Omaha is thinking.
My thinking is that – while our Virtual Portfolios are all performing very well this year – I still can't shake my overall feeling that the markets are very weak internally. Today we are hoping that AAPL will save us (earnings…
by phil - March 27th, 2012 7:34 am
Wheeeeeee – isn't this economy FANTASTIC?
It sure is for those of us in the top 1% (1.4M) - people earning over $352,000 in annual income. We made $105,637 more Dollars in 2010 than we did in 2009 – thanks in large part to the Fed's fantastic policy of printing more and more money, which lets us borrow cheaply or invest with leverage in inflating equity as the Dollar collapses. Sure the Dollar collapsing hurts everyone – but an extra $105,637 keeps us ahead of inflation, right?
I'm stil jealous of course (good Capitalists are always jealous), as the top .01% (14,000 of us) – who earn an average of $23.8M, were able to add another $4.2M to their annual incomes in 2010. That's 52,500 TIMES the average $80 increase earned by the bottom 99% (thank goodness we're not one of THEM!). That's right, somehow, the riff-raff in the bottom 99% managed to grab 7% of the Nation's total increase in income – clearly Congress needs to make immediate changes to prevent this travesty from happening again!
Steve Rattner has a different opinion, saying: "The only way to redress the income imbalance is by implementing policies that are oriented toward reversing the forces that caused it. That means letting the Bush tax cuts expire for the wealthy and adding money to some of the programs that House Republicans seek to cut. Allowing this disparity to continue is both bad economic policy and bad social policy. We owe those at the bottom a fairer shot at moving up."
That's Commie talk! If we allow the bottom 99% to make a fair share of the money, they would make 5% more and you know they would only SPEND it on stuff they need TO LIVE. Then our companies would have to provide more goods and services to the bottom 99% and jobs would be created and we, at the top, would have to WAIT for the money to trickle UP from the bottom as only companies that do a good job servicing the bottom 99% would increase in value. Even worse, we may have to WORK (a four-letter word) to provide goods and services for the people who have money in order to EARN (another four-letter word) our Incomes. That's no fun for us at all!
by ilene - December 28th, 2011 11:44 pm
The ECB is borrowing U.S. Dollars from the Fed to bailout European banks. And that is in addition to the Long Term Refinancing Operation (LTRO).
However, the "borrowing" is not called "borrowing." It’s called a "temporary U.S. dollar liquidity swap arrangement." Yet it is really borrowing because it’s going massively in one direction for the purpose of giving the ECB Dollars to lend to European banks, so the ECB can avoid lending more Euros. The ECB doesn’t want to tarnish its "inflation fighting" reputation and further devalue the Euro. Instead, the Fed is taking billions of Euros as collateral for the Dollar swap.
As Gerald P. O’Driscoll Jr., former vice president and economic advisor at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, and senior fellow at the Cato Institute, wrote in the WSJ (The Federal Reserve’s Covert Bailout of Europe):
"The ECB would also prefer not to create boatloads of new euros, since it wants to keep its reputation as an inflation-fighter intact. To mitigate its euro lending, it borrows dollars to lend them to its banks. That keeps the supply of new euros down. This lending replaces dollar funding from U.S. banks and money-market institutions that are curtailing their lending to European banks—which need the dollars to finance trade, among other activities."
U.S. Banks and financial institutions do not want to lend European Banks more Dollars, and it would look bad for the Fed to do this unpopular lending directly, so the Fed has found an indirect route.
"The two central banks are engaging in this roundabout procedure because each needs a fig leaf. The Fed was embarrassed by the revelations of its prior largess with foreign banks. It does not want the debt of foreign banks on its books. A currency swap with the ECB is not technically a loan."
In exchange for Euros as collateral, the ECB gets non-technically loaned Dollars which it then lends to European banks. The additional Dollars flowing to the EU banks enable the ECB not to release more Euros to the EU banks and into circulation. According to O’Driscoll, this "Byzantine financial arrangement" was designed perfectly to confuse people.
"The Fed’s support is in addition to
by phil - September 21st, 2011 8:28 am
Strap in folks, it's going to be another wild ride!
As you can see from Doug Short's S&P chart,we are about to slam right into that collapsing 50-day moving average, now at 1,223.40 – right about where the S&P topped out on yesterday's morning spike. Unfortunately, the Nasdaq topped out and headed down before the other indexes got a chance to complete their up cycle and the Dollar rose back over the 77.50 line and tanked the market – exactly as we predicted it would at the bottom of yesterday morning's post.
Of course, I can't MAKE these things happen – I can only tell you what's going to happen and give you trade ideas to help you profit from it. I mentioned that we had picked up 10 DIA 9/30 $115.75 calls in our virtual $25,000 Portfolio at $1.05 on Monday and they topped out at $1.75 (up 66%) but we took a non-greedy exit at $1.45 in the morning spike (up 33%) and we switched to 20 QQQ 9/30 $57 calls at .45 in the afternoon sell-off. So, we made $350 off a $1,050 investment and then we spend $900 but now we have 20 contracts instead of 10 but we also have $450 in cash so now risking just $600 of our original investment on the much more volatile Fed day.
Another trade idea we like ahead of the Fed that's still playable is 20 FAS weekly $13/14 bull call spreads at .38 ($760), selling 10 JPM Oct $28 put for .55 ($550) for net $210 invested on the 20 $1 spreads. The worst-case on this spread is owning JPM for net $28.10, which is 13% off the current price and the best case is a $1,790 profit (852%) in a week. That sounds like a lot but options let you do funny things like at 11:30 in Member Chat, we saw PCLN making new highs against news that we thought was not actually that good for them on closer examination. Our trade idea to take advantage of that was:
If you want to play PCLN bearish – it’s very risky but the weekly $565/555 bear put spread is $6 and you can sell the $565 calls for
by ilene - March 31st, 2011 11:53 am
Courtesy of Jim Quinn, The Burning Platform
“We now have an economy in which five banks control over 50 percent of the entire banking industry, four or five corporations own most of the mainstream media, and the top one percent of families hold a greater share of the nation’s wealth than any time since 1930. This sort of concentration of wealth and power is a classic setup for the failure of a democratic republic and the stifling of organic economic growth.” - Jesse –http://jessescrossroadscafe.blogspot.com/
by ilene - March 17th, 2011 3:45 pm
THE BANKS MUST BE RESTRAINED, AND THE FINANCIAL SYSTEM REFORMED, WITH BALANCE RESTORED TO THE ECONOMY, BEFORE THERE CAN BE ANY SUSTAINED RECOVERY – Jesse
I have long been a fan of Jesse’s Café Américain. Jesse is a brilliant writer and a deep thinker who uniquely transcends politics, easily seeing through lies and disinformation. He has a great feel for what really matters, and the courage to speak out about it. Jesse and I have spoken before about the economy, markets and politics, and being at a crossroads once again, it was a perfect time to catch up.
Ilene: Hi Jesse, since our last interview, I would guess that we’d both agree that nothing has been done to clean up the financial system – the banks and government interconnectedness, conflicts of interest, and out-and-out fraudulent activities. Are things better or worse, or in line, with what you were expecting over a year ago?
Jesse: I think things are progressing in line with what I had expected, with the Fed and the government trying to prop up an unsustainable status quo by monetizing debt. I am still a little shocked by the brazen manner in which the financial markets are being conducted and regulated, and the news is reported in the US. It is one thing to hold a theory that says something will happen, but it is quite another to see it actually happening, and so blatantly, almost without a word of protest.
Ilene: How do you view our financial system and the global financial system now, with no progress towards any kind of reform?
Jesse: The US is now being run by an oligarchy, with lip service being paid to the electorate in allowing the people to vote for the candidates that the parties and the powers will put forward. There will be no recovery for the middle class until they assert themselves. I know I have stated this often in my tag phrase, “The banks must be restrained…” But it is the case.
There are areas of resistance to this trend on what one might call ‘the fringes of Empire,’ those client states which have been ruled by powerful cliques with the support and the protection of the US. Although certainly not a great analogy, it does remind one of…
by phil - February 24th, 2011 6:33 am
I've seen the needle
and the damage done
A little part of it in everyone
But every junkie's
like a settin' sun. - Neil Young
Come on Bennie, give us another hit!
We're hurting man, we need the good stuff. The markets love to get high and, just when we thought the trip was never going to end – we crash hard! Big Ben and his Central Banking buddies fed our commodity addiction with a flow of easy money and the speculators got so hooked that they have now overdosed and the price of commodities is now killing the host (the Global Economy).
Gee, who could have ever seen that coming?
Oh yeah, right, it was me. Well, very good then… I guess. There's nothing like a good correction to make some fast money. In yesterday's post (and Tuesday's) I mentioned our TZA and EDZ hedges and thank goodness we dumped XLE as they flew back to $78 on the oil madness (more on that later). In yesterday morning's Alert to Members we added IWM $83 puts at $3 and they finished the day at $3.93 (up 31%) but we were done with them earlier as we flipped bullish when they pulled back to $3.75 and grabbed the IWM weekly $80 calls at 1:03 at .66 and we flipped out of those at .93 (up 40%) for a nice, quick gain.
We also lost .20 on an SSO trade, trying to catch one more bear wave that didn't come but, on the whole – Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeee! This is the best ride EVER!!! We love a volatile market, especially when it gooses the VIX (something we were also long on) as that gives us better and better prices for the options we sell to suckers who think they are smarter than the market. Yes, we buy them too – but look how fast we dump them. Options are great for momentum trading and for controlled leverage but the REAL MONEY is made BEING THE HOUSE – not the gambler and what we really love to do is SELL options, not buy them.
Kyle Bass With David Faber: Bernanke’s ZIRP Is An ‘Inescapable Trap;’ Muni Bond Bloodbath Beckons But “States Will NOT Default”
by ilene - February 23rd, 2011 3:05 am
Courtesy of The Daily Bail
CNBC Video – Kyle Bass with David Faber – Feb. 16, 2011
Video – Part 2
Municipal bond defaults on the local level are likely and investors would be better off avoiding them, according to Kyle Bass, managing director of Hayman Capital.
Bass said he generally agrees with the call by famed banking analyst Meredith Whitney, who said as many as 100 defaults are likely that will cost more than $100 billion in damage.
Though Whitney’s call has prompted substantial backlash from her colleagues in the industry, Bass said the question is more a matter of degree.
"There are going to be a number of muni defaults, but it’s where you draw the line. Will states be allowed to default? Will legislation be introduced to allow states to restructure? I don’t believe that’s the case. I believe states will not default."
by phil - February 18th, 2011 8:16 am
Fastest Double EVER!
That's the verdict as the S&P 500 adds 666.79 points in 23 months, the fastest gain since the index was founded in 1957. "The scale of this rally is just enormous," said New York money manager Barry Ritholtz. He calls it the most intense rally since the Depression. Even during the go-go 1990s, the S&P typically took around three years to double. For instance, it first cleared 1,000 on Feb. 28, 1998 — 35 months after its first move above 500 on March 24, 1995.
Ritholtz says the average stock market bounce following a crash is 70% or so, and is stretched over a longer period. But of course, in previous cases the Fed wasn't buying up half a year's worth of Treasury issuance and holding short-term interest rates near zero.
"This one is unique," said Ritholtz. "Obviously the Fed is the key difference. We have never seen them throw this much liquidity into the mix." Accordingly, most market observers are now tapping their feet waiting for the inevitable pullback. The average correction following a postcrash bounce is 25%, Ritholtz said. According to Fortune: "There are all sorts of reasons to expect the momentum to turn against stocks after their unprecedented gains. They range from rising bond yields and stretched stock valuations to political unrest in the Middle East and another iteration of the ongoing debt crisis in Europe."
Of course, as Fortune should know, IT JUST DOESN'T MATTER what's going on in the World as long as B-B-B-Bennie and the Fed continue to prime the pumps at the IBanks and last week, the Fed set a new record as well by expanding their balance sheet to $2,492,000,000,000 after adding $23Bn of US Government Securities.
Now I wouldn't want to force you to draw any conclusions that may link those two items. After all, Doctor Bernanke himself says that the Fed's actions have nothing to do with either inflation in the commodity pits or in the equity markets. They are merely providing ample liquidity to their Member banks who, in turn, lever that liquidity 10:1 and spend it in the same wise fashion they always have – like the 10s of Billions of Dollars of "toxic" securities they have been splurging on again, once again hoping…