by phil - May 30th, 2012 7:57 am
If it wasn't for bad news, Europe would have no news at all.
The funniest thing about watching Europe implode in a sea of incompetence is that we're actually no different over here – it's just not our time yet. That doesn't stop the punditocracy from pontificating on all the ills of the European Union, as if America will be immune to California as their economy ($361Bn in debt) slips into the ocean.
Actually Greece is not the disaster du jour in Europe this morning – it's Spain (who were downgraded yesterday), whose junk-rated 10-year notes are now costing them 6.65% – back to pre-LTRO levels already, after just 90 days of being "cured." Italy is right behind them, only able to sell 90% of the bonds they auctioned off and even those went for 5.66% on the 5-year notes and 6.03% on the 10-years.
Meanwhile, German yields hit record lows at 1.318% so how, exactly, does it benefit Germany to "fix" this situation when the fix would be for Germany to go back to paying 3% while Spain and Italy go back to paying 4%? It's not like Spain or Italy will ever be able to pay back the money anyway so all we're really doing is costing Germany money to PRETEND things are fixed – again. When will this madness end?
Extending and pretending is exactly what is being planned as the European Commission is prepared to as European Union finance ministers to give Spain an additional year to meet the budget deficit target of 3%, according to a report in the online edition of El Pais this morning. The newspaper said it had obtained a rough draft of the copy of the economic strategy for the euro zone set to be delivered by the Commission on Wednesday. Media reports said it will issue specific recommendations for each of the 27 countries. El Pais said the EC wants to give Spain until 2014 to reach the budget deficit target of 3%, in light of its economic problems, but will also include draft recommendations on pensions, the financial system, taxes and labor reforms.
Thank goodness – that will fix everything, I'm sure!
Meanwhile, on the US side, we're getting worry fatigue and we're ready to rally – as was made clear by yesterday's bullish action which took us over our…
by phil - April 6th, 2012 8:45 am
NOW things are getting interesting!
Who wants a market that goes up and up and up – where's the sport? Even the Nasdaq finally blew it's 15-week winning streak and that helped us decide to stay pretty bearish going into yesterday's close. This morning we went over the news and the week's data to position ourselves for the Futures and my conclusion to Members in our special 4:03 am Alert was:
Next week we get the BBook, PPI and CPI but the focus will be on earnings and AA is not likely to get us off to a good start so I simply don't see anything in particular to be bullish about at the moment.
The point I had been making (with many charts and graphs) was that it didn't matter if we added even 250,000 jobs – it still isn't enough to begin to fill in the hole in any meaningful way and, even more important, the QUALITY of jobs we have been adding is TERRIBLE!
It doesn't matter if you give everyone a job if they are only minimum wage jobs. We need our consumers to have an income to spend and aside from inflation (real inflation, not the Fed's BS numbers) eating into their buying power, when someone loses a $50,000 job and replaces it with a $35,000 job – that's NOT an improving economy – not for the long run, anyway.
Of course the stock market will like it, at first – as lower wages paid for the same job = greater Corporate Profits but that only works as long as there are people outside your country who have money to buy your goods.
As we noted just yesterday with the Retail Reports, the high-end stores are doing very well as the top 10% is doing well but those serving the bottom 90% are struggling because, clearly, these people are running out of money. While the market has been content to "ignore and soar" during this gathering storm, now we begin to see the size of the wave that's coming in and it's starting to look scary indeed…
8:30 Update: An anemic 120,000 Jobs added in March! That's about 1/2 of what was expected by Economorons, who can't even get a handle on a major, critical number like Payrolls – how scary is that? So many of…
by phil - March 23rd, 2012 8:28 am
No one told us markets could go down? This is an outrage, I demand an investigation – TURN THOSE MACHINES BACK ON!!!
Has it already been a week since I said "Stop the Rally, We Want to Get Off"? As I noted in that post, we began our list of 12 Long Put Plays for Members on Thursday of last week (near the end of what I called "A Weak Week of Denial") and some have already doubled while others, like PCLN, have gotten even cheaper, which only makes us love them more…
I concluded that this rally was fake, Fake, FAKE and gave my reasons on Friday so no point in going over them again – now we're just watching and waiting to see what sticks as we haven't actually done a lot of technical damage (see Dave Fry's chart) – Yet!
Although we were TRYING to get bullish on Monday, we did so only after setting more aggressive targets in our Weekend Review of the 5% Rule (see post for details and levels) and by 10:09 on Monday, our first trade idea in chat was the very bearish TZA spread that I featured again in Tuesday's post, which was the April $17/18 bull call spread at .42, selling the April $17 puts for $1 for a .58 credit. TZA finished at $18.39 yesterday and the spread is now .54 but the short puts are down to .65 for a net gain of .47, which is 81% in 3 days and a good way to offset the 2.3% drop in the Russell – isn't leverage fun?
What was not fun is what happened to people who trusted Credit Suisse to run an honest game with their TVIX instrument. As noted by ETF Digest's David Gillie, an ETN is an unsecured, unsubordinated debt security with significant basis on the credit rating of the issuer. Although ETNs may be named to indicate tracking certain futures markets or indices, due to the fact that their holdings are credit notes rather than tangible assets, such as ETFs, their price becomes largely supply and demand based rather than based on underlying holdings. As Kid Dynamite points out – it does say right in the TVIX prospectus:
“The long term expected value of your ETNs is
by phil - December 5th, 2011 7:49 am
What a first month we had!
Oddly enough, when I was last on BNN (I’ll be on again this afternoon), we were just about to start our newest virtual portfolio after closing down this year’s virtual $25,000 Portfolio early as we were way past goal, over $130,000 on the 20th (up 420%). As that portfolio went so well, we decided to play a "White Christmas Portfolio" – as I explained on TV on Oct 24th, which aimed to practice making the same kind of small, aggressive trades, with the aim of turning $15,000 on October 24th into $25,000 by Christmas (66%).
In fact, I gave out our first trade idea, GNW, which was $6.30 during my BNN interview, now $6.47 (up 3%). We discussed the Jan $5/7.50 bull call spread for $1.10, which is now $1.40 and that’s up 27% but, more importantly, your gain playing the option INSTEAD of the stock is .30, vs .17 – that’s almost 100% better gain with NO MORE RISK than buying the stock while requiring less than 20% of the cash commitment (and no margin on just the bullish spread).
Of course, our actual WCP trade idea had another component deemed too confusing for TV – we also sold the short Dec $6 puts for .85 as an offset, which lowered the cash cost of the trade to .35 and those puts are now .20, up another .65 on their own and the net of the entire trade has gone from .35 to $1.20, which is a 242% gain on net. Of course, none of that matters – what matters is that you put a net of $350 into the trade (10 contracts) plus about $600 in margin on the short puts on October 24th and you can cash that trade out today (we elected to cover it on Friday) for $1,200 and that is clearly 242% more cash than you started with on October 24th – the margin requirement is gone, but the cash remains!
With that kind of success on our first trade, it’s not too surprising that the whole portfolio has been doing well. We left off last Wednesday with a balance of $35,540 – far better than we expected to do, obviously, in our first month (up 137%) so we decided it was prudent to get back to cash as we were "too bullish".…
by phil - November 24th, 2011 5:27 pm
What an ugly finish November is having!
We’ve been trying to get bullish with little success and, if we are not reversing tomorrow, I will be regretting the wasted time poking at bullish plays when we could have been going "wheeeee" on the slide.
I thought that blue line on Dave Fry’s chart was going to hold, it’s about 2.5% down from our Must Hold level for the S&P on the Big Chart (1,235) and that would have been a reasonable (and slight) overshoot of the 10% drop we were expecting so we played for the bounce but now we’ve blown our -5% line at 1,173 and our next support level is -10% at 1,112 – a very sad level to revisit if we do.
Technically, of course, we’re breaking down. Fundamentally, I’m not so sure. The fear is palpable as Europe looks terrible and clearly all these austerity measures are taking a toll on the Global economy but it’s simply NOT showing up in the data yet. PMI’s are dropping across the Globe but the Purchasing Manager’s index is a SENTIMENT indicator that reflects the OPINION of the buyers about business prospects.
As I have been pointing out (yes, there was a point) in my recent series of articles about market and media manipulation – there is a protracted campaign underway to push sentiment down – to chase retail buyers out of the markets.
Who is doing this? Perhaps it is the IBanks, who want to bottom out the market ahead of QE3, when we’ll be off to the races again. Perhaps it is the Fed and Treasury, who want to chase people into the $140Bn worth of bonds they have to sell each month. Perhaps it is the Republicans, who want to campaign against the worst possible economy next year to prove that Obama has blown his handling of the economy almost as bad as Bush did – so we may as well try one of their idiots again since it seems to make no difference. Don’t laugh – I have a button for Romney that says that…
Whatever and whoever is behind the negativity (and let’s not forget Germany, who are angling to take control of the EU and will be able to do so if things deteriorate further) – our job as investors is not to particularly care – but…
by phil - August 11th, 2011 7:30 am
We took our last round of disaster protection back in early July and almost all of those trades are well in the money.
Since you know I am a big fan of taking cash off the table in either direction, let’s not be greedy and look at ways to "roll" our downside protection into new downside plays so we can set SENSIBLE stops on our now deep in the money short plays (very similar to our Mattress Strategy). Keep in mind that this is the biggest market decline we’ve had since last Summer, so adding a layer of protection here doubles our returns if this is the first leg of a major sell-off, or it gives us a smaller hedge that we can roll up later while we take our bigger hedges off the table. As I have to say WAY too often to members – It’s not a profit until you cash it in!
Hedging for disaster is a concept I advocated during another "recovery," in October of 2008, where we made our cover plays to carry us through a worrisome holiday season and into Q1 earnings – "just in case." That "just in case" saved a lot of virtual portfolios! The idea of disaster hedges high return ETFs that will give you 3-5x returns in a major downturn. That way, 10% allocated of your virtual portfolio to protection can turn into 30-50% on a dip, giving you some much-needed cash right when there is a good buying opportunity. At the time, I advocated SKF Jan $100s at $19. SKF hit $300 around Thanksgiving and those calls made a profit of over $280 (1,400%), so putting even just 5% of your virtual portfolio into that financial hedge would give you back 75% of your virtual portfolio when you cash out.
Keep in mind these are INSURANCE plays – you expect to LOSE, not win but, if you need to ride out a lot of bullish positions through an uncertain period, this is a pretty good way to go. We cashed out our bullish $25KP positions by July 28th, (our active virtual portfolio) with the S&P at 1,340 and, since then, I’ve had a very hard time making long-term bullish picks. I want top put up a Buy List but it’s still too risky – this will be step 1 though – protect first, then buy! Once we cash…
by phil - August 5th, 2011 8:30 am
As the great John "Hannibal" Smith used to say: "I love it when a plan comes together."
Of course Smith’s plans usually involved a great deal of mayhem culminating in things blowing up – very apropos considering the massive market blow up this week. The plan in Monday Morning’s Alert to Members, which was titled "Cashing in Longs and Back to Cashy and Shortish" was pretty straight-forward:
If you want to play this rally for more upside, you can still short the VIX (we did the Aug $19 puts on Friday for $1, now 1.20) or play gold down with the GLL Aug $22s, that are still .35 or the GLD Aug $155 puts at .72 BUT I’m not really believing things are fixed so these are SPECULATIVE plays to follow the rally – WHICH I DON’T BELIEVE IN. Clear?
What I do believe in is shorting the Dow with DIA Aug $119 puts at $1.20 or the SQQQ Aug $21/23 bull call spread at .85, selling the Sept $19 puts for .55 for net .30 on the $2 spread.
USO Weekly $38 puts are .44, 20 of those in the $25KP for $880! (longs are, of course off).
Let’s be straight about that, all the short-term long, including the ones in the Income Virtual Portfolio – are DONE. This was the pop we hoped for and now it’s done and back to cash!
The VIX puts are, of course dead with the VIX now at 31.66 but the Aug $22 GLL calls are still .15 (down 57%) and the GLD Aug $155 puts are now .95 (up 32%) thanks to that same rise in the VIX. Not bad for trades I did not believe…
by phil - July 9th, 2011 6:39 am
Here we go again!
After a very wild ride tracking our VERY aggressive virtual portfolio, we closed out the first half with $53,942 – up 115% for the first half of the year and, since we put $11,630 back in the bank above $25,000 from last year’s $10,000 virtual portfolio, that brings us to a grand total of $65,722 – up 555% from the $10K we started with last year. Our goal in this small, aggressive virtual portfolio is $100K but forget the extra $15,722 – as I said last week, that’s our starting basis with a nice profit so we put that back into nice, safe, conservative investments (like our Income Virtual Portfolio) and that leaves us $50,000 to play with.
Our first week of trades has already been very interesting. Make sure you to read the original post and the update if you haven’t already to get an idea of what we are trying to learn by following this "hyper-aggressive" virtual portfolio model – especially last quarter’s lesson on taking those profits off the table and working on those losers. Our "biggest loser" of last quarter was, of course, FAS and those Aug $23 calls hit $5 last week (we are already out), which is $40,000! Anytime you can roll and DD a position in a $25,000 virtual portfolio that eventually cashes out for $40,000 – you will probably come out well…
The problem is mainly in learning how to stick with a position like that and that requires a lot of conviction because there were dozens of opportunities to panic out with a loss and that’s why we practice this kind of trading – you need to get the experience in playing these out over time so that you can learn to BELIEVE in the strategy and, even then, it should only be used in places where you REALLY have a very good reason to believe a stock or ETF will, eventually, come back sharply enough to make all the work pay off – because it’s a LOT of work!
Of course, no one makes 100% every six months by taking it easy, right? Practice, practice, practice with virtual trading until you get comfortable with the strategies and, even then, use them sparingly. This aggressive virtual portfolio is meant to be a small part (10% or less) of a larger, more conservative virtual portfolio, like our nice,…
by phil - June 25th, 2011 7:55 am
Option Sage Submits:
When driving a car and some object appears on the road ahead do you usually run right over it or do your best to avoid it?
Don’t we all take action in real-life based on the new information we receive that changes the old paradigm? Take the first two guys in this video: Who would you rather be, the first or the second guy? While the second gentleman reacts and looks ridiculous in so doing, he’s the guy that is more likely to survive when real disaster hits because he’s reacting to new information. In fact he doesn’t even know what’s making everyone else react, he just knows that when 99% are moving one way in panic, it’s best not to fight the crowd or he will be trampled. It’s no different in the market. Pride, ego and old theses have no place when new information directly contradicts an existing trade.
This week, we used DIA and QQQ puts and calls to "react" to quick changes in the market while we waited for better information before making more permanent changes in our positions. This gave us the benefit of the
by phil - June 11th, 2011 6:08 am
That’s how much money our oil futures trade ideas generated over the past two weeks and I certainly hope everyone got a piece of theirs but, out of curiosity, how did our other trade ideas do in this terrible market? We track our virtual portfolios but we have many trade ideas during members chat on both sides of the fence so let’s take some time to review what worked and what didn’t work as the Dow dropped 500 points since the holiday.
Keep in mind this is just virtual performance and I’ll do my best to not miss anything and I’m going to include the Friday before the holiday weekend so we can review what our mind-set was as we set ourselves up for the long weekend as well as how we handled the moves since in both our daily posts and our Member Chat. I’m not going to narrate each day, that’s what Stock World Weekly is for – I’ll just make quick comments on the trades when appropriate. Keep in mind, with all options trading, once you make a quick 20%, you should be looking for the exits (see our Strategy Section) by setting stops (and we also stop out with a 20% loss of course) – we are just lucky when we happen to do better.
In the main post (main post trade ideas can be read daily by Report Members or higher – the rest are in our Private Member Chat), I discussed shorting oil futures off our $101.90 (at the time) target. We didn’t like waiting for $102 because sometimes it failed. Oil finished at $99 this week but was as low as $97.24 as we put pressure on the NYMEX pump crew by accepting their bogus offers to buy oil over $101 per barrel. This post was the first one where I decided to go public with what we were doing, hoping to break the back of the market manipulators at the NYMEX by letting as many people as possible in on the trade. This is also where I laid out our bearish fundamental case for oil so good for review. My comment in the morning post was:
As I mentioned yesterday, this week’s action is