Posts Tagged ‘investment’

One Investment Strategy for Q1 2011: Cash, Baby, All the Way

Charles Hugh Smith agrees with us on the wisdom of cash: One Investment Strategy for Q1 2011: Cash, Baby, All the Way  - Ilene 

Piggy bank with crumpled dollar bills

Courtesy of Charles Hugh Smith

In response to readers’ requests, I disclose my own amateur’s Investment Strategy for Q1 2011: cash is king, and the U.S. dollar looks good simply because almost everyone expects it to collapse. 

Despite my oft-avowed amateur-market-observer status, readers often ask me for advice or opinions on where to put their capital. This is not advice (please read the HUGE GIANT BIG FAT DISCLAIMER below), it is a disclosure of my own personal opinion, what we might call "one investment strategy of many possible investment strategies" for the first quarter of 2011: cash, baby, cash all the way.

Why am I in cash? Because I don’t trust the parallel rallies, and I am extremely skeptical of the various "stories" which are driving the rallies. Why am I skeptical? Because everybody and their sister has bought into the stories, and a one-sided trade is rarely the winning one.

Yes, it’s my contrarian nature: when everyone is a believer in a "story" that is too good to be true, then I become skeptical. This often gets me in trouble. When everyone was buying GM at $50, I was shorting it. When everyone was buying Fannie Mae at $60, I was shorting it (via puts). Both GM and FNM were obviously, painfully insolvent, but it took practically forever for reality to intrude on the fantasy/narrative that each firm was a "solid blue chip" investment with numerous analyst recommendations. In the meantime, I lost money treading water for quarter after quarter.

So even though the market is clearly top-heavy, the short-side trade may yet be ground down by the Fed’s prop-job and the Wall Street/Central State partnership’s desperate desire to use a rising stock market as a propaganda proxy for the "recovery."

(Hey, just borrow and squander roughly 13% of GDP, year after year after year (roughly 45% of the entire Federal budget), and you might stimulate a modest "recovery," too.)

So let’s examine each of the "stories" driving the rallies.

1. The global recovery is solid, and Central State stimulus and quantitative easing will keep growth rising and interest rates low. This narrative drives capital into "risk assets," i.e. stock markets, commodities, FX carry trades, Chinese real estate, junk bonds, etc.

I’m not really sure…
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Courtesy of The Pragmatic Capitalist 

Here’s something I’d never seen done before – an analysis of Warren Buffett’s risk adjusted returns. Insider Monkey has run an interesting analysis on the Buffett portfolio calculating his alpha since 1977.  The conclusion – as Buffett has aged and grown in size his returns have become substantially worse on a risk adjusted basis:

“Warren Buffett had a phenomenal annual alpha of 19% between 1956 and 1968. Our current analysis shows that his alpha was more than 30% between 1977 and 1981. During the 80′s and 90′s, his annual alpha declined but was still better than 12%. For the ten years leading to mid-2003, his annual alpha stayed around 12% per year. Since then, it started a steep decline; by the end of 2004 it was (still a respectable) 6% per year.  Between 2005 and 2008 Buffett’s alpha averaged only 3% per year. Finally, in the ten years ending in 2009, it went virtually to zero. (For regression results and Buffett’s style drift, visit Insider Monkey)”

Warren Buffett

Is Warren Buffett another casualty of the tough investment environment?  Looks like we can chalk this up under the “many myths of Warren Buffett” file.

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How Brazil Can Defend Against Financialization

How Brazil Can Defend Against Financialization

and Keep Its Economic Surplus for Itself

restorer works in the undergrounds of the Colosseum in Rome, Italy on June 2010. Rome's Colosseum, soon to open its arena, underground and highest level after extensive restoration. For the first time tourists will be able to visit the underground, where gladiators once prepared for fights and lions and tigers were caged before entertaining a bloodthirsty public. Restorers have been hard at work cleaning and restoring travertine columns and ancient bricks. Rome's Colosseum, the largest ever built in the Roman Empire was completed in 80 AD with a capacity of up to 75,000 spectators. It was mainly used as a venue for gladiatorial contests and public spectacles. Photo by Eric Vandeville/ABACAPRESS.COM Photo via Newscom

Courtesy of Michael Hudson

CDES Conference, Brasilia, September 17, 2010

I would like to place this seminar’s topic, ‘Global Governance,’in the context of global control, which is what ‘governance’ is mainly about. The word (from Latin gubernari, cognate to the Greek root kyber) means ‘steering’. The question is, toward what goal is the world economy steering?

That obviously depends on who is doing the steering. It almost always has been the most powerful nations that organize the world in ways that transfer income and property to themselves. From the Roman Empire through modern Europe such transfers took mainly the form of military seizure and tribute. The Norman conquerors endowed themselves as a landed aristocracy extracting rent from the populace, as did the Nordic conquerors of France and other countries. Europe later took resources by colonial conquest, increasingly via local client oligarchies.

The post-1945 mode of global integration has outlived its early promise. It has become exploitative rather than supportive of capital investment, public infrastructure and living standards.

In the sphere of trade, countries need to rebuild their self-sufficiency in food grains and other basic needs. In the financial sphere, the ability of banks to create credit (loans) at almost no cost on their computer keyboards has led North America and Europe to become debt ridden, and now seeks to move into Brazil and other BRIC countries by financing buyouts or lending against their natural resources, real estate, basic infrastructure and industry. Speculators, arbitrageurs and financial institutions using “free money” see these economies as easy pickings. But by obliging countries to defend themselves financially, their predatory credit creation is ending the era of free capital movements.

Does Brazil really need inflows of foreign credit for domestic spending when it can create this at home? Foreign lending ends up in its central bank, which invests its reserves in US Treasury and Euro bonds that yield low returns and whose international value is likely to decline against the BRIC currencies. So accepting credit and buyout “capital inflows” from the North provides a “free lunch” for key-currency issuers of dollars and Euros, but does not help local economies much.

The natural history of debt and financialization

Today, financial maneuvering and debt leverage play the role that military conquest did in times past. Its aim is still…
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Ag Plays – The Beans or the Business?

Ag Plays – The Beans or the Business?

Courtesy of Joshua M Brown, The Reformed Broker 

Ag Plays

Farmer Brown here again.  One of my key longer-term themes for growth investing is and has been the Agriculture Play for a few years now.  The global demographics, while seemingly moving at a glacial pace to the short-term thinkers, are simply undeniable over the intermediate to longer term.

A recent landmark piece of research from Goldman Sachs suggests that stock market capitalization in emerging countries may grow fivefold over the next 20 years to more than $80 trillion.  Keep in mind that this is the same research department that nailed owning the BRIC country stocks as the Market Call of the Last Decade.

More prosperity reaching the developing world (a majority of the earth’s population) means a historic shift in the world’s diet from simple grains to meats.  The first thing a Third World peasant farmer-turned-industrialist goes upscale on is his food.  And once you go chicken and beef, it’s mighty hard to go back to sprouts. Unless you think that globalization and gentrification will reverse, this shift probably represents the most monumental investing opportunity of our lifetime.

The theme is becoming a well-known one, but now we’ve reached the juncture where we must ask the age old question of "What’s the trade?".  If there was one takeaway from the book The Greatest Trade Ever, it’s that lots of folks saw the housing and mortgage crash coming, but only a few figured out how to express that awareness into a profitable trade.

The Ag Story is every bit as fat a pitch coming down Broadway for investors as the real estate crash was.  The flash food riots that rippled around the globe briefly in early 2008 were likely a mere preamble to something much bigger, but how do we set ourselves up for it?  The considerations here are getting the timing right, owning the correct vehicles, staying perspicacious in the event that the winners start breaking away from the pack early and, finally, having enough bases covered that you don’t nail the theme but miss the upside (also known as mis-expressing the trade).

Gradually, there are three schools of thought emerging on how to play the Ag Trade.  I will give you a brief idea of what they are and then encourage you to do your own research, as…
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Get Small

Get Small

reformed broker, ant manCourtesy of Joshua M Brown, The Reformed Broker 

I had an interesting conversation with a pal the other day about the potential for continued and exacerbated deflation.

For some background, my friend is the opposite of me in his spending proclivities – his consumer footprint is probably twice the size of mine.  He’s got two parking garage spots in Manhattan, one by his apartment and the other by his office, both of which cost him $300-something a month.  You can extrapolate from there to get a sense of what kind of bills this kid is seeing each month.

Anyway, he’s in the commercial real estate brokerage biz which is basically Ground Zero for the deflationary spiral right now.  In the absence of businesses expanding and forming, prices per square foot are plummeting pretty much up and down NYC and around the clock.  No one’s bringing in new employees so taking more space is literally the furthest thing from their minds.  In a city that recently had eleventy-five hedge funds starting up each weekday that were willing pay whatever you quoted them for space, even the most sought-after buildings now sit at fractions of full capacity.  What’s worse, there is no burgeoning industry waiting in the wings to take up all the recently vacated hedgie offices – there are only so many law firms and bankruptcy specialists after all!

My friend the broker may be profligate, but he is also realistic and sees that, because of capacity slack, this could continue for quite some time.  His question is, short of moving to Tahiti with an easel and paint brushes, what can we do to counter the deleterious effects of this deflationary miasma?

My answer?  Not having lived through any periods of sustained deflation in my own lifetime (born in ’77), I gave him the only answer I could, one based on common sense.  I told him to Get Small.

Reducing the expenditure footprint allows you to preserve both cash and cash flow, two of the most valuable commodities of all when prices and returns on investment are falling all around us.  Many will be forced to puke up properties, investments, businesses and crown jewel assets in a deflationary environment – but kings are made on the other side.  The kings would be the counter-cyclically prepared, the guy showing up to the estate sale with an unencumbered bankroll.

We’re not…
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Naked Capitalism and My Scary Minsky Model

Naked Capitalism and My Scary Minsky Model

Courtesy of Steve Keen at Debtwatch

I met with Yves Smith of Naked Capitalism on the weekend, at a superb Japanese restaurant that only New York locals could find (and I’ll keep its location quiet for their benefit–too much publicity could spoil a spectacular thing). Yves was kind enough to post details of my latest academic paper at her site in a post she entitled “Steve Keen’s scary Minsky model“.

Yves found the model scary, not because it revealed anything about the economy that she didn’t already know, but because it so easily reproduced the Ponzi features of the economy she knows so well.

I have yet to attempt to fit the model to data–and given its nonlinearity, that won’t be easy–but its qualitative behavior is very close to what we’ve experienced. As in the real world, a series of booms and busts give the superficial appearance of an economy entering a “Great Moderation”–just before it collapses.

The motive force driving the crash is the ratio of debt to GDP–a key feature of the real world that the mainstream economists who dominate the world’s academic university departments, Central Banks and Treasuries ignore. In the model, as in the real world, this ratio rises in a boom as businesses take on debt to finance investment and speculation, and then falls in a slump when things don’t work out in line with the euphoric expectations that developed during the boom. Cash flows during the slump don’t allow borrowers to reduce the debt to GDP ratio to the pre-boom level, but the period of relative stability after the crisis leads to expectations–and debt–taking off once more.

Ultimately, such an extreme level of debt is accumulated that debt servicing exceeds available cash flows, and a permanent slump ensues–a Depression.

There are 4 behavioural functions in the model that mimic the behaviour of the major private actors in the economy–workers, capitalists and bankers. Workers wage rises are related to the level of employment and the rate of inflation; capitalists investment and debt repayment plans are related to the rate of profit; and the willingness of banks to lend is also a function of the rate of profit.…
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The Fallacy Of “Record Corporate Cash”

The Fallacy Of "Record Corporate Cash"

Lightning is an atmospheric discharge of electricity accompanied by thunder, which typically occurs during thunderstorms. There are approximately 16 million lightning storms in the world every year.

Courtesy of Karl Denninger of The Market Ticker 

How many times have you heard that: "Corporations are flush with cash; they have record amounts of free cash on their balance sheets"?

Dozens, right?

It’s touted as a positive thing.


Corporations hoard cash when they are convinced that things are going to get bad.  No corporation hoards cash if it has somewhere better to deploy it - that is, somewhere it is convinced it can invest and produce a return for the business.

So what does a "record level of cash" tell us about business prospects?  Simple: Business sucks today and forward prospects are deteriorating, not improving.

Simply put, businesses not only fear the need for all that cash, they have no compelling places to invest in the growth of the company’s revenues and profits.  They can’t make the argument for expanding their plant, hiring, an M&A deal or even a stock buyback.  They expect a hard rain or worse, an outbreak of tornadoes, not smooth sailing and fair skies.

Don’t be suckered by the mainstream media. 

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More Doubts About 30-Year Fixed Rate Mortgages

More Doubts About 30-Year Fixed Rate Mortgages

Courtesy of Tom Lindmark at But Then What 

Here is some further heretical thinking on 30-year fixed rate mortgages from, believe it or not, an economist who works for the federal government’s housing cabal. His name is Patrick Lawler and he works for the Federal Housing Finance Agency.

James R. Hagerty wrote of Mr. Lawler’s comments in the WSJ Developments blog. Here is the gist of what he had to say from Mr. Hagerty:

Now, Americans are very attached to their 30-year fixed-rate freely prepayable mortgages. They like not having to fuss about the possibility of 28% interest rates in 2032, even though most of us will move or die long before then. They love to refinance every time rates drop and then brag to their neighbors about how much they are saving per month.

What they don’t stop to realize often enough is that they are paying a very large price for that privilege– twice.

In the first place, mortgage rates are higher than they otherwise would be. That’s because lenders and mortgage investors must build in protection for the risk that we will prepay and stick them with a lower yield than they were anticipating. Mr. Lawler estimates that Americans pay at least an extra 0.25 to 0.50 percentage point in rates because of this option to prepay without penalty. They also pay another premium-–sometimes a percentage point or two–for having a long-term fixed rate. Over 30 years, that translates into some real money, but no one ever mentions that when bragging to the neighbor.

In the second place, our nation has created the likes of Fannie, Freddie and the FHA to facilitate these oddball 30-year fixed-rate loans, which aren’t normally provided by the private market. For a long while, that seemed like a free lunch. Fannie and Freddie, we were told, were far better able to handle those complex risks than we dumb consumers ever could. But since the government had to rescue Fannie and Freddie in 2008, the taxpayers’ tab for this indigestible lunch has swollen to $145 billion, and it’s still rising. So that’s the second time we’ll pay for our irrational love of American-style mortgages – only this time, we all pay, not just mortgage borrowers.

Meanwhile, other wealthy nations–notably Canada–do without our kind of mortgages and yet somehow manage to have homeownership rates

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Courtesy of The Pragmatic Capitalist 

Wrapped gift

Ben Bernanke is confused.  And no, it’s not just the monetary system that continues to confound him.  This time it’s gold prices.  During yesterday’s Congressional testimony Bernanke was asked about the surging price of gold and if that is a sign of no confidence in fiat currencies.  He responded:

“Well the signal that gold is sending is in some ways very different from what other asset prices are sending.  For example, the spread between nominal and inflation index bonds remains quite low – suggesting just 2% inflation over the next 10 years.  Other commodity prices have fallen recently quite severely including oil prices and food prices.  So gold is out there doing something different from the rest of the commodity group.  I don’t fully understand the movements in the gold price, but I do think there’s a great deal of uncertainty and anxiety in financial markets right now and some people believe that holding gold will be a hedge against the fact that they view many other investments as being risky and hard to predict at this point.”

Mr. Bernanke is no dummy.  I know I am a bit hard on him at times, but that is only because he is supposedly the Michael Jordan of the financial system so expectations are high.  Unfortunately, he has performed more like Luc Longley (no offense to the superb Aussie readers here).  Nonetheless, Mr. Bernanke understands that inflation pressures remain very low (even though he has failed to apply or promote the proper solution to our current balance sheet recession).  Aside from gold prices there are no signs of inflation in the economy.  But I believe gold prices are moving higher due to the public’s opposition to fiat currency, fiscal stimulus and what is generally viewed as continued “money printing”. This is highly irrational in the long-term in my opinion and creates the potential for gold to turn into a bubble is looking increasingly high.

Gold prices have surged this year as the Euro crisis has created increasing concerns over the viability of fiat money. I have previously discussed the great irony here.   Gold is viewed as a hedge against the potential collapse of paper currencies .  It is seen as the ultimate safe haven currency.  The Euro…
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Subprime Goes to College; Students Buried in Debt; Who is to Blame?

Subprime Goes to College; Students Buried in Debt; Who is to Blame?

Three young men walking in a college campus and talking

Courtesy of Mish

Students fresh out of college, six-figures deep in debt, face decades of debt slavery. Both parents and students are wondering what went wrong. Please consider Placing the Blame as Students Are Buried in Debt.

Like many middle-class families, Cortney Munna and her mother began the college selection process with a grim determination. They would do whatever they could to get Cortney into the best possible college, and they maintained a blind faith that the investment would be worth it.

Today, however, Ms. Munna, a 26-year-old graduate of New York University, has nearly $100,000 in student loan debt from her four years in college, and affording the full monthly payments would be a struggle. For much of the time since her 2005 graduation, she’s been enrolled in night school, which allows her to defer loan payments.

This is not a long-term solution, because the interest on the loans continues to pile up. So in an eerie echo of the mortgage crisis, tens of thousands of people like Ms. Munna are facing a reckoning. They and their families made borrowing decisions based more on emotion than reason, much as subprime borrowers assumed the value of their houses would always go up.

The Project on Student Debt, a research and advocacy organization in Oakland, Calif., used federal data to estimate that 206,000 people graduated from college (including many from for-profit universities) with more than $40,000 in student loan debt in that same period. That’s a ninefold increase over the number of people in 1996, using 2008 dollars.

No one forces borrowers to take out these loans, and Ms. Munna and her mother, Cathryn, have spent the years since her graduation trying to understand where they went wrong.

She started college at age 17 and borrowed as much money as she could under the federal loan program. To make up the difference between her grants and work study money and the total cost of attending, her mother co-signed two private loans with Sallie Mae totaling about $20,000.

When they applied for a third loan, however, Sallie Mae rejected the application, citing Cathryn’s credit history. She had returned to college herself to finish her bachelor’s degree and was also borrowing money. N.Y.U. suggested a federal Plus loan for parents, but that would have

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Zero Hedge

125 Arrested As Dakota Pipeline Protests Grow Hostile; Media Drones Shot Down By Police

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Protests over the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) in North Dakota grew increasingly hostile over the weekend as police arrested 127 activists who setup multiple highway blockades claiming “unceded territory” in the direct path of the pipeline's construction.  According to a report by RT, police were forced to make arrests as the blockades directly threatened the ability of local officials to provide emergency services.

The Morto...

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Global Asset Management 3Q16 - Cash is a Capital Allocation Strategy

By VW Staff. Originally published at ValueWalk.

Global Asset Management commentary for the quarter ended September 30, 2016.

Also see


Dear Friends,

Year-to-date we’v...

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Phil's Favorites

Waiting for the Fat Pitch


Waiting for the Fat Pitch

Courtesy of Wade of Investing Caffeine

Fall is here and the leaves are beginning to change, which means it’s baseball playoffs time and the World Series is quickly approaching. Investing in some respects is similar to baseball because they both require discipline and patience. One investing legend who embodies those characteristics is Warren Buffett, and he has repeatedly spoken about Ted Williams and waiting for the “fat pitch.”

John Huber, over at BHI, did a great job summarizing Ted Williams’ hitting philosophy here:

“Ted Williams was famous for “wait...

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Market News

News You Can Use From Phil's Stock World


Financial Markets and Economy

The Brexit economy: falling pound and rising inflation fuel fears of slowdown (The Guardian)

The British economy’s post-Brexit vote bounce is losing momentum as the weak pound and higher inflation herald a squeeze in living standards, according to a Guardian analysis.

S&P 500 Skew Unwind Shows Complacency Over Clinton Win: Analysis (Bloomberg)


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Swing trading portfolio - week of October 24th,2016

Reminder: OpTrader is available to chat with Members, comments are found below each post.


This post is for all our live virtual trade ideas and daily comments. Please click on "comments" below to follow our live discussion. All of our current  trades are listed in the spreadsheet below, with entry price (1/2 in and All in), and exit prices (1/3 out, 2/3 out, and All out).

We also indicate our stop, which is most of the time the "5 day moving average". All trades, unless indicated, are front-month ATM options. 

Please feel free to participate in the discussion and ask any questions you might have about this virtual portfolio, by clicking on the "comments" link right below.

To learn more about the swing trading virtual portfolio (strategy, performance, FAQ, etc.), please click here ...

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Kimble Charting Solutions

Banks- This is putting a smile on this sector

Courtesy of Chris Kimble.

Historically, when strong bull markets have taken place, Banks go along for the ride. Since the summer of 2014, banks have under performed the broad market by around 12%, as the S&P is just a couple of percent from all-time highs. Are banks about to act healthier and put a smile on this sector, which could help the S&P breakout above the 2,150 level?

Below looks at the Bank Index (BKX)



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Chart School

Weekly Market Recap Oct 23, 2016

Courtesy of Blain.

The week that was…

A sleepy week indeed as almost all the “action” came out of a gap up Tuesday morning and a gap down Friday morning (which was met with buyers).  Outside of those events, the indexes stuck closely to unchanged most of the week.  Earnings began in earnest but outside of some individual high profile stories it was a lot of beating lowered expectations.

“Despite a couple of good reports, we’re in the midst of another earnings season that is hardly painting a bright picture,” said Mark Luschini, chief investment strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott. “Having another quarter where profits contract is not an underpinning for stocks to advance, and the market is searching for, if not demanding, a catalyst to move higher. At the moment, one is lackin...

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Members' Corner

The Orlando Massacre Part 3

Courtesy of Nattering Naybob.

A continuation of a Naybob of IT's Natterings from Part 1 and Part 2...

While many Christian churches expressed grief and offered free funeral services for the victims of the Orlando shooting, the fundamentalist Westboro Baptist Church held an anti-gay protest during the funeral of the victims.

But the Westboro Baptist Church's protest rally was blocked by about 200 people who formed a human barricade on the main street in downtown Orlando, ...

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Mapping The Market

The Most Overlooked Trait of Investing Success

Via Jean-Luc

Good article on investing success:

The Most Overlooked Trait of Investing Success

By Morgan Housel

There is a reason no Berkshire Hathaway investor chides Buffett when the company has a bad quarter. It’s because Buffett has so thoroughly convinced his investors that it’s pointless to try to navigate around 90-day intervals. He’s done that by writing incredibly lucid letters to investors for the last 50 years, communicating in easy-to-understand language at annual meetings, and speaking on TV in ways that someone with no investing experience can grasp.

Yes, Buffett runs an amazing investment company. But he also runs an amazing investor company. One of the most underappreciated part of his s...

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Digital Currencies

Gold, Silver and Blockchain - Fintech Solutions To Negative Rates, Bail-ins, Currency Debasement and Cashless

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

By Jan Skoyles

I was so pleased yesterday by the announcement that I have joined the Research team at GoldCore as it meant that I could finally start talking about it and was back in a role that lets me indulge in my passion by researching and geeking out on all things gold, silver and money.


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Epizyme - A Waiting Game

Reminder: Pharmboy is available to chat with Members, comments are found below each post.

Epizyme was founded in 2007, and trying to create drugs to treat patient's cancer by focusing on genetically-linked differences between normal and cancer cells. Cancer areas of focus include leukemia, Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and breast cancer.  One of the Epizme cofounders, H. Robert Horvitz, won the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 2002 for "discoveries concerning genetic regulation of organ development and programmed cell death."

Before discussing the drug targets of Epizyme, understanding epigenetics is crucial to comprehend the company's goals.  

Genetic components are the DNA sequences that are 'inherited.'  Some of these genes are stronger than others in their expression (e.g., eye color).  Yet, some genes turn on or off due to external factors (environmental), and it is und...

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All About Trends

Mid-Day Update

Reminder: Harlan is available to chat with Members, comments are found below each post.

Click here for the full report.

To learn more, sign up for David's free newsletter and receive the free report from All About Trends - "How To Outperform 90% Of Wall Street With Just $500 A Week." Tell David PSW sent you. - Ilene...

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PSW is more than just stock talk!


We know you love coming here for our Stocks & Options education, strategy and trade ideas, and for Phil's daily commentary which you can't live without, but there's more! features the most important and most interesting news items from around the web, all day, every day!

News: If you missed it, you can probably find it in our Market News section. We sift through piles of news so you don't have to.   

If you are looking for non-mainstream, provocatively-narrated news and opinion pieces which promise to make you think -- we feature Zero Hedge, ...

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Philip R. Davis is a founder Phil's Stock World, a stock and options trading site that teaches the art of options trading to newcomers and devises advanced strategies for expert traders...

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