We’ve been talking about this stuff for awhile now here on TRB, but no one was on top of the sovereign debt minefield like the Zero Hedge gang. In case you missed ignored it, they’ve basically been handing you what the market is awakening to now on a platter.
Bad news from Harrisburg, PA to Southern Europe to Los Angeles today. And those jobs numbers certainly didn’t help. We should be at roughly 0% employment by 2016 at this rate.
The Dow is down around 200 as we speak, flirting with the psychologically meaningful 10,000 level.
City workers and union members won a victory against financial prudence in Los Angeles today.
The city council spent all day yesterday discussing drastic cuts made necessary by LA’s $208 million budget gap. The city’s budget analysis proposed around 1,000 job cuts to save money.
And so the municipal unions went wild, packing the meeting with hundreds of workers.
In response, the city council voted to postpone budget-related layoffs for 30 days.
Frighteningly, on the same day the council members voted against cutting jobs and consolidating the disability, human services and environmental affairs department, it also agreed to discuss making jobs cuts in the police and fire departments.
Even worse, LA council members are talking about "unconventional ways" of addressing their looming financial crisis.
"If I’m facing hard times . . . I’m going to go to my uncles. I’m going to go to my aunt. I’m going to ask them to borrow money," Councilman Jose Huizar said, according to the LA Times. "But I’m going to tell them: ‘You know, I’ve got this ’67 Chevy. I could sell it a year from now and maybe I’ll pay you back with that.’ Can we do anything like that?"
The problem, of course, is that LA’s uncle is the State of California, which is facing a giant budgetary crisis of its own. It doesn’t have the money to bail out LA. And muni bond investors are unlikely to love the idea that LA will find some way to raise cash in the future to compensate for its inability to restrain spending now.
Will the ratings agencies wait 30 days before slamming LA? We’ll see.
With city officials declaring that "bankruptcy is not an option," Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa released a long-term plan for the city’s finances Thursday, including several billion dollars in potential savings and possible layoffs of 1,000 workers.
In a letter to City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana, the mayor and City Council leaders called for the start of steps needed to make layoffs and perform studies on dealing with this year’s continuing shortfall of $200 million and the projected $400 million deficit for next year.
"This mayor has no interest in going down the road to bankruptcy," said Deputy Mayor Matt Szabo, who has been assigned the task of developing the overall financial strategy for the city.
My Comment: It is irrelevant what the mayor wants now. The fate was sealed years ago with pensions. LA came to a fork in the road, and selected the road named "Bankruptcy". Now the mayor says LA has no interest going down that road. Well it is too late for that now, unless unions are ready to do some serious negotiation.
That’s the kicker, LA has no choice in the matter other than the mayor’s willingness to ask the unions for concessions. Whether or not LA goes bankrupt depends entirely on the response from the unions regarding wages and pension benefits.
The five-page letter from Villaraigosa, also signed by Council President Eric Garcetti and council members Bernard Parks, Jan Perry, Greig Smith and Dennis Zine, sets the stage for a series of decisions to reduce spending in the city’s $7.01 billion budget.
There are no plans to ask voters for a tax increase, but the mayor is looking at whether a ballot proposal will be needed to reform the city’s pension system.
My Comment: Good luck with that. You will need it.
Santana’s office also released a report showing the city’s revenues continue to decline, particularly in consumer-sensitive areas such as hotel and sales tax. Also, holiday season sales were much less than expected.
My Comment: Welcome to frugality, the new reality.…
In my larval, pre-blogging days, I always faced the back-to-school moment with abject dread. It meant returning to a program of the most severe, mind-numbing regimentation in the ghastly New York City public schools after a summer of idyllic unreality in the New Hampshire woods, where I went to a Lord of the Flies type of summer camp. And so here I am, many decades later, still uneasy as the final page of the August calendar flies away in a hot Santa Ana wind, and a great hellfire closes in on the far eastern reaches of Los Angeles, and the American money system falls into a peculiar limbo, and every fifth person is out of work, or going bankrupt, or glugging down the seawater of default, or being denied coverage by health insurance that he-or-she has already shelled out ten grand for this year, or getting shot in a trailer park.
I was in Los Angeles for a few days last week, as chance had it, marveling at the odd disposition of things there. I’ve been there many times over the years, but you forget how overwhelmingly weird it is. Altogether the LA metro area has the ambience of a garage the size of Rhode Island where someone happened to leave the engine running. To say that LA is all about cars is kind of like saying the Pacific Ocean is all about water. But one forgets the supernatural scale of the freeways, the tsunamis of vehicles, the cosmic despair of the traffic jams. The vistas of present-day LA make the Blade Runner vision of things look quaint in comparison.
You motor out of the LAX airport – personally, I love the name "LAX" because it so beautifully describes the collective ethos of the place – and you discover quickly that the taxi cab’s windows are not that dirty, it’s the air itself colored brown like miso soup. Going north on the 405 freeway, you see the looming Moloch of the downtown skyline through the brown miso soup. And you begin to understand why the products of the film industry are so fixated on the theme of machine apocalypse. Downtown LA looks like just such a gigantic machine as the FX crews would dream up, as if a day will come when those gleaming mirrored office towers will pull themselves
The rise in rents and home prices is adding additional pressure to the bottom line of most California families. Home prices have been rising steadily for a few years largely driven by low inventory, little construction thanks to NIMBYism, and foreign money flowing into certain markets...
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A quick post before the Superbowl begins. Friday's action was very disappointing if you were in the bullish camp; poor jobs data contributing to the malaise. However, investors can view this as another buying opportunity, with the Nasdaq clocking the 10% percentile of historic weak prices dating back to 1971, and the Russell 2000 making fast work of a push back to 958. Again, it's not about investing everything at once, but perhaps using the coming year(?) to build long term positions. I would be happier to see a 40-60% trim from highs - keep an eye on my bottom watch table, but this is the kind of action which helps reset the bulls count.
The S&P registered a clear break of rising trend. Volume was lighter, so it wasn't necessarily a panic sell. And while it could be viewed as a breakown, the glass half full crew would see this as a drop back...
Last week, I discussed the boost the market received as the BOJ made an unexpected move into negative interest rate territory combined with end of the month buying by portfolio managers. I wrote:
“However, the announcement by the Bank of Japan (BOJ) to implement negative interest rates in a desperate last attempt to boost economic growth in Japan was only the catalyst that ignited the bulls. The “fuel” for the buying came from the end of the month portfolio buying by fund managers.”
But more importantly, was the push higher by stocks that I have been discussing with you over the last couple of weeks. ...
Throughout the past 30 days of wild volatility, here’s what I didn’t do.
Panic. Worry. Sell.
In fact, the best I did was add to a couple of positions yesterday. The world was already in an uncertain state for the past 3+ years. It’s just that with the market rising, we pushed the issue to the back of our mind and ignored it.
A number of systemic, structural forces are intersecting in 2016. One is the rise of non-state, non-central-bank-issued crypto-currencies.
We all know money is created and distributed by governments and central banks. The reason is simple: control the money and you control everything.
The invention of the blockchain and crypto-currencies such as Bitcoin have opened the door to non-state, non-central-bank currencies--money that is global and independent of any state or central bank, or indeed, any bank, as crypto-currencies are structurally peer-to-peer, meaning they don't require a bank to function: people can exchange crypto-currencies to pay for goods and services without a bank acting as a clearinghouse for all these transactions.
Last year, the S&P 500 large caps closed 2015 essentially flat on a total return basis, while the NASDAQ 100 showed a little better performance at +8.3% and the Russell 2000 small caps fell -5.9%. Overall, stocks disappointed even in the face of modest expectations, especially the small caps as market leadership was mostly limited to a handful of large and mega-cap darlings.
Notably, the full year chart for the S&P 500 looks very much like 2011. It got off to a good start, drifted sideways for...
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Baxter Int. (BAX) is splitting off its BioSciences division into a new company called Baxalta. Shares of Baxalta will be given as a tax-free dividend, in the ratio of one to one, to BAX holders on record on June 17, 2015. That means, if you want to receive the Baxalta dividend, you need to buy the stock this week (on or before June 12).
Back in December, I wrote a post on my blog where I compared the performances of various ETFs related to the oil industry. I was looking for the best possible proxy to match the moves of oil prices if you didn't want to play with futures. At the time, I concluded that for medium term trades, USO and the leveraged ETFs UCO and SCO were the most promising. Longer term, broader ETFs like OIH and XLE might make better investment if oil prices do recover to more profitable prices since ETF linked to futures like USO, UCO and SCO do suffer from decay. It also seemed that DIG and DUG could be promising if OIH could recover as it should with the price of oil, but that they don't make a good proxy for the price of oil itself.
This is a non-trading topic, but I wanted to post it during trading hours so as many eyes can see it as possible. Feel free to contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
Last fall there was some discussion on the PSW board regarding setting up a YouCaring donation page for a PSW member, Shadowfax. Since then, we have been looking into ways to help get him additional medical services and to pay down his medical debts. After following those leads, we are ready to move ahead with the YouCaring site. (Link is posted below.) Any help you can give will be greatly appreciated; not only to help aid in his medical bill debt, but to also show what a great community this group is.
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