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 - February 20th, 2012 6:37 am
Why do we scream at each other
This is what it sounds like
When doves cry – Prince
It's no coincidence that this week we will be hearing from Fed Governors Kocherllakota (1pm Tues), Hoenig (12:30 Weds), Plosser (1:30 Weds), and Bullard (9:15 Thurs) ahead of our 2-Year Note Auction (1pm Tues), 5-Year Note Auction (1pm Weds) and 7-Year Note Auction (1pm Thursday) as the Fed needs to bring out 4 of it's 5 most hawkish members to talk up the Dollar (by talking down QE3) to keep those rates paid as low as possible for Treasury.
Once the Hawks drive the rates down and the notes are sold, the Doves will once again be released to talk them back up by extolling the glories of QE3 – completely reversing whatever was said before just as the Hawks will once again be called upon to reverse what the Doves say at a later date – when they need rates to come back down. The joke of it all is that traders will react to each statement, every time, as if it's a "game changer" and adjust their positions to reflect the new reality of the moment. It reminds me of a quote from Orwell's 1984:
As soon as all the corrections which happened to be necessary in any particular number of The Times had been assembled and collated, that number would be reprinted, the original copy destroyed, and the corrected copy placed on the files in its stead. This process of continuous alteration was applied not only to newspapers, but to books, periodicals, pamphlets, posters, leaflets, films, sound-tracks, cartoons, photographs – to every kind of literature or documentation which might conceivably hold any political or ideological significance.
Day by day and almost minute by minute the past was brought up to date. In this way every prediction made by the Party could be shown by documentary evidence to have been correct, nor was any item of news, or any expression of opinion, which conflicted with the needs of the moment, ever allowed to remain on record. All history was a palimpsest, scraped clean and reinscribed exactly as often as was necessary. In no case would it have been possible, once the deed was done, to prove that any falsification had taken place.
by phil - December 16th, 2011 8:25 am
It’s party time!
A lot of investors have been saying "Phuket" lately and they can only be referring to the annual Patong Carnival in Thailand, where the tourist bureau wants you to know the tuberculosis outbreak is "under control." Actually, it’s an amazingly beautiful place with great people – must be why so many people keep mentioning it when starting at the markets this week…
As I mentioned yesterday, we had to flip bullish because our bearish bets were no fun and we felt that A) the bottom was a little forced in order for Timmy to peddle his T-Bills and B) that Santa Clause is coming to town. Actually, we had plenty of bearish bets from when the market was high so we needed the bullish bets to get BALANCE!
Balance was the theme of our virtual White Christmas Portfolio and we added another $3,615 in gains over the past two weeks to bring us very close to a triple at $42,925 off our $15,000 start back on November 21st. This is a very aggressive virtual portfolio where we are practicing the art of hit and run trading. The positions we closed in the last 9 sessions were bullish bets with FAS, XLF, FAS, DIA, GLD, XLF, FAS and XLF and bearish bets with GLL, TZA, FAS (spread), USO, DIA, TZA, DIA, DIA, DIA, DXD. See – BALANCE!
We thought the market would go up and down (I know, such a stretch!) and the markets did, in fact go up AND down with an AVERAGE swing of 1.5% PER DAY but, in the end, we’re still consolidating around our Must Hold lines and right back where we were at the last options expiration day of November 18th – causing almost all puts and calls sold to sucker a month ago to expire worthless. Isn’t it a funny coincidence how all that seems to work out for the Banksters?
As I reminded our Members, our cynical motto at PSW is "We don’t care IF the game is fixed, as long as we can figure out HOW the game is fixed and place our bets accordingly."
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 19th, 2011 7:31 am
Looks like we’ll be having a green Christmas this year!
Congratulations to all who played along with our latest virtual portfolio as we couldn’t have made 33 better trades in a month as we blasted past our goal for an 89.4% gain, from $15,000 to $28,415 in just 25 days. There’s certainly as much luck as skill in getting this kind of result but, since we’re over a month ahead of schedule and ahead of our $25,000 goal – there’s no reason to shut this down and we’ll see how far we can push things through Christmas – on one condition.
In the last update, I put up a link to our NYC Food Bank, where we are fortunate enough to have arranged for matching donations for the next Million Dollars that comes in. If you should happen to benefit from what you learn following our virtual portfolio – PLEASE take a moment to give something back to the millions who are less fortunate. It doesn’t have to be the Food Bank – all of our communities have needs and you may find it pleasantly surprising at how good it makes you feel to just walk into a local shelter – hand someone a check and say "Happy Holidays."
That’s all you have to do. They may try to hug you (there’s a lot of huggy people working in shelters) but they won’t put you on a list or bug you for money or come to your house – they are just thrilled to make it through a week with enough money to take care of the people who really need it. Please keep that in mind as this is a particularly hard holiday season for charities – as giving has plunged around the country and needs, obviously, have skyrocketed.
Thank you. Now we can get back to our Capitalistic endeavors!
- 2 NFLX Nov $67.50 puts sold for $3 expired worthless – up $600
- 5 DECK Nov $105 calls sold for $6.60 expired worthless – up $3,300
- 5 SCO Nov $45/48 bull call spreads at $1.10 expired worthless – down $1,100
- 20 FAS Nov $11 puts sold for .65 (-$1,300) expired worthless
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 - 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