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Sunday, October 2, 2022

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Yentervention Wednesday – Kan Baffles Bulls

Kaaaaaaannnnnn! 

As we discussed yesterday, it was meet the new boss, same as the old boss in Japan as Naoto Kan’s re-election sent the Yen to new highs as he was considered the least likely candidate to back intervention.  Well surprise, surprise this morning as Japan officially intervened in the FOREX markets and sent the Yen down a full 2.5% as they used their Yen to purchase an undisclosed basket of currencies.   

Since the Dollar is up today against both the Pound ($1.55) and the Euro ($1.29), we can assume the dollar is one of those currencies and demand for Dollars means upward pressure on rates so that should be the end of the TLT bounce for the moment.  Stock boys want bonds to die so the money can come this way and bond boys want you to fear the stock market so you will let them hold your money (and charge you fees) at ridiculously low rates of interest.  That’s they Yin and Yang of the markets. 

Investors were starting to doubt the government’s commitment to its pledge that it would take bold action,” said Yoshimasa Maruyama, a senior economist at Itochu Corp. in Tokyo. Kan and Noda in recent weeks repeatedly said that Japan was ready to take “bold” measures to stem the currency.  The Japanese government official said European and U.S. officials were informed of the move in an effort to avoid a negative reaction. It took a while to convince Europe because authorities there didn’t like the idea, the person said.

We’ll see if the stronger Dollar today puts pressure on commodities but we’re in pretty good shape as this rally, for a change, has not been led by commodities as the market is now flat to the August despite an 8% drop in oil prices (see USO on chart):

I often complain about rallies that are led by Financials and Commodities as those are things that suck money OUT of the economy and are not long-term drivers of growth.  The entire 2006-7 rally was this kind of rally and I bitched about it all the way up.  We also had housing back then, another type of commodity, but that’s so dead now it’s hardly worth mentioning, is it?  Actually housing is where we used a lot of commodities like lumber and copper etc.  33 months after the onset of the Great Recession, new home sales are still down 70% and non-residential construction is down 36% – that market is dead, dead, dead

We get housing starts next week but who really cares?  Is it going to be 525,000 or 575,000?  I can tell you one thing, it’s not going to be 2.1M, which is where we peaked out in 2006 and it’s not going to be 1.4M, which was around "normal" in the 90s.  While many bears will latch onto this number and tell you how it spells DOOM for the economy – I’ll give you a couple of reasons why it’s a GOOD thing.

A) Commodities – they get expensive when housing sucks them all up and that makes the cost of goods more expensive for consumers as well as for manufacturers.

B) Savings – With an average price of $250,000 and an average deposit of 10%, each new home sucked $25,000 out of savings accounts – 1.5M less homes sold means $37.5Bn more money in savings accounts.  Ad in mortgage fees, moving costs etc. and you can double that amount.  Also, it pays to consider the vast number of people who have simply stopped saving for a new home as it is no longer considered a goal for many people – that money can be used for other purchases or to pay down debts.  If the average family saved 3 years to buy a new home than that’s a very large amount of money that has been re-directed. 

C) Loans – If they are putting down a $25,000 deposit, they are borrowing $225,000 from the bank.  That’s a demand for $337.5Bn per year of bank capital.  Less demand for money for homes means more money available (in theory) for businesses to expand (and hopefully hire).  

D) Cash flow – Hard to quantify but generally, people who stay in homes can afford their mortgages, the stress comes when they upgrade to bigger homes and have to make bigger payments.  

To some extent, the same thing applies to the 6M cars per year that are not being bought as well.  Of course, cars only last so long before they begin falling apart but so, to some extent, do homes.  At 500,000 homes a year we are only replacing the average US home every 205 years.  Is your home likely to last 205 years?  If not, then at some point, people will HAVE to start buying new homes again.  If we assume 1.5M homes a year is a proper replacement rate (once every 73 years for 110M homes), then we can use the above chart and estimate that about 1.5M homes too many were built between 2003 and 2006 while about the same 1.5M too few homes have been built in the past two years.  This is called "working off excess inventory" and it’s very, very normal and explains whey the Case-Shiller Index has found a bottom of sorts recently:

Interest rates are the real wild-card here as people don’t buy homes, they buy mortgages, so low home loan rates (remember that low demand for money) makes homes seem more affordable and it remains to be seen if buyers really have the stomach to pay 70% of peak home pricing if rates head back to 6%.  At 4.5%, a $200,000 mortgage is $1,266.71 per month, at 6%, that $200,000 jumps to $1,498.88 per month – a 15% increase.  So, we can look at the above chart and knock 15% off if rates had not dropped so significantly during the housing bust and that puts the chart at 136.  7.5% mortgages can drive us down to about 115 so it is not out of the realm of possibility that an event (like the Yen being devalued to the dollar, for one thing) can still drive rates up and drive housing prices another 15-30% lower. 

This is what we consider to be one of the biggest overhangs in the economy because we are not creating enough jobs to create demand for homes and every day we risk an event that raises rates and the banks are still on the hook for 3 years worth of home loans they made at higher prices than those homes are likely to fetch today and that deficit in their loan to value ratios can get MUCH worse very quickly if we do have a rate event and that line drops from 160 to 130 to 115, which would put a whole decades worth of home loans deeply in the red on the banks’ books (if they ever actually mark them that way, of course). 

Don’t be fooled by the recent bounce in financial stocks, Louis Navellier warned yesterday. "High foreclosure rates and low lending rates are acting against the big banks," he says, urging investors to sell these 11 famous financials: STD, BAC, BCS, LFC, C, HBC, GS, JPM, LYG, RBS, WFC.  This morning we got the MBA Mortgage Application Report and that was down 8.9% for the week, despite the fact that the 30-year fixed rates fell from 4.5% to 4.47%.  When I met with the Treasury last month, we discussed rates and (we are not allowed to be specific) I got the impression that they were not all together against the idea of seeing rates drop to 1% if they thought it would actually boost housing but, in fact, they don’t.  That foreclosure rate and lack of new buyers is going to keep housing down for quite a while but, as long as it doesn’t get worse, as I said, not such a bad thing

This overall uncertainty is why we held onto our hedges yesterday as we were only testing the top of our range, so we expected some pullback anyway.  We took advantage of the morning pop to add SQQQ and TZA hedges and we’ll be out following our 3 of 5 rule if we can get over our lines but seeing the Russell struggle to hold the 2.5% line at 650 made us a little dubious as to whether they would be joining us at the 5% mark.  Oil failed to hold $77.50 and copper failed to break $3.50 and gold went higher – all things to make us nervous but not so nervous that we didn’t like ARNA on the dip as a fun, risky trade idea that will make or break on Thursday, when the FDA makes their decision. 

We set up a hedged play on ARNA that pays 1,566% at $5, which is a fun way to gamble on silly biotech stocks.  The idea of a play like that, of course, is not to put 1% of your virtual portfolio in and hope to make 15 times your virtual portfolio on one trade but to put 0.01% of your porfolio and make 15% if it works out.  That way, you can afford to have 10 misses trying to make 15% before you are out even one tenth of one percent of your virtual portfolio – we see trades like these at least once a week so it’s not like they are a rarity. 

Asia was mixed this morning with the Shanghai getting hit for 1.3% but the Hang Seng held flat at 21,752 and that 22,000 line would be bullish for them.  The BSE hit 19,502 with a 0.8% gain and the Nikkei was thrilled with the intervention and jumped 2.3%.  Europe is down about half a point ahead of the US open as protests against austerity budgets broke out in Romania and the EU proposed a ban on short selling that made the markets nervous.  

Also making everyone nervous is our miss on Industrial Production (0.2% vs 0.3% expected) as well as Capacity Utilization (74.7% vs 75% expected) and the Empire Manufacturing Index for September also fell short of the mark at 4.1 vs 6.4 expected and 7.1 prior.  If that kind of data keeps up, then the August "recovery" is going to start looking like a bump on the way down.  However, new orders were the bright spot of the report, up 4.33 vs down 2.71 last month while employment ticked up slightly and prices turned higher.    August Import Prices were up a surprising 0.6%, doubling expectations.

We expected to test our 4% lines today and we’ll see if they hold up at: S&P 1,112, Nas 2,288 and NYSE 7,072.  The Dow has yet to give us 10,608 nor has the Russell seen fit to test 660 but these are the expected pullbacks off our 5% lines and the other 3 have tested the tops and how they behave on a pullback is going to be critical as we decide on our stance into the weekend.  It’s very had to make any conclusions on a day where there has been such a massive currency intervention and I would take all early moves with a huge grain of salt. 

 

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Gel/
I would play AUD/Yen at the moment instead of JPY/USD. The two crosses have moved in parallel on the Yen intervention. But AUD/YEn is a more sensible play for retail Yen investors because of the carry.
I am glad JPY/USD worked out for me but I wasnt invested fully. The drawback of scaling in, I guess.

exec/pain — Someone posted this awhile back: http://www.optionistics.com/f/strike_peg

Ok, while we’re Making our xmas list out to hand to Lloyd… Please spike the vix so I can get back to a properly hedged portfolio before crashing it into the ground during the xmas rally!

rain,

Thx

should be about POMO time if they don’t want to lose it!

You think VLO done going up from recent dip Phil?

they have now added BAC to the POMO parade

rain,

The VIX is NOT going up !!

Phil;
re: EZ Money–i think it would be a GREAT idea to keep an active list of stocks that you like when they get cheap–as a new person to the PSW it would be a great help and would probably save you considerable time & energy–
i know they don’t have options but do you have any opinion on CRESY/
thanks

Volumes picked up in the past 20 min and its mostly down… XLF holding 14.70…just barely and if it fails quickly to the downside its game on

HERO- nice pop today –
Shares of several oilfield services firms, including Superior Energy (SPN), Hercules Offshore (HERO), and Tetra Technologies (TTI) are jumping this afternoon after the U.S. Department of the Interior said that starting October 15th, oil and natural gas producers must plug 3,500 oil wells in the Gulf of Mexico that have sat idle for five years or more, according to a write-up this afternoon by Dow Jones Newswires’s Siobhan Hughes.
Hughes quotes Interior Secretary Salazar as stating, “We have placed the industry on notice that they will be held to the highest standards of planning and operations in developing leases and today’s notice reiterates that mandate.”
Companies will have 120 days to submit plans to plug the wells and to take down platforms, the Department said.

Rain,
 
Thanks…..that’s awesome. 
 
I had a visualization of JR knee deep in IWM option data with his super computer trying to calculate the absolute maximum pain level like some kind of mad scientist on a mission.

Phil / insane monkeys — don’t get me started. 20 years ago it was depression, now there’s 31 flavors of <del>boredom</del> attention deficit disorder.

anyone have the nerve to sell naked puts on vxx- jan 15’s?

Phil:  Wage Penalty– interesting way to spin; he somehow views a PhD  pushing a broom as underpaid vs a high school drop out doing the same work.   Lies, damn lies and statistics  …..

exec
There is also history which Phil releases every day, my max pain level is where has the market closed on OEX since May and that is several hundred points lower, remember we are in a range market.

lionel… I was in the JPY trade last evening for only 45 minutes. On these momentum short term plays I go "all in"with very tight stops for a quick pop. I just went short the EUR/USD for the same – looking for 1.2733. Thaks for the AUD/JPY cross trade.

Out of TBT today and for a lower loss, it was way bad at $29!

Phil – dndn – thanks again – managed to sell the jan 2012 30s and 35s vs long 25s –
got all my money off the table and pocketed 27% profit in two months.
and now have a free $5 and $10 spread – if DNDN can hold $35 in 15 months – 
with biotech I will take 27% with a chance to make 100%!!

Phil… "wage penalty" – the inverse is true in California. How about "job stability". In California it is a job for life, whether you contribute anything or not.

pomos to the rescue once again- supposed to have them again tomorrow!

exec
Wyoming has things totally out of wack. 3 educated teachers or 1 uneducated skinhead COP. The cops got raises teachers cuts. No crime and undereducated young! Makes sense to our total conservative state.

Sory exec that was for gel1!

Public Employees / gel1 – "wage penalty" – the inverse is true in California. How about "job stability". In California it is a job for life, whether you contribute anything or not"
got some references or something to back that up, gel?

Jthoma/
Good call on the late rebound,

Thar she blows!

oops, sorry – no politics, stick time!

Out of TZA evenish; 

Fellow ARNA speculators, does anyone know what time the advisory panel decision is released?  Tonight?  Tommorrow morning?

JRW    hard to play poker when you know someone is cheating but you can’t quite figure out WHEN they are going to do it! 1130 is as good as done and then we see if there is any real buy demand

jthoma
If you know they are cheating there is an app for that!

What a beautiful melt up day!  This is psychological warfare at its finest!  Lure the bears in and then WHAM- relentless ascent.  By the end of the day, newbie bears will be thinking.. gee, maybe I called it wrong?  Guess I should just go with the flow.. right?  Wrong!  I expect one more squeeze after today and then it should be smooth sailing down into oe.  The only thing that gives me pause after that is that it’s an end of quarter month.   But then, end of quarters haven’t really mattered so far this year-
 
Would love to get a bull/bear ratio right now..

Lloyd just lit a Cuban while getting his Testoni’s polished by Bernanke

wonder how many calls I will get from Joe Q to buy stock next week because we went to a new high? Gonna hate that fight-lol!

Lloyd give me a Cuban and a polish, beware the antistick!

vote for arna is tomorrow after 3 pm.  No trading after this evening.

snow… references – Yes the public employees in San Francisco for starters. Many are not needed, but are not ever dismissed ( as in the private sector ) – their hours are cut back, and the built in benefit contracts adjust upward as time passes.

Matt – that’s cuz you jinxed yourself by talkin’ early!

Closed out one of my GOOG plays on the pop –  thanks Phil. I reinvested the funds in GSI ( General Steel ) that I believe will double in 6 months.

Pharmboy:
Did you sell your ARNA spreads? I am not sure if I learned anything of substance today? Sold half of the shares I had for a small loss. Will let the rest ride through tomorrow. I don’t know…..never feels right when the "day of reckoning" comes in biotech!
dclark41

matt1966
 
 thx, now I don’t feel so all alone!

 Pharm
Thanks for ARNA – in a good position that I can’t lose – but can win nicely, thanks for your help.

Matt
I just love reading your comments. 

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