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Twisted Tuesday – Treasuries are not an Option

Remember Operation Twist?

Last week, Freddie Mac reported record lows on rates, with the 30-year notes at 3.91%.  This has not, of course, encouraged many people to go out and buy homes but it has DISCOURAGED people from putting their money into bonds and ENCOURAGED them to put their money into stocks.  There is, however, a problem with this.  When people put money into Treasuries, it is "locked up" for a period of time but stocks are more liquid so, as soon as rates begin going up (and they will when the panic in Europe subsides despite the Fed’s efforts), then money can come out of stocks as quickly as it went in and move into 5% paper

See, I said 5% paper and you were thinking "Yeah, I’d like some of that."  So are Trillions of Dollars worth of other investors and that means, I am sorry to tell you, that this little Federally-funded rally is full of holes you can drive a truck through.  

The Fed’s stimulus plan is the central bank’s third definitive attempt to aid the U.S.’s patchy economy since 2008. As expectations grew that the Fed would act in the weeks leading up to the bank’s actual announcement, which came Sept. 21, 10-year yields dropped nearly 0.30 percentage point. Since the Fed’s official statement, yields have already risen modestly, to 2.026% on Friday, from 1.95% on Sept. 20.

The program’s final debt purchase of the year was Thursday, when the Fed bought $4.6 billion in long-dated securities. The final sale Wednesday targets $8 billion to $8.75 billion worth of notes due in 2014. It will be a holiday-shortened week: The bond market was shut Monday and will close early, at 2 p.m., on Friday.

The problem is some corners of the market think the Fed’s tools are losing their punch. The financial system is already flush with money from the bank’s previous easing programs, and analysts argue that the Fed’s extra money is increasingly less useful. Borrowing costs, for instance, are at all-time lows and yet many investors aren’t taking advantage.  If Operation Twist isn’t enough to get us through 2012 – what’s going to be left in the Fed’s tool belt once the Global panic into Dollars begins to subside?  

 

You can see, on the above chart, where the Fed announced Operation Twist in September as it allowed the oil crooks to borrow cheaply and jam prices back from $80 to $100 (25%) and that took money OUT of consumers’ pockets into Q4 but at least they were able to increase their debt load as borrowing costs came down so it all works out – for the oil companies…

Banks in Europe paid attention to my cash call this weekend and parked a record $540Bn in the ECB’s overnight deposit facility, up from $500Bn the day before.  The previous record overnight deposits were $501Bn, at the onset of the Greek crisis in June of 2010 so – DESPITE all the nonsense to calm the markets – the European banks are as panicked now as they have ever been and the inter-bank lending system (LIBOR) is less liquid now than it was in the crash of 2008.  

The ECB’s so-called benchmark allotment pointed to a major liquidity overhang in the euro zone’s financial system Tuesday. Benchmark allotment, which is the ECB’s estimate of the liquidity banks need to conduct routine operations, was minus €493 billion. The negative allotment figure indicates the presence of excess liquidity in the financial system.  The ECB further said banks borrowed €6.13 billion from the ECB’s overnight lending facility, compared with €6.34 billion borrowed Thursday.  When markets are functioning properly, banks only use the facility to the tune of a few hundred million euros overnight.

I’m sorry to be a Debbie Downer for the holidays but it’s my job to search the truth and, as I was doing research for this year’s Secret Santa’s Inflation Hedges, I discovered that I can’t advocate any at the moment because the pressure is more deflationary than inflationary and, in fact, I am leaning towards putting up Secret Santa’s Disaster Hedges for 2012 – getting in-line with the Mayans for the moment.  

I’m still gathering my evidence so I don’t want to jump the gun but, as you can see from this post – I’m very much in macro mode at the moment, looking out at the bigger picture as we prepare to re-allocate our capital for 2012.  

Barring some immediate disaster this week (and we are short already), our Secret Santa Hedges for 2011 are 4 for 4 with all 4 of our trades up well over 100% and XLF and XLE both at max returns with DBA just off our $29 target at $28.60 but that only applies to very greedy people who didn’t take this trade off the table in August, when DBA was $34 and we soured on the sector.  I’ll do a full write-up as we officially close out that portfolio this weekend but, as I said, I can’t in good conscience replace it with 4 more bullish positions for 2012 as I’m not finding 4 things to be bullish about.

We’ll see how Europe acts this week but already they are not acting "fixed" and, if a Trillion Dollar commitment can’t cheer them up – what will it take?  

Let’s be careful out there!  

 

Top picture credit: thestreet.com 

Cooling Off chart from the Wall St. Journal

Cartoon credit: Bizarro Comic

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Oil Lines

R3 – 100.52
R2 – 100.32
R1 – 100
PP – 99.79
S1 – 99.46
S2 – 99.26
S3 – 98.93

This being the first trading day, these lines are usually not very reliable! 

This is an interesting stat – since the price increase in Netflix, people have been streaming more and going back to previous highs. Maybe it was the plan to get rid of the DVD altogether!

http://techcrunch.com/2011/12/26/people-spend-twice-time-netflix-hulu/

And Hulu seems to be losing steam:

Netflix time spent 

Some European news – over the weekend Spain predicted at least 2 quarters of negative growth and a bad 2012. Not surprising given the austerity measures being announced.

On the other hand, my sister told me that they are passing a new measure in Spain that should help small businesses – apparently up to now, businesses had to pay the VAT due on invoices they produced the same year the invoice was issued. It’s OK if you get paid quickly, but apparently, payment terms are getting longer and longer and my sister was telling me that she was paying VAT for invoices that would not get paid until 2013! Crazy stuff… She had to borrow money to pay that VAT. Now the VAT will be due when you get paid! Needless to say, these changes will be welcome.  

Ginormous graphic about drug prices in the US as compared to Canada (from Barry):

http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2011/12/why-americans-pay-so-much-for-brand-name-drugs/

Phil, Looks like we lucked out on the Jan 68 Call as it’s cheaper today than anytime Friday. Do you still want to buy it back?

 

Looks like the 3 day weekend did some decay damage on the short options! 

For those brave enough to short the FAS 60/72 strangle over the weekend, it was selling for around $0.70 on Friday and can be bought back for $0.44 today. Not bad….

What a difference a week make with the AAPL portfolio – good job by lflan!

 

stjeanluc
Remember I still have the 62/67 Dec 5 FAS stangle 62p sold for 1.15 now .51 and the 67c sold for 1.51 now 1.60 Shuold I close it and set up an other play or stick arround?

FAS / Yodi – You could close it now. It’s a win anyway and setup another play with more upside protection. 

 I am holding DIA Jan $118 puts, in at $1.81 now $0.88.  Any advice on whether to DD or roll to $120 puts?

FAS Strangle Experiment – Being already Tuesday (faster decay…), I am selling a FAS 63/72 strangle for around $0.70 or so. 

stjeanluc
Thanks What play do you suggest for this week? FAS strangle

wrote some open UCO 46 calls for Jan.

Tuesday pre-market – – 12-27-2011
 
Dr. John L. Faessel
ON THE MARKET
Commentary and Insights
 
Quote of the day
“It is dangerous to be right when the government is wrong.”
~ Voltaire ~
~
The Dow breaks out to Cycle Highs
 
Gold falls below 200-day moving average to 5-month lows
 
EuroLand Bond Yields remain the Market Driver
Italy 10-year (gross) bond yield – 6.95% off from 7.26% on 11-24
Spanish 10-year (generic) bond yield – 5.24% – off from 6.7% on 11/24
 
Today’s market backdrop has European markets up slightly as the Key Italian Bond Yield moves higher again. Today the S&P Case-Shiller home price index and consumer confidence will be released. Worry re home prices has S& P futures off 3 points. It’s a short week  and light volume and tepid moves are likely.
 
On Friday the Dow Jones industrial average broke out to new cycle highs climbing 1% with 28 of 30 issues higher. The market rose on very low and well below average volume despite mixed economic data, capping the week with gains. Durable goods and new-home sales up 4% data beat estimates of 1.6%, although consumer spending and personal income came in below expectations.
 
It was a good week as The Dow Jones Industrial Average, rose 3.6%, to close at 12,294.00. The Standard & Poor’s 500 rose 3.7%, to 1218.64, while the Nasdaq Composite added 2.5%, to 2618.64.
 
The Market picture remains constructive as "price" broke above the apex of a triangle / coil. The "sure bet" Santa Claus rally seems to be muted, but let’s not argue with Price. The Dow at new cycle highs looks good on the charts.
 
Again: “From a technical perspective the key declining Tops line resistance at (SPX) 1314ish that comes off last July’s top tick will be the overriding wall of resistance.” Correspondingly the lower trend line off “the” lows of 10/4 and 11/28 is at (SPX) 1193.
 
The BARRON’s Confidence Index * moved higher to 67.3% from their cycle lows of 66.9% the prior week. In June and July it was a relatively healthy 77.
_____________________________
 
The (SPX) closed last Friday at 1265
 
Short term price support in the S&P 500 (SPX) is at 1252.
Important pullback low support of last Monday is at 1202 –
then at pullback lows of 1229 registered on 12/21.
Support from a minor ascending lows line is also at 1202.
50-day moving average support is at 1233.
The 200-day moving average support is at 1259.
Price support at 11/28 lows is 1158.
Deep price support at the October 4th lows is at 1074.
Deepest ascending lows line off the (SPX) 666 (of 3/6/2009) is at 1109.
 
Declining tops resistance is at 1226.
Key Price resistance is at S&P 500 (SPX) 1266 and 1293.
 
Last Friday’s key indicators and metrics:
 
·                       McClellan Oscillator is Neutral @ plus 148
·                       VIX – 20.73

Looks like Trader’s Anonymous again today….

Phil
Are you waiting out the USO Dec 30 $38 puts (now .24)? Or DD here and try to get out even?

Good morning.  PP for today…and watch out, VIX is up 5%.

STJ, your the go to man….any info on how many of the DOW stocks at or near 52 week highs?

Daimler overtime
 
Mercedes sells a lot of cars to Greece, but although it is many years since I was there, most of them were diesel taxis. The question is whether orders represent affluent buyers wanting new Mercs, or increased demand for public transportation. What is the currency advantage or disadvantage for German auto makers versus their Japanese rivals? Most of the pick up trucks in Greece are Nissan, Mazda, or Toyota. Pick up trucks are the ultimate in low cost public transportation in rural areas, including in Florida, where seat belt laws are suspended for passengers (and dogs) in the back of pick up trucks as this considered an economically necessary form of transportation for agricultural workers. (In Haiti I have seen a ridiculous number of people clinging to pick up trucks, but let’s not even go there.)

Phil Good morning NLY I was call on NLY 2014 15c sold for 1.93 as expected actually NLY was 16.94 Today trading at 16.27 shall I wait for a further drop to refill ?

Hi Phil,
 
I hope you and everyone else had a nice holiday.
 
Are you looking for a low volume Bot move up this week?

 rustle123: generalities
rustle, since I don’t see you making comments trying to fix hopeless positions or with a sense of panic I have the impression you know what the hell you’re doing so I pay attention to the ideas you are good enough to share.  I would like to know, in very general terms, what your overall position is generally.  I know you don’t trade futures but do you have a percentage mix of equities, bonds, options and cash that you would say is a fairly typical allotment for the funds you manage? If now is not a typical time how are you positioned relative to the norm?
Thanks for your input. 

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Merry Christmas Phil. Hope you had a great weekend.
I need advice though I should have asked this a long time ago.
I got a tip from you a year ago to sell some puts for EGLE and leave then along.
They were arounf $4 then now I am the happy owner of 1000 EGLE at $1
The reason I didn’t panic is because how could a big shipper like them go under, but they price just keeps going lower. What gives ? are they going to 0 ? what should I do ? what should have done ?

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Merry Christmas Phil. Hope you had a great weekend.
I need advice though I should have asked this a long time ago.
I got a tip from you a year ago to sell some puts for EGLE and leave then along.
They were arounf $4 then now I am the happy owner of 1000 EGLE at $1
The reason I didn’t panic is because how could a big shipper like them go under, but they price just keeps going lower. What gives ? are they going to 0 ? what should I do ? what should have done ?

Phil/drugs
 
Good points,and consider that here in the Dominican Republic people can buy most drugs over the counter without a prescription (of they are not narcotics) and buy only the quantity that they want, sometimes with advice from the pharmacist. "Given me 10 capsules of Amoxycillin for my sore throat." "You would be better off taking xyz." Consider simply the cost of a visit to the doc to get a prescription or a prescription refill, when they may also order some blood work (more money) before they will let you have the drugs. So you may be out $150 before you even get the medication.
 
Not saying that the US system isn’t infinitely superior, but it does come at huge cost. Incidentally lab work is much cheaper in other countries too. Part of the reason for this is that companies like Quest Diagnostics can charge insurance companies and government providers very steep fees.
 
We should probably adopt the Singapore health system in which everyone has mandatory payroll stoppages that go into medical expense accounts, but each patient/consumer is responsible for making his or her own payments out of that account. Apparently this keeps the costs down very effectively and they have world class medicine too.

Phil, unfortunately I missed buying back the WCP FAS JAN12 $72 short calls for a buck.  I am hoping for a dip next week. Any suggestions? 

Phil- I’m sitting in a navy terminal in Norfolk waiting to begin my 3-day trek to Leipzig, Bishkek, Bagram, and finally Kabul. I don’t leave until after the market closes and so I’m looking for you to build on your legendary status today! ­čÖé

Holding in cash, Phil………….no OIL shorts so far. patience is a virture, sometimes. Thx

jromeha – have a good trip out there and get back safe.

Have a safe trip Jrom… and keep in touch! Going for a year?

Yup, computing is getting smaller and cheaper:

http://www.engadget.com/2011/12/27/visualized-ibms-1956-hdd-packs-5mb-of-storage-requires-forkli/ 

That would make my 64GB iPad at $500 millions! 

Jromeha- I am reminded of this quote:

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“People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.”  — George Orwell
Be safe and thank you for your service.

jrom – safe trip and come back soon!

Scott/St John thx for the wishes…. I’m a finance dude so i definitely dont have a dangerous job. the most dangerous activities I’ll ever do is the travelling around the country for QA and inspections.. It is scheduled for a year but with our drawdowns etc i definitely could be come home early…

Lincoln/Generalities
 
I have some bonds but generally do not like them and think they are a waste.  There are safer and better ways to see much more income.  Bonds are probably only 3% of portfolio mix so very little anyway.     Generally I always like to have 30% in cash and right now that number is probably double in most accounts some even close to 70%.  I have some main equities I hold and write covered calls off every month like Merck, Sherwin Williams, Exxon and a couple of others but I trade a lot of ETF’s and write a tremendous amount of premium whether it’s open calls, puts or doing BCS.and then when I buy SCO or TZA and TNA or EDZ, I scale in at 1/4 to 1/5 of a position at a time.  95% of the time I never get to full position because I’m taking profits and sometimes (especially on SCO) I hold 1/4 to 1/3 of the position while trading another of the same amount constantly lowering my cost then when oil has it’s nice dump, I get rid of it all (recently sold all remaining stock at mid 43’s then started rebuying low 38’s and only have 1/4 position right now.)  Currently I have many 36 SCO puts for Jan, UCO 34 puts for Jan, UCO 45 calls for Jan and covered SCO 43 calls at a 65% profit that I wrote when SCO was in the 43’s.  I’m also hoping IMAX drops to 17’s or very low 18’s and will start writing 17 puts and buying some stock on that too.
 rustle123: generalities
rustle, since I don’t see you making comments trying to fix hopeless positions or with a sense of panic I have the impression you know what the hell you’re doing so I pay attention to the ideas you are good enough to share.  I would like to know, in very general terms, what your overall position is generally.  I know you don’t trade futures but do you have a percentage mix of equities, bonds, options and cash that you would say is a fairly typical allotment for the funds you manage? If now is not a typical time how are you positioned relative to the norm?
Thanks for your input.

Phil/Higher,
 
I agree….it seems they do it every year when the volume tapers out. 
 
I guess the standard game plan is to run it up on low volume.  They’ll probably have there accomplices on CNBC talk it up the next few days, then pull the rug out in early January.

Phil/Dr. John
 
I agree with you completely and picked up some EDZ today.

CNQ- Canadian Natural Resources- I am looking at this for long term play on oil/oil sands. Anyone follow them or have an opinion?

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