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Thursday, March 30, 2023


Tumblin’ Tuesday – Keep on Rolling

Got to roll debt baby, call it the tumblin' default

That's the theme for the week as Greece gets yet another final deadline extension to come up with more and more concessions so they can borrow even more money that they will never be able to pay back.  "Honey, got no money" is the line that should be obvious to EU Stones fans as the IMF's chief economist insisted that Greece must cut wages to boost competitiveness and pull the country out of its economic quagmire.  "Either you basically increase productivity growth a lot and quickly, and you keep wage growth moderate, or you decrease wages," said Olivier Blanchard

"It is a pretence that the measures are taken to forestall bankruptcy," Communist party leader Aleka Papariga told the gathering crowds at today's National Strike.  "On the contrary, they will lead the people to misery to benefit the plutocracy and capital," she said.

Sadly, only the Communists are telling the people the truth in Greece – the people are being sold into decades of wage slavery as a population that has already voluntarily accepted 25% wage cuts is now being forced to accept additional 30% wage cuts while the ECB and IMF shove another $192Bn worth of debt down their throats that is ONLY to be used to pay off bondholders who took advantage of them in their time of weakness to force them to roll over their debt at record high rates.  


Sacrifices MUST be made, says the former VP of the ECB – who is now the Prime Minister of Greece (unelected as Papandreou was forced out) – but he's not talking to the creditors, but the Greek people, who will still, even if they work for 1/2 wages for the rest of the decade, be 120% of their GDP in debt by 2020 (down from 160% today).  So the Greek people are being asked to sacrifice their own retirement and their children's future rather than telling the Banksters to take a hike.  

And people wonder why we can't get a deal passed?  As I said in yesterday's post, either Greece passes a debt deal and Athens will be in flames (strike began at midnight) or Greece will not pass a debt deal and Europe will be in flames (DAX down 1% at 8:05).  That simple logic allowed us to go short on the Futures in Member Chat this morning as the Dollar tested 79 and my 4am comment to Members was:  

Dollar bouncing off 79 is going to be bad for the indexes.  Looks like fake pumping to me and Greece not even fixed yet.  I am literally scared to short these days but 2,525 is a good line to watch on the Nas (NQ) and 825 on the RUT (/TF) and $1,725 on gold (/YG) should be good for a little ride down if the Dollar can get over 79.15 (now 79.12) so let's call that the bear line with 79.20 confirming Dollar strength although not meaningful until over 79.50. 

Already the Nasdaq is down to 2,517 and, at $20 per point, that's a quick $160 per contract.  The Russell is down to 822 but that one pays $100 per point so $300 per contract there and gold is our star, with a drop to $1,715 at $33.20 per contact, edging out the RUT shorts with gains of $332 per contract – not bad for a morning's work, just in time to pay for 200 Egg McMuffins.

Percentage-wise, we did better with our TLT trade, also detailed in the morning post as I said there (also in conjunction with my prediction of strife in Greece: "I am liking those TLT longs (we picked up the weekly $115 calls for $2)!

As you can see from our chart on the left, even those late to the party in the morning were able to get in on the fun as TLT dropped down to $1.85 and didn't get back over $2 until after 10 and continued on to our initial $2.50 target (up 25%) and made it all the way past $2.80, for a 40% gain in a day.  This was a great start for our new virtual $5,000 portfolio as we picked up an aggressive TLT spread in the morning on that one as well for our first trade.  

As long as we can keep making quick, little, hit and run trades like this – we really don't care which way the market goes, nor do we care if the VIX wants to pretend that this market isn't volatile.  In fact, in this trade, we took advantage of the low VIX to buy a relatively low-premium call (the $115 for $2) which gave us tremendous leverage on this 10% move in TLT.  Generally, we prefer to be sellers of premium but, when the premium is so cheap it's not attractive for us to sell – we know how to climb over to the other side of the table and make a few bets for ourselves.  

If all goes well, we're get a chance to reload on TLT this morning as we get the usual Dollar dump into the morning's open as they pump up the Futures to bring in the next round of suckers.  Of course, we are now those suckers as well as we're doing our best to be more bullish as long as the technicals hold up and this morning's little dip is NOT capitulation by the bulls.  

Both of our other trade ideas were bullish ones yesterday, one on CSTR and one on AMX.  The CSTR trade was at 9:27, just ahead of the bell and made for an easy entry as the stock traded to lows of $48.66 at 10:20.  My trade idea was just to sell the Jan $42.50 puts for $6 and we also discussed adding the Jan $45/60 bull call spread for $6 as well as a riskier way to go for a $15 profit, rather than $6 but we felt the numbers justified $60 ahead of earnings.  It seems the markets already agree with our assessment as CSTR is already at $60 this morning.

We're trying to ignore the news but: "You could sell your home, owe nothing more on your mortgage and get $30K," goes a letter from JPMorgan to a delinquent homeowner. With the foreclosure process gummed up, banks are finding it less expensive to allow short sales, forgo their right to pursue unpaid debt, and even offer cash.  This should really piss you off if you're paying your mortgage like a good little drone but the same bank (Chase) won't refinance you at 4% because – for whatever ridiculous excuse – "you don't qualify." 

What we need in this country is for some Communists to come over and teach the people how to organize themselves to stand up to these Corporate Monsters but, oh yeah – just the mention of the word Communist puts most of you into a Pavlovian frenzy as you've been conditioned your whole life to think anything Communist (ie. anti-Capitalist) is somehow evil.  I guess bending over and taking it IS our only option – Yay Capitalism!

If the people in this country had any balls (or actual leaders of their own and not just the Corporate puppets we're allowed to vote for), we'd have a mortgage strike and simply not pay this month.  That would choke off about $200Bn in monthly mortgage revenue from the Banks and I'm pretty sure it would only take one month before the banks capitulate and come back to the table with a reasonable way to share the 0.25% borrowing rate they get from the Government with those of us they are currently squeezing for 5% and higher loan payments.  

Ireland is currently trying to organize a Mortgage Strike: "The nuclear weapon is for borrowers acting in concert and to say that unless proper and sustainable solutions are put in place which are fair and reasonable, then we should not continue to pay under these current conditions," says Ross Maguire, of the New Beginning Trade Union. "It is radical but it is where we are going if things don't change. It's the last option but it is better that people like us have control over it because the danger is that if that kind of people power was misdirected it could wreck the financial system. New Beginning doesn't want to smash the financial system; we merely want to reform it and re-balance power between banks and borrowers."

This is the tightrope being walked in Europe and this is the fire that may fan the flames of Global revolution.  What's going on in Greece is a practice run by the power elite to see how far they can push the masses into servitude before they show a little backbone and rise up.  So far, the Greek people have been surprisingly docile as their retirement programs, health care, current wages and Government Services have been slashed, even as their tax rates have risen by over 30%.  In the US, the middle class sheeple are also dying the death of 1,000 cuts with thousand more yet to come.

Should this make us bearish?  Of course, not – it's a huge victory for Capitalism as getting back to free labor has been our goal ever since Lincoln screwed it up in 1863.  This time, there won't be a war to defend the Capitalist's right to own slaves – this time we will get the people of nation after nation to "volunteer" to spend the rest of their lives living in squalor and servitude as our children and our grandchildren will pay for our excesses.  

Because, after all, it was our own fault for buying that couch on layaway, right?  


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Peter D:
It was around mid-September. So I think that was after all the craziest up-down rebounds after the big fall, if I remember correctly. But in any event, I haven't been whipsawed. I think the threshold has only been broken like three times, and nothing very dramatic. And all events were spaced out. In other words, it wasn't like I got stopped out three days in a row.
But of course, the markets have been settling from a volatility perspective during that period. I'm sure I'll learn a lot more during the next crash.

0x0 / fx — It's not just pedals , although there are a lot (21 different drive units alone), it's amps as well (and cabinets, and mics). One thing I love about it is I can get that cranked amp sound at any level (modulo feedback at low levels) and through headphones! Nice for that 1 am jam session. I run mine through FRFR monitors and flat cans. It continues to give me that grin when I find something new with it  (you know — "that grin").  It's like being a kid in a candy store. This guy did a pretty good series of videos walking through the presets: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZaioXb3ewMU but those are just the unmodified presets and are from an older firmware revision (newer firmware has improved dynamics and feel not to mention more amp models and fx added). The support for this thing is top notch and it is constantly being improved. I highly recommend checking out the community forums. I know I probably sound like I'm plugging the thing but I have no interest in the company, just an extremely satisfied owner (hard to do) and I think it's the best thing since… well… amplified guitar! OK, gotta go jam now 8)

Stj, DD on TLT at 1.45 (at 1.10 pm) and got out of 10 at 1.80 at 3 pm.

Thanks mampcs!

rustle / Dr. Nouriel Roubini has turned bullish on stocks. — I about fell off my chair! The world really is ending this year isn't it?

chaps, that's good as you survived early October low, the quick drop from 1292 in early Nov, and the decline into Thanksgiving.  I'll do more analysis and will try to implement.
Do you calculate at the close and take action the next day, or you do it in real time?  On big down days, the puts can double in value in the last hour of trading.

Might be able to get out even on the DIA puts in the 25KP. Let's see.

Interesting piece by George Friedman [Stratfor] on youtube, a main point being that we will likely continue to see Arab ferment in the Middle Eastern countries, and perhaps further regime chance, but the assumption that these will lead to constitutional democracies is quite misplaced — these dictators are part of a superstructure of power [my word, not his] that are quite entrenched, and, if overthrown, will likely be replaced by Muslim Brotherhood/ Islamist-type regimes. You can draw a number of conclusions about oil, none of them necessarily accurate.

Peter D:
I did well this fall on SPX SS. Everything is real time. All my trades are in Excel and linked through DDE to TOS to get real time quotes. I've built in a lot of logic into the spreadsheets. That real-time NP ratio number, and others, is in front of me all the time when the market is open.
The software is also tracking my P/L progress through time and what I project to make with current open positions. So, if I've done alright, I may just take the loss on a stop-out. That's actually what I've done so far, because I could see the loss wasn't significant in the big picture.

Greece / Phil – Can we then conclude that Greece will be fixed tomorrow!

Can't Greece just say ok, we'll accept your measures, give us the money then turn around and say, screw austerity, not going to happen.

 Deutscheland uber alles vs. Latin Reticence.  I think russell's right.   The Greek politicians just need to say "yes, we'll sign whatever you want" and not do it.  Whose gonna make them do it?  The wording of any document is irrelevant in practice.  It's all about, keep the combined populations of Europe, the U.S., China and Everybody Else calm.  No shooting or killing while we reduced the real GDP of all nations measured in the price of essential resources, oil being way up on the list.  Seven billion.  Lotta people to  make poorer at the same time without having them at each other's throats.  Good luck to 'em.

No matter what, I don't think that there is a good solution anywhere in Greece short of turning it into Europe's sweat shop… And maybe that's the goal! It looks like Greece will soon be back to pre-Europe level of living. Not much progress as far as I can tell!

On the bright side, global populations should peak around 2070 and there will be more to go around at that point.

BWLD up $12.00 to 82.58 after after hour with earning

Phil……..how can i possibly get bullish about what you just wrote for Greece? seriously, this debacle is a crime against humanity and your analogy to Chamberlain and the appeasement is on the mark just as Coulter as Sec of Labor (Camps) makes sense for later when the power gets consolidated.
the situation is pathetic……….and this not the end of either. done with the rant……..sorry.

Hi, chaps,
Great strategy!  A few questions:
(1) How much margin do you reserve per strangle?  Let's say you have $500K, if you sell 5 strangles, then you reserve $100K per strangle.  If you sell 10, it's $50K per strangle.  I wonder if you actually sell more strangles because you have this strategy in place.
(2) Do you automate the strategy?  It seems like you can at least automate the stop-out part.

chaps: your premium ratio calculation is in fact a value ratio? your case of $900 puts going to 2500 ignores any intrinsic component of the new value?
While I can't say I've tried absolutely everything strangling SPX, I have evolved several hedging strategies which reduced losses and surrendered potential gains, although I gave them all up over the years. I am interested in exploring a change in strategy based on the VIX. For instance, would we be better off buying spreads instead of selling nakeds?
Last week, I was short 1330 calls going into Fri, and we know how that worked out…. I tried to avoid the initial excitement at the open and therefore avoided closing them for $7.50 or so and wound up escaping for $12.50. The roll strikes into this week were unattractive because of the low VIX. I wound up selling 3.5x into this week at strikes that aren't exactly safe. I increased my put contract count for this week, since I believe balance is vital when strangling, but I had trouble sleeping Sunday night.
Generally, naked puts and calls, no adjustments, no fancy stuff has worked the best over time. Always interested in hearing about a hedge, however 🙂
Pharm: where do you get those oversized, complex emoticons?

I need an emoticon that shows strangling oneself.

When you find it, share… I could use one of those too!!

ADDING:  For what little I’m sure it’s worth, whenever I have had a question about an economic release — and that’s dozens (hundreds?) of times — I have picked up the phone and inquired directly of the issuing agency.  Guess what?  They’ve always been happy to help.  Point being, there’s no need to go out with bad information or run your mouth when you have doubts.  Of course, this will be of no comfort to the tin-hatters who claim the agencies are in the bag.
Man. Talk about nailing it.
But just because you're paranoid doesn't mean you are wrong.

So, Roubini's gone bullish!  Now if we can just get Pharmboy on board we can have a proper crash.

OH, and Chaps? you can use DDE to feed a spreadsheet through TOS? is that something TOS provides explicitly? I used DDE back when I had eSignal years ago. I didn't know it was a generalized tool.

Not sure what you mean by "intrinsic component." Intrinsic to me means intrinsic as in option price = intrinsic + extrinsic. Under that meaning both the price you sold something for and it's current value are all intrinsic, since the options are OTM both when you sold them and after the market downturn.
Maybe you mean something different.

barfinger/TOS DDE:
Yes, TOS provides DDE. So does IB. I use both brokerage firms.

Chaps: thanks for the response. You felt the need to move a position still OTM? To me, I consider an OTM premium to be 100%, but when it dips underwater, some of it is intrinsic.
I am at BrokersXpress because I managed accounts back in the day. I am negotiating with them now regarding features and costs. They used to be cheap, now, not so much.

How much to sell. The eternal question for all of us. 🙂
As I mentioned last night, my current take is to start with a profit target and work backwards. So if I'm comfortable with 20% a year, that's like 1.7% a month. Then, given the kind of spreads I want to enter, i look at the ratio of the premium to margin. Let's say that's 8.5% for trades with a month duration. So that's 5 times as risky as where I want to be, so I'd enter trades until I've used 20% of my margin.
I tend to change my trades relatively frequently. For instance, in a steady bull market like this, I will take profits on puts and then eventually convert put verticals to naked puts when the verticals lose 2/3 of their value, while entering a new put vertical at higher strikes. This can happen several times in a month. Given my rules on profit taking (buy back for $.30 or less for what you sold for $1.00), the goal is to have your insurance end up costing you nothing. All this means that relatively static calculations of how much margin to reserve per strangle is less meaningful to me, because my positions are evolving.
With software and rules learned through hard experience, I think it's fair to say I'm nimbler. But I still tend to more cautious as time goes on, because I perceive the markets as being increasingly unhinged.
Over the past months, my margin usage has rarely gotten above 25%. I'm "looking forward" to a crash like we had last summer to see how the stop-out stuff works. Like I said, it's worked so far, but it hasn't really been stress tested.

Oops, screwed up my response to you.  I meant that OTM options are all EXTRINSIC (all premium). Intrinsic, of course, is how far the option is ITM.
The discussion with Peter about stops wasn't about where to roll something, it was about when to stop out on some trades. The numbers I used were option prices (intrinsic + extrinsic). You sold a put for a price and that price goes up because of a downturn. Doesn't matter if the put option is ITM or OTM before or after the downturn. You can got paid up front, now this is your obligation to get out of the position.

OPEN….We discussed earlier as a possible post-earnings play.  They are up 4% this evening on strong Q4 earnings.  Not quite enough to suggest shorting.   We'll see what tomorrow brings.  I suspect it may slowly ramp up some more for a few more days.   Not likely to be a good short term play there.

short Euro at 1.3245, stop at 1.3405………..premise; Greek revenue collapse is contagion

Trying to grasp a concept and getting confused:
If I have 10 AAPL Mar 460 short calls now $18 ($9 premium), should I hold on to these? I think AAPL has catalysts for a move up to $480-490 in coming weeks with ipad3, etc..
Or, should I roll to the July $500 calls, for even (now $19.20 and ALL premium) ?
Please advise and why, or if you think another scenario is better.
BTW, these are covered calls.

I wonder why there is no popular movement in Greece to leave the euro… I'm amazed at how much pain the people will take. I think if I were a Greek I'd be taking up arms.  

I first went to Greece in 1969 and the Greeks seemed to be doing just fine then. I spent about 2 months there and lived on a dollar a day. My favorite places were Crete and Santorini, which were quiet and charming, particularly the latter where I remember spending the whole day going on a mule trip to the monastery on top of the mountain at a cost of a dollar or two. The cost of living was cheap as long as you stuck to bread, wine, tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplants, figs, watermelons, feta cheese, and retsina wine. I was able to sell a half liter of my blood in Athens and live for a week on the proceeds.
I went back to those places in the early 90's and it was like South Florida with roads everywhere full of traffic, hamburgers, pizzas, processed foods, and miles of half finished concrete high rise blocks anywhere there was anything like a beach. And Germans. Germans everywhere.
The Greeks should consider themselves lucky if they have to turn the clock back 40 years. If I was them,  I would throw the rascals out, go back to the drach(ma), and start over again. They still won't be anywhere near as badly off as Haiti, where most people are surviving and getting on with their lives.
And now

peedlew……….there probably is one, but just not seen in the msm, yet.
a simple concept and i bet many many people will buy into it; take responsibility, be responsible. believe in something of value, again.
that is my guess……….Sarkozy and his 121 cars are on the way out.
jmm……….i was living in Lexington Mass during the Cuban Missile Crisis……….

Not that it matters too much now, but Yahoo ousts three of its board members, including the guy who rejected Microsoft's bid for the company back in 2008.
It also looks like LinkedIn may have just paid 15M to acquire of a company that tracks your social contacts/networks in GMail.(Rapportive)

So Phil,
Is there some point where fundamentals don't matter? Looks like capital flight from Europe to US, S&P is under average P/E ratio (a fundamental?), and most 'western' governments are easing/printing. Many raw agriculture commodity indices are trending higher. The GSCI Agricultural Index (GKX) is up 6% in the last 3 weeks, perhaps ready to launch higher still. It feels like none of it makes sense except all prices are higher except /DX. Can you look at markets through a 'fundamental' magnifying glass when all prices 'seem' to be rising higher? Hard to make sense out of it.

Hi, Peter D, chaps, barfinger, pstas
First of all, many thanks for sharing your ideas in such details.
I virtually stopped playing SPX strangles for the most part of January for personal reasons.  I just began to scale in 2 week ago.  So, I can only talk about my experience for 2011.  Up to December, I had been selling weekly puts and monthly calls.  My profit targit had been very low key, around 6% annual.  So, I tended to sell further away from market.  Luckily, I hardly ever had to roll.  For the 2nd half of 2011, the weekly puts usually had pretty good premiums, and I was able to sell at least 8%-10% away from market.  I sold MONTHLY calls to keep the strikes at least 6% away from market.  Now, of course, it's a different story.  I sold a very low key Feb 1400 call for $0.70 2 weeks ago.  I hadn't even begun to sell any puts yet, because the premiums are so low.  If VIX stays low for an extended period, I'll begin to experiment with the $50 bull put spreads 2 months out.
I believe that barfinger sell weeklies on a regular basis.  I wonder if Peter & chaps have considered weeklies.  You'll be amazed how fast they decay.

Oil – looking like time to short CL here at 99.15…

Oil – or look for the 99.25..?

Roro/ Sarkozy and its 121 cars
Please don't fall for the pre election slanders.
Rene Dosiere's book dwelves in the French Elysee (Whitehouse) budget during the years 2007 and 2008.
His book is the source of all these amazing lifestyle revelations. It has just been published now…just before April Presidential election!
Rene is a socialist MP and as such has been voting each year the Elysee budget since it is voted by the French Parliament.
Also It is not Sarkozy's budget per say. It is the French Whitehouse' s budget.
And the mentioned luxury cars, jets belong to the state of France.
Yes France has always been treating their Presidents from the Left or the Right like kings.
Now British tabloids have made a big story out of a 0.03% discretionary spending in the French government budget.
Funnily, what seems to have outraged the Daily Mirror the most is that the "President's house wine" is a 2006 Crozes-Hermitage worth 160 pounds a bottle.
Uhh, it is France? I hope they serve the best of their exports to visiting heads of state. 
And lastly if Hollande get elected, he will most definitely enjoy the same benefits … unless the French Parliament votes differently in 2013…

thanks lionel

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