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Thursday, March 30, 2023


Wednesday Worries – Yentervention, Euro Style

78.50 on the Dollar!

The Yen finally got back to 77 and EUR/CHF back to 1.21 so my theory that the BOJ has given up on the Dollar and moved to boosting the Euro is playing out nicely.

This does not make me more bullish (expecting falling Dollar to boost the markets) because, in the grand scheme of things, this is kind of like now there are two kids building a sand wall on the beach instead of one – sure it will last longer than the wall just one kid was building but, eventually, the tide will get it anyway or, as Jimi Hendrix said more poetically: "Castles made of sand, fall in the sea, eventually." 

Once you start messing around with Forex markets, you are messing with major macro forces that are hard to control.  Japanese banks have $7.5Tn of Japanese bonds at 1% – what happens to the value of those bonds if the BOJ does push the Yen down 10%?  Who takes that $750Bn hit?  What if rates go up to 2% – what's the value of the bonds then?  Who will bail out the Japanese Banks when they have a multi-Trillion Dollar (several hundred Trillion Yen) hole in their balance sheets?  Do Japanese spreadsheets even have room for Quadrillions?  They are going to need it!  

Then there's this Bloomberg article on the Central Banks, who have doubled their balance sheets since 2006 to $13.2Tn but, magically, have caused no inflation (according to Ben Bernanke – not according to people who actually buy food and stuff).   China is now sitting on $4.5Tn of other people's TBills (mostly ours) and that's up $1.5Tn in a year.  The ECB is right behind them with $3.6Tn and another $1Tn supposedly coming in the next EFSF round and the Fed has $2.9Tn plus whatever nonsense they are running off book.   

So, how is it that WE are the bad currency here?  If the Dollar is a problem, then China, who's GDP is only about $8Tn (optimistically, possibly $5.5Tn depending on who's measuring) is almost as insane as Japanese bankers and maybe more so as they are betting on our country's ability to pay and maintain the value of the Dollar (already a fail, right?).  I suppose no one can ever recognize losses and just carry more and more junk on their balance sheets forever but that's kind of a scary plan because, all it takes is that one little boy to point out that the Emperors have no clothes and this whole thing can collapse like the house of cards that it is.  

Anyway, my point is that Forex traders do get this and that's why you can't fight the tide.  You can fool stock investors all the time, they are generally sheep who don't even understand what it is they are putting money into and, as we well know, between the low volume and the BS ratings and the pumpers on TV and the completely inaccurate guidance given by the companies themselves and the insane analysts and the people who follow them – it's a total joke.  That was made evident in 2008 when the markets were "worth" what they are now in August and then, 60 days later, they were "worth" 50% less.

That doesn't happen with Picassos or Baseball Cards or Classic Cars or Comic Books or Houses or other things of actual value – they generally have enough sophisticated investors that there is genuine price discovery that holds up over time but stocks, on the other hand, can go up and down 20% on rumors because there are plenty of uninformed buyers and uninformed sellers on both sides of the aisle.  

The S&P is up 22.5% since October 1st.  The US Equity market is about $50Tn, with $10Tn added in the last 4 months.  At the current volumes of under 2Bn shares a day, let's say it's a generous average of $50 a share ($100Bn) and let's say we had 100 trading days (also generous).  That's $10Tn too.  So I guess we could say that the move in the market is justified if EVERY SINGLE TRANSACTION that has taken place in the past 4 months has been a buy with $10Tn pouring into equities (as you can see from the chart on the left, only $1Tn came from the Fed and the ECB) and supporting a move in the market that is almost the size of our entire economy and, of course, globally, it's double that.

The Central Banks have taken advantage of the low tide to build some beautiful-looking sand castles and investors are flocking to admire them with the Mainstream Corporate Media simply falling over itself to congratulate them on their epic victory over reality but how many of those investors are really planning on moving into those sand castles – or will they all run out as soon as the next crisis wave laps on the walls and the begin to crumble once again?  

I said to Members in early morning Chat

Unfortunately, I've been reading the news so it all seems completely ridiculous to me and I'd say shorting the RUT (/TF) below the 830 line (just tested 833) and shorting the Dow below 12,850 (now 12,854) look like the most attractive plays in addition to same old shorting gold at $1,750 line. 

I would love to have a bullish play but I just can't do it – I'm sorry, I'd rather be in cash than pay these prices just because the Dollar is driven down to ridiculous levels against a currency (Euro) that is 1/3 it's size and just did a $750Bn round of QE and is about to do another $1.5Tn round and all that, so far, has barely "fixed" their smallest member state.   This is like us fixing Rhode Island and the rest of the World declaring America all fixed…

Obviously, we need to watch that 78.50 line on the Dollar – below that and we can't be bearish but it should hold. 

I know I promised to try to get more bullish but it is literally impossible to read the actual news (see Member Chat for today's rundown) and buy at these levels – certainly not with any long-term conviction.  So this is my little therapy session where I will try to get it all off my chest as we TRY to disconnect our brains and follow this rally – assuming the madness continues just because Greece is fixed – which, as I said, is the same as declaring America's finances fixed if we bail out Rhode Island

Speaking of Greece:  Government revenues in January are down 7% year over year versus the 8.9% increase expected by Econonomorons, who were sure that drastic austerity was the key to prosperity.  VAT receipts are off 18.7% and I guess that explains why Greece is only up 0.5% today – someone must have accidentally read this report!  I'm sure the next round of austerity measures being demanded by the Troika will do the trick and turn Greece around – after all, how many times has austerity failed to produce a recovery?  

I'm sorry, that was a trick question as austerity NEVER works, not in the past 200 years, at least.  Even Forbes knows this and those guys are pretty slow on the take…  

Austerity does work for the people the victim owes money too – much the way that donating 8 pints of blood works works for the vampire, but tends not to have a positive outcome for "donor."  Like vampires (and I'm not the first to make this comparison), the bondholders will simply move on to their next victim once Greece is drained dry. 

There are Trillions riding on a successful Greek bailout – not because of Greece itself but, by making it look like Greece is "fixed" and harsh austerity measures including pay cuts, benefit cuts, reneging on retirement promises made to the people while the Rich continue to enjoy their special loopholes – they set the stage to run rampant across all of Europe, the US and Japan with the same song and dance, just like they did in the 30s – until the "recovery" came crashing down around the World and plunged us into WWII.  Ah, good times for the Military-Industrial Complex indeed!  

Anyway, so that's what's bothering me but we can't let it stop us from playing the market to higher – we just need to recognize that it probably won't last.  Last week on Thursday and Friday, we featured 10 bullish trade ideas, as promised, to take advantage of the insanity because – as we often say – we don't care IF the markets are fixed, as long as we can figure out HOW they are fixed and take advantage of it.  Our plan was to add one bullish trade each day we were over our breakout levels and here we are at day 5 already so let's see how we're doing:  

  • FAS Feb $77/80 bull call spread at $2, selling $75 puts for $1.50 for net .50, now net $2.25 – up 350%
  • FAS March $75/80 bull call spread at $3.05, selling $70 puts for $3 for net .05, now $2.15 – up 4,200%

Not bad for a week's work, right?  As a bonus, in Thursday's post, we also featured some alternate bullish offsets that were less aggressive than selling short FAS puts:


  • CHK Jan $17.50 puts sold for $2.05, now $1.74 – up 15%
  • GE 2014 $17 puts sold for $2.50, now $2.23 – up 10%
  • GOOG June $450 puts sold for $4, now $2.35 – up 41%
  • ISRG Jan $310 puts sold for $10, now $7.66 – up 23%
  • KO Jan $62.50 puts sold for $3, now $2.60 – up 13%
  • MO 2014 $23 puts sold for $2.15, now $2.05 – up 5%
  • PFE 2014 $20 puts sold for $2.65, now $2.80 – down 6%
  • XOM Jan $65 puts sold for $2.50, now $1.95 – up 22%

I know – so dull!  Still it's a great way to enter positions and a great way to use your sidelined cash to generate a little additional income – a strategy we concentrate on in our Income Portfolio, which was also updated this weekend.  You don't want to sit around in a bull market like a deer in the headlights – just because you think it's nonsense.  Surely there must be SOME stock you would be willing to buy if it drops 20%?  If so, then sell the put at that strike and someone will be paying you just for promising to buy a stock at a lower price than it is today.  This is not complicated, folks

In addition to our aggressive FAS trade ideas, which were meant to make big money if the rally held up to help balance out too-bearish positions, we had a few longer-term trade ideas featured in Thursday's morning post:  

  • CHK 2014 $15/20 bull call spread at $2.65, selling 2014 $15 puts for $2.35 for net .30, now $1.16 – up 286%
  • AA July $8/10 bull call spread at $1.40, selling 2014 $10 puts for $2.10 for net .70 credit, now .40 to buy back – up 42%
  • AMZN Jan $170/180 bull call spread at $5.20, selling Jan $110 puts for $4.15 for net $1.05, now $2.90 – up 176%

Friday we continued to concentrate on long-term trade ideas as FAS was already looking promising and there were no aggressive plays I liked better:

  • BA 2014 $60/80 bull call spread at $11, selling $65 puts for $8 for net $3, now $3.45 – up 15%
  • F 2014 $8/12 bull call spread at $2.40, selling $10 puts for $1.50 for net .90, now $1.25 – up 38%
  • GS 2014 $80/110 bull call spread at $20, selling $90 puts for $12.50 for net $7.50, now $8.10 – up 10%

I ran out of time in the post but, in the Morning Alert to Members, we added:

  • SVU at $7.10, selling 2014 $7 puts and calls for $3.70 for net $3.40/5.20, now net $2.97 with SVU at $6.87 – with buy/writes, we're either on or off track but .13 below our exit strike is still on track on this one and an even better entry now than it was on Friday for a possible double in 2 years. 
  • HPQ 2014 $20/30 bull call spread at $5.60, selling $23 puts for $3 for net $2.60, now net $2.97 – up 14%
  • SKX July $11/13 bull call spread at $1.20, selling $11 puts for .90 for net .30, now .70 – up 133%
  • 2 BTU 2014 $30 puts sold for $5.40 ($10.80), buying 1 Jan $40/50 bull call spread at $3.20 for net credit of $7.60, now $5.30 to buy back – up 30%

So let's not fear the rally.  Of course we balance out our winners with a few bear hedges (see yesterday's Member Chat for TZA spread) to lock in some of our quick gains.  Also, there's nothing wrong with taking some cash back off the table here as this "rally" is just ridiculous and, if the tide comes in this week or next, we'll be thrilled to get back to cash but, if we're going to head up forever – we can do this week after week so we're not going to miss much by sitting out a few! 

Let's be careful out there…  


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Or not Shadow….

starting to step on the $…do you think that was our pop on TLT?

JRW's 81.92 takes it!

I have a bad feeling about the TLT. Nothing is going our way..

OPEN calls bought back for .45 for +55% on the daytrade.   I really thought I would have to wait longer for that one.  Now looking for another way to squeeze OPEN more long term. 

Performance from the 36 stocks still on the NASDAQ-100 since 2001:


There are some decent winners there!


FU EDZ!!!!!

Felix makes some tax proposals…



Personally, I think it would be much better idea if we simply implemented a small wealth tax, on top of income tax, for the very wealthy: last year I proposed that any wealth over $5 million should be taxed, annually, at a 1% rate. For someone with $5.7 million in wealth — that’s the top 0.1% — such a tax would increase their tax bill by just $7,000 a year. But for Mark Zuckerberg, it would bite. Right now, he stands to pay essentially no taxes in 2013. But if there was a 1% wealth tax and he was worth $27 billion at the end of 2013, that would generate a $270 million tax bill.

When politicians talk about taxing the rich, a common rejoinder is that income is not the same as wealth, and it’s wealth, not income, which really makes you rich. Fair enough. So let’s tax wealth. It’s fair, and it could provide some very useful revenue for anybody looking to balance the national budget.

Pharm / SNTA – do u like this one?   Hammer is positive on it. 

Buying NLY, XLF, dollar getting whacked.

From Forexlive
Juncker says Eurogrooup meeting scheduled for tomorrow

Bullish for EUR/USD. Implies a Greek deal is done.
EUR/USD now at 1.3265 from 1.3232.

Who knows anymore…interested to see if we get further selling into the bounce/news

SNTA – yeah, I saw his info on it.  It is fine for a small entry.  Data is coming….I just need to read more about it.

CMG front month 350 puts are in order.

Thanks for your reply on the SPX weeklies.  I'll see if I can find time to do some analysis on weeklies.  But they probably haven't been around long enough to draw a meaningful conclusion statistically.
BTW, I do buy longer-term monthly put verticals to hedge the weeklies.  Say, I plan to sell up to 5 strangles each week, then I buy 5 verticals, sometimes 2-3 months out, and I keep the verticals until a few weeks before expiry, depending on where market goes.  So, cost-wise, I amortize the insurance costs over the period of my keeping the verticals.
But it's funny that I am more afraid of the relentless melt up than the sudden sharp drop.  Maybe it's because I routinely buy put verticals as Peter D taught us to do.  Those put verticals do help a lot.  Besides, the market almost always bounce after the sharp drop, and thus provides the relief on the put side.  Sometimes I got lucky by selling weeklies because they expired just before the next sharp drop.
But so far I don't hedge on the call side.  And when the market slowly but relentless moves up every single day for weeks.  I gotta keep rolling, rolling, and my body also keeps rolling, rolling at nights…

On 12/28 I followed your OXY trade suggestion (selling the 2013 P67.5 and a Feb 80/90 BCS) with OXY at ~95.  With OXY now at 103, would you recommend a rinse and repeat, like a selling the March 90/100 BCS?  Thanks!

Phil / WFM — I'm short Feb $72.50 calls on WFM @ 3.62 (now $5.10). I'm bullish long term. Thoughts on how to play earnings tonight?


Great job with the lines.

exec / Lines

Thank you, and you are most welcome !!

I don't believe in hedging on the call side. The numbers generally don't work like they do on the put side (premium received vs cost of insurance.) That's because the market rightly fears the downside more.
I view having to roll callers on melt-ups as annoying but not that frightening. In those instances, I'm closing out my puts with profits, generally roll the callers up something like 1.5x and pay for the remainder of the roll by selling new puts. Since I reserve a lot of margin, the growth in the number of calls is generally manageable.
But I think if you get into the mindset of this being a low-vix bull market, I like the idea of switching to bull put spreads and not selling calls. You'd only flip to calls on a downturn to help pay for rolls and to relieve margin hit. And on that note, I was just comparing my approach (bull put spread with further OTM bear put spread) to Peter's idea, which is a bull put spread where you have more longs than shorts. I'm liking his approach better. Seems like lower risk and easier to implement (one less leg).

Looks like sale of treasuries did not go well based on TLT price action at 1.

AAPL Profits / Phil – If that is the case, they have to be careful because carriers might start pushing Android phones more if it does not cost them 5% of margin. I believe that all the telcos are technology neutral and money bullish… They don't care what phones they sell, they only want to make money! They are now losing billions subsidizing customers who only as loyal as the next deal on another carrier!

That reminds me of a fight I had in a T-Mobile store. They were having a discount on new phones but only for new clients. My kid needed to replace her phone so I thought they would give me a break – I have been with them for 12 years now (they were the only one with GSM that I needed for travle) and have my personal and business account (about 10 lines) with them. But no deal… I told the guy that they were treating people who showed no loyalty and left another carrier because of the deal (and will probably leave in 2 years when they need a new phone) better than someone who had been loyal for all these years. Company policy he said…. And it's the same everywhere. So maybe they will rethink that when they look at their margins!

Since the markets a bore, and I made my bogey today trading off the Euro, I started looking out the window and concluded that we can look forward to serious and weighty articles regarding: "America:  The New Isolationism."   What does it mean, exactly?  Well, I wouldn't be going long defense spending, for one thing.  As far as Iraq goes — we're out of there!  The Middle East — let 'em go f  undamentalist, from Turkey to Kazakhstan, we've got cheap nat gas!!  [Exactly how much of it seems unresolved at this point].   China — getting expensive, but who cares, we've got our very own sweatshops in backyard Mexico!  Europe – those fairies!  Worried about pensions and unemployment!  As if that isn't going to come a cropper, with 6 billion truly poor people waiting in the wings — those six week Euro vacations are over and done with!!  Let the Germans worry about how to keep 'em buying in overrpriced Euros!    So what's my point?  I'm not sure; I have the sense that globalization is beaching onto the rocks, and anti-globalization will be the next wave. I'll have to think more about the money flow consequences.

hey did we post our low a little late today??

stjeanluc / loyalty — loyalty isn't taken into consideration in ANY (U.S. based?) business as far as I can tell. This is true with phone companies, media companies, banks, brokerages, credit cards and just about anything I that has a periodic client based revenue stream. I've noticed that brokerages often offer bonuses for opening accounts and I've been thinking about calling and asking them if they'd give me the bonus to KEEP my account just to see what happens. I've also thought about bouncing some money around opening and closing accounts to get free commissions, iPad's, cash or whatever they're offering. Looks like it could be lucrative.

sagemm1 / late — It was a 10:30 high today. It works both ways.

Good morning/afternoon cwan & chaps,
The weekly can move against us very fast due to the steeper premium curve.  I found that they are more targeted sell AFTER and event that pushes up the premium.  Selling a strangle before a big market move is painful, like barf mentioned on the run up last Friday that the calls went up a lot.  For the good market timers, selling puts after a big drop is very profitable as the puts get killed very fast.  The key is to buy them back in case there is a larger drop.
Oh, my Theta is getting large today.  It means the shorts would be crushed later this week, or I need to roll as they are close to the money.
chaps, I like the back ratios with more longs too.  Much easier to get fills.

Believe it or not, I pay attention to what you write!
No, those calls were sold after earnings when AAPL spiked to 458…but dang, it did not go down!
So there we have it!
Thanks for your affirmnation anyway!

Strangle weeklies / Cwan, Chaps and Peter – What you describe is what happened with FAS last week. A relentless melt up with no relief killed our position with weeklies. As I mentioned to Cwan and Peter makes that point as well, timing the entries and exit is much more crucial as a violent move in the wrong direction makes it that rolls are not always there! Unless you are willing to expend your position greatly. But even then, a move on Friday would have required a 5x roll to move out of trouble… Lesson learned here!

Phil, did you said to roll the sqqq march 15/17 to june 15/17 or am i wrong?

Loyalty / Rainman – My thoughts exactly… I run a business too and I can tell you that I have learned that too! Most of my customers are loyal but others were only looking for the best deal possible. In the telco business it might not matter as much, but when quality is important, continuity has some value. 

Reaction on the T-bill auction on Barry's site:


The 10 yr auction was mixed but not enough a mover either way to alter market dynamics. The yield of 2.02% was a touch below the when issued but the bid to cover of 3.05 was just under the average over the last 12 months of 3.14. Direct and indirect bidders took a combined amount similar to the Jan auction. If there is a conclusion to draw, its that concerns about global growth are still obvious as why else would there be such demand for 10 yr Treasuries yielding 2%, especially with the implied inflation rate now in the TIPS market at 2.20%, the highest since August. The US economic data has improved but the bond market, in clear contrast to the equity market, seems more focused on Europe, the growth moderation in Asia and uncertain sustainability of US growth in light of another mediocre GDP report for Q4. Also, company comments on Q4 earnings calls didn’t point to robustness in economic activity. That said, stocks are more on the drug high of QE pump priming.

"You don't tug on superman's cape"
"You don't spit into the wind"
"You don't tug the mask off that old Lone Ranger"
"And you don't sell naked calls on AAPL"
      Jim Croce song   (modified)

Playing with Metatrader (MT4) and ATC brokers.  Does anyone have an opinion on FXCM versus ATC Brokers for real trading, or any other Currency Brokers that you would recommend?

Peter D/Chaps/Cwan – do you guys ever do back ratios on both sides? With the vix this low it doesn't bring in much (if any) premium, but it sets up a nice play that can profit huge if the vix jumps up, it also profits if the market really moves one way or the other. 

Today's 25KP trades so far:
DD on the TZA 18 calls at 1.86 (Could not get the 1.75 price Phil posted) and bought back the 23 calls for .64
Also, sold the GLL 16 calls for .30 and bought 10 of the March 16/17 call spread for .35 and have an order for another 10 at .30.

Interactivebrokers – Whee, first trade executed this morning with IB for 1 SPX March short strangle contract.  I'm so spoiled with TOS platform that it took half an hour to set up the trade last night with IB.  Their quoting system is really cumbersome.  I know they have other good features, but it's not so intuitive. Now I need to figure out how to do back ratios with them.

NASDAQ / Phil – Maybe the lesson is not to play the index but only AAPL and AMZN! I am sure no complaints from lflan!

stjean/wealth tax
Florida used to have this some years ago. It was called the "intangibles tax", so if people had a lot of money parked with Madoff, they had to pay something like 3/4% per year on it. Jeb Bush scrapped the tax when he came into office as Governor of Florida, as he didn't think it was right to tax those who could afford to pay, or more likely thought it discouraged wealthy retirees and golfers like Tiger Woods (a tax refugee from California) from domesticating in Florida when they could go somewhere else.

Sold MHS Feb 52.5 puts now up 80% over 3 days…will put in a stop in case market turns down over next 7 trading days.

Peter D- I have to ask- what strikes did you sell?

PHIL/WFR – $20k upside?  It looks more like $4k upside.  Am I missing something?  20 spreads, is 2000 options, times $2 = $4k.

pstas, it's SPX Mar 1440 and 1160 short strangle.  I don't know how to roll in IB platform yet, so the goal is not to roll this spread.
Yeah, we do some kind of back ratios at times.  However, we need to be careful with the number of short contracts as their value can jump very fast.

PeterD/ IB
I used to be a customer and liked their "Market Depth" trading. It allowed almost instant entry and exit. It is a little bit quirky for options!

tsco having is losing a bit of traction

Wealth tax / Jmm – They have something similar in France already. For all I know, more countries have it because no matter what, they will need the money and you can only get it from people who have some!

That reminds me of the note I just saw that the guys on Fox Business were complaining that hotel maids in NY make too much money – supposedly they have a union! One of the guys was saying: 

“They’re getting a lot of money.  It was shocking how much they get”.

Of course, the same guys rose to defend millionaires when they got offended by Obama SOTUS! Apparently is not as shocking when these guys make millions, but let's make sure maids keep on making the minimum wage. It would be funny if it was not so sad!

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