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Friday, March 31, 2023


Trying the Tops on Tuesday – As Usual

Seriously, this is 4 Tuesday's in row – is anyone seeing a pattern?

Of course this Tuesday we are 100 Dow points lower than we were last Tuesday and the BS pre-market pump job at 6am has already faded (7:30) although we're still working short bets on the Russell futures (/TF) and the Euro (EUR/USD) from 813 and $1.256 as I put up a note in early morning Member Chat as we spiked on – get this – the news that Draghi cancelled his appearance at Jackson Hole this weekend.

Why would it be good that Draghi is NOT going to the last Central Bankster conference of the year but the buzz is that he MUST be so close to a masterful solution to all of Europe's problems that he can't be bothered to gather with his brother bankers on the eve of his triumph.  The announcement was timed to coincide (10 minutes before) bond auctions by Spain ($2Bn 3-month notes at 0.95%) and Italy ($3.75Bn of 2-year notes at 3.06%) and the Euro jumped 0.7% into the auction – lowering the effective rates and both auctions were a "success".

That pulled the EU markets off the floor (still down half a point at 8am) and got the US futures out of the red zone as we finally pushed the Dollar under that pesky 81.50 line, goosing the indexes and commodities.  Unfortunately, it's just a sugar rush and we've already run out of steam but I'm sure someone will start another rumor around 9:15 to get us back to green into the open.  

As I said last Tuesday, with the Dollar at 81.50 we're looking for adjusted levels of:  Dow 13,464, S&P 1,428, Nasdaq 3,060, NYSE 8,160 and Russell 816 and we held the Nasdaq yesterday but that was all so no reason to capitulate on our bearish stance just yet.  Last Tuesday we also discussed 3 more trades (there we 3 the Tuesday before) to make 300% if the market did break higher and our first batch had several 100% winners so let's see how our 3 new trades did in a downtrend:  

  • 2 FAS Oct $107/117 bull call spreads at $2.05, selling 1 BBY 2014 $15 puts for $3.75 for net .35 is now net $1.52 – up 334%
  • AGQ Oct $38/45 bull call spread at $3.10, selling BTU 2014 $20 puts for $3.60 for net .50 credit, now $1.18 – up 236%
  • 3 DIA Oct $135 calls at $4.05, selling 1 HPQ 2014 $20 put for $3.80 for net .25, now -$2.56 – down 924%

HPQ had a rough week, dropping 20% and that killed that trade, which was the most leveraged of the 3 but not a bad consolation on the first two considering the market moved against us.  Of course, setting a stop somewhere before you have a 100% loss can save you a fortune in these situations as well!  We never did made our levels and, as we discussed yesterday, our bearish positions had a fabulous week so the hedges certainly did their job.  

Obviously, we take the money and run on the first two hedges and there's no need for 3 new hedges when the DIA spread can now be played with 2 DIA Oct $135 calls at $1.23 selling the HPQ $15 puts for $2.30 for net .16 and, if you don't mind owning HPQ for net $15.16 (12% off the current $17.21 price), then there's not much to worry about on this trade but, as I said last week – we are NOT bullish and these are just small hedges against our generally bearish bets.  

Realistically, if we played all 3 spreads with even distributions, we laid out .10 in cash and the two winners made $2.70 while the loser dropped $2.56 so, even without stopping out the loser, we're no worse for the wear on the drop.   A great example of why all your eggs should never go in one basket.  

Speaking of broken egg baskets – check out this Bespoke chart of the Shanghai Composite – what a mess!  Our stock indexes are currently back where China was in late 2007-early 2008 and a lot of the reason we're back there is the way we're so enthusiastic about potential expansion into China and the growing Chinese demand for our goods and services and swelling Chinese Middle Class and the endless Chinese demand for commodities and…. hey, what's that smell?  Smells like BS to me…

You can read 100 articles and the Punditocracy on the MSM can hit those talking points until they are blue in the face but this chart is A FACT!  The Shanghai is down 66.6% from the top and anyone on TV using CHINA as a reason to be bullish should be given a few hundred volts through is chair!  What if the US market looked like this and people tried to tell you how great things were?  Would you say "well, that certainly not what I see here but, if you say so – it must be true"?  Just because the MSM assumes you're an idiot, doesn't mean you have to invest like one.

Despite the "great" bond auction this morning, the rats are leaving the sinking ship of state in Spain at an ever-accelerating pace.  The chart on the left shows the outflows from Spanish banks, where deposits fell 4.7% in July alone.  A few more months like this and there won't be any banking system left to save!  

Spain's once-wealthy Catalonia region has officially requested an emergency liquidity injection of $6.5B this morning from Madrid's sadly insufficient bailout fund.  Don't worry Spain, Germany says CHINA will buy up all your debts (not a joke, sadly).  Spain officially admitted they are in a recession today as Q2 GDP fell 1.3% after falling 0.6% year/year in Q1 and is projected to fall further in Q3.   

At this point, even the Swiss are running out of money, and patience, as the SNBs policy of supporting the Euro at all costs.  The SNB is currently holding 230 Billion Euros, which is 1/2 of their entire GDP, adding 34Bn in July alone.  If not for Swiss support, the Euro would surely be at $1.20 or less – even against the weak Dollar.  "The minimum price is not for eternity," said SNB's Jordan, "this is an extreme measure for an extreme situation."  Any sudden removal of this support can have a sudden and devastating effect on the Euro.  

Just ahead of the open we're getting our predicted pre-market re-pump and that's fine with us because – we don't care IF the game is rigged as long as we can figure out HOW the game is rigged and place our bets accordingly.  The Russell bottomed out at 808 – up $500 per Futures contract and the Euro hit $1.24, which doesn't seem like a big move (.016) but it's $10 per .001 so up $160 per contract on that one and that is how we pay for our Egg McMuffins.   

Now we get to sit back and watch the fun!  


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Oil Lines

R3 – 100.25
R2 – 98.87
R1 – 97.17
PP – 95.79
S1 – 94.09
S2 – 92.71
S3 – 91.01

JET// I feel exposed! i am so impressed that someone so new to our august gathering has brought my knuckle dragging tendencies to the board's attention..i had hoped to continue my passage quietly hauling my calloused knuckles along without note…SIGH

NTE- Angel- I,for one followed your trade on this one albeit a small position. I liked the story on MIL better so I took a larger position. That one seems to be working also. Got any more you can share?
If your projections are to play out then March-13 buy / write looks attractive ($7.50 p/c) pays 17% plus the div.
Phil, any thoughts?

NTE / pstas – Why not sell the Mar 13 7.5 puts to pay for a Mar 13 10/12.5 BCS. Right now it's around a  $0.25 credit and return on margin is close to 200% if they are over 12.5 in March. On the down side you are covered all the way to $7.2.

You could also sell the Mar 10 puts for less downside protection but a larger credit!

RUT has been holding very strong last few weeks, would love to see it break below 800 or even get close to it.  Just seems more likely that it's getting ready to pop.

TOS/ Anyone else having issues with their account? Won't give me access to my account and tech support asked me to email them my client .log files? They said many customers are having the same issue. 

Art Cashin had a very good take on Mario (the Dragon) Draghi not going to the conference.  He said he didn't think he would be able to upstage Bernanke and at the same time couldn't be bland, either would hurt the Euro so the best result is cause speculation and just not come using the excuse he has a heavy workload.  And so far it's working for today.

TOS/aaronc  – I was able to log in this morning at approx 9am, running [build 1824.6], no issues so far.

Flip- Why do you see WOR popping ? Also were you talking about Jan13 or LEAPS in 14. Thanks, just looking into ur suggestion.

Phil- Too Late to play TZA today?

bdybdy2/TOS – Thanks, I called again and they said many clients are having the same issue, they "hope" to have it resolved within a few minutes. I was on hold about 10 minutes before I could speak with someone so it does seem widespread. I would be pissed if I wasn't so comfortable with my positions- stacked short with a few upside hedges.

sjl / FAS:  Per your accounting of FAS, should not the short $11 strikes be reported as a closed position?  This, I think would adjust the Current Postions P&L to -$15.  I certainly cannot maintain a short and a long position of the same option concurrently in my accounts.  Still, your format does clearly show the BCS situation, but not my account reality.

FAS / mjj – I corrected the portfolio. Thanks!

Is the VIX or VXX more representative of volatility?  I did a bull call spread on the VXX and it won't move – while the VIX has gone up about 3 dollars?

Phil/Cashin  Don't be so harsh on 'ol Art – He's had some moments of delusion in the past…..

VXX / Ginbaum – VXX suffers from decay so it's not an accurate representation of the VIX. If you look at the performance of the VIX and VXX since the beginning of the year you will see that the VIX is down 27% while VXX is down over 65%. You can play VXX for short term spikes in the VIX, but longer term you can get burned.

I read Cashin differently, thought he was pointing out that it was a strategic move to cancel and the workload excuse was bs, it was just to keep the illusion that something would be happening.

IWM has a major trouble spot 81.40 to 81.50
In the past year 20 over in Feb and March 5 in April 2 in JUL 3 in August. More recent stay over my 81.30 line all day only 1. This is the RUT with breakdown support about 80.40. It appears we are where we are because of the dollar as Phil said and I fail to understand why the exit if forex markets believe in QE. Would this not indicate that QE is baked in and disappointment will cause an ugly responce? On the 20 day chart 38.2 fib is 80.26 and the show stop for the last week is 81.43. Range bound 73 to 83 since December 20 2011, above times over 82. FWIW how I see it.

Looks like some drought areas will be helped by Isaac:


But in some cases it might be too much of a good thing with flooding and destruction. It seems that we can't win!

TOS/I can log in fine to one account but my second account shows a zero balance and no positions. 

rperi/TOS – Same here. Two accounts one is just fine the other not so much.

Phil/Cashin  Oh, I'm sure that day will come, but Art's reasons and timing (Jan.'10) were unfortunate…..

NTE anyone who would like my analysis of second q earnings please ask and send your e mail address to rhetra@aol.com..I ve had a 20 year relationship with the CEO of this company and all that i can tell you is i have 20% of my liquid net worth invested here and all most all of that has been made invested with mr koo..just my take..Phil is correct about Chinese companies and many of you know who along with Phile sounded the alarm on china two years ago..i am still short..but all chinese companies are not alike this is one of those deals that seldom comes along..i am sharing it because i am not an options jockey and have little else to contribute

NTE / Angel – These guy have really gone parabolic the last week or so….

Angel – you give good color commentary!
1020- THe "predictioneer" is just an author who wrote an interesting book (The Predictioneer's Game) using game theory to predict future outcomes/behaviors by world powers.

Well worth reading….


In 1950, payroll and other federal retirement contributions constituted 10.9 percent of all federal revenues. By 2007, the last “normal” economic year before federal revenues began falling, they made up 33.9 percent. By contrast, corporate income taxes were 26.4 percent of federal revenues in 1950. By 2007 they had fallen to 14.4 percent. So who has skin in the game? […]



I saw for myself how GOP proponents of globalized vulture capitalism, such as Grover Norquist, Dick Armey, Phil Gramm, and Lawrence Kudlow, extolled the offshoring and financialization process as an unalloyed benefit. They were quick to denounce as socialism any attempt to mitigate its impact on society. Yet their ideology is nothing more than an upside-down utopianism, an absolutist twin of Marxism. If millions of people’s interests get damaged in the process of implementing their ideology, it is a necessary outcome of scientific laws of economics that must never be tampered with, just as Lenin believed that his version of materialist laws were final and inexorable.

If a morally acceptable American conservatism is ever to extricate itself from a pseudo-scientific inverted Marxist economic theory, it must grasp that order, tradition, and stability are not coterminous with an uncritical worship of the Almighty Dollar, nor with obeisance to the demands of the wealthy. Conservatives need to think about the world they want: do they really desire a social Darwinist dystopia? […]

What if Christopher Lasch came closer to the truth in The Revolt of the Elites, wherein he wrote, “In our time, the chief threat seems to come from those at the top of the social hierarchy, not the masses”? Lasch held that the elites—by which he meant not just the super-wealthy but also their managerial coat holders and professional apologists—were undermining the country’s promise as a constitutional republic with their prehensile greed, their asocial cultural values, and their absence of civic responsibility.

Good stuff all around.

Funny you mention Phil Gramm. I DESPISE that guy's politics but I didnt know he is a Colonel in the Reserve (so I guess I cannot criticize him now). He came to Kabul a while back as a Senator and got DV treatment everywhere – then he put on his Colonel uniform to serve his week or two and probably served under the very Generals who were kissing his ass earlier in the day.

Pharm — Thanks for the water privatization link.

Stjeanluc – Christopher Lasch
Thanks for the quote and link.  I have always found Lasch intriguing since reading "The Culture of Narcissim" in the 1980s and "The True and Only Heaven" in the 1990s.  I have not read "The Revolt of the Elites" but that would be consistent with where he was going in his earlier works.   More to go on my reading list.  From a theological perspective, it seems that conservatives have all become apocalyptic, even the secular conservatives.  There is a sense that there is no hope at achieving a better world, that it is all going up in smoke soon, so let's all get ours in the mean time and let God sort it all out later.  EJ Dionne has also made the connection that conservatives have lost a robust sense of community, and narrowed down to their own families and friends.  So our public space is all occupied by making money, with little value on something more than GDP or quarterly profits.  This was not what conservatism was about historically.  
I would also add in the title of the book written by the author, a long term Republican staffer, that  you quoted,  The Party Is Over: How Republicans Went Crazy, Democrats Became Useless, and the Middle Class Got Shafted

NTE is fine. Being a Chinese firm adds an element of risk but what investment does not have some wild card?
I will just wait for a pull back . It has had a good run.

Lasch / Rev – Sullivan makes the case that Obama is truer to the historical conservatism than the current GOP. There might be some truth to it….

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