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Thursday, March 30, 2023


Weakening Wednesday – Can Yellen Save the Day?

SPY 5 MINUTEI told you so!  

All of last week, I kept saying the market was only hitting highs because it was being manipulated that way and, by Friday we'd had enough and took our ill-gotten gains off the table once again.  This week, it's obvious we're in trouble – but it's a lot harder to sell your stocks when they're already in trouble, isn't it?

It's a very hard discipline to take winners off the table but you should scale out of posiitons on the way up the same way you should scale into them on the way down (and the Strategy Section at Philstockworld has a great article about scaling – also lots of additional commentary in chat below the article).  

There's nothing wrong with being in cash.  Yesterday, from 1pm until 2:30, we had on of our Live Futures Trading Workshops (replay available here) and our 4 trades made $360 by the close (4pm) for a very nice $100+ per hour salary for just trading a few contracts.  Our trade idea from yesterday's morning post (which you can get delivered to you pre-market, every day by SUBSCRIBING HERE) was to short the Nikkei (/NKD) at 14,350 and this morning we hit 14,050 – good for a $1,500 PER CONTRACT profit!  

SPX WEEKLYThat's one of the things you can do with cash.  We also have fun making earnings plays, like the FSLR trade we added to our Short-Term Portfolio yesterday.  That trade idea was:

I think it's worth a try at selling 5 July $75 calls for $3 ($1,500) and buying, to cover, 4 Jan $77.50/85 bull call spreads at $2 ($800) for a net credit of $700 – let's do a set of those in the STP

If FSLR is under $75 (it's about $69 after earnings), we pocket $700 PLUS whatever value remains on the January bull call spread (probably about half).  That's against zero cash outlay ($700 credit, in fact) and possibly we'll just take quick money off the table and reload for our next earnings trade.  

This morning, ahead of Yellen's 10am speech, we flipped bullish on the Russell Futures (/TF) at 1,105 in our early morning Member Chat and we've already tested 1,110, which is $500 up from that line (though we were more like 1,106 by the time we caught it for +$400 in an hour).  We're done with the long ahead of the Productivity Report at 8:30 – which we expect to be disappointing.  Also this morning, I reiterated our short entry on oil at $100.20 and we already got a dip back to $100, but our goal is $98.50 after inventories (10:30) though now we'd stop out again over $100.20 and wait for a better entry – so stay tuned!  

We've been watching Brent Crude contracts drifting lower and USO (based on WTIC, which is what the /CL Futures reflect) usually tracks it very closely and now Brent is at $107.25, back where it was in early April, when WTIC was under $99.  That is pegging our BS meter to 8.5, especially since the Ukraine crisis SHOULD be supportive of Brent – and it isn't.  That's a huge red flag for oil bulls (the kind they run into and get skewered).  

Speaking of getting skewered:  Here's the Productivity report and is SUCKS – down 1.7% for Q1 and, even worse for our Corporate Masters – Unit Labor Costs are up a whopping 4.2%.  In other words labor costs are rising and they can't whip the wage slaves any harder than they already are.  

There are no cheaper places left to outsource, even CHINA!!! has been dealing with growing labor unrest as it becomes more and more clear that the Communist Party, which was founded to benefit the country's workers and peasants – has become a Billionaire's club for oligarchs – almost as bad as the US (but not quite).  

In China, there is a common saying,” says Lin Dong, of the Labor Dispute Center. “The government doesn’t help the people fix their problems. They fix the people who point out the problems, instead.”  Workers who were valued principally as inexpensive production cogs during China’s initial economic flowering are now expected to star as consumers. Consumption accounts for only 35 percent of the Chinese economy, well below the 50 percent-plus characteristic of East Asian countries such as South Korea, which modernized earlier.

It’s like that old Henry Ford story: I’ve got to pay my workers enough so they can buy my product,” said David Dollar, a former U.S. Treasury Department official in Beijing. “China’s reaching that Henry Ford moment.”  

Unfortunately, the US is far from that "Henry Ford Moment," as you can see from the chart above.  Let's face it, we're a nation of timid sheep who have just sat back and taken it while our wages have flatlined for 25 years while UK workers (the above example) were given 30% increases.  At least the Chinese are smart enough to march – what the hell is wrong with US?

Maybe the rising Unit Labor Costs are finally a sign that US workers are not going to take it anymore.  If so, that will be a long-term benefit for the economy but, in the short run, companies that are addicted to low wages like WMT, NKE, MCD, etc. are in for a bit of pain.  



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Scott – Did you read the Barrons piece on AIG I linked to?  They think it could double in 5 years.  Nice play for selling strangles if it rises slowly.

AIG/Burr – yes I did and thank you. interesting and I already had a calendar which is now back to it's open after yesterday's takedown. if closes below its 50ma though, i'm out. don't need quite this kind of volatile BS.


If Russian troops, in fact, pull back, is it all in on USO puts? If yes, which month would you suggest?

Hi Phil – I have a question about my NLY position. I am into the stock for a net of $10.75 with an outstanding Jan 2015 $10 Put that I've sold, now up 50%, and 2 Jan 2016 $12 Calls that I have sold as well. My thought was to buy back the 2015 Put and then sell the 2016 $12 Put for $2.55 before earnings come out later this afternoon. Do you think this a good way to play the stock/arnings, or would you wait and see what happens unil after earnings are reported? Or is there a better way to take some of my gains and position myself for the future? As always your insight is much appreciated – thanks in advance.

dclark USO

A rediculos thought today was the lower imports would be blamed on Russia snactions even though none are on oil of course. FWIW I bought USO puts yesterday and today, May $37. My plan is to get out late today or more likely tomorrow, the 1PM report may shake a few crooks. May should not be held until next week.

Thanks for the feedback Wombat, Phil.  For the record I did not have any stops set today.  I previously had tried various strategies setting stops , mainly to prevent a run-away massacre, but found that trailing or resetting lower almost always resulted in being stopped out at a less favorable and most often wrong time, as Phil repeatedly has said would happen. 

TSLA – I would be delighted to see them drop to 120ish in the days following earnings tonight. really I would.



Thanks for your thoughts.

FSLR – i'm short.. but this is a joke. the only sense to the market is that everything is too damn overpriced, but woe to anyone who tries to play it

Looking at the 1PM report it is clear that total stocks went up ,gasoline supplied went down, and net imports up since last week but down 13% from last year, to me that is a lot less oil demanded.

Phil I am looking at you comment re NLY . The member has a question on the Jan15 put sold. And due to the Stock price of 11.80 is I think his concerned about assignment of the put. There for the question shall he roll the same to Jan16 12 put. I as well hold the Jan15 put and look at the situation as follows. The jan15 putter has still a premium of more than .90 cents. So now one will assign and pa you an extra .90. Rolling to Jan16 one will forefoot this premium so for my two cents why pay premium even that the stock may fall for the amount of the div. after tonight.

Phil – SCO – great call on oil last week.  I closed the SCO spread out with oil around 99.5 per your recommendation.  

Sorry thought it was the 15put but 10p absolute no assignment.

Earnings tonight:

Consensus Estimate – 0.95
Whisper Number – 1.01
Average Move – 11.1%
Priced into Options – 10.08%

Consensus Estimate – 0.12
Whisper Number – 0.15
Average Move – 9.9%
Priced into Options – 10.46%

Consensus Estimate – 1.00
Whisper Number – 1.00
Average Move – 3.5%
Priced into Options – 4.2%

Earnings Whispers has an upward bias on GMCR, a neutral bias on TSLA and a downward bias on RIG. So one of each. They have not been great so far with their predictions but it's new so maybe some tweaks are needed…. 


Like grocery stores won't buy what won't sell, retailers of gas won't buy at the present prices.

An aside is I pay with the computer mapping in my car mostly for performance. Lately I shut off the air flow sensor and built a volummetric effieciency speed density table. Under cruise conditions went from 23 to 34 mpg a steady 55 mph I can get 50mpg, goes down drasticly every 5 mph after that or any wind. May not pass emitions but it can be tweaked for many more miles per tank, takes only a few minutes to reflash to other maps.

Nice call on XRT! I sold just now for a 65% gain. 

I still don't see TSLA making it with only electrics. Part of my point with oil prices and tuning my car, not at all leagal but it shows what can be done with gas engines. I actually got to 60 mpg but the air/fuel was so lean I could burn a hole in the pistons. Can't afford thateven with it programed to much richer with a little more throttle. The new cafe requirements could go way up especially if the idiots would listen to reason, burn half the fuel, a few % more co and nox would still be less. And back off on diesel engines!

Electric roads and contact aren't needed induction just like some recargables today, no contact needed. Still need to make cleaner power when the sun isn't shining.

Electric / Phil – My colleague talked to a guy who has plans to build solar panels over the roads in some countries where sun exposure is constant. They would be basically, like a elevated train over the road except covered with solar panels. I am guessing in this country we could generate more than enough electricity with such a plan but it has not shot since it goes against the Koch brothers' financial interest. But I bet you they'll build one in China.


The panel efficiency will have to go way up or very little traffic, a big problem with electric cars and trucks is the take a lot of energy. It would take a rooftop of panels and the car home all day to charge a TSLA.

Phil I am still waiting for some big number per square foot. The world is a very large area half lit all the time, if we could just spray that film on the oceans we would be set with low efficiency.

High-risk TSLA –  I take this to mean DO NOT PLAY THIS unless you have 50,000-plus in free margin AND are wombat-crazy. 😉

Carnage / Phil – Did you mention buying cheap this morning Phil?

I guess it's the results that count:


Chinn compared scores on the ALEC-Laffer "Economic Outlook" ranking to actual growth in 2013-14 and looked for a trend. There wasn't one. "If there is any evidence," he concludes after a more detailed look at the data, "it suggests that a higher ALEC-Laffer Economic Outlook score is associated with a worse economic performance."

However, although a high ALEC-Laffer ranking may not stimulate any actual growth, Hiltzik points out that it does correspond to reduced taxes on the wealthy and slashed spending on state services that benefit the poor and working class. In other words, it may not affect growth, but it sure is a good deal for the rich. And that's what counts, isn't it?

Here's what he found, in a nutshell: "Kansas and Wisconsin, ranked 15th and 17th in terms of the ALEC-Laffer Economic Outlook Rankings, are doing equally badly relative to US employment growth. In contrast, Minnesota (ranked 46th) is outperforming the United States and those two states…What about California? It is ranked 47th by ALEC-Laffer, and yet is doing the best in terms of employment amongst the four states." 

My quote for the day:

Ben Carlson, “Self-awareness and humility are two huge attributes that I look for when parsing my financial advice.”  (A Wealth of Common Sense)

Good fundamental analysis article:


To the extent that a P/E ratio measures price relative to earnings, its reciprocal – if you flip the fraction – is simply a measure of earnings relative to price. In other words, given the stock has a certain price, what percentage of its value is created every year in the form of earnings. In essence, the E/P ratio is simply a measure of “earnings yield”.

From this perspective, knowing a stock’s earnings yield and its E/P ratio should be highly appealing. As with any investment, stocks with a high earnings yield should probably generate a decent return, and stocks with a low yield are probably less likely to do so. While there is an astonishing amount of debate about whether a stock with a P/E ratio of 25 is riskier than a stock with a P/E ratio of 12.5, is there really any debate that a stock yielding 4% (whether those earnings are ultimately being distributed as dividends or reinvested for growth) is probably not as good of a deal as a stock yielding 8% (to be distributed or reinvested as well)? Because mathematically, a P/E ratio of 12.5 vs 25 and an earnings yield of 8% vs 4% (respectively) are the exact same thing!

Of course, there are times that an investor might still want to buy a stock with a current earnings yield of 4% instead of one with a yield of 8% – for instance, where the investor has a strong belief that earnings will rise significantly with growth in the near future, such that what appears to be a “low” earnings yield today will end out being more favorable in the future. And that’s a valid viewpoint to have, with the caveat that it becomes intuitively obvious that you really should only ever buy a stock with a yield of 4% instead of one with 8% because you expect that company’s earnings and fortunes to grow significantly (or because you expect the company yielding 8% to be poised for an earnings tumble). Otherwise, you’re just buying a stock generating less cash and having a lower yield. It shouldn’t be any great surprise that it will have a lower expected return!

E/P Ratios Vs Subsequent Annualized Returns

Buying an E/P over 7% seems to garantee no loser 5 years out!

TSLA / nice spread Phil – I like ===

PEG / Phil – That's different and PEG is a much better indicator than P/E anyway. But I guess his point is that inexpensive stocks generally don't hurt you much in the long run…

You have to love Martin Wolf – I guess we are all Japan forever:


Low interest rates are certainly unpopular, particularly with cautious rentiers. But cautious rentiers no longer serve a useful economic purpose. What is needed instead are genuinely risk-taking investors. In their absence, governments need to use their balance sheets to build productive assets. There is little sign that they will. If so, central banks will be driven towards cheap money. Get used to it: this will endure.

Phil. Dow up 117 and rut turning green at finish. I read the divergence as weakness.  What's your take?


FU TSLA  !!!! ( thats for you jabo )

TNA  – Made 4 moves of over 1.50 today as weekly 65'puts  ping ponged back and forth from 1.70 to .73 to 1.30 to .85 ending 1.53. The last move up of .50 was made in the last 30 minutes before close.

Not for the faint of heart.

thanks Wombat!!!

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