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Non-Farm Friday – Is America Working?

Jobs Report today (8:30).  

So far, under Trump, we've added 250,000 less jobs than under Obama in his last 9 months and today should make it worse as only about 195,000 jobs are expected to have been created in November, Trump's 10th month in office.  September was the real disaster for Trump, with just 20,000 jobs created but last month was a bit of a comeback, with 261,000 jobs but that may get revised lower – so watch out for that.  It wouldn't matter if we had an ordinary President, but Trump is big on keeping scores and he promised the moon and the stars on jobs and has, so far, woefully failed to deliver

Much worse than not delivering enough jobs is the horrific erosion of wages for all jobs since Trump took office.  Due to reversals in labor policies under the Trump Administration, hourly earnings growth has slowed 0.4% since the election and, while that may not seem like a big deal, when you multiply it by all 160M employed people it's the same as losing another 640,000 jobs worth of salary.  

Creating jobs at slave wages was never the goal of the Obama Administration while Trump actually ran on a promise to put people back to work in coal mines which, LITERALLY, has songs written about how it's the worst job on the planet.  Obama's job plan was to create a new, renewable energy economy and put $90Bn into funding companies like Solyndra, which lost $535M and was the GOP excuse for killing the program but it was too late to kill the jobs that were created and today, 10 years later, clean energy jobs outnumber coal, oil and natural gas combined.  And those are, generally, high-paying jobs with great growth prospects that are bringing manufacturing back to America.

Image result for cost renewable energy chartIf I were Vladimir Putin, with half my fortune in oil, I'd be very concerned about that trend and, indeed, Trump is working hard to reverse the trend by putting tariffs on solar photovoltaic imports of 35% – exactly at the point where solar energy has pushed past fossile fuels as the least expensive way for Americans to consume energy.  This will DOUBLE the cost of solar panels for consumers, turning solar from cost-effective to unaffordable overnight. 

The implications of a decision to raise the cost of foreign imports will ripple through the energy industry, from installers to the utility sector and even the military, which has come to rely on solar for many of its operations. But nowhere will the impact be greater than on disadvantaged communities that are just beginning to reap the benefits of renewable energy, and the jobs that come with it.  88,000 American jobs will be lost if this tariff is imposed.   

Image result for cost renewable energy chartThe steady decline in residential solar prices over the last ten years, which had dropped 70 percent before the trade case began, has opened solar access to millions of Americans. Solar provides families the opportunity to take ownership of their energy, reduce their carbon footprint and save money. It has also allowed states, local governments and utilities to invest in solar as a cost-effective way to provide energy assistance to constituents who struggle to pay their energy bills.  

Once coal, oil and gas lose these customers, they are gone forever.  As you can see from the chart, a home solar system currently pays for itself in 9 years and returns $56,456 in savings over the next 16 years ($3,528/yr) for the average home and those solar prices have been getting lower and lower and have become a major threat to fossil fuels – which was kind of the goal back when we wanted to save the planet. 

Obama's job creation plan is still having a beneficial impact on America 10 years later but Trump is doing his best to reverse that – as he is with every Obama policy.  The job stimulus was something Obama passed in his first month in office.  Trump hasn't actually passed anything so far in his first year – so there's really nothing to criticize.  In fact, I dare you to read the Official White House "plan" for "Bringing Back Jobs And Growth" and figure out how, after one year – they have done anything to do either.

Image result for trump the destroyerThere is literally so much crap going on in the Trump administration that we tend to forget that he's doing a terrible job of being President and running the country.  As the administration lurches from crisis to crisis, starting new fires as quickly as the "deep state" career politicians can put them out, things in the country are deteriorating yet we allow a strong stock market to distract us from paying attention to the actual economy. 

8:30 Update:  228,000 jobs were created in November, so 10% better than expected but Unemployment is steady at 4.1%, which is not a terrible number.  Teenage Unemployment remains high, at 15.9% as more and more older workers can't afford to retire.  Despite Trumps claims that more people are going to work, Labor Force Participation is the same 62.7% it was when he took office, nor has the Employment/Population Ratio, which is still 60.1%.

It's not a bad report and it should give the market a reason to rally but, before I was interrupted by the report, I was going to point out that it's being driven by a massive uptick in Consumer Debt, pushing us back to the danger-zone level of $13 TRILLION we hit back in early 2008 – just before the market collapsed.

A record 11% of that debt is now Student Loan Debt at $1.4Tn and the Trump Administration is finally passing it's first bill but the Trump Tax Plan will eliminate the tax deduction for Student Loan Interest AND it will ask students to pay taxes on deferments, like Scholarships or reduced tuition grants – as if they were income.  Where that money would come from, I have no idea though.  Maybe we could make a scholarship that pays the tax on the first scholarship you got but then that would be taxed too and we'd need a 3rd scholarship to pay for the tax on the 2nd scholarship but then that too would be taxed…  Isn't America great – again?

Image result for consumer debt

After all, taking away opportunities from children is what the Founding Fathers intended, right?  There is good news in the debt chart doesn't show an alarming amount of Household Debt yet as most of the gains of the last few years have been in Non-Household Debt, like Margin Debt on the stock market, which has never been higer than it is now – almost triple where it was in 2008 and double where we were even in the Dot Com booom in Feb of 2000:

Image result for margin debt

What could possibly go wrong?  As you know, we are in CASH!!! but I'll short the S&P Futures (/ES) today at 2,650 and the Dow at 24,300 (/YM) and the Nasdaq at 6,380 (/NQ) and the Russell at 1,530 (/TF) because I think we're going to sell-off a bit into the close.  We generally use a 2 out of 4 rule for shorting and short the laggards as 2 of the indexes cross under and then, if ANY of them cross back over, we get out.  So that limits our losses while giving us a nice possibility for gains.

You can still get a nice, cheap entry on last week's Dow Ultra-Short ETF (DXD), which returns 500% on your cash if DXD is over $11 in April.  DXD is currently at $9 and it's a 2x ETF so a 22% move in DXD to $11 would take an 11% drop in the Dow to 21,627 so that's our target for a pullback over the next few months.  Not a huge drop – just a little correction would be nice.

Getting back to jobs and such, the US population adds about 2M people per year so creating 2M jobs is simply treading water, not "growth".  Also 2M is 0.6% of 325M so, 0.6% GDP growth is already baked in by population growth and, so far, we are averaging 2.5% for 3 quarters this year – not at all impressive but hopefully this quarter holds up around 3.4% but that will still leave us with a yearly average of (7.5% + 3.4%)/4 = 2.725%, not quite hitting that 3% mark Trump has been promising.  

Real GDP: Percent Change from Preceding Quarter

That's another thing I find worrying (did I mention we cashed out of this madness?), Bloomberg just broke down their Consumer Comfort Index and it turns out that the huge rise in Consumer Confidence is being driven ENTIRELY by Trump Fans, who buy into his "chicken in every pot" promises.  They say you can't fool all of the people all of the time but you can certainly fool some of the people all of the time – and they are represented on this chart by the red line that says "Republicans":

These are, of course, the same people who were very over-confident in 2008, and they were SHOCKED when the economy fell apart because the Bush Tax Cuts didn't work.  Now they are very excited about the Trump Tax Cuts and all-in on the markets while, as you can see – the Democrats, who tend to be students of history (or just students, for that matter) are getting worried.  

Even our economic indicators are polarizing!  

Have a great weekend, 

- Phil


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  1. Good Morning.

  2. Phil – Who else other than republicans would this 'enthusiasm' come from?…..

  3. Our credit market is not the only one with problems:

    In August and September, the central bank asked lenders to be wary of borrowers channeling personal loans into property, according to reports carried by state media and official documents seen by Reuters. Regulators also ordered banks to crack down on yin-yang contracts and over-valuations, according to official notices sent to the banks and seen by Reuters last month.

    Property market insiders see little prospect of an effective crackdown on fraud unless banks cooperate, however. Xuan Hong Xia, the lawyer for Lei Yarong, cites a case last year in which her firm represented a seller in a property deal. The buyer and agent had overvalued the property. Xuan’s law firm advised the bank of the deception, but the lender ignored the warning.

    “It seems banks don’t consider the issue a serious one,” she said.

  4. Good morning!  

    Nice dip in the Futures already AND /SI is picking up so I'm very happy.  

    Big Chart – RUT sneaking down to test the 5% line AND the 50 dma – BIG deal if they fail 1,512. 

    Not today probably but any time in Dec.  

    Nas blasted back over the 20 dma, now 6,390 but, as noted above, I like them short here. 

    Who else/1020 – The disparity is huge, you have to take these confidence numbers with a huge grain of salt.  The same thing though influences the Beige Book (it's just opinions) and a lot of other surveys we rely on.

    China/StJ – I have been saying this for years.  Taking a long time to hit the fan but, when it does…

  5. You know what it reminds me of?

    Image result for madoff org chart

    Image result for madoff org chart

  6. Phil, anyone

    Any thoughts on the recent drop in CHL? Can't find any negative news (earnings, margins, market share, 4G  – all positive). Only possible negative is macro finance in China itself. CHL just broke fairly significant suport at 50 (2 months).


  7. For those who did not read my early post here it is again.

    Following yesterday’s T question by ztennis I did have a closer look at the scenario of his Jan 19 30/37 BCS against an armchair trade.

    Looking at the stock’s performance over the last year Dec. 15 / Jan. 16 of 30$ Nov 17 32.75 and today Dec. 17 36.17. Taking in to consideration that we could have a drop over the next year between 10 and 20%. So we looking at 32.55 and 28.93.

    Here I do not even wish to look at the 20% drop only at the 10% drop.

    Looking at Jan. 19 at a stock price of 37$ or above the BCS will return 7$

    Let us say the man has to sell 500 shares and receives at today’s value 18,058.00 with that he can buy say 42 (rounded) BCS. 18,058.00 / cost of BCS 4.35/100 = 41.57 so we say 42 BCS.

    At Jan 19 stock at 37 or above you will receive 7.00 x 4200 = 29,400.00 less your capital outlay of 4.35 x 4200 = 18,270.00, so you pocketing 11,130.00. Do not forget your total cash return at 37 is 29,400.00 for my calculation below!!!

    Looking at the worse situation at Jan 19 the stock has dropped to 34.30, to my oracle calculation you have lost all of your capital outlay of 18,270.00 and you still further down 200.00.

    The gain would be great the loss is disastrous.

    Now to my armchair trade.

    Again I now hold 500 shares at 36.17 = 18,085.00. Not hiding much behind the bush being Jan19 at 34.30 my shares are worth 17,150.00, against the BCS of nothing! With other words my capital loss is 935.00.

    However here my armchair trade. I sell against my 500 shares 5 Jan 19 37 call options at 2.10.

    The combined monthly income div. plus call option is .32 cents per month / 30 days x 409 days x 500 shares giving me combined a nicery 2,181.00.

    My question Jan 19 the stock being at 34.30, sitting in my armchair, what do I hold in my hand?

    Stock at 17,150.00 plus combined div. and call option value 2,181.00 = 19,331.00 against the BCS of nothing. I can even still buy a Cuban cigar and smoke it!

    You might still say well at Jan 19 my 30 call still has value. Yes you paid 6.45 look at Jan 17 30 call 2.20, not even taking the difference between now 36.17 and possible 34.30 estimated in to consideration, plus you got from your Jan 19 37 caller 2.10 so you hold 4.30 against your pay out of 6.45 a loss of 2.15 x 42 x100 = 9,030.00

    Please correct me if I am wrong or I can blow circles with my cigar.

    I hate to tell you I still would stick my neck out and sell a Jan 19 33 put for 2.14 giving me a combined return of .48 cents a month or 3.272.00.

  8. Phil

    CBI any trade or other companies ?

    Based ON Trump’s long-awaited infrastructure plan expected to drop in January


  9. FTR up again. 60% rise in just a few weeks!

  10. CHL/8800 – Just down with the Chinese stocks, good and bad.  I always like buying them at $50 so this is a nice opportunity for our buy list.  Unfortunately, options only go out to June but you can sell the $50 puts for $2.80, which gives you a nice $47.20 net entry.  

    T/Yodi – Lots of ways to play it since they pay a very reliable $1.96 dividend (5.4%), which is a shame to walk away from.  

    When I play something like T, which is a good value with a p/e of 17.5 but high in it's channel as the historic p/e is more like 12, I do expect a normalization back to $32.50 at some point.  So, step on is deciding how much T I REALLY want to own at $32.50.  If, ultimately, you are comfortable with 1,000 shares, there's still several ways to go.

    • By 500 shares of T at $36.34 ($18,170) 
    • Sell 5 2020 $33 puts for $3.40 ($1,700) 
    • Sell 5 2020 $35 calls for $3.60 ($1,800)

    That one puts me into 500 shares at net $14,670 ($29.34) and I expect to collect $1.96 x 2 ($3.92) over 2 years to drop my basis to $25.42 and a profit of $9.58 (37.7%) if called away at $35.  Of course, we'd work it from there.  If we get assigned 500 more at $33, our average cost would be $29.21, so that's our break-even going that way.  

    We could, on the other hand, simply sell 25 of the 2020 $33 puts for $3.40 ($8,500) and our break-even is $29.60, though we'd be obligated to buy 1,500 more shares going that way.  We could take the lesser gain and keep the risk at 1,000 assigned – collecting "just" $3,400 for not owning T.  In either case, the stock with the short puts and calls looks better.

    Or, we could do an artificial buy/write:

    • Sell 10 T 2020 30 puts for $2.15 ($2,150) 
    • Buy 10 T 2020 $28 calls for $8.50 ($8,500) 
    • Sell 10 T 2020 $35 calls for $3.60 ($3,600) 

    Here the net is $2,750 on the $7,000 spread and, if assigned, we'd own 1,000 shares of T at $32.75 and our upside is only $5,250 so, again, not better than owning the stock.

    So, given the choices, I'd go for the ownership play.  HOWEVER, this is a good example of one I woudn't play at all because I can do far, far better if I wait for a move to the bottom of the channel, hopefully with better option premiums to sell.

    Therefore, the best option here is #4 – WAITING PATIENTLY!!! 

    Looks pretty attractive, right?  Well, it shows you how warped the current market has made your view of what constitutes a "bargain".  

    When I see a chart like this I wonder if the move up was justified so I look at earnings for 2013, 14, 15 and compare them to 2016 and 2017 to see if maybe they do deserve to be 20% higher than they were.

    So 2013 was an unusually good year but the average of the 3 is $2.43, which is less than they made last year.  They do seem on track to hit $2.90 this year and no reason to expect they won't next year so yes, we would have to call it 20% better than it was, which means $35-37.50 should hold over the long run.

    That means, however, we can now consider a more aggressive play, like:

    • Sell 7 T 2020 $35 puts for $4.40 ($3,080) 
    • Buy 20 T 2020 $33 calls for $4.70 ($9,400) 
    • Sell 20 T 2020 $40 calls for $2.70 ($5,400) 

    That one is net $920 on the $14,000 spread so now we have considerable $13,100 upside potential, but at a much more aggressive target. 

    On the whole, I'd still wait but, if T goes down such that I can sell the $33 puts and buy the $30/37 bull call spread for that price – that would then be my preferred way to play – especially considering my fallback would be owning 700 shares of T at $30.90, which I would be very happy to DD on at any low price.  

    CBI/QC – Another one for the watch list.  You know I live CBI, now $17.50 and still cheap.  You can sell 5 2020 $15 puts for $4.70 ($2,350) and buy 10 of the $10 ($9.30)/20 ($5) bull call spreads for $4.30 ($4,300) to net into the $10,000 spread that's $7,500 in the money for $1,950.  The upside at $20 is $8,050 (412%) and your worst case is owning 500 shares at $15.  

    FTR/Jet – Glad we doubled down back then!  

  11. FTR just more BS from this market

  12. Well in case you missed the index shorts the first time, here they are again!  

    I'll short the S&P Futures (/ES) today at 2,650 and the Dow at 24,300 (/YM) and the Nasdaq at 6,380 (/NQ) and the Russell at 1,530 (/TF) because I think we're going to sell-off a bit into the close.

  13. Phil Thanks for the great work out on T. For me I just did set up a calculation on Ztennis question. I very much agree with you in respect of patience and waiting. Meantime I play with a stock of T I did buy at 33 and not at 36. So again total my thoughts are in respect of the 30/37 Jan 19 BCS. Besides I feel why enter a Jan 19 BCS if the Jan 20 is out. My intention was to show newer members what you can do with options and combinations. For the record I do hold both the 33/37 Jan 20 BCS as well as the stock with armchair trades.

    Meanwhile as mentioned before I have cut down my ports to 2/3 in cash holding still stocks and options, some with hope some are pups with hope.

  14. Phil,  any thoughts on VLO? This just keeps going up.  Getting killed on my short calls in my butterfly.  My long call at 80 is helping to contain the pain but last we talked, you expect it to reverse to below $80s.  I expect the same but damn this is testing my patience. 

  15. Learner VLO I am holding the Dec. 82.5 caller against the stock. Just looked at it a while ago, thinking I will forfoot the stock against the caller, as again VLO looks like sky is the limit, and I feel they reached the limit.

  16. PS cash is king

  17. Obviously one can roll the Dec. 82,5 caller to Jan 87.5 caller for some 2.70 50% not a bade ratio, any ones decision.

  18. Thanks Yodi,  I have already rolled once from $72 to $77 expiring in Jan.  If this doesn’t reverse, I may be rolling again… 

  19. Yodi, just read your yesterday´s answer about SQM, i¨m in TX until Jan 12, where will you be then?

  20. Learner 77 is more than 10$ from today's stock price and you have to take in to consideration a div. of .70 at 1/30. The question always is how high can the stock go? I think Phil is not joking about the crash!

  21. Phil,

    Thanks for the thoughts on CHL. Tough for me to buy even a good stock in a questionable – however temporary – environment (Chinese market – FXI @ 45 = <10% pullback from hi; 34-48 past yr). Will wait for signs of stability. China is opaque so never sure about real macro dangers that lay ahead. With a centrally managed economy, the govt has more power to control not only the economic data but manipulate the economy itself. Tough to know when things are really in bad shape. 

  22. T/Yodi – I agree with you.  Just thought it was a good idea to lay out my own thought process in picking these trades.  

    VLO/Learner – It's way ahead of itself but you'll have to wait for earnings for it to correct, most likely.  Last Q they made a fat $1.91 due to an unusually favorable crack spread and people are extrapolating like that's what they'll earn from now on.  Usually, more like $1-$1.25.  Up 2.25% today on no news at all – it's just a market frenzy but you can always add a few more calls to cover and put stops on your lower ones.

    Again, this is why the market will crash – you can't just randomly price companies up 50% and expect them all to perform for you.

  23. Thanks Phil and Yodi,  I am keeping the faith… this has gone way ahead of itself but until it corrects, I will borrow Naybob’s IV and out. 

  24. avill, hi you have more guts than I visiting the US. I refuse to be treated as a fugetive at the airport. I am not an ISI ande even as a down to earth German they treat you like shit. Excuse the direct word.

    We will be here in Miramar until March, to enjoy the sun and piece of this lovely place. Geat to live in a RV.

  25. learner faith and pray has nothing to do with the market, it is a ruthless game and feelings will kill you.

  26. Yodi… I meant faith in the fundamentals and valuation or over-valuation in this case. .. no feelings.  At some point, I may be forced to take a stop loss but not now… not near 52 week highs! 

  27. Phil thanks, remember I am just a learner and I learned a lot from you over the years and hope I can put some positive thoughts to members how also wanting to learn. This site is not just there for the blinds to follow the blinds, but to make your own decisions.

  28. Phil/T/Coal Mine-thanks for the thought process on T.  Those are always the most helpful.  

    Coal mine-it's funny until you think about the reality and then it's just sad.  What really makes you throw in the towel is that these are the people who voted for him.

  29. Sold the last of my VRX stock at 19.16.  Still have a few puts.   Wish I'd kept more earlier.

  30. China/8800 – That's why I generally don't touch Chinese stocks and I'm starting to suspect BABA has been fraudulently pumping up their numbers.  Who knows who else might be if they are?  

    Learning/Yodi – You have turned out to be an amazing student, frankly.  So funny when I think back to how we started but we both kept at it and I'm very proud of the result.  

    Image result for trump putinCoal/Seer – Well, when it's all you have, you want to keep it.  I don't mind helping coal to die more slowly but killing solar and wind is unforgivable.  It not only hurts the planet but our economy and our future energy security.  Trump may not be Putin's puppet but he's certainly everything Putin could have ever hoped for in a US President.  Hopefully it's just a coincidence that everything the Trump administration has done for the past year has weakened the US while strengthening Russia.  

    VRX/Albo – People are getting more confident.

  31. TEVA having another nice day.  




    Jabob must have sold them all!  

  32. seer coal mine, Sitting outside the box, I can only say you people who elected this clown have a very very sick lunatic on its hand. A monkey would have been a better choice. As sooner you get a monkey in the Whitehouse the better it will be.

  33. FU PHIL!!!!!!!

  34. Phil/Coal-there have been numerous articles pointing out that many in coal country want the jobs of the future.  Many understand that even if coal isn't phased out, the reserves run out eventually and then you have nothing.  Somehow, they thought Trump was going to do this for them.  

  35. :-)

  36. Anheuser-Busch orders 40 Tesla trucks

  37. ‘Get down!’ Gunfire erupts at New Mexico high school

  38. California fires: Blazes stretch from Ventura to San Diego County

  39. I've been thinking about this – what if a credit card replaced points with coins? 

    Here's how it would work, let's say CitiCard makes a credit card that offers CitiCoins. Citi would publicly and organically release a coin that sort of works like GreenCoin mechanistically - some % of the newly mined coins go to a single address they control. They would hold these inside their non-profit CitiFoundation (a coin mining split might be 90% Foundation, 10% for the miners, as an example). The Foundation would obey a charter, say 20% of the incoming coins go to charitable causes and 80% are distributed to credit card holders. The payout would be the dollar amount spent pro rata per payout period (probably monthly, but daily could exist) to the users, the credit card holders. Instead of points, which have some self-backed value, e.g. 1 point is $0.01 or 25,000 is a flight, they would have no official value, however, they would be transferrable on open markets.

    The first, most obvious benefit for Citi is they actually give nothing of value away. They also capture a new market of people that want the coins instead of points (i.e., me), and lastly, they are already licensed money transmitters so they could enter this market/business-activity with much less friction versus organizations that do not have this ability already. The long term benefit gets back to my explanation of how crypto/blockchain is a new system of trust (money) that services the post-manufacturing Knowledge Economy and who's growth and adoption at this point are largely inevitable. As fiat currency becomes replaced, businesses that rely entirely on transmitting fiat currency around no longer have a business, in the same way coal miners die once solar is everywhere. Citi has a foot in the door as they operate a coin transmitting function that is a neat trick, sort of like a side-show freak, to their real business (money transmission). However, if (as) the possible becomes the inevitable, they have a high market value coin (brand) that is a market leader and they are on top with first-mover advantage. As fiat transmitting peaks and begins to decline they have coin transmitting already operating so it's essentially a hedge for them. Hopefully they see the light and call me, because I know exactly how to set this system up for them. 

    *The charity element is optional to the idea but it could be run by coinholders through a DAO (distributed autonomous organization) that votes with coins ("shares") and Citi sends the coins to where the DAO directs them to.

  40. Phil--I am getting a little nervous… Am I going to have to come to NY before the eoy?

  41. Learner – "I will borrow Naybob’s IV and out."

    Perhaps my bong too?

  42. Do we have a volatility anti-bubble leading to a reverse volatility ETF bubble:

    SVXY ProShares Short VIX Short-Term Futures monthly Stock Chart

  43. Latch - Someone is going to present a Max Headroom candidate for the House one day and win.

    Already happened in 1980 – Ron Headrest was really running the country while Ronny took his naps.

    In 2000, Manchurian Candidate 2 or the mindless feck Shrub Jr is foisted upon us in a rigged election neocon coup. 

    In 2016, voting for Trump was the biggest FU in human history.  Don't worry the residual check is in the mail Dathan.

  44. Well Naybob, if you're throwin' a party… where and when? LOL

  45. Yoda – Nothing sure but death and Taxes

    Muck – Death and taxes… why do you think they let us live? You can eat a few lambs, but you shear the sheep.

    A shearing indeed, taxes and premature death are only certain for poor slobs, not for the rich baby.

  46. Phil – DXD to $11 by April –  why is April a marker?

  47. Muck – "Well Naybob, if you're throwin' a party… where and when? LOL"

    Be sure to bring Alice B. Toklas because that party might go something like this… in the day much like Sellers, I would wake up and usually find there's a girl in my soup and have to say this.

  48. Phil -  Dime bags were $10.  Should have saved those and opened a pot shop where they are now getting $300/ounce.

    Jelu – 70s/Phil. As I recall an ounce was $30 back then, but the pot is significantly better now. One hit of modern top shelf herb is enough for a nice high. A gram (about $15) will last a long time for the casual connoisseur.

    Potency/Jet – I have heard but have not tested. 

    Alrighty then Mr. Clinton…. Word on the street, a 1 oz "glad" bag of middlin herbal refreshment in the City of Angels is at $100, while flying a Mexican airline can be even less. A sampling of today's average retail HQ price with tax where applicable:

    NJ – Not legal – $345 oz
    OR – Legal – $210
    CA – Legal – $256

    Some recreational dispensaries have sold for as little at $65 on this site.  Due to all the legal growing, supply is flooded and not only retai,l but wholesale prices have cratered, a $2500 pound is now $800.  Many smaller growers are shuttering and much like the food chain viz. small farms, ADM, ConAgra, a consolidation of the Puff the Magic Dragon chain is in the midst.  I forgot what I was going to type…

  49. Oh yeah…   New age strain names: Calm; Charge; Connect; Created; Flourish; Holistic; Self-discovery; Social; Tranquil; Unwind.  I dunno but I'll tell ya, back in the day, a four finger bag or Wizard of OZ: bunk, rag, shake or Nixon = $20. HQ = Humboldt skunk, Purple sense, Panama red, Maui waui, Columbo, Afghani, Acapulco gold etc = $50. 

    Early to mid 70's, to find the Green Goddess, one would always check the local fish wrap or parrot cage liner, for the daily inbound ship log.  The port was THE place to score for a clam bake when the fleet or a naval vessel was in.  Some returning military on Nam duty tour with RandR in Thailand, would supplement low pay.

    Typical 4 inch long x 1/2 inch thick, buds tied to a bamboo splint by a thread wrapped around them in a spiral fashion, dipped in opium.  Hence the double entendre "Sticky" or Opiated Thai or Tie Stick = $10-$15 aka dank, Buddha or one hit shit…

    Sit down for a late afternoon tea party with a friend, fire up a tiny or bic bong hit of that rainy day woman and count backwards from 30.  A few hours later, early evening, you realize your crib is all dark, no lights, boob or tunes on, and you've been laying down in a complete daze without even talking to each other.  In any event, brief vacations with Alice B. Toklas are nice, good times, and sometimes definitely OUT.

  50. Phil  /VRX

    What opinion have about it?, yesterday`s article boosted 11% and BCS 2020 looks interesting IF they are in something for the next 2 years.

  51. Naybob… Wow, do you have a monkey? My god but you're lovely… 

  52. Muck – "Naybob… Wow, do you have a monkey? My god but you're lovely…"

    Thanks for my ROFLMAO of the day.  In fact, I have good friend whose an idiot savant, and when he's spot on or on a roll, I lovingly call him Chim-Chim.  When he goes off and drifts into Republican rhetoric, I snap him out of it with a stern, "Whoa there Monkey Boy!"

  53. seer— the next couple weeks should be interesting with TEVA. I hope and pray that Schultz will bring them back to the promised land!

  54. Phil

    U.S. Concrete, Inc. USCR

    Would this be a good infrastructure stock?

    Or wait?


  55. Thanks for the daily entertainment Naybob! Just snapped from a daily funk reading your post!

  56. GrassHopper67 / After hours – re. your post last night, I do trade futures off-hours like you and there are useful patterns there as well. Yes, it's often very slow but the Nikkei and London market opens tend to have a quick downdraft at the open followed by a bounce that I sometimes play. If /NKD has a good day in the US there's usually follow-up during Japanese trading hours. And so forth.

    The best after-hours play is the one I can't do right now due to my timezone – it seems like around 4 or 5 am New York Time is when many of my futures start moving, especially energy and metals, and sometimes the biggest move of the day is in the 2 hours before market opens. But I'm sleeping and miss all the fun.

  57. Hey Nat — good bud story

    As for -~~Thanks for my ROFLMAO of the day.  In fact, I have good friend whose an idiot savant, and when he's spot on or on a roll, I lovingly call him Chim-Chim.  When he goes off and drifts into Republican rhetoric, I snap him out of it with a stern, "Whoa there Monkey Boy!"

    seems like the idiot is slapping the savant?  :)

  58. Hey its song time!  Phil, what's it going to be? this was the last one I was listening to

    CCW _ Midnight Special…..Houston town..

  59. StJL – "Thanks for the daily entertainment Naybob! Just snapped from a daily funk reading your post!"

    Thanks for the kind words. Glad to be of service, with the shit storm we are in, you gotta laugh baby. 

    Incidentally, in the last 40 years, I can count the number of times I have touched Mary Jane, and she will not accuse me of anything other than having a damn good time, on my hands.  From my life experience…

    Unlike alcohol and other OTC drugs, you never hear about a pothead, driving their car through a crowded bus stop in Times Square, or going on a serial killing spree or a shooting rampage from a tower. Rope smokers are far too busy laughing, vegetating, raiding the refer, or driving very slowly to the nearest eatery whose location they have most likely forgotten.

    As for consumption, going to Puff the Magic Dragon should not be like guzzling cheap beer or swill.  More like savoring a single malt whiskey or bourbon, and something to be enjoyed.  Like anything else in life, alcohol, sex, drugs, gambling, food, investing, etc. balance, moderation and self control is the key, viz. always apply this rule and Out.

  60. CCR

  61. Millard / Futures – re. your question about /RB and others, as GrassHopper67 replied, these things will tear your face off, I've lost hundreds of dollars on /RB in the two minutes I went for a cup of coffee.  I'm too ADD in my trading style (squirrel!!) and that's been a negative so I'm trying to move towards Phil's style of buy and hold, playing the longer waves. It's much more stressful to hold overnight and not close everything out, but long-term is actually more profitable and you can use disaster stops or buy options on some futures to cover the black swan risk.

    My advice:

    Start with Paper Money on ThinkOrSwim, you can play all you want with $100000 and lose nothing, and don't convert to real trading until you've had a month where you netted at least $5000 profit.

    Learn about big wave charting and patterns analysis from Chris Kimble, Investopedia, and others that are good at it.

    Read a lot of news, futures moves are news-driven. I read one to two hours a night of market-impacting news.

    Most of the futures have mini versions, start trading those first, your risk / reward ratio is 25-50% of playing full-sized futures.

    Start learning with /YM, it has the least expensive cost of mistakes and less of the zany moves of /NQ and commodities.

    Hope this helps!  Mocha

  62. GOP rhetoric like these nice little gems Naybob:

    “I think it was great at the time when families were united — even though we had slavery — they cared for one another,”  Roy Moore 2017

    Here’s a new entry in the annals of Steve King.

    The Iowa Republican congressman known for his racially insensitive rhetoric tweeted on Friday that “diversity is not our strength.”

    “Mixing cultures will not lead to a higher quality of life, but to a lower one,” King wrote.

    That's your GOP today, no wonder you have to snap them out of it. 

  63. ROFL Naybob… I got to take the rest of the day off now!

  64. Bitcoin - futures start trading Sunday, one article I read said XBT will be the symbol. Anyone know about it?  Margin?  Brokers that will support it? Part of standard data package or extra? TIA!

  65. Interactive Brokers is supposed to have the bitcoin futures, but I don't know the symbol

  66. Coal/Seer – They have 200 years worth of coal only the Earth wouldn't have 200 years left if they actually burned it.   


    Image result for chapstick for kissing ass

    Charity Coins/BDC – Well why doesn't Citibank just get a printing press and make up some currency and circulate it under the same conditions?  Because it's illegal!  Just because it's "crypto-coins" and not paper money doesn't make it more legal.  At some point, this goes to the Supreme Court.

    Congress's power to coin money is exclusive: under Article I, Section 10, the states are not permitted to "coin Money; emit Bills of Credit; [or] make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts…." Whereas the prohibitions on the states are clear and detailed, Congress's grant of power under the Coinage Clause is open-ended.

    Nonetheless, certain elements are clear. First, Congress is granted the authority to "coin money," which authorizes Congress to coin money from precious metals such as gold and silver. Under the Articles of Confederation, the power to coin money was a concurrent power of Congress and the states. To create a more standardized monetary system and reduce the costs of running mints, the Constitution granted this power to Congress exclusively. The elimination of the states' power to coin money and the exclusive grant to Congress provoked controversy because the power to coin money was traditionally understood as a symbol of political sovereignty. Second, Congress is empowered to regulate the value of the coins struck domestically and to set the value of foreign coins. Under the Articles, Congress held the former power but not the latter. The Constitution gave both powers to Congress to encourage domestic and foreign commerce by preventing the states from attaching disparate valuations to circulating coins.

    In a series of nineteenth-century cases dubbed The Legal Tender Cases, the Supreme Court addressed the federal government's power to order its bills of credit to be accepted as legal tender for all debts, public and private. In Hepburn v. Griswold (1870), the Court held it a violation of the Obligation of Contract Clause to retroactively alter contract terms by permitting payment in "greenbacks" of an obligation incurred in gold dollars. Greenbacks were not immediately redeemable in gold. Following a dramatic change in membership, however, just one year later in the Knox v. Lee (1871), the Court expressly overruled Hepburn and upheld the Legal Tender Act as applied to both prospective and retrospective debts. Pointing to the crisis occasioned by the Civil War, Knox upheld the power to declare paper money to be legal tender. In Julliard v. Greenman (1884), the Supreme Court extended Knox, upholding the validity of legal tender laws during peacetime. The Court held that the federal government's monetary power was inherent in its sovereignty; thus it need not be enumerated in the Constitution. Justice Stephen Field's blunt dissent declared, "If there be anything in the history of the Constitution which can be established with moral certainty, it is that the framers of that instrument intended to prohibit the issue of legal tender notes both by the general government and by the States; and thus prevent interference with the contracts of private parties." The recognition of Congress's expansive discretion on monetary issues in The Legal-Tender Cases was later used to support the federal government's invalidation of gold clauses in private contracts in the 1930s.

    April/Latch – I think if we survive Q1 with the tax law changes and earnings, then we're probably going to have another good year so we only need the cover until April.

    Image result for max headroom animated gif

    Pot prices/Naybob – Yes, people seem to forget it's a weed that can easily grow almost anywhere.  Thai Stick I remember being a premium brand, didn't know they used opium – good thing it was rare.  I always liked hash for brownies – that was fun unless you needed to straighten out – then you were screwed!  We were in Amsterdam once and bought some hash cookies and we ate one each and, 30 minutes later decided we got ripped off and went off for dinner, mindlessly munching on the cookie each we had left (because at least they tasted good and boy, we were hungry).  By the time we got to the restaurant – the first cookie hit and we realized we had tragically over-indulged.  Fortunately, it was Amsterdam and we had a really good dinner (it was a Chinese restaurant with a menus that had Dutch translations) - made fools of ourselves and survived the evening.  

    VRX/Advill – I think, at this point, they have stabilized and they should be able to make money going forward on $8Bn in sales though debt is still about $30Bn and will hang over their heads for a long, long time.  Is that worth paying $7Bn for the company at $20?  Well, when they had $8M in sales in 2014 (before they went insane), they netted $1Bn but all of that $1Bn would go to just interest now.  It's not really for me as it has too much baggage but, if you are looking for a bull call spread just to take a gamble, they do have good premiums to sell and you can pick up the $15 ($8.30)/$22 ($5.60) bull call spread for $2.70 so you're $1 in the money to start and make 100% of the gains up to $22 for up to $7 back (up 159%).  That's a nice, low-risk way to play them.

    USCR/QC – Especially if Trump clamps down on CX, who supply half the US concrete.  People think he will because their stock has tanked:

    USCR is 1/10th the size of CX so they could exponentially benefit from less Mexican supply though already priced at 100x earnings by people who chased this story a year before you did.

    I don't backing things just because of protectionism.  Even CLF, I like them anyway because they have a geographical advantage (lower shipping time/cost) to their competitor, the tariffs are a bonus.  In the case of USCR – I wouldn't touch them with a 10-foot pole except for the potential that Trump will unfairly crack down on their competition and, even then, they have to increase their business 3-4x to justify where they are now.  

    You might want to consider someone like TRN, who have significant concrete business and would get a nice boost, but aren't overplayed already.  HDELY is good because they are in the Northeast, unlike most.  

    2 hours before/Mr M – That's my favorite time to play the Futures.  You get to read the news before others start trading. 

    Songs/Latch – Doesn't work that way, I have to be naturally inspired by the day's events.  Today, all I have is:

    CCR/Latch – That's a good one if you believe in Trump.

    Good futures advice MrM.  I'm sitting -$10K on /KCH8 even as we speak!  Need $126.50 to get even but I'm damned sure not increasing into the weekend.  

    I started with a couple at $128.50 and now 8 with the lower average.  This is about where I'd DD to get to $125 avg but not with the weekend uncertainty.  As you can see, there never was a spike back up to allow me to lighten up on the way down.  

    XBT/MrM – LOL, I wouldn't touch them for at least a few weeks.  Let other people learn harsh lessons first.  

  67. Latch – Alright keeping with the theme here's a song, a later disgraced Spiro Agnew who uttered my moniker, which William Safire penned, said the song was "blatant drug-culture propaganda" that "threatens to sap our national strength."  Enjoy.

  68. XBT/Phil – yeah I'm going to paper trade them first, but I missed the uphill run so I'm going to have my finger on the trigger for the next year and try to catch the Big Short when it comes!

  69. Toke/Naybob – I love how 2 out of 3 of them are stoned for the performance! 

  70. Indexes seem to be holding up into the close.  

    • Saturday, Dec. 9 – Tuesday, Dec. 12Annual Meeting of American Society of Hematology, Atlanta, GA.
    • Tuesday, Dec. 12Meeting of Orthopedic and Rehabilitation Devices Panel of the FDA's Medical Devices Advisory Committee. Agenda: Marketing application from Intrinsic Therapeutics seeking approval for the Barricaid Anular Closure Device to prevent reherniation of spinal disc.
    • Wednesday, Dec. 13 (10:00 am ET): Eli Lilly LLY 2018 guidance conference call.
    • Thursday, Dec. 14 (8:30 am ET): Express Scripts ESRX: 2018 guidance conference call.
    • Saturday, Dec. 16: FDA action date (PDUFA) on Seattle Genetics' marketing application seeking approval to use Adcetris (brentuximab vedotin) to treat cutaneous T-cell lymphoma. Look for a decision by Friday, December 15.

    GDPNow Q4 forecast dips to 2.9%

    • Plugging the data in from this morning's job report, the Atlanta Fed tracker now sees Q4 GDP growth of 2.9% vs. 3.2% earlier in the week, and as high as 4.5% in early November.
    • The Blue Chip consensus forecast remains at about 2.7%.
    • December Consumer Sentiment96.8 vs. 98.8 expected and 98.5 prior.
    • Current economic conditions 115.9 vs. 113.5 prior.
    • Index of consumer expectations 84.6 vs. 88.9 prior.

    Restaurant sales flat in November

    • U.S. restaurant comparable sales were flat in November to top the average pace seen in the sector for the first ten months of the year, according to data compiled by TDn2K.
    • Comparable traffic fell 2.50% during the month, but higher prices helped to offset the decline in guests.
    • "Higher check average increases are risky in a market with steadily decreasing traffic, but brands may be using price to support margins as they face rising labor and operating costs," observes TDn2K's Victor Fernandez.

    BP says 2017 one of its biggest years ever as it shifts focus to natural gas

    • The Zohr gas field offshore Egypt will come online by the end of December, marking the completion of what BP (BP +0.7%) calls one of its biggest years ever as it shifts from crude oil toward cleaner-burning gas projects as a result of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon tragedy.
    • BP routinely ran over budget and behind schedule on projects through 2010 but has since become a leader in keeping project costs below budget and finishing on time, says Dave O'Connor, head of BP's Global Projects Organization.
    • BP completed seven major projects this year, in Egypt, Trinidad and Tobago, Oman, Australia and in the U.K. North Sea; out of the seven, only the North Sea expansion is focused on crude oil.
    • O'Connor highlights the second phase of the Mad Dog development in the Gulf of Mexico as an example of BP's renewed focus on efficiency and cost savings; the project originally was estimated at $20B in 2012, but after cutting the bells and whistles instead of starting from scratch, the cost came in at $9B last year.
    • The total U.S. rig count increased by 2 to 931, rising for the fifth consecutive week, according to Baker Hughes' latest weekly survey.
    • The oil rig count rose by 2 to 751, while the gas rig count held steady at 180.
    • Metals stocks are mostly higher after China reported exports surged 12.3% in November from a year ago, more than double expectations, and imports climbed 17.7%; X +1.5%VALE +1.3%BHP +1.2%CLF +0.9%FCX +0.8%RIO flat in premarket trade.
    • China’s demand for commodities jumped, as the world’s largest consumer of raw materials saw higher imports of copper, crude oil and iron ore; shipments of copper soared 42%, iron ore jumped 19%, and imports of crude oil hit 9.04M bbl/day, their second highest recorded level ever.
    • Traders say the import data should help support commodity prices, which have been hit by concerns about slowing economic growth in China.
    • Jefferies analysts say sharp declines in Chinese finished steel exports show improved supply-side discipline while low inventories and strong prices and margins further highlight market tightness; the firm says ArcelorMittal (NYSE:MT) is its sector favorite.

    • Gold prices settled at their lowest level in nearly five months, as gains in the U.S. dollar and stocks and another surge this week for bitcoin dulled demand for the yellow metal.
    • February Comex gold slipped 0.4% to settle at $1,248.40/oz., the lowest since July 20, capping a 2.6% loss this week; the SPDR Gold Trust ETF and the VanEck Vectors Gold Miners ETF tumbled a respective 2.6% and 3.9% for the week.
    • Also, “the solid jobs report implies the Fed can remain on a path of higher interest rates well into 2018,” says Rob Haworth, senior investment strategist for U.S. Bank Wealth Management. “Higher rates and higher real rates, especially since wage inflation appears stable for now, are likely pressuring gold.”
    • “Gold’s role as a safe haven and a store of value is greatly diminished at this point,” says Barnabas Gan, an economist at Oversea-Chinese Banking, noting improved risk appetite after the postponing of a U.S. government shutdown and further progress in Brexit talks likely will continue to weigh on gold into next week.
    • Boeing (BA +0.7%) continues to grind higher, now up ~4.5% this week to a new 52-week high, as the stock is seen as a big winner in tax reform coming out of Congress.
    • On CNBC last night, CEO Dennis Muilenburg was bullish on tax reform, saying tax cuts would unleash pent-up economic energy and that Boeing would use the savings to further innovation.
    • "We're a big growth engine for the economy… driven by what we're seeing [in] commercial traffic growth around the world," Muilenburg says, planning to leverage the fact that "less than 20% of the world's population has ever taken a single flight, believe it or not. This year alone, 100M people in Asia will fly for the first time. We see traffic growing at 7% a year, it's going to outpace GDP and it's going to drive economic growth."
    • "The first person that sets foot on Mars will get there on a Boeing rocket," the CEO says of the company's next-generation rocket, which is being assembled and will see test flights in 2019.

    • CNBC sources say Elon Musk confirmed Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) is working on its own AI hardware to reduce dependence on Nvidia (NASDAQ:NVDA).
    • Musk made the comments during a talk at a company party last night. His guest was Telsa’s VP of hardware Jim Keller, who was a chip architect at AMD. 
    • Tesla’s current Autopilot hardware system utilizes Nvidia graphics cards.   
    • Musk and Keller cited power and cost control and better efficiency among the benefits of using custom hardware.         
    • Previously: Bloomberg: Tesla replacing Nvidia with Intel for infotainment components (Sept. 26)
    • Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) is casting a long shadow in a surprise appearance at the Los Angeles Auto Show, according to The Wall Street Journal's Dan Neil. He writes that Volkswagen (OTCPK:VLKAY), Jaguar (NYSE:TTM) and BMW (OTCPK:BMWYY) are just a few of the automakers rolling out their EV concepts to carve out space in the autonomous, connectivity, electrification evolution of the industry.
    • Neil sees Tesla as a survivor despite the slow pace of Model 3 production so far and widely-discussed financial pressures. His colorful explanation is below.
    • "The company’s prodigious burn rate, an estimated $8,000 per minute—have brought out the three-eyed ravens squawking auguries of doom. Oh, please. If Tesla were to run out of money today, by tomorrow Chinese and Arab investors would be dueling in the streets over it. The doors would still open. The Model 3 would still come out and, with the help of a half-million friends, would still hasten the rise of emission-free electrics, which was Mr. Musk’s objective all along. His ownership position may not make it to the promised land but the company will."
    • Ars Technica also walked away from the LA Auto Show with a favorable view of Tesla and the Model 3.
    • Recode sources say that SoftBank (OTCPK:SFTBFOTCPK:SFTBY) could invest $300M in food delivery company DoorDash.
    • The companies are still in the talking stage so the deal could fall through or materialize with a different value. 
    • SoftBank’s investment could conflict with its pending investment in Uber (Private:UBER), which operates DoorDash competitor UberEats.  
    • Previously: SoftBank Vision Fund invests in Compass (Dec. 7)

    MoviePass helps theater chain to record attendance

    • Studio Movie Grill announces record attendance for 2017 after getting a jolt of traffic from MoviePass (NASDAQ:HMNY) subscribers.
    • The company says the MoviePass model has gone over well with value-seeking millennials and is a clean fit for its dine-in concept.
    • "We are in the business of creating the habit of movie going and we are excited to be an early adopter of MoviePass," says Studio Movie Grill CEO Brian Schultz.
    • Studio Movie Grill, which has has 29 locations across 9 states, is planning to expand in 2018.
    • Source: Press Release
    • Related stocks: AMCCNKRGCMCS.

    Digitimes: Apple suppliers shipments down on month, expect weak Dec.

    • Digitimes sources report that Largan wasn’t the only Apple (AAPL +0.4%) supplier that had weak shipments in November with a further drop expected this month.
    • Catcher technology, a chassis maker, had revenue drop 10.4% on the month in November. 
    • General Interface Solutions, which provides touch panels, had a 15.53% decline after expecting sales to grow into next year. 
    • The sources say Apple lowered its iPhone X component orders 30% below forecast in November and expect the same sequential percentage drop in Q1 due to seasonality and fewer working days in the quarter. But Q1 shipments could grow on the year. 
    • Apple suppliers that can move with news: Skyworks (SWKS -0.1%), Cirrus Logic (CRUS+0.7%), Qorvo (QRVO -0.4%), and Broadcom (AVGO -0.3%).  
    • Previously: Apple suppliers recover after Broadcom sales comments (Dec. 7)
    • Previously: Apple suppliers drop after Largan warns of lower Dec. revenue (Dec. 6)

  71. Hi Phil.  Been away and not much chance to catch up, so you may have answered a similar question:  Two weeks ago, I sold 65 FTR Dec $8 calls for .60 against my January short puts (and 500 shares) that are deeply underwater.  So, all else being equal, if the stock is near the current price of around $9.80 next week when they expire, I will be another .60 in the hole.  Any advice? Just close the positions and take my lumps or roll them forward? 

  72. Well that was a strong finish to the week.

    Have a great weekend, 

    - Phil

  73. Phil – Bogus Amsterdam Cookies - That was epic, thanks for my 2nd ROFLMAO of the day.  I too learned in similar fashion, one should never underestimate edibles and like Inspector 2211 said, know their titration and absorption rate.  Hash is to pot as brandy is to wine, deeper and much sneakier.  Have a great weekend all, and now just a regular IV and Out.

  74. FTR/Taihu – Well you have the dividends coming so see if you get called away or collect the dividend and then see what happens.   We'll certainly set up something for FTR in Jan – once the dust settles.  Sounds like you have 6,500 shares and you sold $8 calls for 0.60, which is what the dividend is so, basically, you are out at $8.60 and have the short puts left and then you'll see if they get assigned or not and then you can set up a new position.  

  75. it's illegal to create a points system based on a distributed ledger software protocol?

  76. AP FACT CHECK: Blue high-tax states fund red low-tax states

  77. The Computer That Saved a Vineyard

  78. Trump’s 41 most eye-popping lines from his Pensacola speech

  79. With smartphones like these, why do we need laptops?

  80. Inside Trump’s Hour-by-Hour Battle for Self-Preservation

  81. The Looting of America’s Public Lands

  82. If Alien Worlds Exist, What About Alien Minerals?

  83. Automatic Job Storm Coming