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Federally Funded Friday – Rally Continues on Rate Cut Expectations

I hope I get it!  

That's the chorus line the market pundits are taking this week and the Fed speakers have given them plenty of ammunition with Vice Chairman Clarida and New York's Williams making more doveish comments yesterday, which sent the indexes flying higher into the close and pushing the S&P 500 back over that critical 3,000 mark so it will look pretty for the weekend.  

Since the data certainly isn't supporting a rate cut the Fed has now turned to fortune-telling to justify doing Trump's bidding:  

“You don’t need to wait until things get so bad to have a dramatic series of rate cuts,” Clarida told Fox Business Network, citing economic research. “We need to make a decision based on where we think the economy may be heading and, importantly, where the risks to the economy are lined up.”

Clarida’s remarks line up with testimony last week by Fed Chairman Jerome Powell, and comments a bit earlier in the day from Williams, that have cemented expectations for a rate cut. Investors, weighing their words, increased betsThursday that the Fed will move by a half point at the July 31st meeting.  While the U.S. economy is “in a good place,” Clarida said recent global economic data have been softer than expected. “We’ve had mixed data, but I do think the global data has been disappointing on the downside,” he said. “Disinflationary pressures, if anything, are more intense than I thought six weeks ago.”

Lowering rates 0.5% with the market at record highs and the unemployment rate below 3% is unprecidented and very probably insane but that is what the market is now expecting a week from Wednesday.  Our Fed is not alone, other Central Banksters are also lining up to ease up on monetary policy as South Korea, Indonesia and South Africa all recently lowered rates and Europe has indicated their rates are likely to go lower, as has Japan and even China is looking like they might match the Fed if they go through with a cut in two weeks.

For the three central banks that eased policy Thursday, the rate cuts appear more grounded in economic weakness than in some other countries that are trying to safeguard expansions. South Korea’s gross domestic product contracted in the first quarter. Indonesia’s GDP has fallen for two straight quarters. South Africa’s GDP slid 3.2%, at an annualized rate, in the first quarter.  Amazingly, the ECB's rates are already NEGATIVE 0.4% – and they are talking about going lower – it's a mad house!!!  

None of this means very much until we see what the Fed ACTUALLY does in two weeks and, until then, we have our earnings reports to mull over.  We reviewed our Short-Term Portfolio yesterday in our Live Member Chat Room and we're well-covered into the weekend and now we'll review our Long-Term Portfolio and see if there are any chances to raise more CASH!!! into the uncertainty.  

Have a great weekend, 

- Phil


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  1. Good Morning!

  2. Good morning!  

    We did the STP Review yesterday after the close and this morning (and all day) I'll be going over the LTP.

    Not much going on this morning other than the markets up about 0.4% but the Dollar is up too, so it's a strong more.  Oil and gasoline tried to go higher and failed and /NG all the way down to $2.25 but Copper blasting up to $2.80 and /SI and /YG still strong.

  3. Good Morning! Do you possibly think the rate cut is predicated on the nose bleed levels of credit card debt the consumer is carrying? You never ever get the actual truth out of any of the Feds so if indeed this is going to happen there is undoubtedly another reason that won't be disclosed. Then there is the other ugly head arising with deflation; once begun hard to put out.

  4. Late start… Rally caps are on!

  5. Debt/Pirate – Well we have Consumer Debts, Corporate Debts, Government Debt and Deflation – all reasons the Fed might want to keep rates low, despite the long-term consequences.  As I keep saying, I think the background plan is to spur not really hyperinflation but 10-15% inflation for 5 years so they can double the GDP (and double the rate of tax collection) while shrinking the debt/GDP levels to something less crazy.  They can't say they want to do that so they have to set everything up that way so they can later say "oopsie" and pretend it was something no one saw coming.

    Trump/1020 – Backlash is so severe even he is distancing himself from remarks now. 

    Rally/StJ – Not so fast, 3,000 may fail again today and then they'd have a problem with the weekly chart. 

  6. Weekly / Phil – And that weekly chart tells it all. YoY we are up only less than 100 points…

  7. Thanks Phil. That makes sense. It is always the story behind the story which is the truth. So consumers keep spending, company's keep borrowing money to buy back stocks, cola's and wages go up while they keep printing more paper. When does that proverbial shit hit the fan? When everything on the planet is extinct??? I keep getting that sinking feeling like right before 2008 when I was yelling at Greenspun and all the rest of Bankster's getting their bailouts.. and the usual garbage that the banks were too "big" to fail. How about our country….too big and successful to fail. Right.

  8. Ameritrade just went down. System not available.

  9. Long-Term Portfolio Review (LTP) – Part 1:  $1,547,012 (209.4%) is up $227,779 since our 6/19 review and that is 45.5% of our original $500,000 basis in 30 days!  We hardly made any changes to the LTP but we ratcheted up our hedges in the STP and now we have $666,666 (ish) of downside protection which means, despite my INTENSE misgivings about staying long in this market – we can afford to wait for an actual downturn before pulling the plug.  

    The STP is at $737,988 so our paired portfolios are now totaling a new high of $2,285,000 about $85,000 higher than where we topped out in April, before the May downturn.  It's 3 months later and $85,000 is about right for 3 months and that's the way we should look at it because gaining $227,779 in a month is so ridiculous that we should immediately cash out!

    • HMNY – Dead money.
    • NAK – Gave us a thrill last week but back to 0.50.  This stock will ultimately be $5 or $0, just have to wait and see.
    • CDE – Of course pausing at $5 but, with gold at $1,450, I'm not inclined to cover.  

    • CHK – It's too cheap not to adjust.  Our 50 2021 $2 calls are 0.48 and the 0.50 calls are $1.20 so we can roll ours down to the 0.50s for net 0.72 and then sell the $2 calls to some other sucker and the net cost of the roll would be 0.24 ($1,200) and then we'd be in the $7,500 spread that's $5,000 in the money for $7,200 but if we double down with 50 more spreads at net 0.72 ($3,600) and sell 50 of the 2021 $80 puts for 0.85 ($4,250), then we're in a $15,000 spread that's $10,000 in the money for net $6,550 and we have tons of upside above $2 and the worst case is we own 10,000 shares of CHK for $2.375/share - so we'll do that.

    Essentially, with this CHK play, we can take our $3,650 play off the table or risk losing $23,750 if all goes horribly wrong (we get nothing back on the spread, CHK goes BK and we never roll the short puts lower and we never sell any other short calls), which is 1/2 an allocation block.  We would not be pursuing this trade if we weren't doing so well otherwise – it's an indulgence.  

    • Short Puts – Again, only because we're swimming in cash ($650,000 here and $500,000 in the STP) and margin are we not cashing in ALLY and AGVO – no matter how secure you feel, the risk/reward is ridiculous when we're down to 8% left to collect with 6 months to go.  And, don't forget, your losses aren't even capped at 100%!   Our short puts are up about $60,000 (and these are just the ones that remain) and have $130,000 left to give – it's a very overlooked part of our process but probably about 1/4 of our overall gains come from short put sales that never even turn into trades (and almost all our trades have short puts too). 19 winners and 2 losers is CRAZY!
    • FTR – Some would say this is also dead money but, like NAK, I think this is a fun gamble and could be a 10-bagger one day.  

    • ARR – You would think the REITs would be happier with low rates but not much pick-up.  The short calls are worthless but we'll have to roll the 10 short July $22.50 puts at $4 to 10 short Jan $22.50 puts at $4.80 so we pocket $800 there and we'll sell 10 Jan $17.50 calls for $1.25 and, hopefully, we end up somewhere in between.
    • BNS – Close enough.
    • ETM – Let's buy back the 20 short Jan $8 calls at 0.15 and see if we get a bounce.
    • NRZ – Finally one that's on track.
    • SKT – I think they are very unfairly beaten down but it will be a long, slow recovery.  Let's buy back the 20 short Jan $20 calls for 0.10 and we can roll the 20 short Jan $22.50 puts at $6.80 ($13,600) to 40 of the Jan $17.50 puts at $2.40 ($9,600) for net $4,000 as we don't mind owning more this cheap and we did make $8,000 on the short calls and we sold the $22.50s for $5,400 so $13,400 in our pockets would pay for 20% of the assignment – if that happens so really our net on 4,000 more shares would be about $14 – that's what we're promising to do with this move.  Meanwhile, they are paying a $1.42/share dividend (7/30 is the next ex-date).  
    • T – Well over our targets but no reason to shift with 18 months to go.

    • AAPL – The short July $185 calls ($19.70) are expiring in the money but we're protecting a $120,000 long position so we're just going to roll to the Sept $190 calls at $17.70 for net $2 ($2,000) and we'll see how earnings play out.  
    • ALB – Disappointing first 6 months but finally turning back up.  Way too soon to re-cover.

    • ALK – At our target already. 
    • BBBY – Let's roll our 50 2021 $10 calls at $2.20 to the $7.50 calls at $3.25 as that's too cheap to pass up.  
    • BHC – On track
    • C – On track
    • CAKE – We got aggressive, now we wait.  If they had CMG's multiple they'd be at $400!  CMG has $5Bn in sales and is dropping $200M to the bottom line and has a $21Bn valuation, CAKE has $2.3Bn in sales and is dropping $120M to the bottom line and has a $2Bn valuation – go figure…

    • CELG – A deal so nice we played it twice.  Just waiting on the closing to cash in with both spreads in the money.
    • CLF – Here's on back from the dead and at our target already.  
    • CMG – Speak of the overpriced devil.  Crazy option pricing has our 2021 $480/540 spread at net $95,800 out of $120,000 potential even though it's $223 in the money.  Not worried about the short puts (and look how expensive they still are $300 out of the money) and we added the $700/800 spreads to cover the short Jan $740 calls so that's the only variable here and we'll wait for earnings (7/23) to see what happens.  

    • CPRI – On track.
    • CZR – Another one that was inches from bankruptcy (again) but escaped (again).  On track.

    • DAL – At our target already but still reasonably priced and fuel costs are declining too.
    • DIS – Also still reasonably priced and already over our target.  

  10. CLF – Great Quarter on CLF beat on top and bottom lines - key item was Plant Pull in.

    Cleveland-Cliffs reports record-high Q2 sales volume, 4% revenue bump

    Cleveland-Cliffs (NYSE:CLF) +2.2% pre-market after posting solid beats on Q2 earnings and revenues, as the "New Normal" in the global iron ore market offset weak steel prices in the U.S.

    CLF reports record high Q2 sales volumes of 6.23M long tons, up 4.3% Y/Y, and a six-year high average pellet realization of $113/lt; higher iron ore prices and pellet premiums were offset by lower hot-rolled coil steel prices.

    CLF maintains its full-year sales and production volume expectation of 20M long tons, and expects to realize mining and pelletizing revenue rates of $109-$114/lt, a $1/lt increase from the outlook provided last quarter.

    "While the New Normal in iron ore is here to stay, the absurdly low prices for steel in the United States are just a temporary thing, and we should see higher steel prices going forward," Chairman/CEO Lourenco Goncalves says, adding that CLF's Toledo plant construction is ahead of schedule and expects to produce HBI in less than a year.

  11. When/Pirate – Well we are sort of on a planetary path to suicide so may as well party while we can, right?  Our leaders may have already decided the most humane thing to do it put us down before we hit the retirement wall that no one is even remotely prepared for…  

    Related image

    Ameritrade/Pirate – ToS is working.

    CLF/Batman – That's another one I got sore banging the table on for years. 

  12. MSFT is really hitting all its targets but nothing is cheap nowadays! But what a job Nadella is doing. These guys were basically done and now a $1T company. 

    I just can't motivate myself to buy at these multiples.

  13. Looks like everybody is off today!

  14. And down we go…

  15. Multiples/StJ – Yes, very hard to find good deals and that certainly indicates a toppy market to me.

    MSFT would be $2Tn by now if not for the lost Ballmer years.  

  16. Phil, re my post day before…momentary bout of dyslexia, I suppose…ticker should have been KNTNF – K92 mining.  Added some more at $1.63.  Took profits on all positions this am at $1.80.  A pullback to $1.50 here would be another good entry, imho. 

  17. Long-Term Portfolio Review (LTP) – Part II:  

    • F – Back over our target (and we were aggressive with the put sale!). Also paying a 6% dividend while we wait. 
    • FCX –  These guys are all over the place so good for a new trade if you like the excitement.  Since we're up 50% on the 50 short 2021 $17 calls at 0.75 ($3,500), we may as well buy them back and wait and see if there's a bounce.  If there is, we'll sell them for $1.50 again and, if there's not, we'll sell the $15s for $1+ (now $1.15) and we'll still have a $25,000 spread we paid about net $0 for.

    • GILD – At our target already.  Would be prudent to sell more calls but let's see earnings (30th).
    • GIS – Executing better than KHC, right on track.
    • GNC – Coming back a little but a long way to go.

    • GOLD – This is why we diversify.  Finally taking off and we are so aggressively long!  Let's buy back the short puts at 0.66 ($1,310) and sell half (40) of the 2020 $10 calls for $7.30 ($29,200) and buy 40 of the 2021 $15 ($4)/20 ($2) bull call spreads at $2 ($8,000) and put a stop on 20 more 2020 $10s at $6.50 ($13,000) to lock in those gains while leaving plenty of more upside room.

    • GPRO – Dove lower again and July short calls go worthless and we're even on the $3 calls – so all good with us.  We'll wait for a move back up to sell more calls.
    • GS – Well over our target already.
    • HBI – We rolled our short puts to 2x and now they are up 50% so let's buy back half (25) $2.10 ($5,250) to lock in those gains and we can roll our 25 long 2021 $17 calls at $2.20 ($5,500) to the $13 calls at $4.50 ($11,250).  Earnings are on the 29th.

    • IBM – Nice surge recently puts us above our aggressive put sale.  
    • IMAX – Good for a new trade – we're aggressive into 7/30 earnings (nice day today).  
    • IP – Boy are we diversified!  On track.
    • KHC – Earnings will be first week of Aug but not set yet.  Tempting to spend $2.80 to roll down $5 but we'll be happy enough if they just hold $30 at earnings for now…

    • LB – Warming up a little.
    • LMT – Pretty new and on track.  We sold 2 Sept $360s so we don't really want them to do too much better for now.  This is only a $100Bn company but sale of F35s (finally) is a big turn for them and, down the road, Fusion can make them a $1Tn company.  

    • M – Who says there are no bargains?  This is a hell of a lot cheaper than where we came in, that's for sure!   The roll is too expensive so we'll just have to wait and see (earnings mid-Aug).  
    • MJ – Well off its highs but still fine for us.
    • MO – PM just had fantastic earnings and MO reports 7/30 but on track for us already.
    • MT – Let's buy back the short 2021 $30 calls at 0.40 ($800) and wait for a move up to sell more.

    • MU – We got very aggressive on these and it paid off and MU is still cheap but let's cash in our 40 2021 $35 calls at $15.70 ($62,800) and buy 40 of the 2021 $45 ($10.20)/$60 ($5) bull call spreads for $5.20 ($20,800) and sell 15 of the Sept $45 calls for $3.70 ($5,550).  So we're taking net $47,550 off the table but we still have a $60,000 spread at $60 or, if not, a path to sell $20,000 worth of short calls down the road.  

    • NLY – Coming back a bit.
    • NYCB – Also off the lows thanks to the Fed. 
    • PLAY – They got killed on the last earnings report and we'll have to wait until Sept for the next one.  

    • RH – At our target already.
    • SKX – Just had nice earnings, up 12.5% today.  Miles over our target now.  

    • SPWR – On track.
    • STMP – On track.
    • STT – Getting back on track.  

    • T – On track.
    • TGT – Over our targets.
    • THC – In a down cycle, great for a new trade. 

    • UCTT – Over on the spread but we sold super-aggressive puts so we're waiting for that outcome. 
    • WBA – Another bargain stock I love.  
    • WHR – Well above our target now.  We may have to roll the short Sept calls but no hurry.
    • WPM – My precious!  Miles over our  target.

  18. KNTNF/Idi – They just gave GOLD $12.5M to get out of a revenue sharing contract so I guess they are confident but it's not a company I follow at all and the financial information is not that easy to get so that's a pass for me.  As a rule of thumb – if most of the "News" about a company is in the form of press releases – I stay away.

  19. Phil – the GOLD adjustments – the suggested spread:

    Let's buy back the short puts at 0.66 ($1,310) and sell half (40) of the 2020 $10 calls for $7.30 ($29,200) and buy 40 of the 2021 $15 ($4)/20 ($2) bull call spreads at $2 ($8,000) and put a stop on 20 more 2020 $10s at $6.50 ($13,000) 

     closes out the 20 short 2021 15 calls – I don't think that's what you meant to do?

  20. GOLD/LTP, Winston – My bad, I was thinking the 20 short $15 calls were 2020, not 2021.  So let's see:

    • I do want to close 40/80 of our 2020 $10 calls at $7.30.
    • I do want to put a stop on 20 of the remaining 2020 $10 calls at $6.50, which would leave us with 20 longs.  
    • I do want to add 40 of the 2021 $15/20 bull call spreads at $2 – that will leave us with 20 of the 2021 $15 calls (long) and 40 of the short 2021 $20 calls.

    So the question is what about 20 short 2021 $15 calls we currently have?  Effectively, we'd have 20 2020 $10/2021 $20 bull call spreads (assuming the other 20 stop out) and 20 2021 $15/20 bull call spreads – that's fine but a messy way to get there

  21. Yikes – all red except the Dow – not the way to finish the week and 3,000 is GONE at the moment.  We need a Fed speaker to say how much lower they'd like to see rates or at least someone to say something nice about China… ANYTHING!

  22. Dollar spikey uppy is to blame:

    Look what they done to my boy!

    Related image


    Fed officials are signaling a 25 basis point rate cut at the July meeting, according to WSJ .

  24. And so it begins:  

    Image result for everything is proceeding as I have foreseen animated gif

    A cash crunch at one of China’s best known conglomerates is getting worse as the company said it will not be able to pay its upcoming dollar notes.

    China Minsheng Investment Group Corp.’s offshore unit said in a filing that it won’t be able to repay the principal, as well as the interest on the 3.8% $500 million bond due August, after considering its liquidity and performance. On Thursday, the property-to-financial conglomerate announced it only managed to repay part of the principal on a 6.5% 1.46 billion yuan note.

     The development underscores the liquidity crisis that has been pressuring the Shanghai-based company that aspired to become China’s answer to JPMorgan Chase & Co. It will be the first time that the firm’s dollar bond creditors will miss out on repayment. Defaults have been on the riseamong Chinese firms, with the tally continuing its ascent in tandem with the slowing economy.

    Good article on Dollar Store predatory tactics.  

  25. Imagine you finally get your chance to plead your case to the great American President and then realize how useless he is:


  26. ICYMI: Trump’s corrupt and conflicted Environmental Protection Agency won’t ban a chemical known to cause neurological and developmental damage to children, made by Dow Chemical, a company that gave $1M to Trump Inauguration. This is outrageous.

    If you are reading this, congratulations! You are one of My 39 followers!

    New York Fed Says Williams Wasn’t Sending Specific Policy Signal in Speech via

    I’ll elaborate more on why ‘moderation” in the Democratic Party is such nonsense. The central political fact of our time is that over the last 30 years, the top 1% have gotten $21 trillion richer, while the bottom 50% have gotten $900 billion poorer.

    We do NEED people like AOC in Government – find more!


  27. AOC / Phil – But she is a communist! 

  28. Central Banks See Here a Cut, There a Cut, Everywhere a Cut, Cut


    Hey, , show me on the chart where Seattle-area's minimum wage food service jobs touched you.

    "Owning slaves doesn’t make you racist”: New Hampshire Republican offers bizarre defense of Trump

    Horn told HuffPost, “Human beings have been owning other human beings since the dawn of time. It’s never been about race.”


    The New Hampshire Republican also told HuffPost that he wasn’t condoning slavery, which he said is “not OK,” but stressed that he believed 19th Century slaveowners in the U.S. were motivated by economics rather than racism.

    “Unless you’re going to try to tell me those plantation owners were so in the dark ages that they delighted in being also sexist and ageist — practicing age discrimination and sex discrimination when they bought slaves — I don’t see how you can say they’re being racist because they bought black slaves,” Horn told HuffPost.

    Similarly, Horn told the Union Leader, “The U.S. had abolitionists since the start, people who felt slavery wasn’t moral. But they weren’t enslaving black people because they were black. They were bringing in these folks because they were available.”

    OK, he might slightly have a point there from an economic perspective but the LAW said you could only own black people, not white people – that is the very definition of racism.  The Constitution said black people were counted as 3/5 of a person – that's racist too! 

    Much has been said of the impropriety of representing men who have no will of their own…. They are men, though degraded to the condition of slavery. They are persons known to the municipal laws of the states which they inhabit, as well as to the laws of nature. But representation and taxation go together…. Would it be just to impose a singular burden, without conferring some adequate advantage?

    And they made a musical about him….

    Too true!  

    This seems to be an unfortunate format some news outlets have come to rely upon:

    -Outrageous Headline

    -Introduction with extreme outlier examples

    -Subsequent Admission that nearly all of the data supports a normal distribution, and not the headline or outliers

    Record Outflows From Equity Mutual Funds via

    Let’s dig a bit deeper: The top decile of America holds almost about 70% of the national wealth — 31% is held by the top 1%, while the rest of the top 10% holds about 39%.

    And the bottom half’s share? About 1.3%.

    Although the wealthy own most of the assets, the less well-off hold a disproportionate share of the liabilities.  The top 10% have a relatively modest amount of debt ($633 billion for the top 1%, and the rest of the top 10% has $2.8 trillion). Meanwhile, the bottom 50% has $5.6 trillion in liabilities; the group between the top decile and the bottom half has more than $6 trillion in liabilities. In other words, the bottom 90% has total liabilities of almost $12 trillion.

    The conclusion here is that the wealthy own most of the assets, while the less wealthy are stuck with most of the liabilities. Construct the cleverest campaign slogan out of this and you just might become the Democratic nominee for president.

    AOC/StJ – It's almost funny how she drives right-wingers into a frenzy.  Thank goodness she's actually very restrained given the size of her soap box.  

  29. EPA / Phil – If you gave Trump $1M, you now have free hands to do whatever you want.

    The Environmental Protection Agency is preparing to weaken rules that for the past quarter-century have given communities a voice in deciding how much pollution may legally be released by nearby power plants and factories. The changes would eliminate the ability of individuals or community advocates to appeal against E.P.A.-issued pollution permits before a panel of agency judges.

    Like Trump voters don't live in possibly affected areas! It's just so insane right now.

  30. Trump will throw anyone under the bus to save himself:

    Trump blames his supporters for echoing his racist words

    Yikes, we're finishing under 2,985 and now the Dow is red too.  

    Next week is going to be interesting and then it's Fed time!

    Have a great weekend, 

    - Phil

  31. put those 3000 hats away

  32. 2,980!   No stick today.

    Good article about Nobu.

  33. Although I heard the China talks are going well…

  34.  Was just reading (re-reading) the first chapter of Sanberg’s Lincoln, about the start of the civil war.  Tensions very similar to what we face today:

  35. GOLD & WPM / Phil – Huge moves in both.  With your GOLD adjustments, you're essentially rolling from your 2020 positions and establishing a 2021 position for a continued move higher.  With WPM, you're already >90% of goal, so I'm curious why the hesitation to setting up a new BCS for a continued move higher?  Just trying to learn.  Is WPM more rapidly approaching a fair value?

    My WPM position is similar to yours but it's 2020 rather than 2021, and also >90% goal.  So to take advantage of a continued move higher, I was considering rolling my position to something like a 2021 22.5/30 BCS.  But if you weren't willing to make more in the LTP with a similar roll higher, I'm questioning whether that's a good play for me.


  36. ‘He always doubles down’: Inside the political crisis caused by Trump’s racist tweets

  37. It’s Mueller time! The 5 top 2020 storylines to watch this week

  38. Good morning!

    Not much going on, long pause ahead of the Fed next week.

    WPM/Buckeye – Of the two, I felt GOLD had a big gain to lock in so it was important to take action now more so than who has room to run.  GOLD had 80 longs and just 20 shorts so it was a bit irresponsible to not take some off the table (keeping in mind we doubled down to 80 because we were behind at the time so no sense in getting greedy).  WPM, on the other hand, is a sensible 50/50 bull call spread that's in the money so there's nothing really to adjust other than simply taking on a new position but, with both – either there's a pullback we'll take advantage of down the road or we're done playing them here, not because I don't think they'll go higher, but because they are no longer and obvious bargain so we'll look for the next trade to get gung-ho bullish about.