Bidding for the Stars

A few years ago, I went to a charity fundraiser at San Francisco’s priciest jewelry store, Shreve & Co. The well-heeled masters of the universe bid for dates with the local high society beauties, dripping in diamonds and Channel No. 5. Well fueled with champagne, I jumped into a spirited bidding war over one of the Bay Area’s premier hotties, whom shall remain nameless. Suffice to say, she has a sports stadium named after her.

The bids soared to $12,000, $13,000, $14,000. After all, it was for a good cause, Pari Livermore’s California State Parks Foundation. But when it hit $12,400, I suddenly developed lockjaw. Later, the sheepish winner with a severe case of buyer’s remorse came to me and offered his date back to me for $14,000.  I said “no thanks.” $13,000, $12,000, $11,000? I passed.

The current altitude of the stock market reminds me of that evening. If you rode gold (GLD) from $800 to $1,920, oil, from $35 to $149, and the (DIG) from $20 to $60, why sweat trying to eke out a few more basis points, especially when the risk/reward ratio sucks so badly, as it does now?

I realize that many of you are not hedge fund managers, and that running a prop desk, mutual fund, 401k, pension fund, or day trading account has its own demands. But let me quote what my favorite Chinese general, Deng Xiaoping, once told me: “There is a time to fish, and a time to hang your nets out to dry.” That’s why my cash position has steadily been rising over the last few weeks.

At least then I’ll have plenty of dry powder for when the window of opportunity reopens for business. So while I’m mending my nets, I’ll be building new lists of trades for you to strap on when the sun, moon, and stars align once again.

As for that date? She eventually married one of California premier technology titans, an established billionaire in his own right, and now has two cute kids. It’s all part of life’s rich mosaic. And sorry, I’m not saying who because gentlemen don’t talk.

DIA 4-15-13

SPY 4-15-13

IWM 4-12-13

QQQ 4-11-12

Shreve & Co.