Bidding for the Stars

A few years ago, I went to a charity fund raiser at San Francisco’s priciest jewelry store, Shreve & Co., where the well-heeled men 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 for one of the Bay Area’s premier hotties, who shall remain nameless. She’s happily married to a tech titan now, and gentlemen don’t tell. Suffice it to say, she has a sports stadium named after her.

The bids soared to $10,000, $11,000, $12,000. After all, it was for a good cause. 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 $12,000.  I said “no thanks.” $11,000, $10,000, $9,000?  I passed.

The current altitude of the stock market reminds me of that evening. If you rode gold (GLD) from $800 to $1,900, oil, from $35 to $110, and Apple (AAPL) from $200 to $610, 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 have a feeling that those who loaded up on stocks in March may develop the same sort of buyer’s remorse that I witnessed at Shreve’s.

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.”

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.

 

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