The Elton John Market

I remember 1997 like it was yesterday. Bill Clinton was president, the US government was running a balanced budget, and the Dotcom IPO bubble parties in Silicon Valley were happening almost every day.

The Florida Marlins beat the Cleveland Indians in a seven game World Series, where the last game went to a heart stopping 11 innings. Elton John scored the top hit of the year with “A Candle in the Wind.”

1997 was also the last time that the Dow average closed up for nine consecutive days. Sure, the market only managed to eke out a 5.22 point gain. But hey, up is up.

The market was on its way to losing its winning streak until hedge fund legend, my old buddy David Tepper, spoke to the press. He mentioned that the Dow could end up 20% in 2013. That means we still have another 9.5% to go, potentially taking the Dow as high as 16,000. Warning: David has a long history of being right, with his own long-term average annualized return nearly matching my own at 38%.

One could easily imagine a course of events that gets us there. The Republicans and Democrats kiss and make up and produce a budget acceptable to both sides that cuts our deficit over the long haul. The sequester ends. China stops double dipping. Europe gets its act together, with ECB president, Mario Draghi, finally cutting euro interest rates. Oil prices collapse.

There is another big factor that could keep driving share prices higher. Ben Bernanke could keep the pedal to the metal and maintain the present rate of monetary easing. March is turning into one of the most fascinating months in the history of the bond markets. For the first time ever, The Fed is buying more bonds that the Treasury is issuing, with the excess demand getting soaked up in the marketplace.

Without a doubt, the most underestimated, misunderstood development of the year was when the esteemed Fed chairman told us that they may never sell their $3 billion plus stash of Treasury bond holdings, but hold them until maturity instead.

This is huge. It means that the Armageddon predicted by everyone when the Fed unwound its massive bond position is never going to happen. Instead, we will see a slow grind higher in yields and lower in prices. I have been expecting this all along, warning readers in my own forecasts that we may never get the bond market crash they had been hoping for, and that they should avoid high cost of carry short bond plays, like the (TBT).

As a mathematician, I have to assume that Chaos Theory is going to kick in here pretty soon and force the indexes to revert back to the mean. This is another way of saying the longer the market moves in a single direction, the greater the probability that it will reverse.

Not to do so will really tempt fate. That is why I picked up a modest short position in stocks today, selling some short dated, deep out-of-the-money, calls on the S&P 500 (SPY). I am also deliberately dragging my feet in adding any new longs to the Trade Alert Service model-trading portfolio.

Even if Tepper is right and we blow through the top end of the most wildly bullish forecasts for 2013, we need to have a pullback first. Yes, it has been a long wait. But nothing goes up forever, trees don’t grow to the sky, yada, yada, yada.

When the hiatus begins, there should be room to make some money through the type of short position which I tacked on today. David did not say he expects the market to rise to 16,000 by the end of this quarter, which is already on track to deliver the best stock market performance in history.

If the Dow closes up again for a 10th day in a row, it will be the longest string of wins since 1996. What was the number one hit that year? The “Macarena”? Can you hum a few bars for me?

SPX 3-12-13

SPXa 3-12-13

SPXb 3-12-13

Elton John

Shall We Go For 10?