Featured Trade: (TRADE ALERT SERVICE POSTS NEW ALL TIME HIGH), (SPY), (IWM), (FCX), (AIG), (FXY), (YCS), (DON?T GET CAUGHT IN THE NEXT REAL ESTATE BUBBLE), (PHM), (LEN), (KBH) (WHY WATER WILL SOON BECOME MORE VALUABLE THAN OIL), (CGW), (PHO), (FIW), (VE), (TTEK), (PNR), (TESTIMONIAL)
SPDR S&P 500 (SPY) iShares Russell 2000 Index (IWM) Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. (FCX) American International Group, Inc. (AIG) CurrencyShares Japanese Yen Trust (FXY) ProShares UltraShort Yen (YCS) PulteGroup, Inc. (PHM) Lennar Corp. (LEN) KB Home (KBH) Guggenheim S&P Global Water Index (CGW) PowerShares Water Resources (PHO) First Trust ISE Water Idx (FIW) Veolia Environnement S.A. (VE) Tetra Tech Inc. (TTEK) Pentair Ltd. (PNR)
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The Trade Alert Service of the Mad Hedge Fund Trader has posted a 23.76% profit year to date, taking it to another new all time high. The 26-month total return has punched through to an awesome 78.81%, compared to a miserable 14% return for the Dow average during the same period. That raises the average annualized return for the service to 36.4%, elevating it to the pinnacle of hedge fund ranks.
My bet that the stock markets would move sideways to up small has paid off big time, as I continued to run sizeable long positions in the S&P 500 and the Russell 2000 (IWM). My substantial short volatility positions are contributing to profits daily. I booked nice profits from holdings in American International Group (AIG) and copper producer, Freeport McMoRan (FCX). I also prudently doubled up my short positions in the Japanese yen.
Is has truly been a month where everything is working. Even my short positions in deep out of the money calls on the (SPY) are breaking. While the (SPY) has been going up, it has not been appreciating fast enough to hurt the position. All told, the last 18 consecutive recommendations of the Trade Alert Service have been profitable. I have eight trades to go to beat this record.
Global Trading Dispatch, my highly innovative and successful trade-mentoring program, earned a net return for readers of 40.17% in 2011 and 14.87% in 2012. The service includes my Trade Alert Service, daily newsletter, real-time trading portfolio, an enormous trading idea database, and live biweekly strategy webinars. To subscribe, please go to my website at www.madhedgefundtrader.com, find the ?Global Trading Dispatch? box on the right, and click on the lime green ?SUBSCRIBE NOW? button.
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Before you place a down payment on that next home, consider that you are voluntarily becoming dependent on government welfare, reliant on massive subsidies, and may become the next ward of the state.
Don?t kid yourself that the housing market has become anything but another bubble driven by artificially low interest rates and lax lending standards. Without the wholesale privatization of profits and socialization of losses, the current ebullient real estate market would instantly cease to exist. That cruel ending may be a lot closer than you think, as well.
Some 95% of all home mortgages are now bought by the US home mortgage agencies, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. That is up from only 35% in 2006. Never mind that both of these institutions are in conservatorship, which is a polite way of saying they are bankrupt, having burned through all of their capital during the housing bust.
Without this source of government funds, there is absolutely no way banks would be lending anywhere near the amount they are, as the spreads have become too minuscule to make it worthwhile. But by selling loans to the government they can offload their risk and skim off handsome fees along the way.
This is why the balance sheet of the Federal Reserve has grown to a mind boggling $3.8 trillion, on its way to $5 trillion, but we are measuring no real growth in the money supply. The money is simply moving from one government account to another, untouched by human hands.
The current pattern of modest appreciation in the most oversold markets, like Miami, Phoenix, and Las Vegas, will continue, as long as the Fed is giving us money for free and the government is bearing all the credit risk. When that ends, things could turn very ugly, very fast.
Most of my hedge fund friends expect ten-year Treasury yields to be back above 4% in two years. That would take the rates for the conventional 30-year fixed rate home loans from 3.50% to 6%, or more. Double the cost of carry on a house, and you halve the affordability. The effects on the secondary market would be devastating.
While many have nice paper profits on houses they bought over the last two years, that all becomes very academic if you can?t sell. The number of homeowners currently delinquent or in foreclosure would soar from the current 6 million to 16 million. That would be piled on top of the 30 million hapless homeowners, who, despite the bounce, are still underwater on their mortgages.
This is not some wild conspiracy theory that I picked up on the Internet. Since congress is in a cost cutting mood, the chances of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac getting sufficient recapitalization are small. The home mortgage tax deduction is also on the chopping block. At the very least, we can expect it to get pared back to mortgages of $500,000 or less. That would seriously boost the real after tax cost of homeownership, especially on the high priced left and right coasts.
Of course, the good times will continue as long as the Fed is spiking the punchbowl. Buyers are strongly motivated by existing home prices that are half of the new cost of construction, as well as a fraction of 2006 peak prices. As my friends say in New Orleans, where great deals are still to be had, ?Laissez les bons temps rouler? (let the good times roll).
Current guidance says they will maintain ultra low interest rates until the unemployment rate falls below 6.5%, down from the present 7.8%, which we could see in two years. Those driven more by demographic data, like me, don?t see such a turnaround for five more years.
I am not seeing another crash here. A more likely scenario is that we continue to bounce along a bottom for several more years. Tell me how bullish prospective homebuyers will be after we see a 2,000-point plunge in the Dow, which could come as early as this summer.
What this does illustrate is how grotesquely expensive the homebuilding stocks have become, like Lennar (LEN), Pulte Home (PHM), and KB Homes (KB). These stocks are up as much as 700% in 18 months. This entire piece is in response to a question I got yesterday, Should I be buying the homebuilders here. My answer is a full throated ?NO!?
The only bull market you can really count on is the one for rents, which will accelerate, once the long term decline in homeownership resumes.
https://www.madhedgefundtrader.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/House-in-Bubble-e1537894130784.jpg235400Mad Hedge Fund Traderhttps://www.madhedgefundtrader.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/cropped-mad-hedge-logo-transparent-192x192_f9578834168ba24df3eb53916a12c882.pngMad Hedge Fund Trader2013-02-12 09:36:552018-09-25 16:49:15Don't Get Caught in the Next Real Estate Bubble
If you think that the upcoming energy shortage is going to be bad, it will pale in comparison to the next water crisis. So investment in fresh water infrastructure is going to be a great recurring long-term investment theme. One theory about the endless wars in the Middle East since 1918 is that they have really been over water rights.
Although Earth is often referred to as the water planet, only 2.5% is fresh, and three quarters of that is locked up in ice at the North and South poles. In places like China, with a quarter of the world's population, up to 90% of the fresh water is already polluted, some irretrievably so. Some 18% of the world population lacks access to potable water, and demand is expected to rise by 40% in the next 20 years.
Aquifers in the US, which took nature millennia to create, are approaching exhaustion. While membrane osmosis technologies exist to convert sea water into fresh, they use ten times more energy than current treatment processes, a real problem if you don't have any, and will easily double the end cost of water to consumers. While it may take 16 pounds of grain to produce a pound of beef, it takes a staggering 2,416 gallons of water to do the same. Beef exports are really a way of shipping water abroad in concentrated form.
The UN says that $11 billion a year is needed for water infrastructure investment and $15 billion of the 2008 US stimulus package was similarly spent. It says a lot that when I went to the University of California at Berkeley School of Engineering to research this piece, most of the experts in the field had already been retained by major hedge funds!
At the top of the shopping list to participate here should be the Claymore S&P Global Water Index ETF (CGW), which has appreciated by 14% since the October low. You can also visit the PowerShares Water Resource Portfolio (PHO), the First Trust ISE Water Index Fund (FIW), or the individual stocks Veolia Environment (VE), Tetra-Tech (TTEK), and Pentair (PNR). Who has the world's greatest per capita water resources? Siberia, which could become a major exporter of H2O to China in the decades to come.
https://www.madhedgefundtrader.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/Water-Fall.jpg249365Mad Hedge Fund Traderhttps://www.madhedgefundtrader.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/cropped-mad-hedge-logo-transparent-192x192_f9578834168ba24df3eb53916a12c882.pngMad Hedge Fund Trader2013-02-12 09:33:352013-02-12 09:33:35Why Water Will Soon Become More Valuable Than Oil
Featured Trade: (IS IT TIME TO BUY TECHNOLOGY STOCKS), (AAPL), (MSFT), (GOOG), (QQQ), (BAC), (JPM), (XOM), (CAT), (PG), (NFLX), (AN AFTERNOON WITH CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR JERRY BROWN) Apple Inc. (AAPL) Microsoft Corporation (MSFT) Google Inc. (GOOG) PowerShares QQQ (QQQ) Bank of America Corporation (BAC) JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) Exxon Mobil Corporation (XOM) Caterpillar Inc. (CAT) Procter & Gamble Co. (PG) Netflix, Inc. (NFLX)
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Call it the shot heard round the world. David Einhorn?s lawsuit against tech goliath Apple (AAPL) has focused a giant spotlight on what has been one of the worst performing stock market sectors of 2013-- large old technology stocks. Could this be the set up for the biggest sector rotation of the year?
Most of the price action in this year can be divided into kinds: big cap banks and industrials, and what I call garbage. So the shares of Bank of America (BAC), JP Morgan (JPM), Caterpillar (CAT), Procter & Gamble (PG), and Exxon (XOM) have been going through the roof. Garbage stocks, best represented by Netflix (NFLX) have done even better, largely driven by the desperate short covering of big hedge funds.
The Einhorn suit resonated with many of the long suffering owners of Apple, which has seen the value of their holdings plunge 38% since the September $706 peak. His basic message is that the company?s many past near death experiences have fostered a depression mentality where there is no such thing as too much cash.
As a result, $130 billion sits in T bills and money market funds earning nothing, the largest such accumulation in history. Just this hoard, alone, would rank as America?s 19th largest company by market capitalization.
Such conservatism in management is laudable. But Einhorn argues that it has been taken to such extremes at Apple that it has crossed the boundary into mismanagement and malfeasance. The activist shareholder wants the company to return money to shareholders in the form of high dividends and stock buybacks. Such action could trigger a rapid doubling in the value of the stock.
The litigation was enough to ignite a 10% in Apple stock last week. I think David is interested in far more than just this. Is this the final bottom for the beleaguered company? Is it time to buy? The NASDAQ Index certainly things so. Check out the chart below and you?ll see that the action in Apple enabled it to bust out of its recent torpor to the upside.
The really interesting possibility is that the rebirth of Apple could have major implications for the market as a whole. Survey the landscape these days, and you find shares that are either extremely overbought, or extremely oversold. If money shifts from the leaders to the laggards, it could give the indexes enough juice to take another, and possibly final leg upward.
I just thought you?d like to know.
Apple: More Than Just a Bounce?
https://www.madhedgefundtrader.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/Apple.jpg291267Mad Hedge Fund Traderhttps://www.madhedgefundtrader.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/cropped-mad-hedge-logo-transparent-192x192_f9578834168ba24df3eb53916a12c882.pngMad Hedge Fund Trader2013-02-11 09:28:182013-02-11 09:28:18Is It Time to Buy Technology Stocks?
On my last trip to my lakefront estate at Lake Tahoe, I stopped off at the state capital, Sacramento, to look in on my old friend, Governor Jerry Brown. It is crucial that readers across the country, and indeed, around the world, know what Jerry is thinking. California has always been a ?pathfinder? state, and what starts here is often adopted across the country. This little chat could be a hint of what?s headed your way.
As I bounded up the steps of the marble capitol building, the first thing I noticed was the absence of the previous governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger?s, smoking tent. The governator had it erected on the lawn so he could enjoy long puffs on his stogies and not be in violation of the state ban on indoor smoking. This was in the state that invented the anti-smoking movement.
I have trod a very long path with Jerry Brown. His dad, then Governor Pat Brown, ordered teargas dropped on me from a helicopter while I was at a Berkeley anti-war march nearly half a century ago. He was Secretary of State while I attended the University of California, often going head to head against then governor Ronald Reagan.
I was in Asia during his first two terms as governor from 1975-83, when his girlfriend, Linda Ronstadt, called him the ?moonbeam governor?, a nickname he has yet to live down. Warning: don?t call him that to his face.
I ran into him at the Democratic convention in New York in 1980 when he mounted his second run for the presidency. After he retired and was considered a political has-been, I bumped into Jerry once again when he studied Zen Buddhism in Japan.
In 1999, he was elected mayor of Oakland, a mostly black Bay Area slum near bankruptcy, which many considered ungovernable. He did a spectacular job, fighting corruption, rebuilding the school system, and sparking an economic renaissance. It was like he had nothing left to lose.
To the amazement of many, Jerry ran and won a third term as governor in 2011, taking over the wreckage left by the disastrous reign of Arnold Schwarzenegger. He has been raising eyebrows nationally ever since.
He immediately launched a crash campaign to raise taxes and cut spending. His Proposition 30 succeeded at the polls, raising sales taxes for everyone and boosting income taxes on those earning more than $500,000. The Golden State now has the highest combined federal and state taxes in the country, at 51.5%. The proceeds of the tax hike are solely dedicated to increasing $6 billion in spending on education.
State leaders learned a long time ago that people will pay a premium to live here. They pay double for housing, so why not double taxes? The sunshine has value. As I explain to guests at my strategy luncheons, high earners don?t mind paying an extra dollar in tax when it means they can make and extra $10, or $100, in profits. That has been the case with a technology industry here that has been booming almost non-stop since WWII.
Brown originally studied at a seminary school to become a catholic priest. To this day, he frequently quotes from the Bible, and he gave my Latin a real workout. Citing Luke, Chapter 12, verse 48 with regards to the sharing of the tax burden, ?to those who are given much, much is required.? The seven-year sunset provision for the new income tax also comes from the ?seven years of plenty?, found in the Old Testament.
He argues that this is only fair, since the top 1% of state earners have seen their income increase by 165% since 1980, while the bottom 80% have seen an 8% drop. The top 1% took 10% of state incomes in the seventies. Now it is 22%.
To say Jerry is iconoclastic is a disservice to the word. He is a combative 75 year old who says what he thinks at the drop of a hat, no matter whom it offends, be they friend or foe. He is a mix that is all too rare in this country, a flaming liberal on social issues, while an ironclad conservative on fiscal matters.
He is a staunch advocate for the environment. He appointed the first gay judge in the US. He is about to deliver the toughest anti-gun legislation in the country. He has been a lifelong cheerleader for the alternative energy industry.
Brown has also completed the most ambitious cuts in social spending in the state?s history, including grants for the disabled, child welfare, and Medical. Some 40,000 non-violent inmates were released from prisons into probation to save money. The University of California saw its budget cut by a massive 25%. State employment was chopped by 50,000, and some 50 redundant state boards were eliminated.
Jerry told me that the state?s problems were caused by two bubbles; the Internet one in 2000, and the indiscriminate mortgage lending that followed. That created a budget deficit that ballooned to $27 billion by the time he returned to office, which cut the California?s credit rating to the lowest of the 50 states. In a short 18 months, Brown balanced the budget, and state debt is now rapidly seeing upgrades, reducing borrowing costs.
The governor says that the spending cuts have been very tough to swallow. Even the carpet in his office is falling apart, and he confesses to eating day old tuna sandwiches. On the tax front, he says that ?when you have more in the cookie jar, you have more cookies to give.?
Jerry says his goals as governor were threefold. He eliminated false accounting gimmicks, which shuffled the state?s financial problems under the carpet, where they festered. He only implemented new taxes if people voted for them. And he returned decision making to cities and counties on schools, because the entities closest to problems have best ability to solve them, a policy he calls ?realignment?. Decentralization and devolution of power to local authorities isn?t something you hear about from liberals very often.
He points out that the big growth in state spending didn?t arise from some idealistic social agenda. Three strikes law mandating extremely long sentences caused an explosive growth of the prison system, which expanded from 3% to 11.5% of the state budget since the seventies. ?An aging population is also prompting a substantial increase in medical spending. These two items alone account for the entire increase in state spending for the past 40 years on a GDP adjusted basis.
I asked Jerry what he thought about the efforts by other tax-free states, particularly Texas, to lure business away. He erupted into a tirade. He argued passionately there was absolutely no evidence that people moved to avoid taxes, which amount to only a few thousand dollars a year for millionaires.
The economy here is booming. The best and the brightest minds in the world are pouring into the most creative and innovative place on the planet. There have been 300,000 private sector jobs created during his current tenure. Exports are up 17%. The state draws 50% of global venture capital investment, and files for four times more patents than runner up New York. The one-ton truck now driving around Mars was built in Pasadena.
My obvious last question had to be ?what?s next? for the energetic governor. Might his tax raising, spending cutting habits have a national audience? ?Do I have more offices in mind? I?m not telling,? he answered, with a twinkle in his eye. That is a lot to say for someone who has already held every high office in his home state.
I got a call from my car telling me it was time to get moving if we were going to make it over Donner Pass before it iced up. I said, ?see you next time? to Jerry. There always seems to be a next time with Jerry.
?What a Long, Strange Trip It?s Been.?
https://www.madhedgefundtrader.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/Jerry-Brown-2.jpg274569Mad Hedge Fund Traderhttps://www.madhedgefundtrader.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/cropped-mad-hedge-logo-transparent-192x192_f9578834168ba24df3eb53916a12c882.pngMad Hedge Fund Trader2013-02-11 09:23:422013-02-11 09:23:42An Afternoon With California Governor Jerry Brown
The universal question in the market today was ?Why is it down? when all the news was good? The weekly jobless claims dropped 5,000 to 366,000, near a five-year low, confirming that the jobs recovery is still on track. Activist shareholder, David Einkorn?s, lawsuit against Apple (AAPL) to unfreeze its cash mountain should have boosted the market?s major buzz kill.
Sure, ECB president said that European growth would continue to slow. No news there, and certainly not enough to prompt a triple digit decline in the Dow.
The harsh truth is that after the near parabolic move we have seen since the beginning of the year, you don?t need a news event to trigger a market sell off. The mere altitude of the (SPX) at 1,515 should, alone, be enough to do it, a mere 3.8% off the all time high.
The fact is that almost every manager has seen the best start to his track record in decades. Prudence requires that one book some profit, deleverage, reduce risk, and take some money off the table at these euphoric highs.
That especially applies to myself. If I make any more than the 22% I have clocked so far in 2013, nobody will believe it anyway. So why risk everything I?ve made just to make another 20%. Who wants to start over again if the wheels suddenly fall off the market?
That is what prompted my flurry of Trade Alerts at the Thursday morning opening, which saw me bail on my most aggressive positions in the (SPY) and the (IWM), taking profits on my nearest money strikes. I did maintain the bulk of my portfolio, which is still in much farther out-of-the-money strikes, and in short positions in the Japanese yen. I also added to my short positions, buying out-of-the-money bear put spreads on the (SPY), betting that even if we continue up, it won?t be in the ballistic, devil may care fashion that we saw in January.
There are, in fact, real reasons out there for the market to fall. You need look no further than the calendar, which I eloquently outlined the dangers of, in my piece ?February is the Cruelest Month? (click here).
On March 1, the sequestration cuts hit. The 2% increase in payroll taxes has yet to be reflected in slower consumer spending. Federal income taxes have already gone up on those earning over $450,000 a year. This is important, as the top 20% of income earnings account for 40% of consumer spending, and consumer spending delivers 70% of all consumption.
Although it has been postponed by three months, we have a debt ceiling crisis looming that will have to result in spending cuts across the board. My favorite stealth drag on the economy, the paring back of major tax deductions, will be the next big issue to be fought over publicly (the oil depletion allowance versus alternative energy tax credits, and so on, and so on).
All of this adds up to a 1.5% reduction in US GDP growth this year. When you are starting with a feeble, tepid, and flaccid 2% rate, that does not leave much for us to live on. This is how disappointments turn into recession. IT is no empty threat, as many US corporations are seeing earnings slow, and could well disappoint with the next quarter?s results.
This is why I predicted an ?M? shaped year in my ?2013 Annual Asset Class Review? which I am still standing by (click here). We are already well into the heady run up to construct the left leg of the ?M?. Next comes the heart rending ?V? in the middle. Some analysts are amazed that we have gone this far in front of such daunting challenges and haven?t already collapsed. I think that is going to be April or May business, given the humongous cash flows we have witnessed.
This Bull May Not Have Long to Live
https://www.madhedgefundtrader.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/Bull.jpg293419Mad Hedge Fund Traderhttps://www.madhedgefundtrader.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/cropped-mad-hedge-logo-transparent-192x192_f9578834168ba24df3eb53916a12c882.pngMad Hedge Fund Trader2013-02-08 09:45:152013-02-08 09:45:15How This Bull Market Will Die
There have been complaints about the quality of government data as long as there have been stock markets. The US is not much better than emerging markets, like China, where numbers are subject to huge, after the fact revisions. A broker friend of mine emailed the conversation below, which has been circulating around the street. Enjoy. Costello: I want to talk about the unemployment rate in America. Abbott: Good subject. Terrible times. It's 7.8%. Costello: That many people are out of work? Abbott: No, that's 14.7%. Costello: You just said 7.8%. Abbott: 7.8% unemployed. Costello: Right 7.8% out of work. Abbott: No, that's 14.7%. Costello: OK, so it's 14.7% unemployed. Abbott: No, that's 7.8%. Costello:?Wait a minute. Is it 7.8% or 14.7%? Abbott: 7.8% are unemployed. 14.7% are out of work. Costello: If you are out of work, you are unemployed. Abbott: No, Congress said you can't count the "out of work" as the unemployed.?You have to look for work to be unemployed. Costello:?But they are out of work!!! Abbott: No, you miss his point. Costello: What point? Abbott: Someone who doesn't look for work can't be counted with those who look for work. It wouldn't be fair. Costello: To whom? Abbott: The unemployed. Costello: But?all?of them are out of work. Abbott: No, the unemployed are actively looking for work. Those who are out of work gave up looking and if you give up, you are no longer in the ranks of the unemployed. Costello: So if you're off the unemployment roles, that would count as less unemployment? Abbott: Unemployment would go down. Absolutely! Costello: The unemployment just goes down because you don't look for work? Abbott: Absolutely it goes down. That's how they get it to 7.8%. Otherwise it would be 14.7%. Our government doesn't want you to read about 14.7% unemployment. Costello: That would be tough on those running for reelection. Abbott: Absolutely. Costello: Wait, I got a question for you. That means there are two ways to bring down the unemployment number? Abbott: Two ways is correct. Costello: Unemployment can go down if someone gets a job? Abbott: Correct. Costello: And unemployment can also go down if you stop looking for a job? Abbott: Bingo. Costello: So there are two ways to bring unemployment down, and the easier of the two is to have people stop looking for work. Abbott: Now you're thinking like an economist. Costello: I don't even know what the hell I just said! Abbott: Now you're thinking like Congress.
So, Who?s on First?
https://www.madhedgefundtrader.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/Abbott-Costello.jpg233303Mad Hedge Fund Traderhttps://www.madhedgefundtrader.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/cropped-mad-hedge-logo-transparent-192x192_f9578834168ba24df3eb53916a12c882.pngMad Hedge Fund Trader2013-02-08 09:34:072013-02-08 09:34:07The Cruel Truth About Government Statistics