Posts

October 4, 2019

Global Market Comments
October 4, 2019
Fiat Lux

Featured Trade:

(LAST CHANCE TO BUY THE NEW MAD HEDGE BIOTECH AND HEALTH CARE LETTER AT THE FOUNDERS PRICE)
(SEPTEMBER 18 BIWEEKLY STRATEGY WEBINAR Q&A),
(SPY), (VIX), (USO), (ROKU), (TLT), (BA), (INDU),
 (GM), (FXI), (FB), (SCHW), (IWM), (AMTD)

October 2 Biweekly Strategy Webinar Q&A

Below please find subscribers’ Q&A for the Mad Hedge Fund Trader October 2 Global Strategy Webinar broadcast from Silicon Valley, CA with my guest and co-host Bill Davis of the Mad Day Trader. Keep those questions coming!

Q: Would you do the S&P 500 (SPY) bull call spread if you didn’t have time to enter the short leg yesterday?

A: I would, because once again, once the Volatility Index (VIX) gets over $20, picking these call spreads is like shooting fish in a barrel. I think the long position I put on the (SPY) this morning is so far in the money that you will be sufficiently safe on a 12-day and really a 2-week view. There is just too much cash on the sidelines and interest rates are too low to see a major December 2018 type crash from here.

Q: I could not come out of the United States Oil Fund (USO) short position—should I keep it to expiration?

A: Yes, at this point we’re so close to expiration and so far in the money that you’d need a 30% move in oil to lose money on this. So, run it into expiration and avoid the execution costs.

Q: How do you see TD Ameritrade (AMTD) short term?

A: Well, it was down approximately 25% yesterday, so I would buy some cheap calls and go way out of the money so as not to risk much capital—on the assumption that maybe next week into the China trade talks, we get some kind of rally in the market and see a dramatic rise. 25% does seem extreme for a one-day move just because one broker was cutting his commissions to zero. By the way, I have been predicting that rates would go to zero for something like 30 years; that’s one of the reasons I got out of the business in 1989.

Q: Would you consider buying Roku (ROKU) at the present level?

A: Down 1/3 from the top is very tempting; however, I’m not in a rush to buy anything here that doesn’t have a large hedge on it. What you might consider doing on Roku is something like a $60-$70 or $70-$80 long-dated call spread. That is hedged, and it’s also lower risk. Sure, it won’t make as much money as an outright call option but at least you won’t be catching a falling knife.

Q: Will we see a yearend rally in the stocks?

A: Probably, yes. I think this quarter will clear out all the nervous money for the short term, and once we find a true bottom, we might find a 5-10% rally by yearend—and I’m going to try to be positioned to catch just that.

Q: At which price level do you go 100% long position?

A: If we somehow get to last December lows, that’s where you add the 100% long position. And there is a chance, while unlikely, that we get down to about 22,000 in the Dow Average (INDU), and that’s where you bet the ranch. Coming down from 29,000 to 22,000, you’re essentially discounting an entire recession with that kind of pullback. But we’re going to try to trade this thing shorter term; the market has so far been rewarding us to do so.

Q: The United States Treasury Bond Fund (TLT) looks like it’s about to break out. How do you see buying for the November $145 calls targeting $148?

A: We are actually somewhat in the middle of the range for the (TLT), so it’s a bit late to chase. We did play from the long side from the high $130s and took a quick profit on that, but now is a little bit late to play on the long side. We go for the low-risk, high-return trades, and $145 is a bit of a high-risk trade at this point. I would look to sell the next spike in the (TLT) rather than buy the middle where we are now.

Q: Will Boeing (BA) get recertified this year?

A: Probably, yes—now that we have an actual pilot as the head of the FAA—and that will be a great play. But if the entire economy is falling into a recession, nothing is a good play and you want to go into cash if you can’t do shorts. That would give us a chance to buy Boeing back closer to the $320 level, which was the great entry point in August.

Q: Do you expect General Motors (GM) shares to bounce if they settle with the union on their strike?

A: Maybe for a day or two, but that’s it. The whole car industry is in recession already. The union picked the worst time to strike because GM has a very high 45-day inventory of unsold cars which they would love to get rid of.

Q: What are the chances of a deal with China (FXI)?

A: Zero. How hard do the Chinese really want to work to get Trump reelected? My guess is not at all. We may get the announcement of a fake deal that resumes Chinese agricultural purchases, but no actual substance on intellectual property theft or changing any Chinese laws.

Q: Will they impeach Trump?

A: Impeach yes, convict no; and it’s going to take about 6 months, which will be a cloud hanging over the market. The market’s dropped about 1,000 points since the impeachment inquiry has started.

Q: What about the dollar?

A: I’m staying out of the dollar due to too many conflicting indicators and too much contra-historical action going on. The dollar seems high to me, but I’ve been wrong all year.

Q: E*Trade (ETFC) just announced free stock trading—what are your thoughts?

A: All online brokers now pretty much have to announce free trading in order to stay in business, otherwise you end up with the dumbest customers. It’s bad for the industry, but it’s good for you. The fact that all of these companies are moving to zero shows how meaningless your commissions became to them because so much more money was being made on selling your order flow to high frequency traders or selling your data to people like Facebook (FB).

Q: What’s your take on the Canadian dollar (FXC)?

A: It will go nowhere to weak, as long as the US is on a very slow interest rate-cutting program. The second Canada starts raising rates or we start cutting more aggressively is when you want to buy the Loonie.

Q: Fast fashion retailer Forever 21 went bankrupt—is it too late to short the mall stocks?

A: No but be very disciplined; only short the rallies. Last week would have been a good chance to get shorts off in malls and retailers. You really need to sell into rallies because the further these things go down, the more volatility increases as the prices go low. Obviously, a $1 move on a $30 stock is only 3% but a $1 move on a $10 stock is 10%. If you’re the wrong way on that, it can cost you a lot of money, even though the thing’s going to zero.

Q: Comments on defense stocks such as Raytheon (RTN)?

A: This is a highly political sector. If Trump gets reelected, expect an expansion of defense spending and overseas sales to Saudi Arabia, which would be good for defense. If he doesn’t get reelected, that would be bad for defense because it would get cut, and sales to places like Saudi Arabia would get cut off. I stay out of them myself because it’s essentially a political play and we’re very late in the cycle.

Q: Mark Zuckerberg says presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren’s proposal is an existential threat. Do you agree with him and her policies? Will they crash the economy?

A: They would be bad for the economy; however, I think it’s highly unlikely Warren gets elected. The country’s looking for a moderate president, not a radical one, and she does not fit that description. If you did break up the Tech companies, they’d be worth more individually than they are in these great monolithic companies.

Q: Does the Russell 2000 (IWM) call spread look in danger to you?

A: It’s a higher risk trade, however we are hedged with that short S&P 500, so we can hang onto the long (IWM) position hedging it with your short S&P 500 (SPY) trade reducing your risk.

Q: What do you have to say about shrinking buybacks?

A: It’s another recession indicator, for one thing. Corporate buybacks have been driving the stock market for the last 2 years at around a trillion dollars a year. They have suddenly started to decline. Why is that happening? Because companies think they can buy their stocks back at lower levels. If companies don’t want to buy their stocks, you shouldn’t either.

Q: When is the time for Long Term Equity Anticipation Securities (LEAPS)?

A: We are not in LEAPS territory yet. Those are long term, more than one-year option plays. You really want to get those at the once-a-year horrendous selloffs like the ones in December and February. We’re not at that point yet, but when we get there, we’ll start pumping out trade alerts for LEAPS for tech stocks like crazy. Start doing your research and picking your names, start playing around with strikes, and then one day, the prices will be so out of whack it will be the perfect opportunity to go in and buy your LEAPS.

Q: Was it a Black Monday for brokerages when Charles Schwab (SCHW) cut their commission to zero?

A: Yes, but it’s been one of the most predicted Black Mondays in history.

Q: Will the Fed save the market?

A: I would think they have no ability to save the market because they really can’t cut interest rates any more than they already have. There really are no companies that need to borrow money right now, and any that does you don’t want to touch with a ten-foot pole. The economy is not starved for cash right now—we have a cash glut all over the world—therefore, lowering interest rates will have zero impact on the economy, but it does eliminate the most important tool in dealing with future recessions. You go into a recession with interest rates at zero, then you’re really looking at a great depression because there’s no way to get out of it. It’s the situation Europe and Japan have been in for years.

Good Luck and Good Trading
John Thomas
CEO $ Publisher
The Diary of a Mad Hedge Fund Trader

 

 

 

 

 

August 23, 2019

Global Market Comments
August 23, 2019
Fiat Lux

Featured Trade:

(AUGUST 21 BIWEEKLY STRATEGY WEBINAR Q&A),
(FXB), (NVDA), (MU), (LRCX), (AMD),
 (WFC), (JPM), (BIDU), (GE), (TLT), (BA)

August 21 Biweekly Strategy Webinar Q&A

Below please find subscribers’ Q&A for the Mad Hedge Fund Trader August 21 Global Strategy Webinar broadcast with my guest and co-host Bill Davis of the Mad Day Trader. Keep those questions coming!

Q: Hey Bill, how often have you heard the word “recession” in the last 24 hours?

A: Seems like every time I turn around. But then we’re also getting a pop in the market; we thought it bottomed a few days ago. The question was: how far were we going to get to bounce? This is going to be very telling as to what happens on this next rally.

Q: Can interest rates go lower?

A: Yes, they can go a lot lower. The general consensus in the US is that we bottom them out somewhere between zero and 1.0%. We’re already way below that in Europe, so we will see lower here in the US. It’s all happening because QE (quantitative easing) is ramping up on a global basis. Europe is about to announce a major QE program in the beginning of September, and the US ended their quantitative tightening way back in March. So, the global flooding of money from central banks, now at $17 trillion, is about to increase even more. That’s what’s causing these huge dislocations in the bond market.

Q: If we’re having trouble getting into trades, should we chase or not?

A: Never chase. Leave your limit in there at a price you’re happy with. Often times, you’ll get done at the end of the day when the high frequency traders cash out all their positions. They will artificially push up our trade alert prices during the day and take them right back down at the end of the day because they have to go 100% cash by the close of each day—they never carry overnight positions. That’s becoming a common way that people get filled on our Trade Alerts.

Q: Will Boris Johnson get kicked out before the hard Brexit occurs?

A: Probably, yes. I’m hoping for it, anyway. What may happen is Parliament forcing a vote on any hard Brexit. If that happens, it will lose, the prime minister will have to resign, and they’ll get a new prime minister. Labor is now campaigning on putting Brexit up to a vote one more time, and just demographic change alone over the last four years means that Brexit will lose in a landslide. That would pull England out of the last 4 years of indecision, torture, and economic funk. If that happens, expect British stock markets to soar and the pound (FXB) to go up, from $1.17 all the way back up to $1.65, where it was before the whole Brexit disaster took place.

Q: Is the US central bank turning into Japan?

A: Yes. If we go to zero rates and zero growth and recession happens, there’s no way to get out of it; and that is the exact situation Japan has been in. For 30 years they have had zero rates, and it’s done absolutely nothing to stimulate their economy or corporate profits. The question then—and one someone might ask Washington—is: why pursue a policy that’s already been proven unsuccessful in every country it’s been tried in?

Q: Will US household debt become a problem if there is a sharp recession?

A: Yes, that’s always a problem in recessions. It’s a major reason why financials have been in a freefall because default rates are about to rise substantially.

Q: Given the big spike in earnings in NVIDIA (NVDA), what now for the stock?

A:  Wait for a 10% dip and buy it. This stock has triple in it over the next 3 years. You want to get into all the chip stocks like this, such as Micron Technology (MU), Lam Research (LRCX), and Advanced Micro Devices (AMD).

Q:  Baidu (BIDU) has risen in earnings, with management saying the worst is over. Is this reality or is this a red herring?

A: I vote for A red herring. There’s no way the worst is over, unless the management of Baidu knows something we don’t about Chinese intentions.

Q: When will Wells Fargo (WFC) be out of the woods?

A: I hate the sector so I’m really not desperate to reach for marginal financials that I have to get into. If I do want to get into financials, it will be in JP Morgan (JPM), one of my favorites. The whole sector is getting slaughtered by low interest rates.

Q: Any idea when the trade war will end?

A: Yes, after the next presidential election. It’s not as if the Chinese are negotiating in bad faith here, they just have no idea how to deal with a United States that changes its position every day. It’s like negotiating with a piece of Jell-O, you can’t nail it down. At this point the Chinese have thrown their hands up and think they can get a better deal out of the next president.

Q: Would you short General Electric (GE) or wait for another bump up to short it?

A: I would wait for a bump. Obviously—with the latest accounting scandal, which compares (GE) with Enron and WorldCom—I don’t want to get involved with the stock. And we could get new lows once the facts of the case come out. There are too many better fish to fry, like in technology, so I would stay away from (GE).

Q: How do you put stop losses on your trade?

A: It’s a confluence of fundamentals and technicals. Obviously, we’re looking at key support levels on the charts; if those fail then we stop out of there. That doesn’t happen very often, maybe on 10% of our trades (and more recently even less than that). Our latest stop loss was on the (TLT) short. That was our biggest loss of the year but thank goodness we got out of that, because after we stopped out at $138 it went all the way to $146, so that’s why you do stop losses.

Q: How about putting on a (TLT) short now?

A: No, I think we’re going to new highs on (TLT) and new lows on interest rates. We’re just going through a temporary digestion period now. We’ll challenge the lows in rates and highs in prices once again, and you don’t want to be short when that happens. The liquidity is getting so bad in the bond market, you’re getting these gigantic gaps as a global buy panic in bonds continues.

Q: Do you have thoughts on what Fed Governor Powell may say in Jackson Hole, and any market reaction?

A: I have no idea what he might say, but he seems to be trying to walk a tightrope between presidential attacks and economic reality. With the stock market 3% short of an all-time high, I’m not sure how much of a hurry he will be in to lower interest rates. The Fed is usually behind the curve, lowering rates in response to a weak economy, and I’m not sure the actual data is weak enough yet for them to lower. The Fed never anticipates potential weakness (at least until the last raise) so we shall see. But we may have little volatility for the rest of the week and then a big move on Friday, depending on what he says.

Q: What is your take on the short term 6-18 months in residential real estate? Are Chinese tariffs and recession fears already priced in or will prices continue to drop?

A: Prices will continue to drop but not to the extent that we saw in ‘08 and ‘09 when prices dropped by 50, 60, 70% in the worst markets like Florida, Las Vegas, and Arizona. The reason for that is you have a chronic structural shortage in housing. All the home builders that went bankrupt in the last crash has resulted in a shortage, and you also have an immense generation of Millennials trying to buy homes now who’ve been shut out by higher interest rates and who may be coming back in. So, I’m not expecting anything remotely resembling a crash in real estate, just a slowdown. And new homes are actually not falling at all. That’s because the builders are deliberately restraining supply there.

Q: What is a good LEAP to put on now?

A: There aren’t any. We’re somewhat in the middle of a wider, longer-term range, and I want to wait until we get to the bottom of that; when people are jumping out of windows—that’s when you want to start putting on your long term LEAPS (long term equity anticipation securities), and when you get the biggest returns. We may get a shot at that sometime in the next month or two before a year in rally begins. If you held a gun to my head and told me I had to buy a leap, it would probably be in Boeing (BA), which is down 35% from its high.

 

 

 

 

 

July 26, 2019

Mad Hedge Technology Letter
July 26, 2019
Fiat Lux

Featured Trade:

(WHY 3D PRINTING WILL BOOST THE AIRPLANE INDUSTRY),
(SSYS), (ETSY), (MSFT), (BA), (NFLX), (GE), (LMT)

Why 3D Printing Will Boost the Airplane Industry

If you need a new investment idea – here’s one.

3D printing.

Yes, the same 3D printing that was once considered a raging but hopeless fad.

A lot has changed since then.

Early adopters were largely cut down at the knees as they tried to traverse the rocky terrain from a niche market to going full out mainstream.

The teething pains echo bitcoin which was the fad of 2017, on the contrary, this technology it is built on is rock solid, yet the path to sustainability is littered with corpses.

Production complications and the lack of specialists in the industry meant that problems were rampant and nurturing an industry from scratch is harder than you think.

It is time to stand up and take notice of 3D printing, this time it is here to stay.

Certain tech companies love this technology.

Etsy (ETSY) e-commerce participants gravitate towards 3D printing because it gets firms from paper to the real world in a fraction of the time.

The cost of production doesn’t change whether you’re producing one item or a million because of the economies of scale.

The previous 3D printing bonanza was a frenzy and this corner of tech became known for the use of buzzwords representing the potential to reinvent the world.

With lofty expectations, there was a natural disappointment when outsiders understood growing pains were part of the critical evolution instead of a direct route to profits.

The initial goal was to democratize production which sounds eerily similar to bitcoins mantra of democratizing money.

The way to do this was to make it simple to produce whatever one wishes.

That would assume that the general public could pick up professional production 3D printing skills on arrival.

That was wishful thinking.

The truth was that applying 3D printers was time-draining and aggravating.

Issues cropped up like faulty first-generation hardware or software -problems that overwhelmed newbies.

Then if everything was going smoothly on that front, there was the larger issue of realizing it’s just a lot harder to design specific things than initially thought without a deep working knowledge of computer-aided software (CAD) design.

Most people know how to throw a football, but that doesn’t mean that most people can wake up one day in their pajamas and convince themselves they will be the next starting quarterback to lead an NFL team to the Super Bowl.

The high-quality 3D printing designs were reserved for authentic professionals that could put together complicated designs.

The move to compiling a comprehensive library will help spur on the 3D printing revolution while upping the foundational skill base.

Then there is the fact that 3D printing technology is a lot better now than it once was, and the printing technology has come down in price making it more affordable for the masses.

These trends will propel broad-based adoption and as the printing process standardizes, more products can rely on this technology from scratch.

The holy grail of 3D printing would be 3D printing on demand like Netflix (NFLX), but imagine this on-demand 3D printing would function to personalize a physical product on the spot.

Think of a hungry customer walking into a restaurant and not even looking at a menu because one sentence would be enough to trigger specific models in the database that could conjure up the design for the meal.

This would involve integrating artificial intelligence into 3D printing and the production process would quicken to minutes, even seconds.

At some point, crafting the perfect meal or designing a personalized Tuscan villa could take minutes.

The 3D printing industry is reaching an inflection point where the advancement of the technology, expertise, and an updated production process are brewing together at the perfect time.

The company at the forefront of this phenomenon is Stratasys (SSYS).

Stratasys produces in-office prototypes and direct digital manufacturing systems for automotive, aerospace, industrial, recreational, electronic, medical and consumer products.

And when I talk about real pros who have the intellectual property to whip out a complex CAD-based 3D design, I am specifically talking about Stratasys who have been in this business since the industry was in infancy.

And if you add in the integration of cloud software, 3D printing would dovetail nicely with it.

All the elements are in place to fuel this industry into the mainstream.

Take for example airplanes made by Boeing (BA) and Airbus, 3D printer-designed parts comprise only 0.1% of the actual plane now.

It is estimated that 3D printed design parts could consist up to 20% of the overall plane.

These massive airline manufacturers like Boeing (BA) have profit margins of around 15% to 20%, and carving out more 3D printer-designed parts to integrate into the main design will boost profit margins to up to 50%.

The development of the 3D printing process into aerospace technology is happening fast with Boeing inking a five-year collaboration agreement with Swiss technology and engineering group Oerlikon to develop standard processes and materials for metal 3D printing.

Any combat pilot knows who Oerlikon is because they are famed for building ultra-highspeed machines to shoot down, you guessed it, airplanes and missiles.

They will collaborate to use the data resulting from their agreement to support the creation of a standard titanium 3D printing processes.

Only last November, GE announced that GE’s Aviation’s GEnx-2B aircraft engine for the Boeing 747-8 will apply a 3D printed bracket approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for the engine, replacing a traditionally manufactured power door opening system (PDOS) bracket.

With the positive revelations that the (FAA) is supporting the adoption of 3D printing-based designs, GE is preparing to begin imminent mass production of the 3D printed brackets at its Auburn, Alabama facility.

Eric Gatlin, general manager of GE Aviation’s additive integrated product team gushed that “It’s the first project we took from design to production in less than ten months.”

Defense companies are also dipping their toe into the water with aerospace company Lockheed Martin (LMT), the world’s largest defense contractor, winning a $5.8 million contract with the Office of Naval Research to help further develop 3D printing for the aerospace industry.

They will partner up to investigate the use of artificial intelligence in training robots to independently oversee the 3D printing of complex aerospace components.

3D printed designs have the potential to crash the cost of making big-ticket items from cars to nuclear plants while substantially shortening the manufacturing process.

Further emphasis on cornering the North America aerospace market could cement this stock as a no-brainer buy of 2019 as the (FAA) embraces more of the technology opening up the addressable market for the active participants.

As it stands, Stratasys is the industry leader in this field, and placing best of breed tech companies into your portfolio will put you in better position to weather the squalls of the capricious tech sector.

The company is still relatively unknown even though it has been around for ages.

Stratasys is a company to put on your radar and remember this space as the 3D printing market blossoms.

It’s nonetheless still a speculative punt but a compelling part of the tech industry.

 

 

July 5, 2019

Global Market Comments
July 5, 2019
Fiat Lux

Featured Trade:

(FRIDAY JULY 19 ZERMATT SWITZERLAND STRATEGY SEMINAR)
(WHERE THE ECONOMIST “BIG MAC” INDEX FINDS CURRENCY VALUE),
(FXF), (FXE), (FXA), (FXY), (CYB),
(WHY US BONDS LOVE CHINESE TARIFFS),
(TLT), (TBT), (SOYB), (BA), (GM)

Why US Bonds Love Chinese Tariffs

For many, one of the most surprising impacts of the administration’s tariffs on Chinese imports announced today has been a rocketing bond market.

Since the December $116 low, the iShares 20+ Year Treasury Bond ETF (TLT) has jumped by a staggering $16 points, the largest move up so far in years.

The tariffs are a highly regressive tax that will hit consumers hard in the pocketbook, thus reducing their purchasing power.

It will dramatically slow US economic growth. If the trade war escalates, and it almost certainly will, it could shrink US GDP by as much as 1% a year. A weaker economy means less demand for money, lower interest rates, and higher bond prices.

There is no political view here. This is just basic economics.

And while there has been a lot of hand-wringing over the prospect of China dumping its $1.1 trillion in American bond holdings, it is unlikely to take action here.

The Beijing government isn’t going to do anything to damage the value of its own investments. The only time it actually does sell US bonds is to support its own currency, the renminbi, in the foreign exchange markets.

What it CAN do is to boycott new Treasury bond purchases, which it already has been doing for the past year.

The tariffs also raise a lot of uncertainty about the future of business in the United States. Companies are definitely not going to increase capital spending if they believe a depression is coming, which the last serious trade war during the 1930s greatly exacerbated.

While stocks despise uncertainty, bonds absolutely love it.

Those of you who are short the bond market through the ProShares Ultra Short 20+ Year Treasury ETF (TBT) have a particular problem that is often ignored.

The cost of carry of this fund is now more than 5% (two times the 2.10% coupon plus management fees and expenses). Thus, long-term holders have to see interest rates rise by more than 5% a year just to break even. The (TBT) can be a great trade, but a money-losing investment.

The Chinese, which have been studying the American economic and political systems very carefully for decades, will be particularly clever in its retaliation. And you thought all those Chinese tourists were over here just to buy our Levi’s?

It will target Republican districts with a laser focus, and those in particular who supported Donald Trump. It wants to make its measures especially hurt for those who started this trade war in the first place.

First on the chopping block: soybeans, which are almost entirely produced in red states. In 2016, the last full year for which data is available, the US sold $15 billion worth of soybeans to China. Which are the largest soybean producing states? Iowa followed by Minnesota.

A major American export is aircraft, some $131 billion in 2017, and China is overwhelmingly the largest buyer. The Middle Kingdom needs to purchase 1,000 aircraft over the next 10 years to accommodate its burgeoning middle class. It will be easy to shift some of these orders to Europe’s Airbus Industries.

This is why the shares of Boeing (BA) have been slaughtered recently, down some 13.5% from the top. While Boeing planes are assembled in Washington state, they draw on parts suppliers in all 50 states.

Guess what the biggest selling foreign car in China is? The General Motors (GM) Buick which saw more than 400,000 in sales last year. I have to tell you that it is hilarious to see my mom’s car driven up to the Great Wall of China. Where are these cars assembled? Michigan and China.

The global trading system is an intricate, finally balanced system that has taken hundreds of years to evolve. Take out one small piece, and the entire structure falls down upon your head.

This is something the administration is about to find out.

 

 

 

May 20, 2019

Global Market Comments
May 20, 2019
Fiat Lux

Featured Trade:

(MARKET OUTLOOK FOR THE WEEK AHEAD, OR I’LL TAKE SOME OF THAT!)
(FXI), (CYB), (TSLA), (AAPL), (BA), (WMT), (TLT), (INTU), (GOOGL)

The Market Outlook for the Week Ahead, or I’ll Take Some of That!

Whatever the market is drinking right now, I’ll take some of that stuff. If you could bottle it and sell it, you’d be rich. Certainly, the Viagra business would go broke.

To see the Dow average only give up 7% in response to the worst trade war in a century is nothing less than stunning. To see it then make half of that back in the next four days is even more amazing. But then, that is the world we live in now.

When the stock market shrugs off the causes of the last great depression like it’s nothing, you have to reexamine the root causes of the bull market. It’s all about the Fed, the Fed, the Fed.

Our August central bank’s decision to cancel all interest rate rises for a year provided a major tailwind for share prices at the end of 2018. The ending of quantitative tightening six months early injected the steroids, some $50 billion in new cash for the economy per month.

We now have a free Fed put option on share prices. Even if we did enter another 4,500-point swan dive, most now believe that the Fed will counter with more interest rate cuts, thanks to extreme pressure from Washington. A high stock market is seen as crucial to winning the 2020 presidential election.

Furthermore, permabulls are poo-pooing the threat to the US economy the China (FXI) trade war presents. Some $500 billion in Chinese exports barely dent the $21.3 trillion US GDP. It’s not even a lot for China, amounting to 3.7% of their $13.4 trillion GDP, or so the argument goes.

Here’s the problem with that logic. The lack of a $5 part from China can ground the manufacture of $30 million aircraft when there are no domestic alternatives. Similarly, millions of small online businesses, mostly based in the Midwest, couldn’t survive a 25% price increase in the cost of their inventory.

As for the Chinese, while trade with us is only 3.7% of their economy, it most likely accounts for 90% of their profits. That’s why the Chinese yuan (CYB) has recently been in free fall in a desperate attempt to offset punitive tariffs with a substantially cheaper currency.

The market will figure out all of this eventually on a delayed basis and probably in a few months when slowing economic growth becomes undeniable. However, the answer for now is NOT YET!

Markets can be dumb, poor sighted, and mostly deaf animals. It takes them a while to see the obvious. One of the problems with seeing things before the rest of the world does, I can be early on trades, and that can translate into losing money. So, I have to be cautious here.

When that happens, I revert to an approach I call “Trading devoid of the thought process.” When prices are high, I sell. When they are low, I buy. All other information is noise. And I keep my size small and stop out of losers lightning fast. That’s how I managed to eke out a modest 0.63% profit so far this month, despite horrendous trading conditions.

You have to trade the market you have, not what it should be, or what you wish you had. It goes without saying that the Mad Hedge Market Timing Index become an incredibly valuable tool in such conditions.

It was a volatile week, to say the least.

China retaliated, raising tariffs on US goods, ratcheting up the trade war. US markets were crushed with the Dow average down 720 intraday and Chinese plays like Apple (AAPL) and Boeing (BA) especially hard hit.

China tariffs are to cost US households $500 each in rising import costs. Don’t point at me! I buy all American with my Tesla (TSLA).

The China tariffs delivered the largest tax increases in history, some $72 billion according to US Treasury figures. With Walmart (WMT) already issuing warnings on coming price hikes, we should sit up and take notice. It is a highly regressive tax hike, with the poorest hardest hit.

The Atlanta Fed already axed growth prospects for Q2, from 3.2% to 1.1%. This trade war is getting expensive. No wonder stocks have been in a swan dive.

US Retail Sales cratered in March while Industrial Production was off 0.5%. Why is the data suddenly turning recessionary? It isn’t even reflecting the escalated trade war yet.

European auto tariff delay boosted markets in one of the administration’s daily attempts to manipulate the stock market and guarantee support of Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania during the next presidential election. All government decisions are now political all the time.

Weekly Jobless Claims plunged by 16,000 to 212,000. Have you noticed how dumb support staff have recently become? I have started asking workers how long they have been at their jobs and the average so far is three months. No one knows anything. This is what a full employment economy gets you.

Four oil tankers were attacked at the Saudi port of Fujairah, sending oil soaring. America’s “two war” strategy may be put to the test, with the US attacking Iran and North Korea simultaneously.

Bitcoin topped 8,000, on a massive “RISK OFF” trade, now double its December low. The cryptocurrency is clearly replacing gold as the fear trade.

The Mad Hedge Fund Trader managed to blast through to a new all-time high last week.

Global Trading Dispatch closed the week up 16.35% year to date and is up 0.63% so far in May. My trailing one-year rose to +20.19%. We jumped in and out of short positions in bonds (TLT) for a small profit, and our tech positions appreciated.

The Mad Hedge Technology Letter did OK, making some good money with a long position in Intuit (INTU) but stopping out for a small loss in Alphabet (GOOGL).

Some 10 out of 13 Mad Hedge Technology Letter round trips have been profitable this year.
 
My nine and a half year profit jumped to +316.49%. The average annualized return popped to +33.21%. With the markets incredibly and dangerously volatile, I am now 80% in cash with Global Trading Dispatch and 80% cash in the Mad Hedge Tech Letter.

I’ll wait until the markets retest the bottom end of the recent range before considering another long position.

The coming week will see only one report of any real importance, the Fed Minutes on Wednesday afternoon. Q1 earnings are almost done.

On Monday, May 20 at 8:30 AM, the April Chicago Fed National Activity Index is out.

On Tuesday, May 21, 10:00 AM EST, the April Existing Home Sales is released. Home Depot (HD) announces earnings.

On Wednesday, May 22 at 2:00 PM, the minutes of the last FOMC Meeting are published. Lowes (LOW) announces earnings.

On Thursday, May 16 at 23 AM, Weekly Jobless Claims are published. Intuit (INTU) announces earnings.

On Friday, May 24 at 8:30 AM, April Durable Goods is announced.

As for me, I’ll be taking a carload of Boy Scouts to volunteer at the Oakland Food Bank to help distribute food to the poor and the homeless. Despite living in the richest and highest paid urban area in the world, some 20% of the population now lives on handouts, including many public employees and members of the military. It truly is a have, or have-not economy.

Good luck and good trading.

John Thomas
CEO & Publisher
The Diary of a Mad Hedge Fund Trader