Global Market Comments
September 8, 2020
(JPM), (AAPL), (AMZN), (V), (TLT), (SPY), (GOOGL),
(BAC), (C), (FCX), (VIX), (VXX), (TSLA), (FB)
Global Market Comments
September 8, 2020
Global Market Comments
August 14, 2020
(AUGUST 12 BIWEEKLY STRATEGY WEBINAR Q&A),
(GLD), (TLT), (TSLA), (AAPL), (FB), (AMZN), (VXX), (VIX), (JPM), (BAC), (GDX), (NUGT), (MRNA), (BRK/B), (SLV), (FCX)
Below please find subscribers’ Q&A for the August 12 Mad Hedge Fund Trader Global Strategy Webinar broadcast from Lake Tahoe, NV with my guest and co-host Bill Davis of the Mad Day Trader. Keep those questions coming!
Q: I just joined your service. Can you explain the logic to your current model trading portfolio?
I always try to balance long positions with short position. That greatly mitigates the risk of an out-of-the-blue crash, like we saw in February. Also, every individual position has a long and short, further reducing volatility. And you never can lose more money than you put up, so your risk is defined. That’s another classic risk control measure.
There is a further four hedge in that the portfolio is spread across all asset classes. So, I am long banks (JPM), (BAC), short US Treasury bonds (TLT), short a basket of big tech stocks (AAPL), (AMZN), (FB) and long gold (GLD). Something is always working where you can take profits. Our proprietary Mad Hedge Market Timing Index is always a big help in judging the best time to enter and exit these asset classes.
That is the short course on hedge fund risk management 101.
Q: Is it a good time to add in gold (GLD) here?
A: Yes, my long-term target for gold is $3,000/oz, possibly higher—it’s very common once you get a breakout from a 7-year bottoming process to get a big move like that. You always go back and retest that breakout level, that’s what’s happening now. I would use this dip to buy gold. You can look at (GLD) itself, the (GDX) gold miners which will give you 4:1 leverage over gold, or any of the 2x or 3x gold leveraged ETFs like (NUGT). There are lots of ways to play gold this time left from over the last bull market in gold ten years ago. So yes, bullish on gold with a temporary pullback in store. This recovery trade, which is buying banks, casinos, hotels, restaurants, weak dollar, weak buy market, weak gold—this is all temporary, this is just a trade. Those will all reverse themselves, probably by September if not sooner. So, if you missed the first round in the gold bull market, there’s certainly another chance to get back in.
Q: Do you think Biden and Harris will crash the stock market if elected?
A: No, since Biden started to run away in the polls, the stock market basically went straight up every day, and I prefer the stock market’s judgment on these things to opinion polls or talking heads. As far as Harris is concerned, she was the most middle of the road conservative pick of the 12 or so people they were looking at for vice president. Certainly, she’s a favorite with Wall Street, and isn’t it interesting they’re looking for the talents of a prosecutor in the White House? Who do you think they have in mind? So yes, that’s a net positive for the market. If anything, a new administration will bring a whole new round of Quantitative Easing and deficit spending, except it will be focused on bailing out Main Street, not Wall Street.
Q: Is the vaccine drug maker Moderna (MRNA) overbought here at 70?
A: Yes, I think to get any more appreciation you need to get an actual result on the many vaccines that are out there.
Q: Will Tesla (TSLA) pass 2,000 by year end?
A: I tend not to think so; Tesla had a once-in-a-lifetime 10-fold increase over a year. That is a very big move to digest, and while I’m saying people should keep their Tesla longs for the long term, short term you want to be selling calls against your long positions to hedge any downside and to take in some extra income.
Q: What caused ten-year US Treasury yields (TLT) to jump 14% yesterday? What will yields do from here?
A: Yields will go up and retest the 95-basis point level we saw a couple of months ago. That means we’re going to have a clear shot at adding shorts, probably for the next several weeks or months.
Q: I got the first TLT trade, but when I added the second one, I had to automatically close out my 175 short position to add the long 175 put position.
A: That is the correct way to do this. And what you end up with is a wider spread with a much larger size. So, you take all three positions we currently have, and you now have a (TLT) August $170-177.5 bear put spread in triple the original size and triple the profit, which expires in 5 trading days. It’s a trade with a very high return over a very short time frame. It’s the kind of trade that’s only available with very high volatilities in the market—at $25 in the (VIX), and you get very high accelerated time decay going into the close. So, it really was a two-week expiration play on the (TLT).
Q: Apple (AAPL) has been able to avoid any major damage in its share price in this trade war. How long can it last?
A: It can last 3 more months, until the election. It’s really quite amazing that the Chinese have not retaliated against Apple in all of these trade wars, and the reason for this is that Apple employs a million people in China, and they make a ton of money out of it. Apple has also managed their relationship with the communist government perfectly. So, that’s why they haven’t been hit. General Motors, other US companies—they could get expropriated. If the US can expropriate TikTok, what’s to stop China from expropriating General Motors, Starbucks, or even Apple for that matter?
Q: How do we know who has a real vaccine and who has a fake one? There’s so much information out there, I have a hard time filtering through what is real.
A: Wait for 100,000 people to try it out first—that’s what my plan is. That will be the safe way to do it. And if that means quarantining another couple of months to make sure you get the real deal, it’s worth the investment. Most industry safety standards, like animal trials, have been ditched by the FDA in order to get Trump a vaccine before the election. Putin is doing the same in Russia.
Q: Why is Warren Buffet buying back shares of Berkshire Hathaway (BRK/B) in record amounts? Is it because he sees no good investments?
A: He’d rather buy his own shares at parity or at a small premium than pay record PE multiples for essentially anything else in the market. Because the government rushed in so quickly to support the stock market, there never were any real deals in stocks, they never really got cheap. Yes, it sounds like down 40% in 2 months is cheap, but stocks weren’t, not even close to cheap, on a PE multiple basis. We never got close to the 9 ½X we saw in 2009. Also, if you believe in a recovery play, the ultimate recovery play is Berkshire Hathaway because they own predominantly old-line industrial cash flow stocks, which will lead any real recovery in the economy. So, at this point, Berkshire Hathaway will probably get you a higher return on a 12-month view than say Apple, Facebook or Amazon.
Q: Gold (GLD) vs Silver (SLV)? Which is better? And what about Copper (FCX)?
A: Silver always outperforms gold by at least 2 to 1 in any real economic recovery. Copper prices have risen 30% in 4 months; that is discounting a real economic recovery someday, so I would be buying copper on dips also.
Q: How do we learn more about options?
A: I suggest you go to the “How to Trade” section on our website, and that has links. Every trade alert we send out also has a link to a video that tells you exactly how to do the options part of that trade. And if you don’t want to do options, we also propose ETF and single stocks.
Q: What year end effect on the market do you see from a Biden tax plan on long term capital gains and qualified dividends at the ordinary income rate?
A: Well, if he actually proposes that, there will be a rush to sell assets by the end of the current year so people can take advantage of the very favorable capital gains tax that exist now. However, it’s not known whether that is actually the tax increase he’s proposing; it’s more likely he’ll simply return to the pre-Trump tax rates. However, I do expect him to come up with highly punitive tax rates on any real estate-related investment as a way of getting back at Trump. And that’s like loss carry forwards, steps up in the cost basis, 1031 exchanges—things specific to the real estate industry.
Q: If you think markets are going to come off, why aren’t you more aggressive buying the iPath Series B S&P 500 VIX Short Term Futures ETN (VXX)?
A: (VXX) has become such a professional market it really has become a day trading vehicle. It’s hard to get customers in and out of this thing fast enough to make them money, as most of my followers are not set up to be day traders. It’s a market where 90% of the professionals are playing from the short side, so when you get moves up, they essentially happen over 1 or 2 days, and then they spend weeks or months bleeding off. It really is a tough trade for a retail trader to do; and it is an area where the insiders in Chicago trade this thing and really do have an in-house advantage that I would rather not try to bet against.
Q: I sold the top on all precious metals positions and started buying back today. Was that the right thing to do?
A: Yes, I have a feeling it is. Start scaling in—if you’re nervous about buying gold here, buy a third of a position now, a third if it’s higher or lower, and a third if it’s higher or lower again. That’s what any pro would do.
Q: Do you see another big economic crisis in 2021?
A: I don’t think so; I think any continued weakness will be hit with massive liquidity from the Fed and more government spending. Now that they found the model to keep the economy going, they’re going to just keep at it, no matter who is in power. Roosevelt kept at it for 5 years to end the Great Depression, until he was bailed out by WWII, so hopefully we don’t have to bail our economy out the same way with WWIII.
Q: What about Bitcoin here?
A: We don’t trade Bitcoin as we think the whole thing is a giant scam. There’s also no value added by anyone. Insiders have a huge advantage, the people who are creating the bitcoin to sell. So, it’s a security with no fundamentals—thus unanalyzable.
Good Luck and Stay Healthy
CEO & Publisher
The Diary of a Mad Hedge Fund Trader
Global Market Comments
July 22, 2020
(MY NEWLY UPDATED LONG-TERM PORTFOLIO),
(PFE), (BMY), (AMGN), (CELG), (CRSP), (FB), (PYPL), (GOOGL), (AAPL), (AMZN), (SQ), (JPM), (BAC), (BABA), (EEM), (FXA), (FCX), (GLD)
I am really happy with the performance of the Mad Hedge Long Term Portfolio since the last update on October 17, 2019. In fact, not only did we nail the best sectors to go heavily overweight, we completely dodged the bullets in the worst-performing ones, especially in energy.
For new subscribers, the Mad Hedge Long Term Portfolio is a “buy and forget” portfolio of stocks and ETFs. If trading is not your thing, these are the investments you can make, and then not touch until you start drawing down your retirement funds at age 70 ½.
For some of you, that is not for another 50 years. For others, it was yesterday.
There is only one thing you need to do now and that is to rebalance. Buy or sell what you need to reweight every position to its appropriate 5% or 10% weighting. Rebalancing is one of the only free lunches out there and always adds performance over time. You should follow the rules assiduously.
Despite the seismic changes that have taken place in the global economy over the past nine months, I only need to make minor changes to the portfolio, which I have highlighted in red.
To download the entire portfolio in an excel spreadsheet, please go to www.madhedgefundtrader.com , log in, go to “My Account”, then “Global Trading Dispatch”, then click on the “Long Term Portfolio” button.
My 5% holding in Biogen (BIIB) was taken over by Bristol Myers (BMY) at a hefty premium at an all-time high, so I’ll take the win. I am replacing it with Covid-19 vaccine frontrunner Bristol Myers (BMY) itself.
I am also taking out healthcare provider Cigna (CI), whose profits have been hammered by the pandemic. A future Biden administration might also move to a national healthcare system that will cap profits. I am replacing it with another Covid-19 vaccine leader Pfizer (PFE).
My 30% weighting in technology remains the same. Even though these stocks are 30% more expensive than they were three years ago, I believe they will lead the charge into the 2020s. It’s where the big growth is. These have doubled or more over the past nine months.
I am sticking with a 10% weighting in banking. Thanks to trillions in stimulus loans, they are now the most government-subsidized sector of the economy. I also believe that massive bond issuance by the US Treasury will deliver a sharply steepening yield curve, another pro bank development.
With my 10% international exposure, I am taking out a 5% weight in slow-growth Japan and replacing it with Chinese Internet giant Alibaba (BABA). The US will most likely dial back its vociferous anti-Chinese stance next year and (BABA) will soar.
I am executing another switch in my foreign currency exposure, taking out a long in the Japanese yen (FXY) and a short in the Euro (EUO) and substituting in a double long in the Australian dollar (FXA).
Australia will be a leveraged beneficiary of a recovery in the global economy, both through a recovery on commodity prices and gold which has already started, and the post-pandemic return of Chinese tourism and investment. I argue that the Aussie will eventually make it to parity with the US dollar, or 1:1.
I’m quite happy with my 10% holding in gold (GLD), which should move to new all-time highs imminently….and then go ballistic.
As for energy, I will keep my weighting at zero, no matter how cheap it has gotten. Never confuse “gone down a lot” with “cheap”. I think the bankruptcies have only just started and will stretch on for a decade. Thanks to hyper-accelerating technology, the adoption of electric cars, and less movement overall in the new economy, energy is about to become free.
My ten-year assumption for the US and the global economy remains the same.
When we come out the other side of this, we will be perfectly poised to launch into my new American Golden Age, or the next Roaring Twenties. With interest rates still at zero, oil cheap, there will be no reason not to. The Dow Average will rise by 400% or more in the coming decade. The American coming out the other side of the pandemic will be far more efficient and profitable than the old.
I hope you find this useful and I’ll be sending out another update in six months so you can rebalance once again.
CEO & Publisher
The Diary of a Mad Hedge Fund Trader
Global Market Comments
December 17, 2019
(WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 5 MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA STRATEGY LUNCHEON)
(THE NEXT COMMODITY SUPER CYCLE HAS ALREADY STARTED)
(COPX), (GLD), (FCX), (BHP), (RIO), (SIL),
(PPLT), (PALL), (GOLD), (ECH), (EWZ), (IDX)
When I toured Australia a couple of years ago, I couldn’t help but notice a surprising number of fresh-faced young people driving luxury Ferraris, Lamborghinis, and Porsches.
I remarked to my Aussie friend that there must be a lot of indulgent parents in The Lucky Country these days. “It’s not the parents who are buying these cars,” he remarked, “It’s the kids.”
He went on to explain that the mining boom had driven wages for skilled labor to spectacular levels. Workers in their early twenties could earn as much at $200,000 a year, with generous benefits.
The big resource companies flew them by private jet a thousand miles to remote locations where they toiled at four-week on, four-week off schedules.
This was creating social problems, as it is tough for parents to manage offspring who make more than they do.
It’s starting to look like we are on the eve of another great commodity boom, the start of a long-term supercycle. China, the world’s largest consumer of commodities, is currently stimulating its economy on multiple fronts, including generous corporate tax breaks and relaxed reserve requirements. Get a trigger like a settlement of its trade war with the US and it will be off to the races once more for the entire sector.
The last bear market in commodities was certainly punishing. From the 2011 peaks, copper (COPX) shed 65%, gold (GLD) gave back 47%, and iron ore was cut by 78%. One research house estimated that some $150 billion in resource projects in Australia were suspended or canceled.
Budgeted capital spending during 2012-2015 was slashed by a blood curdling 30%. Contract negotiations for price breaks demanded by end consumers broke out like a bad case of chickenpox.
The shellacking was reflected in the major producer shares, like BHP Billiton (BHP), Freeport McMoRan (FCX), and Rio Tinto (RIO), with prices down by half or more. Write-downs of asset values became epidemic at many of these firms.
The selloff was especially punishing for the gold miners, with lead firm Barrack Gold (GOLD) seeing its stock down by nearly 80% at one point, lower than the darkest days of the 2008-2009 stock market crash.
You also saw the bloodshed in the currencies of commodity-producing countries. The Australian dollar led the retreat, falling 30%. The South African Rand has also taken it on the nose, off 30%. In Canada, the Loonie got cooked.
The impact of China cannot be underestimated. In 2012, it consumed 11.7% of the planet’s oil, 40% of its copper, 46% of its iron ore, 46% of its aluminum, and 50% of its coal. It is much smaller than that today, with its annual growth rate dropping by more than half, from 13.7% to 6.6%.
The rise of emerging market standards of living will also provide a boost to hard asset prices. But as China goes, so does its satellite trading partners, who rely on the Middle Kingdom as their largest customer. Many are also major commodity exporters themselves, like Chile (ECH), Brazil (EWZ), and Indonesia (IDX), and are looking to come back big time.
As a result, western hedge funds will soon be moving money out of paper assets, like stocks and bonds, into hard ones, such as gold, silver (SIL), palladium (PALL), platinum (PPLT), and copper.
A massive US stock market rally has sent managers in search of any investment that can’t be created with a printing press. Look at the best performing sectors this year and they are dominated by the commodity space.
The bulls may be right for as long as a decade, thanks to the cruel arithmetic of the commodities cycle. These are your classic textbook inelastic markets. Mines often take 10-15 years to progress from conception to production. Deposits need to be mapped, plans drafted, permits obtained, infrastructure built, capital raised, and bribes paid. By the time they come online, prices have peaked, drowning investors in red ink.
So a 1% rise in demand can trigger a price rise of 50% or more. There aren’t a lot of substitutes for iron ore. Hedge funds then throw gasoline on the fire with excess leverage and high-frequency trading. That gives us higher highs, to be followed by lower lows.
I am old enough to have lived through a couple of these cycles now, so it is all old news for me. The previous bull legs of supercycles ran from 1870-1913 and 1945-1973. The current one started for the whole range of commodities in 2016. Before that, it was down from seven years.
While the present one is short in terms of years, no one can deny how business cycles have been greatly accelerated by globalization and the Internet.
Some new factors are weighing on miners that didn’t plague them in the past. Reregulation of the US banking system is forcing several large players, like JP Morgan (JPM) and Goldman Sachs (GS) to pull out of the industry. That impairs trading liquidity and widens spreads— developments that can only accelerate upside price moves.
The prospect of flat US interest rates is also attracting capital. That reduces the opportunity cost of staying in raw metals, which pay neither interest nor dividends.
The future is bright for the resource industry. While the gains in Chinese demand are smaller than they have been in the past, they are off of a much larger base. In 20 years, Chinese GDP has soared from $1 trillion to $10 trillion.
Some 20 million people a year are still moving from the countryside to the coastal cities in search of a better standard of living and improved prospects for their children.
That is the good news. The bad news is that it looks like the headaches of Australian parents of juvenile high earners may persist for a lot longer than they wish.
Global Market Comments
December 11, 2019
(WHAT TO BUY AT MARKET TOPS?),
(CAT), ($COPPER), (FCX), (BHP), (RIO),
(EUROPEAN STYLE HOMELAND SECURITY),
I will start today’s letter by listing six more data points showing how overbought stocks have become.
1) While the number of outstanding shares in the US has remained unchanged since 2006, thanks to M&A, buybacks, bankruptcies, and privatizations, the average weighted share price has more than doubled from $50.15 to $137.00.
2) The Volatility Index (VIX) has just collapsed from a high of $36 in December to $14 today.
3) The Mad Hedge Market Timing Index has just soared from a record low of 6 three months ago to 65 today, deep into “SELL” territory.
4) Expected forward stock earnings growth has collapsed from 26% a year ago to 0% in a few months.
5) Almost every investor is bullish once more now that their stocks are going up.
6) The stock market has had its best year since 2009. Grizzled, long-in-the-tooth readers can’t be more cautious right now.
This all leads to the urgent question of the day, WHICH stocks do you buy as we approach market tops? The answer is very simple. You buy cheap ones. And what are the cheapest stocks out there?
My friend, Jim Umpleby, said yesterday that we are just entering a ten-year super cycle in commodities.
Jim should know. He is the CEO of Caterpillar (CAT), a company I have been following for 45 years. I even have one of their cool worn yellow baseball caps from years past.
Thanks to the new tax bill, companies can now buy Caterpillar’s bulldozers, backhoes, and heavy trucks, and expense 100% of the investment in the first year. (Last year, I bought a new $162,500 Tesla Model X using the same break).
That makes a purchase of (CAT)’s products one of the best tax breaks ever.
Needless to say, this has created a stampede to buy the company’s heavy machinery because they fear this tax windfall will be reversed by the next administration. This is an equipment with a 30-year life or longer.
Industrial commodities are in fact the perfect sector to buy right now. Take a look at the long-term chart for copper prices, which are a great bellwether for the entire industry. They are imminently poised to make a long-term upside breakout.
Copper last peaked at the beginning of 2011 when the Chinese infrastructure build-out suddenly outdrew to a juddering halt. Prices cratered from $4.60 a pound to a lowly $1.90. Mines were sold off, mothballed, or permanently closed at a record rate.
Copper prices fell so low that the US Mint finally started making a profit on pennies they struck.
Then a funny thing happened.
Copper bottomed, assisted by the global synchronized economic recovery I have been writing about for years. Then at the beginning of this year, investors smelled a recovery in a severely oversold, bargain basement, lagging sector. Copper prices jumped from $2.50 to $2.76, up 10.4% in the wink of an eye.
The share prices of copper and other major commodity producers went ballistic. Freeport McMoRan, the world’s largest copper producer, (whose management is a long-time reader of this letter) has just seen its stock jump 43% from a near $8.50 a share to $12.15. If this sounds rich, recall that the peak during the last cycle was at $51.
Other big commodity producers did as well. Australia’s BHP Billiton (BHP) leaped 15.6% from $45 to $52 and is about to break out to the upside.
You may think that it’s too late to get into the commodities space, but you’d be wrong. Having covered the sector for nearly a half-century there is one thing you learn quickly. While you can shut down a mine in weeks, it can take years to bring them back on line.
As for developing a new mine from scratch, that can take a decade by the time you get design, permits, infrastructure, equipment, and labor in place.
My Australian readers tell me that (BHP) is flying young skilled workers from Brisbane, an incredible 2,000 miles, to work in Northwest mines in a six weeks on, six weeks off work schedule and paying them $200,000 a year to do it. And they’re making a profit doing this!
The bottom line here is that a short squeeze has developed for industrial commodities which will last for years.
Oh, and that global economic recovery? It is on vacation until the China trade war ends. That could happen in a few weeks, months, and no more than a year.
At least you have something to buy now besides more technology stocks. As much as we here at the Mad Hedge Fund Trader all love them for the long term, they are extremely overbought for the short term. Up 50% in a month? I’ll pass.
Global Market Comments
December 2, 2019
(MARKET OUTLOOK FOR THE WEEK AHEAD, or 2020 IS ALREADY HAPPENING),
(TSLA), (X), (GE), (FCX), (SLB), (GOOGL), (MSFT), (GLD)