Posts

August 9, 2019

Global Market Comments
August 9, 2019
Fiat Lux

Featured Trade:

(AUGUST 7 BIWEEKLY STRATEGY WEBINAR Q&A),
(SPY), (XLK), (GLD), (DIS), (TLT),
 (FXA), (FXY), (VIX), (VXX), (UNG), (USO)

August 7 Biweekly Strategy Webinar Q&A

Below please find subscribers’ Q&A for the Mad Hedge Fund Trader August 7 Global Strategy Webinar with my guest and co-host Bill Davis of the Mad Day Trader. Keep those questions coming!

Q: Are we headed for a worldwide depression with today’s crash and interest rates?

A: No, I think the interest rates are more of an anomaly unique to the bond market. There is a global cash glut all around the world and all that money is pouring into bonds—not for any kind of return, but as a parking place to avoid the next recession. The economic data is actually stronger than usual for pre-recession indicators. US interest rates going to zero is just a matter of coming in line with the rest of the world. Three to six months from now we may get our final bear market and recession indicators.

Q: Do you think the market has more downside?

A: Yes; if the 200-day moving average for the (SPY) doesn’t hold, then you’re really looking at a potential 20% correction, not the 8% correction we have seen so far.

Q: Which sector would you focus on for any dips?

A: Technology (XLK). If they lead the downturn, they’re going to lead the upturn too. It’s the only place where you have consistent earnings growth going out many years. You’re really all looking for an opportunity to go back into Tech, but the answer is a firm not yet.

Q: Would you buy gold (GLD), even up here?

A: Only if you can take some pain. We’re way overdue for a correction on essentially everything—stocks, bonds, gold, commodities—and when we get it, you can get a real snapback on all these prices. The time to enter gold trade was really a month ago before we took off, and I’ve been bullish on gold all year. So, I think you kind of missed the entry point for gold just like you missed the entry point for shorts on the stock market last week. You only want to be selling decent rallies now. You don’t want to be selling into a hole that makes the risk/reward no good.

Q: What can you say about the (FXA) (the Australian dollar)?

A: It’s holding up surprisingly well given the carnage seen in the rest of the financial markets. I want to stand aside until we get some stability, at which point I think (FXA) will pop up back to the $71 level. New Zealand cutting their rates by 50 basis points really came out of the blue and could eventually feed into a weaker Aussie.

Q: Do you think China (FXI) has no reason to make a trade deal until the US elections?

A: Absolutely not; and this puts a spotlight on the administration’s total inexperience in dealing with China. I could have told you on day one: there’s no way they’re going to settle. Pride is a major factor in China. They have long memories of the opium wars and all the abuses they received at the hands of the western powers and are highly sensitive to any kind of foreign abuse. If you want to get the opposite of a settlement, do exactly what Trump is doing. The administration’s policy has no chance of accomplishing anything. He’s willing to take a lot more pain in the stock market until he gets a deal and that’s bad for all of us.

Q: How does the extra 10% tariff affect the market?

A: Think of everything you’re buying for Christmas; the price goes up 10%. That’s the effect, and it completely wipes out any earnings the retail industry might have had. It’s only bad. We are suffering less harm than China in the trade war, but we are suffering, nonetheless.

Q: Do you think volatility will spike soon?

A: It may very well have already spiked. I don’t think we’ll get a spike as high as in past selloffs because there’s a big short volatility industry that has come back. Any moves more than $30, you have short sellers come in there very quickly to hammer things back down. Also (VIX) isn’t necessarily something you want to be buying after the stock market has already dropped 8%. That train has left the station.

Q: Would a weaker dollar benefit the US economy?

A: Yes; it makes our exports cheaper on the global market. However, if the rest of the world is weakening their currencies as well, it will have no effect. Also, the last time this kind of currency war was attempted was in the early 1930s, and the outcome was the Great Depression.

Q: Defensive stocks—the China story is getting uglier?

A: In this kind of market, I’ve never been a big fan of defensive stocks like utilities or healthcare because defensive stocks go down in bear markets, just at a slower rate than growth stocks because they never went up in the first place. The best defensive stock is cash.

Q: If US interest rates are going to zero, how about buying leaps on (TLT)?

A: Multi-year highs is just not leap buying territory. Multiyear lows are where you buy LEAPS, which are Long Term Equity Participation Certificates. They are basically long-dated 1-2-year call options on stocks that are rising over the long term. The better trade—when we get to zero interest rates and it becomes impossible for rates to go any lower—would be to do a reverse leap. If (TLT) goes up to $200, I would do something like a $150-$160 on the put side betting that sometime over the next 2 years, interest rates go back up again and bonds go down. Too late for LEAPS on bonds, too early for LEAPS on equities.

Q: Do you buy out of the money LEAPS?

A: Yes; that is where you get the triple-digit returns. For example, you can buy the Walt Disney (DIS) June 2021 $150-$160 vertical bull call spread today for $3.30. If we close over $160 by then the spread will be worth $10, up 203% from your cost. And you only need a rise of 25% from here to get that return. This is why I love LEAPS, but only at medium term market bottoms.

Q: Is crude oil (USO) going to $25 on a barrel global slowdown fears?

A: I think you need an actual recession to go down to $25; in the current environment, $42 is a nice target. The basic problem is global structural oversupply and falling demand, which is a classically unfortunate combination for prices. 

Q: When will interest rates go to zero?

A: Sooner than later, I would say. My original guess was sometime next year but at the rate we’re going, we could be there by the end of the year.

Q: Would you get involved in natural gas (UNG)?

A: Absolutely not; this is the high season for natural gas right now when summer air conditioner use creates peak demand. It certainly has been hot this summer, especially on a global basis, and if you can’t rally natural gas in this environment you never will. There is also a huge contango in (UNG) which most people can’t beat.

 

 

 

 

July 26, 2019

Global Market Comments
July 26, 2019
Fiat Lux

Featured Trade:

(JULY 24 BIWEEKLY STRATEGY WEBINAR Q&A),
(FCX), (VIX), (VXX), (UUP), (TLT), (EEM), (ELD), (CEW), (GLD),
(FXA), (FXE), (FXC), (FXY), (FXB), (AMZN),
(TESTING TESLA’S SELF DRIVING TECHNOLOGY),
(TSLA)

July 24 Biweekly Strategy Webinar Q&A

Below please find subscribers’ Q&A for the Mad Hedge Fund Trader July 24 Global Strategy Webinar broadcast from Zermatt, Switzerland with my guest and co-host Bill Davis of the Mad Day Trader. Keep those questions coming!

Q: What are your thoughts on the Freeport McMoRan (FCX) long position here?

A: We could take a profit here. We probably have about 50% of the maximum potential profit, but I want to hang on and go to the max on this because we’re so far in the money. Cash always has a premium ahead on any Fed interest rate decision. But long term, I think the stock could double, and with the earnings report now out of the way, we have room to run.

Q: What can you say about semiconductor stocks?

A: Long term we love them, short term they are too high to chase here. I would wait for any kind of pullback and, better yet, pull back from the other side of the next recession. We’re not seeing an improvement in prices or orders so this is strictly a technical/momentum-driven trade right now.

Q: How do you play the Volatility Index (VIX)?

A: There are numerous ways you can do it; you can buy call options on the (VIX), you can buy futures on the (VIX), or you can buy the iPath Series B S&P 500 VIX Short Term Futures ETN (VXX). We are probably a week away from a nice entry point on the long side here.

Q: Does a languishing U.S. dollar mean emerging market opportunities?

A: It absolutely does. If we really start to get a serious drop in the U.S. dollar (UUP)—like 5-10%—it will be off to the races for commodities, bonds (TLT), emerging stock markets (EEM), emerging bond markets (ELD), emerging currencies (CEW), and gold (GLD). All of your weak dollar plays will be off to the races—that’s why I went straight into bonds, the Aussie (FXA), and copper through Freeport McMoRan (FCX). All of these trades have been profitable.

Q: When should we sell the U.S. dollar?

A: How about now? For any kind of strength in a dollar against the (FXA), (FXE), (FXC) and (FXY), I would be buying any dips on those foreign exchange ETFs. We’re about to enter a six-month – one-year period weakness on the dollar. It could be the easiest trade out there. The only one I would avoid is the British pound (FXB) because of its own special problems with Brexit. You never want to go long the currency of a country that is destroying itself, which is exactly what’s happening with the pound.

Q: Should I start selling pounds?

A: It’s pretty late in the pound game now. We went into Brexit with the pound at $1.65 and got all the way down to $1.20. We’re a little bit above that now at $1.21. If for some reason, you get a surprise pop in the pound, say to $1.25, that’s where I would sell it, but down here, no.

Q: I missed the (FCX) trade—would you get in on the next dip?

A: Yes, we may not get many dips from here because the earnings were out. Today, they were not as bad as expected, and that was keeping a lot of buyers out of the market on (FCX), so any dips you can get, go a dollar out on your strikes and then take it because this thing could double over the medium term. If the trade war with China ends, this thing could make it to the old high of $50.

Q: Is now a good time to refi my home?

A: Yes, because by the time you get the paperwork and approvals and everything else done (that’ll take about 2 months), rates will likely be lower; and in any case you’re looking to refi either a 7/1 ARM or a 15-year fixed, and the rates on those have already dropped quite substantially. I was offered 3.0% for a 15-year fixed loan on my home just the other day.

Q: On trades like (FCX), why not sell short the put spread?

A: It’s really six of one, half dozen of the other. The profit on either one should be about the same. If it isn’t, an options market maker will step in and arbitrage out the difference. That’s something only an algorithm can do these days. I recommend in-the-money call spreads versus shorting sell short vertical bear put credit spreads because for beginners, in-the-money call spreads are much easier to understand.

Q: The Mueller hearings in Congress are today. Is there any potential impact on the market?

A: The market has completely detached itself from Washington—it couldn’t care less about what’s happening there. I don’t think politics have the capacity to affect stock prices. The only possible impact was the prospect of the government shutdown in September. That seems to have been averted in the latest deal between the House and the White House.  

Q: What about Amazon (AMZN)?

A: Like the rest of technology, long term I love it, but short term it’s overdue for a small correction. I’m looking for Amazon to go to $3,000 a share—it’s essentially taking over the world. The antitrust threats will go absolutely nowhere; Congress doesn’t even understand what these companies do, let alone know how to break them up. I wouldn’t worry about it.

Q: I just received an email inviting me to buy a new Bitcoin auto trading system that is guaranteed to make me a millionaire in four months. It is being promoted by Nicole Kidman. Do you think I should try it?

A: I wouldn’t touch this with a ten-foot pole. No, wait. I wouldn’t touch this with a 100-foot pole! Whenever a new type of security comes out, these types of “get rich quick” investment scams come out of the woodwork. Cryptocurrency is no different. Nicole Kidman was probably paid $500,000 to make the pitch by a promotor. Or more likely, Nicole Kidman has nothing to do with these people and they just swiped her picture off the Internet. I hear about these things daily. Follow their plan and you are more likely to get completely wiped out than become a millionaire. There are NO get rich quick schemes. There are only get rich slowly strategies, such as following this newsletter. Click here to see the above-mentioned scam which you should avoid at all cost. Gee, do you think Nicole Kidman would be interested in promoting the Mad Hedge Fund Trader?

 

July 25, 2019

Global Market Comments
July 25, 2019
Fiat Lux

Featured Trade:

(HOW TO HEDGE YOUR CURRENCY RISK)
(FXA), (FXC), (UUP)
(HOW TO EXECUTE A VERTICAL BULL CALL SPREAD)
(AAPL)

How to Hedge Your Currency Risk

Let’s say you absolutely love a stock but despise the currency of the country it comes from.

The United States comes to mind. The US Federal Reserve is about to commence with a policy of cutting interest rates that could last a year. That means the greenback is about to become the weakest currency in the world. Look at the ten-year chart below and you’ll see that a major double bottom for the Aussie may be taking place.

Most American technology stocks are likely to gain 30% or more over the next two years. However, it’s entirely possible that the US dollar declines by 30% or more against the Australian (FXA) and Canadian (FXC) dollars during the same period. Making 30% and then losing 30% leaves you with precisely zero profit.

There is a way to avoid this dilemma that would vex Solomon. Simply hedge out your currency risk. I’ll use the example of the Australian dollar as we have recently had a large influx of new subscribers from the land down under.

Let’s say you want to buy AUS$100,000 worth of Apple (AAPL), the world’s most widely owned stock.

Since Apple is listed on the New York Stock Exchange, its shares are denominated in US dollars. When you buy Apple in Australia, your local broker will automatically buy the US dollars for your account to settle this trade in the US, taking out a small commission along the way. You are now long US dollars, thus creating a currency risk.

Getting rid of this currency risk is quite simple. You need to offset your US dollar long with a US dollar short of equal value. Long dollars/short dollars give the Australian investor a currency neutral position. The US dollar can go to hell in a handbasket and you won’t care.

There are several financial instruments with which you can do this. Buying Invesco Currency Shares Australian Dollar Trust ETF (FXA) is the easiest. This ETF invests 100% of its assets in long Australian dollar/short US dollar futures and overnight cash positions.

I’ll do the math for you on the final hedged position assuming that the Australian dollar is worth 70 US cents.

BUY AUS$100,000 long US dollars X US$0.70 cents/dollar = US$70,000.

US$70,000/$210 per share for Apple = 333 Apple shares

BUY US$70,000/$70 (FXA) price = US$1,000 shares of the (FXA)

Thus, by owning AUS$100,000 worth of Apple shares and 1,000 shares of the (FXA), you have completely removed the currency risk in owning Apple. You have in effect turned Apple into an Australian dollar denominated stock. Apple can rise, the US dollar will fall, and you will make twice as much money in Australian dollars.

There are a few problems with this precise trade. The liquidity in the (FXA) is not great, especially during US trading hours. Understandably, the bulk of Aussie liquidity takes place during Australian business hours.

There are other instruments with which you can hedge out the currency risk of Apple, or any other US dollar-denominated investment.

You can take out your own short dollar position in the futures market. You can ask your bank to create a short position in the US dollar in the cash market. Or, you can simply ask your broker to hedge out your US dollar currency risk for which they will charge you another small commission.

Hedging out currency risk is not only free, the market will pay you to do it. That’s because Australian dollar overnight interest rates at 1.00% are lower than US dollar overnight interest rates at 2.50%. By shorting Aussie against the buck, you get to keep this 1.50% interest differential.

You don’t have to be Australian to want your Apple shares denominated in Australian dollars. In fact, hedge funds do this all day long. They pursue a strategy of keeping their long position in the world’s strongest securities (Apple), and their shorts positions in the world’s weakest securities (the US dollar). This, by the way, is also the strategy of the Mad Hedge Fund Trader. It’s called “global long/short macro.”

The better ones often make money on both sides of the equation with the longs rising and the shorts falling. You can do the same in your own personal online trading platform.

I should urge a word of caution here. What happens if you hedge out your US dollar risk, and the dollar continues to appreciate? Then you will get none of the gains from that appreciation and will end up losing money in Australian dollars if Apple shares remain unchanged.

In the worst case, if both Apple and the Aussie could go down, this accelerates your losses. So, currency hedging can be a double-edged sword. Yes, this may be irrational given the fundamentals of the Aussie and Apple. But as any experienced long term trader will tell you, “Markets can remain irrational longer than you can remain liquid.”

Many thanks to John Maynard Keynes.

 

 

 

Looks Like a Good Bet to Me

July 22, 2019

Global Market Comments
July 22, 2019
Fiat Lux

Featured Trade:

(MARKET OUTLOOK FOR THE WEEK AHEAD, OR BRACE YOURSELF),
(SPY), (TLT), (FXA), (FCX), (MSFT),
(TESTIMONIAL)

The Market Outlook for the Week Ahead, or Brace Yourself

When you have constant jet log, you often have weird dreams. Take this morning, for example.

I dreamed that Fed governor Jay Powell invited me over to his house for breakfast. While he was cooking the bacon and eggs, Donald Trump started to call him every five minutes ordering him to lower interest rates. Jay got so distracted that the bacon caught fire, the house burned down, and we all died.

Fortunately it was only a dream. But like most dreams, parts of it were borrowed from true life.

Brace yourself, this could be the deadest, least interesting, most somnolescent week of the year. Thanks to all of those “out of office” messages we are getting with our daily newsletter mailings, I know that most of you will be out on vacation. Trading desks everywhere are now manned by “B” teams.

Then, the most important data release of the month doesn’t come out until Friday morning. It will be weak, but how weak? Q1 came in at a robust 3.1%. Q2 could be under 1%. The bigger unknown is how much of this widely trumpeted slowdown is already in the market?

Given the elevated levels of stock markets everywhere, most traders will rather be inclined to bet on which of two flies crawls up a wall faster. Such are the dog days of summer.

We here in Europe are bracing for the next ratchet up in climate change, where every temperature record is expected to be broken. It is forecast to hit 92 in London, 106 in Paris, and 94 in Berlin. Still, that’s a relief from India, where it was 120. Five more years of global warming and India will lose much of its population as it will become uninhabitable.

I shall have to confine my Alpine climbing to above 8,000 feet where hopefully it can reach the 70s. By the way, the air conditioning in Europe sucks, and the bars always run out of ice early.

While the Fed is expected by all to cut interest rates a quarter point next week, we have suddenly received a raft of strong economic data points hinting that it may do otherwise.

Inflation hit an 18-month high, with the CPI up a blistering 0.3% in June. That’s why bonds (TLT) took a sudden four-point hit. Soaring prices for apparel (the China trade war), used cars, rents, and healthcare costs led the charge. Is this the beginning of the end, or the end of the beginning?

The Empire State Factory Index hits a two-year high, leaping from -8.6 in June to 4.3 in July. No recession here, at least in New York.

Microsoft (MSFT) blew it away, with spectacular Q2 earnings growth, wiping out conservative analyst forecasts. Azure, the company’s cloud business, rose a spectacular 64%. Nothing like seeing your number one stock pick for 2019 take on all comers. Buy (MSFT) on every dip.

An early read on Q2 GDP came in at a sizzling 1.8%. Many forecasts were under 1%, thanks to the trade wars, soaring budget deficits, and fading tax revenues. That’s still well down from the 3.1% seen in Q1. It seems no one told Main Street, where retail sales and borrowing are on fire, according to JP Morgan’s Jamie Diamond.

US Retail Sales rose a hot 0.4% in June, raising prospects that the Fed may not cut interest rates after all. Stocks and bonds both got hit. Don’t panic yet, it’s only one number.

If the Fed only looks at the data above, it would delay a rate cut for another quarter. If they choose that option, the Dow Average would plunge 1,000 points in a week. The market-sensitive Fed knows this too.

However, the Fed has to be maintaining a laser-like focus on the Conference Board Index of Leading Economic Indicators, which lately have been rolling over like the Bismarck and always presage a recession. For your convenience, I have included a 60-year chart below with the recessions highlighted.

And there were a few soft spots in the numbers as well.

China growth slowed to 6.2%, a 27-year low. Never mind that the real rate is probably only 3%. The slowdown is clearly the outcome of the trade war. That’s what happens when you make war on your largest customer. Markets rallied because it was not worse.

Banks beat on earnings, but stocks yawned, coming off an “OK” quarter. It’s still the sector to avoid with a grim backdrop of sharply falling interest rates. They’re also getting their pants beat by fintech, from which there is no relief.

There is no end to the China trade war in sight, as Trump once again threatened another round of tariff increases. It looks like the trade war will outlast the presidential election, since the Chinese have no interest in helping Trump get reelected. The puzzle is that the stock market could care less.

Trump’s war on technology expanded. First, Facebook (FB) got hit with a $5 fine over privacy concerns. Now Google (GOOGL) is to be investigated for treason for allegedly helping the Chinese military. In the meantime, Europe is going after Amazon (AMZN) on antitrust concerns. If the US isn’t going to dominate technology, who will. Sorry, but this keyboard doesn’t have Chinese characters.

June US Housing Starts fell 0.9%, while permits dove 6%. If builders won’t build in the face of record low interest rates, their outlook for the economy must be grim. Maybe the 36% YOY decline in buying from Chinese has something to do with it.

Oil popped on the US downing of an Iranian drone in the Straits of Hormuz, which I flew over myself only last week on my way to Abu Dhabi. Expect this tit for tat, “Phony War” to continue, making Texas tea (USO) untradeable. In the meantime, the International Energy Agency has cut oil demand forecasts, thanks to a slowing global economy.

My strategy of avoiding stocks and only investing in weak dollar plays like bonds (TLT), foreign exchange (FXA), and copper (FCX) has been performing well. After spending a few weeks out of the market, it’s amazing how clear things become. The clouds lift and the fog disperses.

My Global Trading Dispatch has hit a new high for the year at +17.78% and has earned a respectable 2.54% so far in July. Nothing like coming out of the blocks for an uncertain H2 on a hot streak.

My ten-year average annualized profit bobbed up to +33.12%. With the markets now in the process of peaking out for the short term, I am now 70% in cash with Global Trading Dispatch and 100% cash in the Mad Hedge Tech Letter. If there is one thing supporting the market now, it is the fact that my Mad Hedge Market Timing Index has pulled back to a neutral 44. It’s a Goldilocks level, not too hot and not too cold.

The coming week will be a fairly sedentary one on the data front after last week’s fireworks, except for one big bombshell on Friday.

On Monday, July 22, the Chicago Fed National Activity Index is published.

On Tuesday, July 23, we get a new Case Shiller National Home Price Index. June Existing Home Sales follow.

On Wednesday, July 24, June New Home Sales are released.

On Thursday, July 25 at 8:30 AM EST, the Weekly Jobless Claims are printed. So are June Durable Goods.

On Friday, July 26 at 8:30 AM EST, we get the most important release of the week, the advance release of US Q2 GDP. The numbers are expected to be weak, and anything above 1.8% will be a surprise, compared to 3.1% in Q1. Depending on the number, the market will either be up big, down big, or flat. I can already hear you saying “Thanks a lot.”

The Baker Hughes Rig Count follows at 2:00 PM.

As for me, I’ll be attending a fund raiser tonight for the Zermatt Community band held in the main square in front of St. Mauritius church. If you don’t ski, there isn’t much to do in the winter here but practice your flute, clarinet, French horn, or tuba.

We’ll be eating all the wurst, raclete, beer, and apple struddle we can. As an honorary citizen of Zermatt with the keys to the city, having visited here for 51 years, I get to attend for free.

Good luck and good trading.

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

 

 

Mad Hedge Market Timing Index

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

July 15, 2019

Global Market Comments
July 15, 2019
Fiat Lux

Featured Trade:

(LAST CHANCE TO ATTEND THE FRIDAY, JULY 19 ZERMATT, SWITZERLAND STRATEGY SEMINAR)
(MARKET OUTLOOK FOR THE WEEK AHEAD, OR HERE COMES YOUR NEXT HEART ATTACK),
(INDU), (SPY), (TLT), (GLD), (FXA), (USO)

 

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)