September 9, 2019

Global Market Comments
September 9, 2019
Fiat Lux

Featured Trade:

(FXB), (M), (XOM), (BAC), (FB), (AAPL),
 (AMZN), (ROKU), (VIX), (GS), (MS),


September 6, 2019

Global Market Comments
September 6, 2019
Fiat Lux

Featured Trade:

(INDU), (FXY), (FXB), (USO), (XLE), (TLT), (TBT),
(FB), (AMZN), (MSFT), (DIS), (WMT), (IWM), (TSLA), (ROKU), (UBER), (LYFT), (SLV), (SIL)

September 3, 2019

Global Market Comments
September 3, 2019
Fiat Lux

Featured Trade:

(SPY), (TLT), (FXB), (WMT), (USO), (XLE)

August 23, 2019

Global Market Comments
August 23, 2019
Fiat Lux

Featured Trade:

(FXB), (NVDA), (MU), (LRCX), (AMD),
 (WFC), (JPM), (BIDU), (GE), (TLT), (BA)

August 12, 2019

Global Market Comments
August 12, 2019
Fiat Lux

Featured Trade:

(CYB), (FXE), (TLT), (FXY), (COPX), (USO),
(GLD), (VIX), (FXB), (IWM0, (DIS), (CRB), (FB)

The Market Outlook for the Week Ahead

So, this is what the best trading week looks like.

Investors panicked. The hot money fled in droves. Predictions of escalating trade wars, recessions, and depressions abounded.

The bottom line for followers of the Mad Hedge Fund Trader? We picked up 4.4% on the week, as may make as much next week.

A number of trading nostrums were re-proven once again. That which can’t continue, won’t. When too many people gather on one side of the canoe, it will capsize. If you execute a trade and then throw up on your shoes, you know it will be a good one. I could go on and on.

The week also highlighted another trend. That is the market has become a one-trick pony. The focus of the market is overwhelmingly on technology, the only sector that can promise double digit growth for years to come. And it’s not just technology, but a handful of large cap companies. Investing has become a matter of technology on, or technology off.

This is always how bull markets end, be it the Nifty 50 of the early 1970s, Japanese stocks of the late 1980s, or the Dotcom Bubble of the 1990s.

It was a week that ran off fast forward every day.

China retaliated against the US in the trade war and stocks dove 900 points intraday. The Middle Kingdom imposed a total ban on all US agricultural imports and took the Yuan (CYB) down to a decade low to offset tariffs.

All financial markets and asset classes are now flashing recession and bear market warnings. The Mad Hedge Market Timing Index fell from 70 to 22, the steepest drop in recent memory. The US dollar dropped sharply against the Euro (FXE) and the Japanese yen (FXY). Oil (USO) went into free fall. Copper (COPX) collapsed to a new low for the year.

The New York Fed lowered its Q3 GDP growth to a lowly 1.56%, with the Atlanta Fed pegging 1.9%. Payrolls, orders, import/export prices, and trade are shrinking across the board, all accelerated by the ramp up in the trade war. Manufacturing and retailing are going down the toilet. Sow the wind, reap the whirlwind.

The German economy (EWG) is in free fall, as most analysts expect a negative -0.1% GDP figure for Q2. The fatherland is on the brink of a recession which will certainly spill into the US. That Mercedes Benz AMG S class you’ve been eyeing is about to go on sale. Great Britain (FXB) is already there, with a Brexit-induced negative -0.2% for the quarter.

Some 50% of S&P 500 dividends now yield more than US Treasury bonds. At some point, that makes equities a screaming “BUY” in this yield-starved world, but not quite yet. Is TINA (there is no alternative to stocks) dead, or is she just on vacation?

Ten-year US Treasury bonds (TLT) hit 1.61%, down an incredible 50 basis point in three weeks. Zero rates are within range by next year. The problem is that if the US goes into the next recession at zero interest rates, there is no way to get out. A decades-long Japanese style Great Depression could ensue.

Bond giant PIMCO too says zero interest rates are coming to the US. Too bad they are six months late from my call. It’s all a matter of the US coming into line with the rest of the world. The global cash and profit glut has nowhere else to go but the US. Much of the buying is coming from abroad.

Gold (GLD) hit a six-year high, as a rolling stock market panics drive investors into “RISK OFF” trades and downside hedges. While high interest rates are the enemy of the barbarous relic, low rates are its best friend and negative rates are even better. We are rapidly approaching century lows on a global basis.

Do your Christmas shopping early this year, except do it at the jewelry store and for your portfolio. Above $1,500 an ounce gold is beating stocks this year and the old all-time high of $1,927 is in the cards.

As I expected, August is proving to be the best short selling opportunity of the year. Not only can we make money in falling markets, elevated volatility means we can get into long side plays at spectacularly low levels as well.

With the Volatility Index (VIX) over $20, it is almost impossible to lose money on option spreads. The trick was to get positions off while markets were falling so fast.

The week started out with a rude awakening, my short in the US Treasury Bond Fund rising 1 ½ points at the opening. I covered that for a tear-jerking 3.26% loss, my biggest of the year. But I also knew that making money had suddenly become like falling off a log.

I fortuitously covered all of my short positions in the S&P 500 (SPY) and the Russell 2000 (IWM) right when the Dow average was plumbing depths 2,000-2,200 points lower than the highs of only two weeks ago. Then I went aggressively long technology with very short dated August plays in Walt Disney (DIS), Salesforce (CRM), and Facebook (FB).

My Global Trading Dispatch has hit a new all-time high of 324.78% and my year-to-date shot up to +24.68%. My ten-year average annualized profit bobbed up to +33.60%. 

I coined a blockbuster 6.31% so far in August. In a mere three weeks I shot out 12 Trade Alerts, 11 of which made money, bringing in a 10% profit net of the one-bond loss. All of you people who just subscribed in June and July are looking like geniuses.

The coming week will be a snore on the data front. Believe it or not, it could be quiet.

On Monday, August 12 at 11:00 AM EST, the Consumer Inflation Expectations for July are released.

On Tuesday, August 13 at 8:30 AM US Core Inflation for July is published.

On Wednesday, August 14, at 10:30 the IEA Crude Oil Stocks are announced for the previous week.

On Thursday, August 15 at 8:30 AM EST, the Weekly Jobless Claims are printed. At 9:15 we learn July Industrial Production.

On Friday, August 16 at 8:30 AM, the July Housing Starts are out.

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

As for me, I’ll be headed to the Land’s End Music Festival in San Francisco this weekend and listen to many of the local rock groups. Hopefully, I will be able to unwind from the stress and volatility of the week.

Good luck and good trading.

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








You Need Special Glasses to Understand This Market

August 5, 2019

Global Market Comments
August 5, 2019
Fiat Lux

Featured Trade:

($INDU), (SPY), (TLT), (IWM), (WMT), (FXB)

The Market Outlook for the Week Ahead, or Taking the Elevator Down

It is often said the markets take the escalator up and the elevator down. A thousand Dow points in three days? That’s like taking the elevator down from the 101st floor of the Empire State Building down to the basement in one shot.

Welcome to your new $30 billion tax, or about $90 per American per year. That will be the effect of the new 10% tariff increase on $300 billion worth of goods imported from China. Unfortunately, this comes on top of an existing $210 per American, bring the total bill due from the China trade war to $300 per person.

Clearly, the Chinese think they can get a better deal from the next president and are inclined to wait it out. This has been my base case since the trade war started 18 months ago.

It was one of the most frenetic, emotion-charged, and violent weeks of the year, with almost daily wild swings on a daily basis. This is the environment where hedge funds and newsletters like this one earn their pay.

The July Nonfarm Payroll Report came in at 164,000, keeping the headline unemployment report to 3.7%. Average hourly earnings grew by a hot 3.2% YOY. The previous two months were revised down by 41,000. Overall, it was a disappointing report.

Manufacturing has been especially weak all year, adding only 16,000 jobs in July and averaging 8,000 jobs a month all year. The headline charge into the services economy continues. Retail lost 3,600, the sixth consecutive monthly decline. The strength was in Professional Services, up 31,000, Health Care at 30,000, and Social Assistance at 20,000.

The broader U-6 “discouraged worker” structural unemployment rate dropped from 7.2% to 7.0%, a new cycle low.

The British Pound (FXB) crashed by 1%, as the harsh reality of a hard Brexit looms. That’s because Boris Johnson, the pro Brexit activist, was named UK prime minister and filled his cabinet with anti-EC doormats. It virtually guarantees a recession there and will act as an additional drag on the US economy.

The end result may be a “Disunited Kingdom”, with Scotland declaring independence in order to stay in the EC, and Northern Ireland splitting off to create a united Emerald Island. The stock market there will crater and the pound will go to parity against the greenback.

Home Price Gains are Still Shrinking, from a 3.5% to a 3.4% annual gain in May, according to the S&P Corelogic Case Shiller National Home Price Index. The Median Home Price hit a new high of $285,700. That can’t buy you a parking space in San Francisco. This is removing a major leg from the economy.

Las Vegas saw the biggest increase at 6.4%, followed by Phoenix at 5.7% and Tampa at 5.1%. Shrinking price gains in the face of falling interest rates is a classic pre-recessionary indicator.

Apple hurdled a low bar, with an upward forward guidance delivering a 5% pop in the stock. Revenues rose 1% to $53.8 billion, while profits dropped 7%. The future looks bright on the eve of 5G iPhones. Hardware drops to less than half of sales for the first time. Services revenues jump to 21% of the total.

China is still a drag. Amazingly, Apple only bought $17 billion worth of its own stock last quarter against a commitment of $100 billion. So why are analyst “BUY” ratings at a decade low? Maybe it’s because threats of retaliation in the China trade war are hanging over Apple like a sword of Damocles.

It took only three words to kill Wall Street. Confusion reigns. “Mid Cycle Adjustment” was how Fed governor Jay Powell described Wednesday’s 25 basis point interest rate cut, the first in 12 years, absolutely what the market didn’t want to hear. That implies that the Fed is “one and done,” and that there will be no more interest rate cuts in this economic cycle.

The president added insult to injury piling abuse on his own appointee, further eroding confidence in the independence of the Fed. A truly data dependent Fed wouldn’t have budged last week.

Bonds soared on “one and done.” Higher rates for longer give a new lease on life for the fixed income markets everywhere. Since 2008, major central bank balance sheets have exploded from $3 trillion to $16 trillion, and there is nowhere better for this mountain of money to go but the ten-year US Treasury bond.

Yields have smashed the four-year low at 1.82% and are headed to 1.40% by yearend. The market is wildly overbought for now on the back of an instant three-point rally, so keep buying those dips. Next up is the century low in rates.

Oil crashed 8% on increased global recession fears, in the worst plunge in four years and one of the biggest swan dives in history. The strong dollar doesn’t help either. I have recommended that investors avoid energy like the plague all year and it has worked like a charm. Long term, it’s going out of business anyway, so I don’t even want to trade it here.

Retailers got destroyed on the China news, with stocks down 6%-12% across the board. Best Buy (BBY) did a 12% swan dive. This will be the stick that broke the camel’s back for a lot of retailers already hanging on by their fingernails. Some 42% of US apparel, 69% of footwear, and 84% of accessories come from China.

Squeezed by Amazon on one side and administration China policies on the other, this will spell the death of retail. It looks like we’re going to have to go barefoot this winter. Thank goodness there’s global warming. The death spiral was further confirmed by the weak jobs figures in retail this morning.

I went into the week 100% in cash, giving me the dry powder to pursue the short side aggressively. I always tell followers that cash is a position, that it has option value, and this was a classic example of how well that can work.

The second I heard about the China tariff increase, I went pedal to the metal and increased my shorts from 0% to 40%, against 60% cash. My current shorts include the S&P 500 (SPY), US Treasury bonds (TLT), the Russel 2000 (IWM), and the giant retailer (WMT).

I see August as the best short selling opportunity of the year. I put out my first shorts the day after the Fed rate cut. My Global Trading Dispatch has hit a new all-time high of 320.30% and my year-to-date shot up at +20.16%. A robust earned a robust 1.83% so far in August, and 4.78% since I went back into the market from Zermatt, Switzerland three weeks ago.  

My ten-year average annualized profit bobbed up to +33.13%.  My Mad Hedge Market Timing Index saw one of the sharpest declines in its history, plunging from 65 to 23 on only two days. We could even be back to “BUY” territory by the end of next week.

The coming week will be a feeble one on the data front. Believe it or not, it could be a quiet week.

On Monday, August 5 at 2:00 PM, the July ISM Non-Manufacturing PMI is out.

On Tuesday, August 6 at 2:00 PM, the June JOLTS Jobs Openings report is published.

On Wednesday, August 7, at 8:30 AM, June Consumer Credit is released.

On Thursday, August 8 at 8:30 AM, the Weekly Jobless Claims are printed.

On Friday, August 9 at 8:30 AM, July Core Purchasing Price Index is printed, an inflation indicator.

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

As for me, believe it or not, I have not been to the beach this year. As a native Californian, that is near high treason. So I am loading up the old Tesla with an ice chest, boogie boards, and kids and headed to nearby Stinson Beach in Marin County. I’m going early to beat the traffic and will take my usual short cuts I learned while living there eons ago.

Surf’s up!

Good luck and good trading.

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









July 29, 2019

Global Market Comments
July 29, 2019
Fiat Lux

Featured Trade:

(INTC), (GOOGL), (AMZN), (JPM), (FXB),

The Market Outlook for the Week Ahead, or The Bad Omens are There

The Omens are there.

I am normally a pretty positive guy.

But I was having a beer at Schwarzee at the base of the Matterhorn the other day, just having completed the climb up to the Hornli Hut at 10,758 feet. I carefully watched with my binoculars three helicopters circle the summit of the mountain, around the Solvay Hut.

These were not sightseeing tours. The pilots were taking great risks to retrieve bodies.

I learned at the Bergfuhrerverein Zermatt the next day that one of their men was taking up an American client to the summit. The man reached for a handhold and the rock broke loose, taking both men to their deaths. The Mountain Guide Service of Zermatt is a lot like the US Marine Corps. They always retrieve their dead.

It is an accident that could have happened to anyone. I have been over that route many times. If there was ever an omen of trouble to come, this was it.

The markets are sending out a few foreboding warnings of their own. Friday’s Q2 GDP report came in at a better than expected 2.1%, versus 3.1% in Q1.

Yet the Dow Average was up only a meager 51.47 points when it should have gained 500. It is an old market nostrum that if markets can’t rally on good news, you get the hell out of Dodge. Zermatt too.

It is the slowest US growth in two years. The trade war gets the blame, with falling exports offsetting healthy consumer spending. With the $1.5 trillion tax cut now spent, nothing is left but the debt. 2020 recession fears are running rampant, so paying all-time highs for stock prices is not a great idea.

You might be celebrating last week’s budget deal which heads off a September government shutdown. But it boosts the national debt from $22 to $24 trillion, or $72,000 per American. As with everything else with this administration, a short-term gain is achieved at a very high long-term cost.

Boris Johnson, the pro-Brexit activist, was named UK prime minister. It virtually guarantees a recession there and will act as an additional drag on the US economy. Global businesses will accelerate their departure from London to Paris and Berlin.

The end result may be a disunited kingdom, with Scotland declaring independence in order to stay in the EC, and Northern Ireland splitting off to create a united emerald island. The stock market there will crater and the pound (FXB) will go to parity against the greenback.

The European economy is already in a downward spiral, with German economic data flat on its back. GDP growth has shrunk from 2.0% to 0.7%. It seems we are not buying enough Mercedes, BMWs, and Volkswagens.

Yields on ten-year German bunds hit close to an all-time low at -0.39%. The Euro (FXE) is looking at a breakdown through parity. The country’s largest financial institution, Deutsche Bank, is about to go under. No one here wants to touch equities there. It’s all about finding more bonds.

Soaring Chip Stocks took NASDAQ to new high. I have to admit I missed this one, not expecting a recovery until the China trade war ended. Chip prices are still falling, and volume is shrinking. We still love (AMD), (MU), and (NVDA) long term as obviously do current buyers.

Existing Home Sales fell off a cliff, down 1.7% in June to a seasonally adjusted 5.27 million units. Median Home Prices jumped 4.7% to $287,400. A shortage of entry-level units at decent prices get the blame. Ultra-low interest rates are having no impact.

JP Morgan (JPM) expects stocks to dive in Q3, driven by earnings downgrades for 2020. Who am I to argue with Jamie Diamond? Don’t lose what you made in H1 chasing rich stocks in H2. Everyone I know is bailing on the market and I am 100% cash going into this week’s Fed meeting up 18.33% year-to-date. I made 3.06% in July in only two weeks.

Alphabet (GOOGL) beat big time, sending the shares up 8% in aftermarket trading. Q2 revenues soared 19% YOY to an eye-popping $39.7 billion. It’s the biggest gain in the stock in four years, to $1,226. The laggard FANG finally catches up. The weak first quarter is now long forgotten.

Amazon (AMZN) delivered a rare miss, as heavy investment spending on more market share offset sales growth, taking the shares down 1%. Amazon Prime membership now tops 100 million. Q3 is also looking weak.
Intel (INTC) surged on chip stockpiling, taking the stock up 5% to $54.70. Customers in China stockpiled chips ahead of a worsening trade war. Q3 forecasts are looking even better. Sale of its 5G modem chip business to Apple is seen as a huge positive.
I’ve finally headed home, after a peripatetic six-week, 18-flight trip around the world meeting clients. I bailed on the continent just in time to escape a record heatwave, with Paris hitting 105 degrees and London 101, where it was so hot that people were passing out on the non-air conditioned underground.

Avoid energy stocks. The outcry over global warming is about to get very loud. I’ll write a more detailed report on the trip when I get a break in the market.

My strategy of avoiding stocks and only investing in weak dollar plays like bonds (TLT), foreign exchange (FXA), and copper (FCX) performed 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 +18.33% and has earned a robust 3.09% so far in July. Nothing like coming out of the blocks for an uncertain H2 on a hot streak. I’m inclined to stay in cash until the Fed interest rate decision on Wednesday.

My ten-year average annualized profit bobbed up to +33.23%. With the markets now in the process of peaking out for the short term, I am now 100% 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 60. It’s a Goldilocks level, not too hot and not too cold.

The coming week will be a big one on the data front, with one big bombshell on Wednesday and the Payroll data on Friday.

On Monday, July 29, the Dallas Fed Manufacturing Index is out.

On Tuesday, July 30, we get June Pending Home Sales. A new Case Shiller S&P National Home Price Index is published. Look for YOY gains to shrink.

On Wednesday, July 31, at 8:30 AM, learn the ADP Private Employment Report. At 2:00 PM, the Fed interest rate decision is released and an extended press conference follows. If they don’t cut rates, there will be hell to pay.

On Thursday, August 1 at 8:30 AM, the Weekly Jobless Claims are printed.

On Friday, August 2 at 8:30 AM, we get the July Nonfarm Payroll Report. Recent numbers have been hot so that is likely to continue.

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

As for me, by the time you read this, I will have walked the 25 minutes from my Alpine chalet down to the Zermatt Bahnhoff, ridden the picturesque cog railway down to Brig, and picked up an express train through the 12-mile long Simplon Tunnel to Milan, Italy.

Then I’ll spend the rest of the weekend winging my way home to San Francisco in cramped conditions on Air Italy. Yes, I had to get a few more cappuccinos and a good Italian dinner before coming home.

Now, on with the task of doubling my performance by yearend.

Good luck and good trading.

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