Posts

September 30, 2019

Global Market Comments
September 30, 2019
Fiat Lux

Featured Trade:

(MARKET OUTLOOK FOR THE WEEK AHEAD, or INTERESTING TIMES ARE UPON US)

(MO), (PM), (FXB), (SPY), ($INDU), (GS), (MTCH), (USO), (UUP)

September 9, 2019

Global Market Comments
September 9, 2019
Fiat Lux

Featured Trade:

(MARKET OUTLOOK FOR THE WEEK AHEAD, or SAVED BY A HURRICANE)
(FXB), (M), (XOM), (BAC), (FB), (AAPL),
 (AMZN), (ROKU), (VIX), (GS), (MS),

 

The Market Outlook for the Week Ahead, or Saved by a Hurricane

This was the week when the stock market was saved by Hurricane Dorian.

Why a hurricane?

Because it gave President Trump something else to Tweet about beside China and Jay Powell. The White House went totally silent, at least on matters concerning the stock market. There, the focus instead turned on whether Trump predicted Dorian was going to hit Alabama (it didn’t).

Thank goodness for small favors.

Instead, investors got to hear about progress was purported to be made on the China trade talks with a possible October meeting.

It all reminds me of the 1968 Paris peace talks, which I visited, where I remember Ambassador Avril Harriman storming out of the Majestic Hotel with a very stern expression on his face. They had just spent a year arguing with the North Vietnamese over the shape of the table (they finally settled on an oval).

Brexit finally started lurching towards its inevitable demise. Hard Brexit failed in Parliament, a disaster for Prime Minister Boris Johnson, whose own party and even his own brother voted against him.

Elections will follow which will finally plunge a dagger through the heart of Britain’s attempt to leave the European Community. If this happens, it will be a huge positive for risk markets globally. This is the beginning of the end. Get ready to buy the pound (FXB).

The bad news? Don’t count on this happening again this week, unless we get another hurricane. When a stock market rally is led by sectors with the worst fundamentals, like retail (M), energy (XOM), and banks (BAC), you want to run a mile. It means the rally was driven by short-covering, we are now at a market high, and the short players have a ton of cash.

I have been pounded with questions all week if the bottom is in and if it’s time to load the boat with tech stocks yet again. I have to answer with a firm “Not yet!” We still have three weeks to go in September with plenty of time for more volatility.

If the Fed cuts interest rates by 25 basis points, the Dow average could crater by 1,000 points. If they don’t cut, which I give a 50/50 chance, it will be down by 2,000 points.

They will be encouraged to cut by an August Nonfarm Payroll Report that came in at a tepid 130,000. The headline Unemployment Rate remained unchanged at 3.7%, a 50-year low. Average Hourly Earnings were an inflationary 0.4%, or 3.2% YOY. June and July were revised down.

The 2020 census was a big factor in August, where the US government hired 25,000 workers to prepare for next year. Without this, August would have come in at a weak 105,000 jobs.

Manufacturing hiring amounted to only 3,000, while Retail lost 11,000 jobs for the seventh consecutive monthly decline. The broader U-6 “discouraged worker” unemployment rate rose from 7.0% to 7.2%.

To demonstrate how much value you are gaining with this service, I generated the chart below. Since January 26, 2018 when the S&P 500 peaked, the total return has been zero, with a lot of heart-stopping volatility, including one 20% drawdown.

That has been the cost to the stock market of the trade war, which started only a few days later. The profit created by the Mad Hedge Fund Trader during the same period has been 58.97%.

You couldn’t even beat the Mad Hedge Fund Trader by pouring all your money into big technology stocks. Over the same time, Facebook (FB) fell 4.1%, Apple (AAPL) rose 21.7%, and Amazon (AMZN) by 22.2%.

The only way you could have topped my performance was to pour your life savings into Roku (ROKU), right when Amazon was about to put it out of business. Jeff Bezos partnered with Roku instead of delivering a 225% pop in the shares.

You might think such a performance is blown out of proportion, exaggerated, and fake. However, it is perfectly consistent with the numbers generated for the in-house trading books by senior traders at Goldman Sachs (GS) and Morgan Stanley (MS) where I come from.

In fact, during my day, if a trader earned less than 30% a year on his capital, he got fired or transferred over to covering retail accounts because the firm had so many better places to invest. They are also consistent with the performance of the top-end hedge managers, of which I used to be one.

Chinese Manufacturing Activity fell for four consecutive months taking the Purchasing Managers Index below a recessionary 50. If you wreck the economy of the world’s largest customer, the rest of the world goes into recession.

US Manufacturing hit a three-year low, the ISM Manufacturing PMI diving from an average 56.5 to 49.1 in August. Anything below 50 is a recession indicator. Hoping that China will bleed worse than us in a trade war is not a winning strategy. Stocks dove 300 points and the Volatility Index (VIX) shot up to $21 on the news. Avoid risk, as this is going to be a terrible month.

The prospect of a China meeting popped stocks 400 points, with an agreement to meet in October, citing progress on a phone call. Boy, I’m getting tired of this. When can we go back to looking at earnings, dividends, and book value?

The European Central Bank will almost certainly ease this week. It hasn’t worked for ten years so let’s try it again. They’re obviously not printing enough Euros. Overnight rates will fall from -0.4% to -0.6%. Some 30 billion euros a month will hit the economy in a new QE.

The Atlanta Fed downgraded the economy, cutting its Q3 GDP growth forecast from 2.0% to 1.5%. Expect a string of poor data points in the coming months as the delayed effect of an escalated trade war. However, the non-manufacturing service economy remains strong. That’s me, and probably you too.

The Mad Hedge Trader Alert Service has posted its best month in two years. Some 22 or the last 23 round trips, or 95.6%, have been profitable, generating one of the biggest performance jumps in our 12-year history.

My Global Trading Dispatch has hit a new all-time high of 334.48% and my year-to-date shot up to +34.35%. My ten-year average annualized profit bobbed up to +34.30%. 

Better yet, since July 31, we generated a 20% profit for the trade alert service while the gain in the Dow Average was absolutely zero!

I raked in an envious 16.01% in August. All of you people who just subscribed in June and July are looking like geniuses. My staff and I have been working to the point of exhaustion, but it’s worth it if I can print these kinds of numbers.

As long as the Volatility Index (VIX) stays above $20, deep in-the-money options spreads are offering free money. I am now 40% long big tech. It rarely gets this easy.

The coming week will be a snore, as it always is after the jobs data.

On Monday, September 9 at 11:00 AM, August Consumer Inflation Expectations are out.

On Tuesday, September 10 at 12:00 PM, the NFIB Business Optimism Index for August is released.

On Wednesday, September 11, at 8:30 AM, the US Producer Price Index is announced.

On Thursday, September 12 at 8:30 AM, the Weekly Jobless Claims are printed. At the same time, the US Inflation Rate is published.

On Friday, September 13 at 8:30 AM, the US Retails Sales are printed. The Baker Hughes Rig Count follows at 2:00 PM.

As for me, I’ll be driving up to Lake Tahoe to make final preparations for the October 25-26 Mad Hedge Lake Tahoe Conference. A record number of black bears have been breaking into homes this summer and I just want to make sure my lakefront estate is OK.

It seems that Airbnb tenants have been leaving trails of cookies to their front doors and painting their refrigerators with peanut butter so they can get better selfies with their ursine neighbors.

Not a good idea.

I’ll be avoiding Interstate 80. A truck carrying 1,000 live chickens crashed there yesterday and the California Highway Patrol was last seen chasing them down the freeway.

Good luck and good trading.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

September 6, 2019

Global Market Comments
September 6, 2019
Fiat Lux

Featured Trade:

(SEPTEMBER 4 BIWEEKLY STRATEGY WEBINAR Q&A),
(INDU), (FXY), (FXB), (USO), (XLE), (TLT), (TBT),
(FB), (AMZN), (MSFT), (DIS), (WMT), (IWM), (TSLA), (ROKU), (UBER), (LYFT), (SLV), (SIL)

September 4 Biweekly Strategy Webinar Q&A

Below please find subscribers’ Q&A for the Mad Hedge Fund Trader September 4 Global Strategy Webinar broadcast from Silicon Valley with my guest and co-host Bill Davis of the Mad Day Trader. Keep those questions coming!

 

Q: If Trump figures out the trade war will lose him the election; will he stop it?

A: Yes, and that is a risk that hovers over all short positions in the market at all times these days because stocks will soar (INDU) when the trade war ends. We now have 18 months of share appreciation that has been frustrated or deferred by the dispute with China. The problem is that the US economy is already sliding into recession and it may already be too late to turn it around.

Q: Do you see the British pound (FXB) dropping more on the Brexit turmoil? Do you think the UK will stay in the EU?

A: If the UK ends Brexit through an election, then the pound should recover from $1.19 all the way back up to $1.65 where it was before Brexit happened four years ago. If that does happen, it will be one of the biggest trades of the year anywhere in the world, going long the British pound. This is how I always anticipated it would end. I was in England for the Brexit vote and I was convinced that if they held the election the next day, it would have lost. The only reason it won was because nobody thought it would— a lot like our own 2016 election. That brings Britain back into the EEC, saves Europe, and has a positive impact on markets globally. So, this is a big deal. Not to do so would be economic suicide for Britain, and I think wiser heads will prevail.

Q: Do you think it’s a good idea for Saudi ARAMCO to go public in Japan as reports suggest?

A: When the Arabs want to get out of the oil business (USO), (XLE), you want to also. That’s what the sale of ARAMCO is all about. They’re going to get a $1 trillion or more valuation, raising $100 billion in cash. And guess who the biggest investors in alternative energy in California are? It’s Saudi Arabia. They see no future in oil, nor should you. This is why we’ve been negative on the sector all year. By the way, bankruptcies by frackers in the U.S. are at an all-time high, another indicator that low oil prices can’t be tolerated by the US industry for long.

Q: Is it time to buy the ProShares Ultra Short 20 year Plus Treasury Bond Fund (TBT)?

A: No, not yet; I think we’re going to break 1.33% — the all-time low yield for the (TLT) will probably be somewhere just below 1.00%. We probably won’t go to absolute zero because we still have a growing economy. The countries that already have negative interest rates have shrinking economies or are already in recession, like Germany or Great Britain can justify zero rates.

Q: Are you going to run all your existing positions into expiration?

A: I’m going to try to—it’s only 12 days to expiration, and we get to keep the full profit if we do. As long as the market is dead in the middle here, there are no other positions to put on, no extreme low to buy into or extreme high to sell into. It’s a question of letting this sort of nowhere-trend play out, but also there’s nothing else to buy, so there is no need to raise cash. So, we’re 60% invested now and we’re going to try running as many of those into expiration as we can. Looks like all the long technology positions are safe (FB), (AMZN), (MSFT), (DIS). The only thing we’re pressing here are the shorts in Walmart (WMT) and Russell 2000 (IWM).

Q: Do you think it’s a good idea for Tesla (TSLA) to build another Gigafactory in Shanghai, China during a trade war? Will this blow up in Elon’s face?

A: I don’t think so because the Chinese are desperate for the Tesla technology and they just gave Tesla an exemption on import duties on all parts that need to go there to build the cars. So, that’s a very positive development for Tesla and I believe the stock is up about $10 since that news came out.

Q: Will Roku (ROKU) ever pull back? Would you buy it up here?

A: No, we recommended this thing last year at $40; it’s now up to $165, and up here it’s just wildly overbought, in chase territory. Of course, the reason that’s happening is that the big concern last year was Amazon wiping out Roku, yet they ultimately ended up partnering with Roku, and that’s worth about a 400% gain in the stock. You know the second you get into this, it’s over. There are just too many better fish to fry in the technology area.

Q: What happens if our existing Russell 2000 (IWM) September 2019 $153-$156 in-the-money vertical BEAR PUT spread Russell 2000 position closes between $156 and $153?

A: You lose money. You will get the Russell 2000 shares put to you, or sold to you at $153.00, which means you now own them, and you’ll get a big margin call from your broker for owning the extra shares. If ever it looks like we’re getting close to the strike price going into expiration, I come out precisely because of that risk. You don’t want random chance dictating whether you’re going to make money in your position or not going into expiration. If you’re worried about that, I would get out now and you can still come out with a nice profit. Or, you can always wait for another down day tomorrow.

Q: Is it time to get super aggressive shorting Lyft (LYFT) or Uber (UBER) when they openly admit that they won’t make a profit anytime in the near future?

A: The time to short Uber (UBER) and Lyft was at the IPO when the shares became available to sell. Down here I don’t really want to do very much. It’s late in the game and Uber’s down about one third from its IPO price. We begged people to stay away from this. It’s another example where they waited for the company to go ex-growth before it went public, but it didn’t leave anything for the public. It was a very badly mishandled IPO—it’s now at $31 against a $45 IPO price and was at a new all-time low just 2 days ago. You knew when they offered the drivers shares, the thing was in trouble. Sometime this will be a buy, but not yet. Go take a long nap first.

Q: Is the fact that rich people are hoarding cash a good indicator that a recession is approaching?

A: Yes, absolutely. Bonds yielding 1.45% is also an indication that the wealthy are hoarding cash from other investment and parking it in US treasury bonds. I went to the Pebble Beach Concourse d’ Elegance vintage car show a few weeks ago and all of the $10 million plus cars didn’t sell, only those priced below $100,000. That is always a good indicator that the wealthy are bailing ahead of a recession. If you can’t get a premium price for your vintage Ferrari, trouble is coming.

Q: Argentina just implemented currency controls; is this the start of a rolling currency crisis among emerging nations?

A: No, I believe the problems are unique to Argentina. They’ve adopted what is known as Modern Momentary Theory—i.e. borrowing and printing money like crazy. Unfortunately, this is unsustainable and results in a devalued currency, general instability, and the eventual hanging of their leaders from the nearest lamppost. This is exactly the same monetary policy that the Trump administration has been pursuing since he came into office. Eventually, it will lead to tears, ours, not his.

Q: Is the new all-electric Porsche Taycan a threat to Tesla?

A: No, it’s not. Their cheapest car is $150,000 and it gets one third less range than Tesla does. It’s really aimed at Porsche fanatics, and I doubt they will get outside their core market. In the meantime, Tesla has taken over the middle part of the electric market with the Model 3 at $37,000 a car. That’s where the money is, and Porsche will never get there.

Q: How will the US pull out of recession if the interest rates are at or below zero?

A: It won’t—that’s what a lot of economists are concerned about these days. With interest rates below zero, the Fed has lost its primary means to stimulate the economy. The only thing left to do is use creative means like feeding the economy with currency, which Europe has been doing for 10 years, and Japan for 30, with no results. That’s another reason to not allow rates to get back to zero—so we have tools to use when we go into a recession 12-24 months from now.

Q: What’s the best way to buy silver?

A: The ETF iShares Silver Trust (SLV) and, if you want to be aggressive, the silver miners with the Global X Silver Miners ETF (SIL).

Q: Have global central banks ruined the western economic system as we know it for future generations?

A: They may have—mostly by printing too much money in the last 10 years in order to get us out of recession. This hasn’t really worked for Europe or Japan, mind you, though who knows how much worse off they would be if they hadn’t. What it did do here is head off a Great Depression. If we go back to money printing in a big way, however, and it doesn’t work, we will not have prevented a Great Depression so much as pushed it back 10 or 15 years. That’s the great debate ongoing among economists, and it will eventually be settled by the marketplace.

 

 

 

 

 

 

September 3, 2019

Global Market Comments
September 3, 2019
Fiat Lux

Featured Trade:

(MARKET OUTLOOK FOR THE WEEK AHEAD, or VISIBILITY IS POOR),
(SPY), (TLT), (FXB), (WMT), (USO), (XLE)

The Market Outlook for the Week Ahead, or Visibility is Poor

I have a pretty good view from my home on a mountaintop in San Francisco.

To the west, I can see through the Golden Gate Bridge all the way out to the Farallon Islands 20 miles off the coast. To the south, there is Stanford’s Hoover Tower and all of Silicon Valley. In the winter I can look east and see the snow-covered High Sierras 200 miles away.

However, during last year’s wildfires, I couldn’t see a thing. Visibility ended at 100 yards, the cars parked outside were covered in ash, and I could barely breathe. We were all confined indoors.

I kind of feel that’s the way the stock market is right now. You can’t see a thing, so it’s better to stay indoors.

Not only are market gyrations subject to unpredictable and random, out-of-the-blue influences. The old playbook about cross market correlations and how asset classes respond at different points of the economic cycle doesn’t work either.

The good news is that August is over, the second worth trading month of the year. The bad news? September is the WORST trading month of the year!

So, what does a trader do on the first day of the worst investment month of the year?

Research.

That’s what I’ll be doing, waiting for the next cataclysmic collapse to buy or the next euphoric bubble to sell short. Until then, I’ll be sitting tight. Just running my existing long/short trading book, I’ll be up 3.4% by the September 20 option expiration date in 15 trading days.

There is one BIG positive for the economy that no one is talking about. The home ATM is open for business, and open like it’s never been open before.

The thirty-year fixed rate mortgage rate is now at 3.56%, 10 basis points over a decade low and 20 basis points above an all-time low (see the chart below). There are currently $9.4 trillion of outstanding home mortgages in the US. Some $5 trillion is in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac conforming loans, some 90% of which have interest rates higher than the current market.

If just ten million of these mortgages refinance obtaining an average of $4,560 in annual savings each, that will amount to a de facto tax cut of $456 billion per year, not an inconsequential amount. And Goldman Sachs thinks we could be in for as much as 37 million refis. It could be enough to offset the negative impact of the trade war.

As for the past week, it seemed like a disaster a day.

Trump ordered all US companies out of China. Like you can reverse 40 years’ worth of trillions of dollars of investment with a Tweet. If they did, an iPhone would cost $10,000 and your low-end laptop $15,000. An escalation of the trade war is the last thing your 401k wanted to hear. Kiss that early retirement goodbye.

Oil crashed (USO) on trade war escalation, with the industry now seeing a recession as a sure thing. Russian cheating on quotas is pouring the fat on the fire creating a massive supply glut in the face of shrinking demand. Take a long nap before considering any energy investment (XLE). The long-term charts show they are all going to zero.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson suspended Parliament, prompting a free fall in the pound. It’s to keep Parliament from blocking his hard Brexit, where it would certainly loose by a landslide. It’s all up to the Queen now, the monarch, not the rock group.

The yield inversion is deepening, with the US Treasury selling two-year notes today at a 1.56% yield, with ten-year yield closing at 1.45%. And that’s with the Treasury selling a total of a gob smacking $113 billion worth of bonds last week, which should have driven rates UP! US ten-year TIPS now showing negative interest rates.

Company stock buy backs are fading. That’s a big deal as corporations retiring their own shares have been the biggest buyers in the market for the past two years. As if you needed another reason for downside risk.

US 15% tariffs hit on Sunday, and the Chinese paused in retaliation. Christmas is about to get more expensive. Many large retailers won’t make it until the new year. Keep selling short Macy’s (M) on rallies.

Bond yields hit new lows, at 1.44% for ten-year US Treasury bonds. The next stop is zero. Fixed income markets are saying that a recession is imminent. “Inversion” will be the world of the year for 2019. Go refi that home if you can get a banker on the phone!

There is no way out of the next recession, says hedge fund titan Ray Dalio. With global rates below zero, you can’t cut to stimulate business. You can’t do any more quantitative easing either, as the world is already glutted with paper. This is the trap Japan has been caught in for the last 30 years. It is all sobering food for thought.

US growth slowed with the second reading of the Q2 GDP marked down from 2.1% to 2.0%. The downturn has continued since the economy peaked 18 months ago. Q3 will be much worse when the trade war and earnings downgrades hit big time. And then there’s the soaring deficit. Sow the wind, reap the whirlwind.

US Consumer Sentiment took a dive from 98.4 to 89.8 in August. Has the spending boom just peaked? If so, we’re all toast. The “tariff cliff” is already taking its toll.

The Mad Hedge Trader Alert Service has posted its best month in two years. Some 22 or the last 23 round trips, or 95.6%, have been profitable, generating one of the biggest performance jumps in our 12-year history.

My Global Trading Dispatch has hit a new all-time high of 334.48% and my year-to-date shot up to +34.35%. My ten-year average annualized profit bobbed up to +34.30%. 

I raked in an envious 16.01% in August. All of you people who just subscribed in June and July are looking like geniuses. My staff and I have been working to the point of exhaustion, but it’s worth it if I can print these kinds of numbers.

As long as the Volatility Index (VIX) stays above $20, deep in-the-money options spreads are offering free money. I am now 60% invested, 40% long big tech and 20% short Walmart (WMT) and the Russell 2000, with 20% in cash. It rarely gets this easy.

The coming week will be all about jobs, jobs, jobs.

Monday, September 2, markets were closed for the US Labor Day.

Today, Tuesday, September 3 at 10:00 AM, the August ISM Purchasing Manager’s Index is out.

On Wednesday, September 4, at 2:00 PM, the Fed Beige Book for July is published.

On Thursday, September 5 at 8:30 AM EST, the Weekly Jobless Claims are printed. At 10:30, we learn the ADP Report for private hiring.

On Friday, September 6 at 8:30 AM, the August Nonfarm Payroll Report is printed.

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

As for me, I’ll be filling out the paperwork for my own home refi. JP Morgan Chase Bank (JPM) is offering the best deals, in my case a 30-year fixed rate no-cash-out jumbo loan for only 3.4%. Now where did I put that tax return?

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.

 

 

 

 

 

August 12, 2019

Global Market Comments
August 12, 2019
Fiat Lux

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