Global Market Comments
December 11, 2020
(DECEMBER 9 BIWEEKLY STRATEGY WEBINAR Q&A),
(GLD), (FXA), (FXE), (FXC), (UUP), (FXB), (ABNB), (DASH), (TAN), (TLT), (TBT), (NZD), (DKNG), (SNOW), (AAPL), (CRSP), (RTX), (NOC)
Global Market Comments
December 11, 2020
(DECEMBER 9 BIWEEKLY STRATEGY WEBINAR Q&A),
(GLD), (FXA), (FXE), (FXC), (UUP), (FXB), (ABNB), (DASH), (TAN), (TLT), (TBT), (NZD), (DKNG), (SNOW), (AAPL), (CRSP), (RTX), (NOC)
Below please find subscribers’ Q&A for the December 9 Mad Hedge Fund Trader Global Strategy Webinar broadcast from Incline Village, NV with my guest and co-host Bill Davis.
Q: Is gold (GLD) about ready to turn around from here?
A: The gold bottom will be easy to call, and that’s when the Bitcoin top happens. In fact, we have a double top risk going on in Bitcoin right now, and we had a little bit of a rally in gold this week as a result. So, longer term you need actual inflation to show up to get gold any higher, and we may actually get that in a year or two.
Q: The US dollar (UUP) has been weak against most currencies including the Canadian dollar (FXC), but Canada has the same problems as the US, but worse regarding debt and so on. So why is the Canadian dollar going up against the US dollar?
A: Because it’s not the US dollar. Canada also has an additional problem in that they export 3.7 million barrels a day of oil to the US and the dollar value have been in freefall this year. Canada has the most expensive oil in the world. So, taking that out of the picture, the Canadian dollar still would be negative, and for that reason I’ve been recommending the Australian dollar (FXA) as my first foreign currency pick, looking for 1:1 over the next three years. Of the batch, the Canadian dollar is probably going to be the weakest, Australian dollar the strongest, and the Euro (FXE) somewhere in the middle. I don’t want to touch the British pound (FXB) as long as this Brexit mess is going on.
Q: Would you buy the IPO’s Airbnb (ABNB) and Dash (DASH)?
A: No on Dash. The entries to new competitors are low. Airbnb on the other hand is now the largest hotel in the world, and it just depends on what price it comes out at. If it comes out at a stupid price, like 50% over the IPO, I wouldn’t bother; but if you can get close to the IPO price, I would probably buy it for the long term. I think you would have another double if we got close to the IPO price, so that is worth doing. They have been absolutely brilliant in their management and the way they handled the pandemic; they basically captured all the hotel business because if you rent an apartment all by yourself, the COVID risk is much lower than if you go into a Hilton or another hotel. They also made a big push on local travel which was successful. They gave up long-distance travel, and they’re now trying to get you to explore your own area; and that worked beyond all expectations. Even I have rented some Airbnb’s out in the local area like in Carmel, Monterey, Mendocino, and so on and I came back disease-free.
Q: If the United States Treasury Bond Fund (TLT) goes to a 1.00% yield, what would that translate to in the (TBT) (2x short treasury ETF)?
A: My guess is probably about $18, which has been upside resistance for a long time, but it depends on how long it takes to get there. You have about a 3% a year cost of carry on the TBT that you don’t have in Treasuries.
Q: Should we buy China stocks when the current administration is so negative on China?
A: Yes, that’s when you buy them—when the current administration is negative on China; because when you get an administration that’s less negative on China, the Chinese stocks will all rocket. There’s an easy 20-30% in most of the headline Chinese stocks from here sometime in 2021. And I’m looking to add more Chinese stocks. I currently have Alibaba (BABA), and that’s working well. I want to pick up some more.
Q: What about the New Zealand currency ETF (NZD)?
A: It pretty much moves in sync with the Australian dollar, but it’s usually a few cents cheaper and more volatile.
Q: Legalized sports betting seems to be on the upswing. Where do you see DraftKings (DKNG) going?
A: I think it goes up. I think there’s going to be a recovery in all kinds of entertainment type activities. Draft Kings got a huge market share from the pandemic which they will probably keep.
Q: Do we use spreads when playing (FXA)?
A: Yes, you can probably do something like a $70-$72 here one month out and make some decent money.
Q: How do you feel about Snowflake (SNOW)?
A: I wanted to get into this from day one, but it doubled on the IPO, and then it doubled again. It’s one of the only technology stocks Warren Buffet has bought in the last several years besides Apple (AAPL). So, it’s just too popular right now, it’s hotter than hot. They have a dominant market share in their big data platform, so it’s a great place to be but it’s really expensive now.
Q: Do your options trade alerts have any risk of assignment?
A: Yes, they do, but when you get an assignment it’s a gift, because they’re taking you out of your maximum profit point, weeks before the expiration. All you do is tell your broker to use your long position to cover your short position, and you will get the 100% profit right then and there. I say this because the brokers always tell you to do the wrong thing when you get an assignment, such as going into the market to close out each leg separately. That is a huge mistake, and only makes money for the brokers. For more details, log in and search for “assignments” at www.madhedgefundtrader.com
Q: Congratulations on your great performance; what could derail your bullish prediction?
A: Well, we’ve already had a pandemic so obviously that’s not it, and then you have to run by your usual reasons for an out-of-the-blue crash; let’s say Donald Trump doesn’t leave the presidency. That would be worth a few thousand points of downside. So would a major war. We could have both; we could have a major war before a disrupted inauguration. The president has essentially unlimited ability to go to war at any time, so there aren’t too many negatives on the near-term horizon, which is why everyone is super bullish.
Q: What’s your opinion on the solar area, stocks like First Solar (FSLR) and the Invesco Solar ETF (TAN)?
A: I’m bullish. Even though they’re over 300% since March, we’re about to enter the golden age of solar. Biden wants to install 500,000 solar panels next year and provide the subsidies to accomplish that. This all looks extremely positive for solar. In California, a lot of people will go solar, because getting an independent power supply protects you from the power shut-offs that happen every time the wind picks up, in which response to wildfire danger. We had ten days of statewide power blackouts this year.
Q: What are your thoughts on lithium?
A: I’m not a big believer in lithium because there is no short supply. The key to producing lithium is finding countries with no environmental controls whatsoever because it’s a very polluting and messy process to mine. Better to let other countries mine your lithium cheap, refine it, and then send it to you in finished form.
Q: Since you love CRISPR (CRSP) at $130, what about shorting naked puts? The premiums are really high.
A: I never advocate shorting naked puts. Occasionally, I will at extreme market bottoms like we had in March, but even then, I do it only on a 1 for 1 basis, meaning don’t use any leverage or margin. Never short any more puts than you’re willing to buy the stock lower down. People regularly see the easy money, sell short too many puts, and then get a market correction and a total wipeout of their capital. And they won’t have to do that liquidation themselves; their broker will do it for them. They’ll do a forced liquidation of your account and then close it because they don’t want to be left holding the bag on any excess losses. You won’t find out until afterwards. So, I would not recommend shorting naked puts for the normal investor. If you want to be clever, just buy an in-the-money call spread, something like a $110-$120 out a couple of months. That’s probably a far better risk reward than shorting a naked put. By the way, I came close to wiping out Solomon Brothers 30 years ago because my hedge fund was short too many Nikkei Puts. In the end, I made a fortune, but only after a few sleepless nights (remember that Mark?).
Q: What do you think about defense stock right now?
A: I’m avoiding defense stock because I don’t see any big increases in defense spending in the future administration, and that would include Raytheon (RTX), Northrop Grumman (NOC), and some of the other big defense stocks.
SEE YOU ALL IN 2021!
Good Luck and Stay Healthy.
CEO & Publisher
The Diary of a Mad Hedge Fund Trader
Global Market Comments
November 27, 2020
(NOVEMBER 25 BIWEEKLY STRATEGY WEBINAR Q&A),
(TSLA), (CRM), (CRSP), (CVS), (SQ), (CRSP), (LUV), (GLD). (SLV), (SPY), (TMO), (UUP), (TAN), (FXA), (FXE), (FXY), (FXB), (CYB)
Below please find subscribers’ Q&A for the November 25 Mad Hedge Fund Trader Global Strategy Webinar broadcast from Silicon Valley, CA with my guest and co-host Bill Davis.
Q: Is gold (GLD) still a hold?
A: Long term yes; short term no. Short term, cash is being drained out of gold in order to buy Bitcoin, just like silver. And once Bitcoin peaks, which could be today or tomorrow when it hits 20,000, then you could get a round of profit-taking and a nice little pop in gold. So, it’s basically moving totally counter-cyclically to Bitcoin and the other cryptocurrencies right now.
(Note: since this webinar, Bitcoin has crashed by $3,000)
Q: A competitor of yours claims that asymptomatic transmission of COVID does not occur.
A: I would bet money that person does not have a medical degree. Asymptomatic transmission occurs in almost all diseases, so why COVID would be an exception is beyond me. I suggest that somebody is trying to sell newsletters at your expense with zero knowledge about the topic. Ask him to kiss a Covid victim. This is common in my industry where 99% of the people are crooks. This is also an example of the vast amounts of information that have been spread during an election year.
Q: Will you take a vaccine when it’s out or will you let others try it first?
A: Actually, by the time the public gets the vaccine, more than a million people will have already tried it, so I think it will be fairly safe. I am probably already the most vaccinated person on the planet; I’ve had flu shots every year for 40 years, so I will happily try it out. At my age, I have little to lose. And I would like to travel again, and that’s going to be a requirement for international travel. I am worried there could be long term side effects that we’ve seen with other drugs in the past, like all future children being born without arms and legs, which is what happened in the 1950s with Thalidomide.
Q: If the Senate flips to the Democrats, how do you see it affecting the market?
A: It doesn’t really affect the market overall; what it will do is affect sector reallocation. Solar, alternative energy and ESG companies do a lot better in A Democratic Senate, and energy oil companies do a lot worse. All you do is short the losers and buy the winners; it really makes no difference who wins. Most of the big conflicts over issues these days are social ones that don’t affect the market.
Q: Where do you see Tesla (TSLA) by the end of the year?
A: Well, this morning, it’s at an all-time high of $565. It looks like it wants to take a run at $600, and then we will be up 50% from where the news was announced that it was joining the S&P 500. That seems to me like a heck of a move on no real fundamental news. During this news, the market completely ignores a Model X recall and a Model Y pan from Consumer Reports. I would be inclined to take profits there or at least roll the strikes up on my options positions.
Q: What’s a good stock to play a commodity recovery?
A: You can’t do any better than Freeport-McMoRan (FCX), which I’ve been following for almost 50 years since I covered it for the Australian Financial Review newspapers.
Q: Will Salesforce (CRM) hold?
A: Yes, it’s just a matter of time before we break out to substantial new highs, and this is a stock that could double next year.
Q: What brokers do you suggest?
A: I would pick tastyworks, owned by my friend Tom Sosnoff who will be speaking at the Mad Hedge Traders & Investors Summit next week and will be answering all your questions. Click here for their site. To register for the summit, click here.
Q: Is CVS (CVS) a good buy?
A: I would say yes; a billion Covid-19 vaccine doses will need to be distributed next year. You can’t do that without all the drug companies participating big time.
Q: Does Trump have a chance to win in his lawsuits?
A: It’s more likely that I will be elected the next Miss America; so, I wouldn’t place any bets on that. Some 30 consecutive Republican judges ruling against him does not augur well for his future.
Q: Would you buy any LEAPS here (Long Term Equity Participation Securities)?
A: Only in special one-off situations in the domestic stocks that haven’t moved in ten years. There are a lot of those out there now that I have been recommending. Those are all fertile territory for LEAPs, especially going out 2 years where you get the maximum bang for the buck and a 1,000% return. Don’t touch LEAPs in technology stocks here, and don’t touch Tesla in LEAPs.
Q: What’s your outlook on Southwest Air (LUV)?
A: I like it; it’s one of the healthiest domestic airlines most likely to come back.
Q: Are you going to update your long-term portfolio?
A: Yes, but I only update it twice a year and my next turn is on January 22. If you bought the last update on July 22, you made a fortune getting into Freeport McMoRan at $12 (it’s now $23), CRISPER Therapeutics at $80 (CRSP) (it’s now $110), and Square (SQ) at $110 (the current is $212). You can find it by logging into www.madhedgefundtrader.com, going to My Account, clicking on Global Trading Dispatch, on the drop-down menu, click on the Long-Term Portfolio tab and then clicking on the red tab for the Long-Term Portfolio. That lets you download an excel spreadsheet.
Q: Do you have any LEAPS to suggest now?
A: I only put out portfolios of LEAPS at giant market bottoms like we had in March. Then I put out lists and lists of LEAPS. At all-time highs, it’s not good LEAPS territory, except for specific names. So, if you want to get involved in that on a regular basis, I suggest you sign up for our Mad Hedge Concierge Service. There they are making millions of dollars a week right now.
Q: Where does the US dollar (UUP) go from here?
A: Straight down; the outlook for the buck couldn’t be worse. I would be selling short the US dollar like crazy right now except that there are much better trades in US equities.
Q: Just to be clear, there’s no voter fraud?
A: There’s probably never been an election in US history without voter fraud on all sides; it’s just a question of who’s better at it. In the 1948 Texas Democratic Party runoff, back when the party owned Texas, Lyndon Johnson won by 87 votes out of 988,295 cast. It was later found that in five Hispanic-dominated counties that bordered Mexico, everyone had voted 100% for Johnson ….in alphabetical order. Johnson then took the seat with a 66% margin and went on to dominate the US Senate. I remember in the 1960 election, all the military absentee votes were sent flying around in circles over the Atlantic so Kennedy would win; that’s a story that’s been out there for a long time.
Q: You said stay away from other EVs except for Tesla?
A: A few have gone crazy this week, but that doesn’t mean they can actually make a car. So, you might get lucky on a quick trade on some of these, but long term, I don’t think any of the other non-Tesla EV companies are going to make it except for General Motors, which is plowing $27 billion into the sector. Even if (GM) may be able to put out a lot of cars, but they won’t be able to make very much money at it because they’re nowhere near the neighborhood of Tesla with the software where all the money is made.
Q: As the dollar gets weaker, will you expand your international stock picks?
A: Yes, we put out the first one in a long time, Ali Baba (BABA), on Monday, and we’ll be adding to that a bunch. I think the dollar could be weak for 5 or 10 years, a lot like it was in the 1970s.
Q: What’s your outlook for silver (SLV)?
A: Same as for gold (GLD). Quiet for the short term, double for the long term.
Q: Favorite names in biotech?
A: For that, you really need to subscribe to the biotech letter; we’re giving you two names a week there and all of them have done great. But another one might be Thermo Fisher (TMO), which seems to double every time I recommend it. It’s a great takeover target too.
Q: Is there any possibility of a 30% dip in the market (SPY) in 2021?
A: No, I don’t see more than a 10% dip in 2021. The tailwinds now are gale-force, generational, and will run for a decade.
Q: How do you sell the US dollar rally?
A: You buy all the ETFs that we cover in our foreign exchange sections. Those are the Australian dollar (FXA), the Euro (FXE), the Japanese Yen (FXY), the British pound (FXB), and the Chinese Yuan (CYB). Those are five ETFs that will do well on a weak dollar for the next several years.
Q: What about the Invesco Solar ETF TAN?
A: We have been recommending (TAN) for many years and it has done spectacularly well. I still love it long term, but it’s had one heck of a run; it’s up 300% from the March low. I think the entire country is about to have a solar explosion because the costs are now quite simply less than for oil. It’s an economic question. We are going to an all-Electric America.
Q: What do you think about LEAPS on gold?
A: It’s not really LEAPs territory yet, but on a two-year view, you’d have to do well on gold LEAPs.
Q: Is the Invesco DB US Dollar Index Bullish Fund (UUP) good to buy?
A: You should be looking to short the UUP. It’s a long dollar basket which we think will do terribly.
Good Luck and Stay Healthy.
CEO & Publisher
The Diary of a Mad Hedge Fund Trader
Global Market Comments
January 8, 2020
(WEDNESDAY FEBRUARY 4 SYDNEY STRATEGY LUNCHEON)
(CALIFORNIA GOES WHOLE HOG ON SOLAR),
(FSLR), (SPWR), (TAN)
As of January 1, 2020, it is illegal to build a home in California without solar panels.
Furthermore, dozens of cities have gone as far as banning natural gas appliances like ovens, heaters, and burners.
It is the most ambitious solar initiative anywhere in the world today. Those who invest in backup storage batteries like the Tesla Powerwall, will receive additional cash incentives.
It’s not like solar is new in the Golden State. It boasts over one million homes with installed panels out of a total housing stock of 16 million. It is all part of a grand plan for the state to obtain 100% of its electric power from alternative sources by 2030.
The new measures are expected to add $9,500 to the cost of new home construction. Builders are expected to eat most of it.
However, it will cut utility bills by $19,000 over the 30-year life of a solar system. And that is at today’s prices. California homeowners have already suffered two back-to-back 15% price increases over the past two years. With northern California’s utility PG&E (PGE) in bankruptcy, more stiff price hikes are expected.
You would think that the news would set the share prices of American solar companies, like First Solar (FSLR) and SunPower (SPWR), on fire.
That’s because solar prices are joined at the hip with conventional energy sources.
When oil is cheap, solar share prices die a horrible death. When oil is dear, everybody and his brother wants to pile into everything alternative, be it solar panels, storage batteries, windmills, electric cars, and high mileage hybrid cars like the Prius.
The sole exception has been the Invesco Solar ETF (TAN). It has a globally diversified portfolio that invests in countries with much higher electricity prices than hours, thanks to local regulation and taxes. Only 53% of its investments are in the US, with a hefty 19% in Hong Kong alone, of all places.
The last two years have produced a new reason to go off the grid. Ferocious wildfires in the Golden State that have killed hundreds have led to total statewide blackouts from PG&E whenever wind speeds exceed 40 miles an hour.
Unless you want to keep throwing out all your frozen food every few weeks, the only way to move forward is with a solar-powered battery backup system. It’s just a matter of time before high-end homes can only be sold with 48 hours of backup power. The same logic applies to the hurricane-ravaged east and Gulf coasts. It’s especially an issue today with up to 25% of Bay Area residents working from home.
No juice, no job.
As for me, I am in the process of doubling up my own solar system, taking it up to a gargantuan 23,114 kWh, with three Tesla Powerwalls thrown in for good measure.
But then I have a Tesla P110D Model X that eats up 1,000 kWh a month. All of my appliances are electric except the gas burner because my traditional chef can’t cook without it and the water heater, because I want to have 200 gallons of water at all times in case an earthquake hits. I am turning into my own mini electric power utility, and I am not alone.
I have been encouraged by my experience with my first solar system, which I installed five years ago. It has worked flawlessly, since it has no moving parts. The installer promised me a six-year breakeven against my $500 a month power bill. I covered my cost in four years, thanks to soaring power prices.
And who has the highest electricity prices in the United States? That would be Hawaii, where all fuels have to be imported from great distances. Hawaiians have to pay a massive 66 cents a kilowatt. California only has to pay a peak rate of 55 cents a kilowatt, also among the highest in the country. Drive along Honolulu Interstate H1 today and all you see are solar panels.
With great fanfare, congress passed a blockbuster $1.8 trillion spending bill in December. President Obama hastily signed the bill into law the next day.
Barley noticed was a measure included in the bill, which extends the 30% investment tax credit for alternative energy investments by five more years, until the end of 2021.
Barely, that is, unless you owned solar stocks.
Since the intention to include this pet democratic program started leaking out in November, shares of the entire industry doubled in value.
Solar City (SCTY) rocketed by 136%. First Solar (FSLR) soared by 81%. Even the normally quiescent Guggenheim Solar ETF (TAN) gained an impressive 28%.
Since then, these shares have given up a big chunk of their gains, thanks to the ongoing stock market correction. Better look hard at this group. They could become one of the top performers this year.
In exchange for the solar extension, the president agreed to permit oil exports for the first time in 40 years. The fact that the country has run out of storage and already has 50 filled takers sitting offshore in the Gulf of Mexico makes this an easy move.
House Minority leader, Nancy Pelosi, my local congressperson, told me the republicans were willing to ?Give away the store? to get the export measure through.
It seems that the Koch Brothers, the republican party?s largest donors and funders of global warming deniers, wanted to use the oil export measure as the means to offshore the entire US petrochemical industry.
It is headed for emerging nations, where labor is cheaper, taxes are lower, and regulation nil. That means the loss of tens of thousands of US jobs, many in California, over which Pelosi complained.
Pelosi complaining about the loss of petrochemical jobs? It?s proof that if you live long enough, you see everything.
Whatever jobs the Golden State loses here, it will make back with solar, big time. Industry analysts estimate that the five-year extension is worth a STAGGERING $125 BILLION IN ADDITIONAL SALES!
That is a multiple of the entire solar industry?s current total annual sales.
What?s more, this is five years during which the solar industry can dramatically improve panel output efficiencies, inverters, designs, and cut costs (remember that the cost of labor and regulation, about half the cost of a solar installation, is still rising).
Solar is already close to grid parity on costs now. It is even competitive in Texas. It will be substantially cheaper in five years.
During the same time, the cost of grid power will keep rising continuously, thanks to rising capital cost of replacing aging infrastructure.
I?m not saying you should rush out and buy solar today. But when the bull market resumes later this year, this group should be at the top of your list.
As for me, I am already getting estimates for a doubling of my existing solar roof system to accommodate the charging of my second Tesla, the Model X.
To learn all the ins and outs of buying and installing a solar roof system for you self, please read ?How to Buy a Solar System? by clicking here.
I am once again writing this report from a first class sleeping cabin on Amtrak?s California Zephyr.
By day, I have two comfortable seats facing each other next to a panoramic window. At night, they fold into bunk beds, a single and a double. There is a shower, but only Houdini could get in and out of it.
I am not Houdini, so I go downstairs to use the larger public showers.
We are now pulling away from Chicago?s Union Station, leaving its hurried commuters, buskers, panhandlers, and majestic great halls behind. I love this building as a monument to American accomplishment.
I am headed for Emeryville, California, just across the bay from San Francisco. That gives me only 56 hours to complete this report.
I tip my porter, Raymond, $100 in advance to make sure everything goes well during the long adventure, and to keep me up to date with the onboard gossip.
The rolling and pitching of the car is causing my fingers to dance all over the keyboard. Spellchecker can catch most of the mistakes, but not all of them.
Thank goodness for small algorithms.
As both broadband and cell phone coverage are unavailable along most of the route, I have to rely on frenzied searches during stops at major stations along the way to chase down data points.
You know those cool maps in the Verizon stores that show the vast coverage of their cell phone networks? They are complete BS.
Who knew that 95% of America is off the grid? That explains a lot about our country today. I have posted many of my better photos from the trip below, although there is only so much you can do from a moving train and an iPhone 6.
After making the rounds with strategists, portfolio managers, and hedge fund traders, I can confirm that 2015 was one of the toughest to trade for careers lasting 30, 40, or 50 years. Even the stay-at-home index players had their heads handed to them.
With the Dow gaining 3.1% in 2015, and S&P 500 almost dead unchanged, this was a year of endless frustration. Volatility fell to the floor, staying at a monotonous 12% for eight boring consecutive months before spiking repeatedly many times to as high as 52%. Most hedge funds lagged the index by miles.
My Trade Alert Service, hauled in an astounding 38.8% profit, at the high was up 48.7%, and has become the talk of the hedge fund industry.
If you think I spend too much time absorbing conspiracy theories from the Internet, let me give you a list of the challenges I see financial markets facing in the coming year:
The Four Key Variables for 2016
1) Will the Fed raise interest rates more or not?
2) Will China?s emerging economy see a hard or soft landing?
3) Will Japanese and European quantitative easing increase, or remain the same?
4) Will oil bottom and stay low, or bounce hard?
Here are your answers to the above: no, soft, more later, bounce hard later.
There you go! That?s all the research you have to do for the coming year. Everything else is a piece of cake.
The Ten Highlights of 2015
1) Stocks will finish higher in 2016, almost certainly more than the previous year, somewhere in the 5% range and 7% with dividends. Cheap energy, a recovering global economy, and 2-3% GDP growth, will be the drivers. However, this year we have a headwind of rising interest rates and falling multiples.
2) Expect stocks to take a 15% dive. That gives us a -15% to +5% trading range for the year. Volatility will remain permanently higher, with several large spikes up. That means you are going to have to pedal harder to earn your crust of bread in 2016.
3) The Treasury bond market will modestly grind down, anticipating the next 25 basis point rate rise from the Federal Reserve, and then the next one after that.
4) The yen will lose another 5% against the dollar.
5) The Euro will fall another 5%, doing its best to hit parity with the greenback, with the assistance of beleaguered continental governments.
6) Oil stays in a $30-$60 range, showering the economy with hundreds of billions of dollars worth of de facto tax cuts.
7) Gold finally bottoms at $1,000 after one more final flush, then rallies $250. (My jeweler was right, again).
8) Commodities finally bottom out, thanks to new found strength in the global economy, and begin a modest recovery.
9) Residential real estate has made its big recovery, and will grind up slowly from here for years.
The Thumbnail Portfolio
Equities – Long. A rising but high volatility year takes the S&P 500 up to 2,200. Technology, biotech, energy, solar, consumer discretionary, and financials lead. Energy should find its bottom, but later than sooner.
Bonds – Short. Down for the entire year, but not by much, with long periods of stagnation.
Foreign Currencies – Short. The US dollar maintains its bull trend, especially against the Yen and the Euro, but won’t gain nearly as much as in 2015.
Commodities – Long. A China recovery takes them up eventually.
Precious Metals – Buy as close to $1,000 as you can. We are overdue for a trading rally.
Agriculture – Long. El Nino in the north and droughts in Latin American should add up to higher prices.
Real estate – Long. Multifamily up, commercial up, single family homes up small.
1) The Economy – Fortress America
I think real US economic growth will come in at the 2.5%-3% range.
With a generational demographic drag continuing for five more years, don?t expect more than that. Big spenders, those in the 46-50 age group, don?t return in larger numbers until 2022.
But this negative will be offset by a plethora of positives, like hyper-accelerating technology, global expansion, and the lingering effects of the Fed?s massive five year quantitative easing.
US corporate profits will keep pushing to new all time highs. But this year we won?t be held back by the collapsing economies of Europe, China, and Japan, which subtracted about 0.5% from American economic growth, nor weak energy.
US Corporate earnings will probably come in at $130 a share for the S&P 500, a gain of 10% over the previous year. During the last six years, we have seen the most dramatic increase in earnings in history, taking them to all-time highs.
Technology and dramatically lower energy costs are the principal sources of profit increases, which will continue their inexorable improvements. Think of more machines and software replacing people.
You know all of those hundreds of billions raised from technology IPO?s in 2015? Most of that is getting plowed right back into new start ups, increasing the rate of technology improvements even further, and the productivity gains that come with it.
We no longer have the free lunch of zero interest rates. But the cost of money will rise so slowly that it will barely impact profits. Deflation is here to stay. Watch the headline jobless rate fall below 5% to a full employment economy.
Keep close tabs on the weekly jobless claims that come out at 8:30 AM Eastern every Thursday for a good read as to whether the financial markets will head in a ?RISK ON? or ?RISK OFF? direction.
2) Equities (SPX), (QQQ), (AAPL), (XLF), (BAC), (EEM),(EWZ), (RSX), (PIN), (FXI), (TUR), (EWY), (EWT), (IDX)
For the first time in seven years, earnings multiples are going to fall, but not by much. That is the only possible outcome in a world with rising interest rates, however modestly.
If multiples fall by 5%, from the current 18X to 17.1X, profits increase by 10%, and you throw in a 2% dividend, you should net out a 7% return by the end of the year.
S&P 500 earnings fell by 6% in 2015, but take out oil and they grew by 5.6%. In 2016, energy will be a lesser drag, or not at all. That makes my 10% target doable.
That is not much of a return with which to take on a lot of risk. But remember, in a near zero interest rate world, there is nothing else to buy.
This is not an outrageous expectation, given the 10-22 earnings multiple range that we have enjoyed during the last 30 years.
The market currently trades around fair value, and no market in history ever peaked out here. An overshoot to the upside, often a big one, is mandatory. Yet, that is years off.
After all, my friend, Janet Yellen, is paying you to buy stock with cheap money, so why not? Borrowing money at close to zero and investing in 2% dividend paying stocks has become the world?s largest carry trade.
Rising interest rates will have one additional worrying impact on stock prices. They will pare back mergers and acquisitions and corporate buy backs in 2016.
Together these were the sources of all new net buying of stocks in 2015, some $5.5 trillion worth. Call it financial engineering, but the market loves it.
Although energy looks terrible now, it could well be the top-performing sector by the end of the year, to be followed by commodities.
Certainly, every hedge fund and activist investor out there is undergoing a crash course on oil fundamentals. After a 13-year expansion of leverage in the industry, it is ripe for a cleanout.
Solar stocks will continue on a tear, now that the 30% federal investment tax subsidy has been extended by five more years. Look at Solar City (SCTY), First Solar (FSLR), and the solar basket ETF (TAN). Revenues are rocketing and costs are falling.
After spending a year in the penalty box, look for small cap stocks to outperform. These are the biggest beneficiaries of cheap energy and low interest rates.
Share prices will deliver anything but a straight-line move. Expect a couple more 10% plus corrections in 2015, and for the Volatility Index (VIX) to revisit $30 multiple times. The higher prices rise, the more common these will become.
3) Bonds ?(TLT), (TBT), (JNK), (PHB), (HYG), (PCY), (MUB), (HCP), (KMP), (LINE)
Amtrak needs to fill every seat in the dining car, so you never know who you will get paired with for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
There was the Vietnam vet Phantom jet pilot who now refused to fly because he was treated so badly at airports. A young couple desperate to get out of Omaha could only afford seats as far as Salt Lake City, sitting up all night. I paid for their breakfast.
A retired British couple was circumnavigating the entire US in a month on a ?See America Pass.? Mennonites returning home by train because their religion forbade airplanes.
I have to confess that I am leaning towards the ?one and done? school of thought with regards to the Fed?s interest rate policy. We may see a second 25 basis point rise in June, but only if the economy takes off like a rocket and international concerns disappear, an unlikely probability.
If you told me that US GDP growth was 2.5%, unemployment was at a ten year low at 5.0%, and energy prices had just plunged by 68%, I would have pegged the ten-year Treasury bond yield at 6.0%. Yet here we are at 2.25%.
We clearly are seeing a brave new world.
Global QE added to a US profit glut has created more money than the fixed income markets can absorb.
Virtually every hedge fund manager and institutional investor got bonds wrong last year, expecting rates to rise. I was among them, but that is no excuse.
Fixed income turned out to be a winner for me in 2015, as I sold short every bond price spike from the summer onward. It worked like a charm.
You might as well take your traditional economic books and throw them in the trash. Apologies to John Maynard Keynes, John Kenneth Galbraith, and Paul Samuelson.
The reasons for the debacle are myriad, but global deflation is the big one. With ten year German bunds yielding a paltry 62 basis points, and Japanese bonds paying a paltry 26 basis points, US Treasuries are looking like a steal.
To this, you can add the greater institutional bond holding requirements of Dodd-Frank, a balancing US budget deficit, a virile US dollar, the commodity price collapse, and an enormous embedded preference for investors to keep buying whatever worked yesterday.
For more depth on the perennial strength of bonds, please click here for ?Ten Reasons Why I?m Wrong on Bonds?.
Bond investors today get an unbelievable bad deal. If they hang on to the longer maturities, they will get back only 80 cents worth of purchasing power at maturity for every dollar they invest a decade down the road.
But institutions and individuals will grudgingly lock in these appalling returns because they believe that the potential losses in any other asset class will be worse.
The problem is that driving eighty miles per hour while only looking in the rear view mirror can be hazardous to your financial health.
While much of the current political debate centers around excessive government borrowing, the markets are telling us the exact opposite.
A 2% handle on the ten-year yield is proof to me that there is a Treasury bond shortage, and that the government is not borrowing too much money, but not enough.
There is another factor supporting bonds that no one is looking at. The concentration of wealth with the 1% has a side effect of pouring money into bonds and keeping it there. Their goal is asset protection and nothing else.
These people never sell for tax reasons, so the money stays there for generations. It is not recycled into the rest of the economy, as conservative economists insist. As this class controls the bulk of investable assets, this forestalls any real bond market crash, at lest for the near term.
So what will 2016 bring us? I think that the erroneous forecast of higher yields I made last year will finally occur this year, and we will start to chip away at the bond market bubble?s granite edifice.
I am not looking for a free fall in price and a spike up in rates, just a move to a new higher trading range.
We could ratchet back up to a 3% yield, but not much higher than that. This would enable the inverse Treasury bond bear ETF (TBT) to reverse its dismal 2015 performance, taking it from $46 back up to $60.
You might have to wait for your grandchildren to start trading before we see a return of 12% Treasuries, last seen in the early eighties. I probably won?t live that long.
Reaching for yield suddenly went out of fashion for many investors, which is typical at market tops. As a result, junk bonds (JNK) and (HYG), REITS (HCP), and master limited partnerships (AMLP) are showing their first value in five years.
There is also emerging market sovereign debt to consider (PCY). If oil and commodities finally bottom, these high yielding bonds should take off on a tear.
This asset class was hammered last year, so we are now facing a rare entry point.
There is a good case for sticking with munis. No matter what anyone says, taxes are going up, and when they do, this will increase tax-free muni values.
The collapse of the junk bond market suddenly made credit quality a big deal last year. What is better than lending to the government, unless you happen to live in Puerto Rico or Illinois.
So if you hate paying taxes, go ahead and buy this exempt paper, but only with the expectation of holding it to maturity. Liquidity could get pretty thin along the way, and mark to markets could be shocking.
Be sure to consult with a local financial advisor to max out the state, county, and city tax benefits.
One question I always get asked at lunches, conferences, and lectures is what is going to happen to the budget deficit?
The short answer is that it disappears in 2018 with no change in current law, thanks to steady growth in tax revenues and no big new wars.
And Social Security? It will be fully funded by 2030, thanks to a huge demographic tailwind provided by the addition of 86 million Millennials to the tax rolls.
A bump up in US GDP growth from 2% to 4% during the 2020?s will also be a huge help, again, provided we don?t start any more wars.
It looks like I am going to be able to collect after all.
4) Foreign Currencies (FXE), (EUO), (FXC), (FXA), (YCS), (FXY), (CYB)
Without much movement in interest rates in 2016, you can expect the same for foreign currencies.
Last year, we saw never ending expectations of aggressive quantitative easing by foreign central banks, which never really showed. What we did get, was always disappointing.
The decade long bull market in the greenback continues, but not by much. You can forget about those dramatic double digit gains the dollar made against the Euro at the beginning of last year, which we absolutely nailed.
The fundamental play for the Japanese yen is still from the short side. But don?t expect movement until we see another new leg of quantitative easing from the Bank of Japan. It could be a long wait.
The problems in the Land of the Rising Sun are almost too numerous to count: the world?s highest debt to GDP ratio, a horrific demographic problem, flagging export competitiveness against neighboring China and South Korea, and the world?s lowest developed country economic growth rate.
The dramatic sell off we saw in the Japanese currency since December, 2012 is the beginning of what I believe will be a multi decade, move down. Look for ?130 to the dollar sometime in 2016, and ?150 further down the road.
I have many friends in Japan looking for an overshoot to ?200. Take every 3% pullback in the greenback as a gift to sell again.
With the US having the world?s strongest major economy, its central bank is, therefore, most likely to continue raising rates the fastest.
That translates into a strong dollar, as interest rate differentials are far and away the biggest decider of the direction in currencies. So the dollar will remain strong against the Australian and Canadian dollars as well.
For a sleeper, use the next plunge in emerging markets to buy the Chinese Yuan ETF (CYB) for your back book. Now that the Yuan is an IMF reserve currency, it has attained new respectability.
But don?t expect more than single digit returns. The Middle Kingdom will move heaven and earth in order to keep its appreciation modest to maintain their crucial export competitiveness.
5) Commodities (FCX), (VALE), (MOO), (DBA), (MOS), (MON), (AGU), (POT), (PHO), (FIW), (CORN), (WEAT), (SOYB), (JJG)
There isn?t a strategist out there not giving thanks for not loading up on commodities in 2015, the preeminent investment disaster of the year. Those who did are now looking for jobs on Craig?s List.
It was another year of overwhelming supply meeting flagging demand, both in Europe and Asia. Blame China, the one big swing factor in the global commodity.
The Middle Kingdom is currently changing drivers of its economy, from foreign exports to domestic consumption. This will be a multi decade process, and they have $3.5 trillion in reserves to finance it.
It will still demand prodigious amounts of imported commodities, especially, oil, copper, iron ore, and coal, all of which we sell. But not as much as in the past. This trend ran head on into a decade long expansion of capacity by the industry.
The derivative equity plays here, Freeport McMoRan (FCX) and Companhia Vale do Rio Doce (VALE), have all taken an absolute pasting.
The food commodities were certainly the asset class to forget about in 2015, as perfect weather conditions and over planting produced record crops for the second year in a row, demolishing prices. The associated equity plays took the swan dive with them.
Not even the arrival of one of the biggest El Nino events in history could bail them out.
However, the ags are still a tremendous long term Malthusian play. The harsh reality here is that the world is making people faster than the food to feed them, the global population jumping from 7 billion to 9 billion by 2050.
Half of that increase comes in countries unable to feed themselves today, largely in the Middle East. The idea here is to use any substantial weakness, as we are seeing now, to build long positions that will double again if global warming returns in the summer, or if the Chinese get hungry.
The easy entry points here are with the corn (CORN), wheat (WEAT), and soybean (SOYB) ETF?s. You can also play through (MOO) and (DBA), and the stocks Mosaic (MOS), Monsanto (MON), Potash (POT), and Agrium (AGU).
The grain ETF (JJG) is another handy fund. Though an unconventional commodity play, the impending shortage of water will make the energy crisis look like a cakewalk. You can participate in this most liquid of assets with the ETF?s (PHO) and (FIW).
6) Energy (DIG), (RIG), (USO), (DUG), (DIG), (UNG), (USO), (OXY), (XLE), (X)
You are now an oil trader, even if you didn?t realize it. Yikes!
The short-term direction of the price of Texas tea will be the principal driver for the prices of all asset classes, as it was for the 2015.
The smartest thing I did in 2015 was to ignore the professional traders, who called the bottom in oil monthly, based on key technical levels.
Instead, I hung on every word uttered by my old drilling buddies in the Barnett Shale, who only saw endless supply.
Guess whom I?ll be paying attention to this year?
I expect oil to bottom in 2016, and then launch a ferocious short covering rally. But when and where is anyone?s guess.
If energy legends John Hamm, John Arnold, and T. Boone Pickens have no idea where the absolute low will be, who am I to second-guess them?
When that happens, a trillion dollars will pour out of the sidelines into this troubled sector. Energy shares should be top-performers in 2016.
That makes energy Master Limited Partnerships, now yielding 10%-15%, especially interesting in this low yield world. Since no one in the industry knows which issuers are going bankrupt, you have to take a basket approach and buy all of them.
The Alerian MLP ETF (AMLP) does this for you in an ETF format (click here for details). At its low this fund was down by 41% this year. The last printed annualized yield I saw was 10%. That kind of return will cover up a lot of sins.
Our train has moved over to a siding to permit a freight train to pass, as it has priority on the Amtrak system. Three Burlington Northern engines are heaving to pull over 100 black, brand new tank cars, each carrying 30,000 gallons of oil from the fracking fields in North Dakota.
There is another tank car train right behind it. No wonder Warren Buffet tap dances to work every day, as he owns the railroad.
Who knew that a new, younger Saudi king would ramp up production to once unimaginable levels and crush prices, turning the energy world upside down?
They aren?t targeting American frackers, who at 1 million barrels a day in a 92 million barrel a day demand world barely move the needle. Their goal is to destroy the economies of enemies Iran, Yemen, Russia, and of course ISIS, which need high prices to stay in business.
So far, so good.
Cheaper energy will bestow new found competitiveness on US companies that will enable them to claw back millions of jobs from China in dozens of industries.
At current prices, the energy savings works out to an eye popping $550 per American driver per year!
This will end our structural unemployment faster than demographic realities would otherwise permit.
We have a major new factor this year in considering the price of energy. The nuclear deal with Iran promises to add 500,000 to 1 million barrels a day to an already glutted global market. Iraq is ramping up production as well.
We are also seeing relentless improvements on the energy conservation front with more electric vehicles, high mileage conventional cars, and newly efficient building. Anyone of these inputs is miniscule on its own. But add them all together and you have a game changer.
Enjoy cheap oil while it lasts because it won?t last forever. American rig counts are already falling off a cliff and will eventually engineer a price recovery.
As is always the case, the cure for low prices is low prices. But we may never see $100/barrel crude again.
Add to your long term portfolio (DIG), Exxon Mobil (XOM), Cheniere Energy (LNG), the energy sector ETF (XLE), Conoco Phillips (COP), and Occidental Petroleum (OXY).
Skip natural gas (UNG) price plays and only go after volume plays, because the discovery of a new 100-year supply from ?fracking? and horizontal drilling in shale formations is going to overhang this subsector for a very long time.
It is a basic law of economics that cheaper prices bring greater demand and growing volumes, which have to be transported. However, major reforms are required in Washington before use of this molecule goes mainstream.
These could be your big trades of 2016, but expect to endure some pain first, nor to get much sleep at night.
7) Precious Metals (GLD), (DGP), (SLV), (PPTL), (PALL)
The train has added extra engines at Denver, so now we may begin the long laboring climb up the Eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains.
On a steep curve, we pass along an antiquated freight train of hopper cars filled with large boulders. The porter tells me this train is welded to the tracks to create a windbreak. Once, a gust howled out of the pass so swiftly that it blew a train over on to its side.
In the snow filled canyons we sight a family of three moose, a huge herd of elk, and another group of wild mustangs. The engineer informs us that a rare bald eagle is flying along the left side of the train. It?s a good omen for the coming year.
We also see countless abandoned 19th century gold mines and the broken down wooden trestles leading to them, relics of previous precious metals busts. So it is timely here to speak about precious metals.
As long as the world is clamoring for paper assets like stocks and bonds, gold is just another shiny rock. After all, who needs an insurance policy if you are going to live forever?
We have already broken $1,040 once, and a test of $1,000 seems in the cards before a turnaround ensues. There are more hedge fund redemptions and stop losses to go. The bear case has the barbarous relic plunging all the way down to $700.
But the long-term bull case is still there. Gold is not dead; it is just resting.
If you forgot to buy gold at $35, $300, or $800, another entry point is setting up for those who, so far, have missed the gravy train. The precious metals have to work off a severely, decade old overbought condition before we make substantial new highs.
Remember, this is the asset class that takes the escalator up and the elevator down, and sometimes the window.
If the institutional world devotes just 5% of their assets to a weighting in gold, and an emerging market central bank bidding war for gold reserves continues, it has to fly to at least $2,300, the inflation adjusted all-time high, or more.
This is why emerging market central banks step in as large buyers every time we probe lower prices. China and India emerged as major buyers of gold in the final quarter of 2015.
They were joined by Russia, which was looking for non-dollar investments to dodge US economic and banking sanctions.
For me, that pegs the range for 2016 at $1,000-$1,250. ETF players can look at the 1X (GLD) or the 2X leveraged gold (DGP).
I would also be using the next bout of weakness to pick up the high beta, more volatile precious metal, silver (SLV), which I think could hit $50 once more, and eventually $100.
What will be the metals to own in 2015? Palladium (PALL) and platinum (PPLT), which have their own auto related long term fundamentals working on their behalf, would be something to consider on a dip.
With US auto production at 18 million units a year and climbing, up from a 9 million low in 2009, any inventory problems will easily get sorted out.
8) Real Estate (ITB)
The majestic snow covered Rocky Mountains are behind me. There is now a paucity of scenery, with the endless ocean of sagebrush and salt flats of Northern Nevada outside my window, so there is nothing else to do but write.
My apologies to readers in Wells, Elko, Battle Mountain, and Winnemucca, Nevada.
It is a route long traversed by roving banks of Indians, itinerant fur traders, the Pony Express, my own immigrant forebears in wagon trains, the transcontinental railroad, the Lincoln Highway, and finally US Interstate 80.
There is no doubt that there is a long-term recovery in real estate underway. We are probably 5 years into a 17-year run at the next peak in 2028.
But the big money has been made here over the past two years, with some red hot markets, like San Francisco, soaring. If you live within commuting distance of Apple (AAPL), Google (GOOG), or Facebook (FB) headquarters in California, you are looking at multiple offers, bidding wars, and prices at all time highs.
While the sales figures have recently been weak, it is a shortage of supply that is the cause. You can?t sell what you don?t have, at least in the real estate business.
From here on, I expect a slow grind up well into the 2020?s. If you live in the rest of the country, we are talking about small, single digit gains. The consequence of pernicious deflation is that home prices appreciate at a glacial pace.
At least, it has stopped going down, which has been great news for the financial industry.
There are only three numbers you need to know in the housing market for the next 20 years: there are 80 million baby boomers, 65 million Generation Xer?s who follow them, and 86 million in the generation after that, the Millennials.
The boomers have been unloading dwellings to the Gen Xer?s since prices peaked in 2007. But there are not enough of the latter, and three decades of falling real incomes mean that they only earn a fraction of what their parents made. That’s what caused the financial crisis.
If they have prospered, banks won?t lend to them. Brokers used to say that their market was all about ?location, location, location?. Now it is ?financing, financing, financing?.
Banks have gone back to the old standard of only lending money to people who don?t need it. But expect to put up your first-born child as collateral, and bring in your entire extended family in as cosigners if you want to get a bank loan.?
There is a happy ending to this story. Millennials, now aged 21-37 are already starting to kick in as the dominant buyers in the market. They are just starting to transition from 30% to 70% of all new buyers in this market. The Great Millennial Migration to the suburbs has begun.
As a result, the price of single family homes should rocket tenfold during the 2020?s, as they did during the 1970?s and the 1990?s, when similar demographic influences were at play.
This will happen in the context of a coming labor shortfall and rising standards of living. Inflation returns.
Rising rents are accelerating this trend. Renters now pay 35% of the gross income, compared to only 18% for owners, and less when multiple deductions and tax subsidies are taken into account.
Remember too, that by then, the US will not have built any new houses in large numbers in 10 years. We are still operating at only a quarter of the peak rate. Thanks to the Great Recession, the construction of five million new homes has gone missing in action.
That makes a home purchase now particularly attractive for the long term, to live in, and not to speculate with.
You will boast to your grandchildren how little you paid for your house, as my grandparents once did to me ($18,000 for a four bedroom brownstone in Brooklyn in 1922).
Quite honestly, of all the asset classes mentioned in this report, purchasing your abode is probably the single best investment you can make now.
If you borrow at a 3% 5/1 ARM rate, and the long-term inflation rate is 3%, then over time you will get your house for free.
How hard is that to figure out?
We have pulled into the station at Truckee in the midst of a howling blizzard.
My loyal staff have made the 20 mile trek from my beachfront estate at Incline Village to welcome me to California with a couple of hot breakfast burritos and a chilled bottle of Dom Perignon Champagne, which has been resting in a nearby snowbank. I am thankfully spared from taking my last meal with Amtrak.
After that, it was over legendary Donner Pass, and then all downhill from the Sierras, across the Central Valley, and into the Sacramento River Delta.
Well, that?s all for now. We?ve just passed the Pacific mothball fleet moored in the Sacramento River Delta and we?re crossing the Benicia Bridge. The pressure increase caused by an 8,200 foot descent from Donner Pass has crushed my water bottle.
The Golden Gate Bridge and the soaring spire of the Transamerica Building are just around the next bend across San Francisco Bay.
A storm has blown through, leaving the air crystal clear and the bay as flat as glass. It is time for me to unplug my Macbook Pro and iPhone 6, pick up my various adapters, and pack up.
We arrive in Emeryville 45 minutes early. With any luck, I can squeeze in a ten mile night hike up Grizzly Peak and still get home in time to watch the opener for Downton Abbey’s final season.
I reach the ridge just in time to catch a spectacular pastel sunset over the Pacific Ocean. The omens are there. It is going to be another good year.
I?ll shoot you a Trade Alert whenever I see a window open on any of the trades above.
Good trading in 2016!
The Mad Hedge Fund Trader
Let the Sunshine In!
I?ll never forget those immortal words for the hit musical Hair, where I took my senior prom date in 1970.
I had no idea that the entire cast would drop their clothes off at the end of the first act, standing there stark naked. I remember that they guy sitting in front of me almost hard a heart attack. I didn?t know then that such words existed.
My date?s dad would not have been amused.
He was the legendary founder of Wham-O, marketer of famed novelty toys like the Frisbee, the hula-hoop, the Slinky, the Super Ball, and the Slip?n Slide, a multi millionaire, and a famed African lion hunter.
He was a real tough guy.
But he never found out. There were a lot of things he never found out, thank goodness!
But I digress.
I?m sure that California Governor Jerry Brown was humming a few bars of Let the Sunshine In this week, although I doubt he ever saw the play.
Back then, he had just graduated from divinity school as a Jesuit priest (click here for my exclusive interview with the Moon Beam governor ?An Afternoon with California Governor Jerry Brown?.
But the words would have been appropriate, for my illustrious neighbor with the great security detail signed a bill this week that brings into law the most ambitious alternative energy goals seen anywhere in the world.
Jerry?s aspiration is for the Golden State TO OBTAIN 50% OF ITS ELECTRICITY NEEDS BY 2030, IN A MERE 15 YEARS!
In 2014, the state garnered an already impressive 22% of its electricity from non hydro renewables, including solar, wind, biomass, and geothermal sources, already the highest share in the world for a major economy.
There has not been a traditional coal fired electric power plant in the state for more than a decade.
Also included in the legislation are provisions to double the energy efficiencies of homes, offices, and factories. Another goal to cut gasoline consumption by half was axed from the measure after heavy lobbying by big oil.
Lucky for me that I?m already there with my new SunPower Solar installation (click here for ?How to Buy a Solar System? ).
Jerry thoughtfully signed the bill at the Los Angeles Griffith Park Observatory, which offered a panoramic view of the legendary LA smog, the city barely visible.
Some of it is probably still coating the inside of my lungs from my childhood there in the 1950?s.
My readers in all 50 states and 137 countries are constantly begging me to tell them what the Hell is going on in California.
As a technology and regulatory leader, what is adopted here is often imitated across the country and around the world, both the good, and the bad.
You know those seat belts, safety glass, and catalytic converters you find in your cars? They are all the result of laws first passed in California. But then it?s always easy to pile regulation on the industries entirely based out of state.
It doesn?t always work out so well. Adolph Hitler entirely imported the state?s racial purity laws to Germany during the 1930?s, and we all know where that went.
But that is a story for another day.
Of course, there are many who say that the lofty 50% target is unobtainable, or will drive us all broke if we ever get there.
But there is one fact that is utterly undeniable. This will be an absolute windfall of the US solar industry, which has the only technology advanced enough to meet governor Brown?s aggressive targets.
There is, in effect, a solar Moore?s Law that sees efficiencies per dollar spent doubling every four years, such as we have already seen with the faster growth of microprocessor efficiencies since the 1960?s.
Exponential growth of efficiencies will bring exponential growth of company profits.
Annual installations of photovoltaic panels have soared from a token 0.3 gigawatts in 2000 to an impressive 45 gigawatts in 2014, more than enough to fuel 7.4 million American homes.
They are about to grow much larger.
This is all happening because of the simultaneous maturing and cross-pollination of technology, regulation, financing, and venture capital.
A key development was the Chinese entry into mass production of solar panels during the late 2000?s, which led to a near immediate 80% collapse in prices. They now control 70% of the global market.
For the first time in history, solar power is now cheaper than grid power on a non-subsidized basis. Costs are set to still fall dramatically from here.
Fossil fuels are about to become, well?fossils.
The Paris based International Energy Agency, no slouch when it comes to analyzing power data, predicts that solar will account for 27% of the global supply by 2050, and will become the biggest single source.
But futurologist friends of mine, like Tesla?s (TSLA) Elon Musk, Google?s head of engineering, Ray Kurzweil, and cosmologist Dr. Stephen Hawking, believe there is no reason why it shouldn?t be at 100% by 2030-35.
To quote Kurzweil, ?we are only six more doublings away.?
Hillary Clinton wants nothing less than to eliminate all oil and gas tax subsidies worth $100?s of billions, and shift the money to alternatives.
That is a radical move.
Her goal is to increase the solar share of American power generation to 33% by 2027. To expect that this will cause the shares of solar companies to skyrocket is an understatement of the highest order.
Improving solar cell efficiencies promises to take us further and faster into this brave new world.
My own SunPower (SPWR) X-335 panels, with their patented Maxeon solar cells (made in Georgia), convert 20.3% of the sunlight they receive into electricity, the highest in the industry. Cheap imported Chinese panels offer efficiencies as low as 15%.
University labs have perfect cells with 45% efficiencies using advanced silicon compounds. I happen to know that the military has a 65% efficient cell. All that remains are the economies of mass production to bring them to the public market.
This is crucial for the solarization of the global economy. Every 1% improvement in efficiencies cuts that total cost of a new installed system by 5%.
With the trends already in place, it is safe to assume that solar energy costs will fall by at least 10% a year for the foreseeable future.
What are the investment implications of all this? Clearly, the solar industry is about to see its market size increase 30 fold.
Here is the great thing about solar shares.
They have been mercilessly beaten down by the recent collapse in oil prices, which is trading at the $30 handle as I write this, even though its business prospects are vastly improving.
Oil is giving you a once in a lifetime entry point into solar.
Call it guilt by association. Isn?t energy just energy.
These investment plays are the obvious ones that I have been recommending for the past couple of years. They include Solar City (SCTY), First Solar (FSLR), SunPower (SPWR), and more recently, Sun Edison (SUNE).
If you want a broader diversification, you can buy the (TAN).
I think I have figured out the course of the global financial markets over the next few months.
We are currently transitioning from an economic data flow from Q1 that was very weak, to the second quarter, which will almost certainly deliver us a robust set of numbers. This is on the heels of a white hot Q1, 2014.
Hot, cold, hot; this is a trader?s dream come true, as it gives us the volatility we need to make a fortune, as we skillfully weave in and out of these gyrations.
That is, if you read the Diary of a Mad Hedge Fund Trader.
This is not a new thing. A weak Q1 has been a recurring event over the last 30 years. The anomaly has been so reliable that not a few traders have been able to earn a living from it. :) Heaven help us if the government ever tries to fix it.
To further complicate matters, some markets see this, while others have yet to open their eyes.
The stock market (SPY), (QQQ), (IWM) agree with my view, probing new all time highs, while companies announce diabolical Q1 earnings (Twitter (TWTR)? Yikes!). So do commodities, like oil (USO) and copper (FCX), whose recent strength suggests we are on the doorstep of a great economic Golden Age.
However, the foreign exchange market (FXE), (FXY) doesn?t see it this way. They can only comprehend the last data point that just crossed the tape.
If it is weak, they assume the Federal Reserve won?t even think about raising interest rates until well into 2016. If it is healthy, they bet the Fed will jack up rates tomorrow.
You might assume this is ridiculous, and you?d be right. However, forex traders live in a world where interest rate differentials are the principal, and to many the only driver of foreign exchange rates.
One market is right, and one is wrong. Did I mention that this is also a license for we nimble traders to print money?
Of course, you can play both side of the fence, as I do. That?s how I was able to coin it with a long position in the euro (a weak economy trade) the same day my long US equity portfolio (a strong economy trade) was going through the roof.
Let me give you another iteration of these scenarios. Inside the dollar correction we are seeing a pronounced sector rotation among US stocks.
Traders are moving out of small caps (IWM) that sheltered then from a strong dollar into large caps (SPY). They are also taking profits in biotech and rolling it into financials (GS), cyber security (PANW) and solar (TAN).
Goldman Sachs (GS) gave us more rocket fuel for the bull case for of American stocks this morning. The sage investment bank, in which my Trade Alert Service currently maintains a profitable long position, says that corporations will return a mind blowing $1 trillion to investors in 2015.
Share buy back from companies should rise by 18%, while dividends should pop by 7%. It is all a continuation of a six-year trend.
Apple (AAPL) certainly kicked off this quarter?s cavalcade of higher payouts on Monday, when it added $50 billion to its own stock repurchase program and jacked up its dividend by 11%.
Markets could get even more interesting after next week, when some 80% of S&P 500 companies will have existed the ?black out? period when they are not allowed by SEC regulations to buy their own stock.
I say ?tally ho,? and ?tally ho? again.
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