September 30, 2019

Global Market Comments
September 30, 2019
Fiat Lux

Featured Trade:


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

The Market Outlook for the Week Ahead, or Interesting Times are Upon Us

“May you live in interesting times.” The question is whether this old Chinese proverb is a blessing or a curse.

Our beleaguered lives have certainly been getting more interesting by the day, if not the hour. Trump has been withholding military aid from foreign leaders to fish for dirt on those who may run against him in 2020. The prospects of the Chinese trade negotiations seem to flip flop by the day.

Prospective IPOs for Saudi ARAMCO and WeWork have been stood up against a wall and shot. The Altria (MO) – Philip Morris (PM) merger went up in smoke. Brexit (FXB) has turned into a runaway roller coaster that has lost its brakes. And that was just last week!

All of this is happening with the major indices (SPY), ($INDU) mere inches away from all-time highs, with valuations at the high end of the decade-old band. A worse risk/reward for initiating new positions I can’t imagine. I think I’ll go take a long nap instead.

There are times to trade and there are times to engage in research and this is definitely time for the latter. That means when it is time to strike, you already have a list of short names on which to execute. The worst time to initiate research is when the Dow is down 1,000 points.

I believe the markets are gridlocked until we get a good look at Q3 corporate earnings. If they are as bad as the macro data is suggesting, markets will tank. If they aren’t, we may see a begrudging slow-motion grind up to new highs.

Our launch of the Mad Hedge Biotech and Healthcare Letter was a huge success. Let me tell you, we have some real blockbusters lined up in our newsletter queue. The Tuesday letter will have a link that will enable you to get in at the $997 a year founders’ price. Otherwise, you can find it in our store now for $1,500 a year. Please click here.

The WeWork IPO is on the Rocks, with the CEO soon to be fired for self-dealing. In any case, the company has minimal added value and will not survive the next recession when the bulk of its tenants walk. Don’t touch this one on pain of death, even down three quarters from its original valuation.

Watch out for October, says Goldman Sachs (GS), which will see a volatility (VIX) spike 25%. Shockingly poor Q3 corporate earnings results could be the trigger with almost every company negatively impacted by the trade war. This could set up our next entry point on the long side.

The Saudi ARAMCO IPO is on the skids in the wake of the mass drone attack. Terrorist attacks on your key infrastructure is not a great selling point for new shareholders. It just underlines the high-risk investing in the area. The world’s largest IPO may get cancelled.

A huge killing was made on the Thomas Cook affair. It looks like short sellers raked in $2.7 billion in profits on the collapse. Some 600,000 mostly British travelers were stranded or had future vacations cancelled.

Thomas Cook never figured out the Internet, were destroyed by the collapse of the pound triggered by Brexit and, horror upon horrors, bought an airline. It’s all great news for surviving European tour operators and discount airlines. Airfares are already rising.

The S&P Case Shiller ticked up in July, showing that the National Home Price Index rising 3.2%. It’s the first positive move in more than a year. It’s got to be super-low interest rates finally kicking in. But the real move up won’t start until SALT deductions come back in 18 months.

That went over like a lead balloon. From the moment Trump started speaking at the United Nations, stocks went into free fall, dropping 450 points from top to bottom. It’s trade war against everyone all the time with his withdrawal from globalization. Oh, and if you want to resist America’s incredible military might, we will crush you. It’s not what traders wanted to hear.

In the meantime, the impeachment moved forward, with younger Democrats forcing Pelosi’s hand. The Ukraine scandal, a Trump effort to have candidate Joe Biden arrested, was the stick that broke the camel’s back. Fortunately, the stock market could care less. Stocks rose 20% during the last impeachment in the 1990s.

US Consumer Confidence dove in September from 133 estimated down to 125.1 as trade war concerns take their toll. It’s one of the first September data points to come out and presages worse to come. News fatigue has to be a factor.

Crashed 15% to a new three-month low, hitting $7,944. Other cryptos fell 20%. All of the explanations were technical as they always are with this bogus asset class.

The Vaping Crisis demoed the Altria-Philip Morris merger. Suddenly, the crown jewels are toxic and about to be made illegal. The Juul CEO has resigned and the company may be about to go down the tubes. One of the largest mergers in history that would have created a $200 billion company has been tossed on the dustbin of history.

In a rare positive data point, New Homes Sales soared 7.1% in August to a 713,000 annualized rate. Median sales prices rise by 2.2% YOY to $328,400. Inventories drop from 5.9 to 5.5 months. The big numbers are happening in the south and west. Historically low-interest rates are kicking in big time.

The FTC Slammed Match Group (MTCH), the owner of Tinder and OK Cupid, for security lapses and scamming their own customers. Apparently, that gorgeous six-foot blond who speaks six languages who want to meet me if I only subscribed doesn’t actually exist. Oh well.

Q2 GDP final read came in at 2.0% with no change from the last report. Coming quarters will almost certainly be worse as the chickens come home to roost from a global trade war. We may already be in a recession and not know it. Inventories are building at a tremendous rate. Certainly, Fortune 500 CEOs think so.

Tesla deliveries may hit new high in Q3, topping 100,000, according to last week’s leak. The stock is back in play. It looks like I am going to get a new entertainment package upgrade too.

The Mad Hedge Trader Alert Service has blasted through to yet another new all-time high. My Global Trading Dispatch reached new apex of 336.07% and my year-to-date accelerated to +39.47%. The tricky and volatile month of September closed out +3.08%. at My ten-year average annualized profit bobbed up to +34.53%. 

Some 25 out of the last 27 trade alerts have made money, a success rate of 92.59%. Under-promise and over-deliver, that’s the business I have been in all my life. It works.

I took profits in my short position in oil (USO) earlier in the week, capturing a 12% decline there. That gives me a rare 100% cash position. I’m itching to get back in, but conditions right now are terrible

The coming week is all about the September jobs reports. It seems like we just went through those.

On Monday, September 30 at 9:45 AM, the Chicago Purchasing Managers Index for September is out.

On Tuesday, October 1 at 10:00 AM, the US Construction Spending for August is published

On Wednesday, October 2, at 8:15 AM, we learn the ADP Private Employment Report is out for September.

On Thursday, October 3 at 8:30 AM, the Weekly Jobless Claims are printed. At 3:00 PM, we get US Vehicle Sales for September.

On Friday, October 4 at 8:30 AM, the September Nonfarm Payroll Report is announced. Last month was a big disappointment so this month could set a new trend.

The Baker Hughes Rig Count is released at 2:00 PM.

As for me, I’ll be camping out with 2,500 Boy Scouts at the Solano Fair Grounds to attend Advance Camp. That’s where scouts have the opportunity to earn any of 50 merit badges in a single day.

I will be teaching the Swimming Merit Badge class. The basic idea is that if you throw a scout in the pool and he doesn’t drown, he passes. Personally, I wanted to take the welding class. The bonus is that we get to ride nearby roller coasters at Six Flags for free.

Good luck and good trading.

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








September 20, 2019

Global Market Comments
September 20, 2019
Fiat Lux

Featured Trade:

(TLT), (FDX), (FB), (HYG), (JNK), (EEM), (BABA), (JD), (TBT), (FXE), (UUP), (AMZN), (FB), (DIS), (MSFT), (USO), (INDU),

September 18 Biweekly Strategy Webinar Q&A

Below please find subscribers’ Q&A for the Mad Hedge Fund Trader September 18 Global Strategy Webinar broadcast from Silicon Valley, CA with my guest and co-host Bill Davis of the Mad Day Trader. Keep those questions coming!

Q: What would happen to the United States Treasury Bond Fund (TLT) if the Fed does not lower rates?

A: My bet is that it would immediately have a selloff—probably several points—but after that, recession worries will take bond prices up again and yields down. I don’t think we have seen the final lows in interest rates by a long shot. That’s why I bought the (TLT) last week.

Q: Is it good to buy FedEx (FDX) considering the 13% fall today?

A: I use the 3-day rule on these situations. That’s how long it takes for the dust to settle from an earnings shock like this and find the real price. The problem with FedEx is that it’s a great early recession predictor. When the number of delivered packages decreases, it’s always an indicator that the economy as a whole is slowing down, which we know has been happening. It’s one of the most cyclical stocks out there, therefore one of the most dangerous. I wouldn’t bother with FedEx right now. Go take a long nap instead.

Q: Would you be a buyer of Facebook (FB) here, given they seem to have weathered all the recent attacks from Washington?

A: Not here in particular, but I would buy it 20% down when it gets to the bottom edge of its upward channel—it still looks like it’s going crazy. They’re literally renting or buying buildings to hire an additional 50,000 people in San Francisco anticipating huge growth of their business, so that’s a better indicator of the future of Facebook than anything.

Q: Will junk bonds be more in demand now that rates are cratering?

A: Junk bonds (HYG), (JNK) are driven more by the stock market than the bond market, as you can see in the huge rally we just had. Junk bonds are great because their default ratios are usually far below that which the interest rate implies, but you really have to trade them like stocks. Think of them as preferred stocks with really high dividends. When the stock market tops, so will junk bonds. Remember in 2008, junk yields got all the way up to 15% compared to today’s 5.6%.

Q: What will happen to emerging markets (EEM) as rates lower?

A: If lower interest rates bring a weaker US dollar, that would be very positive for emerging markets over the long term and they would be a great buy. However, emerging markets will take the hardest hit if we actually do go into a recession. So, I would pass for now.

Q: What are your thoughts on Alibaba (BABA) and (JD)?

A: They are great for the long term. However, expect a lot of volatility in the short term. As long as the trade war is going on, these are going to be hard to trade until we get a settlement. (JD) is already up 50% this year but is still down 40% from pre trade war levels. These things will all be up 20-30% when that happens. If you can take the heat until then, they would probably be okay for a long-term portfolio globally diversified.

Q: What do you have to say about the ProShares Ultra Short 20+ Year Treasury ETF (TBT)—the short bond ETF?

A: If you have a position, I’d be selling now. We just had a massive 20%, 4-point rally from $22 to $27 and now would be a good time to take a profit, or at least get out closer to your cost. The zero interest rates story is not over yet.

Q: Would you short the US dollar?

A: I would most likely short it against the euro (FXE), which now has a massive economic stimulus and quantitative easing program coming into play which should be positive for it and negative for the US dollar (UUP). That’s most likely why the euro has stabilized over the last couple of weeks. That said, the dollar has been unexpected high all year despite falling interest rates so I have been avoiding the entire foreign exchange space. I try to stay away from things I don’t understand.

Q: If all our big tech September vertical bull call spreads are in the money, what should we do?

A: You do nothing. They all expire at the Friday close in two trading days. Your broker should automatically use your long call position to cover your short call position and credit your account with the total profit on the following Monday, as well as release the margin for holding that position. After that, we’ll probably wait for another good entry point on all the same names, (AMZN), (FB), (DIS), (MSFT).

Q: If the US fires a cruise missile at Iran, how would the market react?

A: It would selloff pretty big—markets hate wars. And the US wouldn’t send one missile at Iran; it would be more like 100, probably aimed at what little nuclear facilities they have. I doubt that is going to happen. The world has figured out that Trump is a wimp. He talks big but there is never any action or follow through. Inviting the Taliban to Camp David while they were still blowing up our people? Really?

Q: Will the housing market turn on the turbochargers after this dip in rates?

A: It wouldn’t turn on the turbochargers, but it might stabilize the market because money is available now at unprecedentedly low interest rates. However, we still have the loss of the SALT deductions—the state and local taxes and real estate taxes that came in with the Trump tax bill. Since then, real estate has been either unchanged or has fallen on both the East and West coast where the highest priced houses are. It’s the most expensive houses that take the loss of the SALT deduction the hardest. Don’t expect any movement in these markets until the SALT deduction comes back, probably in 16 months.

Q: What catalyst do you think would cause a 10% correction in the next 2-3 months?

A: Trump basically saying “screw you” to the Chinese—a tweet saying he’s going to bring another round of tariff increases. That’s worth a minimum of 2,000 points in the Dow Average (INDU), or about 7% percent. Either that or no move in Fed interest rates—that would also create a big selloff. My guess is that and adverse development in the trade war will be what does it. That’s why my positions are so small now.

Q: We have a big short position in the United States Oil Fund (USO) now. Are you going to run this into expiration until October $18?

A: Even though oil has already collapsed by 10% since we put this position on last Friday, premiums in oil options are still close to record levels. So, it pays us to hang on for the time decay. The world is still massively oversupplied in oil and the Saudis were able to bring half of the lost production back on in a day. Oil will keep falling unless there is another attack and it is unlikely we will see one again on this scale. And, we only have 20 more days to go to capture the full 14.8% profit.

Good luck and good trading.
John Thomas
CEO & Publisher
Diary of a Mad Hedge Fund Trader





You Can’t Do Enough Research

August 29, 2019

Global Market Comments
August 29, 2019
Fiat Lux

Featured Trade:

(SPY), ($INDU), (USO), (TLT), (UUP), (COPX), (GLD),

How the Markets Will Play Out for the Rest of 2019

We are currently caught between a rock and a hard place.

The whims of one man will dictate whether after a brutal summer, markets recover to new all-time highs, or plunge into the depths of despair in a bear market and recession.

My bet is that the S&P 500 (SPY) will trade between the 50-day moving average at $294 and the 200-day moving average at $278. Right now, we are dead in the middle of that range.

Then on September 18, the Federal Open Market Committee convenes to deliver a decision on interest rates. I believe that no matter what the decision is, whether they cut rates or leave them unchanged, you will see another sharp selloff in stocks, possibly as much as another 2,000 Dow points. That will bring us a December 2018 repeat.

So why does falling interest rates bring cratering stock prices? For a start, you can take your traditional playbook on how markets are supposed to work and throw it in the trash. Low rates USED to bring high stock prices, but no more.

What is driving markets now is not the absolute level of interest rates today, no matter how low they may be historically. It is how many interest rate cuts are left until we get to zero. So an August 1 25-basis point rate cut meant there are fewer rate cuts in the future so a heart-stopping 2,000-point plunge in the Dow average ensued.

The same twisted logic will apply on September 18, only 16 trading days away. By the way, I plan to be 100% in cash by September 18.

Long term, the outlook gets more complicated.

If the trade war ends in September, then the stock market could rocket up to new all-time highs, surpassing 3,200 by the end of the year, up 14.2% from present levels.

If the trade war drags on, a recession is a sure thing in 12-24 months. That means a bear market in stocks is a sure thing in 6-15 months. And that assumes we are not already in a bear market. After all, the major indexes have been unable to top new highs made in January 2018.

The next bear market will likely take the indexes ($INDU) down 40%. They are, after all, the most overvalued assets in the world.

Oil (USO) will plunge to $25 a barrel. Ten-year US Treasury bond yield (TLT) will collapse to 0%, as I have long been advertising. The US dollar (UUP) leaps, deepening the recession. Commodity prices collapse (COPX) and gold (GLD) soars. We might even get into a shooting war in the South China Sea, as there will be nothing for the Beijing leadership to lose.

Again, it all depends on the whim of one man, one who has never done business in China, and who is constantly surprised by Chinese reactions to his own moves. There is no Trump Hotel in Beijing, nor one planned.

Good luck with that.

Just thought you’d like to know.



Getting Ready for Hard Times

August 16, 2019

Global Market Comments
August 16, 2019
Fiat Lux

Featured Trade:

(TLT), (QQQ), (DBA), (EEM), (UUP)

July 31, 2019

Global Market Comments
July 31, 2019
Fiat Lux


Featured Trade:
(TLT), ($TNX), (TBT), (SPY), ($INDU), (FXE), (UUP), (USO),
(TLT), (TBT),

Italy’s Big Wake Up Call

Those planning a European vacation this summer just received a big gift from Mario Draghi, the outgoing president of the European Central Bank. His promise to re-accelerate quantitative easing in Europe has sent the Euro crashing and the US dollar soaring.

Over the last two weeks, the Euro (FXE) has fallen by 2.5%. That $1,000 Florence hotel suite now costs only $975. Mille Gracie!

You can blame the political instability in the Home of Caesar, which has not had a functioning government since WWII. The big fear is that the extreme left would form a collation government with the extreme right that could lead to its departure from the European Community and the Euro. Think of it as Bernie Sanders joining Donald Trump!

In fact, Italy has had 62 different governments since WWII. They change administrations like I change luxury cars, about once a year. Welcome to European debt crisis part 27.

I can’t remember the last time markets cared about what happened in Europe. It was probably the first Greek debt crisis in 2011. As a result, German ten-year bunds have cratered from 0.60% to -0.40%. But they care today, big time.

Given the reaction of the global financial markets, you could have been forgiven for thinking that the world had just ended.

US Treasury Bond yields (TLT) saw their biggest plunge in years, off 120 basis points to 2.05%.

Even oil prices collapsed for an entirely separate set of reasons, the price of Texas Tea pared 20% since April on spreading global recession fears.

Saudi Arabia looks like it’s about to abandon the wildly successful OPEC production quotas that have been boosting oil prices for the past year. Iran has withdrawn from the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, responding with an undeclared tanker war in the Persian Gulf, which I flew over myself only a few weeks ago. The geopolitical premium is back with a vengeance.

So if the Italian developments are a canard, why are we REALLY going down?

You’re not going to like the answer.

It turns out that rising inflation, interest rates, oil and commodity prices, the US dollar, US national debt, budget deficits, and stagnant wage growth are a TERRIBLE backdrop for risk in general and stocks specifically. And this is all happening with the major indexes at the top end of recent ranges.

In other words, it was an accident waiting to happen.

Traders are extremely nervous, global uncertainty is high, the seasonals are awful, and Washington is a ticking time bomb. If you were wondering why I was issuing so few Trade Alerts in July, these are the reasons.

This all confirms my expectation that markets could remain stuck in increasingly narrow trading ranges for the next six months until the presidential election begins in earnest.

Which is creating opportunities.

The global race towards zero interest  has the US as the principal laggard. So you should keep buying every serious dip in the bond market.

Stocks are still wildly overvalued for the short term, so I’ll keep my low profile there. As for gold (GLD) and the currencies, I keep buying dips there as well.

So watch for those coming Trade Alerts. I’m not dead yet, just resting. The contest here is to make as much money as you can, not to see how many trades you can clock. That is a brokers’ game, not yours.





Waiting for My Shot

July 26, 2019

Global Market Comments
July 26, 2019
Fiat Lux

Featured Trade:

(FCX), (VIX), (VXX), (UUP), (TLT), (EEM), (ELD), (CEW), (GLD),
(FXA), (FXE), (FXC), (FXY), (FXB), (AMZN),