Global Market Comments
June 4, 2020
(SHORT SELLING SCHOOL 101),
(SH), (SDS), (PSQ), (DOG), (RWM), (SPXU), (AAPL),
(VIX), (VXX), (IPO), (MTUM), (SPHB), (HDGE)
Global Market Comments
June 4, 2020
(SHORT SELLING SCHOOL 101),
(SH), (SDS), (PSQ), (DOG), (RWM), (SPXU), (AAPL),
(VIX), (VXX), (IPO), (MTUM), (SPHB), (HDGE)
The stock market is now more overpriced than it has been over the last 20 years when the Dotcom Bubble exploded.
We are also solidly into the high risk, low return time of the year from May to November. Historically, the total return for the time of year or the past 70 years is precisely zero.
I, therefore, think it is timely to review how to make money when prices are falling. I call it Short Selling School 101
There is nothing worse than closing the barn door after the horses have bolted, or hedging after markets have crashed.
No doubt, you will receive a wealth of short selling and hedging ideas from your other research sources and the media right at the next market bottom.
That is always how it seems to play out.
So I am going to get you out ahead of the curve, putting you through a refresher course on how to best trade falling markets now, while stock prices are still rich.
Markets could be down 10% or more by the time this is all over.
There is nothing worse than fumbling around in the dark looking for the matches and candles after a storm has knocked the power out.
I’m not saying that you should sell short the market right here. But there will come a time when you will need to do so.
Watch my Trade Alerts for the best market timing. So here are the best ways to profit from declining stock prices, broken down by security type:
Of course, the granddaddy of them all is the ProShares Short S&P 500 Fund (SH), a non-leveraged bear ETF that is supposed to match the fall in the S&P 500 point for point on the downside. Hence, a 10% decline in the (SPY) is supposed to generate a 10% gain in the (SH).
In actual practice, it doesn’t work out like that. The ITF has to pay management operating fees and expenses, which can be substantial. After all, nobody works for free.
There is also the “cost of carry,” whereby owners have to pay the price for borrowing and selling short shares. They are also liable for paying the quarterly dividends for the shares they have borrowed, around 2% a year. And then you have to pay the commissions and spread for buying the ETF.
Still, individuals can protect themselves from downside exposure in their core portfolios through buying the (SH) against it (click here for the prospectus). Short selling is not cheap. But it’s better than watching your gains of the past seven years go up in smoke.
Virtually, all equity indexes now have bear ETFs. Some of the favorites include the (PSQ), a short play on the NASDAQ (click here for the prospectus), and the (DOG), which profits from a plunging Dow Average (click here for the prospectus).
My favorite is the (RWM), a short play on the Russell 2000, which falls 1.5X faster than the big cap indexes in bear markets (click here for the prospectus).
Leveraged Bear ETFs
My favorite is the ProShares UltraShort S&P 500 (SDS), a 2X leveraged ETF (click here for the prospectus). A 10% decline in the (SPY) generates a 20% profit, maybe.
Keep in mind that by shorting double the market, you are liable for double the cost of shorting, which can total 5% a year or more. This shows up over time in the tracking error against the underlying index. Therefore, you should date, not marry this ETF, or you might be disappointed.
3X Leveraged Bear ETF
The 3X bear ETFs, like the UltraPro Short S&P 500 (SPXU), are to be avoided like the plague (click here for the prospectus).
First, you have to be pretty good to cover the 8% cost of carry embedded in this fund. They also reset the amount of index they are short at the end of each day, creating an enormous tracking error.
Eventually, they all go to zero and have to be periodically redenominated to keep from doing so. Dealing spreads can be very wide, further added to costs.
Yes, I know the charts can be tempting. Leave these for the professional hedge fund intraday traders for which they are meant.
Buying Put Options
For a small amount of capital, you can buy a ton of downside protection. For example, the April (SPY) $182 puts I bought for $4,872 on Thursday allows me to sell short $145,600 worth of large cap stocks at $182 (8 X 100 X $6.09).
Go for distant maturities out several months to minimize time decay and damp down daily price volatility. Your market timing better be good with these because when the market goes against you, put options can go poof and disappear pretty quickly.
That’s why you read this newsletter.
Selling Call Options
One of the lowest risk ways to coin it in a market heading south is to engage in “buy writes.” This involves selling short call options against stock you already own but may not want to sell for tax or other reasons.
If the market goes sideways, or falls, and the options expire worthless, then the average cost of your shares is effectively lowered. If the shares rise substantially they get called away but at a higher price so you make more money. Then you just buy them back on the next dip. It is a win-win-win.
This is what the pros do, as futures contracts trade on countless exchanges around the world for every conceivable stock index or commodity. It is easy to hedge out all of the risk for an entire portfolio of shares by simply selling short futures contracts for a stock index.
For example, let’s say you have a portfolio of predominantly large cap stocks worth $100,000. If you sell short 1 June 2016 contract for the S&P 500 against it, you will eliminate most of the potential losses for your portfolio in a falling market.
The margin requirement for one contract is only $5,000. However, if you are short the futures and the market rises, then you have a big problem, and the losses can prove ruinous.
But most individuals are not set up to trade futures. The educational, financial, and disclosure requirements are beyond mom-and-pop investing for their retirement fund.
Most 401Ks and IRAs don’t permit the inclusion of futures contracts. Only 25% of the readers of this letter trade the futures market. Regulators do whatever they can to keep the uninitiated and untrained away from this instrument.
That said, get the futures markets right, and it is the quickest way to make a fortune if your market direction is correct.
Volatility (VIX) is a mathematical construct derived from how much the S&P 500 moves over the next 30 days. You can gain exposure to it through buying the iPath S&P 500 VIX Short-Term Futures ETN (VXX) or buying call and put options on the (VIX) itself.
If markets fall, volatility rises, and if markets rise, then volatility falls. You can, therefore, protect a stock portfolio from losses through buying the (VIX).
I have written endlessly about the (VIX) and its implications over the years. For my latest in-depth piece with all the bells and whistles, please read “Buy Flood Insurance With the (VIX)” by clicking here.
Selling Short IPOs
Another way to make money in a down market is to sell short recent initial public offerings. These tend to go down much faster than the main market. That’s because many are held by hot hands, known as “flippers,” don’t have a broad institutional shareholder base.
Many of the recent ones don’t make money and are based on an, as yet, unproven business model. These are the ones that take the biggest hits.
Individual IPO stocks can be tough to follow to sell short. But one ETF has done the heavy lifting for you. This is the Renaissance IPO ETF (click here for the prospectus). As you can tell from the chart below, (IPO) was warning that trouble was headed our way since the beginning of March. So far, a 6% drop in the main indexes has generated a 20% fall in (IPO).
This is another mathematical creation based on the number of rising days over falling days. Rising markets bring increasing momentum, while falling markets produce falling momentum.
So, selling short momentum produces additional protection during the early stages of a bear market. Blackrock has issued a tailor-made ETF to capture just this kind of move through its iShares MSCI Momentum Factor ETF (MTUM). To learn more, please read the prospectus by clicking here.
Beta, or the magnitude of share price movements, also declines in down markets. So, selling short beta provides yet another form of indirect insurance. The PowerShares S&P 500 High Beta Portfolio ETF (SPHB) is another niche product that captures this relationship.
The Index is compiled, maintained and calculated by Standard & Poor’s and consists of the 100 stocks from the (SPX) with the highest sensitivity to market movements, or beta, over the past 12 months.
The Fund and the Index are rebalanced and reconstituted quarterly in February, May, August, and November. To learn more, read the prospectus by clicking here.
Buying Bearish Hedge Funds
Another subsector that does well in plunging markets is publicly listed bearish hedge funds. There is a couple of these that are publicly listed and have already started to move.
One is the Advisor Shares Active Bear ETF (HDGE) (click here for the prospectus). Keep in mind that this is an actively managed fund, not an index or mathematical relationship, so the volatility could be large.
With the May 15 options expiration only ten trading days away, there is a heightened probability that your short options position gets called away.
We have the good fortune of having a large number of deep in-the-money call and put options spreads about to expire at their maximum profit points, five to be precise.
If that happens, there is only one thing to do: fall down on your knees and thank your lucky stars. You have just made the maximum possible profit for your position with less risk. You just won the lottery, literally.
Most of you have short option positions, although you may not realize it. For when you buy an in-the-money put option spread, it contains two elements: a long put and a short put. The long put you own, but the short put can get assigned, or called away at any time and delivered to its rightful owner.
You have to be careful here because the inexperienced can blow their newfound windfall if they take the wrong action, so here’s how to handle it.
All you have to do was call your broker and instruct him to exercise your long position in your May puts to close out your short position in the May puts.
Puts are a right to sell shares at a fixed price before a fixed date, and one option contract is exercisable into 100 shares.
Sounds like a good trade to me.
Weird stuff like this happens in the run-up to options expirations.
A put owner may need to sell a long stock position right at the close, and exercising his long Put is the only way to execute it.
Ordinary shares may not be available in the market, or maybe a limit order didn’t get done by the stock market close.
There are thousands of algorithms out there which may arrive at some twisted logic that the puts need to be exercised.
Many require a rebalancing of hedges at the close every day which can be achieved through option exercises.
And yes, puts even get exercised by accident. There are still a few humans left in this market to blow it.
And here’s another possible outcome in this process.
Your broker will call you to notify you of an option called away, and then give you the wrong advice on what to do about it.
This generates tons of commissions for the broker but is a terrible thing for the trader to do from a risk point of view, such as generating a loss by the time everything is closed and netted out.
Avarice could have been an explanation here but I think stupidity and poor training and low wages are much more likely.
Brokers have so many ways to steal money legally that they don’t need to resort to the illegal kind.
This exercise process is now fully automated at most brokers but it never hurts to follow up with a phone call if you get an exercise notice. Mistakes do happen.
Some may also send you a link to a video of what to do about all this.
If any of you are the slightest bit worried or confused by all of this, come out of your position RIGHT NOW at a small profit! You should never be worried or confused about any position tying up YOUR money.
Professionals do these things all day long and exercises become second nature, just another cost of doing business.
If you do this long enough, eventually you get hit. I bet you don’t.
Global Market Comments
April 27, 2020
(MARKET OUTLOOK FOR THE WEEK AHEAD, or THE GREAT LOOK THROUGH)
(INDU), (SPX), (MSFT), (AAPL), (FB), (VXX)
It was a week when traders and investors alike were confused, befuddled, and gob-smacked.
If you believed that the worst Great Depression in a hundred years was worth more than a 12% pullback in the market you were punished, quite severely so if you were short tech stocks.
April has turned out to be the best month for the stock market since 2011. Warning: it won’t last.
The largest buyers of the market for the past decade, corporations, are now a thing of the past. Worse yet, companies are about to become massive sellers of their own stock to cover burning cash flows. United Airlines has already tapped the market with a $1 billion share offering and there are many more to follow.
This means that the airline industry used its entire profit of the last ten years to buy their own shares, which are now virtually worthless. They are currently selling shares at a decade low. Buy high, sell low, it sounds like a perfect money destruction machine.
There are more than a dozen industries guilty of this practice. A decade’s worth of management value added is a negative number, just like the price of oil.
The only consolation is that it is worse in Europe, as is everything, except for the coffee.
The obvious explanation is that we are witnessing the greatest “Look Through” in history. A Barron’s Big Money poll points the finger this weekend. While only 38% of professional money managers are currently bullish, some 83% are bullish for 2021, and it is just not worth dumping your portfolio to avoid a few months’ worth of carnage.
I believe that we will see substantial new all-time highs in 2021. The pandemic is forcing enormous efficiencies, cost cuts productivity increases on every company just to survive. Look at me. My travel budget has plunged from $100,000 a year to $20,000, ad there will be no travel for the rest of this year. Most big companies have adopted the same policy.
Return to a normal economy and record profits will ensue. Get the uncertainty of the presidential election out of the way and you have another boost, although it is looking less uncertain by the day.
It all perfectly sets up my new “Golden Age” and “Roaring Twenties” scenario for the 2020s, as I have been predicting for years
If the bears have any hope, it is that the big tech stocks, the principal market divers since the bottom, usually peak when they report earnings, which is this week.
None of the long-term trends in the stock market have changed, they have only been accelerated. Growth stocks are beating value by miles, tech is outpacing non-tech, and US shares are vastly overshadowing international, and large companies are outperforming small ones.
The dividend futures market is telling us that a recovery to pre-pandemic conditions will take far longer than anyone expects. It is discounting 10 years to return to 2019 dividend payouts, compared to only three years after the 2008-2009 Great Recession.
The are many structural changes to the economy that are becoming apparent. Many of the people sent home to work are never coming back because they like it, avoiding horrendous commutes in the most crowded cities. That is great for all things digital, where demand is exploding. It is terrible for many REITS, where demand for commercial real estate is in free fall and prices have imploded.
Oil hit negative $37 a barrel in a futures market meltdown with the May contract expiration. This could be the first of several futures expiration meltdowns until the economy recovers. The supply/demand gap is now a staggering 35 million barrels a day. A large swath of the oil industry will go under at these prices. It’s all part of a global three-way oil war which the US lost. Buy (USO) when crude is at negative numbers for a trade.
Don’t expect a rapid recovery. Wuhan China is now free and clear and open for business, but restaurant visits are still down 50%. Same in South Korea, which had the best Corona response where theater attendance is still down 70%. Predictions of a “V” shaped recovery may be optimistic if we get hit with a second wave. Government pressure for a quick reopening guarantees that will happen. The problem is that the stock market doesn’t know this yet.
Leading economic indicators dove 6.7%. No kidding. Expect much worse to come as the economy implodes. The worst data in a century are coming, paling the great depression.
2.9 million homes are now in forbearance and the number is certainly going to rise from here. Laid off renters are defaulted on payments, depriving owners of meeting debt obligations. It’s just a matter of time before this creates a financial crisis. Avoid the banks for now, no matter how cheap they get.
US restaurants to lose $240 billion by yearend. It’s a problem even a government can’t fix. At least one out of four eateries will go under over the next two months. Boy, I’m glad I didn’t open a trophy restaurant as a hobby like so many of my wealthy friends did.
Another $484 billion bailout bill is passed, and the market could care less, plunging 631 points. It includes $310 billion for the troubled Paycheck Protection Plan, $75 billion for hospitals, and $25 billion for Corona testing. Notice how markets are getting less interested in announced rescue plans and more interested in result, so far of which there have been none? The free fall in the economy continues.
Existing Home Sales plunged by 8.5% in March. Realtors expect this figure to drop 40% in the coming months. Open houses are banned, sellers are pulling listings, and buyers low-balling offers. However, price declines in the few deals going through are minimal. When will the zero interest rates come through? Mortgage interest rates are higher now than before the pandemic because 6% of all home loans are now in default.
Weekly Jobless Claims hit a staggering 4.4 million. Total unemployed over the last five weeks has topped 26.4 million, more than seen at the peak of the Great Depression. All job gains since the 2008-09 Great Recession have been lost. Of course, the population back then was only 123 million compared to today’s 335 million. But then employment is still in freefall and we may reach the Fed’s final target of 52 million. Most of the SBA Paycheck Protection Program funding went to large national chains and virtually none to actual small businesses.
US Car Sales dove 50%, and they’re expected to drop 60% in May. Showrooms have gained “essential” exemptions to open, but the newly jobless don’t make great buyers. Why are the shares of traditional carmakers like Ford (F) and General Motors (GM) in free fall, while those of Tesla (TSLA) are soaring?
Gilead Science’s Remdesivir bombed, in a phase 1 trial conducted by the WHO, triggering an immediate 400-point market selloff. It was a small study in China that was leaked. The company says it still might work.
Existing Home Sales collapsed by 15.4%, in March. With open houses closed across the country, it’s no surprise. But with the market closed, no one is selling either. Defaulted mortgages rose by a half million this week. Buy big homebuilders on the next big dip, like (KBH) and (LEN). They will lead the recovery.
When we come out on the other side of this, we will be perfectly poised to launch into my new American Golden Age, or the next Roaring Twenties. With interest rates at zero, oil at $0 a barrel, and many stocks down by three quarters, there will be no reason not to. The Dow Average will rise by 400% or more in the coming decade.
My Global Trading Dispatch performance had a tough week, with me getting squeezed out of a short position in Facebook (FB) and also losing my weekly longs in Microsoft (MSFT) and Apple (AAPL).
Everyone is expecting the market to roll over, but it’s not just happening. Risk control is the order of the day and that means stopping out of losers fast.
We are now down -2.12% in April, taking my 2020 YTD return down to -10.54%. That compares to a loss for the Dow Average of -12% from the February top. My trailing one-year return returned to 30.54%. My ten-year average annualized profit returned to +33.48%.
This week, Q1 earnings reports continue, and so far, they are coming in much worse than the most dire forecasts. This is the week that big tech reports. The only numbers that count for the market are the number of US Coronavirus cases and deaths, which you can find here at https://coronavirus.jhu.edu
On Monday, April 27 at 9:30 AM, the Dallas Fed Manufacturing Index is released.
On Tuesday, April 28 at 8:00 AM, the S&P Case Shiller National Home Price Index is published. Alphabet (GOOGL) reports.
On Wednesday, April 29, at 8:30 AM, an updated read on Q1 GDP is printed and the Cushing Crude Oil Stocks are announced. That one should be a thriller with zero interest rates. Apple (AAPL), Facebook (FB) and Microsoft (MSFT) report.
On Thursday, April 30 at 8:30 AM, Weekly Jobless Claims will announce another horrific number. Amazon (AMZN), McDonald’s (MCD), and Visa (V) report.
On Friday, May 1, the Baker Hughes Rig Count follows at 2:00 PM. Expect these figures to crash as well. Chevron (CVX) and Exxon (XOM) report.
As for me, tonight I’ll be attending the first-ever Boy Scout virtual camp out. Every member of the girls’ patrol will be setting up tents in their backyards and connecting up in a giant Zoom meeting. I bet they stay up all night.
CEO & Publisher
The Diary of a Mad Hedge Fund Trader
Global Market Comments
April 14, 2020
(APRIL 8 BIWEEKLY STRATEGY WEBINAR Q&A),
(INDU), (SPY), (SDS), (BA), (VIX), (VXX), (GLD), (GDX),
(GOLD), (NEM), (QCOM), (HYG), (JNK)
(WHY SENIORS NEVER CHANGE THEIR PASSWORDS)
Below please find subscribers’ Q&A for the Mad Hedge Fund Trader April 8 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: Is it premature to be buying long-term LEAPS?
A: Absolutely not—a long-term leap is a bet that your stock will recover beyond your strike prices in two years, which I certainly believe is the case with all of the quality tech and biotech names. These are pretty illiquid so the only way to get a good price is to have a bid in place on one of those absolute puke out days. You will never buy these at the bottom.
Q: Do you see a rally in the stock market in the fourth quarter of this year after the election?
A: For sure—we should be well clear of the pandemic by then, and all of the $6 trillion stimulus will be hitting at the same time.
Q: With the rally in the S&P 500, would you double up on the (SPY) put spread—the May $300-$310?
A: No, keeping your leveraged positions small is crucial in this kind of environment, and the big short play is basically behind us. Better to add the 2X ProShares Ultra Short S&P 500 (SDS) to catch a smaller move down.
Q: Will gold work if the market sells off as a safety trade?
A: Yes, it will. Gold (GLD) had that big 15% selloff a couple of weeks ago when it looked like all financial markets worldwide were going to completely freeze up, and everyone got margin calls all at the same time. We are clear of that now and I expect gold and other traditional hedges like shorting volatility, for example, to also work as a hedge. Gold is going to a new all-time high soon. Buy (GLD), (GDX), (GOLD), and (NEM).
Q: When do you think international borders will open up again, and will that have a positive effect on the economy?
A: Absolutely. You can expect the market to rally 10% into the opening of borders, and then another 10% afterwards depending on where the starting point for the market is in that. As for timing, they may open up in June, and then close up in again in the fall when a second Corona wave hits.
Q: Will you teach us how to buy LEAPS?
A: Just go to my website, type in LEAPS in all caps, and everything you need to know about leaps is there. I will also be following up soon with more individual stock LEAPS ideas, but I don’t want to put them out now because we have just had a $5,000-point rally on the Dow.
Q: Please talk about 5G.
A: The best play is Qualcomm (QCOM). They have a near-monopoly on a 5G chip which virtually the entire world has to buy. The stock has also held up incredibly well. Buy two-year LEAPS on Qualcomm with probably a $90 or $100 strike price.
Q: What level in the S&P do you think this will fail?
A: I think it will fail right around here, so that’s why I have been adding on the short positions on every rally. We are exactly at halfway point between the February high and the March low, which is a perfect bear market rally.
Q: What’s the definition of the next big dip?
A: You give up the 5000-point rally we just had, and whether we give up 4000 or 6000 of it, at these kinds of conditions, 1000 points in the Dow (INDU) is a round lot, like the daily move. So, looking at the charts and these lows, it could be a $19,000, $18,000, or $17,000.
Q: Fundamentals may tell you the virus may be peaking, but the worst of the economy is yet to come.
A: True. Do all the markets follow fundamentals now? No, they will look at the virus numbers. Economic numbers are utterly meaningless and out of date here. I wouldn’t depend on them at all, just look at the new cases every day from the Johns Hopkins website, and that gives you a better buy signal than any economic indicator can.
Q: Are all the good shorts are over?
A: When I say shorts are over, from here you’re not going to get the 80% and 90% down moves that we have seen so far; those are gone. The reason I bought the 2X ProShares Ultra Short S&P 500 (SDS) is to play for the bottom end of the range, which could be down 2000 to 4000 points from here, and also to hedge the short volatility (VXX) puts that I already have. A rising market should make the (VXX) go down, and a falling market will make the (VXX) and the (SDS) go up. So, it’s both a hedge and a view on a range of a market.
Q: Could the Federal Reserve buy shares?
A: Yes, they have done that already in Japan, with no success whatsoever in helping the economy, but I doubt the Fed will buy shares here. The government will take minority share ownerships in the troubled industries like the airlines, much like they did with (GM) and the top 20 banks during the 2008-09 crash and sell them later at huge profits. I don’t expect them to go beyond that. The Fed here has too many other things to buy, like all of our different bond and money markets; those don’t exist in other countries like Japan or Europe. Stocks are often the only thing they can buy, and in Japan’s case, they already own the entire government bond market, so they had nothing else left to buy besides stocks.
Q: How about buying Boeing (BA)?
A: I would buy Boeing LEAPS here, something like a $170-$180. If you’re going to make a 1,000% return on LEAPS on any one stock, it’s going to be Boeing. That company will be around somehow, and you could get literally a 10-fold return just by going 50% out of the money on two-year LEAPS.
Q: How is liquidity on 2-year 30% out of the money LEAPS?
A: It is practically nonexistent. You have to put in a limit order and then wait for a dump in the market to get filled. That’s how all the people who have been doing LEAPS have been getting them. Put in a bid and when you get these cataclysmic, down-1,000-point days, they hit any bid. The algos go in there and they just say hit any bid, and you can get done at incredible prices in those situations.
Q: Are the fees on (SDS) a problem?
A: No, your standard equity commission is all you should be paying. They trade like water.
Q: Would you short junk bonds short-term?
A: No, because you short the (HYG) or the (JNK), you are shorting a 7.5% yield which you have to pay if you’re short, so the great short in junk bond play was in February when it was yielding 4.5%. It’s too late now.
Q: Will treasuries go to zero?
A: They could, but we’re close enough to zero where you might as well think of them at zero.
Stay healthy all.
CEO & Publisher
The Diary of a Mad Hedge Fund Trader
Global Market Comments
April 13, 2020
(MARKET OUTLOOK FOR THE WEEK AHEAD,
or THE BEAR MARKET RALLY IS OVER),
(INDU), (SPX), (TLT), (VIX, (VXX), (GLD), (JPM), (AMZN), (MSFT)
The Bear market rally is over, or at least that’s what Asian stock futures are screaming at us, and the shorts are piling back on….again.
For the first time in 16 years, I did not have to get up at 6:00 AM to hide Easter eggs. It’s not because my kids don’t believe in the Easter Bunny anymore. They’ll believe in anything that delivers them a free chocolate bunny. It’s because I couldn’t get any eggs. Much of the country’s egg production is being diverted into vaccine production for testing, of which, along with antivirals, there are more than 300 worldwide.
Enough of the happy talk.
It was a classic bear market rally we saw over the past two weeks in every way, retracing 50% of the loss this year. Junk stocks, like hotels, airlines, and cruise lines led, while quality big tech lagged. That’s the exact opposite of what you want to see for a new bull market.
At the Friday high, the Dow (IND) was down only 17% from the February all-time high at a two-decade 20X valuation high.
The US is now losing 2,000 citizens a day to the Coronavirus. That’s how many we lost at the peak of the Vietnam War in a month. We are suffering another 9/11 every day of the week.
More than 16.8 million have lost jobs in three weeks, more than all those gained in six years. Of all American companies with fewer than 500 employees, 54% have closed! JP Morgan (JPM) has just cut its forecast for Q2 GDP from a 25% loss to an end of world 40% decline on an annualized bases.
New York is losing 800 people a day and is burying many of them in mass graves. Bread lines have formed in countless major cities. And you think 17% is enough for a discount for stocks, given that a near-total shutdown will continue for another five weeks?
Are you out of your freaking mind?
Which leads me to believe that another retest in the lows is in the work, no matter how much government money is headed our way.
For a start, it will be three months before the Fed handouts show any meaningful impact on the economy. Second, we are due for a second wave of the virus in the fall, once the initial shelter-in-place ends. Markets will likely behave the same.
In the meantime, long term analysts of the global economic structure are going dizzy with possible permanent changes. I am in the process of writing a couple of pieces on this if I can only get away from the market long enough to do so.
It seems like half the country has lost their jobs, while the other half are now working double time without pay, like myself.
The market was stunned by 6.1 million in Weekly Jobless Claims, taking the implied Unemployment Rate to over 14%, more than seen during the 2008-2009 Great Recession. One out of four Americans will lose their jobs or suffer a serious pay cut in the next two months. At this rate, we will top the Great Depression peak of 25 million in two weeks.
The Fed launched a second $2.3 trillion rescue program, this time lending to states, local municipalities, and buying oil industry junk bonds. More money was made available to small businesses. Jay Powell is redefining what it means to be a central bank, but no one is complaining. It was worth one 500-point rally in the Dow Average, which we have already given back. At this point, almost the entire country is living on welfare.
Stocks soared firefly on falling death rates. Chinese cases are falling after the border closed, Italy and Madrid are going flat, and San Francisco is looking good. There is still a massive, but extremely nervous bid under the market. I’m selling into this rally. We will continue to chop in a (SPX) $2180-$2800 range for the foreseeable future.
Trump says there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, but he doesn’t tell you that the light is an oncoming express train. At the very least, the number of deaths will rise at least tenfold from here. That’s how many we lost in the Korean War. It hasn’t even hit the unsheltered states in the Midwest yet.
Gold (GLD) is making a run another all-time highs, topping $1,700. Expect everyone’s favorite hedge to go ballistic. QE infinity and zero interest rates will eventually bring hyperinflation and render the US dollar worthless. Gold production is falling due to the virus. Anything else you need to know?
Mortgage defaults are up 18-fold. People can’t even get through to their banks to tell them they are not going to pay. This is the next financial crisis. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are going to go broke….again.
Can the US government spend money fast enough, given that it has been shrinking for three years? I’m not getting my check until September. It’s not easy to spend $2 trillion in a hurry. I can’t even spend a billion in a hurry. It’s darn hard and I’ve tried. It suggests any recovery will be slower and lasts longer.
Here’s the bearish view on the economy, with Barclay’s Bank looking for an “L” shaped recovery, which means no recovery at all. I’m looking more for a square root type recovery, which means a sharp bounce back to a lower rate of growth. And there may be two “square roots” back to back.
Bond giant PIMCO predicts 30% GDP loss in Q2 on an annualized basis. Everyone staying home doing jigsaw puzzles isn’t doing much for our economic growth. This may end up becoming the most positive forecast out there.
When we come out on the other side of this, we will be perfectly poised to launch into my new American Golden Age, or the next Roaring Twenties. With interest rates at zero, oil at $20 a barrel, and many stocks down by three quarters, there will be no reason not to. The Dow Average will rise by 400% or more in the coming decade.
My Global Trading Dispatch performance had a tough week, destroying my performance back to positive numbers for the year. That is thanks to my piling on the shorts in a steadily rising market. This brings short term pain, but medium-term ecstasy.
We are now down -3.99% in April, taking my 2020 YTD return down to -12.41%. That compares to an incredible loss for the Dow Average of -17% from the February top. My trailing one-year return sank to 30.02%. My ten-year average annualized profit was pared back to +33.51%.
My short volatility positions (VXX) were hammered even in a rising market, which means no one believes the rally, including me.
I took nice profits on two very deep in-the-money, very short dated call spreads in Amazon (AMZN) and Microsoft (MSFT), the two safest companies in the entire market, betting that we don’t go to new lows in the next nine trading days. As the market rose, I continued to add to my short position with the 2X ProShares Ultra Short S&P 500 (SDS).
This week, we get the first look at Q1 earnings. All economic data points will be out of date and utterly meaningless this week. The only numbers that count for the market are the number of US Coronavirus cases and deaths, which you can find here.
On Monday, April 13 Citigroup (C) and JP Morgan (JPM) report earnings.
On Tuesday, April 14 at 11:30 AM, the API Crude Oil Stocks are announced.
On Wednesday, April 15, at 2:00 PM, the New York State Manufacturing Index is released.
On Thursday, April 16 at 8:30 AM, Weekly Jobless Claims are announced. The number could top 6,000,000 again. At 7:30 AM, US Housing Starts for March are published.
On Friday, April 17 at 7:30 AM, the Baker Hughes Rig Count is released at 2:00 PM. Expect these figures to crash as well.
As for me, before the market carnage of the coming week ensues, I shall be sitting down with my kids and touring the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC. Many art museums have now opened up their collections online, for free. There is a special exhibition of “Degas at the Opera.” Please enjoy by clicking here.
Next to come will be the Louvre in Paris (click here), and the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Triangle, VA (click here). I have them tracing the dog tags I brought back from Guadalcanal. I bet some of my old weapons are in there.
CEO & Publisher
The Diary of a Mad Hedge Fund Trader
Global Market Comments
April 6, 2020
(MARKET OUTLOOK FOR THE WEEK AHEAD, or MAD HEDGE GOES POSITIVE ON THE YEAR)
(INDU), (SPY), (VIX), (VXX), (AMZN), (MSFT), (BAC), (JPM)