It’s All Greek to me – anyway you cut it – Default by Christmas!
The European Community, Timmy Geithner, and the Greek authorities have laid the groundwork to provide the liquidity needed to supply banks with cash, when a national default is announced. The good news is, when a national default occurs people immediately rush to get their money. We know that the average Greek citizen has approximately $20k in the bank, but less than $200 in his pocket. Therefore, when all the citizens rush to get their money at the same time, under normal conditions banks would be forced to shut down after the first 2 hours of a day – then armed guards would show up – people would riot – and lives would be lost. The Central Bank Dollar liquidity that was announced Thursday is a way to stave off the "bad" parts of a National default. If you can capitalize the banks to a point that when the bank run hits, you have the assets to give the people the bulk of their holdings, you can then have an orderly default – which (in my opinion) will occur between now and December. The bigger question is this: If they capitalize the banks to take care of the citizens, are they also going to cover the derivatives that are held against these banks? And the answer is: Absolutely! You see The Federal Reserve is comprised of shareholders – like J.P. Morgan (JPM). Now JPM has significant exposure to Greece, and do you think the Federal Reserve is going to let JLM get burned for hundreds of billions of dollars? Heck no – so the capitalization will include the derivative holders such as JPM and others as well. And what about sovereign debt vs private debt? When a nation defaults, we must assume that the country has not taken in enough revenue to offset it's spending and has run up extreme levels of debt. So, who gets paid first, second, and on down the line is a good question? Now, there will be many "businesses" and services that are owed money, and will receive nothing. But the contagion of sovereign investments from other countries getting crushed, that is what they're trying to defuse, and further rationale behind over-capitalization. However, the much bigger issue is the fact that Greece is tiny, so what about Spain? The Spanish housing market was much or more of a bubble than ours, and is currently bottomless. The Spanish "green jobs" initiative was a dismal failure. Spain is in ‘worse shape’ and larger than Greece, and will probably be next to fall. Then, what about the tag team of Portugal and Italy? Diffusing Greece is the #1 job (and it will cost billions), and trying to keep it contained to just Greece is job #2.
In the U.S. this week:
- The Empire State manufacturing report fell to -8.
- The Philly Fed report fell to - 17.
- The "Inflation Gauge" (which is rigged to start with) reported + 0.4% (very hot).
- The initial jobless claims spiked by 11K to over 428K.
- And the market this week had the S&P gaining 4.5%.
Now that the Central Banks are willingly open to supporting the market, this is a whole new world of investing. Think of it – we had a 20% crash in the summer – and now we’re working our way back to normal after all the Central Banks colluded to toss billions at the European Banks to keep them alive. Technically we’ve retraced 50% of the fall in the NASDAQ since that crash – and if the DOW can maintain levels above 11,488, and The Ben Bernanke is accommodative this week – we could be up for a run higher. Honestly, Central Banks aren’t supposed to band together and keep dead banks alive. Dead banks are supposed to die. The weak die, and the strong pick up the pieces. But today it’s all about: “Too big to fail".
Everyone is looking to the Federal Reserve meeting next week. Everyone desperately wants QE3 / free money. I think we're going to get something, and despite the fact that the market is telling me it's tired and wants to roll over (due to the desire for more stimulus) we very well might continue up. Not only that, if The Ben Bernanke coughs up some form of huge stimulus, we could just roar higher thru the end of the year.
This week was ‘options expiration’ week – and there is a ‘max pain’ principle. That is to say – around 70% of market movements are in the direction that will cause the ‘most pain to the largest number of people.’ Given options expiration week, we found that a lot more people had taken downward bets on the market vs upward bets. So – what did the market do – it moved ‘up’ in order to inflict the most (options) pain on the largest number of people.
This week is a Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting, and the entire world is looking for them to release some new form of stimulus. Two weeks ago even the Vice President said that what this market needs is "more stimulus". We then saw the FOMC change this meeting from a one-day event, to a two-day event. All of this is telling me that ‘something’ is coming. I think the immediate direction of the market is going to be in direct proportion to what comes out of that Fed meeting. If they don't do enough, the street is going to whine and fall. But if Obama has pushed his Chicago Style politics into the Fed's head, and he lets loose some wild amount of real stimulus, we very well could fly higher.
We just came through a nice positive week. We had a hunch we would, although Friday did have the ability to be a bit scary - especially when in the Friday morning session we went from +100, to plunging all the way down to red, and then finishing green. In some ways, that's a real sign that the market is itching to go higher.
Remember, the market is yearning for something huge out of The Ben Bernanke's FOMC meeting. They’re not looking for some simple “twist” where they buy long dated paper to lower long-term rates. The Street wants cash, and what’s different about now vs then, is that NOW we have a Fed that loves the idea that their policies could move markets higher, creating a "wealth effect", which will drive people to spend more. So what’s the Fed going to do? I have a hunch that The Ben Bernanke is going to tell the member banks that their reserves are now adequate for the risk profile, and that they can release some of their reserves into the system. If he does that, $1 Trillion will come forth and it's going to be a party. The banks will use "X" amount of it to play cowboy in the stock market, and they'll use "Y" amount to start lending again. My hunch comes from a statement The Ben Bernanke made last week about considering cutting the interest rates that the Fed pays to banks for keeping their reserves there. Now, if he tells the public "Hey we're going to cut the interest rate we're paying the banks", it sounds good to the average listener, but what that really means is "Hey, banks instead of parking money with us (The FED) and getting a free 4%” – and therefore not lending to John Q. Public – we’re going to lower the rate we give you, and reduce your reserve requirements, so that NOW you’re free to use those excess reserves to make loans and invest!”
If Bernanke really cuts loose and frees up a $1 Trillion in stimulus, we’re going to rally, possibly right up into year-end. If he disappoints, takes a hard stance, and doesn't give up much more than the interest rate "twist", we're going to roll over and plunge, and plunge hard. Be very cautious.
Our bets (this past week) have been in the "swing" trade. What we like to do is pick entries that let us hold something for 3, 5, or 10 days. This is fairly easy when the market romps for 5 up days! For instance we picked up WPRT early this week at 28, and sold half of it at 32.35 – netting 15% in a week. We also bought SNDK at 40.22, NVLS at 28.8, KLAC at 38.02, HES at 60, ORCL at 28, and some SPY at 118.53. We sold the SPY at 121.54 taking in $3 per share. We stopped out of WPRT at 30.98, taking almost $3 per share. We sold HES at 61.90, taking in almost $2 per share. And we sold ORCL at 29.19 taking in a little over $1 per share.
That leaves us some:
SNDK bought at 40.22, with a stop at 42.20,
NVLS bought at 28.80, with a stop at 29.80, and
KLAC bought at 38.02, with a stop at 38.60.
I think we see the market "hover" on Monday into Tuesday, and then we'll know by Wednesday what The Ben Bernanke is going to do. This should prove to be interesting, so hold onto your hat!!
Please be safe out there!
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