This Week in Barrons – 8-23-2015:
Who would you believe?
More often than not I find myself going ‘against the grain’ of what people are being told, and what I believe to be economically true. For example I believe:
- A.J. Bell – who this week said that the U.S. market is the most, overvalued market in the world. The Wilshire 5000 is peaking at 133% of output; with the two previous peaks being 112% in 2000 and 104% in 2007 – both followed by massive recessions.
- Morningstar – who this week reported that $78.7 billion has been pulled out of domestic equity-focused funds thus far in 2015 – the worst figure since the days following the banking crash of 2008.
- Bank of America Merrill Lynch – when they reiterated their 14% net underweight position in U.S. equities. It’s the first time since 2008 that they have been net underweight the U.S. market for 6 straight months.
- The Atlanta Fed’s latest estimate of 0.7% growth for the entire year!
- In Stanley Druckenmiller and George Soros, who recently have taken enormous positions in gold.
- Wal-Mart (the nations largest employer) – when they recently cut their revenue and earnings guidance for the entire year.
- The Empire State Index – that plunged this week to its worst level since the recession – a reading of NEGATIVE 14.9.
- That Europe, Japan, China and the U.S. are slowing.
- That China is losing control of their stock market.
- That the market climbs a wall of worry. We have faced the crisis in the Ukraine, ISIS, the oil crisis, Greece, Ebola and many others – and have kept on going. But I suggest that: (a) every wall ends with a ceiling, or (b) if it’s a stand-alone wall, you can only go so high before you flip over and start going down the other side.
If you think that the FED can get us out of this – you’re wrong. What the Fed is doing today is no different then what the Fed did after the ‘Dot.Com’ bubble. They have lowered rates, and have spurred borrowing to encourage spending and asset inflation. Two elements are driving this market: (a) the economic and geo-political concerns over Europe, China, the Greek bailout, and the on-going currency wars, and (b) the FED’s intentional vagueness surrounding an interest rate increase in September.
After the housing bubble, the FED purchased trillions in treasuries, introduced a zero interest rate policy, and significantly increased the money supply. Indirectly, they have created a massive amount of ‘margin debt’ that has been a huge contributing factor to asset inflation (the stock market bubble). You see, stock selling can actually cause more selling. For example, if stocks were purchased ‘on margin’ from a brokerage house, and that same stock goes down a lot, then the broker will step in and if there’s not enough cash to make up the loss – then the broker is forced to sell other stocks in order to compensate. The FED is concerned that even the smallest rate hike could trigger additional selling pressure, which could be a catalyst for margin calls. It is NOT the direct rate increase that would have a real effect on the economy at all; but rather the market falling too quickly – triggering margin calls – which could trigger even heavier selling. To be clear, this selling could spread far beyond the financial markets into the banking sector – causing banks to tighten up lending, call in credit lines and loans – and trigger an economic contraction.
Honestly, I believe in the NON-presidential candidates. I believe that the ‘big boys’ have finally decided that enough is enough – the economy stinks – QE didn’t work, and let’s get out while the getting is good. They’re sending a message to the FED as to who is really in control of this economy, and presumably the FED is listening. Personally, I like to have all of the facts displayed in front of me - allowing me to make an informed decision. But given the popularity of Ms. Clinton versus Mr. Snowden, I’m clearly in a minority.
Allow me to retrace a little bit of history:
- On August 12th the market was plunging like a rock (down 260+ points), and then mid-day it stopped plunging and finished in the green.
- That ‘green’ path continued until Tuesday, August 18th when we ended the day down 35 DOW points.
- On Wednesday, August 19th we lost approximately 160 DOW points.
- But on Thursday and Friday all heck broke loose and we plunged like a rock for approximately 900 points. It was ugly. So what's happening?
A potential contributor to the decline is the Chinese stock market. They are experiencing wild crashes and interventions – with 50% of their stock trading being halted at any given time. That sort of behavior out of the 2nd largest economy on the planet will truly shake global markets. Add to that the escalation that is going on within the Ukraine – which the media isn't reporting. Add to that ISIS, Greece, and the overall global ‘slowdown’ as evidenced by oil – and you have the makings of a correction. However, allow me to go on record saying that the global slow down is NOT as strong as the propaganda would suggest.
Therefore, I suggest 2 other reasons for the market’s behavior: (a) our FED has lost control of the market, or (b) our FED has given up controlling it. In the life of every Ponzi scheme, there comes a time when it is just ‘too big’ to be managed. My position has always been that once the FED propaganda stopped being believed, then fund managers would figure out that all of our FED’s actions have failed to resuscitate the economy. At this point, they will all run for the door, and then there will be NOTHING the FED can do.
I have been looking toward the fall of 2015 for a convergence of economic cycles and other elements. It is (however) possible that ‘crash-type’ actions have already started, because the market never waits for an opening bell. It is possible that if enough ‘big boys’ were thinking that this fall could get ugly, they might have just started taking their profits early. And in fact on Friday, the S&P closed down 7.5% from its highs. Correspondingly, the DOW closed down 10% - putting in its first ‘true’ correction in over 3 years.
So what happens now? Does the Fed rush in to save the day? Does the S&P fall some more and hit a 10% correction? Does the market put in an oversold bounce, and then continue its downward spiral?
Let's look at the market internals. Even on Friday, the SPX (the trading vehicle for the S&Ps) did not hit the selling volume of last October. Secondly, since early June the number of stocks falling to their 5-day moving average has exceeded gainers 80% of the time. In other words, the market has been ‘narrowing’ for months – leaving fewer and fewer stocks to do the heavy lifting and trying to push their respective indexes higher. What happened on Thursday and Friday of last week (while not unprecedented) was indeed unusual, and certainly not seen since the FED tried to rescue us 6 years ago.
The fact of the matter is we are in oversold territory. This is not 2008. The market is only about 7% off its all-time highs, but judging by the sentiment you would think we were down 25%-30%. The fact that it is only down 7% tells me that (thus far) this is a ‘normal’ correction. Obviously, it doesn’t feel normal – corrections rarely do. This one is even more painful and scary because it is happening in such a quick and vicious manner.
I believe that May 2015 was indeed the ultimate high in this entire market run higher. I do NOT believe we will exceed that, unless Ms. Yellen starts dropping $100 bills out of helicopters. I also believe that whether we bounce from here or not, the market is going to be lower (probably a lot lower) in the future. I also believe that the next bounce should be a signal for traders to adjust their thinking to the ‘short side’. I believe that a likely situation would be another down day on Monday, followed by a vicious reversal bounce. After that bounce settles down, then another lower low gets set – wash, rinse and repeat.
I’m currently holding:
- AAPL – BOUGHT – Diagonal – Sep -130 Calls / Oct +135 Calls, / BOUGHT – Diagonal – Sep -100 Puts / Oct + 95 Puts,
- GOOGL – BOUGHT – Aug4 – 640 / 640 Put Debit Spread,
- IWM – SOLD – Iron Condor – Sept5 @ 110 / 112 to 127 to 219,
- MDY – SOLD the Sept 245 / 250 to 285 / 290 Iron Condor,
- RUT – SOLD the Oct 1090 / 1100 Put Credit Spread, waiting to sell the Call side on an up-tick,
- SPXPM – SOLD – Iron Condor – SEPT @ 1885 / 1890 to 2200 / 2205,
o SOLD – Iron Condor – Aug4 @ 1950 / 1955 to 2150 / 2155,
o SOLD – Iron Condor – Sept1 @ 1925 / 1930 to 2165 / 2170,
o SOLD – Iron Condor – Sept1 @ 1955 / 1960 to 2175 / 2180,
o SOLD – Iron Condor – Sept1 @ 1990 / 1995 to 2155 / 2160,
o SOLD – Iron Condor – Sept1 @ 1820 / 1825 to 2080 / 2085,
o SOLD – Iron Condor – Sept2 @ 1925 / 1930 to 2180 / 2185,
o SOLD – Iron Condor – Sept2 @ 1825 / 1830 to 2070 /2075,
o SOLD – Iron Condor – Sept @ 1845 / 1850 to 2190 / 2195,
o SOLD – Iron Condor – Sept @ 1870 / 1875 to 2215 / 2120,
o SOLD – Iron Condor – Sept @ 1925 / 1930 to 2215 / 2120,
o SOLD – Iron Condor – Sept4 @ 1900 / 1905 to 2175 / 2180,
o SOLD – Iron Condor – Sept4 @ 1900 / 1905 to 2210 / 2215,
o SOLD – Iron Condor – Oct1 @ 1895 / 1900 to 2210 / 2215,
o SOLD – Iron Condor – Oct1 @ 1905 / 1910 to 2210 / 2215,
o SOLD – Iron Condor – Oct1 @ 1915 / 1920 to 2200 / 2205,
o SOLD – Iron Condor – Oct2 @ 1850 / 1855 to 2185 / 2190,
o SOLD – Iron Condor – Oct2 @ 1910 / 1915 to 2205 / 2210,
o SOLD – Iron Condor – Oct @ 1895 / 1900 to 2185 / 2190,
o SOLD – Iron Condor – Oct4 @ 1825 / 1830 to 2200 / 2205,
o SOLD – Iron Condor – Oct4 @ 1885 / 1890 to 2220 / 2225,
o SOLD – Iron Condor – Oct5 @ 1895 / 1900 to 2200 / 2205,
o SOLD – Iron Condor – Nov1 @ 1850 / 1855 to 2205 / 2210,
o BOUGHT – Calendar – Sold the Sept – 1950 Puts / Bought the Oct1 1950 Puts.
To follow me on Twitter.com and on StockTwits.com to get my daily thoughts and trades – my handle is: taylorpamm.
Please be safe out there!
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