Oct

13

SPEC-LIST

October 13, 2020 | Leave a Comment

Zubin Al Genubi  writes: 

It looks like there are sharp steep drops and no other chance to buy, then an unrelenting drive upwards.  The election discussion, I think, is related and why SJ's call last election was important. The problem, for me,  is staying up all night.

Arthur Khaldarov  writes: 

There were other guys that predicted the opposite of SJ's call and right now we would've been quoting them.

…(obviously, if their prediction came true).

This list can tackle mini problems and become a great source of knowledge. Ideas are dime a dozen, but here we can analyze 3 a week and maybe have some home runs.

Ralph Vince writes: 

There is nothing to prevent others from contributing ideas here, market, electoral, whatever, and the political ones as well. 

there is not a limited number of messages per day or a limited number of topics.

There is however a limited number of people on this list, and only a subset who contribute. This argument rings of being dissatisfied that those who are contributing aren't being interesting enough. Those who have contacted you off list and complained about the electoral discussion have been welcome at any time to contribute all sorts of diverse topics here in addition to whatever is being discussed at the moment.

Sep

11

Trailing Stops

September 11, 2020 | Leave a Comment

Zubin Al Genubi writes: 

I would like some advice on trailing stops.  Lets say a guy took a trade, 3 down days, buy end of day, hold for expectation period of 1 day, sell half, set a trailing stop on balance.  Where?  low of day? break even? 20 period ema?  And how is best to move it up.  Low of day? Ema?  Fixed trailing?  I realize it is not efficient but selling at the expectation period would lose a run like last month from 3000 of 16%.   Things seem "trendy" now.  Appreciate any good ideas.  Can this kind of thing be tested?  I doubt it, because normal tests don't seem to catch trends as they tend to mean reversion.  Thanks.   

Sushil Rungta writes: 

I use a % trailing stop.  Usually, once I buy a stock, depending on the stock and the expected volatility, I place a trailing stop anywhere from 8% to 25%.  That way I do not lose any of the upside.  And the % trailing stop keeps moving higher if the stock keeps moving higher.

I am a novice and not meant to be advice.  Just shat=ring what I do

Ralph Vince writes: 

I think it depends on the particular market. For equities, I've found nothing worthwhile that constitutes a mechanical trend following methodology I would risk money on

I have a lot of experience looking for it though! Perhaps  a temporal solution is manifesting in the quities indexes right now, which will oly be evident at some future point in time?

Experience in the markets teaches us nothing, and I doubt it has any value whatsoever. If fact, there is a toxicity to it in that we begin to believe we know something that day one participants aren;t burdened with.

We are tasked with finding which of the 9 sections of the tic-tac-toe board a ball will (randomly) appear in. We choose the center. It comes up randomly in the NW corner. (It must like corners?). We choose the SW corner, it shows up in the NE corner. (see, it likes corners,) We select the SE corner. It comes up in the middle (Ah, two corners, then a middle…..) and on and on ad on. 

Forever.

"I have a good sense for where that ball will come up as I;ve been doing this for years." Or, better still, "I have a good sense of where that ball will come up - it;s mathematical! It;s somewhat deterministic," (as said the man walking into the convenience store to pony up for his next magic powerball number combination).

In markets, If you find something that works, and is working, it's about to evaporate. This is why I've migrated to longer and longer-term views on things, as it results in a longer time until things evaporate. Everything we think is true in the markets, is a delusion of our own making. Even the notion of drift: in equities, vanishes - first, for  decades or so, then, with the next fall of an empire. The probability of a drawdown, of any given magnitude, approaches certainty as the length of time given for it to transpire increases.

Most things in markets (as in all of life) that are real, often tend to be dull and tedious, require work to get our arms around,  and reside nowhere near where we are looking.

Ralph Vince writes: 

The point is everything we are looking at in terms of timing mechanism is ephemeral. I like longer-term models because they might outlive me (e.g. be long S&P500 when 90 day bills /  S&P500 div yield >1.8, which has batted 9 of 9 since 1980, below) before collapsing. The flipside is a much shorter-term model that will work, until it doesn't, then won't, until it does again!

I have never encountered anything in terms of equitisinexes that works in terms of trend-following, save for the notion of long-term, upwards drift. But as I say, once you are comfortable that something will always work, it is likely near-finished. The buy all dips / drift works in our favor mentality is not immune, but has had the good fortune of being a lugubrious beast.

Aug

26

Recessions

August 26, 2020 | Leave a Comment

I went to look at past recessions beginning with the one that  officially started in Aug '1929. I looked that the number of months  the recession officially lasted for what the highest the  unemployment rate got up to was, what the lowest GDP dropped during  it, and the drop in the DJIA. there were 14 official recessions in this period (Iam not counting the current recession we are in).Interestingly, the correlation between the depth of the unemployment  rate and the number of months the recessions lasted for was .8438. In other words, the deeper the unemployment rate, the longer the  recession lasted for to a very high correlation.

The depth of GDP drop too was highly correlated to the months the recession lasted to a correlation of .75.

Every recession saw  market drop-off of varrying degrees with the  least being -5.727% from fb to october 1945, the worst -89.19% from  Aug 1929–Mar 1933 Of the 14 recessions, 10 saw market drops >20%, and 4 of those saw  drops >45 %.

So I would expect this recession to last a long tim based on unemployment and GDP so-far. However, even though all recessions saw a market drop, th severity of the market drop and the length of  months the recession lasted was only +.03. The other factors that correlated to market drop during recessions was depth of unemployment rate correlating positively by .12 to depth of market correction, and depth of GDP drop correlating positively to market  drop by .35

Aug

26

2Q GDP

August 26, 2020 | Leave a Comment

Ralph Vince  writes: 

With a GDP of 21.75 t coming into this year, the quarterly contribution to this is therefore roughly 5.5 t.

Last quarter, 1.1t was shed, making the quarterly contribution about 4.4t, of which  3 t was "injected."

So take away the injected stimulus, and economic growth last qtr was about 1.4t.

Bud Conrad writes: 

I agree with your general thrust that the economy is in terrible shape.

But I note that it is not quite as bad as you indicate by subtracting all stimulus from the GDP calculations. Much of the stimulus was to buy assets to shore up markets, but the Gross Product doesn't take into account asset holding transfers.

Of course, asset purchases by the government SPV's do provide money to the sellers, to go buy additional assets like stocks and bonds, or even to invest in a few productive assets that might help the economy, so it is not clear what share of such spending should be deducted form the number to get to what it could have been, but we agree that it is very weak.

Aug

24

Jordan Neuman writes: 

Ralph referenced the liquidity situation on 10/20/87. You can research and see that the S&P Futures settled at a 10% discount to the cash on 10/19. But it was wholly untradeable.   For one thing, you couldn't get a broker to answer your call. In a real stress situation liquidity is an illusion.  That's one thing the man from Lebanon has right.

Hernan Avella writes: 

He only things these analogues of ‘87 are predictive of, is the age cohort of the person that brings them up and his/her relative underperformance to the mkt.

Ralph Vince  writes: 

Nonsense. Try to overcome your animosities towards others and me and act like a man here. 

If you weren't around over a period of a critical couple of days in October, 1987 you don't know, firsthand, what a lack of liquidity in equities and credit instruments is like. If you think that cannot happen again, that the past is not germane to the current environment, or that you are wise enough to see it when it eventually comes, good luck — God' knows you;re going to need it.

Those of us who were around and deeply involved in it back then know full-well that it not only can happen again, but that things are far more precarious now, structurally, than then, for several reasons, each of which independently conspires to make things now far more dangerous.  

Michael Cook writes:

Notwithstanding the fisticuffs here, I wasn't around in '87 but I was in the middle of 97/98 when, for instance HKMA went openly and highly aggressively bid only into its currency and equity markets. The message telegraphed was 'we will buy every damn share you sell up to the size of the entire market'. Soros and a bunch of others were having a crack at Hong Kong after doing so well with all the other Asian/paper tigers, esp Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.

That was 98, way before GFC, QE and the other myriad of dysfunctional acronyms. If we do face a melt down in the US a la '87. I just dont see why the Fed wouldnt straightforward buy the equity market directly to support it.

What would be stopping the Fed, the feeling that that would be illogical, ultra vires, anti-capitalist? Look at what they have done already?! They are already buying corporate debt (bailed GM and AIG in GFC etc etc etc), it is quite a small jump now to just directly buying Apple common stock etc if needed.

I hate it, and I think it all ends in tears, but that looks the name of the game to me until the system literally breaks and we need do a new Bretton Woods / debt jubilee whatever, where the rules are all reset

Aug

18

Recessions

August 18, 2020 | Leave a Comment

 Ralph Vince writes: 

I went to look at past recessions beginning with the one that officially started in Aug '1929. I looked that the number of months, the recession officially lasted for what the highest teh unemployment rate got up to was, what the lowest GDP dropped during  it, and the drop in the DJIA. there were 14 official recessions in this period (Iam not counting the current recession we are in).Interestingly, the correlation between the depth of the unemployment  rate and the number of months the recessions lasted for was .8438. I  other words, the deeper the unemployment rate, the longer the recession lasted for to a very high correlation.

The depth ofGDP drop too was highly correlated to the months the recessoin lasted to a correlation of .75.Every recession saw  market drop-off of varrying degrees with the least being -5.727% from fb to october 1945, the worst -89.19% from  Aug 1929–Mar 1933 Of the 14 recessions, 10 saw market drops >20%, and 4 of those saw drops >45 %.

So I would expect this recession to last a long tim based on unemployment and GDP so-far. However, even though all recessions saw a market drop, th severity of the market drop and the length of months the recession lasted was only +.03. The other factors that correlated to market drop during recessions was depth of unemployment rate correlating positively by .12 to depth of market  correction, and depth of GDP drop correlating positively to market drop by .35. 

Peter Ringel writes: 

Damn Ralph!  Incredible call today.

Ralph Vince  writes: 

No but I thought it would be on much havier volume., 111/2 tims what we saw today.

Hernan Avella writes: 

maybe with more volume we get to 2150 by labor day, as you vehemently forecasted

Aug

18

JEFFREY WATSON writes: 

Do you own a significant amount of acreage?

Say goodbye to the Fourth Amendment because it only applies to your

residence per SCOTUS.

Trail cams can be installed on your property by State or federal

officials without a warrant. Who ever knew??

https://www.agweb.com/article/government-cameras-hidden-private-property-welcome-open-fields

Ralph Vince writes: 

hmmm, is it that much of a stretch from a silent drone over your

property by the government or private party camming the goings on? (not

that I think that is ok either, I do not. I recommend a good co2 bb gun

for such incursions

Peter Saint-Andre writes: 

This very issue came up recently in my neighborhood (semi-rural area

outside Denver).

The answer, according to the local sheriff's office, was:

Drones are classified by the NTSB as aircraft (same as a Cesna 172 or

other small plane) which makes shooting one down a federal crime and can

lead to federal charges/fines/jail time. DON'T TAKE MATTERS INTO YOUR

OWN HANDS.

What if a drone appears to be recording me in my own backyard? While you

do own your property, you do not own the airspace above it.  The

airspace above your home is considered a "public thoroughfare" which

classifies it the same as a public roadway.  The courts have determined

that a there is no reasonable expectation of privacy in your open

backyard like you have inside your home, so there is nothing that can be

enforced if they are recording you on your property when it is from a

public space.

Ralph Vince writes: 

Their argument is pure intimidatory nonsense.  Pure Jesuit MO.

The reductio ad absurdum….an unknown aircraft approaches me, in my backyard, at eye level….there is clearly no federal protection, to the contrary, I have a natural right to protect myself. Similarly, a drone, several hundred feet above me, is a physical threat to me. like every other creature on earth, I assume something silently stalking me has nefarious intent.This law was no doubt paid for by Amazon with the help of deep state law enforcement another commercial interests. Flying gizmos like that should be identifiable from the ground, something with a genuine commercial purpose should have no problem being identifiable as such. Anything without you can assume has nefarious intent.I'm not comfortable with something on Mart silently hovering outside somebody's daughters window

Aug

13

Let us not

August 13, 2020 | Leave a Comment

Victor Niederhoffer writes: 

let us not be too obsequious for ralph. admittedly in the past he has b een ver y accurate with his bullish call. but in fact hs had been bearish  during the 3ntire 50%  rise in the market since midmarch. recently the      market has gone up 6 days in arow from 3240 t 33 32 ..how in the world  a  person who is bearish and leveraged has  withstood this  rise   , one doent  know. in amy case its' been obvious for some time that Mr. vince is reaching out for  reasons non preidictive and  chart based to be bearish. we do not help him or us by complimenting him on oen day rite and 49% rise wrong. however, admittedly he has been one of the most accurate and useful people on this list. but we dont help him or us by heaping aencomia on hism  anyone who has followed his o or worse yet has  basked in the adulation we have to Mr. Vince is terribly hurt financially

Ralph V. writes: 

lerm…..in truth, I was long in late march, I didn't start getting short until early May. in fact, I can go a LONG time like this too. anyone who is "following me" and gets hurt, deserves exactly that; I don't post things here for others to "follow" or tailgate. Rather I try to give the reason why, and open up avenues for discussion, but more importantly,  that this is an endeavor in patience and nerve, not tools for finding an easier, softer, more comfortable way. Most players are looking for a means to use the markets so as to make money painlessly.. Anyone seeking comfort in the markets is looking in the wrong place. I make no apologies for drawdowns and I posit that since you are in the binary world either at equity highs or some degree of drawdown, you better learn to deal with drawdown and the concomitant discomfort  which I try to exhibit real-time. 

This has been a nickel-dime game so far this year in 2020.The entire year will come down to being on the right side of this for no more than several very critical days when it breaks. Patience. Nerve.

If you want, I'll follow Tyler and Jonathan and the others out the door and leave the list to its  books and theories and colleges and kids and political yap and sports nonsense and masks and economic yibbityblibbity and recipes and whatever. I'm focusing on those several critical days just ahead up the road and I'm not being knocked off my game by anyone's opinion of me or what Im trying to do.

Jul

24

Hernan Avella writes: 

An interesting article with relevance for markets and recurrent political/social events. H

Out-of-Sync ‘Loners’ May Secretly Protect Orderly Swarms

Studies of collective behavior usually focus on how crowds of organisms coordinate their actions. But what if the individuals that don’t participate have just as much to tell us?

Ralph Vince writes: 

It's interesting, although it falls more into the category of agent-based modelling. My fear with such an approach to market prognostications is that it ends up a dead-end much as the notion of neural nets being a panacea a few decads ago.

That my simply be my own failings with finding agent-based approaches to yield fruit, perhaps there are some out there who are?

Jul

23

Ralph Vince writes: 

https://www.cnn.com/2020/07/22/business/beer-shortage-aluminum-can/index.html

Christopher Cooper writes:

I can confirm this from personal experience, but it has been building since before the Covid issues.

At my beverage co-packing facility we have been cut off by our can maker (Crown). We have really had to scramble to get out hands on cans for ourselves and our customers. We were able to find some in Canada. We’re probably OK until mid-2021, but will have to find a reliable source before then.

This is driven mostly by the advantages of cans over glass for many beverages. We shut down our glass bottling line in favor of making more room for canning. It is simply the preference of the brands that come to us, most of whom are startups.

Ralph Vince writes: 

I wonder how deep this goes though? is it affecting cans of aerosol spray as well, or other industrial componentry?

Christopher Cooper writes:

Not to my knowledge, Ralph. This is due to growing demand for aluminum beverage cans combined with constrained capacity due to the cost of building new plants. The beverage can plants don’t make anything besides beverage cans, and they are running at full capacity.

No doubt there are supply chain disruptions due to the current economy, I just don’t think this is your best example.

Jul

15

Hernan Avella writes: 

That cluttered this list for weeks with nonsense charts and mumbo, were they banned?, are they solvent?

Interestingly enough, long term bonds are 11 big points higher than they were last time Spu was up here in early June and Jeffersonian stocks 5% lower.  July VX arabesque-ing higher.

NQ has done it's job, perhaps value stocks can take the baton for the next 200 pts.

Ralph Vince writes: 

Yes,and we have not had so much as two consecutive down days (Spx) within this period.

Oddly, the 6 week coefficient of variance (6 week std dev/6 week ma) has not gone to below 

.01, which usually means a large (usually down) move is imminent, despite the tightness of the past 22 days. In other words, it feels as though we've been in a right range for the past 4 1/2 weeks but there's been a lot of movement within this range.

May

1

Folks here are running out of money for food. Unemployment web site is nonfunctional. They just extended shut down another month. Something is going to blow up soon.

K.K. Law writes: 

I don't have any proof and yet I always wonder whether that is part of CCP's multi-prong game plan that uses the Coronavirus, among other objectives, to create some form of limited-extent slow and steady self-annihilation within the US. While jury is still out whether they released the virus on purpose, and yet certainly they would not let even an accidental crisis go to waste. If this is a provocative speculative allegation, then so be it. 

Ralph Vince writes: 

Now I see the good Governor of MI has extended the lockdown for another month.

I'll stand by me earlier prediction, there will be bloodshed at that Capitol over this, that's but a formality now. The question is how do the governor's of other besieged states react.
 

Apr

30

I'm also wondering about real estate. Here there's a moratorium on evictions, a moratorium on foreclosures. Naturally no one will pay either rent, especially rent, or mortgage, because they are out of a job, and the unemployment fund is dried up.

That puts pressure on the banks, and so on down the chain.

Ralph Vince writes: 

Yes. This is why I think the virus is NOT a problem to be concerned about. Everything is downstream from everything else, in a giant circuit that is the US economy.

It cannot be started simply by reversing the order of operations form which it was stopped. Some fraction of the machine will inevitably be "amputated," I fear, and never re start.

I wish I knew what size that fraction is.

Peter St. Andre writes: 

The following is speculation, but it seems to me that much of the retail sector will not return to "normal" for at least 12 months and possibly as much as 5-10 years because apparently a vaccine will be difficult to create and distribute (the previous record for developing a vaccine - for Ebola - was 5 years [1]). You can write off theatres, music clubs, and the like. Museums and gyms and restaurants and salons and such will be severely challenged and perhaps unable to generate even 50% of their previous revenue because of persistent social distancing and the fact that many former customers will simply stay away. Some of this activity will move onto the Internet, but many of these organizations will cease to exist. Will anything take their place? That seems unlikely, which means it seems likely that retail rents will plummet ~50% too, leading to widespread bankruptcies in the commercial real estate sector. And this doesn't count factories, office buildings, and so on. What are the downstream effects on REITs, banks, pension funds, property managers, service companies, etc.? Others on the list are more expert in these matters so I'd love to hear their perspectives.

Peter Pinkhasov writes: 

If one had to throw darts I would think major consolidations in retail, airlines and O&G coming. Big winners are still middle-man removing; anti-cartel tech giants.

Ralph Vince writes: 

None of this stuff you fellows are discussing are part of the major backbone of American manufacturing though — what you are mentioning, even airlines, are not even complicated processes.

I'm talking about, say, large, design- engineered products, often one-offs like huge power transmission componentry involving oddball power transmission devices ( say, rotary actuators) that, say, operate in unusual environments, involve many complex comppnents and engineered upstream.

So if the more simpler services of the economy will struggle to reopen, how will the manufacturing backbone, comprised of it's own, interdependent, rather circuitous food-chain, stand up this decade, or ever? If things had been lost to globalism, the propensity for more of that will be far greater now by sheer necessity.

K.K Law writes: 

"COVID-19 is attacking our defense supply chains and our nation's security"

Gordon Haave writes: 

Covid 19 isn't attacking them. Human decisions are.

Julian Rowberry writes: 

Exactly Gordon, the same goes for the recovery. It won't be held back by complex physical limitations, it'll be limited in varying degrees in different segments by human decisions (red tape, regulations, access, sentiment etc).

The two areas I see that are going to do well are those with political clout to enforce the flow of decisions in their direction. These segments will be hard to swim along with because they will be able to front run, maintain and work their syndicates. The other is those who are who break the paradigm with new ideas, businesses & services, that the gatekeepers don't see coming until it's too late.

Easan Katir writes: 

Anecdote, pointing to a trend ahead:

A business-owning friend voluntarily quarantined on his yacht in Sausalito called to talk about money. He said he had just had a zoom staff meeting, and everybody said they liked working from home, and hoped it would continue.

So among other effects, the govt decision to shut down accelerates the work from home trend. #WFH
 

Apr

30

Does anyone know if anywhere else in the world hospitals/ICUs were overrun?

After China, Italy, (Iran?), NYC?

I just checked South Africa: it seems not as severe as Italy.

Why aren't where any other extreme hot-spots?

Is it possible that the virus mutates itself to extinction? After the first jump from animals to human-quite deadly, each followup infection/generation gets less and less severe?

Denise Shull writes: 

It would appear Mexico City is over-capacity per Bloomberg.

Ralph Vince writes: 

The damage to thee economy, long-term, is immeasurable.

Who is going to go it there, borrow to their nose and beyond , risk everything, to create something now? Who, given the heavy boot of government at all levels, the precedent that has been set, all based on a comic book hoax?

Only this who have NEVER been in that situation, think the economy will just "reopen" and life go back to normal.

There is no engine now. 

Jim Sogi writes: 

Worse than the permanent damage to the economy is our loss of freedom. What good is all the money, nice house if you don't have freedom, freedom to travel.

We lost a lot after 911, but this feels more like a dictatorship by local governors and mayors.

Dylan Distasio writes:

If it's inflicted much longer, especially with weather warming up, and the economic hardships, people are going to openly ignore the mandates. It's already starting.

Apr

26

We just witnessed an historic perturbation on the price of oil, a very inelastic supply/demand structure. How many other industrial commodities will or are experiencing this (and I'm sure there are scores of unlisted commodities used in the industrial process that we're not even aware of what's going on in those markets).

And market perturbations have a tendency two fishtail going forward depending how inelastic the supply-demand situation is there, that is there's a tendency to go shortage to glut2 shortage to glut the more inelastic the commodity is.

My argument is that there are downstream systemic prices that will be paid these perturbations will echo through the entire manufacturing system, with the more complex products dependent and more components certain to suffer.

Returning say to the actuator example, and I use this only as an example I don't know where these perturbations will be felt, but let's suppose something as simple as manufacturer of a seal or a type of seal in hydraulic component tree cannot be performed four. Because of the unavailability of a certain industrial commodity necessary in its manufacture. And again I'm not picking on hydraulic seals I'm using it as one example of what I'm talking about, so as to be clear.

A large supplier like a Parker or SMC they keep an inventory but it is tiny, most products in most industries done JIT.

And if a seal is unavailable suddenly aircraft is hydraulic system needs repair are down, as are drawbridges, heavy equipment, even garbage trucks, and at least half the elevators in the world - any of these devices and the systems whose operations are contingent on them, go down too until something as simple as seal manufacturer is reinstated once supply of a necessary upstream commodity for its manufacture becomes available.

Maybe hydraulic seals are a poor example but you see what I mean about the domino effect at play here, that oil price going negative last week was a huge warning of this sort of pending trouble.

Mar

26

The idea that this virus isn't deadly, which of course we all know was 100% self-serving nonsense to begin with cannot be squared with this information.

Ralph Vince writes: 

so why is MTA still running?

Mar

19

I'm avoiding BA like the plague, but there are some incredible buys out there now…you don't even have to look at oil, looking at Visa here at 140…among 20 other big names.

Gary Phillips writes: 

Getting too old for this…bought spooz 2289-94 per your brilliance, and will be looking to add if it holds.

Ralph Vince writes: 

Alcoa…Dow Chem… UTX…you think these earnings are going to be impacted to ANYTHING of this degree? Wait to see new unemployment claims tomorrow morning…FB…AMZN…if you really want to be the king of nerve, PBR…

I got to keep buying into this or I'm going to be the king of chumps come the 3rd & 4th qtr.

anonymous writes: 

Respecting to the fullest Vic's prohibition on any kind of recommendation. I just want to put out there that many ETDs are half of their early February values. So for example TDS(Telephone and Data Systems) has 7 ETDs TDA, TDI, TDE, TDJ, UZA, UZB, UZC.

Whatever you think about TDS in the telco space, the common is holding up, but the debt got clobbered in forced selling and it now yielding ~12-15%

Just fyi not a rec, just b/c not much focus on ETD here.

Mar

12

Don't know the medical edge of this, but the economic one may best be measured each Thursday morning in the weekly new unemployment claims #s, which should help separate truth from bs in the economic effects with timely, relevant data.

Peter Ringel writes: 

Yes, the first real-time data of the economy under the virus/under quarantines–everything else is too full of emotions (including equities).

Yesterday the market felt more rational for the first time, even during down-legs.

Gary Phillips writes: 

Indeed, Peter. It's rational in the sense that the panic and deleveraging is probably over with and the market has become very mechanical. That is, with VIX continuing to remain above 50, options are too expensive to roll, so every time they get in-the-money, they're monetized and we get these violent squeezes. And of course, these rallies are sold into, perpetuating the feedback loop. And, will continue to be sold, until VIX resets lower. So, I don't know if the market is out-of-the -woods quite yet, but it is getting close to where a rally will be sustainable. Perhaps, we hold the current low; but imo, the market will provide one with another chance, sometime between now and opex. If we take out the current low, we could see 2535. However, that would only add fuel to the upcoming rally as the embedded options shorts are joined by new shorts deep-in-the hole. In any case, expected value is to the upside.

anonymous writes: 

The deleveraging is not over from the panic, it is over because individuals and business are going to drawdown their lines of credit fully to make sure they can still operate. Look at BA today. Tapped all their lines for 13 billion.

The drawdown at prime brokers will continue for the same reason. No one wants a capital call in this environment. I just had a treasury trader tell me he's seeing +8 tick bid-ask spreads. The street will deliver as the banks do the opposite. Regulatory capital ratios will be adjusted/waived there.

There is no liquidity. No liquidity, no upside. CB's are going to have to fund a month of negative cash flow….globally.

BTW, watch out for Canada. There's nothing going right there…the place scares me, especially the banks. I've never liked big banks based in small countries.

Gary Phillips writes: 

True, credit markets are not looking well. And, that may be where our next shock emanates from. But vol targeters, CTAs, L/S funds, retail, et al have hit the exits. Models have probably turned short and will be pressed on the next shock down, and when the market turns, they will be racing the others in a massive FOMO rally.

anonymous writes: 

I differ Gary. The street is not short; they have just deleveraged somewhat.

Think of it this way. Pretend for the month of February, every company received nothing in revenue. Zero.

They're likely to do two things, draw on their credit and cut back spending. Smart companies build this into the new amortization schedule; poorly managed companies spend time and resources trying to figure how long it will last (which they have no control over).

In December, I told a company I was advising that this was the perfect wind to sail in and buy a competitor but only if you had the balance sheet to do so. That turned out to be accurate, and it still applies. Just as in 2008, size matters in your cost of funds. Large companies are supported because they are not immediately replaceable.

A few minutes ago, I had a strong discussion with someone. They wanted to use their opportunity in a non-essential endeavor. It is the time to either get customers or buy them. You can't do that with debt or leverage. Robinhood's app is a good example. I consider this early in this cycle, as the strong have not begun to eat the weak, and few weak have acknowledged their position. BA, OXY and a few others have. There's more to come.

What is essential, is for the regulatory capital ratios to be loosened. A dollar of loss removes ten dollars of loans. Mid-tier banks have a bunch of sketchy loans right now (a lot in energy). So watch the OCC, watch the Fed's regulatory game, watch the state regulators. They invent useable capital as much as the Fed creatures liquidity in NYC.

P.S. - many loans and bonds have short time windows starting around 30 days, where they can miss a payment and make it up later without legally defaulting. Unfortunately, I expect that window to close right around quarter end, when banks will have to move them into special assets and reserve against the expected loss (at the same time as they assign a value to the loan for capital ratio purposes).

Mar

1

I am predicting one of best weeks in history next week starting with Mon. Reasons on twitter.

Ralph Vince writes: 

Yes indeed. Gold was down on the week last week, credit quality spreads didn't blow out — the coup e grace was the videos shot on smartphones supposedly of Chinese police chasing after guys with Covid19 (because, you know, they can tell the guy had Covid19, not the flu, those Chinese cops just "knew").

A month from now I suspect the foolishness we've witnessed will be apparent, which is not to say it's not deadly for one in 50 who catch it or less. Americans will be a country of total germaphobes by the time this weekend is over - a form of self-isolation which will further mitigate the viral spread.

March will be made in the first week I suspect, on a violent, rather disorderly lurch upwards. Then the volatility will return to normal, a process that will take time. After this quick, abrupt rebound (which no on will be able to get aboard if they aren't already, I further suspect) we'll go sideways, punctuated with head fakes, stutter-steps, and feints of breaking out to the upside or downside. But the ensuing move is well-over the horizon, the crowd needs to be ground down into total ennui. Eager to recover their losses and missed opportunities, the market will do the most perverse thing it can to the most players, as it always does.

Not until we feel like we're watching paint dry will the next move come.

Feb

28

I really can't believe the recent behaviours of Wall Street. Look, the virus situation intensified since later January. But the Dow kept climbing to all time highs. Though the earlier official infection numbers from China were not high, no one on Wall Street questioned about the validity of the numbers. No one started to sell stocks because of the virus? What, they didn't have to pay attention to China? Come on! China still occupied large shares for global supplies (however low end they may be). Then what happened during the last couple of days? I know, there start to be outspreads to other countries. But no one foresaw it? Huge money to be made on Wall Street! I know my questioning here is postfactum. But were there prophets to profit from all this?

Ralph Vince writes: 

A time that followed the one that the world was listening to just prior to about the Fed's balance sheet never allowing another drop.

Jan

29

What does it say about the future of stocks returns when the big ones are advertising "riding the rally"?:

"Tepper, Druckenmiller Say They are riding the rally"

Ralph Vince writes: 

Once again, I must quote Camus, "If that's what they're really thinking, I suspect they will be in for a bad surprise."

The top will be in when sentiment says so, but I cannot rule out the early Jan 18 sentiment readings as having perhaps not already indicating this, we've overshot it in price but not by a whole lot as of yet.

The invested curve of late last Aug, my prop employment indicators now showing deterioration, and earnings flat for ten months indicate an imminent recession sometime this year.

With stocks trading at the same multiples as bonds, the former is generally preferred here because the risk is perceived as being in the bonds…the asset that will mature to par at some point.

Jan

18

 Facial hair on 100% of Forbes top 30 under 30 millionaires as a predictor of individual stocks performance.

Ralph Vince writes: 

That facial hair on all these young guys (reminiscent of a rather 1850s look…hm), like those permanent cartoons on their skin…these things tell the world they never hitch-hiked from one end of I80 to the other.
 

Jan

18

ES sliced rather easily through round with under 4k buying in night sesh. Seems like half round have more crossings.

Ralph Vince writes: 

That's the thing that always gets me about shorts…it seems so, so painful waiting…but when they go they take your breath away, and take back days and days of gains in very short order.

I have to live like a monk. I can't afford any nonsense, distractions or second thoughts, my systems telling me to make the decision here, stay short, hang on suffer it out…it's coming.

Jan

12

 Sports statistics all show that you should go for it on fourth and short but going for it three times led to the Ravens loss. It provides a caution to those who follow market regularities religiously. There is a good thread on this at VicNiederhoffer@twitter.com.

Ralph Vince writes: 

Football is peculiarly about making the wrong mathematical decisions. I'm not sure why it is, but I suspect the rapid turnover in coaches and the fact that there is an unavoidable second-guessing in the press and by fans, helps coerce these mistakes.

The most glaring example of this is the (lack of) 2 pt conversions. Mathematically, there are a host of times where this should be taken though you'll never see it. When was the last time a tea in the lead ever took one in the first half?

Russ Sears writes: 

Besides second guessing by the press and the fans there's second guessing by their own teammates. The defensive team doesn't like the offense to take risk because they feel they could have stopped the other teams offense given the chance. It's like couples deferring to their partner's lack of risk tolerance.

Ralph Vince writes: 

Team sports, by our definition, should ipso facto be more inherently risk-averse than individual sports.

Alston Mabry writes:

Just re the NFL, I was listening to a roundtable interview with players, and the question was, "What's harder to play, offense or defense?" And I was surprised when the unanimous verdict was defense. The explanation was that the offense knows what's going to happen, whereas the defense doesn't, which adds an extra level of stress and is one reason why you hear about the defense "getting tired" by the 4th quarter but you never hear that about the offense.

Ralph Vince writes:

In terms of expected yards per play, because players at the pro level are so good, it;s hard to argue against the fastest receivers getting out ahead of of coverage, and not throwing the ball short; the potential interference call makes the average yards per play considerably higher.

In football gambling, it is ALL about average yards per play.

Jan

9

 Don't fight the Fed: an expression another one of these REALLY good-lookin' kids hailing from the East Side of Cleveland, with just this past week starting to show contraction in total government issues outstanding.

Jan

9

 Alan Abelson's favorite adage was "the market hates uncertainty like nature the vacuum". Nothing could be more wrong and the current situation is a good example with the market succumbing 50 points to uncertainty and then bouncing back. Other useful idiots and friends of the Bad One are highlighted on my Twitter @VicNiederhoffer.

Ralph Vince writes: 

Agreed.

"The market is constantly seeking that point of equilibrium which induces the greatest uncertainty."

And that, at any given moment, is the greatest indicator I know of, along with drift.

Jan

8

 What rates are suggesting.

Ralph Vince writes: 

Lot of people thinking 2020 will be another monster up year, despite earnings having flatlined for the S&P in recent months, a curve that has inverted and a deteriorating employment situation.

I'm still thinking 2020 will be a big up year (unless employment starts to hemorrhage - a 50/50 proposition right now). I'm only short because I'm looking for a serious (and technical) correction.

Incidentally, that's whats going on here–a technical, not news driven one. If it were the latter, the market would have responded on news last night, instead, it didn't, it terjiversated on the news, and the technicals ruled the night.
 

Jan

4

How can anybody in their right mind go home long spooz, over the weekend?

Cagdas Tuna writes: 

I can say there is no panic or risk in this market. Spooz, Nazzy all at the levels where they were yesterday. 

Ralph Vince writes: 

Lot of people thinking 2020 will be another monster up year, despite earnings having flatlined for the S&P in recent months, a curve that has inverted and a deteriorating employment situation.

I'm still thinking 2020 will be a big up year (unless employment starts to hemorrhage - a 50/50 proposition right now). I'm only short because I'm looking for a serious (and technical) correction.

Incidentally, that's whats going on here - a technical, not news driven one. If it were the latter, the market would have responded on news last night, instead, it didn't, it terjiversated on the news, and the technicals ruled the night.

Gary Phillips writes: 

Not so sure if complacency is a compelling reason to feel good about a long position, unless we're talking about bonds or gold.

Tuesday, (NY+4) has fairly good bearish seasonality, and could be another day where we see a geopolitical type catalyst

At least, my dark passenger is hoping so.

Ralph Vince writes: 

I think you just have to be patient on his one. It;s a Miami landing in a July thunderstorm. Just keep the seat belt really tight and enjoy the bouncing around as it comes in.

Dec

27

What are the chances by randomness that a market with 55% up days and 250 trading days will end at the high, and does that have any evolutionary significance e.g. the battle of males to be at a maximum relative to competitors in other fields?

Gary Phillips writes: 

The "unsinkable" S&P is reminiscent of Molly Brown. Her husband's fortune made in silver was lost, but resurrected in his discovery of gold. She even survived the sinking of the Titanic! If disaster were to befall the S&P, it would most certainly survive; and present one a buying opportunity, once again.

Ralph Vince writes: 

It will have 3 1/2 market days to recover what it will give up tomorrow in order to do that.

Alston Mabry writes: 

Just to see some stats on the SPY days YTD:

249 trading days
149 Up days, or 59.8%
mean Up day: +0.57%
mean Up day: 1.61 pts
sd: 1.32

mean Dwn day: -0.57%
mean Dwn day: -1.63 pts
sd: 1.83

Jared Albert writes:

Using  with gratitude Big Al's numbers:

up =np.random.normal(1.61, 1.32, 138)
down = np.random.normal(-1.63, 1.83, 112)
Total number of max high finishes divided by total runs:      0.1357 on 10,000 runs

from random import sample, seed
import numpy as np
seed = 10
#55% of 250 give 137.5, so to avoid half days went with 55.2% up days
'''249 trading days

149 Up days, or 59.8%
mean Up day: +0.57%
mean Up day: 1.61 pts
sd: 1.32
mean Dwn day: -0.57%
mean Dwn day: -1.63 pts

sd: 1.83'''
up =(np.random.normal(1.61, 1.32, 138))
down = np.random.normal(-1.63, 1.83, 112)
total_days = list(np.concatenate((up,down)))
win_count = 0
total_runs= 10000
for _ in range(total_runs):
    m=0
    running_total = []
    test_population = sample(total_days, len(total_days))
    #print(test_population)
    for i in test_population:
        m = m + i
        running_total.append(m)
    #print(f'running_total,{running_total}')
    if max(running_total) == running_total[-1]:
        win_count += 1
        #print(f'win_count: {win_count}')
print(f'Total number of max high finishes divided by total runs: \
     {win_count/total_runs}')

Dec

1

 A Go grandmaster has retired because he believes that computers can never be defeated. What does that portend for individual, human participation in the markets? Are humans who manually enter trades destined to go the way of open outcry? Can humans have an edge over algorithms?

Bill Rafter replies: 

The following is guesswork. Anyone with a different voice is welcome to comment. (i.e., no need to flame)

I believe that the AI trading of the markets to date has centered on trades that have an almost zero risk of failure. Thus they have mainly worked in the extreme short run, mostly by picking off the marketmakers or the spread. There are many trading shops who do not permit their traders to take a position overnight.

Therefore if you wish to beat the algorithms you must pick a different venue, specifically longer-term trading. Maybe that's 4 days, and maybe it's 400 days, but it must be different from what the AI shops use. That of course means greater risk, but specs are in the business of taking risks.

Sooner or later, some of the AI people will invade this longer-term space, and they will do so by picking portfolios rather than individual stocks. But they cannot eliminate risk, and as long as risk remains, profit opportunities remain for the individual.

Larry Williams writes:

The basis of all profits is trend.

Trend is a function of time.

The more time in a trade the more potential for profits.

As long as losing trades are stopped out so they are not turned to big ones by time/trend.

Zubin Al Genubi writes: 

I believe humans can still beat computers in trading. Maybe one human can't beat one computer, but the computers as a group will have a distinct behavior that can be regularized and gamed. Its the group dynamic, as even computers will tend to a group think. This is especially true if they are learning, and if they are reactive. The fixed systems are still pretty easy to beat because they are still beating the same old dead horses. I've found, as Larry mentioned, that a longer time horizon seems to work better now days. Hard to out speed the computers. Probably easier to out wait them. For example I seem to use 4 hour / day bars now rather than 5 min/30min bars in years past.

Laurence Glazier writes: 

Such factors lean me more seriously to composing music than playing chess. What defines us as human?

Ralph Vince writes: 

I posit that about 50% of all human action is a feint, a misdirection of the opponent, a lie. Camouflage is the dress code on the planet, and we have a several million year jump at the game of deception the machines must learn, must catch up on.

The machines are so-far, trusted–trusted not to lie or deceive. Once they do, how will they be able to compete with us i that higher arena?

Even in music, Laurence, a variation on them, a little bending around of a melody, is a feint, an indirect lie, as it were.

Laurence Glazier writes: 

I've found fractal mathematical techniques of structuring music that have a ring of truth, however writing from inspiration, like painting from nature, must be a battle and a humbling one, with no concession to vacuous prettiness - nature's colour schemes seem always to work in the visual world, and I posit also in music, though I try to figure out more accurate methods of transcription.

Oct

30

Very prescient call on the stock market.

Ralph Vince writes: 

Once again, luck trumps everything. Thanks Jeff.

Jeff Hirsch writes: 

Great call Ralph! Amazing the harder you work the luckier you get
 

Oct

23

The sentiment of earlier in the month carries a momentum for the next two months at least. Volume yesterday and today, both big board and SVXY tell us we must be buying weakness tomorrow. It might be on or two more down days, but weakness must be bought tomorrow based on this.

Oct

16

The biggest regrets people usually have are from the fights they sought, the fights they took that they didn't have to, not from not having engaged the fights they didn't take.

Stefan Jovanovich writes: 

RV's thoughts are a wonderful catalyst, as always. "Regret" is THE question. Grant deeply regretted the Mexican War to the end of his life but he never once regretted the Civil War. He thought the arguments for secession were utterly mad and the United States could not continue to maintain its laws and government while accepting legal inequality and outright servitude based on the phantasm of "race"; but no one was in control of the follies that led to that War Between the States. People were entirely in control of whether of not the United States had a war with Mexico; and their choice was a product of pure greed and stupidity.

I don't think Grant, were he alive today, would have any regrets for the United States finally ending its confused attempts to station garrisons around the World the way the British once established coaling stations.

(Note: that is how how Hong Kong began, as a refueling stop for ships headed for Shanghai. For Admiral Dewey to defeat the Spanish Navy at Manila Bay, he first had to stop at Mirs Bay to take on coal and then wait for the U.S.S. Baltimore to bring the needed ordnance. For Teddy the Roosevelt, the true believer in American Empire, this was a humiliation to be overcome as soon as possible.) 

Oct

16

The Dow rose from the lows in December well over 20.8% in less than two months.

Such a move from the low of this month puts the Dow at 31,112 by year's end.

I prefer the more conservative count of 30,800 by the end of January.

Sep

13

If today closes up for DJI [Thursday, September 12th], it will mark 16 of the last 20 DJI closes to the upside. The last time this happened was March, 2017, and before that, Dec, 2016.

Examining the daily Dow back to 1896, this is often indicative of the early stages of a runaway bull market.

Aug

8

I've learned a lot from the DailySpec. Larry's advice that the market rewards patience is good. Ralph's formula for leverage is good. I realize they go hand in hand (their advice). It's hard to have patience when over levered.

Larry Williams writes: 

Leverage is pressure. There is enough of that in this business as is. Why compound it?

Ralph Vince writes: 

This is life and death, and I have NO interest in comfort.

Steve Ellison writes: 

When the game is to shake out the weak, a game plan of being strong, which would preclude excessive leverage, just might work.

I thought the Chair summarized it perfectly in a tweet on Monday:

A typical fri-mon almost identical to the feb 2018 decline with down another 1.5% on Mon nite 1100 pm est and then ready to resume its inevitable bullish climb on tues. anything to force the weak to give their chips to the strong.

Peter Ringel writes:

This is a wonderful tendency. Worked like a charm.

Jun

13

The markets take money from the impatient and give to the patient.

Ralph Vince writes: 

There are plenty of mega-institutions whose horizon is longer than the human life expectancy.

They are plenty patient.

They're just slow, and adding into market drops must be done by committee. An individual, with adequate grit and nerve, can take advantage of that.

We live in an era of incredible fear. The multiples on stocks are further evidence of that - the world staggering around as though recovering from a good bonk in the head, the periods, roughly, 2001Q3 - 2016Q3, by many metrics worse than the Great Depression.

There's SO MUCH FUEL out there.

Russ Sears adds: 

While I will agree that there are many institutions that should have an infinite time horizon they are run by humans that have a finite political power over them. And generally the more politically charged the leaders must be, the shorter the patience shown.

Ralph Vince writes:

Russ, yes, in the West.

But some Middle Eastern SWFs have no such pressure–one's "position" determined at birth, the possibility of screwing up diminished via indexing.

Stefan Jovanovich writes: 

NASRA says their members collect 2,850 billion dollars annually in state employer and employee contributions. That averages out to 7.8 billion daily, not 750.

May

16

If one googles "is volatility dead?" there are ample articles, multiple pages, etc. However, if you restrict the search to the past year the question seems to not have been asked.

May

15

If we imported goods from, say, the Gaza, would that be a good thing?

Peter Ringel responds:

Please allow the kraut to interject:

Hamas bombed Israel with >1200 missiles (and counting) during the last 3 weeks.

Hamas tries to trick Israel into a broad attack because Hamas is losing support in Gaza fast.

Israel showed tremendous restraint so far. Something politically extremely costly during an election year.

It is on the shoulders of the Palestinians to get rid of Hamas. Economic sanctions help with that IMHO.

Then we will see.

May

13

 I'm still astounded by the actions of China last weekend. It seems we can count on them to make the stupid move, nearly every time.

I'm astounded by how amateur and clumsy that tactic was, the "11:59, sorry man this is all I have in my pocket," move in turning around after 15 months and saying they can;t live up to anything that has been tentatively agreed to as it violates their sovereignty.

To they really think President Bigmouth hasn't seen this move before, hasn't heard this tune before or did have contingency plans in pace for such a stunt? It looks like they do things by committee, this is typical non-US, by committee amateurism to "see how they respond to this."

To Bigmouth's credit, in a move of negotiation jiu-jitsu, the biggest leverage in any negotiation– time–he flipped from being against him to working now in the favor of the US.

No further talks are scheduled. Why would Bigmouth be in ANY hurry to talk to them until 2021, 22 or beyond or if ever?

So what do they do? They antagonize with pipsqueak threats on 25% on 60 bln–the full amount of which Trump is prepared to absorb having announced the grain buyback program in recent days.

My hope is that Bigmouth really is as sharp at negotiating as he is reputed to be, ad says nothing further. Nothing on the additional 300 bln in tariffs today (the anticipation of which is what the markets are reacting to this morning, not the pisqueak retaliation).

Yes, if he escalates, markets will temporarily tank further. OTOH, if he says he's going to leave things alone for now, keep that powder dry, we could have one of these 9/21/87, "Oh sh**, Oh Sh**, OH SH***," -type runaway rallies today.

Mar

24

"If the best horse always won, this stuff would be so easy," the Old Frenchman used to tell me.

But it sure helps when the best horse is running against a field of nags. Similarly, I don't recall, in forty years, what appears to be a easier setup than right now in equities.

Not even close. Ever.

Let's start with the backdrop, which is decidedly negative at least in terms of recent news - global slowing, yield curve inverting, earnings trailing off etc.

Great.

Now, let's just look at the reality. In terms of what's going on with rates–a contrived situation on the short end, entirely inconsistent with quality spreads which have narrowed in the past couple of months, considerably, even with respect to junk.

Whatever global slowing was going on in 2018 has decidedly and abruptly turned. Since the first of the year, Shanghai is up 24%, Oil is up 27%. Global Slowdown?

To think we're still in a slowdown period is to miss what's already going on.

Employment in the US is very strong, evidenced again by this past week's jobless claims, and should be evermore evident after the next monthly jobs number where it should become clear the February number was a shutdown-induced aberration.

In fact, the basic indicator I keep (and many others do, of essentially the same thing, in various forms) of commodities prices relative to employment has again turned up–and at already high levels. This is very strong.

Earnings, here we are, end of Q1 and month-on-month S&P earnings are still growing. That;s right, despite the 21 1/2% growth in earnings on the S&P 500 last year, and the fact that they were to be contracting by now, are STILL growing, month-on-month.

The sentiment is still quite negative, and there are actually people out there who, for whatever natural-glass-half-empty they harbor, think the December lows will be challenged here. In December, we saw sentiment readings in surveys, in the press, in put/call ratios and in VIX futures that were negative along the lines of what we saw in late 2008! Such readings occur, typically, before protracted gains, bull runs that last many months. The following chart shows the 13 week rate-of-change of the S&P, as percentage, as of this Friday's close.

We haven't seen a move this vigorous, up and outta here, since 2009 Q2. Does this look like a market about to roll over? All of this backdrop, historically, set the stage for a prolonged bull run–which we are again in the early throes of it would appear.

"Roy's Red" –the six week coefficient of variance (I call it that after my late friend and fellow trader, Roy Klopper, who cooked it up with me years ago trading value line futures on hourly data) has again dipped below .10, indicating an imminent move (i.e. we're coming up and out of this congestion we've been in the past month or so–a congestion which has had an upward bias, indicative of strength coming when we break up out of it). The last time we had a reading this low in Roy's Red, this imminent of a move, of an impending and imminent trending move, was in early October last year.

The volume bars of Friday (tight, profitable-quarter-ending-stops being played) indicate one should be a buyer on weakness Monday - even if things collapse Monday, you gotta be a buyer. ESPECIALLY if you can be a buyer below Friday's close (I don't know if we'll get this chance, or if Monday is a further collapse, on heavier volume–I doubt it, the setup is such that Friday should be made up and then some in the coming week). Even if things work a little lower, the bigger picture is so strong right now, that backdrop story so counter to what's actually going on in the numbers, and the forecast so strong here, and the daily so set up for a buy I just don't recall things ever being easier than right now.

Could I be more unequivocal?

Alex Forshaw replies:

Ralph,

A few devil's advocate arguments:

1. Shanghai composite was trading at 10x forward earnings 3-4 months ago with aggressive supply side government stimulus. that has historically always been a good time for a trading bounce. There hasn't been a material shift in on the ground economic fundamentals in China.

2. By my math the SPX is trading at 17x 12m forward EPS. The range has been 15-18x in the past 3 years. The SPX traded over 18x forward earnings 4 times in the last 100 years — 1929, 1936, 1999, and january 2018. In each of those occasions, the SPX's sharpe ratio for the following 12-36 months ranged from quite bad to historically atrocious. so unless there's a massive expansion in earnings in the near term, the SPX is not valued attractively right now.

3. Earnings season just ended. There won't be material movement in the "E" for another month.

4. While the yield curve doesn't historically correlate with fwd 12m equity returns, how do forward 12-month returns look when we are at least 6 years into an economic expansion and the yield curve has flattened? It's one thing for the yield curve to flatten 2 or 3 years into a bull market. but 10 years? Seems like the context is materially different from a lot of the past contexts around this statistic, although I haven't studied it closely.

5. Employment is a coincident to very slightly leading economic indicator, but hasn't it decelerated very markedly recently?

6. Europe is clearly slowing down dramatically again. China has had a valuation bounce but economic activity there is still quite weak judging from company earnings reports and anecdotal. The US has managed 3.1% GDP growth with a 5% deficit/GDP that dwarfs the OECD average.

7. Why would you pay 17x ftm eps for 3-5% estimated earnings growth? 17x for 20% eps growth (12% organic), a la 1h18, is one thing…

8. Given the volume of corp borrowing and debt issuance, and the peaking of the current rate cycle, why wouldn't the next downturn be much worse than the 2008 one? I think the "next downturn" risk is maybe 20% in next 6-9 months, but even if it's 20%, why would you pay 17x for that?

Ralph Vince writes: 

Alex,

All good points.

I'm considering valuations with respect to competing assets more so than historically, the notion being the investment dollars move someplace. Is the the "right" way to asses these? I don't know, it's how I usually try to look at it, but time will tell.)

Consider the long bond which is selling at a "multiple" of about 35 here vs the S&P 500 (whose earnings, as I say, are STILL rising; actual earnings, not future prognostications of events which have not transpired) of 21.48 (S&P500 PEs were riding above the long bond "multiple," dipped down and touched it around 88 and again in 95, by mid '05 the S&P500 PE dipped below the bond multiple, and has remained there ever since save for a period in 08-9 where the PE for stocks went haywire for several months. So one cannot say that the bond multiple naturally belongs above stock PEs, but they have for nearly a decade and half).

That's with the VERY rich US yields, relative to the rest of the world. The Bund, of course….a different animal here. Investment dollars flow someplace, the US, with earnings still gaining (despite the incredible gains of the past 14 months or so) look very attractive by comparison.

Employment is extremely healthy, so much so that wage pressure is finally returning. By my measures, last month was an aberration caused by the shutdown. A more accurate assessment, a proprietary one with respect to equities prices reveals: We're not even close to a sell by my employment measures.

On the more near-term, the next few weeks should see an end to this congestion we've been in for a month or a little longer in equities prices, per Roy's Red. Whereas it COULD be to the downside, I don't see it, the technicals (and sentiment) are acting far more lie 2009 Q2 here. Further, the pattern of volume (which is no different than how one might have read the tape 35, 40 years ago or before– only now we have the benefit of seeing bigger swaths of time, e.g. I look at yearly, monthly, weekly volumes as well) are ALL bullish here, all buy any weakness here. If I had to rely on jut one indicator, this would be it.

Alex Forshaw writes: 

To me, the S&P 500 is trading at almost the same valuation as it was in January 2018, except

1) S&P estimated earnings growth is 3-5%, instead of 20%
2) the 1yr/10yr spread (the most predictive of all the yield curve spreads) is slightly negative today, vs +80bps a year ago
3) all macro fundamentals have decelerated everywhere, and the rate of negative surprise has dramatically accelerated
4) SPX earnings yield minus 10 year yield (attached) is inline with its average over the past 10ish years, although if you go back further, it looks more favorable
5) there is no prospect of further policy stimulus until after the 2020 election, which remains a complete wild card, and seems like a "lose/no-win" coin toss for investors (the possible outcomes being untethered socialist idiocy or the dysfunctionally mediocre status quo)

In my experience, stocks-vs-bonds valuation logic is not very useful when stock valuations are rich by their own historical standards. It would have said to be aggressively buying through 2017/1h18 (if you were looking at the past 20 years of data) and the sharpe ratio would have been quite poor. It only takes 1 bad stretch to seriously derail one's financial career…

Ralph Vince writes: 

Re: "there is no prospect of further policy stimulus"

The transportation bill, likely to be proposed very soon, and highly stimulative. Think QE5. Giant barrel of uncooked pork.

China, among other things, agreeing to buy 500bln/yr ag and etc over next 6 years(my cheap seats guess), highly, HIGHLY stimulative (2 1/2% yr on a 20 trln economy, before any kind of a multiplier, which is at least 2, as that is just export, but goes into either consumption or investment 1x over 12 months, and that accumulates going forward).

Effects of "New Nafta" not yet felt online. We could go on and on hereon these various recent changes all of which are stimulative.

If you take away energy, and go back to our being a net importer of oil, and take away the repatriation effect of the recent tax bill (and AAPL agreeing to invest 350 bln, and Foxcon, and etc) , we would likely be at a GDP deficit here. Things haven't really gotten going yet is my point, but these are real numbers coming online. I don't for the life of me understand Atlanta Fed GDP projection.

Steve Ellison writes: 

Since 2010, the S&P 500 has not strayed too far in either direction from the level implied by a 2% dividend yield (see attached chart). From this perspective, the S&P got a little ahead of itself in 2017, and the 2018 correction overshot. In fourth quarter 2018, there was a plausible argument that the required dividend yield ought to adjust higher (implying the trend line should be pushed down lower), but the recent move in 10-year yields to multi-month lows seems to have taken that possibility off the table for now.

Dividends have been growing at roughly 8% per year recently.

Feb

14

This slowdown (actually, a reduction in the upward rate-of-chage of most measures) looks like it is more of a "touch-n-go" variety like we saw in 94-95. (And also comports to the extremes in negative sentiment seen in Dec).

Nothing would fuel a great equities run like higher commodity prices and energy costs, if it can muster. Even a hawkish Fed in 2019 has bullish implications if the long end rises as well.

Feb

4

I struggle to find an instance of equities being overvalued. This link shows not only my model for real-return adjusted earnings' linear relationship to the S&P ("model") but of particular interest the P/E of the S&P with respect to the P/E of the 30 year constant.

Gibbons Burke writes: 

What caused the quantum jump and return excursion of the SP_PE line (red) ~2010?

Earth Link writes: 

Earnings fell precipitously, particularly in the financial, energy, and materials sectors, during the 2007-8 financial crisis, and rebounded beginning in mid-late 2009. S&P GAAP earnings were negative in Q4 2008, and were also significantly lower than previous levels in Q3-2008 and Q1-2009, but by Q1-2011 had recovered to pre-crisis levels.

Feb

4

The AFC team wins the Super Bowl, and given the initial lopsided correlation of this nonsensical indicator, it is, if anything, bullish for stocks for 2019. This is not based on a ground hog's shadow, but on Borel's Law of Large Numbers.

I learned in 2013 to not fade this law in markets as well as to not trust any technical divergences in the face of good fundamentals.

Dec

25

 If there were ever a contrarian indicator of a down market in 2019, this may be it. The number of analysts predicting a down market in 2019: zero. (From Twitter)

Ralph Vince writes: 

My numbers call for at LEAST a 40% move from here (closer to 50% really, but even that sounds crazy to me), and no prospect of a recession until at least 2021 more likely at least 2022 at this point.

David Lillienfeld writes: 

With a tightening Fed (not the discount rate, the inventory)?

Stefan Jovanovich writes: 

Yes.

Sentiment, by any measure I keep, is as bad if not more so than it was in 08 — but the backdrop, not just in the credit markets but in terms of energy, corporate profits, etc., profoundly different than 08, and the drop is minor by comparison. Further, unlike '08, earnings continue to grow, even over this past week.

Capital must find a home, must seek a return. Cash is a temporary placeholder, cover for the rainstorm, and for liability-driven fiduciaries, a very temporary one when you have >4% annual liabilities. How would you manage a pension in Germany or Japan? The US capital markets, with our rich return on treasuries across the maturity spectrum and equities markets that have increasing earnings are the most viable place on the planet.

And all this has come about as QE has ended, ZIRP has snuck out of it's hole to viable, st rates, and a divided congress, who needs to spend and screech like a middle-aged woman who is about to cough up her gizzard, will only find common ground on a pending transportation bill (think QE4), so "yes," to your question.

Dec

18

"Investors Have Nowhere to Hide as Stocks, Bonds and Commodities All Tumble"

Certainly not our Mr Brush…bonds, grains and meats have rallied.

Ralph Vince writes: 

Several months ago, the major news organizations, in a fit of grotesque hubris, announced their joint commitment to intensifying their efforts to malign the current administration.

We have watched this play out in the realm of financial news as well (which has been further diminished in recent years by the loss of some greats, e.g. Abelson, etc., to be replaced with vaccuous amateurs). Specifically, the notion of "The longest expansion in US history," (the definition of which has never been provided despite my prodding, directly and personally and off-the-record), the recent yield curve "inversion" fallacy, etc.

Has anyone seen a comparative study of the years 1929-1940 and 2005-2016?

This makes it all-the-more imperative now to do one's own homework, maintain one's own statistics, disregard the shrill sirens and observe, distinguish and conclude.

anonymous writes: 

It's been slight loss of wealth YTD across all assets with real estate markets softening up. It's been an up market for 9 years straight and that failed inverse head and voodoo failure in the SPX after China gap fade in a time where most asset managers are down only fueled the frustration aggression theory which I think makes this year end tough but ultimately will manifest into a great opportunity. My two cents with no quantification.

Dec

9

From a NYT article:

In the past 60 years, every recession has been preceded by an inverted yield curve, according to research from the San Francisco Fed. Curve inversions have "correctly signaled all nine recessions since 1955 and had only one false positive, in the mid-1960s, when an inversion was followed by an economic slowdown but not an official recession," the bank's researchers wrote in March.

anonymous writes: 

Cleveland Fed has a dedicated website on the YC. Lately the probability of recession in the next year has increased to 20%+ some good literature on the subject by the NY Fed.

While historically it has been a solid predictor, the timing is tricky and not stable (can you afford to be short the market at least a year before a recession) and its predictive power has decreased over the years. The evidence in foreign markets is also mixed (look at the UK in 2000s where a decent portion of the time the YC was flat/inverted). It is what someone will call a weak predictor. One would think that you might find a better forecast in specific industries/sectors (eg financials) than the market as a whole.

It's worth mentioning that inverted yield curves were the norm before 1900. Most academics attribute that to wars; if a country survived in the short-term (wars), it had less risk over the long term. Similar to the VIX term structure during sell-offs. 

Peter Ringel writes: 

We had so many bogymen on the news-wire today.
Everyone is free to choose the fear he or she desires:
- yield curve 
- Russia military aggression (old news- but displayed as new)
- Italy risk (old news)
- Brexit fail
- Trump-China back paddling ("China is puzzled" <- this one is real IMO )
- FED talk
- IRAN war (old news)

Probably all a campaign.

Ralph Vince writes: 

Alright, since the media is yield curve obsessed, I'm copying what I posted to another list, expletives deleted.

This talk of an inverted curve by taking segments out is the most ignorant discussion in the media on the topic i have ever seen. When there are inflection points in the curve, which are COMMON, historically, there are portions of inversion, of course.Throughout the late 90s, when the 20 was above the 30 year, was anyone calling it an INVERTED YEILD CURVE!!!!! (and screaming about it, as they do now?)

In late 1998, there were at least FIVE inflection points using the main maturities on the constant curve, and three segments that were inverted. Things were pretty strong in the economy until hints of slowness in 2001Q2.

This is more bull***it financial writing, along the lines of "longest expansion in history," etc.

Who knows, maybe a slowdown is upon us (not evident in any numbers I keep - yet) but the yield curve is NOT inverted.

Russ Sears writes: 

Perhaps they have learned after Trump's election that making the first move instills confidence in the dip buyers Trump optimism. But selling after a big up Trump day the opposite.

anonymous writes:

It would seem that those that believe Trump knows what he is doing now move regularly before those who doubt him.  

Kora Reddy writes: 

1. When T10Y2Y goes below zero for the first time in 250 days (one year) and forward $SPX index returns:

 .

.

.

2. When t10y3m goes below zero for the first in a yr:

  

.

.

3. When T10YFF goes below zero for the first time in a year:

  

.

.

.

.

.

Dec

6

I recommend to the group the TV show on Netflix Turn: Washington's Spies. It's based on the book Washington's Spies: the Story of America's First Spy Ring I believe. I enjoyed the series very much!

Ralph Vince writes: 

Turn is excellent. I second Scott's motion.

Nov

30

 This article predicts the impeachment odds near 50% for next 2 years

What are the obvious stocks/commodities/currencies that would directly benefit from an impeachment, if any? Which would decline?

The private prison stocks used to trade somewhat as an impeachment proxy but with the ousting of sessions and change in tone re: reform, no longer intuitive.

My thought would be putting on an appealing spread trade to hedge the odds market which feels very aggressive

Ralph Vince writes:

First things first.

I don't see Trump and Xi bypassing an opportunity to goose their markets. Expect a statement from both of them, jointly, to the effect of "we're working on a deal, we're getting close, it's complicated, there are lots of issues, but it's coming."

Nov

28

Ralph or anyone else. I need help with Ralph Vince's optimal f.

Take any one of Kora's excellent sample trade systems in SP with for example N0 Classical expectation is 60% winners, T=2.2, max historical drawdown 50pts, avg gain 4 pts avg loss 4 pts, with a million dollar stake; max acceptable drawdown 2%, a one year horizon rather than normal asymptotal assumption. R=risk free rate. Time horizon is close to close one day.

Traditionally one would use 8 contracts to limit loss to 2% on the max loss, or a fraction of .4 of stake.

What is the Optimum f use to achieve max TWR? Also what is appropriate n to compute optimal f: the 3 expected trades in the year, or the 30 over the history of the trade? Assume the current historical volatility in SP of 18. How does f change if vol is 9? Also how does the Vince bounded expectation differs from the classical unbounded expectation over a one year with 3 one day event horizon?

The solution in Vince, Risk Opportunity Analysis, p 171 is a 3 dimensional copula. (Escaping Flatland!). Is there a simple R routine or spreadsheet to compute this? The late Seattle Phil uses max drawdown as the main factor In his allocation formula. I think risk management is the most important aspect of investing.

Ralph Vince replies: 

Zubin,

So your criteria, from what you describe, is to maximize your gain over this period of time, all else be damned, withing a given (but unidentified) risk constraint. So you are talking about being at the peak of the curve (there are other points, or paths through the space, for different criteria), and you;re talking about a portfolio of one item.

But you do not know what this one-year future time window has in store for you, and I've found the best approximation for where the peak is to divide the percent of profitable compounding periods (in this case, since you have only one component, a compounding period we can say is the same as a trade) by 2. I won;t go into the math for why this is hte best guess aside from saying it will minimize the price you pay, worst-case, between this best-guess point and where, after the year, the actual point turns out to be. So in this example, it starts out at 60% winners, so

.6 / 2 = .3 ad therefore, the best guess point to use as the peak is .3, asymptotically. But you;re talking about only 3 trades over the course of the year, and since the expectation, if you make one play, is to be positive, then if you were to quit at 1 trade, your f would be 1.0, at two trades, the best guess is (f one play less-the asymptotic f) / 2 + the asymptotic or (1-.3)/2 + .3= .7/2+.3=.35+.3 = .65 and for three trades (.65 - .3 ) /2 + .3 = .175 + .3 = .475

So that;s an approximation, that .475, and that;s how I would arrive at it, absent knowledge of the future. It is a good, robust approximation and mathematically sound. I prefer robust approximations as opposed to the exact mathematical answers based solely on past data

Software for this can be found at Josh Ulrich's R implementation for it. I do not have the link offhand. The paper you cit gives the exact formula for determining the landscape and optimal fractions therein, but that is on past data. In the foxhole looking at tomorrow, or next year, I prefer robust approximations that will mimic what the actual formula might provide.

Next, you need to determine a worst-case loss situation. Perhaps you are going long, and you could use the value of 0 for your worst case. or maybe you have a stop in there, and you can use that plus some ridiculous amount of slippage for worst case or perhaps you are using options, etc. But you really need a worst case situation. Dividing the worst-case dollar amount by .475 will tell you how many units (the same quantity you determined the worst case dollar amount on, say, 1 contract 100 shares, whatever) to have on.

Understand, however, that when this worst-case is hit, you will be hit for 47.5% of your stake! So my point is, I think you need to rethink your criteria as it is unlikely what I paraphrase it to be in my first paragraph here. Perhaps you want to allocate a smaller percentage of your capital to this endeavor such that 47.5% is akin to 2% or your total capital. Maybe your criteria actually has you traversing a path in the landscape this curve in 2D space.

Orson Terrill writes:

Is Ulrich, or anyone, still maintaining quantmod? I still have some code that runs on parts of it, that I'll refactor to save time, but hadn't seen much activity around it.

Ralph Vince writes: 

I'm certain there is a robust community around it.

Oct

26

And at this very minute, the ten day correlation between VIX and he S&P 500 is -.97. VIX is running a positive carry both to cash and futures months more distant for any given futures month.

It is a condition which, if persists, allows a portfolio manager to in effect get a completely free lunch via Markowitz. Either stocks go up in the not-too-distant future, or the carry on VIX goes negative again (which occurs….when stocks go up).

Oct

19

They say the market is upset about the jump in bond yields but maybe she's anticipating a premature return to socialism

Stefan Jovanovich writes: 

If I thought there was any reliable direct connection between elections and speculations, I would be tempted to join LW and you other clever traders and bet my "system" - which does better than average at guessing political horse races. I don't because, if there were any such link, I would not be able to pretend to be an expert in such company. You guys would already know the odds down to the precinct levels if that mattered.

I think, in fact, you all do know what matters regarding politics and money. Now that I am 60% of the way through the House "swing" districts, I are learning what the markets have already predicted: Jim Jordan is going to be the new Speaker of the House of Representatives. When that happens, the Federal budget and the Treasury's operations are going to be subject to the approval of the 21st century successor to John Sherman; and the shock is going to be that the national debt will be brought home. The taxpayers are going to become the Federal bond holders just as they did during and after the Civil War; and they are going to want tariffs and "sound" money to protect their investments, even as Confederate paper (aka Chicago municipal bonds) is allowed to evaporate.

Larry Williams writes: 

If the new speaker shrinks debt stocks will get hit hard. Deficits are very bullish for equities.

Alex Forshaw asks: 

Larry, why do you say that/how do you strip out correlation vs causation in this? The blowoff 1998-2000 top occurred among budget surplus and deficits are inherently counter cyclical i.e. generally low in late cycle/high in early cycle (deficit as % of GDP biggest in 1981-83, during/after 2 recessions or 1 severe recession; 1991-93 after a fairly deep recession; 2002-03 after a recession; 2009-10 after a severe recession.) To the extent that the deficit is high adjusted for its place in the economic cycle (2012, 2018 ytd) it doesn't seem bullish. To the extent that deficits are unusually low cyclically adjusted (late 90s, 2007 arguably, 2015 arguably) it definitely does not seem bearish. 

Larry Williams replies: 

I don't think it is correlation but causation. Large deficits means lots of money floating around the hood. That translates to expansion, building–which translates to jobs, and that to consumer spending, and that to corporate profits. I'm traveling so lack data. The "one and only" Mr Vince may wade into this with data.

Ralph Vince responds: 

25+ years ago I bought the Commerce Dept Database of 900 data items, and set u p a program (that would take two months to run, with a math coprocessor no less!) to examine each pairwise data set, and for each pairwise data set, to skew them +12/9/6/3/0…/-12 months, and record only those dataskew pairs with absolute value of correlation > some value (I forget which, but it was quite high).

One of the (many) dataskew pairs that filtered through very highly was that of federal deficits and economic growth (and broadly, we can stipulate that ROC of economic growth correlates to equity returns). The greater the deficits, the greater the market gains.

There were periods that did not fit this pattern, of course, it was not absolute (one out-of-sample period being the Robt Rubin era which was yet to transpire).

My guess is like the Senator's here; greater money floating around menas greater economic activity. I think it;s even a deeper causation than that. I would define it by saying that debt needs be repayed only once (if ever, it can also be perpetually rolled — the "problematic" nature of this is solely a function of rates. If manageable due to rates, it is virtually nothing. Further, even if rates become problematic, the yield curve itself provides an avenue of release — cue Rubin again), whereas the borrowed dollar can circulate multiple times.

So there is the multiplier effect of borrowed money vs the borrower's asset which is a one-time shot

If it weren't for borrowing, in particular the fractional banking system, we'd be in the year 1,000.

Oct

17

 The hardest part is resting on your oars, but 58pts is a good time to ease off leverage. I think Ralph is right and there is more to go. Unlike RG I can't wait to learn patience.

Peter Pinkhasov writes:

Most of the close to close stats I'm seeing for such a decline are coming with the narrative that "but it has a potential to go lower" which I think takes away from being data and analytically driven to make decisions. I think with the large move in short term rates, it's better to use that as an independent variable for forecasting future returns given we have seen a new interplay in the last two weeks between stocks and bonds. 

Ralph Vince writes:

The upmove in st rates is and has been exceedingly bullish here.

Oct

12

 I'm very bullish. I can take the pain of that (and in truth this "pain" is something of a joke compared to what we went through in the 80s and 90s). I won't even attempt to trade the short side and such a strong bullish Market this move notwithstanding. That makes the current situation all the more juicy for getting or building long position–even if Kora's research manifests here and it goes on to seeing lower prices. Higher highs in the coming weeks and months are inevitable. This thing is nowhere near a high in price, in valuation or sentiment.

Russ Sears writes:

Perhaps I am too conspiracy and paranoid minded, but I see a parallel to Kavanaugh seated and Trumps election where market participants on the left saw a tragedy, and quickly exited only to miss out on a nice bull market. Not that I think Kavanaugh seat matter much to the economy or markets direction. But when people work themselves up into turmoil the markets reflect more volatility as it's made up of people's emotions
 

Oct

9

If I was a gambling man, I'd be getting very long here.

6-week weekly coefficient of variation in SPX calling for a major move.

Volume Thurs and Fri say to be a buyer on weakness.

A certain alliteration in the way prive & volume work on the short term is occurring here. OooOooOO this is hard!

Thurs SPY volumes on and Friday SVXY volumes - indicating to be a buyer on weakness in the coming day or two, followed by a little weakness this morning, and I'll double down on the gambling man proposition. (I have other signals too confirming this, but not going into the long-winded diatribe here at this time).

It;s hard because that 6 week weekly coefficient of variance, calling for a good, prolonged market run in one direction or the other, could be signalling a drop much further from here. But the odds favor the upside, so does the nose.

Aug

26

Those bonds last week should have had a little dip and that quiet strength is a sign of another wave of money about to flood equities again. All measures I keep, the valuation regression, which is only 14% over–nothing for a bull run, that relationship of short rates and earnings, the yield curve itself, breadth and confirmations, and the broader economic measures, the duration-balanced treasury rate continuing to drop (how about that 30 year?) all point to nothing but strength everywhere.

Looking at Drudge the past 24 hours, any market-related news is very negative. As hard as it may feel to pile in, it doesn't get much easier than this, folks.

Only 2 measures (really, super-measures for a market run-up) aren't going off here (and oh, if only they would!). One, proprietary that I only speak of with a select group, the other, that 20 year constant to linear between the 10 and 30, which is flirting at 5 bps over, and could invert pretty quickly here perhaps.

Just close your eyes…do what's hard here now, and get long. Ask yourself, "Do I want to go through my entire life as a weenie?"

Aug

20

In 2015, there was a very pronounced seasonality around the 3rd Friday of the month, where the market would ramp higher going into both quad-witch options expiration, and non-quarterly expiration, and then mean revert lower post expiration. J.P. Morgan had a couple of strategies that provided exposure to such options expiry momentum and it's subsequent mean reversion. Of course, this Friday's August expiration saw the market sell off the day before opex, and close unchanged on Friday. This is very similar to what happened during May opex of this year, when the ES sold off ~3% two days before expiration. While I'm not quite certain what the market will do next week, ES rebounded strongly the week following options expiration back in May.

As Kolanovic explained, the reason a broader selloff did not ensue is that none of the triggers for systematic selling were breached. Momentum stayed positive, bonds rallied and almost totally offset the equity selloff, and vol targeting strategies had already reached leverage caps at higher levels of volatility than those reached on that day. Options positioning going into May 17 was benign and long gamma, and as is often the case, moves are reverted when there is positive gamma exposure.

Bonds are once again negatively correlated to spooz, offsetting falling equity prices, and today's vol levels have only increased commensurate with May 17th's levels, however current VVIX:VIX is substantially higher than back in May, and momentum has turned negative. September options open interest is skewed toward puts in the current trading range with large pins at the 2400 and 2350 levels.

The stuffed cabbage appears to be falling apart, and there is no shortage of potential explanations as to why: trumpeachment, tax reform delay, balance sheet reduction, fed tightening, and if there were to be a selloff this Monday–renewed bellicose dialogue between the Kim and the Donald over war games.

P/C ratios continue to be bearish, and don't show signs of being overbought. A post-expiration move below 2425-20 on Monday would take dealers further short gamma as expired hedges are rolled forward boosting volatility. A test of 2400 in the ES then seems likely where a break below, might not be bought. The 'world' is leaning against that level, and recent statements imply the Fed may not be as inclined to be a buyer, as they have been in the past.

The powers that be seem determined not to allow gold to build value above 1300, however the $/yen is on the precipice, and further domestic conflict would pare it's price and support rallies in gold and treasuries. In any case triple bottoms (usd/jpy) and triple tops (gc) never hold.

Jim Sogi writes: 

Last weekend they paid a nice premium for taking the risk of holding their goods over the weekend. Always risk, and that's what they pay for.

Ralph Vince writes: 

Don't know if we'll see that tomorrow, but volatility is certainly telling us (very strongly) this is not the correction it seems most are looking for yet.

I still think we challenge the all-time highs first, and, very possibly, go into another strong up leg this Autumn on the inevitable tax cut legislation. The big bull–from wherever you begin looking at it from, March 09, Nov 2012, or, as I see it from January 2016, is far from over. And that means higher highs before it is.

I can be long and wrong but not short and wrong on the timing of all of this. But I'm quite certain we're going right back up to those all time highs here, just not so sure about tomorrow.

The bull market in bonds takes a breather this week.

Aug

19

 A great read:

"Turmoil in Quant Land: A hedge fund's candid view why strategies that were once working regularly mysteriously stopped working"

J.T Holley writes: 

The Law of the ever changing. The rudder is still the objective standard. Just try a little bit harder.

Use the objective but become more subjective while using the objective as a ruler.

Count. Then count again. Count some more. Die counting.

Adam Grimes writes:

A broad question on this topic.

Thinking about volatility, I understand how selling vol can depress implieds. This is obvious and if there's an ever-present offer on volatility (e.g., from banks selling for "yield") this would have an impact on pricing of those derivatives… but am I correct in thinking that there's no mechanism whereby this can actually effect realized volatility? And if realized volatility were higher (it obviously has not been) then the mispricing of those derivatives would be clear and the sellers would be crushed. We also could not have a situation where pricing of implieds comes dramatically apart from realized vol for an extended period of time because there is a day of reckoning on most of those instruments.

I can easily understand how buying and selling might, for instance, erode cycles or seasonality in the underlying and would quickly erase arbs, but I don't see how buying and selling pressure in a derivative can affect realized volatility. (Again… just to belabor the point… impact on implieds is obvious.)

I could imagine being a very deep-pocketed seller of vol and then operating in the underlying to dampen swings there, but it would seem that I would quickly magnify my risks to unacceptable levels without any assurance that I'd be able to accomplish what I was trying to do.

Am I missing something here, or is there a missing piece to this low vol puzzle in general? 

Ralph Vince replies: 

Adam, YOU'RE not missing ANYTHING. The notion that too many sellers of options dampen implied vol., if it were true, would create a wonderful opportunity to buy options, which, ultimately, reflect outcomes consistent with the historical vol over the period the options have been held. That is to say, the actual outcome of price distributions between the day I buy the options and the day the expire is, datum est, a function of the historical vol over that time window.

Ultimately, like a psychotic mistress you cannot shake, implied and historical can never be too far away for too long.

anonymous writes: 

Yes, this piece seems to be catered towards those whom are subscribers or clients of the author. I like to think that longevity in systematic/quantitative strategies relies on creativity and flexibility more than a fundamental understanding of statistics or arithmetic.

As Chair said "don't try to make money the same way twice".

If too many people are only focused on selling vol because that has been the main source of alpha over the last 3 years, then it would seem reasonable to expect those same actors to see heavier drawdowns and volatility being pushed like a hydraulic press into over leveraged players. A more prudent observer would find a way to take advantage or quantity some of these "irregularities".

Zubin Al Genubi writes: 

A couple of questions remain unanswered: Why has volatility been so low?

Other questions: why is inflation so low with such low rates?

Won't some of the old strategies start to work again once this low vol regime ends?

Personally I don't even bother to trade the low vol. Better to travel. 

Paolo Pezzutti writes: 

The concept of ever changing cycles is always valid. Competition on a set of inefficiencies exploited by more and more actors reduces gradually the edge. It has always been like this. The issue is that no edge is given and working forever. Innovation and research can never stop. One has to continue counting, find new regularities , dismiss those who do not work any more. An area of research in this regard and discussed in the paper is how to exploit the growing sector of passive investing and etfs. What are the new regularities that these growing actors are creating for the speculators to exploit and profit from? 

anonymous writes: 

They didn't take on enough risk, it's THAT simple.

What a pile of yadda yadda, "We don't really know why things didn't work as well as they had in the past, but we've fixed it because we have a lot of smart people working for us."

A failure-justifying amphigory, and fails at that too.

anonymous adds: 

Managers have to have a story to tell, especially when they under-perform the benchmark. The negative effects of index funds and ETFs is a pretty common part of the story these days. I am very skeptical because, from the cheap seats, it seems that if you took all the passive money and gave it active managers, they would wind up in aggregate holding the same positions as the passive funds held, only minus bigger fees. Following that logic, one consequence of passive investments would be higher markets because more of the customers' investable funds actually reach the market rather than being siphoned off by intermediaries. Which means that intermediaries will need to find new ways to siphon off funds.

Aug

17

If not today, then tomorrow…don't be shut out.

Gary Phillips writes: 

2475.00 appears impenetrable, at least until after opex Friday. If $/yen was to further take it on the chin due to Trump backlash, which looks likely, then gold should break higher and take out the round at 1300.00 while bonds tag along for the ride. Thinking 2440 in es before 2480.00.

Ralph Vince writes: 

Maybe so, Gary. BUT…there's no danger until the big indexes hit new all tie highs first, which is inevitable in the next couple of days.

anonymous writes: 

This is good, selling off into the open. Prime chance to add for another charge at new all time highs here. We are hitting a cycle low in this Thurs/Fri area, maybe even at it right now, and some intermediate stuff that is deeply oversold.

Aug

16

Volume gave nothing yesterday. It’s a good sign Monday will continue through today, and the 20 constant mat convexity is only 3 1/2 over linear.

It should be a stronger day in the end than the open might indicate.

Kim Zussman writes: 

So how will we know when the 8 year old “buy the dip” (slightest, shortest, before you blink) trading strategy will stop printing exponential bitcoin?

Ralph Vince writes: 

Everyone is waiting on “the dip”, and more than that in numbers are the grumblers who are and have been short or not aboard at all.

It’s the 1980s, but on steroids this time. Giant transformations - far bigger than reactionary politics - were in place a year ago and are just beginning to manifest.

Like the man on the loudspeaker at the trotter track says, “Do NOT get shut out.”

Jul

19

It looks to me as though the high is about in here. Maybe a drop of 5-10% over a period of at least a few weeks. All of this in the context of a very powerful bull market that will carry for at least the next 4 or 5 years (with fits and starts, decades) driven by lower rates, lower unemployment and low inflation in a world fast transforming on the energy and transportation arenas.

Anatoly Veltman writes: 

I only glance at the charts, and I see no difference between the 2007 topping action and the current chart juncture. So to me it looks more like agreeing with Ralph about no charting reason to hold Long here, but also not anticipating reasons to look for Long any time soon. What was that about "lower rates"??

Paolo Pezzutti writes:

Charts are useless. Your perception can be biased by what could look like specific formation. I think we should discuss the possibility of a top based on a more scientific and measurable approach. It's been years since we've heard about analogs with past topping formations and distribution patterns. Sooner or later stocks will move to the downside anyway.

anonymous writes: 

If we are in an analogous market to 2007:

Have we had any "warning shots" similar to Feb. 27, 2007 in which the underlying weakness of credit markets began to be evident? Is there reason to suspect that commodities are at bubble levels, or that a commodity bubble may form as in 1H2008, in divergence from the trajectory of earnings growth and equity prices? Are quant funds blowing up, indicating a sudden change in historical relationships between markets?

Ralph Vince writes: 

Giant bull market in bonds for the past 35 years.

I KNOW I'm not smart enough to call the top in that one. There's no great insight on my part, I'm just sticking with the bass line here, and that brings us to a 1 big-handle on the thirty constant mat.

Larry Williams writes:

The bearish Cassandra's on bonds miss the point. The Fed can't raise rates much here in a struggling economy. 2% GDP growth looks like about it based on velocity of money and credit. The Fed has to stop using Phillips Curve model.

Jul

10

I find it to be a much different game involved when managing a big winning position than dealing with any size losing position. Sometimes the market moves render even the best trading plans moot, either side, win or lose. The Mistress broadly encourages one to abandon reason and science, imploring one to trade in an emotional, "seat of the pants" mode. The mistress tends to endow a winner with self doubt and adds a double dose of hindsight just for kicks. She messes with confidence levels, tries to decrease humility, increase hubris, and whispers in your ear some small suggestions, that if followed will cause personal ruin. It is important to note that the mistress is fastidiously equal opportunity, sowing discord among winners and losers alike, and all at the same time.

Losers are easy to deal with…..get rid of them quickly, learn whatever lesson is presented, and move on. It's the very rare big winners that are most perplexing….there's not much material out there on how to deal with them.

Thoughts?

anonymous writes: 

Jeff writes: "I find it to be a much different game involved when managing a big winning position than dealing with any size losing position."

I agree with this statement.

And why might that be? Is it because we have trouble keeping positions open — that is, "cut your losses and let your winners run" is much easier said than done. Or might it be that we suffer from a personal guilt/insecurity that subconsciously believes we don't "deserve" to have an big winning position? (See: Prospect theory). Or perhaps it's more mundane: a lack of strategic tactics and discipline.

Whatever the reason, it's what I call a "quality problem" — so long as one doesn't believe that "no one ever went bankrupt taking a profit." Taking small losses and small profits is a surefire way to bankruptcy.

Julian Rowberry writes: 

How many times a year do you have to cut losses? How many times a year do you have to manage a big winner?

anonymous responds: 

The Pareto Principle states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come for 20% of the causes. But in fact, if one is trying to beat the S&P500, it's much more concentrated than that. According to Cliff Asness, each year for the past 20 years, the top 10 stocks have accounted for about 45% of the total gains. (There are different ways to calculate this — but the gist is the same: if you are long-only and own a concentrated portfolio, then owning those few winners is absolutely essential. It's left as an exercise for the reader whether this is one and the same with the so-called Momentum Effect.)

Similar phenomena occur in commodities…

This underscores the difficulty — perhaps even futility — of calling "tops" and "bottoms." This isn't a recent phenomenon either. I've seen some studies that show the most outsized gains occur in the final stages (so-called "blowoffs") of markets. So if you are trying to beat a benchmark (which is the most intellectually honest way to invest), then the only way to explain away those missed gains is to (a) pick a different timeframe for the benchmark and/or (b) couch things in terms of "risk-adjusted" returns or (c) pick a modest, absolute return benchmark. 

Raph Vince writes: 

Je me regarder.

There is absolutely nothing to consider here on this question but to further muddy the answer, and the only way to arrive at the answer is to first solve the fundamental, personal reason as to why you are here.

What are you seeking to do? This is true whether you are looking to trade Cook Co GOs, Natural gas futures or at the cheapie blackjack tables in Biloxi.

What are you trying to do? what is your criteria? And if the answer is simply "To make money," or "To make more money than ybidyblibidyblamgozoo," then you are among the deluded masses who will part with what you've brought in this in only a matter of time.

The single clearest denominator between those who loose what they have and those who do not is that the latter know, very clearly, and with respect to risk and timeframe, what they are doing here. Whether you're playing cards at the caddy shack or venues higher up the food chain. Once a person goes through the rough the honest and realistic self-evaluation, given their abilities, of what they can do and seek to do given their personal limitations, can they then attempt to answer such questions as posed on this thread.

Galen Cawley writes: 

I have found that piecemeal exits work best based on three different mechanisms: first, your personal utility curve (this can and should be programmed), second, a bayesian updating of the premise of your original entry, and finally, pure market action (some sort of trailing stop). The first type of exit is based on your psychology but has the beauty of not being made in the heat of the moment. The second type is logically based on your methodology, and the last one lets the position run as long as the market dictates (which can certainly escape the logic of your particular system). Occasionally, I'll give in to discretion by throwing a virgin into the volcano, e.g. selling a one lot during a runaway market, or liquidating a small portion after persistent daydreams of fantastically extrapolated returns, knowing and hoping that I'm usually wrong.

anonymous writes: 

The problem with getting out of trade too early, is "you don't know what you had until it's gone". In other words, you fail to realize the true value of the trade, until you're out. In essence then, it comes down to a problem of "recognition". One must be able to identify and acknowledge if a trade is simply a random move, or if the market has crossed some threshold; and one has been presented with the opportunity to take full advantage of "the move". At times, the argument is logical, intuitive, and almost compelling. But, at other times, the process can defy logic, be counter-intuitive, and render one doubtful. Of course, with the exception of a post trade analysis, one never knows for certain if their assessment was correct; so one attempts to eliminate bias and doubt, and reduces everything to past experience and probability.

Jim Davis writes: 

Are big winners really that rare? What’s
rare is holding long enough to capture the ‘big’. Of course, it’s
easy to hold everything you own as long as you don’t mind the many
backsliders from highs.

How many sold their beloved Bitcoin or Etherium at prices that today look like zero.

Jul

1

After a week of low volume two weeks ago, last week was highly volatile and erratic. It coincided with the advent of a new intern in the office. During the day, we don't talk much but as the market gyrates we try to quantify many different regularities. In the last 5 minutes of trading the market swung back to the lows before a holiday and a shortened day of trading before the first day of the month with gold, bonds at low, and the S&P who knows where. The moves raised a number of queries. And I realized that to a new intern and a outside observer it sounded very much like we were inmates in an insane asylum. It reminded me so much in retrospect of the idiot savant that the collab and I met at the baseball hall of fame who came up to us, and recited the batting averages of every player on every team from 50 years ago.

Anatoly Veltman writes:

I realize that one thing hasn't changed: institutions need to be invested. But other than that one thing, every other market make-up and mechanism has changed due to globalization, algos (especially HFT) and the incredible successful CBs experiment of 2010's with long-lasting zero-cost of all major currencies.

So that would mean to me that pre-2010s patterns are unreliable. And if one follows only a few years of pattern, then the problem lies with different placement within economic and election cycles, as well as most recent hacking waves. Which leads me to believe that the only constant is a CHANGE, and patterns that still CAN be relied on need constant adjusting of sorts…

In conclusion, I venture say that institutional investing has grabbed an oversize share (of course at the price of individual investing). Thus, given my introductory sentence, I have recently expected a Bull phase to last as long as it is - and then switch over to a lasting bear phase to wipe out 50-80% of the preceding gain. Now in that sense, not much change from 2007/2008 grand pattern - except for the exchange execution mechanics (with politicians dominating haphazard rule changes). So yes, lots of fun ahead for the intern.

Ralph Vince writes: 

The relentless move continues throughout the Summer, the majority waiting on the sidelines, assessing the virtues of each thumb, and the litany of those who should know better who all were looking for a top at various points up.

Yes, things are overvalued by most metrics. It's a bull market. That's how they go, have people forgotten this?

We've gone from a market of fear and disbelief, to merely one of fear now - a dangerous environment for weak stomachs as we have seen the past six weeks. The kind of market that wants to shake out those who are and have been aboard, and tempt those who aren't with a certain legerdemain only Mr. Market could do so as to get those who want to get aboard, unable to by crossing their feet and getting their weight going the wrong way.

Voir venir as mom would say.

anonymous writes: 

"Wait and see."

Anything to make us think it's no longer a bull market. Quick, volatile drops in speed and magnitude like we saw this past week, or long, slow, drawn-out affairs where new highs haven't been seen for months, yet still within the context of this bigger, overarching, fear-driven bull market.

Jun

18

 How much bad news was there last week with the market refusing to go down?

If 1 millionth as much good news came and the market didn't go up, every commentator would be saying the market is in the worst shape ever because no good news will budge it. But not the reverse.

There must be consternation and frowns at the marbled corridors of the Governors. They tried so hard to knock it down.

Reminds me of the Union Club on fifth avenue in the 1950s where the members sat at the windows looking down at fifth avenue and frowned at the women wearing mini skirts et al.

Ralph Vince writes: 

It reminds me of when I was an adolescent, and work was at Cleveland's food terminal, and the old kraut I worked for set starting time at 5 am sharp.

The endless ghetto lay between the job and my bed and the only way there was with my thumb. The jungle would always be hopping at that hour, kids out riding their bikes, etc. I would go through there like a ghost, and disregard any danger, trying only to be ready for it.

This market is identical, and calls for absolutely the same, exact, unflinching mindset. The same exact thing.

May

29

 I am asked by a son for tips on how to be a good trader. Here's a good start. Ask yourself be4 you trade:

1. Have you tested it?

2. Is it already in market?

3. Are you getting in over your head?

4. Are you trying to make money the same way many did yesterday?

5. Are you shorting stocks and going against the drift?

6. Are big things happening in related markets that could domino over?

7. Is there much fear in the market before the next announcement thereby giving you an opportunity to come in before it?

8. Are you paying too much implicitly in vig, rake in terms of how big a profit you are going for relative to your vig, rake bid asked spread?

9. Are you playing someone else's game, like trying to make a 1/10 of 1% profit on your trade in the next hour while high frequency taking 100 mill a day?

10. Is something bad e.g. sickness happening in your family that will prevent you from proper decision making?

11. Can you afford to lose?

12. Did you stop to test, consider all these things before you traded or did you just make a reflex kind of trade?

13. Is liquidity going to be reduced shortly so you're playing mah jong against a group of experts with little chance of beating them?

14. Do you have a backup position with most of your assets long stocks?

15. Have you had sex recently good or bad and is it influencing your decision the wrong way?

What would you add or subtract from this?

Ralph Vince comments:

Along the lines of 11, can you handle the worst thing that can happen (and along the lines of 13, this event should include the notion that there will be no liquidity, which will haunt you in the quietest moment of the night.)

I would also add: "What's your time horizon on all of this–on this trade and how many of these?" Ad infinitum is an answer here, but there should be a reason for that answer, not as a default.

Once both of these two questions are answered, unequivocally and clearly, a trader can address the most important question, in my opinion, which answers the "how much," but is approached by answering the pinnacle of questions all traders must answer, which is "what are you trying to accomplish within this given time frame?".

Jeff Watson writes: 

Do you really know and understand the game being played that you are trying to join? Are you aware that there are always games within games that might have a totally different, secret, set of rules?

Are you under the delusion that grains are "easier" because they seem to move slower and with less violence than the metals, oil, spus, etc?

Are you in good shape financially and physically?

Have you developed an aversion to losing money?

anonymous writes: 

Focus on process over outcome. It's not whether you make the shot, but whether it was a good decision to take the shot.

May

6

 2 posts for plenty of thought:

"Did you know? The world population growth rate peaked in 1962/63 and has been falling to about half of what it was since then"

Children per woman, total fertility rate, 1955-2015

Ralph Vince writes: 

Who knows how quickly we will populate Mars, and how soon this will begin (these things come on much faster than anyone anticipates).

I posit tht population growth is a function of bounds, both economically, culturally, and geographically. When the hottest thing for a young person to do is move to Mars and start life, given the seemingly boundless opportunity out there, the picture will change dramatically, and these ancestors of ours will look back at such articles with amazement and a touch of humor.

Apr

25

Aka how to get in the news:

"Elliott Wave investor Robert Prechter says a Depression-like shock is coming"

Stef Estebiza says: 

"As I've explained here, Elliott Wave theory says public sentiment and mass psychology move in five waves within a primary trend, and three waves in a counter-trend."

Maybe the book is interesting, but Robert Prechter was very wrong in the past with his elliot theory. After the recent change that has seen rivers of money only for some, rates to zero and the central banks traders on the markets, I doubt that we can talk about investors, psychology and the public. The only mover of the market is the orchestrated national deficit > QE whatever it takes… 

Ralph Vince writes: 

Prechter himself is but a symptom of what is going on– this all-over asive,"low frequency," fear, as I have been talking about, and that is it biggest driver of prices here. This is not the "breath-stuck-in-your throat, 2008 kind of fear." Rather, a constant low frequency, ubiquitous background fear pervading everything.

Fear not only sells but it is both contagious, and it is relative. It has become so pandemic that we don't recognize how fear-motivated our actions are (and I contend it certainly IS manifest in the markets). Look at the rise on gun sales, the blue glove swarms, bike helmets, bottled water, political reactions (much of the "green movement" itself is fear-motivated), fear of losing people's jobs, credibility, etc.

Finally, fear, like volatility itself, though it can come on very quickly, dissipates slowly. This is WHY bull markets persist, and why the majority are never aboard early on succumbing to the contagion of fear.

This is the bass line guys, the bass line to what's goin' on in the world and hence capital markets as well, and if you listen to just the base you'll move just fine.

Russ Sears writes: 

It is with trepidation that I will disagree with both Larry and Ralph, but I must in principal. The "opposite" of optimism from belief in the individuals working together is not technical analysis, nor is it fear…those are but symptoms of the opposite of the force of human progress and wealth creation. No, the opposite is betrayal of the individual. It is when the markets thought were working for the good of their "team", turn out to be for example taking huge loans and buying lumber land in Canada, or helping individuals fill out mortgage loans pretending that these are same standards as the past, or perhaps at a higher level some branch of government that is to be "by the people for the people" is scamming the people or outright demanding more from the people. Yes there are the dot com bubbles and the East India Tea bubbles but these are not caused by over optimism of the human spirit, rather it is from a clear understanding the enormous progress in wealth creation is about to be made… which do occur… but just not how when or where the market was expecting.  

Apr

20

 QE is over, it's back to the same old money creation we've had for centuries — an idea which has actually levered the resourceful potential of man.

Your going to see a car drive in front of you as you stand on the curb, and it will be sans driver.

Your going to see a man in a drone, in a park, lift off the ground.

These things are here, and united airlines isn't in the game. Or any of the others for that matter.

And faster than you can gobble un croque monsieur, they will collide in a 3d, computer controlled "roadway," obsoleting cars and every minor roadway, parking lot and driveway,and traffic jams will be viewed as lice infestations of the past.

But it will take some forward-thinking and planning here. Wasting a trillion-dollar is rebuilding these roads, airports, etc. on an infrastructure plan, is not the equivalent social investment as building the interstate system in the 19 fifties was. This would be a trillion dollar simply to maintain that which we currently have, when the future is about to take an Abrupt turn. That's where we are to be funding things with public monies, as that's where the enormous multiplier in terms of social benefit derived from money spent will be seen much as it was when we built the interstate system originally. To spend that money an existing infrastructure which will soon become obsolete, is equivalent to porkulus, on a diluted scale.

Victor Niederhoffer writes:

Mr. Vince makes a subtle point that I think he means. The most valuable thing in the world is a person. They can make tremendous contributions that all can benefit from. Julian Simon is very good on providing statistics for this. And it is no accident that standards of living are so highly correlated coterminously with population like during the industrial revolution. As to which causes the the other, it's mute.

Ralph Vince adds: 

It is a bad bet to bet against the likes of Jonas Salk. But for every Jonas Salk, how many others of equal insight go untapped throughout their lives?

The population of the earth in 1960, five years after his vaccine was announced, was about 3 billion. It is now 250% of that. For every Jonas Salk of 1960, we would expect 2 1/2 of them….and for every untapped Jonas Salk….2 1/2 of those as well.

And virtually every varlet and their harlot(s) who are not the equivalent of Salk posses some sort of potential to add to the cumulative progress.

Why would you bet against the resourcefulness of man? All bear markets, since the invention of the hand axe, have been short-lived compared to their bullish counterparts, and every single market top over those millennia have been exceeded (save for 3/1/2017…..yet).

To bet against the resourcefulness of man is silly, ultimately futile, and it requires one to time things perfectly. It is a far easier proposition to load up long as when things are selling off, and manage your powder to see it through to the next new highs.

David Lillienfeld writes: 

Two thoughts:

1. There's lots of infrastructure spending to be done to support some of the newer technologies to which you refer. And it's beyond broadband. Just air traffic control alone could use a shot in the arm (well, more actually). There's also the reality that people like to physically move. And the way the society is configured, tire's no doubt that will figure out ways to do so as efficiently as they can within whatever infrastructure exists. Until motivations like sex or control disappear (which seems unlikely in the life span most of us associate with being on the face of the good earth), keeping the existing infrastructure going will also have its benefits. The interest in sex, for instance, isn't disappearing anytime soon, especially among those in their teens, who will do just about anything to get away from the clutches, eyes and ears, of their parents. That takes infrastructure.

2. I recall at the 1964 World's Fair, there was the ATT building in which there were picture phones with an assurance that certainly within 20 years, they would be omnipresent. Didn't seem to work that way. Ditto GM and the future of transportation. I've heard about the new technologies coming into use for more than 5 decades. Yes, the technologies do make it into use. But it takes a lot longer than anyone at first thought likely. Remember commercial supersonic aviation? I don't think it was ever fiscally viable. The story of how RCA came to dominate wireless communications is a case in point. Eventually, the new technology did triumph, but it took longer than anyone had considered likely.

Plank's law comes into play and is part of the explanation, inertia and lack of understanding of the potential of the new technology is another. Remember Amazon in the 1990s when it was starting to hit at sales at Books a Million and the other retail outlets? It still took 15 years for Amazon to practice its hegemony—which represented the triumph of the net over physical bricks and mortar. And even now, Amazon is putting up bricks and mortar. Isn't the internet supposed to displace such things?

anonymous writes: 

Sure trucks and jumbos full-o-junk and folks crossing oceans will still be needed.

But technology gets here in less than half the time anyone ever thinks it will.

And if we're going to spend 1-2 trillion on infrastructure, rebuilding existing assets will not pay off the way they paid off when they were first built; that's only a little better than giving it away to teacher's unions and far-lefty organizations. The electronic infrastructure for tomorrow's transportation would be a much wiser investment than rebuilding existing infrastructure.

J.T. Holley writes: 

Bruce's "Glory Days" lyrics give a beginning of explaining why throwing money at fixing all the decrepit bridges in Pittsburgh is a bad idea.

Now I think I'm going down to the well tonight
I'm going to drink to I get my fill
And when I get old I hope I don't sit around thinking about it
But I probably will
Yeah, just sitting back trying to recapture
A little of the glory of, well time slips away
And leaves you with nothing mister but
Boring stories of glory days

That is all that throwing 1 trillion is going to produce. Eventually just "boring stories". It's just to pacify the unions, steel, and cement industries. The Rust Belt vote will be needed in the future. Hats the only forward looking that is taking place.

Apr

19

It is a bad bet to bet against the likes of Jonas Salk. But for every Jonas Salk, how many others of equal insight go untapped throughout their lives?

The population of the earth in 1960, five years after his vaccine was announced, was about 3 billion. It is now 250% of that. For every Jonas Salk of 1960, we would expect 2 1/2 of them….and for every untapped Jonas Salk….2 1/2 of those as well.

And virtually every varlet and their harlot(s) who are not the equivalent of Salk posses some sort of potential to add to the cumulative progress.

Why would you bet against the resourcefulness of man? All bear markets, since the invention of the hand axe, have been short-lived compared to their bullish counterparts, and every single market top over those millennia have been exceeded (save for 3/1/2017…..yet).

To bet against the resourcefulness of man is silly, ultimately futile, and it requires one to time things perfectly. It is a far easier proposition to load up long as when things are selling off, and manage your powder to see it through to the next new highs.

Apr

4

 Europe and emerging markets are the favorite topic of all in the coming months. Osmotic pressure?

Ralph Vince writes: 

But Stef, why screw around with those markets when the US is in a monster bull market — bigger than anything seen in over 50 years, or maybe in modern times? The US and the earth may have de-linked, and the US is, at least, a sure thing. We are in SUCH a raging bull market it's silly. This may be MORE than 1982, and the reason I am certain of it is because EVERYONE is SO RISK AVERSE. A planet of absolute weenies now.

I had some stooge tell me the other night, as I went to our myself a glass of tap water from the faucet of a friends condo here, "I only drink distilled water." Are you f***ing kidding me?

A bike helmet society. Since 9/11 and the crash, everyone is insanely risk averse. "The Presidents first priority is to keep Americans safe!" has been a common theme. That appears NOWHERE in the US Constitution btw, and I'm certain its framers - who were individually certified badasses, would laugh at such a statement. If you step outside of the day, if you transcend the era we are in and look at the bigger picture, it;s clear that never have so many people, been so motivated by fear in my lifetime. Maybe in 1938/9 people in Europe were, maybe in the Spring of 387 they were, Do you think this is not manifesting in the markets? Does anyone think that fear has dispersed yet?

Youth is steeped in it, and now, must be conditioned, only trough painful, firsthand experience to NOT be so risk-averse. The markets have never accommodated everyone, why would it be different this time around? Yes, there will be fits and starts and sputters, but the next 20 years are up and up and up and it doesn't matter what happens politically–this is bigger than politics, but is the market's reaction to one-sided human emotion.

J.T Holley writes: 

I completely agree with you Ralph. Having been a Father of three, Athletic Coach, and Boy Scout Leader I can tell you that there are two generations of folks that would rather be risk averse and maintain a lower standard deviation with their lives than take even the surest of bet!

The only other generation that might have had more fear would be that of the 1950's after WWII. That generation or slice of generation were the ones who did bombshelter drills, got under desks at school, and were spoon fed propaganda. They feared total nuclear annihilation. That eventually faded.

Ralph Vince writes: 

We're finally seeing what we "feared" for a long time, that all this inflating would result in a giant asset-bubble. This is now manifesting, but nowhere near to the degree it would to be commensurate with the size of the inflating that occurred.

If people are risk averse, the late-boomers, people my age, mid 50s to early 60s. simply want to be able to hobble into "retirement." They are not taking any risks. The younger set has been programmed NOT to seek risks. People of wealth are and have been hunkered down for a long time. Bank prop desks are dissolved…so very few are taking serious risks in the equity of assets–an endeavor the vast majority of people think is about finished for a variety of weak, small minded reasons.

Kim Zussman writes: 

Ralph I admire your optimistic enthusiasm. So much, in fact, I would like to adopt you as my brother (along with a select group of spec listers)!

I somewhat get the point about pervasive fear. But as a devil's advocate (and I'm not particularly bearish):

1. There could be even more fear, including the acute variety, just thinking about risks involving N Korea, Iran, Russia, ad nauseum
2. Dems will do everything they can to stop the president from executing his pro-growth agenda, though he has and will continue to get some of it via executive order
3. Related to #2 (and to some extent with the same motives), the Fed is in tightening mode
4. Protectionism and withdrawal from international trade might not be good for many company's earnings
5. To the extent one cares about valuation, stocks aren't particularly cheap here
6. VIX has been quite low and spikes are smashed apace. Long time since 10-20% "correction"
7. Boomers are retiring and they can't eat their stocks. Many might be inclined to lock in asset values, but who will buy them?

You may point out these and other fears are bullish, and I agree. But we don't have anything like the fear of 08-09 that resulted in over a 3X - 9 year gain (and probably won't again in my lifetime).

Would you suggest all-in, or scale-in on dips?

Ralph Vince responds: 

Kim, my response to your points is below: 

1. There could be even more fear, including the acute variety, just thinking about risks involving N Korea, Iran, Russia, ad nauseum

This is already baked into the market.

2. Dems will do everything they can to stop the president from executing his pro-growth agenda, though he has and will continue to get some of it via executive order

Very likely they will do all they can to obturate things. But as I said, this saturnine, fearful sentiment is what drives markets, and it;s the same mechanism we saw, for the same reasons as in 09. Except the fear - at a deep and cultural level, has remained as an ocean of cash has been pumped into the system — still out there. The ascent of Trump merely gasoline on this deep, prolonged, over-arching cultural shpilkes.

3. Related to #2 (and to some extent with the same motives), the Fed is in tightening mode

At the short end. Mr market is telling us a differetn story at hte long end, where the free market for credit occurs. I'm looking for a 1 big handle on the thirty within a year.

4. Protectionism and withdrawal from international trade might not be good for many company's earnings

You're talking a zero sum game by definition. It may not be good for some, but people will still buy light bulbs.

5. To the extent one cares about valuation, stocks aren't particularly cheap here.

They aren't expensive either, the relationship being (earnings ^2 ) / ln(long rates). By this (linear) measure they ARE quite failry priced indeed, and at the 1 big handle on the denominator, well….

6. VIX has been quite low and spikes are smashed apace. Long time since 10-20% "correction"

And where SHOULD Vix be? Is the pre-November historical level……..is that same level where it should be? Everyone for months has been looking for Vix to spike. It will, of course, at SOME point,as stocks too will correct beyond a few percentage points, at SOME point.

As an aside — perhaps looking at outright vix levels is deceiving us, just as looking at absolute interest rate levels deceives us. Perhaps vix, like interest rates, should be looked at for the character of its term structure, rather than absolute levels? (and further, vix exhibits the character, ie.e the manner in which it moves, which is very similar to monthly unemployment — not that they move together, they do not, but they move with similar personality)

7. Boomers are retiring and they can't eat their stocks. Many might be inclined to lock in asset values, but who will buy them? We haven't seen Dr. Greed enter the picture yet. How many guys do you know well past retirement who love to take a spec on things? Boomers aren't going to leave this game en masse — where will they get a return?


You may point out these and other fears are bullish, and I agree. But we don't have anything like the fear of 08-09 that resulted in over a 3X - 9 year gain (and probably won't again in my lifetime).

We have similar fear today, and, just like 08-9, it is deep and culturally ingrained, far beyond the mere fear of capital market corrections. The difference is we've been further steeped in it, and the markets have continued higher, stoking hte fear further. By every metric, gun sales, political banter (on all sides, favoring "safety!") etc., we are a culture in a sort of tenebrous, deep fear, which has persisted well beyond a decade and a half now — I contend it is so deep and so ingrained that we aren;t even aware of it.

Would you suggest all-in, or scale-in on dips?

Timing dips is for dips who think they can. Why piddle when things are just going to keep making new all-time highs? Just buy and buy and keep buying. Come up with more money and buy some more. Add and add and ultimately cause yourself to have a bigger stake in it which has naturally averaged in. If you want you can protect it very cheaply for about 1-2% /year.

Mar

30

One sees that everything is topsy turvy with the service reform that repubs are now pointing to. Apparently the agrarian reformers have put a framework in place where a new plan must be revenue neutral or else it has to subject to whatever non-reconciliation is. To the layman that means it's a lot easier to get a revenue neutral plan in. Washington loves that because gov spending won't be decreased. But the fly in the ointment is that any proposal to reduce service rates will generate enormous increased revenues through growth and compliance and proper business activities rather than those designed to reduce payments to the service. Supposedly the "non partisan" budget office made the congress agree that there can't be dynamic scoring. So the Lafferian correlation between reductions in service rates and growth can't be taken into consideration. Thus, the whole thing has an improper foundation, a twisted acorn that must grow into a twisted oak. I've found that all things built on improper foundations eventually crumble.

Rocky Humbert writes: 

Since taking office, I count that to-date, Trump has eliminated over 90 government regulations; some of which are very significant and positive from an economic growth perspective (if one is inclined to view the cost/benefit ratio of such regulations as high).

Rocky wonders whether Vic has any hot water in his Connecticut manse. Why? Because he always seems to have a bucket of cold water at the ready.

Ralph Vince adds: 

And further to Rocky's point comma it is estimated that these regulations costing economy about to trillion dollars a year. That's one eighth of our economy. Cut that in half reduce half of these regulations and you see an immediate 6% bump in GDP. In my case I have spent over 150 hours in the last month simply wrestling with the regulations caused by Dodd-Frank. Those who oppose the president on the political scale to sew an ideological grounds but in the nuts and bolts world of trying to get anything done and America the regulations are stultifying.

That 6% bump in GDP is before any kind of multiplier is put on it. Can again go back and look at any of the great social programs have been started and worked successfully in America from Social Security to Medicare to Medicaid they all coincide with double-digit GDP growth, something I personally and looking for between now and January of 2019. Taking a machete to the Jungle of regulations anyone trying to start or run a business or even so much as take out a mortgage has to contend with, as the numbers illustrate goes a long way towards getting his towards that double-digit growth, and possibly then some type of healthcare plan in America. People have been flying to this putting the cart before the horse.

Kim Zussman shares the article: 

"How to Engineer a Trump Boom"

Cut taxes, deregulate, build roads, bridges and airports—and don't start a 1930-style trade war.

By ROBERT J. BARRO

Stefan Jovanovich writes: 

Mr. Barro is looking through the large end of the historical telescope. Trade wars only occur when countries are already having shooting wars; they begin and end when one country loses all its money. The 20th century's "trade war" began in 1914 and only ended in 1945.

What "explains" the 1920s is that the one country in the world that had any money - the United States - decided that it could afford to accept other countries' central banks' valuations of their domestic currencies. What explains the 1930s is that Herbert Hoover and Franklin Roosevelt both agreed that the way to solve the collapse of the Wall Street credit bubble was for the U.S. to join the rest of the civilized world and undertake its own default on its domestic currency.

When economists now say that countries can inflate their way out of their debts, they are referring to the magic of the defaults of nearly all the international loans issued after the Great War. No one got paid back because the valuations accepted for the initial loans (mostly from the U.S.) were as fictional as the current Venezuelan exchange rate; and the Americans decided that having the U.S. Treasury own all its citizens' money was the ideal way to revive American credit exchanges.

Academically trained economists insist on treating political economy as a science, yet they believe, without evidence, that international trade was "free" after World War I. They see a world without quotas, currency controls and imperial preferences after 1918 as a kind of mystic vision that is true regardless of any actual facts. They believe this version of history with even more fervor than LDS believe in the story of Joseph Smith and the golden plates. The Mormons, God Bless Them, consider their gospel a matter of faith; Professor Barro and his colleagues must pretend that it is all somehow Reed Smoot's fault.

Mar

13

The article "Seeking the Latest Fear Trade" on p. B2 of the weekend WSJ describes the efforts of volatility pioneer NYU Stern School Prof. Menachem Brenner to derive an actionable gauge of ambiguity, to complement VIX.

Ralph Vince writes: 

Fascinating stuff. I am searching for a cached copy. Think of the rich complexity of a listed product, the spreads and just mere sentiment expressions something like a listed product on such a creature would afford.

Mar

4

 Qiji Jim Zhu [bibliography ] has very pronounced, chiseled facial features as is often the case with men of Northern Chinese genetics, features that further seem to augment the aggressive way he assails the blackboard. He is physically fit for a man 20 years his junior as he attacks the chalkboard in his office to his audience of another gifted mathematician and myself, who has no business in their company, only the good sense to know it.

It is an explosion, a seemingly violent yet joyous expression, and with both men, this seems to be the case even though I think it is lost on them. I witness in awe, trying to absorb and understand the math as it is "carved" into the board, trying desperately to keep up.

Zhu attacks the board, aggressively, pausing not even to take a breath, his voice losing the race with the symbols he agressively carves into the blackboard with harsh, audible slashes and bangs. He begins to run out of blackboard space, and without skipping a beat in the slashing and banging of his chalked hand and accompanying voice, begins to erase ahead of where the chalk is going with his bare other hand. The expression visually, audibly, is as aggressive as any entirely serious Chinese gambler visiting Vegas, and he finishes abruptly, throwing his shoulders and head back as his hands come forward as he turns to us now smiling, the rapture of his expression only now evident to us.

Stani Maier-Paape [bibliography ] stands, walks toward the board, chalk in hand, rolling his head about his neck as he approaches, exactly as a very relaxed boxer approaches his opponent at the start of a new round, tapping his gloves as he rolls his head, the way such a boxer might do before coming into range of his opponent. He is in no hurry whatsoever, as though time no longer exists - he is lost in the moment, in his mathematical expression, and I notice his near-accent-less English now returns to a very German-sounding accent, which the man caught up entirely in what he is focused on is seemingly oblivious to.

He stops between each line, each phrasing, turns to his small audience and makes certain they are with him (me, in particular), in stark contrast to his Chinese counterpart, both men recognized from childhood in their respective countries as prodigies of mathematics, their contrast very evident and enigmatic to me.

I had the pleasure of being invited to meet with these two at Western Michigan University late this past week, and it was difficult for me to focus on the mathematics — as it is meeting any great man, where you are lost absorbing their persona, inadvertently, at the expense of trying to understand their expression of their mastery of their field.

As with most things in life, I found myself wondering what I was doing there, and "Hey, I gotta find a way to stay here," overwhelmed by the joy in their work, and how just being in the vicinity of that joy, is a drug in its own right. I felt like I was at "Baseball camp," where those of pedestrian existence get to spend a few days on the field with the big leaguers.

Feb

28

 Just as "The Big Short," debuted one month before the low last January, (the moral lost on almost all who saw it was that the story wasn't about anyone who caught the short side of the '08 crash, a drop of about 7,700 dow points, or about 56%, but the big long that followed– the dow rising 14,370 + points since then, or a gain of about 222% of what the drop was) I saw an ad on television featuring a commedienne I find highly offensive touting pastel-colored jeans.

It's very interesting to begin seeing these cultural reflections of bull market.

It will be very interesting to see if a musical wins best picture further buttressing this. And that's something I plan to learn in the morning.

Musicals are more of a bull market phenomena, and certainly La La Land is the antithesis of the pervasive, dark-themed movies of the recent past.

Feb

13

Amazing consonance of about 150 stock markets on my Bloomberg screen, all but Kenya is up with the median being about 5%. With the wealth of so many tied to stock markets in one way or another, many people must be feeling much happier and secure than in previous times.

Ralph Vince writes: 

The backdrop, at least for US equities, is 1982 - on steroids. A runaway market in its nascent stages (I see no end in sight from my indicators–in fact, my main intermediate term indicator, for the foreseeable several weeks, is still overSOLD).

99% of everyone I speak to or hear is looking for a top, a pullback, increased volatility–yet for those fully invested, it's been ripe for establishing defense–inexpensive hedges, etc…

The backdrop is certainly not one that could be characterized as "frothy." Yes, the decennial pattern of years ending in 7 would call for some type of serious selloff along the road here this year. If so, I don't see it on my radar screen yet. Frankly, if someone is in this business, and not very seriously long and have been throughout the past 12 months, they have no business in this business.

keep looking »

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