Global Market Comments
January 25, 2021
(MARKET OUTLOOK FOR THE WEEK AHEAD, or HERE COMES THE SUPERHEATED ECONOMY),
(SPY), ($INDU), (TLT), (TBT), (TSLA)
Global Market Comments
January 18, 2021
(MARKET OUTLOOK FOR THE WEEK AHEAD, or WHAT WOULD KILL THIS MARKET?)
($INDU), (TLT), (TBT), (GLD), (GOLD), (WPM), (TESLA)
Global Market Comments
January 12, 2021
(MAD HEDGE 2020 PERFORMANCE ANALYSIS),
(SPY), (TLT), (TBT), (TSLA), (GLD),
(SLV), (V), (AAPL), (VIX), (VXX)
Global Market Comments
January 11, 2021
(MARKET OUTLOOK FOR THE WEEK AHEAD, or A WEEK FOR THE HISTORY BOOKS),
($INDU), (TSLA), (TBT), (TLT), (JPM), (WFC)
Global Market Comments
December 11, 2020
(DECEMBER 9 BIWEEKLY STRATEGY WEBINAR Q&A),
(GLD), (FXA), (FXE), (FXC), (UUP), (FXB), (ABNB), (DASH), (TAN), (TLT), (TBT), (NZD), (DKNG), (SNOW), (AAPL), (CRSP), (RTX), (NOC)
Below please find subscribers’ Q&A for the December 9 Mad Hedge Fund Trader Global Strategy Webinar broadcast from Incline Village, NV with my guest and co-host Bill Davis.
Q: Is gold (GLD) about ready to turn around from here?
A: The gold bottom will be easy to call, and that’s when the Bitcoin top happens. In fact, we have a double top risk going on in Bitcoin right now, and we had a little bit of a rally in gold this week as a result. So, longer term you need actual inflation to show up to get gold any higher, and we may actually get that in a year or two.
Q: The US dollar (UUP) has been weak against most currencies including the Canadian dollar (FXC), but Canada has the same problems as the US, but worse regarding debt and so on. So why is the Canadian dollar going up against the US dollar?
A: Because it’s not the US dollar. Canada also has an additional problem in that they export 3.7 million barrels a day of oil to the US and the dollar value have been in freefall this year. Canada has the most expensive oil in the world. So, taking that out of the picture, the Canadian dollar still would be negative, and for that reason I’ve been recommending the Australian dollar (FXA) as my first foreign currency pick, looking for 1:1 over the next three years. Of the batch, the Canadian dollar is probably going to be the weakest, Australian dollar the strongest, and the Euro (FXE) somewhere in the middle. I don’t want to touch the British pound (FXB) as long as this Brexit mess is going on.
Q: Would you buy the IPO’s Airbnb (ABNB) and Dash (DASH)?
A: No on Dash. The entries to new competitors are low. Airbnb on the other hand is now the largest hotel in the world, and it just depends on what price it comes out at. If it comes out at a stupid price, like 50% over the IPO, I wouldn’t bother; but if you can get close to the IPO price, I would probably buy it for the long term. I think you would have another double if we got close to the IPO price, so that is worth doing. They have been absolutely brilliant in their management and the way they handled the pandemic; they basically captured all the hotel business because if you rent an apartment all by yourself, the COVID risk is much lower than if you go into a Hilton or another hotel. They also made a big push on local travel which was successful. They gave up long-distance travel, and they’re now trying to get you to explore your own area; and that worked beyond all expectations. Even I have rented some Airbnb’s out in the local area like in Carmel, Monterey, Mendocino, and so on and I came back disease-free.
Q: If the United States Treasury Bond Fund (TLT) goes to a 1.00% yield, what would that translate to in the (TBT) (2x short treasury ETF)?
A: My guess is probably about $18, which has been upside resistance for a long time, but it depends on how long it takes to get there. You have about a 3% a year cost of carry on the TBT that you don’t have in Treasuries.
Q: Should we buy China stocks when the current administration is so negative on China?
A: Yes, that’s when you buy them—when the current administration is negative on China; because when you get an administration that’s less negative on China, the Chinese stocks will all rocket. There’s an easy 20-30% in most of the headline Chinese stocks from here sometime in 2021. And I’m looking to add more Chinese stocks. I currently have Alibaba (BABA), and that’s working well. I want to pick up some more.
Q: What about the New Zealand currency ETF (NZD)?
A: It pretty much moves in sync with the Australian dollar, but it’s usually a few cents cheaper and more volatile.
Q: Legalized sports betting seems to be on the upswing. Where do you see DraftKings (DKNG) going?
A: I think it goes up. I think there’s going to be a recovery in all kinds of entertainment type activities. Draft Kings got a huge market share from the pandemic which they will probably keep.
Q: Do we use spreads when playing (FXA)?
A: Yes, you can probably do something like a $70-$72 here one month out and make some decent money.
Q: How do you feel about Snowflake (SNOW)?
A: I wanted to get into this from day one, but it doubled on the IPO, and then it doubled again. It’s one of the only technology stocks Warren Buffet has bought in the last several years besides Apple (AAPL). So, it’s just too popular right now, it’s hotter than hot. They have a dominant market share in their big data platform, so it’s a great place to be but it’s really expensive now.
Q: Do your options trade alerts have any risk of assignment?
A: Yes, they do, but when you get an assignment it’s a gift, because they’re taking you out of your maximum profit point, weeks before the expiration. All you do is tell your broker to use your long position to cover your short position, and you will get the 100% profit right then and there. I say this because the brokers always tell you to do the wrong thing when you get an assignment, such as going into the market to close out each leg separately. That is a huge mistake, and only makes money for the brokers. For more details, log in and search for “assignments” at www.madhedgefundtrader.com
Q: Congratulations on your great performance; what could derail your bullish prediction?
A: Well, we’ve already had a pandemic so obviously that’s not it, and then you have to run by your usual reasons for an out-of-the-blue crash; let’s say Donald Trump doesn’t leave the presidency. That would be worth a few thousand points of downside. So would a major war. We could have both; we could have a major war before a disrupted inauguration. The president has essentially unlimited ability to go to war at any time, so there aren’t too many negatives on the near-term horizon, which is why everyone is super bullish.
Q: What’s your opinion on the solar area, stocks like First Solar (FSLR) and the Invesco Solar ETF (TAN)?
A: I’m bullish. Even though they’re over 300% since March, we’re about to enter the golden age of solar. Biden wants to install 500,000 solar panels next year and provide the subsidies to accomplish that. This all looks extremely positive for solar. In California, a lot of people will go solar, because getting an independent power supply protects you from the power shut-offs that happen every time the wind picks up, in which response to wildfire danger. We had ten days of statewide power blackouts this year.
Q: What are your thoughts on lithium?
A: I’m not a big believer in lithium because there is no short supply. The key to producing lithium is finding countries with no environmental controls whatsoever because it’s a very polluting and messy process to mine. Better to let other countries mine your lithium cheap, refine it, and then send it to you in finished form.
Q: Since you love CRISPR (CRSP) at $130, what about shorting naked puts? The premiums are really high.
A: I never advocate shorting naked puts. Occasionally, I will at extreme market bottoms like we had in March, but even then, I do it only on a 1 for 1 basis, meaning don’t use any leverage or margin. Never short any more puts than you’re willing to buy the stock lower down. People regularly see the easy money, sell short too many puts, and then get a market correction and a total wipeout of their capital. And they won’t have to do that liquidation themselves; their broker will do it for them. They’ll do a forced liquidation of your account and then close it because they don’t want to be left holding the bag on any excess losses. You won’t find out until afterwards. So, I would not recommend shorting naked puts for the normal investor. If you want to be clever, just buy an in-the-money call spread, something like a $110-$120 out a couple of months. That’s probably a far better risk reward than shorting a naked put. By the way, I came close to wiping out Solomon Brothers 30 years ago because my hedge fund was short too many Nikkei Puts. In the end, I made a fortune, but only after a few sleepless nights (remember that Mark?).
Q: What do you think about defense stock right now?
A: I’m avoiding defense stock because I don’t see any big increases in defense spending in the future administration, and that would include Raytheon (RTX), Northrop Grumman (NOC), and some of the other big defense stocks.
SEE YOU ALL IN 2021!
Good Luck and Stay Healthy.
CEO & Publisher
The Diary of a Mad Hedge Fund Trader
Global Market Comments
December 3, 2020
(WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE GREAT DEPRESSION DEBT?),
($TNX), (TLT), (TBT),
When I was a little kid during the early 1950s, my grandfather used to endlessly rail against Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
The WWI veteran, who was mustard-gassed in the trenches of France and was a lifetime, dyed-in-the-wool Republican, said the former president was a dictator and a traitor to his class, who trampled the constitution with complete disregard.
Republican presidential candidates Hoover, Landon, and Dewey would have done much better jobs.
What was worse, FDR had run up such enormous debts during the Great Depression that not only would my life be ruined, so would my children’s lives.
As a six-year-old, this disturbed me deeply, as it appeared that just out of diapers, my life was already going to be dull, brutish, and pointless.
Grandpa continued his ranting until a three-pack a day Lucky Strike non-filter habit finally killed him in 1977.
He insisted until the day he died that there was no definitive proof that cigarettes caused lung cancer, even though during his war, they referred to them as “coffin nails.”
He was stubborn as a mule to the end. And you wonder whom I got it from?
What my grandfather’s comments did do was spark in me a lifetime interest in the government bond market, not only ours, but everyone else’s around the world.
So, whatever happened to the despised, future-destroying Roosevelt debt?
In short, it went to money heaven.
And here I like to use the old movie analogy. Remember, when someone walked into a diner in those old black and white flicks? Check out the prices on the menu on the wall. It says “Coffee: 5 cents, Hamburgers: 10 cents, Steak: 50 cents.”
That is where the Roosevelt debt went.
By the time the 20 and 30-year Treasury bonds issued in the 1930s came due, WWII, Korea, and Vietnam happened, and the great inflation that followed.
The purchasing power of the dollar cratered, falling roughly 90%. Coffee is now $1.00, a hamburger at MacDonald’s is $5.00, and a cheap steak at Outback costs $12.00.
The government, in effect, only had to pay back 10 cents on the dollar in terms of current purchasing power on whatever it borrowed in the thirties.
Who paid for this free lunch?
Bond owners, who received, minimal, and often negative real, inflation-adjusted returns on fixed-income investments for three decades.
In the end, it was the risk avoiders who picked up the tab. This is why bonds became known as “certificates of confiscation” during the seventies and eighties.
This is not a new thing. About 300 years ago, governments figured out there was easy money to be had by issuing paper money, borrowing massively, stimulating the local economy, creating inflation, and then repaying the debt in devalued future paper money.
This is one of the main reasons why we have governments, and why they have grown so big. Unsurprisingly, France was the first, followed by England and every other major country.
Ever wonder how the new, impoverished United States paid for the Revolutionary War?
It issued paper money by the bale, which dropped in purchasing power by two thirds by the end of the conflict in 1783. The British helped too, by flooding the country with counterfeit paper Continental money.
Bondholders can expect to receive a long series of rude awakenings sometime in the future.
No wonder Bill Gross, the former head of bond giant, PIMCO, says will get ashes in his stocking for Christmas next year.
The scary thing is that eventually, we will enter a new 30-year bear market for bonds that lasts all the way until 2049. However, after last month’s frenetic spike up in bond prices, and down in bond yields, that is looking more like a 2022, than a 2019 position.
This is certainly what the demographics are saying, which predicts an inflationary blow off in decades to come that could take short term Treasury yields to a nosebleed 12% high once more.
That scenario has the leveraged short Treasury bond ETF (TBT), which has just cratered down to $23, double to $46, and then soaring all the way to $200.
If you wonder how yields could get that high in a decade, consider one important fact.
The largest buyers of American bonds for the past three decades have been Japan and China. Between them, they have soaked up over $2 trillion worth of our debt, some 12% of the total outstanding.
Unfortunately, both countries have already entered very negative demographic pyramids, which will forestall any future large purchases of foreign bonds. They are going to need the money at home to care for burgeoning populations of old age pensioners.
So who becomes the buyer of last resort? No one, unless the Federal Reserve comes back with QE IV, V, and VI. QE IV, in fact, has already started.
There is a lesson to be learned today from the demise of the Roosevelt debt.
It tells us that the government should be borrowing as much as it can right now with the longest maturity possible at these ultra-low interest rates and spending it all.
With real, inflation-adjusted 10-year Treasury bonds now posting negative yields, they have a free pass to do so.
In effect, the government never has to pay back the money. But they do have the ability to reap immediate benefits, such as through stimulating the economy with greatly increased infrastructure spending.
Heaven knows we need it.
If I were king of the world, I would borrow $5 trillion tomorrow and disburse it only in areas that create domestic US jobs. Not a penny should go to new social programs. Long-term capital investments should be the sole target.
Here is my shopping list:
$1 trillion – new Interstate freeway system
$1 trillion – additional infrastructure repairs and maintenance
$1 trillion – conversion of our energy system to solar
$1 trillion – construction of a rural broadband network
$1 trillion – investment in R&D for everything
The projects above would create 5 million new jobs quickly. Who would pay for all of this in terms of lost purchasing power? Today’s investors in government bonds, half of whom are foreigners, principally the Chinese and Japanese. Notice that I am not committing a single dollar in spending on any walls.
How did my life turn out? Was it ruined, as my grandfather predicted?
Actually, I did pretty well for myself, as did the rest of my generation, the baby boomers.
My kids did OK too. One son just got a $1 million, two-year package at a new tech startup and he is only 30. Another is deeply involved in the tech industry, and my oldest daughter is working on a PhD at the University of California. My two youngest girls are about to become the first-ever female eagle scouts.
Not too shabby.
Grandpa was always a better historian than a forecaster. But did have the last laugh. He made a fortune in real estate, betting correctly on the inflation that always follows big borrowing binges.
You know the five acres that sits under the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas Today? That’s the land he bought in 1945 for $500. He sold it 32 years later for $10 million.
Not too shabby either.
40 Years of 30 Year Bond Yields
Not Too Shabby for $500
Global Market Comments
October 8, 2020
(IF BONDS CAN’T GO DOWN, STOCKS CAN’T EITHER),
($NIKK), (TLT), (TBT), ($TNX)
The U.S. Treasury bond market has suddenly ground to a halt, puzzling traders, investors, and hedge fund managers alike.
Today, the yield on the 10-year Treasury bond (TLT), (TBT) traded as low as 0.77%.
This is despite the U.S. economy delivering a horrific negative GDP growth during Q2. Growth is expected to rebound to 2-5% in Q3, depending on if there is another stimulus package from Washington, or not. 2021 could bring economic growth as high as an astronomical 10%.
If I blindfolded any professional money manager, told him the above and asked him where the 10-year Treasury yield should be, most would come in at around the 5% level.
So what gives?
I have put a great deal of thought into this and the answer can be distilled down to two letters: QE.
Global quantitative easing has created about $30 trillion in new money over the past 10 years. It has not been spent, it hasn’t disappeared, nor has it gone to money heaven. It is still around.
The U.S. Federal Reserve, the first to start QE in November 2008 during the Great Recession, ended it in October 2014. From start to finish, it created $4.5 trillion in new money. Over the past five years was wound down to $3.8 trillion by letting debt on its balance sheet mature.
Enter the pandemic. The expectation is that the new round of QE could exceed another $10 trillion or more.
Japan actually began its QE program in 2001, long before anyone else, to deal with the aftermath of the 1990 Japanese stock market crash and a massive demographic headwind (they’re not making Japanese anymore).
Some 20 years later, the Japanese government now owns virtually all of the debt in the country. When you hear about Japan’s prodigious 240% debt to GDP ratio, it’s all nonsense. Net out government holdings and there is no national debt in Japan at all. That’s why the Japanese yen is consistently strong.
After the 2008 crash, the Japanese government expended its QE to include equities as well. As a result, the government is now the largest single buyer of stocks in the Land of the Rising Sun. The Nikkei Average has risen by 234% since the 2009 bottom despite a miserable economic performance, and the yield on 10-year JGBs stand at a lowly 0.03%.
The European Central Bank got into the QE game very late, not until 2015, and its program continues anew, although at half its peak rate. The ECB has just renewed its plan to print a ton of new money.
Part of the problem is that the ECB is running out of bonds to buy, as it already owns most of the paper issued by European entities. That’s why 10-year German bunds are yielding a paltry -0.50%.
As a result, there is excess liquidity everywhere and this has broad implications for your investment or retirement portfolio. It could take as long as a decade before all of this artificial cash is removed from the global financial system.
For a start, bonds may not fall much from here, even if the Fed continues its near-zero interest rate policy for three more years, as promised.
Stocks can’t fall either with this much cash underpinning the market, at least not for a while and not by much. While company share buybacks have virtually disappeared this year, foreign investors have stepped in to pick up the slack.
It also means you can’t have a global contagion leading to a financial crisis. There is ample money available to refinance your way out of any problem when 70% of the world’s debt is still yielding close to zero.
The bottom line here is that global excess liquidity can cover up a multitude of sins. It means the price of everything has to go up, or at least stay level until that liquidity runs out. That includes stocks, bonds, your home, classic cars, and even that rare coin collection of yours gathering dust in a safe deposit box somewhere.
Yes, when the excess free cash runs out in a decade, there will be hell to pay. Until then, make hay while the sun shines.