Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Wall Street Titanic and You

By Tony Sagami

“I would highlight that equity market valuations at this point generally are quite high.”
—Janet Yellen

Are you worried about the stock market? If you are, you’re in the minority of investors.
Greece… China… don’t worry about it!

At least that seems to be Wall Street’s reaction to what could have been a catastrophic fall of dominoes if the European and Chinese governments hadn’t come to the rescue with another massive monetary intervention.

If you think you’ve heard the last about Greece or a Chinese stock market meltdown, you’re in the majority. Investors are pretty darn confident about the stock market.


The John Hancock Investor Sentiment Index hit +29 in the second quarter, the highest reading since the inception of the index in January of 2011.

However, overconfidence is dangerous and often accompanies market tops.

If you listen to the hear no evil cheerleaders on Wall Street and CNBC, you might be inclined to think the bull market will last a couple more decades, but we haven’t had a major correction since 2011, and the Nasdaq hit an all time high last week.

Investors are so enthusiastic that the exuberance is spilling beyond stock certificates to the high brow world of collectible art.


Investment gamblers are shopping up art in record droves. In the last major art auction, prices for collectible art reached all time highs, and somebody with more money than brains paid $32.8 million for an Andy Warhol painting of a $1 bill.

Who says a dollar doesn’t buy what it used to?

I’m not saying that a new bear market will start tomorrow morning, but I’m suggesting that bear markets hurt more and last longer than most investors realize.

The reality is that bear markets historically occur about every four and a half to five years, which means we are overdue. And the average loss during a bear market is a whopping 38%. Ouch!


On average, a bear market lasts about two and a half years… but averages can be misleading.
In the 1973-74 bear market, investors had to wait seven and a half years to get back to even. In the 2000-02 bear market, investors didn’t break even until 2007.


Unless you, too, have drunk the Wall Street Kool Aid, you should have some type of emergency back up plan for the next bear market. There are three basic options:

Option #1: Do nothing, get clobbered, and wait between two and a half and 10 years to get your money back. Most people think they can ride out bear markets, but the reality is that most investors—professional and individual alike—panic and sell when the pain gets too severe.

Option #2: Have some sort of defensive selling strategy in place to avoid the big downturns. That could be some type of simple moving average selling discipline or a more complex technical analysis. At minimum, I highly recommend the use of stop losses.

Option #3: Buy some portfolio insurance with put options or inverse ETFs. That’s exactly what my Rational Bear subscribers are doing, and I expect those bear market bets to pay off in a big, big way.

Whether it is next week, next month, or next year—a bear market for US stocks is coming, and I hope you’ll have a strategy in place to protect yourself.

If you'd like to hear what worries me most about the stock market, here is a link to an interview I did last week with old friend and market watchdog Gary Halbert.
Tony Sagami
Tony Sagami

30 year market expert Tony Sagami leads the Yield Shark and Rational Bear advisories at Mauldin Economics. To learn more about Yield Shark and how it helps you maximize dividend income, click here.

To learn more about Rational Bear and how you can use it to benefit from falling stocks and sectors, click here.



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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Europe: Running on Borrowed Time

By John Mauldin 

“I am sure the euro will oblige us to introduce a new set of economic policy instruments. It is politically impossible to propose that now. But some day there will be a crisis and new instruments will be created.”
– Romano Prodi, EU Commission president, December 2001

Prodi and the other leaders who forged the euro knew what they were doing. They knew a crisis would develop, as Milton Friedman and many others had predicted. It is not conceivable that these very astute men didn’t realize that creating a monetary union without a fiscal union would bring about an existential crisis. They accepted that eventuality as the price of European unity. But now the payment is coming due, and it is far larger than they probably anticipated.

Time, as the old saying goes, is money. There are lots of ways that equation can work out. We had an interesting example last week. Europe and the eurozone pulled back from the brink by once again figuring out how to postpone the inevitable moment when all and sundry will have to recognize that Greece cannot pay the debt that it owes. In essence they have borrowed time by allowing Greece to borrow more money.

Money, I should add, that, like all the other Greek debt, will not be repaid.

I’ve probably got some 40 articles and 100 pages of commentary on Greece and the eurozone from all sides of the political spectrum in my research stack, and it would be very easy to make this a long letter. But it’s a pleasant summer weekend, and I’m in the mood to write a shorter letter, for which many of my readers may be grateful. Rather than wander deep into the weeds looking at financial indications, however, we are going to explore what I think is a very significant nonfinancial factor that will impact the future of Europe. If it was just money, then Prodi would be right – they could just create new economic policy instruments, whatever the heck those might be. But what we’ve been seeing these last few months is symptomatic of a far deeper problem than can be addressed with just a few trillion euros, give or take.

But first, I’m going to reach out and ask for a little help. I have just signed an agreement with my publisher, Wiley, to do a new book called Investing in an Age of Transformation. I’ve been thinking about this book for many years, and it is finally time to write it. As my longtime readers know, I believe we are entering a period of increasingly profound change, much more transformative than we’ve seen in the past 50 years. And not just technologically but on numerous fronts. There are going to be substantial social implications as well. Imagine the entire 20th century fast-forwarded and packed into 20 years, and you will get some idea of the immensity of what we face.

Now think about investing in this unfolding era of change. Companies will spring up and disappear faster than ever. Corporations will move into and out of indexes at an increasingly rapid rate, making the whole experience of index investing – which constitutes the bulk of investing, not just for individuals but for pensions and large institutions – obsolete.

Just as we wouldn’t think of relying on the medical technology of the early 20th century, I’m convinced that we need a significantly new process for investing that doesn’t depend on the concept of indexing created deep in the last century. In an age of exponential change, being wrong in your investment style will no longer mean you simply underperform: you will not merely be wrong; you will be exponentially wrong.

Of course, the flipside is that if you get it right, you will be exponentially right. We will be exploring some new investing concepts in Thoughts from the Frontline as I write the book, since this letter is actually part of my thinking process. I’ve been spending a great deal of time lately exploring new ways of thinking about the markets, different ways to manage risk, and strategies to take advantage of overwhelming change.

This project will be significantly more complex than any book I’ve attempted so far. I’m looking for a few research interns or assistants to help me on various topics. Some topics are technological in nature, and some are investment-oriented. You can be young or old, retired or working in any number of fields; you just have to be passionate about thinking about the future and be able to spend time exploring a topic and going back and forth with me through shared notes and conversations. It’s a plus if you write well. If you are interested in exploring a topic or two, drop me a note at transformation@2000wave.com, along with a resume or a note about your background, plus your area of interest. Now let’s jump to the letter.

The More Things Change

Almost four years ago, in an article on Bloomberg with the headline “Germany Said to Ready Plan to Help Banks If Greece Defaults,” we read this paragraph:

“Greece is ‘on a knife’s edge,’” German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble told lawmakers at a closed-door meeting in Berlin on Sept. 7 [2011], a report in parliament’s bulletin showed yesterday. If the government can’t meet the aid terms, “it’s up to Greece to figure out how to get financing without the euro zone’s help,” he later said in a speech to parliament.

Over the last few weeks he took a similar hard line, offering the possibility that Greece could take a “timeout,” whatever in creation that is, and only the gods know how it could work for five years.
Reports of the final meeting before the agreement with Greece was reached demonstrated that there is little solidarity in the European Union. The Financial Times offered an unusually frank report of the meeting:
After almost nine hours of fruitless discussions on Saturday, a majority of eurozone finance ministers had reached a stark conclusion: Grexit – the exit of Greece from the eurozone – may be the least worst option left.

Michel Sapin, the French finance minister, suggested they just “get it all out and tell one another the truth” to blow off steam. Many in the room seized the opportunity with relish.

Alexander Stubb, the Finnish finance minister, lashed out at the Greeks for being unable to reform for half a century, according to two participants. As recriminations flew, Euclid Tsakalotos, the Greek finance minister, was oddly subdued.

The wrangling culminated when Wolfgang Schäuble, the German finance minister who has advocated a temporary Grexit, told off Mario Draghi, European Central Bank chairman. At one point, Mr Schäuble, feeling he was being patronised, fumed at the ECB head that he was “not an idiot”. The comment was one too many for eurogroup chairman Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who adjourned the meeting until the following morning.

Failing to reach a full accord on Saturday, the eurogroup handed the baton on Sunday to the bloc’s heads of state to begin their own an all night session.”

That meeting ended with Angela Merkel and Alexis Tsipras arguing for 14 hours and giving up. Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council (and former Polish Prime Minister), forced them to sit back down, saying, “Sorry, but there is no way you are leaving this room.”

Essentially, they were arguing over what form of humiliation Greece would be forced to swallow.
To continue reading this article from Thoughts from the Frontline – a free weekly publication by John Mauldin, renowned financial expert, best-selling author, and Chairman of Mauldin Economics – please click here.



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Saturday, July 25, 2015

Weekly Crude Oil, Gold, Silver, Coffee and Sugar Markets Recap with Mike Seery

It's been a terrible week for the crude oil bulls. And our trading partner Mike Seery is back this week to give our readers a weekly recap of crude oil as well as the futures market. Mike has been a senior analyst for close to 15 years and has extensive knowledge of all of the commodity and option markets.

Crude oil futures in the September contract are trading far below their 20 and 100 day moving average telling you that the trend is to the downside after settling in New York last Friday at 51.21 currently trading at 48.45 down nearly $3 for the trading week as I’ve been recommending a short position for the last two months and if you took that trade place your stop loss above the 10 day high which currently stands at 54.00 a barrel.

The trend in the commodity markets is weak as everything seems to be melting down and remember as a commodity trader in my opinion you must trade with the trend so continue to play this to the downside. Crude oil has huge worldwide supplies coupled with a strong U.S dollar as I think prices will re-test the $45 level so continue to place the proper stop loss trying to get as much as 75% of the trend as picking tops and bottoms is impossible over the long haul in my opinion.

The stop loss will not improve for another week so you’re going to have to be patient as volatility currently is high and should remain so for weeks to come as I still believe prices are too expensive.
Trend: Lower
Chart Structure: Improving

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Gold futures in the August contract settled last Friday in New York at 1,132 an ounce while currently trading at 1,082 down about $50 for the trading week continuing its remarkable bearish trend as I’ve been recommending a short position when prices broke 1,170 and if you took that trade continue to place your stop loss above the 10 day high which currently stands at 1,160 as the chart structure will start to improve on a daily basis starting next week.

Gold prices are trading far below its 20 and 100 day moving average telling you that the short-term trend is to the downside as the next level of support is around 1,050 as I think that could be tested in next week’s trade as there’s no reason to own gold and if you’ve been reading any of my previous blogs you understand how bearish I am of the entire commodity sector as a whole. Silver prices are also hitting a six year low as I’m also recommending a short position in that market as all of the interest lies in the S&P 500 which is slightly lower this afternoon as money flows continue to come out of the precious metals and into the stock market and I don’t see that trend ending any time soon.

The U.S dollar is near a six week which continues to keep a lid on commodity prices coupled with the fact of higher U.S interest rates possibly coming later in the year as both act as negative influences on commodities historically speaking.
Trend: Lower
Chart Structure: Poor

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Silver futures in the September contract settled last Friday at 14.83 an ounce while currently trading at 14.33 down $.50 for the trading week as I’ve been recommending a short position when prices broke 15.80 and if you took that trade place your stop above the 10 day high at 15.50 as the chart structure will improve starting next week. I sound like a broken record as I continue to recommend bearish commodity plays as deflation is the problem not inflation as a strong U.S dollar will continue throughout 2015 in my opinion as gold prices are sharply lower this week as I’ve been recommending a short position in that market as the commodity market looks to have another leg down in my opinion.

The problem with the precious metals and silver is the fact that all the interest lies in the S&P 500 which is right around its all time highs as nobody wants to own the precious metals as a safe haven as the trend is your friend and clearly the trend in silver is to downside with the next major support at $14 and if that’s broken who knows how low prices could actually go. Silver futures are trading below their 20 day and far below their 100 day moving average telling you that the trend is getting stronger to the downside, however if you have missed the original recommendation sit on the sidelines and wait for the risk/reward to be in your favor which includes better chart structure.
Trend: Lower
Chart Structure: Poor

You Might Want to Know What's Behind our "Big Trade"

Coffee futures in the September contract settled last Friday at 128.40 while currently trading at 122.00 down around 600 points for the trading week as I’ve been recommending a short position and if you took that trade continue to place your stop loss above the 10 day high which currently stands at 132.50 as the chart structure will start to improve later next week. The original recommendation was to sell around the 128 level as the chart structure at that time was outstanding as the risk/reward was is your favor however, if you have not taken this trade you’re going to have to wait for some type price rally before entering. Coffee futures are trading below their 20 and 100 day moving average telling you that the trend is to the downside as I think a possible retest of the January 2014 lows around 105 could happen in the weeks to come due to the fact with large worldwide supplies coupled with the fact of a strong U.S dollar versus the Brazilian Real so I remain bearish.
Trend: Lower
Chart Structure: Poor

Trading Options with "Small Lots"......Can be Done with Any Size Account

Sugar futures in the October contract settled in New York last Friday at 11.96 while currently trading at 11.34 hitting a six year low as I’m currently sitting on the sidelines as the chart structure is poor as the 10 day high is too far away at 12.80 but I want to keep an eye on this market as the chart structure will improve next week as it looks like we will be playing this to the downside. Sugar futures are trading below their 20 and 100 day moving average as the long term and short term trend remain intact as the commodity markets in general remain weak and if you’ve been following my blogs you understand that I’ve been recommending a short position in many different sectors, however a 150 point risk in sugar is too high as the risk/reward is not in your favor in my opinion but I’m certainly not recommending any type of bullish position as over supplies continue to keep a lid on prices.
Trend: Lower
Chart Structure: Poor

Get more of Mike's calls on this Weeks Commodity Markets



Friday, July 24, 2015

Distressed Investing

By Jared Dillian 

When most people think of distressed investing, they think of buying CCC-rated bonds at 20 or 30 cents on the dollar, then maybe sitting in bankruptcy court to divvy up the capital structure, making healthy risk-adjusted returns in the end. You just need to hire a few lawyers.

Distressed investors are a different breed of cat. It’s one of those countercyclical businesses, like repo men, who do well when everyone else is getting hammered.

I remember distressed guys killing it in 2002. Most people remember the dot-com bust, but there was a nasty credit crunch that went along with it. Nasty. High yield/distressed investments had some amazing years in 2003 and 2004. Convertible bonds in particular.

Funny thing about distressed investors is that they like to stay within their comfort zone. In my experience, they’re not keen on commodities. Like coal mining, which this week saw one bankruptcy filing and another one in the works. Distressed guys hate commodities because they are just timing the earnings cycle – which is the same as market timing.  Distressed guys want less volatile earnings so their projections aren’t totally dependent on commodity prices rising.

Coal is distressed, all right. But you don’t see the distressed guys getting involved. Even they are too scared!


Here’s a somewhat controversial statement: I think most commodities are distressed. Coal is definitely distressed. So is iron ore. Copper, too. And yes, even gold. Corn and beans have had a nice little run, but metals and energy in particular have been a complete horrorshow.

So I think it’s time to start looking at commodities as a distressed asset class. The assumption is that fair value of these commodities/producers is well above current market prices, and current market prices are wrong because of, well, a lot of things. In particular, a self-reinforcing process where selling begets more selling.

If you’re a distressed investor and you’re buying something at a deep discount, if you have a long enough time horizon, you’ll be vindicated eventually. Sometimes, it takes a long time. Sometimes, not very long at all. It’s pretty great when it works.

I have never had much aptitude for it. But I am trying it now.

Gold: A Special Case


Gold is a little different.

How do you value gold? It has no cash flows. An industrial commodity like copper is pretty easy to value. With gold, you’re trying to gauge investment demand (at the retail or sovereign level), which is hard, against mining production, which is a little easier.

But what an ounce of gold is worth is entirely subjective. More subjective than copper or cocoa or coffee. For example, if everyone started using bitcoin, there would be little to no demand for gold. (For the record, I think cryptocurrencies indeed have had an impact on gold demand.)

Basically, people want gold when they think their government no longer cares about the purchasing power of their currency. In our case, that was when the Fed was conducting quantitative easing, known colloquially as printing money.

But that’s not really what people were nervous about. Think about it. The Fed was printing money for monetary policy reasons. They were trying to effect monetary policy with interest rates at the zero bound. That’s different from printing money to buy government bonds because nobody else wants to. That’s called debt monetization.

When budget deficits get sufficiently large, people worry about things like failed bond auctions, that the Fed will have to step in and be the buyer of last resort. This is the nightmare scenario described in Greenspan’s Gold and Economic Freedom essay.

We had $1.8 trillion deficits not that long ago. The bond auctions were a little scary. I thought debt monetization was a possibility.

The deficit is lower today, mostly because of higher taxes, more aggressive revenue collection, and economic growth. As you can see, the price of gold has corresponded almost perfectly with the budget deficit.


With a small deficit today, nobody cares about gold.

Is the deficit going higher or lower in the future? Higher. Ding-ding-ding, we have a winner. One of the reasons I’m happy owning gold as a part of my portfolio.

Paper vs. Things


Asset allocation gets a lot easier when you figure out that the financial markets are a tug-of-war between paper and things. Sometimes, like now, financial assets (stocks and bonds) outperform. Stocks are overpriced, and bonds are way overpriced. Other times, like 10 years ago, commodities outperformed.

It has to do with the degree of confidence people have in… other people. A bond is a promise to repay. A stock is a promise to pay dividends, or that there will be something left over at the end. A dollar is a promise that it’s worth something, namely, a divisible part of the sum total of the productive abilities of all the people in the country.

These are pieces of paper. Paper promises. When confidence in promises is high, nobody needs gold, coal, or copper. When confidence in promises is low, time to build that underground bunker in the backyard. Confidence in promises is currently at all-time highs. Without making a positive statement either way, I’d say that only in the year 2000 were commodities more undervalued than they are right now.

Sidebar: it is tempting to treat commodities as an asset class, but you should try not to. They are idiosyncratic, and for most commodities, the cost of carry is high enough that it’s impractical to hold them for long periods of time.

Commodity related equities are a different story.

Disclaimer


I’m kind of biased on this, and I always think commodities are undervalued because I’m a deeply suspicious person and I don’t believe promises. I’ve owned gold and silver for years (plus GLD and SLV, and GDX and SIL), and if prices get low enough, I will add to those positions.

Keep in mind that I worked for the government under the Clinton administration. Clinton’s mantra to government employees was, “Do more with less.” The man did a lot to restrain the growth of government—and he was a Democrat!


People resented him for it. They wanted their fancy toys and their boondoggles. Public servants have been much happier under Bush and Obama. Not coincidentally, gold bottomed in 2000, at the end of Clinton’s presidency, and has basically been going up since.

So here is the secret sauce: You want to know when commodities are going up?
Watch the deficit. If someone dreams up free college for everyone, buy commodities with veins popping out of your neck.
Jared Dillian
Jared Dillian

If you enjoyed Jared's article, you can sign up for The 10th Man, a free weekly letter, at mauldineconomics.com. Follow Jared on Twitter @dailydirtnap


The article The 10th Man: Distressed Investing was originally published at mauldineconomics.com.



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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Spotting Reversals Using Simple Patterns in the Markets

With so many commodities trying to scratch out a bottom right now the timing couldn't be better for our trading partner John Carters release of his new eBook "Learn How Human Emotions Produces Patterns in the Markets".

In this eBook, you will learn....

  *  The 10 chart patterns ALL traders should know
  *  How to know when a chart pattern is producing an actionable signal
  *  What chart patterns are the most powerful
  *  Spot reversals using patterns
  *  How to call the top using patterns

And a whole lot more!

Take your emotions out of trading positions like.....crude oil, gold, coffee and sugar, just to name a few.

The crude oil, gold, coffee and sugar bulls took another beating this week and it's no surprise traders are dumping positions like crazy. Don't let your emotions get the best of you, put John's simple trading methods to work recognizing those reversals and be ready for them.

Get this free material now....Just Click Here!


See you in the markets putting this to work,
Ray C. Parrish
President/CEO at the Crude Oil Trader


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Sunday, July 19, 2015

Weekly Crude Oil, Gold, Silver, Coffee and Sugar Markets Recap with Mike Seery

It's been a wild ride in the markets this week. And our trading partner Mike Seery is back this week to give our readers a weekly recap of the futures market. He has been a senior analyst for close to 15 years and has extensive knowledge of all of the commodity and option markets.

Crude oil futures in the August contract settled last Friday at 52.74 a barrel while currently trading at 50.78 down about $2 for the trading week hitting a four month low while still trading far below its 20 and 100 day moving average telling you that the trend is to the downside as I’ve been recommending a short position for six weeks and if you took that trade the 10 day stop has been lowered to 53.90 as the chart structure has improved tremendously.

Oil prices retreated this week due to the fact that of the Iranian deal which should put more oil onto the market down the road as 49 is major support and if that is broken you could have sharply lower prices ahead as oversupply issues still remain as the commodity markets still look weak due to the fact of a very strong U.S dollar which hit a six week high in this week’s trade.

The precious metals continue to make new lows as well as generally speaking metal prices and energy prices go hand in hand in the same direction and that direction is to the downside so continue to place the proper stop loss as this has been an outstanding trade over the course of time as are patience were tested but the path of least resistance is the successful way to trade in my opinion.
Trend: Lower
Chart Structure: Excellent

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Gold futures in the August contract settled last Friday in New York at 1,158 an ounce while currently trading at 1,137 down about $20 for the week hitting a five year low as I’ve been recommending a short position when prices broke 1,170 and if you took the original recommendation place your stop loss at the 10 day high which was lowered to 1,170 as the chart structure will start to improve on a daily basis.

Gold prices are trading far below their 20 and 100 day moving average as prices look to head lower as I’ve talked about in many previous blogs I see absolutely no reason to own the precious metals at the current time as deflation is a worldwide problem as the U.S dollar hit a six week high in this week’s trade.

Crude oil prices are also continuing their bearish trend which is also pressuring the precious metals and silver is also right near recent lows so continue to play by the rules while taking advantage of any rallies as I would like to add to this trade as I think we will break 1,100 possibly in the next couple of weeks as the trend is getting stronger on a weekly basis as the risk/reward still meets criteria.

The stock market is hitting all time highs once again today as I talked about many times all the interest lays in the equity market and not the precious metals as money flows continue to come out of the metals & into equities as that should continue in 2015 so remain short.
Trend: Lower
Chart Structure: Excellent

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Silver futures in the September contract continued their bearish momentum settling last Friday in New York at 15.48 an ounce while currently trading at 14.80 down about $.70 for the trading week as I’ve been recommending a short position from 15.80 and if you took that trade place your stop loss above the 10 day high which currently stands at 15.90 as the chart structure will not improve for several more trading days as silver prices have hit a five year low.

Silver futures are trading far below their 20 and 100 day moving average with a possible retest of last week’s low around 14.62 in the cards and if that level is broken I think there could be a washout to the downside as there’s no reason to own the precious metals at the current time as the U.S dollar hit a six week high.

Platinum prices have cracked $1,000 which has not happened in over five years as the dollar continues to put pressure on gold and silver prices here in the short term as deflation is a worldwide problem not inflation so continue to take advantage of any rallies will placing the proper stop loss as I think lower prices are still ahead despite this weeks 70 cent decline.
Trend: Lower
Chart Structure: Improving

You Might Want to Know What's Behind our "Big Trade"

Coffee futures in the September contract settled last Friday in New York at 126.25 a pound while currently trading at 128.30 as I’ve been recommending a short position from around this level as the chart structure is outstanding at the current time as the 10 day high stands at 132.50 risking around 400 points or $1,600 from today’s price levels plus slippage and commission.

Coffee prices continue to move lower on a weekly basis as the downtrend line remains intact, however if you have not taken this recommendation I am still promoting a sell order at today’s levels as the risk/reward is highly in your favor as coffee is an extremely large contract as I do think the retest of the contract low around 125 could be in the cards next week.

The problem with coffee prices and many of the agricultural markets is that we have too much supply coupled with the fact of an extremely weak Brazilian Real versus the U.S dollar which is pressuring anything that’s grown in the country of Brazil so take a shot at the downside as the risk and the chart structure both meet my criteria to enter into a trade, however if we are stopped out which there is that possibility since the stop is so close look at other markets that are trending and don’t be stubborn.
Trend: Lower
Chart Structure: Outstanding

Trading Options with "Small Lots"......Can be Done with Any Size Account

Sugar futures in the October contract settled last Friday in New York at 12.41 a pound while trading at 11.98 down around 40 points for the trading week as I’ve been sitting on the sidelines in this market as the trend remains choppy as prices are trading lower for the 3rd consecutive down day still trading below its 20 and 100 day moving average, as the down trend line is still intact but I’m waiting for a breakout to occur which would be the contract low of 11.52 to the downside.

Many of the commodity markets have been going lower including crude oil which is also putting pressure on sugar prices as sugar is used as a biodiesel but the real problem is the U.S dollar which continues to move higher as I’m not bullish any commodity at this time as oversupply issues and deflation worldwide continues to put pressure on prices.

Sometimes the best thing to do is not trade and avoid markets at certain times and that’s what I’m stressing right now as choppiness is difficult and frustrating as there are many other markets that are trending significantly to the downside such as gold, silver, hogs, and several others.
Trend: Mixed
Chart Structure: Solid

Get more of Mike's calls on this Weeks Commodity Markets




Saturday, July 18, 2015

Is it Time to Take Gold and Copper Seriously?

With gold bulls sitting on the sidelines for some time now, and copper bulls basically being an extinct species it's a bit of a surprise to see a trader poke their head out and say....it just might be time. And when that trader is our friend Carley Garner we pay attention. But we aren't the only ones. Mad Moneys Jim Cramer brought Carley into the studio this week. Check out Carleys Mad Money appearance and her call on gold and copper. You better be paying attention.



Carley Garner is a technician and co-founder of DeCarley Trading and author of "A Trader's First Book on Commodities." Click here to get it on Amazon.com


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Friday, July 17, 2015

The Biggest Trade Ever....No Exaggeration

By Jared Dillian


I won’t keep you in suspense. The biggest trade ever is in demographics. In particular, our rapidly increasing life expectancy.

Quick story. My Coast Guard friends are retiring now. You get to retire after 20 years of service, but some of them have been taking advantage of early retirement and are leaving the service as young as age 40.
Oh my God, what a deal: At age 40, you can bring home about $50K a year and then start a whole new career on the side!

In the old days, you could offer that deal because military folks would die at 47. Now they will live to 100.
Paying out benefits for 60 years to retired military personnel doesn’t sound like a great deal for the taxpayer.
Of course, the military pensions are just the tip of the iceberg. To receive Social Security, you can retire at age 62 (or 67 for full benefits). Again, that’s fine when most people die before 62. The blended life expectancy (for both men and women) is almost 79 years and trending higher.


Or my favorite chart on life expectancy ever, also a rebuttal to those who don’t like capitalism.


If you pay attention to Silicon Valley stuff, you know that Google and Ray Kurzweil and some other folks are working on projects that will allow us to live to 150 or even beyond. That would involve doing a couple of things, first
  1. Curing cancer
  2. Curing heart disease
  3. Curing Alzheimer’s disease
You do these three things, it increases life expectancy by another 10 years or more. And we are actually doing those things!

Once you have a cure for all known diseases (attainable in my lifetime), then you have a different problem. Cells get old and die. The Silicon Valley folks are working on that too. Funny, if you don’t smoke, eat right, and get a little exercise, you will pretty much live to 80, no matter what. What happens beyond that is up to genetics, which we will solve one day. So what will the world look like if people live to 100, 150, or more?

It Looks Like Greece


Greece’s retirement age (to receive benefits) used to be 55 years. Again: retiring at 55, what a deal! I would only have 14 more years to go. People are pretty healthy at 55 (though maybe not the Greeks—they have the highest rate of tobacco use in the developed world).

So if people live way longer than the retirement age, the Social Security system goes kablooey. It just does. And yet people resist all attempts to reform it. We know Social Security is in trouble. George W. Bush tried to tackle it. For all his faults, it was the right thing to do. But he got laughed at.

The first thing we will do is to means-test the benefits, which will just make it more progressive but won’t solve the actual problem. You need to push back the retirement age, like, to 80.

But wait a minute. There aren’t even enough jobs for people to work until age 80.

I know…..

The World Was a Lot Simpler When People Just Died When They Were Supposed To


We’re going to look back at the 1940s-2000s as an exceptional period in economic history—with high, virtually straight line, uninterrupted economic growth. We had debt problems before, but biology has made them intractable.

In fact, the whole profession of economics is based on the very idea that there is population growth and inflation. What happens if birth rates decline? They are. Population growth rates will peak very soon. (By the way, the old Malthusian idea of overpopulation is being discredited.) What does the profession of economics look like with declining populations, people living longer, a dearth of unskilled jobs?

Is it nonstop deflation?

Many economists predict years of global deflation based on this premise. They say that you should buy bonds at any price. It’s a compelling argument. I think we’re going to learn a lot of really interesting things about money velocity in the coming years.

The Trade


Like tech in the ‘90s and energy in the 2000s, health care has been and will be the trade of the 2010s. You have the happy accident of huge technological advances and a government that seems willing, for the time being, to pay for it all. You hear some squawking about the cost of some treatments, but seriously, if you can cure cancer for $250,000, who is going to say no? Especially when that person’s chemotherapy, radiation, and hospital bills could easily exceed $2,000,000.

Lots of folks thought that Obamacare would tomahawk the health care sector. In classic market fashion, it has done the exact opposite. The insurers in particular have been the biggest beneficiary. You probably saw the recent Aetna/Humana merger.

People have tried for years to short biotech. Hasn’t been fun for them.

People have funny attitudes about death, you know. You ask someone if they’d like to live to 100, 120. “Noooooo,” they say. “I wouldn’t want to just sit in a chair.” Me, personally, I’d be okay with sitting in a chair. But the point of these treatments is that you can be active into your 100s. What then?

“I don’t know…” they say.

Are you kidding me? Forever young, my man. I’m 41, and I look a lot younger than my parents at the same age (sorry, Mom and Dad). I’m still DJing parties, for crying out loud.
Still don’t get the point of Snapchat, though.
Jared Dillian
Jared Dillian



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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Psychopathic Traders and a Trading Plan for Today’s Market

Plenty of traders are in a panic right now, they feel stuck. They are struggling and they don’t have a reliable way to read today’s market. Worse yet, many traders continue to rely on outdated indicators (although they don’t know it), resulting in accurate information.

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Doc has an interesting opinion about the market. You see, regardless of all the market chatter, he’s not changing one thing about the way he trades.

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See you in the markets,
Ray @ The Crude Oil Trader

P.S. In trading, there’s no question that preparation is the best way to prevent poor performance. So while others sit back and wait for problems to happen, how are you giving yourself an advantage? Check this Out

Monday, July 13, 2015

It’s Not Over Until the Fat Lady Goes on a P/E Diet

By John Mauldin


For the vast majority of investors, portfolio returns are generated by the equity markets or at a minimum heavily influenced by the equity markets. We have enjoyed an almost six year bull market run in the stock market, which has helped heal portfolios after the devastating market crash of the Great Recession. So much so that many prominent market analysts have proclaimed the beginning of a new secular bull market.

If we have indeed entered such a new phase, we need to recognize it for what it is, because – as I’ve written for 17 years – the style of investing that is appropriate for a secular bull market is almost the exact opposite of what is appropriate for a secular bear market. I think that most analysts would agree with that last statement.

The disagreements would revolve around whether we are in a secular bull or a secular bear market.
Thus the answer to the seemingly arcane question of whether we are in a secular bull or bear market makes a great difference in the proper positioning of your portfolios. And getting it wrong can have serious consequences.

Towards the latter part of the ’90s and especially in the early part of last decade, I was rather aggressively asserting in this letter that we should look at whether we are in a secular bull or bear market – not in terms of price but in terms of valuation. Early in that period, Ed Easterling of Crestmont Research, who was then based in Dallas, reached out to me; and we began to collaborate on a series of articles on the topic of secular bull and bear markets, a series that we want to continue today. Longtime readers know that I’m a big fan of Ed’s website at www.CrestmontResearch.com. It’s a treasure trove of fabulous charts and data on cycles and market returns. Ed has been working on a video series (we will offer a few free links below) to explain market cycles.

I want to provide a little current context before we jump into the argument about whether we are in a secular bull or bear market. For some time now, I’ve been saying that the US economy should bump along in the Muddle Through range of about 2% GDP growth. The risk to that forecast is not from something internal to the United States but from what economists call an exogenous shock, that is, one from outside the US. In particular I have said that a crisis in both Europe and China at the same time would be very negative for both US and global growth.

We now see potential crises in both regions. It would be convenient if they could arrange not to have them at the same time. But those who are paying attention to global markets are certainly experiencing a bit of market heartburn as they watch both China and Europe manifest the volatility that they have over the last few weeks. I will become far less sanguine about the US economy if full blown crises develop in those two regions.

There are observers who think the Greek crisis will be contained, and then there are equally astute but pessimistic observers, like Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, who wrote this week about the potential for a full-scale European meltdown. His recent column entitled “Europe Is Blowing Itself Apart over Greece – and Nobody Seems Able to Stop It” is reflective of those who think the European monetary experiment is problematic. It now appears that Tsipras has essentially caved on a number of issues in order to get a deal. The deal he has proposed reads almost exactly like the one the Greek referendum overwhelmingly rejected.

My own personal view is that, if this deal is agreed upon, it simply postpones the crisis for a period of time, as Greece simply has no way to grow itself out of its debt dilemma. And it is not altogether clear that Tsipras can hold his coalition together, given the referendum. He might actually need the opposition to get this deal passed, which becomes problematical for him, as it might force him to call an election. But the banks would open, and Greek life would go on until the Greeks run out of money again in the sadly not too distant future, as there is no way on God’s green earth they can meet the growth requirements that this deal demands.

The monetary union is an absurd creation based on political hopes, not economic reality. Politics can keep it together for longer than it should otherwise exist, but unless the entire southern periphery of Europe turns German in character, the peripheral nations are going to suffer under a monetary policy not designed for their economies. That ill-fitting economic straitjacket is going to mean slower growth and higher unemployment and fiscal instability. How long will they endure that? So far, a lot longer than I thought they could, 15 years ago.
China’s stock markets are having a meltdown, although there has been a rebound the last few days as the Chinese government has stepped in with the decision to destroy their markets in order to save them. My friend Art Cashin commented that it is amazing what you can do if you tell people that they will either buy stocks and make them go up or get executed. It certainly clarifies your trading position.

Further, the Chinese government basically created a rule which said that anybody who owns more than 5% of any particular equity issuance is not allowed to sell for the next six months. Neither are directors, supervisors, or senior management of any public company. The government has evidently pressured banks into creating a buying consortium. Historians who are familiar with the stock market crash of 1929 will see an interesting parallel, illustrated in the chart below (sent to me by my friend Murat Koprulu).



Hundreds of Chinese stocks have been taken off the market because they are essentially locked limit down or because company management simply halted trading in their shares, as there seemed to be no bottom to the pricing. That is an interesting way to run a supposedly liquid equity market exchange. And it creates an overhang, in that, under the current rules of the exchange, those hundreds of stocks have to go back on the market within 30 days. Theoretically, they were falling in value, which was why they were taken off the market to begin with. Will their valuations somehow magically change?

I wonder if all the major indexing firms are happy with their recent decisions to include China as a major portion of their indexes, given that liquidity in their markets is available only when markets are going up. Just curious, but how in the Wide, Wide World of Sports do you price or even maintain an index if you can’t sell and have daily liquidity and price discovery? If 7% of your index is based on a valuation that is not real, what price do you then base daily liquidity on? The last trade? So the seller gets out at a price that might be significantly higher than what the issue would actually trade at? Who sues whom? Or maybe the issue then trades higher, not lower, so that the seller should have gotten more? Index fund managers have to be pulling their hair out over this one.

Is this collapse of the Chinese market just the result of irrational exuberance, or is there something more fundamental going on? We will have to watch the situation carefully in the coming weeks.
By the way, China is far more critical to the global economy than Greece is. So much so that I recently asked a number of my friends to give me their best thoughts on China. These are experts in markets, demographics, economics, geopolitics, and so on, all with specialties in China. I’ve compiled those thoughts along with my own and those of my co-author, Worth Wray, in an e-book called A Great Leap Forward? You can get it on Amazon, iTunes, and Nook for a mere $8.99. It is an easy read that will give you an understanding of China’s challenges, from the best China experts we could find. Now, let’s talk about where the market is going in the US.

Are We There Yet? Secular Stock Market Cycle Status
By John Mauldin and Ed Easterling

We were both talking about secular bear markets back in 1999 and 2000. It’s been 15 years. Aren’t we there yet? Isn’t the stock market rising?

Of course you’re getting impatient; so are we. When will the stock market shift from secular bear to secular bull – or did it already? The implications are significant. Through much of the 2000s and into the 2010s, individual and institutional investors have weathered quite a storm of low returns and high volatility. Are we done being battered? From today, can you reasonably expect above average secular bull returns like we saw in the 1980s and ’90s … or do we face another decade or longer of below average secular bear returns? [For a 3-minute video explaining the term secular, click this link.]

In short, we use secular to describe a particular valuation environment. If you use valuations as a tool for thinking about cycles, the cycles become much more clear and easily understandable. Simply using price gives you no objective criterion for determining where you are in a long term cycle. Within our longer term secular designations there can be numerous and significant cyclical bull and bear markets, which are determined by price and not valuations.

For years, analysts and pundits throughout the industry have agreed (though it took a number of years for many of them to come around) that the new millennium brought with it secular bear conditions. In the past few years, however, opinions have once again diverged. Notable heavyweights, including Guggenheim Investments, Raymond James, and BofA Merrill Lynch, are on the record that the stock market has now entered a long-term secular bull market. (They are certainly not the only ones, but they do provide nifty charts that make it easy to analyze their thoughts.)

As shown in Figure 1, Guggenheim clearly marks the transition point between the end of the secular bear that got underway in January 2000 and the start of the new secular bull market. They place that transition point at December 2010, so that by their reckoning the secular bear lasted eleven years and produced near zero annualized returns. Then, according to Guggenheim, a new secular bull market was unleashed with New Year 2011.

Figure 1. Guggenheim Secular Bull Started January 2010



From today, can you reasonably expect above-average secular bull returns like we saw in the 1980s and ’90s … or another decade or more of below average secular bear returns?

Now, four years and a cumulative +54% later, the Guggenheim chart appears to lead investors to expect a future of above-average secular bull returns. They are somewhat subtle about it: note the implicit investment advice in the upper-left area of the chart: “Investment strategies that work in bull markets may not be effective in flat or bear markets.”

To continue reading this article from Thoughts from the Frontline – a free weekly publication by John Mauldin, renowned financial expert, best-selling author, and Chairman of Mauldin Economics – please click here.



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Saturday, July 11, 2015

Weekly Crude Oil, Gold, Coffee and Sugar Markets Recap with Mike Seery

It's been a wild ride in the markets this week. And our trading partner Mike Seery is back this week to give our readers a weekly recap of the futures market. He has been a senior analyst for close to 15 years and has extensive knowledge of all of the commodity and option markets.

Crude oil futures in the August contract are trading far below their 20 and 100 day moving average settling in New York last week at 56.93 a barrel while currently trading at 52.66 down about $7 for the trading week hitting a three month low as I’ve been recommending a short position for quite some time and if you took that trade continue to place your stop loss above the 10 day high which currently stands at 59.70 as the chart structure will improve on a daily basis.

The next level of major support is at 49/51 as oversupply issues continue to hamper prices here in the short term coupled with the fact of a possible Chinese slowdown affecting many commodities especially oil prices, however if you did not take the original trade the chart structure is terrible at the current time as the risk/reward is not your favor so sit on the sidelines and look for better markets with less risk. The U.S dollar is sharply lower this afternoon as a possible deal with Greece is on the table, however the dollar is still up significantly in the year 2015 and that’s keeping pressure on commodities as deflation is a worldwide problem so play by the rules and place the proper stop loss as who knows how prices can go.
Trend: Lower
Chart Structure: Poor

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Gold futures in the August contract are trading below their 20 and 100 day moving average settling last week at 1,163 while currently trading at 1,160 down slightly and traded as low as 1,146 in Wednesdays trade hitting a three month low as I’ve been recommending a short position and if you took that trade place your stop loss above the 10 day high which currently stands at 1,188 risking around $28 or $1,000 per mini contract plus slippage and commission.

The chart structure will improve starting next week as the trend still remains bearish as I still see no reason why to own the precious metals as their looks to be agreement with Greece possibly over the weekend but all of the interest still lies in the S&P 500 in my opinion which is sharply higher this Friday afternoon. The U.S dollar is down 90 points today which generally is very bullish precious metals, however gold is unchanged this Friday afternoon as volatility remains low as platinum, copper, and palladium are all near contract lows which will pressure gold prices in the long run in my opinion so continue to play this to the downside while taking advantage of any price rally while maintaining the proper stop loss of 2% of your account balance on any given trade.
Trend: Lower
Chart Structure: Excellent

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Coffee futures in the December contract settled last week in New York at 131.15 while currently trading at 129.80 a pound slightly lower for the trading week still trading below its 20 and 100 day moving average telling you that the short term trend is to the downside and the long term trend is also to the downside as I’m now recommending a short position while placing your stop loss above the 10 day high which currently stands 137.40 risking around 800 points or $3,000 per contract plus slippage and commission as this trade should only be taken with a large trading account.

Coffee prices continue their slow grinding bearish trend with very little volatility as the fundamentals have improved with Brazilian coffee exports rising to a record in the crop year ending June 30th up 6.9% to 36.5 million bags but that has been unable to support prices as we continue to move lower because of oversupply. The chart structure will start to improve in the next couple of days lowering monetary risk as many of the commodity markets still look weak as anything grown in Brazil continue to be under pressure due to the fact that the Brazilian Real is still right near a historical low versus the U.S dollar.
Trend: Lower
Chart Structure: Solid

Sugar futures in the October contract are trading above their 20 day but still below their 100 day moving average telling you that the trend is mixed after settling last week in New York at 12.30 while currently trading at 12.12 slightly lower for the trading week as I’m currently sitting on the sidelines waiting for a trend to develop.

Sugar prices continue its long term bearish trend while trading sideways in recent weeks as a breakout to the upside is 12.69 and on the downside below 11.52 so look at other markets that are currently trending as sugar prices look to go nowhere. Volatility in sugar prices at the current time is relatively low as I still do think lower prices are ahead but prices remain choppy so keep a close eye on this market as oversupply issues continue to pressure sugar coupled with an extremely weak Brazilian Real versus the U.S dollar as there are very few fundamental bullish reasons to push prices up at the current time.
Trend: Mixed
Chart Structure: Solid

Get more of Mike's call on the Commodity Markets

Mike's Trading Theory

What Does Risk Management Mean To You? I generally tell people that the reason people lose money in commodities is not due to the fact that they are bad at predicting where prices are headed, however they are bad when it comes to losing trades and refusing to take a loss which results for heavy monetary losses that are difficult to come back from.

For example if a customer has $100,000 account in my opinion on any given trade he or she should risk 2% – 3% of the account value meaning if you are wrong the worst case scenario is still a $97,000 remaining balance, however what I always see is traders risking ridiculous amounts of money and instead of the 3% stop loss will risk 20% to 30% on any given trade or even higher therefore if you are wrong on two or three trades that $100,000 dollar account could dwindle down to nothing very quickly and I’ve seen it many times throughout my career.

What many traders forget to realize is they might have 4 or 5 commodity positions on and if you have too many contracts on all at the same time and all of those trades go against you which is very possible the losses can add up to be staggering so what I am suggesting to you is if you have $100,000 account risk between $2,000 – $3,000 per trade so if you lose on five straight trades the worst case scenario is that your down $15,000 and still have an $85,000 balance which is very possible to still come back from and your still in the game.

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Thursday, July 9, 2015

It Could Never Happen Here

By Jared Dillian


I was watching the 6 o’clock news and saw images of closed banks in Greece and people lined up at ATMs. I’m sure you did, too.

This must seem surreal to most people because it seems so remote. But put yourself in these people’s shoes for a second. You have money in the bank. Suddenly you can’t get to it. After standing in long lines, you can only get 60 euros at a time, which isn’t going to last you very long.

What if you didn’t plan adequately and haven’t stashed away any cash? The banks will be closed for a while. What happens?

How do you pay for rent? Or food?
How does your employer pay you?
Do you go homeless? Or hungry?
Do you get really angry, take to the streets, blame someone or something (probably the wrong thing), break stuff, set things on fire?
Will Greece descend into anarchy?
It might.


Doomsday Preppers


Of course, not everyone in Greece is hurting. Many people saw this coming and took action. They took all their money out of the banks, put it under the mattress, or maybe stored it in a safe. Maybe they bought gold, or diamonds, or something else. These people aren’t standing in lines at ATMs. They aren’t going to go homeless or hungry.

But these people get a pretty bad rap—at least here in the US, where we call them “doomsday preppers.” Or “bunker monkeys.” Or “conspiracy theorists.” Or “gold bugs.” They take a beating. Jim Rickards tweeted the other day, “I’ll bet there a lot of Greeks saying, ‘I wish I had bought some gold.’" Truer words have never been spoken.

This week’s issue of The 10th Man is not a gold promotion, but rather a broader discussion about how you can prepare for financial catastrophe. People keep fire extinguishers and first aid kits in their cars. They test their smoke alarms twice a year. They purchase flood insurance or, in my neighborhood, hurricane shutters.
Why would you do all these things but just leave your money in the bank and hope for the best?

I have studied all kinds of financial crises in all parts of the world, from depressions to hyperinflations. The thing they all have in common is that people who do not prepare get crushed. People who are not appropriately paranoid get crushed.

There is such a thing as being too paranoid (if everything you own is in gold and hard assets, you can miss out on some meaty returns in financial assets), but a little paranoia is healthy. For a few years, I had a pretty concrete escape plan, with assets, just in case.

In case of what?.....In case of anything.

No Sympathy Whatsoever


I don’t feel sorry for Greece. I don’t feel sorry for the people in the ATM lines. They have had years to prepare for this day. Most people in similar situations don’t have so much time. I’m shocked that the banks had any deposits left at all.

Probably what will happen is that the banks will require a Cyprus-like bail-in and the depositors will take a massive haircut, getting only a fraction of what they once owned. There are no wealthy Russians to go after. The burden will fall on ordinary Greeks.

It’s also hard to feel badly for a nation of people who have chosen to pursue this ruinous political path—people who cast 52% of their votes for communists or neo Nazis, and who have proven completely unable to take any responsibility for what has transpired.

Greece will probably respond to the failure of extreme left Syriza by electing even more extreme politicians. It seems likely that they will choose a strongman to “get things done.” I think people fail to understand how totalitarianism can happen in the 21st century. Think of this as a YouTube tutorial video on the subject.

Full Faith and Credit


A financial crisis of similar magnitude will happen in the US someday. The only question is whether it will happen in 20 years or 50 or 100 or 200. But it is a virtual certainty. My only hope is that I won’t live long enough to see it.

Still, I know how to prepare for it. You know, in the old days before deposit insurance, people used to keep their money in five to ten different banks to diversify their counterparty risk. If a bank was perceived to be less creditworthy, the banknotes would trade at a discount.

I think that in the days of FDIC and various investor protections, we are lulled to sleep, believing that things really are safe when in reality, they are not. We were hours away from a complete and total financial collapse when the Reserve Primary fund broke the buck and there was a run on the money market mutual funds. We were that close.

After those dark days in 2008, I vowed that I’d never be in that position again.

You do sacrifice investment returns when you do this kind of stuff. Cash or gold or diamonds doesn’t yield anything. But then again, nowadays, neither do bonds. Don’t let the financial media shame you into thinking that taking basic emergency precautions to protect yourself financially is somehow “crazy.”

You can overdo it, though. You don’t need that many cans of pork and beans.
Jared Dillian
Jared Dillian

The article The 10th Man: “It Could Never Happen Here” was originally published at mauldineconomics.


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Friday, July 3, 2015

Weekly Crude Oil, Gold, Silver and Coffee Markets Recap with Mike Seery

Our trading partner Mike Seery is back this week to give our readers a weekly recap of the futures market. He has been a senior analyst for close to 15 years and has extensive knowledge of all of the commodity and option markets.

Crude oil futures in the August contract are up $.25 this Thursday afternoon in New York as this is the last trading day of the week due to the Fourth of July holiday currently trading at 57.22 a barrel while settling last Friday at 59.63 hitting a 10 week low as I’ve been recommending a short position for over a month and if you took that trade you’ve been very patient as prices have gone nowhere except for yesterday’s trade finishing down over $2 so continue to place your stop above the 10 day high which stands at 61.57 as the chart structure will start to improve next week as well.

Crude oil prices are right at major support as the $57 level is critical in my opinion and if prices do break that I think we could head much lower so continue to play this to the downside as large supplies continue to put pressure on this market as a build in crude oil inventories surprised the market yesterday as the U.S dollar also remains stubbornly strong. Currently we are in the strong demand season for gasoline as many drivers will be on the road this weekend, however the trend is your friend and the trend no matter how stubborn it has been in recent weeks is to the downside in my opinion as I remain bearish.
Trend: Lower
Chart Structure: Improving

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Gold futures in the August contract settled last Friday at 1,173 an ounce while currently trading at 1,163 as I’ve been recommending a short position when prices broke the 1,170 level while placing your stop loss above the 10 day high which stands at 1,201 risking around $31 or $1,000 per mini contract plus slippage and commission. Gold futures are trading below their 20 and 100 day moving average breaking out to a 3 ½ month low as a possible retest of the contract low of 1,144 is in the cards in my opinion as I was recommending a short position a month ago getting stopped out so here I’m trying again to the downside as I’m a trend follower and the trend clearly in my opinion is lower.

Gold prices have been very weak despite a possible Greece exit while as I remain very pessimistic as I see no reason to own gold at the current time as the stock market still looks strong and if Greece cannot rally gold I don’t know what can so take advantage of any rallies as the chart structure will start to improve in the next couple of days as the stop will be lowered to 1,187 as the long-term downtrend line is also intact. As a trader you must forget about your previous trade’s winners or losers and stick with your trading system as sticking to the rules over the course of time is the way to go instead of constantly flip-flopping.
Trend: Lower
Chart Structure: Improving

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Silver futures in the September contract settled last Friday in New York at 15.77 an ounce while currently trading at 15.70 in a very nonvolatile shortened trading week as I’ve been recommending a short position when prices broke 15.80 and if you took that trade continue to place your stop above the 10 day high which stands at 16.26 risking around $560 per mini contract plus slippage and commission as the chart structure is very solid at the current time.

Silver futures are right at a four month low trading below their 20 and 100 day moving average telling you that the trend is to the downside as the chart structure will improve next week and will be lowered in Tuesdays trade to 16.04 so be patient as the monthly unemployment number was released today basically pretty neutral sending gold slightly lower and having very little impact on silver prices as the volatility has slowed down tremendously.

Silver prices generally are one of the most volatile commodities in the world, however in recent months has been very quiet but something will happen in this market as I’m hoping it’s to the downside as I see no reason to own the precious metals at the current time as I still do believe all of the interest lies in the S&P 500 as money flows will continue to flow out of the precious metals and put into the stock market in my opinion.
Trend: Lower
Chart Structure: Improving

Get more of Mike's call on the Commodity Markets

Coffee futures in the September contract are hitting a four week low continuing its grinding bearish trend settling last Friday at 133.45 a pound while currently trading at 127.25 down 600 points for the trading week looking to break the contract low of 126.30 as I’ve been sitting on the sidelines in this market for several months as the trend is lower to neutral at the current time.

As I’ve stated in previous blogs I think coffee is forming a bottoming pattern and if I was a producer I think prices are cheap enough to start accumulating, however as a speculator I see no reason to enter into this market at the current time. Coffee futures are trading below their 20 and 100 day moving average telling you that the short term trend is to the downside, however the 10 day high as over 1000 points away risking about $4,000 from today’s price levels as that does not meet my criteria to enter into a trade so I remain neutral on this as I think the downside is limited in my opinion.

Many of the agricultural markets have rallied including sugar which is also grown in Brazil but we have large supplies of coffee at the current time as I don’t see any large price movement here in the short term as volatility remains relatively low especially for such a historically volatile commodity.
Trend: Lower
Chart Structure: Improving

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Thursday, July 2, 2015

Capital Controls and a Bank Holiday in Greece… Here’s How You Can Profit

By Nick Giambruno

For the unprepared, it happens like a mugging….


When you hear a central banker or politician deny that something is going to happen to bank depositors, you can almost be certain that it will happen. And probably soon. Coming from a government official, the real meaning of “No, of course not” is “Could be tomorrow.”

There’s a reason for the dishonesty. The government needs to take the public by surprise. Otherwise they won’t get the results they want from capital controls or a bank holiday. The term bank holiday is a politician’s euphemism. When one happens, you won’t be celebrating. You won’t be able to access your bank account, and you’ll be worried.

How will you get by, and how long will the lockout last? And when it ends, will all your money still be there? Will any of it remain? Calling the experience a bank holiday is like calling a street mugging a surprise party. Once the banks are closed - or on “holiday,” as the government puts it - the politicians are free to help themselves to as much of the customer deposits (including yours) as they want. It’s like an "all you can steal" buffet.

A bank holiday usually dovetails with capital controls, which are restrictions on the free flow of money out of the country. Capital controls make it hard for the country’s remaining wealth to dodge a future mugging.
Bank holidays and capital controls are all about the government maximizing the amount of money available for them to confiscate during a crisis. Pen up the sheep, and they’re easier to shear.

It’s a common pattern… 1) country in financial trouble, 2) government denials, 3) surprise bank holiday, 4) wealth confiscation, and 5) capital controls.

It’s a pattern we’ve seen repeated in many countries in economic crisis.

We saw it in Cyprus during their banking crisis of 2013. The trap slammed shut without warning on an otherwise ordinary Saturday morning. The government declared a surprise bank holiday. Capital controls and a bank deposit confiscation followed. It occurred despite repeated promises from the highest Cypriot politicians that bank deposits would be safe.

And now we are seeing the same pattern in Greece.

For the past month, Greece’s government has been denying that it intends to impose capital controls. Yesterday, Sunday morning, the Greek Finance Ministry repeated the denial yet again. Then on the same day - a few hours later - the Greek government declared a weeklong bank holiday. And they would impose capital controls after all.

But don’t worry. The Greek Prime Minister promised that bank deposits would be "completely safe.”
Rather than being “completely safe,” they are far more likely to be harvested by the Greek government, which is free to do as so many troubled governments have done… take the money and run.

Given Greece’s years of chronic financial weakness, none of this should come as a surprise.

There was ample time for any Greek citizen to protect himself from what the government is now doing. But now, with the bank holiday in place, it’s too late. Moving money into something that Greek politicians can’t steal with a couple taps on a keyboard - like a Greek bank account - would have bought a large measure of protection.

A bank account in another EU country like Austria, a piece of real estate in South America, some physical gold in Singapore or a brokerage account in Hong Kong would have been just what the doctor ordered. Most people understand that it’s foolish to keep all their eggs in one basket. Yet they fail to go far enough in applying the principle. Diversification isn’t just about investing in multiple stocks or in multiple asset classes. Real diversification - the kind that keeps you safe - means holding assets in multiple countries, so that you’re not overexposed to the economic and political risks that are present in every country.

The problem is, despite having options available to them, many Greeks had a “this can’t happen here” mentality. So they did nothing to prepare. The reality is, what happened in Greece can happen in any country, as it has happened throughout history.

But could it really happen in the US? According to Judge Andrew Napolitano, the troubling answer is YES. The judge is a legal expert. He knows all about bank holidays, capital controls, and other shenanigans politicians pull. The judge has said, “People who have more than $100,000 in the bank are targets for any government that’s looking for money to shore up its own inability to manage its finances.”

The whole ordeal in Greece is yet another example of why international diversification is so important. It’s a prudent strategy because it frees you from absolute dependence on any one country. Achieve that independence, and events or policies where you live can never dominate your life. Wealthy families have been doing it for centuries. Today, with modern communications, international diversification is within everyone’s reach.

International Man’s mission is to help you protect your personal freedom and make the most of financial opportunity around the world. Global diversification is at the heart of it. Discovering the best investment opportunities around the world is another. And, ironically, the best opportunities often show up after a government has done its worst to a country. For example, in places like… Greece.

Investor sentiment in Greece is nearing the point of maximum pessimism… the point at which almost nobody wants to buy. Prices of Greek stocks have already crashed headfirst into the pavement, so we may be getting close to the best time to buy. As Baron Rothschild advised: Buy when the blood is in the streets.

That’s what crisis investing is all about, and it’s enormously profitable.

Seeking out home runs in crisis markets is exactly what Doug Casey and I do in each monthly issue of Crisis Speculator. Back in 2013 there was another crisis in a Mediterranean country… Cyprus. Doug and I put our boots to the ground in Cyprus to search the rubble for investment bargains that would be too good to resist. And we found them.

Despite all the ugly headlines, sound, productive, and well run Cypriot businesses continued to produce earnings and pay dividends. Anyone with a little money and a cool head could have bought their stocks on the ultra cheap.

One of the Cyprus companies we recommended has more than tripled as of this writing. Another has more than doubled. Two others have come close to a double. Our readers have loved the experience.
We expect that even bigger bargains are emerging nearby, in Greece.

The financial crisis in Greece is not going to destroy the solid companies operating there. But it is going to make their stocks extremely cheap. And that could mean huge profits for you.

For full coverage of this rich profit opportunity, be sure to check out Crisis Speculator by clicking here.


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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Shoot the Dog and Sell the Farm

By John Mauldin 

“If this were a marriage, the lawyers would be circling.”

The Economist, My Big Fat Greek Divorce, 6/20/2015

Greece is again all the buzz in the media and on the commentary circuit. If you’re like me, you are suffering terminal Greece fatigue. You just want Greece and its creditors to “do something already” rather than continually coming to the end of every week with no resolution, amid finger pointing and dire warnings from all sides about the End of All Things Europe – maybe even the world.

That frustration is a common human emotion. Perhaps the best and funniest illustration (trust me, it is worth a few minutes’ digression) is the story about one of my first investment mentors, Gary North, who was working in his early days for Howard Ruff in Howard’s phone call center before Gary began writing his newsletters and books. (Yes, I know I am dating myself, as this was the late ’70s and early ’80s, just as I was getting introduced to the investment publishing business. And for the record, I knew almost everyone in the publishing business in the ’80s. It was a very small group, and we got together regularly.)

Howard set up a phone bank where his subscribers could call in and ask questions about their investments and personal lives. One little lady had the misfortune to get Dr. Gary North on the line. (Gary was the economist for Congressman Ron Paul and went on to write it some 61-odd books, 13,000 articles, and more – all typed with one finger. He is a human word processing machine.)

This sweet lady lived way out in the country and was getting older. She asked Gary if he thought it would be a wise idea for her to move into the city (I believe it was San Francisco) to live with her daughter. Not knowing the answer, Gary helped her work out the pros and cons over the phone, and she decided to move. A few days later she called back and said that she couldn’t bring her dog with her because of the rules at her daughter’s apartment. It turns out she couldn’t live without her dog, so Gary helped her come to the conclusion that she could stay in the country.

A few days later she called him back asking whether she should change her mind, and Gary once again help her to come to a conclusion. This went on for several weeks, back and forth, move or not move, dog or no dog. Finally she called one last time. Gary, in utter exasperation and not being infinitely tolerant of indecisive people, said, “Look lady, just shoot the dog and sell the farm.” (For the record, I hope she didn't really shoot the dog. I like dogs.)

That is where most of us are with the Europeans and Greeks. I have devoted a great deal of space in this letter to Greece over the past five years and have visited the country and corresponded with many analysts and citizens about the situation. And while I want to briefly outline the Greek situation again today, as there are some subtle nuances to consider, I think this juncture is a teaching moment about the larger picture in Europe. In fact, watching this process, I have come to change my mind about the timing of what I see is the endgame for Europe and European sovereign debt. I think exploring that issue will make for an interesting letter.

Economic crises go through cycles. Here’s a chart from the clever folks at Valuewalk.com (via my friend Jonathan Tepper on Twitter).



https://twitter.com/valuewalk/status/612948290267688960

The Greek situation is presently caught in those two bubbles on the bottom. European leaders held summit meetings this week to consider new breakthrough concessions offered by Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. Let the champagne flow. Except those concessions were rejected, and the Greeks rejected the counteroffer as of this afternoon. But it’s not quite midnight yet.

Unfortunately, the wheel of debt never stops turning. If this solution is like countless others floated in the last five years, we will soon learn that it has no substance or simply won’t work. We will then reenter the crisis phase.

Every cycle breaks eventually. If you forget everything that’s happened to this point and re-imagine the crisis as an economic standoff between Greece and Germany, you have to say Germany will win. It outweighs tiny Greece in every possible category. The real question is why Germany let the fight go on this long. We will deal with that in a minute.

Note that this observation isn’t about which country should win; it is about who will win. Greece has some legitimate grievances. Unfortunately, these grievances aren’t going to matter in the end.

Poster Children for European Profligacy

My friend David Zervos of Jefferies & Co. has no doubt who will win. He sent me this note on June 17.
The bell is tolling for Alexis [Tsipras]. European leaders from all sides have abandoned him as he burns through every last bridge that was once in place. His only meeting of importance during this crucial week of negotiation is with Putin – which clearly does not inspire any confidence for a near term resolution. 

It is actually amazing that we have not seen any of the left-leaning party leaders from the rest of Europe running to Tsipras’ side as he truculently engages his paymasters. Where are all these European anti-austarians? Of course they are hiding from the Germans, hoping not to receive the same fate as Alexis. So there he sits, alone and under his last Soviet held bridge, just like Hemingway's Robert Jordan. He is waiting to cause just a little more damage before his time is up. 

In the end, there is no question that the Germans have executed a near flawless plan to humiliate and vilify Greece. The Greeks now stand as poster children for European profligacy. And they are being paraded through every town square in the EU, in shackles, as the bell tolls near the gallows for their leader. And to be sure, making an example of Greece is a probably the greatest achievement for the fiscal disciplinarians of Europe. Maastricht never had any teeth. But this exercise is impressive. It shows that fiscal excess will be squashed in Europe. The Portuguese, Spanish, and Italians are surely taking notice. And in the days that lead up to a Greek default on 30 June, and then more importantly on 20 July, these disciplinarians will surely display their power for all to see.

Oddly enough, I actually think this has been the German plan all along. With no real way to ensure fiscal discipline through the treaty, they resorted to killing one of their own in order to keep the masses in line. It explains why Merkel took out Samaras when she knew a more hostile government would surely emerge in Greece. This was masterful political manipulation.

The 1992 Maastrict Treaty created the European Union and led a few years later to the euro currency. Which I said at the time would be a disaster. And it has been. Leaders have been wrestling with its fundamental flaw almost from the beginning. The EU has no way to enforce fiscal standards on its member nations. The member nations likewise have no way to devalue the currency in their own favor. This can’t go on forever – and it won’t.

Germany, by virtue of its sheer size and its favored position in the bureaucratic scheme of things, grew wealthy partly by exporting to the European periphery: Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal, and Ireland. (The rest of their 40–50% of exports of GDP come from exporting to the rest of Europe and the world. They have benefited massively from a currency that has been and continues to be weaker than it would be if it were just a German currency.)

The peripheral countries essentially exported all their cash to Germany (and to some extent northern Europe) in exchange for German goods. When they ran out of cash, not just because of their purchase of export goods but because of the uncompetitive nature of their bureaucratic and labor systems and the rather large unfunded government expenditures, they wanted yet more cash to continue to spend on government services.

Germany and the rest of Europe offered vendor financing. German and the rest of European banks loaned money to Greeks so the Greeks could buy German goods and perpetuate their government spending habits. In the early part of the last decade, tt was a deal that was seemingly made in heaven as Greece got to borrow money at German rates and Germany got to sell products in a currency driven by the valuation of the peripheral countries.

This arrangement left Greece and the other PIIGS deep in debt. Much like the American homeowners who lived beyond their means, Greece found itself overleveraged and undercapitalized. And here we are.
To continue reading this article from Thoughts from the Frontline – a free weekly publication by John Mauldin, renowned financial expert, best-selling author, and Chairman of Mauldin Economics – please click here.



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