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Mark Bern, CFA  

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  • The Time To Hedge Is Now! 2,753 Percent Profits On Men's Wearhouse [View article]
    DAMSF - Thanks for noticing! There are a few of the candidates that seen ready to drop. Internals of the market are terrible right now as the leadership is coming from a very small number of mega-cap stocks. The majority are down significantly, so those that begin to show weakness are trading more on fundamentals now than in the past. This is when we can get some profits to take as we role into new positions soon.
    Nov 16, 2015. 06:49 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Major Indices At A Crossroads... Again [View article]
    26891393 - I just try to keep things honest. Investing from 2010 through mid-2014 was the easy part - just follow the Fed. But eventually the effectiveness of QE and ZIRP would wear down and the Fed would have little left to fight the next recession. Here we are potentially on the edge of another recession and central banks around the world have ammo belts that are either empty or nearly so. That has me concerned about how bad the next recession could be and how many companies will need to be allowed to file for bankruptcy protection. It also has me worried about how many jobs will be lost and how much more of our taxpayer money gridlocked gov't will use to try to stop the bleeding.

    I could be wrong and everything may just keep on limping along up the mountain as central banks continue to work in an cooperative effort to save us from ourselves. If that happens it will be a first in the history of mankind. I am reluctant to place much of a bet on a theory.

    Thanks for sharing your thought. Misery loves company. :)
    Nov 16, 2015. 11:03 AM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Major Indices At A Crossroads... Again [View article]
    JW11 - I just kept coming across more and more companies with stocks trading below the 200-day MA and decided it was worth looking under the hood. It is tedious work, but the results were jaw-dropping for me and I thought it could be useful for people to understand why their respective portfolios are down so much while the indices are not. This seems like more than just sector rotations to me.

    Thanks for reading.
    Nov 16, 2015. 10:55 AM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Major Indices At A Crossroads... Again [View article]
    kovnat - Making people think is what this article is intended to do. I am also a long-term investor and like to wait for bargains as I explained in my recent article, "How I Created My Own Portfolio Over a Lifetime." Here is a link for those who might want to know more about my investment philosophy:

    The analogy of comparing the U.S. to Japan isn't quite a good fit. The U.S. has another generation coming along called the millennials that will eventually pull our economy out of the deflationary environment. Japan does not have that. The actions of our Fed are similar though and it will be difficult for future generations to create the levels of growth our great nation has enjoyed in the past due to the drag of gov't debt that will become more and more costly, sucking capital out of the economy that could otherwise create jobs.

    Thanks for the engaging comment.
    Nov 16, 2015. 10:52 AM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Major Indices At A Crossroads... Again [View article]
    DAMSF - Thanks for reading and glad you enjoyed it. I just think this is a time when people should be cautious.
    Nov 16, 2015. 03:21 AM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Quick Chat # 285 [View instapost]
    Here it is!

    Hope you find it interesting and informative. Some of what I found dropped my jaw.
    Nov 16, 2015. 02:17 AM | 5 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Quick Chat # 285 [View instapost]
    I just submitted an article a few hours ago about the crossroads of where the indices are right now. I went through all the companies in the S&P 500 and found that over 65% were trading below their respective 200-day SMA as of Friday. That does not seem healthy to me.
    Nov 15, 2015. 08:39 PM | 6 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Quick Chat # 284 [View instapost]
    Maya - Even with the recent losses I think I agree with you that the Indexes will make one more run, as in a Christmas Rally into mid-December (maybe through year end). It will depend heavily on how retail sales are going, imho.

    It seems that the early reports are always very optimistic with increased traffic. Then the results from different retailers come in mixed, but the emphasis is generally on those doing better than expected. Once it is over, the initial estimates are usually either in line or very close one way or the other and the season is trumpeted as a huge success. Then the actual results come out with Q1 reports and are what they are. Unless those reports are terrible nobody will notice as the news won't be worthy of reporting. But if the final results are terrible it could spell the beginning of the next recession. And, of course, if the early reports after Black Friday and by mid-December do not come in optimistic then the season may be considered lost early and retailers could start posting those prophetic signs, "The End Is Near! Please Buy Something!" The signs won't actually use those words; rather they will be something more like "Everything On Sale!" "Store-wide Savings!" "Save up to 70% on Everything!"

    If the later happens I will change my tune and run for the hills, carrying my bags full of put options on the weakest companies and a few high flyers that need an adjustment.

    No predictions here. I'm just thinking out loud as I try to consider how the timing of retail sales reporting could either help or hurt the market. Thought I'd share my rationale.
    Nov 13, 2015. 02:11 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Quick Chat # 285 [View instapost]
    I have to admit that the US$ may see some headwinds during the first half of 2016. Many EM companies and EM gov'ts have taken on a lot (huge amounts) of debt denominated in US$. As the US$ goes up the cost of servicing these loans goes up in local currency taking up more of the EM GDP, killing profits and forcing gov'ts to sell some of their foreign reserves to both pay interest and to prop up their own currencies (or at least slow the rate of fall). This, in turn, could add to pressures on the US$, at least in the relatively short term. One action sort of offsetting the other.

    Add in the Fed rate hike and you have added pressure on EMs as the US$ tries to rise causing commodities priced in US$ to fall more. That hurts many EM markets, not to mention Canada and Australia. In the end, I think interest rates here could spike by as much as 1-1.5% before falling. Of course, when does that all start? When the Fed increases rates in December? Probably. I think a 1/4 point rise is in the cards now since the Fed has pretty much painted itself into that box with recent public communications from FOMC members. But the US$ will probably go up initially after any increase before the impact is felt and causes a reaction.

    I remember the turmoil that the ending of QE caused in EM economies. Could this action be similar? I think it could. But I also think that this could be worse since those same EMs have added greatly to their debt burdens since the last time and the global economy is sputtering more now than then. Fed tightening could be felt around the globe and it could be painful.

    disclaimer: I may be all wet.
    Nov 13, 2015. 01:57 PM | 6 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Quick Chat # 285 [View instapost]
    DG - I'm feeling it today, too! It comes and it goes but it just won't stay away. Sometimes it's in the pit of my stomach and then, at other times, it just feels like something is haunting my brain. I want it all to be over so we can start anew, but somehow it just keeps hanging around. Discomfort and uneasy, I dip my toe into the markets and pull back a stub. It's just not reassuring. The only things I've made money on lately are puts that I've bought to hedge my portfolio.
    Nov 13, 2015. 11:58 AM | 4 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Quick Chat # 284 [View instapost]
    So, does the Index need to stay above its 200-day MA for the prediction to work? Neither the DJIA or S&P500 were able to hold above it yesterday and today looks like more of the same.
    Nov 13, 2015. 11:51 AM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Quick Chat # 284 [View instapost]
    Maya - I read a study somewhere about when the S&P falls below its 200-day MA and remains there for about that long. Historically, according to that study it went up every time. It did starting in August, but then that didn't work. With ZIRP around the world, up may be more likely now. But how far?
    Nov 11, 2015. 01:20 PM | 4 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Quick Chat # 284 [View instapost]
    shb - I understand completely. I am not trying to make any claims about the company or its potential. I just thought that the low cost approach was interesting. I totally understand that it remains an iffy proposition at best.
    Nov 10, 2015. 08:42 AM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Quick Chat # 284 [View instapost]
    shb - Totally agree. The ambri battery concept is supposed to not generate any electricity but store it from the grid at night when rates are low and then make electricity available during daytime peak hours. Completely different. It was not originally designed for solar or wind, but could help wind with storage issues, I suppose. That was why I liked it to start with: it was designed to use and expand capacity of the current infrastructure without the need to develop new sources. I think that is the key to lowering costs because it reduces the need to add capacity to handle peak load requirements by storing at night for use during day. It is not dependent on any new sources of electricity. At least that was what I got from the video. Using cheap, readily available elements to build the battery also has appeal.
    Nov 9, 2015. 02:04 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Quick Chat # 284 [View instapost]
    Scientists have learned one very important fact since the 1970 Earth Day. Their predictions need to be further off in the distant future so that they won't be around when the predictions are proven either true or false. The other half of that strategy that helps their cause is that if the progress is slower than expected during their lifetimes they can just claim that they expected that the outcome would not be linear and would accelerate in the later stages.

    I'm not saying man has no impact on climate. Our species definitely does have some impact. I'm just not so sure we are as all-powerful as scientists believe. There is a huge amount of money to made from climate change if cap and trade exchanges can be created and mandated by law. Thus, my concern is that the agenda of those leading the religion-like movement are motivated by something other than altruistic motives. Hundreds of billion of potential new wealth redistributed among a few of the movement leaders and proponents from old "dirty" industry could be a major motivational factor. I can only imagine how much GS partners would have to gain as the squid seems to always be involved.
    Nov 9, 2015. 11:53 AM | 7 Likes Like |Link to Comment