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  • Homebuilders on the move after strong sales report [View news story]
    I have substantial investments in various mini-storage facilities around the country, so I get a lot of input about real estate activity, and consumer trends in general.
    The data reported by the press (which is gleaned from various government or quasi-government surveys) is misleading. But, we have to understand that the historical methodology-which made reasonable sense for decades-can't give us a true assessment. A confluence of things-demographics, changes in business structure and the unprecedented buying power of hedge funds entering the residential real estate market for the first time-have radically skewed the picture.
    If you look around the USA, you find small 'bubbles' of vibrant activity. In Atlanta, for instance, one can find very limited geographic locales of hot markets. Yet, as one moves away from the city, or from one of the hot areas, you would conclude that the recession lingers. In fact, you can find recent price reductions at some of the heretofore prestigious country clubs that are quite substantial.
    In Florida, I'm noticing a mixed bag of results. And, Chicago seems to resemble Atlanta in many respects.
    I continue to meet retired people that can't sell their homes. I suspect this a new phenomenon. But, that's what happens with data: "liars, damn liars and statisticians."
    The one thing that I know beyond any doubt is if buyers had to borrow money at 10% to buy their first home (like I did)- there would be no real estate market. To me, that speaks volumes about the ultimate reality. Or, in another sense, can wages ever regain the efficacy of the recent past? If so, when? How?
    Finally, look at how newer homes are constructed relative to 15 years ago. The size, quality and amenities have been adjusted downward. Does this show up in the data?
    Jul 22, 2015. 03:17 PM | 4 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • 4 Things That Are Happening Today That Indicate That A Deflationary Financial Collapse Is Imminent [View article]
    Evidence and logical inference are casualties of human bias. There is no escape from this predicament. Our instruments of reason are still too fragile, and the voices of true logic appear as remote as the ancient priests.
    According to physicists, the most advanced civilizations are categorized as Level lll. We are most likely centuries away from Level l.
    As to our legal system, note that we are only removed from witchcraft trials and trial by combat by a few cosmic moments. In law school I was dumbfounded by the struggle of some of our greatest jurists to even understand basic probability.
    But I agree with the concerns expressed by the author. Yet, I separate the 'stock market' from the cultural dynamics.
    Every civilization that has ever existed on this planet, which covers thousands of years, has ultimately failed. Every economy, every political dynasty, every great army has utterly failed to last beyond a few centuries. Yet, humans have found a way-so far-to 'go forth and multiply.' So, our species is likely to exist and thrive; and that wheel in the sky will keep on turning. As Mario Puzo noted in "Fools Die," we're just an 'x' in an indeterminate equation, and that is the rock upon which we stand.
    Jul 21, 2015. 02:32 PM | 6 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Why Hedge Funds Are Not Bullish On Oil [View article]
    Well- just look at the hedge funds that got caught with their trousers down in 2008.
    If you know how to trade, you're making money in oil almost everyday. If you seek rationality in the oil market, you're not faring very well.
    I can recall paying 32 cents/ gallon back in the 60's. But that could never happen in 2015- right?
    Jul 20, 2015. 10:32 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • We Are NOT Living In A Material World [View article]
    The rails seem to be holding their own- but off the highs.
    a new breed of concept chasers is more enamored with NFLX- not NUE. Social media doesn't relate to Dr. Copper. While infrastructure crumbles, wifi is oblivious. Perhaps we bid farewell to the 20th century. Until, of course, everything old is new again. In the meantime, just buy some seaweed britches from LULU, get LNKD, subscribe to NFLX, order a few trinkets from AMZN- and contemplate it all while sipping a $5 cup of joe at SBUX.
    Jul 20, 2015. 10:16 PM | 16 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Reuters/UofM Consumer Sentiment [View news story]
    Here's your answer WispokerGuy-straight from the Chairman of the Board:


    "That's life (that's life) that's what all people say
    You're riding high in April,
    Shot down in May
    But I know I'm gonna change their tune,
    When I'm back on top, back on top in June

    I said that's life (that's life) and as funny as it may seem
    Some people get their kicks,
    Steppin' on a dream
    But I just can't let it, let it get me down,
    'Cause this fine old world, it keeps spinnin' around

    I've been a puppet, a pauper, a pirate,
    A poet, a pawn and a king
    I've been up and down and over and out
    And I know one thing
    Each time I find myself flat on my face,
    I pick myself up and get back in the race

    That's life (that's life), I tell you, I can't deny it,
    I thought of quitting, baby
    But my heart just ain't gonna buy it
    'And if I didn't think it was worth one single try,
    I'd jump right on a big bird and then I'd fly

    I've been a puppet, a pauper, a pirate,
    A poet, a pawn and a king
    I've been up and down and over and out
    And I know one thing
    Each time I find myself flat on my face,
    I just pick myself up and get back in the race

    That's life (that's life), that's life, I can't deny it,
    Many times I thought of cuttin' out, but my heart won't buy it
    But if there's nothing shaken come here this July,
    I'm gonna roll myself up in a big ball and die
    My, my"

    Frank Sinatra
    Jul 18, 2015. 12:59 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • What The Latest Time Use Survey Says About American Culture... And Netflix [View article]
    My father seldom allowed me to watch TV- but if I earned enough money I could walk to town and watch a Sat afternoon double- feature for a dime. Popcorn and cherry snow cone was another dime.
    Now that I can afford as many video devices as I want- I don't have NFLX. I prefer to read.
    I realize that I'm the last of a dying breed. But I do enjoy trading the stock.
    Jul 14, 2015. 05:56 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • The Crowd Continues To Get U.S. Treasury Bonds Wrong [View article]
    Yes- well written article. My 2 cents is that bonds can be profitably traded, especially with the new ETFs. The ranges favor playing spreads- no earnings surprises, tight bid- ask on options. Granted, it's not like shorting China or guessing which way NFLX will go- but a great play for risk averse, premium earning types.
    Would encourage author to publish more on 'gap'- very interesting and revealing subject.
    Jul 14, 2015. 05:39 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Oil's Big Swoon - Price Volatility Ahead [View article]
    It's a matter of preference, but I can buy LEAP calls and sell shorter term options to reduce the cost of the LEAPs. The commodity is also more reactive to various reports-which create opportunities.
    While it's unlikely that SLB or HAL will go out of business-there's always the probability-however slight-that an event unique to the company can create problems. Think BP, RIG, APC.
    You can protect your interest in a single company, of course, but that requires additional expense. And, for me, I'm not the active trader I used to be, so I don't want to worry with how to position for quarterly reports. All I have to do is just watch oil. The last thing to consider is the proliferation of ETFs-USO, UCO, SCO, etc, etc, that allow additional flexibility. I have various option strategies on all of these instruments, so that I can both capture time premium, and play directional moves.
    It's really just how we want to play the game.
    Happy hunting!
    Jul 13, 2015. 10:09 AM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Quit Worrying About Oil [View article]
    The issue is not to predict where the price of oil is headed, but rather to determine at what absurd price ( up or down) oil will not go- and then sell options accordingly.
    Jul 9, 2015. 10:49 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Chinese tech stocks surge; CQQQ +11.1% [View news story]
    I established several call ratio backspreads on many of my 'favorite' Chinese internet stocks (which means if they do nothing or zoom up in value, I make money). BUT, this is a play on the sheer lack of integrity of the indicated markets-nothing more. I'm not analyzing a damn thing, except the rot, panic and usurpation of freedom. In short, my strategy, after making a bundle via shorting, is to merely play a lottery ticket on the modus operandi of dictatorial 'government.'
    Jul 9, 2015. 02:05 PM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Wall Street Breakfast: China Rebounds But Worries Persist [View article]
    Well, the narrative myth has become more subtle over time. If you study the markets during the times of J. Livermore it would resemble a financial version of the Wild West. What we witness now is more of a 'facilitative crony capitalism' baked in TBTF and a fuzzy sort of national security interests.
    Jul 9, 2015. 10:03 AM | 5 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • On the hour [View news story]
    What's important is whether you're ringing the register-NOW! I'm not the type to risk my money on others 'sorting things out.'
    What is, is-whether it be characterized as 'signal or noise.'
    That I'm making a huge amount of money by shorting Chinese internet stocks is a real signal-I'll make the noise as I collect.
    I'm listening to George Jones this morning, and he could've written this song for long only Chinese stock market players: "He Stopped Loving Her Today."
    Jul 8, 2015. 11:44 AM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • China Is Down 5% - Why Are You Looking At Greece? [View article]
    Chanos was among the early voices, and I'm sure his coffers are overflowing this morning. I have indicated on numerous occasions that I am short several Chinese internet stocks. To me, it's all been very simple: the masses want something that's not there-or as Gertrude Stein said: "there's no there, there."
    Optimism without realism; assumptions devoid of conceptual precision-create the dry kindling that merely awaits the light of Diogenes.
    Professor Emeritus (Harvard) E. O. Wilson, did pioneering research on chemical communications in ant colonies. And so the animals with the advanced pre-frontal cortex scurry to and fro this morning in similar fashion as the ants responding to an intruder. It was just as inevitable as the night follows the day-a genetic predisposition to follow the wildebeest, stampeding across the Serengeti.
    Jul 8, 2015. 11:19 AM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Long The S&P 500 But Feeling A Little Uneasy? PUTX May Be Your Answer [View article]
    Consider selling put spreads, with leverage, vs cash -secured with no downside protection. Which is optimal?
    of course, in some cases one might not care if they're assigned. An example ( for me) is selling 500 Jan 2016 TZA puts (10 strike). I don't need a long lower strike put here.
    I agree with several comments that an individual can do a much better job- selling puts is just one very basic tool- the veteran combines selling puts with numerous other strategies.
    Jul 8, 2015. 10:23 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Has Deceleration Returned To Home Prices? [View article]
    Yes-the spring and summer are the traditional buying times, and we're at least 3/4 of the way. I've spoken with some agents that haven't even had offers on properties over $500k-listed for a year or longer.
    I don't doubt that there is some pent up demand, but why is it still represented by very shallow and tepid real results? Hedge funds made an unprecedented foray into the residential market. They are now out. I read numerous comments that housing would 'break-out' this summer. Well?
    Of course, the publicly held builders don't represent the total market by any stretch, but they are the ones with the financial advantage. If I could drive around and pick out builders to short, I'd have a field day.
    Jul 7, 2015. 02:57 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
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