Editor's note: Originally published on January 26, 2015
Back in late April of 2011, legendary investor Jim Rogers made one brilliant call combined with one incredibly stupid observation. So he was hitting about 50%. That’s not bad, the very best prognosticators rarely do better than getting it right 65% of the time. Most people get it dead wrong most of the time.
Speaking of silver on April 20, 2011, Rogers was quoted as saying, “If silver continues to go up like it has been over the past 2 or 3 weeks, yes, then it would get to triple digits this year. And then we’ll have to worry. It’s not parabolic yet". Rogers concluded silver wasn’t yet in a bubble.
That may well turn out to be one of the very worst predictions Jim Rogers ever made in his life. A week later, on April 28, silver peaked at just a smidgen under $50. In two weeks, by May 12th, silver dropped by an incredible 33%. But Rogers got one thing dead right when on April 20th, he said, “A parabolic move and all parabolic moves end badly.”
Silver went parabolic and Rogers couldn’t look at a chart and recognize a parabolic move when it stared him in the face. He knew enough to understand the effect of a parabolic move; he just didn’t see it in front of him.
If you want to retire rich, go to a tattoo parlor and have them inscribe on your forehead, in reverse writing, “ALL PARABOLIC MOVES END BADLY.”
In the same way that people tend to think in absolutes about politics, either you are a Republican or a Democrat; investors want to think in terms of either Technical Analysis or fundamentals. That tends to suggest there are no other alternatives in either politics or investing.
I don’t know a single investor made rich by either TA or fundamentals. Maybe they work for some, some of the time. I’ve just never seen it.
In April of 2011 silver went parabolic. At least to those who were capable of recognizing a parabolic chart in front of them. There were probably 100 fundamental reasons to buy silver. TA suggested silver was headed to the moon. Both were wrong. There are 100 reasons to buy a commodity, any commodity, at every top. And if you actually believe TA is valid, invert the chart and see what is suggests then. That’s what Warren Buffett did before rejecting TA as an investment guide.
The investment psychology as measured by the bullish consensus toward silver in April of 2011 was higher than it was at the very top of silver at $50.25 in late January of 1980. And silver went parabolic. ALL PARABOLIC MOVES END BADLY.
I was working on a piece for Friday, last week, and I needed to know what the Dollar Index was doing. I pulled up a chart and saw that the Dollar Index was up a remarkable 2% for the day. It actually went above 2% during the day but I couldn’t capture it on a screen print. I did capture the 2% move and used it in a piece. 2% in a day is a lot in any currency much less the Dollar Index.
For one reason or another, I watched again on Friday to see what the Dollar Index would do. Between Thursday and the high on Friday the 23rd of January the Dollar Index climbed a remarkable 3.25% in 36 hours. I’ve never seen such a move in a currency. No one that I know saw that or at least no one remarked on the move.
So I went back to the piece I wrote about silver on April 25th of 2011 and looked at the chart I had posted of silver where I claimed, “Silver is going parabolic.” I took a lot of flak at the time in 2011 because all the silver clowns were convinced silver was going to $500 an ounce overnight. I was right, they were wrong. Silver went parabolic and then crashed in two weeks by 33%. About five guys got it dead right in April of 2011 and everyone hated them for it.
A 3.25% move in any currency is a parabolic move. It is the kind of move that ends a trend, no matter up or down. There are a hundred fundamental reasons to buy the dollar right now. TA suggests the Dollar Index is going to 125. Everyone loves the dollar. The bullish consensus on the Dollar Index is the highest in recorded history. That is what marks tops.
ALL PARABOLIC MOVES END BADLY.
Black Swan events are those hard to predict and rare events that are beyond the realm of normal expectations. Parabolic moves may not qualify as in the realm of normal expectation but that doesn’t mean you can’t recognize them in front of your nose.
The dollar index will crash one day. It won’t be down 33% in two weeks similar to that move in 2011 in silver. But the Dollar Index could be down 1/3 of the move since July of 2014 in as little as two weeks. The index was around 80 on July 1st and rocketed higher to 95 last week. I can see the dollar dropping 5 points in two weeks. Wouldn’t everyone be shocked?