Editor’s Note: Keith prepared and submitted this story for publication Thursday afternoon a few hours prior to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling release.
When I started Total Wealth I promised you that we’d take a good hard look not only at the best investments, but also exceptional short-term trading opportunities when they arose.
When Euphemisms Signal Big Profit Potential
You may have heard the term “animal spirits” on TV recently or popping up across the Internet on various financial websites.
Ostensibly an ode to economist John Maynard Keynes, who used the term in his 1936 tome “The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money” to describe the instincts and emotions guiding human behavior, the expression is really Wall Street code-speak.
I think it’s more like they “have no idea what’s going to happen next.”
If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the past 35 years about global markets, it’s that euphemisms like “animal spirits” usually enter the lexicon when there is a great trading opportunity in the works.
Sometimes those are long-term opportunities, but more often than not, they’re great short-term trades.
For instance, by now most people have heard of derivatives. Those are billed as insurance by Wall Street, but they’re really an excuse to burn your neighbor’s house down if you understand how they work.
Underperforming assets are really low-quality loans that never should have been issued in the first place that are better characterized by a certain four-letter word.
Moving forward, an expression you hear a lot during earnings calls, usually means the company isn’t, a la Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, who uses the expression frequently.
You get my drift.
And that brings me to our trade.
I am very leery that the markets have rallied absent any final judicial decision on President Trump’s immigration ban. I’m very suspicious of yesterday’s trading, in particular, especially when the explanations for what’s happening center on “animal spirits.”
Volume was generally low and activity quiet despite the fact that the Dow rose 118.06 points, the S&P 500 tacked on 13.20 points, and the Nasdaq hit yet another all-time high adding 32.73 points to the tally.
Traders I’m talking to around the world just aren’t putting a lot of money on the table even though President Trump is talking about a “big league” tax announcement.
In fact, the S&P 500 hasn’t moved more than 1% in either direction – higher or lower – since Dec. 7. That’s the longest, narrowest trading range on record since 1978, according to Bloomberg.
And if they’re not putting money down… who is?
I think there’s a very large, well capitalized trading shop out there looking to pull a fast one.
And I’m not alone.
Jeremy Klein, chief market strategist at FBN Securities, noted to CNBC that “there is a very persistent buyer out there pushing the market higher.”
My guess – based on 35 years of experience – is that they’re trying to suck in every possible dollar they can from unsuspecting investors using FOMO – fear of missing out – as their motivator. That’s why Wall Street is talking about animal spirits… because they can’t tell you point blank that they want to fleece millions of investors.
The situation reminds me of an old-fashioned frat party where new party-goers are being invited in the front door even as those in the know are quietly going out the back door… right before the cops arrive.
So how do you play this?
And with a limited amount of speculative risk capital.
For one thing, these kinds of moves rarely last more than a few days, so you don’t want to do anything reckless like sell everything. Longer term, what we’re talking about today will be nothing more than a speed bump.
What the professionals are looking to do with a move like the one that I think is coming is shake out the weak money, buy shares at panic prices, then go for the next leg up.
I say that because breakouts still outnumber breakdowns. Technically that tells me there’s still a lot of money wanting to go to work which, in turn, speaks to higher, not lower, prices over time. Effectively there are still buyers.
If you’re an investor, I want you to do two things.
First, take advantage of the calm before the storm to move your trailing stops higher. This will help you lock in profits on stocks you’d like to sell when traders make their move and not a minute earlier.
Second, make a list of stocks you’d like to buy if they’re suddenly “put on sale,” or a list of positions you’d add to if you got the chance at a lower price.
In other words, use the one-two punch that’s going to clobber other investors as an opportunity.
By the way, Total Wealth Tactics like the lowball order or selling puts are ideal for this type of short-term move because you can set them in advance using your favorite online brokerage firm. Better still, you don’t have to wait in front of your screens all day!
If you’re a trader or an investor with trading funds and you want to play the situation more aggressively, buy put options on the major indices. One strike in the money and about 45 days out ought to do it.
Or consider buying a triple-leveraged inverse fund like the Ultra ProShort Dow 30 ETF (NYSE Arca: SDOW). Basically, this fund is designed to deliver a return that mirrors the daily performance of the Dow… multiplied by three.
In other words, should the Dow plunge 6%, you’d be staring at profits of 18% before fees and commissions.
As always, there’s a caveat.
Most investors make the mistake of getting greedy when it comes to short-term tactical plays like we’re talking about today. So they stay in the trade too long.
Moves like this are one of the few times where you want to “take the money and run,” to paraphrase one of my favorite old Steve Miller songs by the same name.
Short-term profits are about being nimble and flexible. The beauty of put options and triple-leveraged funds is that you don’t have to invest a little to get a lot.
While you’re at it, set both profit and loss targets to maximize your returns and minimize your risk. The type of move I think is coming will be over in a day or possible a week at most.
I believe traders are going to keep the illusion going until there’s a specific event that shatters the calm.
Right now the highest probability earth shaker I can think of is when the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals rules on President Trump’s travel ban (which hasn’t happened yet as I write). Traders may crush the market immediately, but I’m betting that they’ll use the ruling to suck in FOMO buyers for the first hour or so then yank the rug out.
If you miss this trade, don’t worry.
There’s still tax reform, Obamacare, and Dodd-Frank to go!
All of which can be terribly profitable if you understand how to play the game…
…and animal spirits.
I’ll be with you every step of the way.
Until next time,