The Times They are a Changin’

It was true nearly 40 years ago when Bob Dylan wrote and then sung those words as it is today. I don’t know if Suze Rotolo, Dylan’s late muse had a role in the song, but being a muse, I suppose she was somehow involved.

Muses must be truly wonders. Picaso was said to be a bore and boorish, a bad combination. Hemingway? Just an angry drunk.

Me? An aimless wanderer.

But it’s all about the muse bringing out the best an helping to presage the changes coming to the world’s societies, cultures and institutions.

It must have been a muse that inspired some quiet genius to open up a real honest to goodness Kosher Deli in Howard County, Maryland. In an area where 20 years ago the only semblance of a Jewish Community was the cow herd that may have been destined for ritual slaughter.

And the name? Pita and Rye. Absolutely inspired. Even I get the point.

Now that’s change you can believe in.

DylanThe Times they are a Changin’  was part of Dylan’s third album, the first composed solely of his own songs. Before he was a born again Christian, before he was a born again Jew, before he was a Zulu Warrior King, before he sold out his acoustic roots and before he started wearing Cowboy hats.

Cowboy hats? That never could have happened. Not Bob Dylan.

A muse-less Bob Dylan would, though.

All of those times were a changing too. A few weeks ago TIME magazine had a great pictoral timeline of Dylan’s changes over the years. Amazingly and thankfully, some of those periods have been virtually erased from human memory. 

Fortunately, the human mind is able to erase that which it deems insufferable. I don’t remember his disco period, either.

I suppose that the longer you’re around the more change you’re likely to see, but I doubt that the equivalent of Moore’s Law applies to the world’s events, that are changing at an ever quickening pace.

Imagine this, just a few short months ago you could read the New York Times online edition for free.

Now, everyone sing along “For the Times they are a chargin'”.

I don’t blame them. Although Moore’s Law may not apply, Maslow’s does. The Times needed to survive somehow, as the print media is looking increasingly endangered. Too bad there are so many ways to circumvent the Times’ subscription service. I still think that they should have micro-charges for each article you access, but they’ve never listened to me, so I rebel against the man and the plan.

Poor Rupert Murdoch. Not only does he have to let go of his MySpace property, once the darling of social media, now he also is standing in line waiting to be accused of hacking into a young murder victims cell phone answering service, and perhaps destroying evidence.

Imagine that. The very same Rupert Murdoch who inherited broadcast rights to the Simpsons actually stooping so low just to sell some pulp.

Not possible. Newspapermen have always maintained the highest standards.

Alhough society seems to be changing at an alarmingly fast rate, those that play in the markets should be pretty used to the whipsaws. After all long period of boring stock markets ended in 1982, all we have really known is changing times. One day to the next is often a different era.

Barely a week ago doom and gloom was everywhere. The market was breaking below certain support levels, there was talk about another double dip, QE 2 was about to end and there was no good economic news on the horizon.

And then a funny thing happened.

Nothing. Absolutely nothing happened, but yet everything changed.

Michael VIck and Dominique Strauss-Kahn rehabilitated and vindicated, for now anyway.

Casey Anthony not guilty of murder.

RIck Perry, Texas Governor, going from seccession proponent to presidential challenger.

Stocks decide to defy gravity.

Bernanke doing Rogaine commercials.

Would not have predicted any of those. Although the chorus of negative opinions should have made one take wonder. My personal Google AdSense indicator was telling me that overall sentiment was negative. As clicks on financial related ads decreased the market took notice. As a contrary indicator the market could do one thing only.

My personal stock divinator didn’t do terribly well last week, as I gambled on a downturn Thursday and Friday, by virtue of having sold many in the money call options expiring this past Friday.

But yesterday, I decided to go with the flow. You know that feeling that usually ends up with up making bad decisions. This time there was no alcohol involved. The only stimulant was a bunch of cash sitting in the accounts from stock assignments.

What was I going to do, let the bull get away?

And today was just a perfect day for getting back into the market. Mild up and down moves throughout the day. Plenty of opportunity to get fair purchase prices and plenty of opportunity to sell call contracts.

So I went on a shopping spree. I even bought shares in two stocks that I’d never owned before. McCormick & Co., and the ProShares VIX Short-term futures. Whenever I purchase shares for the very first time I under-represent them in the portfolios, which is what I did today. For a guy who was in a frisky and speculative mood today, I still sure am cautious.

No doubt some of those fine local McCormick spices will make their way to the kitchen and tabletops at Pita and Rye.

Those VIX shares are interesting. Even though they’re supposed to represent a 30 day average of the volatil.ity index, they sure do bounce around alot intraday, seemingly out of proportion to a single day’s impact on a 30 day average.

But you have to love that kind of motion and change.After all, what is volatility other than a measure of the propensity to change.

But something else came over me. Something else changed.

I decided to further my speculative streak. As if buying shares in two new stocks wasn’t enough, I added significantly to my short put positions in Spreadtrum, that Chinese company that took a big temporary hit when Muddy Waters released a public letter disclosing their short position

I now have sold $9 puts for July 15, as well as $15 puts for July 8 and $15.

The premiums were just wonderful and I think that when the other shoe does fall, those expiration dates will have passed.

I picked up more shares of Mosaic, JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs, Home Depot, Sunoco and probably some other things as well, but I forget.

In all, I made 20 trades today, including options sales.

With all of the frenzy, for the first two days of this quarter I’ve already made about 12% of the number of trades last quarter.

That’s a kind of change I really welcome. The kind of change that brings us back to the good old days.