Trading Places

Here it is, Sunday afternoon.

Watching football, having already gotten my week’s fill of cholesterol in just one night and feeling pretty good.

Trading PlacesWhenever I hear that phrase. “Feeling good”, I always think of that great Eddie Murphy – Dan Aykroyd film, “Trading Places.”

I can just hear the lines: “Looking Good, Biily Ray!” and in response,  “”Feeling good, Louis”.

And what’s not to feel good about? After all, Eddie Murphy is trading frequenting transvestite hookers for hosting the Academy Awards.

Life really is good.

And it’s especially looking good for the United States, at least as far as our emotionally beaten down egos are concerned.

After a few years of the world thumbing its nose at us and deriding us for our dysfunctional political system and profligacy, it now seems that we’ve traded places with Europe.

On top of that word has just come out that Dominique Strauss-Kahn has admitted a “moral failing” with regard to his tryst with the hotel maid. As a result we may not need to feel terribly badly about an injustice being done to the ex-IMF leader and may be shielded from some overseas criticism of our justice system jumping to conclusions.

Imagine, it’s been a few hundred years and they still can’t cope with the little squirt of a brother growing up.

Not that I had felt terribly badly, anyway and not that things are running along entirely smootlhy on this side of the Atlantic. With the exception of baby kidnappings and other trampling of human rights, things still seem to be better with our Chinese “friends”, who gve us a market lifting gift just by being part of the rumor that they might purchase Italian debt instruments.

I hope the Italians do better with the Chinese than they do with me.

I just received 5 mailings regarding traffic violations from a trip to Italy 3 years ago.

That was the same trip that the car rental agency tried to hit me with a $2,500 charge for damages.

Oh those whacky Italians. Wouldn’t trade the experiences for anything.

But watching economic events in Europe unfold is the true definition of “schadenfreude.” It’s one thing to have the twp predominant political parties in the US act in a dysfunctional manner, buut when you have the EU’s 27 member states trying to figure out how to divide the bill and who deserves how much vacation, you’re talking some real dysfunction.

At least they’re all agreed on retirement age and loan collateral.

It was funny hearing Treaury Secretary Geithner characterize his trip to Poland for the EU Finance Ministers meeting to be on the basis of an invitation, particularly since all news outlets reported that his “hosts” greeted him rather cooly.

European Finance Ministers apparently don’t like to be told how to run their economies by a guy sipping directly from a box of red wine while dining on trout meuniere in his ripped boxers.

That may be a bit of an exaggeration, but so far I haven’t seen or heard anything to contradict that characterization of events, so I’ll stick with it. Given what could have happened on Geithner’s watch and what didn’t happen, maybe they should try the red wine instead of the Kool-Aid.

So with all of that as a backdrop, last week was a great week. Stocks traded places with precious metals. I own stocks and am short precious metals, so iy was a great week.

Surprisingly, perhaps surprisingly only for me, Friday was yet another up day in the markets given that there really wasn’t any encouraging news coming out of Europe. In fact, if anything, even though the news raised prospects of a breakdown in the agreements necessary to temporarily rescue Greece, our markets shrugged it off.

Gold and silver on the other hand reacted precisely the way you would have expected in the face of uncertainty and the potential for a Greek default heightened. Earlier in the week, they also reacted according to script and had dramatic moves downward as an agreement appeared to be in the works.

No matter, so what if people felt confident going into the weekend holding large positions?

But I was happy.

Most of all and best of all, for me, a devoted call contract seller, Monday starts the October options cycle.

In that regard, September was nothing to remember. It was the second worst option premium month this year, fresh on the heels of the second best options month I’d ever had. Still, using my patented 1964 Color TV metric, I needed to find room for 39 new TV’s.

But as a good sign, despite the feeble option income stream for the Septmber cycle,  I’ll have plenty of opportunity to redeploy funds form assignments. Almost half of my holdings will be turned over, with most of them closing Friday within 1% of their strike prices.

When that happens, I love to see a down open on the first Monday of the cycle. There’s nothing better than getting those same shares back at less than their previous strike prices. But beyond that, there’s nothing like selling call options during a market peak. Grab those higher premiums, then close the lopp and start again.

I lost portions of my Bank of New York, Textron, Dow Chemical, DuPont, Williams Sonoma, British Petroeum, Deere, Home Depot and Transocean shares

If the past is any indicator, I’ll probably end up getting some of those shares back.while I also look at opportunities in Sallie Mae, Mosaic, SPDR 500 and adding to poisitions in JP Morgan and Chesapeake Energy.

With that much to spend, I’ll try to control my investing equivalent of premature ejaculation, but that’s always been difficult.

I was going to say “but that hasn’t always been hard,” but then it would have been unclear whether I was referring to investing behavior or the metaphoric equivalent.

On a sad note, I’ll be working tomorrow.

But that sadness is quickly replaced with the knowledge that I have only 2 more work days scheduled in 2011.

The work thing tomorrow does potentially interfere with the trading thing, but I’ve never let responsibility get in the way before, so I don’t really think I’ll be starting tomorrow. It may, however, help control the need to spend by keeping me otherwise occupied.

But still, that possibility is tempered by the fact that if I had to work, it couldn’t be for a better cause. I’ll be trading places with my friend tomorrow, who is on a golfing trip with his father.

I’d love to have the chance to have one of those trips with Szelhamos, but then I’m reminded that the most athletic thing I’d ever see him do was to bpwl one time.

As an 8 or 9 year old, I don’t think I’d ever seen anyone roll the ball as fast and ghard as he did and barely ever hit a pin.

Still wouldn’t trade that memory for all of the perfect 300 games on China.




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