What’s your Opinion?

What's your OpinionThere’s a saying that if you put 2 Jewish people together in a room you’ll get 3 different opinions.

I’m allowed to say that. Sometimes you get a free pass.

The same has probably been said for other ethnicities, cultures and religions, but other than Hungarian, I’d be ill at ease to use that saying for any other group. Years ago, when I was still in grade school, there was a funny joke book called “Race Riots.” It was a collection of ethnic and religious jokes and was really pretty funny.

So funny and so popular, that there was even a Race Riots II, focusing on the lesser known and under-stereotyped groups, such as Angolans.

I didn’t mind telling those jokes and others didn’t mind laughing, although subconsciously I may have tailored the joke set for the audience, just like when Jeff Foxworthy performs for the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory.

Race Riots actually even had a chapter on Hungarians that wasn’t very funny. At least that was my informed opinion. I also knew lots of Hungarians and they didn’t see the humor in those jokes either, but they loved the Polish jokes.

So true. So true.

These days I still think that those kind of jokes are funny, but I would never admit to that, because when it comes to that area of discourse, opinions don’t really matter.

About 5 years ago there was a great piece on Jon Stewart’s “The Daily Show” that highlighted the last two known remaining Jews in Afghanistan.

They lived together under the same roof in an old synagogue, but hated one another. They couldn’t find agreement on any topic, although my guess is that there weren’t too many different topics out there for discussion. By all accounts, though, they were each very opinionated.

There must be a joke in there somewhere, but you’re not likely to get anyone to write one when there are only 2 people in the whole world to poke fun at. By the same token, however, I was the only Jewish kid in my neighborhood and was routinely beaten up by the only 2 Chinese kids in the neighborhood.

In my opinion they should not have beaten me up on a regular basis, but in their humble opinion the black kids shouln’t have been beating up the only two Chinese kids in the neighborhood.

There’s was just an early form of “paying it forward.”

In hindsight that’s funny.

There was certainly no shortage of talking heads today putting their two cents in about what today’s 300 point gain really meant.

I like opinions, after all, that’s the essence of a free society. But what I don’t like are “humble opinions” or especially those who preface their humble opinions with the words “in my”. Don’t get me started with the “IMHO” group of people.

Of course mixed in with the opinions was the obligatory “light volume” comment, although that’s more observational than opinion and is often just an excuse to explain why their clients didn’t participate in a meaningless rally.

Since I don’t care whether there’s tons of white powder over my trading profits, I certainly wouldn’t care if they came on light volume.


The prevailing opinion on Monday was that this was some sort of a “dead cat bounce” or a bull rally in a bear market. Again, this is code talk for “I’m not in it to win it, today.”

The talking head that referred to this as a bull rally in a bear market then went on to say that he wasn’t certain that this was a bear market.

To be confused, you actually have to listen. That’s why you have to shake your head when a talking head insists that the market only trades on fundamentals.

In my humble opinion, that guy doesn’t know what he’s talking about. These days the market wouldn’t know a fundamental even if you bit it on its asset.

Then there was divided opinion over what fueled the rally.

You had your Euro-centric school of thought people and you had your “This was the best Black Friday weekend ever” crowd.

The Euro-centric school was elated over the rumor that the EU nations were reportedly closing in on some sort of deal to tackle debt. This, if the past is any indication, would lead to a nearly equal, but opposite movement when that rumor or deal falls short or some other complicating factor arises.

Think Finland.

The retail sales crowd seems to say the same thing every year and then starts to question the meaning of having an overly successful Black Friday through Cyber Monday period.

How many years in a row will we have to watch the give and take of concerns related to cannibalism of sales for the rest of the holiday period, or the stream of data indicating the the remaining sales days between Cyber Monday and Christmas fell short of expectations.

Those thoughts are then typically followed up by revised data that’s released sometime near New Years and those data sets always seem to indicate that sales were actually better than previously reported.


The thing about analyst opinions is that they’re subject to interpretation, but that’s understandable.

So too is it understandable that both the written and spoken words could be subject to interpretation, especially when rendered in a foreign language.

But that wasn’t the case on Monday when a piece written by Eric Jackson of Forbes Magazine for the Chinese Wall Street Journal somehow didn’t lose anything in the translation. Instead, it added to the translation, starting a rumor that Muddy Waters, that efficient Chinese stock price disinflation research firm, was planning a report on SINA.

In the past I’ve benefitted from such reports, Harbin Energy, Spreadtrum Communications come to mind. Both taking mighty hits as significant questions were raised about their accounting practices.

Having an opinion on those shares was irrelevant to me. I just waited for the big hits and then sold out of the money puts, much to my delight, as they both recovered from their acute hits.

Jackson said nothing about SINA, but someone just added his humble opinion into the translation.

In the meantime, the concern over another Chinese company, Focus Media was enough to send those shares into another day of tailspins and enough to get me to sell puts.

It’s my evil speculative side that makes me do those things. It’s usually well under control, but just like the craving for crack and hookers, it sometimes is pre-eminent. I have no clue what business Focus Media is engaged in, although I can venture a weak guess.

But again, irrelevant.

At any rate, Jackson’s reporting turned into an opinion, which turned into a rumor, which was then denied.

Sort of the way all of our EU news gets transmitted and with the same results.

I tend to be a very opinionated person. Not Perez Hilton opinionated, but enough so to get me to write daily, albeit without the use of a translator.

My opinions are usually either worthless or very poorly timed.

But having that contrarian tendency I could only believe that today’s 300 point rally would be something other than the quick and uninspired bounce that was the prevailing thought.

Unfortunately, that contrarian side has to deal with my pragmatic side.

In my own personal Afghani synsagogue, despite the belief that today’s move wasn’t a terminal event, I still sold whatever calls I could reasonably get a fair price upon. So I rented out Freeport McMoRan, Caterpillar, Visa, Amazon, Netflix and DuPont. I would have done more, but there were still some sizeable paper losses to overcome before so willingly giving up a share in any future profits.

To my disappointment, despite ProShares UltraShort Silver taking a big hit today, their call options didn’t move enough for me to repurchase them in order to await yet another opportunity to sell them.

As the market was getting to be somewhat boring, I took the opportunity to look at those ProShares UltraShort Silver ETF holdings which have grown to about 10% of my portfolio by slow and steady acquisition since mid-July. I even added on more shares today.

Despite a paper loss of about $5,000 they’ve spun off $30,000 of realized premiums. Had greed not gotten in the way, this would not have been the first time that all of my shares were hedged. I gave up additional option premiums for the fear of missing out on share appreciation.

FOMO. Stupid me.

And that’s a humble opinion we can all agree upon.