We are All Sinners

I have no business giving advice to anyone or making predictions. My track record is pretty abysmal.

I’m also a sinner.

Years ago, when running for the Presidency, Jimmy Carter, the Governor of Georgia, a gentleman peanut farmer, Naval Academy graduate and nuclear engineer (there’s a combination you don’t hear often) showed the good judgment to submit to a Playboy interview.

The Devil in MeProbably the most memorable part of the article, beside the full frontal view of the future president in a man thong, was his admission that he had  lusted in his heart and “commited adultery in my heart many times.”

If you’re unaware, the adultery thing is big. Big enough to have made it into the Top Ten Sins list.

Just imagine that if coveting your neighbor’s wife made the list, just how badly adultery must trump coveting.

To this day, no other Presidential wannabe has submitted to a Playboy interview, not even Bill Clinton, of “boxers versus briefs” fame and other things..

The point of this is that in 10 presidential election cycles, I’ve only correctly picked the ultimate winner just 3 times. So you really don’t want to follow my path.

I’m completely agnostic as to political party when it comes to national elections and have always voted along a “who has the best chance of losing?” platform.

I’ve even been known to vote for a third party candidate if it meant preserving my voting record.

Jimmy Carter, for whom I did not vote, was essentially saying what we all knew, in that he was a despicable human being, at least in heart and mind.

Alright, maybe I read a bit too much into that single quote.

At the time, people were stunned both by the fact that he agreed to the interview and that he admitted that even a pious God fearing public servant was a sinner.

Back then, in the hierarchy of sins related to fantasies, you were more likely to be excused of wishing you could murder your boss than for lusting after his spouse.

In the world of stock investing there are sinners, and most everyone will agree as to who they are.

The short sellers.

They’re the people that are betting that stock prices will head downward. They sin not just in their hearts and minds, but in body and soul. They spread fear and gloom and wish and hope for bad things to occur. They find themselves naturally cheering when natural disasters.strike.

How un-American is that?

Very, but it gets even worse. The short sellers actually have even more evil Overlords, those that find joy in using leveraged short ETF trading vehicles.

Just as for millenia people have been blaming the Jewish population in the midst for all of their problems,. short sellers are the Jews of the market.

They get blamed for just about everything.

Sure, occasionally new enemies arise, such as algorithms, high frequency trading, insider trading and other egregious violations of “business ethics,” but when you get down to private and casual conversation, the truth comes out.

The short sellers have replaced the horns on their heads with crisply tailored Armani suits, ultra-rapid speech patterns and lots of coffee.

In a page taken from the playbook of every despot through history, when things start going badly, always look for an internal enemy. If none is available, then go external.

Short sellers are the root of all of our problems.

Certainly, you have to remember the regulatory response at the height of the financial and banking crisis.

No short sales on the financials. They even sought to enforce existing regulations regarding naked short sales. How desperate of a move is it when you start enforcing regulations?

And who could forget the always entertaining Patrick Byrne of Overstock.com, now trying to rebrand as O.co

In a near and somewhat sad, yet comical, paranoid fixation on short sellers, Byrne has created a place for himself in some sort of Hall of Fame, yet despite years of non-performance and floundering of his company, he remains CEO.

The rants are pretty amusing and do seem to follow in some lessons learned from generations of anti-semites.

It is somewhat ironic though that Byrne chose shortening the name as his approach to rebranding. He’ll probably blame the resultant consumer confusion on the shorts.

So here we are, at the precipice of JP Morgan announcing its most recently quarterly earnings.

And here I am with no shares of JP Morgan, not having held shares for 6 weeks.

Over the past two years, JP Morgan has almost continually been in my portfolios. It was one of the first stocks upon which I sold weekly call options.

Week after week after week.

During that time period I’d occasionally lose shares to assignment but would always buy them back as the price retraced, just in time for the next ride up.

But not this time.

I missed the entire $32 to $36 move.

So here I am lusting in my heart.

But it’s not the mild kind of coveting lust, wishing that I had owned shares.

No, it’s more the adulterous kind of lust, just wanting to go down on that stock.

Sorry for being so crude, but that’s the best allusion I could come up with.

Just like a short seller, I’m hoping for JP Morgan share price to make a marked move downward after it announces earnings on Friday.

Jamie Dimon has been in the news of late. It seems to me as if he’s actually trying too hard to put a good face on things, making me think that there’ll be a disappointing earnings report forthcoming.

But still, even though I have no vested interest, I find myself thinking evil thoughts, joining the class of investing sinners.

Is it a sin to lust for a downward move yet take no actions to support that lust?

Yes, Jimmy Carter proved that in a different ecosystem that is surely transportable to the current situation.

And so, I find myself a sinner.

Every trade has a winner and a loser.

Zero sum kinetics is the lay of the land.

Unlike real life situations when the victim may be know to you, when investing, the victim is unknown, unless you’re that victim.

But I do find solace when I realize that by selling call options, I’m doing my best to do battle with one of the Seven Deadly Sins.

You remember those, don’t you, sinner?

Sloth, gluttony, wrath, pride, lust, envy and GREED.

What could be worse of a sin than buying call options? Using leverage of MF Global proportions, the buyer is hoping to strike it big with a minimal outlay of money.

So yes, I’m a sinner, but I am trying, until I realize that I also dewell among the Overlords.

I’ve found great joy and reward from ownership of the ProShares UltraShort Silver ETF, while lovers of silver have found sadness.

I don’t know quite how to reconcile all of these conflicting feelings. except to hope that there will be room for all of us sinners in the Kingdom of Security in Retirement




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