What the Hell? (Part 2)

“What the Hell (Part 2)” bears no relationship to “What the Hell” from October 2011, except for maybe the sense of misplaced umbrage..

Most people go through two stages of life when they really like certainty and predictable patterns.

Really young kids and really old people. Both tend to get very cranky when their schedules are thrown off or they don’t get what they were expecting when they were expecting.

I’m neither of those demographics, being uncomfortably in-between, but I do need the predictability in life to keep my balance intact.

I, too, can get cranky.

What the Hell?For as long as I can remember, ever since I’ve been interested in the release of the  “Federal Open Market Committee” (FOMC) statement on those Wednesdays, they have one of their eight annually scheduled meetings, the statement has been released at 2:17 PM.

The regularity of the timing led me to scoff at the reports that would cite the release as being anticipated at 2:15 PM.


I never particularly cared why they chose an odd time, perhaps because it is a prime number and, after all these are economists and numbers wonks, but that was the routine.

By contrast, I do care why Comedy Central starts many of their shows at bizarre times, yet I’ve never been able to uncover an answer. I doubt that the prime number theory applies. Math is frequently not a strong suit for those in the entertainment end of the entertainment business.

In fact, I’ve always been so attuned to the FOMC announcement that it became a reason for regular party giving with a countdown to 2:17 PM among me and my many friends and admirers, although most of the time it was just me.

And by most of the time, I mean “always.”

Comfortably seated at 12:28 PM, the characteristic voice of CNBC’s Hampton Pearson cut in with a reading of the statement.

My first thought was that Pearson had gone rogue and decided to flip the middle finger to the embargo on the statement and  decided that he alone would control the markets.

I thought we’d hear doppler like screams coming from Hampton Pearson as he was being hauled away by SEC security people further away from the microphones.

But no.

How did I not get this message? The Cheetos aren’t going to eat themselves now that the sense of party had been replaced by the sense of outrage and feeling of betrayal.

The announcement came with no unusual fanfare, just the usual post-release commentary, which hasn’t been especially insightful for the past year or so, as nothing changes.

With today’s report, the expectation is that there will be continued “no change” until 2014.

What did change were the prices of gold and silver which had opened the day with a long overdue drop, albeit small. That mad me happy, as I have a significant position in the ProShares UltraShort Silver ETF and that’s been getting brutalized recently. Even worse, I’v had only very limited success in writing the richly priced call options on portions of those positions.

Sadly, that early afternoon reversal was really stunning.

But still, the academic question is “what the hell?”

My personal belief is that the FOMC got spooked by the recent CNBC series on CNBC where Steve Liesman so capably concurrently portrays the Federal Reserve chairman, a dovish and a hawkish member of the committee.

Probably wanting to undercut Liesman’s growing influence and popularity with the spot on portrayals, right down to the obligatory hawkish bow tie, they took pre-emptive actions. Although, the purely fictional basis of the meeting as portrayed by Liesman was made clear by the lack of a well trimmed beard on his Federal Reserve Chairman figure.

So we’ll never know if the character was based on anyone of importance. My guess is that it could have been Ben Bernanke, especially since Liesman didn’t don a toupe.

With lots of hopeful eyes, including my own, focused on the market this morning in anticipation of a strong open following Apple’s great after hours price pop, there was just a prevailing yawn.

That changed after the FOMC announcement.

What didn’t change was the Google drop. For some inexplicable reason it was very weak today. The only news out was that it was planning to add more emphasis on Google+ in its search results. Apparently, that uncovered some critics who believe that will clutter the results with less relevant information that may have come from, say, Twitter, instead.

That and some Privacy Policy stuff. If that leads you to switch to Bing or Yahoo!, then Google probably didn’t really need your business, anyway.

With Google recently deciding to not pay for the Twitter API feed necessary to populate its results, they must have some reason to believe that Google+, even in its cranky infancy may be a reasonable proxy to the Tweet, at least enough so so satisfy the needs of people requiring 5 minute old information.

You know, the ind that has been tested, verified and validated.

Does anyone really believe that if there was an apparent adverse effect on the quality of search that Google wouldn’t toss out Google+ in a heartbeat or at least ante up the money to access the Twitter data? It hasn’t exactly shown allegiance to its own “forever in beta” offerings over the years, so it wouldn’t be unheard of to see them do an about face if it jeopardized the profitability of search.

It’s all about the search.

Now what I’ve spent the day doing is searching for “mea culpas” from any of the “talking heads” that yesterday warned about Apple’s typical large price drop after earnings were reported.

To distill their comments to its most basic essence, you would have to have been an unmitigated idiot to consider picking up shares in advance of earnings.

As I mentioned yesterday, the unanimity of those reports helped to scare me straight. They also helped me realize that I’m not quite the bad boy rebel contrarian that I thought I was, since that should have been a clear signal to buy more shares.

So it came as no surprise that my search turned up no results.

What the hell?

No one scratched their heads to offer up anything in response. “Yeah, I missed that one. My bad,” would have been sort of nice and refreshing.

Certainly an apology isn’t needed, because clearly, two well versed people can look at precisely the same information and come up with competely different conclusions.

The emphasis on the history of Apple’s share price plunging immediately after earnings release is more support for the blog from earlier this week that “Experience is Meaningless.”

Basing an opinion, however on the fact that over the past year Apple shares had plummeted each time after release of earnings, is akin to basing your betting strategy on the fact that the last four spins of the roulette wheel turned out to have been “black.”

The only lesson learned is that no one has really figured out a better way to put pants on, so until that time, don’t get scared straight from someone whose fly is down at least half the time.

What did make sense, although I didn’t do so, was a $420 straddle, with the contract expiring this Friday. Either way, as long as the movement was big, there’s a winner to be had, but I doubt that I would ever do that, since it’s not in my core DNA to buy calls or puts.

I may need to re-think that intransigence, especially when it comes to those companies that have a history of big moves in response to earnings.

But then again, why wait for quarterly earnings when I can go to a casino seven days a week?

At least there, I can be served a free drink to help soothe my crankiness and might even find some mistakenly tossed out voucher.

The odds of that happening is much better than picking up a gem from the “heads.”

Told you I get cranky.



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