Market Crashers

I wasn’t always a creature of habit. Although I could never have been accused of wantonly dipping into the deep end of the pool, I wasn’t totally closed to the ideas of trying something new. It’s not that I feared the new and unknown, it’s just that there was so much comfort and security in staying with the tried and tested.

Danny Kaye, comedian and unlikely movie star from the 40’s had a great joke about the immigrant who used the only words he knew of his new country to order the same thing at the diner every day for 5 years.

“Coffee and donut.”

The joke is too long to tell here and the accent very difficult to emulate, but you could probably look it up. Anyway, the punchline also happens to be “Coffee and donut.”

The fact that I get upset when even a 30th run of The Simpsons or COPS is pre-empted on a weekend evening, though, is still upsetting to my routine.

Obviously, I’m mature enough to understand that social obligations should be spared my indignation, but is there a reason why we can’t all just “early bird” everything?

This weekend was yet another of those that COPS wasn’t where it was supposed to be. I know that I could probably have trolled through the cable channel universe and come up with some 24/7 COPS network, but I needed it to be on my usual station. Afterall, I only have about 4 channels in my universe and the same number of buttons on my remote.

Instead, there was some bizarre show featuring Jennifer Lopez and the guy she used to be married to, on some kind of adventure to discover talent in Latin America.

Market CrashersAnd so my limited channel surfing took me to Comedy Central and I settled in on watching 2005’s “Wedding Crashers.”

I had completely forgotten just how funny that movie had been, although admittedly earlier in the day I’d also forgotten that I had left the neighbor’s cat in the microwave.

After finishing the movie, I’d come to the realization that the misunderstood and artistically brooding brother of the family, “Todd” was a character that completrely channeled Christopher Walken’s portrayal of “Annie Hall’s” brother “Duane” almost 30 years earlier.

If I were a real artsy sophist type, I’d venture an opinion that the oncoming headlights shining on Woody Allen’s frightened face in that memorable scene were in contrast to the darkness that emanated from within Duane.

Even in the darkness of those characters there was some sort of strange comfort knowing that the personna had continuity and staying power. Somehow, they were able to elicit both strained and unrestrained laughter from the characters, even though we knew that they were headed toward a death spiral.

Neither character was the kind that the others in the film would have been well advised to ignore. Sometimes safety and security means keeping tabs on veen the most unlikely of wildcards.

Reminds me of the great line once used in “30 Rock” when the Alec Baldwin character describes the ubiquitously strange NBC Page, Kenneth. “In 5 years, we’ll all either be working for him or be dead by his hand.”

Having survived a few market crashes since 1987 you have to always be on the watch for more to come.

Think of Billy Joel’s song “We didn’t Start the Fire.”

There definitely hasn’t been a shortage of crises over the years, probably enough for another few updates of the song. But regardless of who started the fires, it doesn’t really matter, as long as you’re prepared. Even then, you’re going to get burned anyway.

It’s so easy to start feeling smug as we start talking about Dow 13,000 and even hear peple talking about  another 33% gain in the NASDAQ, taking it to  4,000. Top that off by just looking at account balances and it’s pretty easy to get that invincibility feeling.

Did I mention “YELP?”

Although I can agree that the arguments that this is totally unlike the dot com bust, because otherwise YELP would have been called “eYELP” or “,” it still wouldn’t hurt to not take eyes off the road.

In “Wedding Crashers” no one gets hurt by the “cheeky antics” of the movies protagonists. If anything, they were only huring themselves by delaying dipping into the deep end and taking the chance that would open up untold other opportunities.

Even with the fear of the unknown, even with the comfort and security of the tried and true, and even with the certainty that the unknown will become known, we march on.

Doing otherwise is moving backward at a slow pace. By the time you recognize that its all happened, you’ve fallen far behind.

There are so many market crashers on the horizon, though, that it may be hard to march forward.

Oil, Iran, Israel, Europe.

Those are the man made ones. Of course, there are always the ones that dear Mother Nature rains upon us, as well.

One thing that I especialy like about the growth and availability of weekly options is that you can have it both ways.

Being paralyzed with fear causes you to miss do many opportunities, but being reckless and completely indifferent to the market crashers puts you at real risk.

WIth the weeklies, my portfolio takes on a new character every single week as I see options contracts exercised. Before they were available, I used to attempt to “milk stocks,”, by selling monthly calls and then buying them back on stock dips and selling them all over on subsequent stock rises, hoping for a net gain in option premiums as a result.

Stocks like Freeport McMoRan and Mosaic were great for tat, but these day the stocks milk themselves if there is a weekly contract available.

These recent days of selling puts, I’m as likely to see new holdings show up in the account on Monday mornings as I am to see old ones leave.

This past Saturday, I decided to put into print what I’ve been doing most Saturdays and Sundays, besides watching COPS and The Simpsons.

So I posted a Weekend Update, maybe the first in a series.

Sugar Momma always asks me what I’m doing in front of the computer so much on weekends, even when the market is closed.

What I’m doing is homework. Looking for potential opportunities to spend money deposited into the account from settlement of contracts. Since I am a creature of habit, my search for opportunities is by and large determined by my list of “Old Reliables,” even though I’m considering allowing Cablevision into the family, just so I can capture dividend and option premium.

That’s my idea of “risk taking.” As long as Jeremy Lin thrives, Cablevision will be just fine.

So let me add that to the list of things that I hope for.

No unilateral bombing of Iranian nuclear facilities, no natural disasters and Jeremy Lin got game.

In the meantime, figuring out what to write about fro Monday’s blog is either challenging or sadly, very simple.

It’s very simple when there is a market crashing event, even if that crash may last only for a day or two. Lately, though, those haven’t been occuring very much, although the spectre continues

One sign that we may be letting our guard down over the past few months is the reluctance of markets to sell off triple digit gains on Fridays, despite European uncertainty and the threat of attack against Iran or the closure of the Straits of Hormuz

Unbridled optimism can be a sign that even relatively minor crisis will be met with a disproportionate stampede in the markets.

On weekends, if you’re long stocks, it can be pretty nerve wracking when news of some potentially market disturbing news comes along. You do have that Woody Allen feeling of impending crash coming in your direction.

One comforting thing about having those call contracts assigned is that at least to that degree there is some portfolio protection if there is a weekend crisis. In which case, think of all of those great bargains you can pick up after the dust settles on Monday or Tuesday with all of that freed up cash.

But instead, it’s still nice to have these boring weekends, when the big story is limited to Rush Limbaugh.

Whereas being a morbidly obese, deep in denial pill popping addict is a statement of fact, calling someone a “slut” is simply an opinion, but in a slow news weekend, that kind of thing rises to the top.

I’m glad.

Limbaugh’s comments won’t be crashing any markets, although I can’t be as certain as to the long term status of his chair or bed.

In the meantime, the dreams of a Rodney King world would be so nice, if only on weekends.

Unless of course I’ve been heavily assigned on the call side.

In which case, let the crashing begin.

Mazel Tov




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