TheAcsMan's blog

What a Difference a Day Makes

Unless I'm missing the obvious, any consecutive two days in the markets these days would qualify for being the impetus for today's blog title.

It's becoming a truism that no two days are alike, unless you consider diametric opposition to be the sincerest form of flattery. A truism that's repeated almost as consistently as hearing parents tell you just how incredibly different their children are in all aspects of their lives.

Wednesday was an absolute yawner. The fact that I was napping during the last hour of the trading session and missed that 60 point drop just means that it never really existed for me. When I woke up, nothing was really any different.

Today? Where do you start with decribing today?

Ted WilliamsWell, you probably need to start with some sort of baseline. What represents the world's greatest change from one day to the next?

Some would argue that the dropping of the bomb on Hiroshima was such an event that so markedly distinguished between before and after.

Others might point to the assasination of John F. Kennedy, the day that an entire nation lost its innocence and left Camelot, never to return.

I think that Ted Williams, the man with the golden voice, best describes the transition that can be seen from one day to the next.

The photo that you're looking at is not the cryogenically gone bad head of the baseball Ted Williams. If your memory fails you, that's the picture on the day he was spotted at the intersection off ramp.

Here's what he looked like after you blinked your eyes just a few times: Ted Williams - What a Difference a Day Makes

 

Quite a difference, no?

Well how does yesterday's market action stack up next to Ted Williams?

It certainly was no flash crash and we've certainly seen volatility in the markets before. But today was at the very least not like the day that preceded it.

Obviously, I'm not prone to hyperbole.In fact, no one is less prone to hyperbole than me.

Today's action reminded me of speed dating, that is, if I did that sort of thing. We got to see a little of everything and exaggerated reactions to just about everything. There was also plenty of opportunity to make bad situational decisions.

Bad employment numbers, more Greek worries, less Greek worries, release of strategic oil reserves, resolution of Greek crisis, capture of Whitey Bulger and visions of Barney Frank and Ron Paul toking on a big one in a congressional hot tub.

These are a few of my favorite things.

I know that I'm not very smart when it comes to micro and macro-economic issues, but I'm still having a really hard time understanding the plunge in crude oil futures based on the graduated release of 60 million barrels of oil.

Oh, I see. A few days of reserves, over a few months.

Sure, that should tip the markets upside down. The fact that the Saudis had no great opposition to the symbolic move and the little bit of a squeeze it may theoretically place on Iran and Venezuela makes it all worthwhile.

Besides, now that I've had to modify my diet in response to the sludge like cholesterol induced blood that I have, I've cut out at least that much oil from my deep fryers in less time.

Maybe I'm just not following the right people on Twitter.

The only one that made the case that the reaction to the strategic oil reserve release was ridiculously overblown was Dennis Kneale from FOX News and FOX Business.

I'd say "Bravo", but that's an NBC property and they might take litigation against me for using that word in a direction laudatory of Dennis Kneale.

At least I can still say "WINNING" without hesitancy.

But maybe it was something Bernanke said in the after press conference party that got people worried. Do you think that maybe after a few kirs, he started spouting that not even QE 12 was going to get the economy out of the "Loo"?

Somehow, I have a hard time seeing that possibility. I know with great certitude, that the Federal Reserve Chairman would have used the word "crapper", owing to his southern heritage.

I also know with great certitude that I never used the word "certitude" prior to last week.

Whatever the cause, the volatility was there today. One measure, the ProShares Short-term VIX ETF was all over the place today. It traded in an 8% range today, finishing just pennies off its lows. It's June 2011 options were equally volatile, although that probably shouldn't be overly surprising, should it?

Like Riverbed Technology and Home Depot, the VIX ETF was still up all day. I only mention the latter two, because I had mentioned this past Friday that I was planning to purchase shares in both.

As I further mentioned on Monday, I didn't, having instead added shares in Halliburton, Freeport McMoran and Sallie Mae, instead. I'm not sure why I bother making those kind of disclosures.

Well, there's always tomorrow. After all, isn't that the theme?

In today's trading, it seemed as if there were really two transformative events, or non-events.

The oil reserve release and the reported Greek financial crisis resolution.

A tale of two absurdities.

The belief that a cultural way of life enjoyed by Greek citizens will be abolished by decree and banking fiat is probably not terribly realistic. Just more of the same. Kicking it down the road.

The fact that the per capita debt of the United States is actually $1,000 more than that of Greek citizens can't have too much relevance. Otherwise, we'd be doing something about it now, instead of tomorrow.

From my perspective, I don't care if our injudicious and wreckless fiscal actions effect my great-great-great granchildren. My reasoning is that I'm not very likely to have that strong of an emotional connection to them to be worried about how they've been left holding the bag for our frivolous ways and neither will my own kids.

So let's just do what we need to do today, to make tomorrow just another day of great denial.

Not denial of things that we value, like things, just denial of things that are irrelevent, like the concepts of truth and facts.

I guess in that way today and tomorrow don't really need to be that different.

 

Making the Difficult Decisions

"That's why you get the big bucks" was always the statement made when someone was ready to pass the buck on decision making. Maybe funny the first or second time that phrase was ever used. it no longer seems to elicit even a forced chuckle.

Most people recognize that behind those words are the human sins of jealousy and wrath.

Cynics always say that behind every joke is the truth.

Whereas I used to believe that there were only two kinds of people, the ones with tattoos on their knuckles and those without, I now have a very different outlook on society.

DecisionsWe're essentially comprised of decision makers and those who would be quick to jump on the guy making the big bucks for a chance to make big bucks of their own.

For about 20 years I made decisions, but I never was faced with the aspect of someone waiting for a decision to go the wrong way for their own chance to become "the decider".

I was lucky in that way.

For the past 10 years I really haven't had to make much in the way of workplace decisions and I've come to like that kind of slothenly existence, even though that also qualifies as a human sin.

Actually, I haven't even had to be in any kind of workplace other than my own La-Z-Boy for most of the past couple of years, thanks to Sugar Momma and her faith that I could be more than just a love machine.

Today was a bit different, as I was uncharacteristically faced with a number of looming important decisions.

It all started with the realization that I'd be cut off from information today, yet again. For the second time this week I was going to be working, but at least I wouldn't have to make any workplace decisions.

What I had to decide was whether to bring my own laptop and modem to work today to complement the PC available to me. I thought that perhaps I would just stream CNBC and in someway recreate my at-home trading lair. I felt so lost on Monday without those literal and figurative tools of the trade.I just had to have more than one screen and just had to have the background noise, occasional gem of a segment and the screen crawl.

For a moment, I even thought about bringing the La-Z-Boy with me.

I stood over one of the laptops this morning, faced with the realization that in order to stream CNBC I would have to use the premium E*Trade platform, rather than the middle of the range one that I much preferred.

MarketTrader, the platform that I like has all of the views pre-arranged. Not much in the way of customizing necessary or possible. By contrast, the premium platform is fully customizable and can have as many pages as you like with their uniquely positioned and chosen tools and fields. Charts galore, research tools, pretty colors. You name it. Even the whistles have whistles.

It's just E*Trade's way of saying that frequent traders need and are more likely to appreciate a more advanced approach to trading. I suppose that's true,  but to do so requires lots of decisions.

So, easy decision.

I wanted no part of having to accustom myself to a different interface, even if it meant that I would miss out on what was going on in the world.

But that's why I get the big bucks, because I can make those kind of difficult decisions without agonizing myself into inaction.

With that problem solved it was time to lay out the day's trading strategy. My illness requires that I make trades even if there is no rational reason for doing so.

I was fully expecting some kind of retracement today. If this was a dead cat bouncing it didn't know the meaning of gravity. I actually had an image of Wile E. Coyote running past the edge of a cliff and somehow staying airborne until he realized there was nothing below him to stop the plummet.

But that's not what happened. It was just more of that unbridled enthusiasm that Greenspan had warned us about and that we hadn't seen for a while.

With the end of the trading week, I decided to follow yesterday's theme of exalting the lowly penny.

Today, the bet being made was that the prices for British Petroleum, General Electric and QQQ would retreat from their current levels by the close of trading today.

For some reason I decided that would be a good idea, even in the face of advancing prices. After all, at some point, Wile E. has to drop.

Coupled with the fact that the premiums for barely a days worth of time were really low, it seemed that the correct decision would have been to just keep riding the horse that's pulled us this high over the past few days.

Maybe making the difficult decision means making the wrong decision in the face of over-whelming facts, so obviously I was the perfect person to be making those decisions to sell call options on those shares.

My only connection to reality today was the Twitter feed that I was getting, but for some bizarre reason I seemed to be getting alot of re-tweets about horses today.

Horses?

So Twitter wasn't of that much help today.

I also noted two recurring rumors. One about Steve Jobs being hospitalized and the other about Tim Geithner stepping down as Treasury Secretary.

Since neither Apple nor the broad markets seemed to react to either of those rumors I decided to ignore them, even thought they kept coming fast and furious. At least the previous day's rumor of Steve Ballmer stepping down from Microsfot had come to an end.

Then I went to StockTwits. Amazingly, then couldn't find anyone similar to me to suggest that I follow.

Twitter always has plenty of suggestions, most of which fall into the lunatic range and so I don't take their advice, but at least that counts as another decision on my part. 

In all, despite the 152 point Dow gain, I was underwhelmed, maybe because my earlier decision to sell call options for Freeport McMoran left me wishing that I hadn't. I started questioning the decision to bearishly sell those call options and bemoaned the great likelihood that I wouldn't be enjoying the full benefit of their substantial price rise these past few days.

Until it hit me.

 I came to the understanding that I was living the best of all worlds. Not only was I getting paid today to go through the motions of working, but I was also helping those pennies pile up in the background by making these non-sensical and uninformed trades.

But best of all came the ultimate realization.

What better position is there to be in than to not only be the decision maker but to also be the one passing the buck and then questioning the wisdom of the decision.

Now comfortably perched back in my La-Z-Boy I can appreciate that no one is going to pounce on me for having made a bad decision, if that's the way it turns out by the time of today's closing bell.

There'll be plenty more bad decisions to come, but I've decided I can take that kind of responsibility.

And that's my final decision. 

 

 

Szelhamos Father's Day



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