Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Gold and Google

That's about all I own, along with cash and my oil calls until 2011. Google has risen from the dead around $275 back now over $620. Gold has obviously suffered lately as oil has risen $10 in the last 2 weeks and the continued "strong dollar" optimism is about as realistic as a jobless recovery.

2009 has been a strange year. Perhaps Black Swan author Taleb had it right in March when he said the unforeseen scenario would be for the market to go up. And perhaps Abbey Joseph Cohen, who hadn't been right about a call in 3 years, was granted the reversal switch by GS when she predicted S&P 1150 by the end of the year. Pretty close.

As for me, my belief that the markets would experience a second crash cost a wild ride back up. However, having destroyed the market last year, I was not chasing a retracement of my losses, but a way to enhance those gains.

Fortunately, I was right about 2 things. One, that when gold fell below $700 after buying in at around $860, I said buy more, a lot more. Gold eventually cracked $1,200. And, the stress tests. Buying OOM calls on stress-tested banks in retrospect, may have been an even easier call than the financial collapse of last year. Fifth-Third calls yielded a 2,000% rise in 2 weeks. The mistake I made, and hopefully the rest of you to a lesser degree, was not putting a lot more into this trade. This was not a 50/50 scenario. Geithner was never going to let these results look bad.

Heading into 2010 I advise caution. I have no conviction in this market, but a continued belief that we have done something systemically horrible by allowing banks to hoard printed cash and yieldless treasuries. I believe gold will still win out this year, and perhaps several other commodities as well. Hang tight, a lot can happen in a year as the last two have proven.

Happy New Year! I will be sure to fire up a bet against Manning when it counts signal depending on who their second round opponent is.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

You Don't Have a Chance

"Caus' if there's one thing I can't stand, it's standing next to my fellow man...."
About to Break, Third Eye Blind

Fresh off of eating stuffing, twice-baked potatoes, and assorted pies every meal for a week, I feel spry enough to offer up another entry. Between Thanksgiving and working on a series of essays about the joys of fatherhood (ironically as my daughters have croup again), I've been content to sit back and watch gold gather steam while the market continues to rise. This, in light of the Dubai crisis, anemic sales, and the doldrums of unemployment drying up credit faster than at any point in history.

If more collapse is waiting in the wings, we'll be the last to know, at least sudden collapse. Sixty billion dollars of debt really isn't that much to fuss about, given the monthly totals the U.S. is racking up. Given the daily demise of the dollar as a premeditated solution for keeping our goods viable. Given the grave this market has returned from. And the right to predict sudden collapse has become too expensive. Buying puts on the indices carry ridiculous premiums even at 20-25% OOM.

So, what are we left with? I still say metal and oil, and in the not-too-distant future, all commodities. But as The Mixx recently asked me when I pointed to the success of gold, why? Where is the money coming from? As Caroline Baum points out in her Bloomberg piece yesterday, it sure as hell doesn't look like new money.

"There is no sign of excess credit creation on U.S. bank balance sheets. From October 2008 through October 2009, bank credit fell 5.3 percent. That reflects an 8 percent decline in loans and leases and a 3.4 percent increase in securities. Within the securities category, Treasuries were the clear winner, with a 13 percent increase......When I hear folks like New York University Professor Nouriel Roubini talk about asset bubbles and “money chasing commodities,” I want to ask, what money? Where is all the money chasing stocks, commodities, high-yield bonds and emerging- market stocks coming from if it’s sitting in banks’ accounts at Federal Reserve banks?"

So it's sold-assets that are acquiring gold and silver, not the fresh flow of credit. And I see no reason for this paradigm to shift given the helium-high U.S. market.