What’s in the Szelhamos Portfolio?






 


By 11 AM on Tuesday the market had calmed somewhat, but the jury was still out.


Listening to Ben Bernanke, our venerable Chairman of the Federal Reserve, answering Congressional committee questions, it’s comforting to know that he’s calm, under very trying circumstances.


In fact, even the committee members seemed somewhat subdued, maybe even reverential. Truthfully? To me they looked as if they had had some Kool-Aid.


More surprisingly, some of them even seemed to be asking real questions and not looking for the local news sound bite. Sean Duffy. Never heard of him, but he really asked insightful questions. He even got Bernanke to suggest the mechanism of valuing Treasuries may be tantamount to a QE3.


This morning’s Plunge du jour was courtesy of some Belgian bank, Dexia, which apparently is a major player in the Eurozone sovereign debt arena. They seem to be having some short term funding issues.


Most Americans don’t even know that Belgium exists. Sure, they’ve heard of the waffles and maybe even the fries, but few know anything about Belgium or its two state system.


Fewer, will have ever heard of “Dexia”.


I know that I haven’t, yet today, it’s rocking my world.


Dexy's Midnight RunnersI must admit, when I first heard of Dexia, my thoughts went to that one hit wonder band, Dexy’s Midnight Runners and their hit, “Come on EIleen”.


That song is particularly meanigful to me because it was receiving incessant airplay when I first met the woman who would go on to become my Sugar Momma. We still both enjoy that song some 28 years later.


Still rocks my world.


But the other thing that came to mind was “dexies” which is just another name for Dextroamphetamine, such as the active ingredient in Dexedrine, which just happens to be a key ingredient of crystal methamphetamine.


For the few non-druggies that read my drivel, “dexies” are used in the management of ADHD, that 20th century malady that we all suffer from.Dexies


How it works, no one really knows, because “Dexies” are actually a stimulant, but has paradoxical actions in people correctly diagnosed with ADHD.


Based on the way today worked out, I’m of a frame of mind to believe that “dexies” played a pivotal role all through the day.


Looking at the subdued tone during the Congressional hearings, the only possible explanation is that all of the Type A, extraordinarily hyperactive members of Congress, and their equally hyped staff members, must have had their bottled water tampered with. There is no other plausible explanation for the absence of insanity and fidgeting, calling out of order and all of those other uncontrollable behaviors usually displayed during these hearings.


The typical roomful of alpha males was well controlled and orderly.


Strangely, they were channeling “One Flew over the Cuckkoo’s Nest”.


While Bernanke was in his usual calm state of mind and tone, his responses reassured investors and the market made up about 150 points.


Unfortunately, that euphoria didn’t last long and the market made its way to a 200+ loss going into the final minutes.


What we then witnessed was a very memorable, although probably not unprecedented, 400 point turnaround in about 30 minutes.


I looked up the half life of “dexies”. That is the amount of time that it takes to clear half of the active ingredient out of one’s system


Why is that important?


Do you recall a recent study that showed that there is a high association between hyperactive personalities and successful careers on Wall Street and business in general?


Neither do I, just go with it.


Now the conventional wisdom is that the market started its turnaround when the Financial Times of London published a report that the European Finance Ministers were looking seriously into the Greek debt crisis.


Maybe I’m wrong, but to me that meant that they hadn’t been doing so previously. Couldn’t we just have avoided these past two months of agony if only they had started looking for solutions, say in August?


Maybe that month long August vacation extended into September this year. No one on the continent really wants to do any “serious looking” until well after the end of summer.


So any reasonably rational person knows that news could not possibly have driven the market to that stunning turnaround.


Based on my extensive research into neuropsychiatric arbitrage, it’s clear to me that somewhere around 3:30 PM all of the paradoxical actions of those dexies had dissipated, leaving a universe of money starved traders with lots of pent up energy and the need to dominate the room.


And they did in an unscripted concordant symphony of buying.


It was as uncontrolled as any off the medication kid would be after a couple of cotton candy cones. Just imagination an entire classroom filled with medication lapsed ADHD kids and then multiply that by a lot.


Going into the early Bernanke Bump I took a small plunge and picked up some shares of the very badly beaten down Morgan Stanley at about $12.13. I did as I’m programmed to do and quickly sold October 2011 $13 options.


I don’t mind that Morgan Stanley closed the day at $13.90. I hope it goes to $25, even though I’ll lose my shares at $13. Even with assignment, my ROI would be about 20% for less than 3 weeks of holding.


I liked that so much, that I picked up even more shares at $12.50


Last month I did the same with the beleagured Bank of New York. My shares were assigned and I happily moved onward. Just in time, because at the close of Tuesday’s trading Bank of New York found itself on the short side of the New York State Attorney General over some foreign currency trading action that allegedly defrauded pension funds in excess of $2 Billion.


Glad I moved on.


The rest of the day was just a series of disappointments.


No Chris Christie run for the GOP nomination, although he did publicly endorse the new Wendy’s line of hamburgers.


At the same time, Apple’s new CEO Tim Cook failed to dazzle with the iPhone 4s introduction. Everyone was expecting an iPhone 5.


Yawn. Although the video of Chrisite eating a deep fried iPhone 4s was a nice touch.


And with nothing but disappointing news, the market could do just one things, that is if you believe in that kind of cause and effect.


I don’t, especially since this neutrino faster than light discovery raises doubt about the whole concept of cause and effect.


Instead, I think it’s the dexies at play that are to blame.


Sometimes you crash after the amphetamines wear down, especially if they were being used to manufacture crystal meth.


But I doubt that’s what was going on during the congressional hearings, probably just plain old dexies there.


As far as the trading floor goes, I’m not quite as certain.


The turnaround in the market today was mirrored in the weather here.


It had been a few cold, dreary and rainy days, but then at about noontime, the sun burst out.


Just in time for a Szelhamos birthday celebration and just in time for those 400 much needed points.


Today would have been Szelhamos’ 89th birthday.


Years ago, so the story goes, on one particular day I was being especially testing of my mother’s nerves and she said to me in her finest Hungarian “On one nice day you’re going to put me in my grave”.


I was told that my response was “today’s a nice day”.


I probably should have been on dexies.


But today turned out to be a nice day all around.


Happy 153 points, Happy Birthday.


 


 


 





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