Looking for Inspiration

Most mornings I’m up at 6:30 or so.

That gives me plenty of time to have coffee, read the New York Times and check on the pre-opening bell news.

For some inexplicable reason, I slept in this morning. But not only did I sleep in, I missed the opening bell for the first time in a couple of years.

As I’m hurriedly trying to make up for the time that can never be recovered, I’m not getting much inspiration. I haven’t, though, checked the Obituaries yet.

tortureSo far, the predominant coverage in the Times is the role and value of torture. I prefer, “harsh interrogation” methods.

Although I’ve been searching, I haven’t been able to find any derivitive trades off of torture. Those must all be privately held companies.

Torture, I suppose, comes in many forms.

The picture to the left is entitled “Chinese Torture”. That kind of torture may also come in the form of their IPO offerings. I believe that the ingenue pictured was a RenRen friend.

That’s why I’m so proud that I have no friends in my Facebook account.

But I have had my share of tortuous trades in the past.

Some of them were in companies that had the dubious distinction of being the largest percentage loser for its year.

I once owned L.F. Rothschild, a scion of investment banking.

Look that one up. It’s too painful to relive.

It is also painful to not have time to accept the fact that the market will be opening way down. That’s the problem with sleeping in. It was a little bit of  a shock to see that the market was down 100 points before I even had a chance to fire up the computer.

Much less have any coffee.

I did get one trade off so far. I bought back some Textron $26 call options. That’s the second time for that particular trade for the May 2011 cycle.

But as I watch those shares of ZSL, the leveraged silver short shares, I kick myself for having covered those shares, as well.

Missed opportunities can be tortuous as well, but still, I’m not likely to give up any valuable information.

My real concern this morning is that I’ve noticed a very substantial decrease in the number of new Osama Bin Laden jokes hitting the internet.

I’m not much of a historian, but I think that the last time he died, that marked a market top and sudden reversal in fortunes.

I may be wrong on that count, but I’m willing to stand by it, as I watch my own fortunes fall this morning.

At this point, as we approach noontime, and man, it’s great to not have to work, I’m still not getting the inspiration I need. There really doesn’t seem to be anything special about today. No unique character, no defining theme.

Sometimes it’s nice to have a moment of boredom intrude on the rapid fire lives we live.

I’ve decided that for today, I’m just going to sit back, continue sipping away at the lukewarm coffee and wonder what happened to that piece of Cheesecake Factory dessert that was in the refrigerator.

That’ll keep me occupied for the rest of the day, at least until my wife gets home.

That’s when the harsh interrogations begin.

 

 

 

 

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A Day Here, a Day There

I won’t quibble over a day here or there.

International dateline, questionable reporting, time differences, you can take your pick.

I was born on at 3:30 AM on April 7th in Hungary, but in a logical world, now that I live in the U.S., I should be celebrating my birthday on April 6th.

I don’t. That would be stupid, albeit, logical.

Yesteday, May 1st, we learned of Osama bin Laden’s death. One of my kids joined the OBLthrong at the White House, the other donned his National Guard uniform and sent me a photo.

I already have the days’ newspaper wrapped in plastic.

Was the glorious day on May 1st, was it April 30th? Who knows and who cares?

But it may by no means be coincidence that Adolph Hitler’s date of death was reportedly April 30th and officially reported May 1st.

Sure, as a child I remember all of those wierd Lincoln and Kennedy similarities.

This is different.

As Americans, we have often been immune from the sense of relief and pure joy when evil dies.Fortunately, 3000 miles of ocean, a strong military and an abiding sense of justice has kept us safe for most of our history.

We haven’t had to endure the daily evils of the likes of Idi Amin or the long list of others.

Even though it’s been almost 10 years since the World Trade Center attacks, we’ve taken some solace that the evils guys probably never were able to close both eyes at night.

Even though it appears that Bin Laden’s final home was more luxurious than the caves we had been hoping that he had been living in, I don’t think you ever really get used to the unexpected sound of overhead explosions.

To some, it may be inappropriate to compare Bin Laden to Hitler. Since I never met the vast majority of my family because they perished during the Holocaust, I feel like I can take a pass on any complaints.

It’s akin to why some people can get away with Gangsta rap lyrics while others can’t.

The only difference between Bin Laden and Hitler is that Bin Laden was deprived the opportunity to carry out his master plan.

If not for the United States and its dogged effort to find Bin Laden, the  “spiritual” leader of al Qaeda (talk about an oxymoron), they would have been far more devestation.

In their tortuous logic, these terrorist zombies will claim that if it were not for the United States there would be no al Qaeda.

No on knew better how useful it was to them to have the United States and Israel be considered the enemy than the leaders of the Arab world.

The longer they could divert attention to the great “Satans” the less likely they would be to suffer the wrath of their own people.

That world is changing.

Democrarcies never go to war with one another.

The Middle East is on a precipice. Just a tip in the right direction and true democracy may overwhelm the region.

The outcome? Once the people see the lies fed to them by their own governments for generations, they are likely to be even more angered by all of the lost opportunities to be part of the civilized world.

In fact, they are likely to discover that neither the United States nor Israel are evil. Only their previous ruling regimes could rightfully take that honor.

Even the “beloved” Saudi regime knew all too well that the more it fomented chaos elsewhere, the less likely its own legitamacy would be questioned.

They realized that 50 years ago.

They, nor anyone else, had love for the Palestinians, but as long as they could stoke the fires against the Israelis, the longer they could delay that fire encroaching on their own turf.

But the winds have changed.

April 30th, May 1st?  Doesn’t really matter.

Today, I feel more safe and more optomistic than in a very long time.

I haven’t even checked my portfolio even once, now an hour into the open. Talk about a shift in winds.

As my brain is aging, there’s only room for a limited number of “where were you when…” kind of memories. I’ll have to displace something to make room for where I was when news of Bin Laden’s death was announced.

It happened to come on the birthdate of my uncle who died as a relatively young man, having  physically survived Aushcwitz, but not otherwise.

For me, yesterday was a little bit of a birthday present to him from Adolph and Osama.

For the rest of the world, it also meant a pre-emption of the closing 30 minutes of Trump’s Celebrity apprentice.

As the Passover Seder song says, if all that would have been done for us was to deliver us from The Donald, “Dayenu”. It would have been sufficient.

But the gifts kept coming.

Sorry, Mark McGwire, I no longer remember whgere I was when you hit your 62nd.

And so it goes.

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What would Cash Do?





Whenever I’m at a point in my life that I feel that I need direction I find myself often looking at the bracelet on my wrist. It’s a simple, very unassuming bracelet with just four simple letters: WWCD?

What would Cash Do?

 I know that this is supposed to be a financial blog but sometimes it’s not.

Yesterday was one of those days and it’s spilled over to today. I’m not thinking about the kind of cash that you need to do everything in life. The kind of cash it takes to buy things, like stocks or food.

Johnny CashThe cash that I’m talking about is Johnny Cash.

As much as I admire Johnny Cash as a modern day Saint with a voice from the heavens, I must admit that I’ve always been a little squeamish about the lyrics to one of his songs:

“But I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die”

Just how sick and demented is that?

But then my idle mind wondered that if I had the ability to bring someone back to life,who would it be?

By the way, once that person is returned to life, you would also be required to watch him die again.

Now who would you choose?

There was a lot of discussion yesterday about the ethics or morality of revenge.

Obviously, the framing of the question is underlied by the wording. Is it revenge or is it justice?

By the same token is it morality or ethics that are at issue when discussing whether it is appropriate to be happy about the death of another human being.

Admittedly, there is some shame to being happy about the death of anyone, but that shame probably pales in comparison to the shame that should be felt by the people saddened to see the evil die.

You know that there are plenty of those people and they are certainly not thinking about the dilemmas attendant to those thoughts.

Most of us have differences with them. For example, I have a hard time referring to Osama bin Laden as having been “martyred”, especially since he tried using his wife’s body to intercept bullets meant for him.

Or perhaps he just wanted to share his martyrdom.

Oh, that’s nice.

Yesterday, was obviously a very unique day for most everyone within reach of civilization.

Think about the wonderful events in your life. I’m not suggesting that this was one of them, but it’s only natural to want to replay or relive those wonderful moments.

So in a pretense that there’s actually something related to the markets in today’s blog, I played  a trade of Mosaic that I had entered into just this past Friday. I bought back the call options that I had sold then and am now ready to re-sell those same options for the third time in 2 weeks.

Mosaic

In this 2 week chart, Mosaic is unhanged, but in that period it had plenty of2% moves, each of which gave nice opportunity to cash in on sales and repurchases of call options.

That’s the kind of replay that brings happiness to me. I would never get tired of that trade and that’s why I love Mosaic. Did I mention the profit involved?

But yesterday’s events muted any of my attention to the markets. The rest of the world seemed to be distracted in precisely the same way. There was no relief rally, just a quiet day in the trading pits.

In a world where evil behavior can be so easily rationalized, the behavior of the market was quite healthy today. The fact is that the market didn’t need a relief rally. It just needed a breater.

And we needed that breather, too. We needed the opportunity to revel in the good news of the day.

There’s nothing like unmitigated joy to to help you forget about everything else.

Both of my kids made it to the White House last night for the impromptu celebration.

So instead of spending the day trading or looking for opportunities, I thought how in a world where everything seems to be caught on video these days, it seems eerily empty to not have video of the Special Ops attack on bin Laden’s compound.

How we all would have loved to replay that video.

Instead, I have to be left with the fantasy of choosing someone to bring back to life, just to watch him die.

I tried to think about that before going to bed last night, but all I could really envision was the sight and image of bin Laden cowering behind his wife.

That’s a sight that the entire world should see.

My guess is that the Arab world might agree that the only virgins bin Laden should be entitled to are the ones who played Dungeons and Dragons for 200 or more consecutive hours. And to top it off, he would get twice the normal allotment.

Is it justice or revenge?

I’ll have a helping of both, thank you.

But as I think about it, it is with great humility that I have to disagree with Johnny Cash.

I think I would rather see that image of the coward bin Laden using his wife, the human shield, in a pathetic attempt to avoid justice.

That sight would be so much sweeter than going the Cash route.

Much more moral, too, as if anyone cared.

 

 




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William and Kate’s Big Day

Seems like only yesterday that I was attending the Royal Bris of Prince William, the future King of England.

Royal WerddingLots has happened since then, most of which explains why I didn’t receive an invitation to the Royal Nuptials.

My comment at the time that the Royal Moyle should have snipped a bit of Prince Charles’ ears was not taken in the humorous vein that I had intended.

Heh, heh. Royal Moyle. Sometimes I amuse myself.

And I swear that it wasn’t me that requested a courtesy flush from the Queen, although it’s a fact that she has digestive issues.

My backdoor plan to be the Syrian Ambassador’s “plus one” was foiled, when the House of Windsor withdrew the invitation due to sensitivity over events in Syria.

At least that was the official story.

Nonetheless, today, I am still very excited.

Sure, sure, it’s the wedding thing, but I’m just an onlooker there. But even moreso it’s that E*Trade has finally unveiled its weekly options trading platform.

I can’t wait to get going with that since the original Option to Profit newsletter and its recommendations were all based on final week options cycle trading.

Now, I can do it every week.

More commissions for E*Trade too, as if my $10,000+ in commissions last year wasn’t enough, but it’s all well spent and reciprocated with good service and execution.

That’s why I had to economize a bit on William and Kate’s wedding gift. Although I’m certain when “Famous Dave’s” opens up its first location in England, they will delight in using their gift card and chowing down on the frozen Cornwall on the Cob.

The weekly options are perfect for me to deal with the holdings for which I haven’t quite found the right regular options opportunity. I do get frustrated when I’m sitting on shares that aren’t generating some kind of return. This month, and fortunately it’s a 5 week options cycle, I still have about 5 holdings that are not bringing home the fish and chips.

After a couple of unemotionally charged up days that seemed to have little to no conviction, I’m expecting a lower close for the week, despite thepre-open futures numbers.

What post-press conference Bernanke Bounce there may have been should soon be dissipated.

For my sake, I hope so, as my ROI so far this month is lower than the S&P. That doesn’t happen very often, but is the risk you take when you sell call options ahead of an upward moving market.

Still, there’s 3 weeks still left in this cycle and if all goes to script there’ll be a market drop before then.

Listen, if the Divine Creator can allow a Prince to find a commoner from among a sea of non-royals, he/she sjhould be capable of a little market gyration.

Speaking of which, Queen Elizabeth does a mean hula once she’s had a couple of Boilermakers.

  

 

 

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I Don’t Understand Currencies

Since no one else will say so, I will.


I’m a pretty smart guy.


Two degrees from Harvard, living a pretty good life, only working if I want to and having a Sugar Momma go off to work 4 days a week.


Not bad. Kids are out of the house, dog is low maintenance and the coffee is fresh.


But as hard as I’ve tried, I really don’t understand currencies. And let me throw in bonds, too.


All of this talk about the dollar, interest rates, currency exchanges just leave me dazed.


Forget about concepts like the Japanese Yen Carry Trade.


And yet, all sorts of morons are extolling their insights into the FOREX and willing to sell you a piece of their underdeveloped cortical lobes.


But at least I do know that the sanctity of the value of the US Dollar is a heated area of discussion.


In fact, yesterday, Art Cashin, while on CNBC, referred to Tim Geithner’s statement regarding his defense of the value of the dollar as being a “Pinocchio statement”.


Then there’s the perennial Ron Paul crusade. Gold, dollar, consipracy. Whatever. Today he used the word “collusion”.


SantelliBut this morning, just as I thought that I was at least beginning to understand the sides, comes RIck Santelli to upend my tenuous comfort zone.


As he was very patiently and uncharacteristically listening to the question set-up, he started his response by calling Chairman Bernanke an “honorable man”.


The cynical me would have interpreted that somewhat akin to starting a response with the preface “With all due respect…”


But the rant never came off.


He actually did not diss Bernanke.He did not come to bury him.In fact, hestated that he believed that Bernake was a good American and had the interest’s of the country heart.


I ascribe this to the fallout from Obama’s full birth certificate being released.


Who knew that so much venom could be controlled by a single piece of paper?


Maybe the next thing to occur will be Trump changing his hair style.


But getting back to my ignorance, and mind you, I’ve always been very good with numbers and math theory, even having read Irving Adler’s book on mathematical theory in 9th grade, yet still the currency thing escapes me.


Yes, I understand the inverse nature of all things interest rate related. I know to think backwards when it’s called for. I even know not to end a sentence with a preposition.


I understand that as the Euro strengthens, the dollar may weaken (leaving out the further complication of the Swiss Franc).


But I like the idea of being able to pare down our deficit by taking advantage of a weak dollar. Isn’t that also good for our exports? Or is that something that needs to be considered as the inverse of the inverse?


But again, Santelli honoring Bernanke?


That really throws things into a tailspin.


I’ve checked my Harvard degrees. They are irrevocable, not like those honorary pieces on faux parchment.


My best explanation, until proven otherwise, is that this was just another dream.


The idea of Santelli being respectful of Ben Bernanke is more ludicrous than KrispyKreme sending Herb Greenberg a box of free doughnuts daily, in thanks for his thoughtful and insightful analyses of their business practices and accounting.


It could happen.


 


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