Reading history on the #MarginDebt chart

For anyone who pays attention to FINRA margin debt this market crash was no surprise.

If there was anything surprising about what is now 30% plunge in the SPX, it was that it took so long to happen.

I had a clear warning here as far back as six months ago in this post:

Margin Debt – setting up a S&P 50% plunge?

Now all I can say is anyone who was not paying close attention to margin debt or was disregarding its warning was asking to get their stock profits ripped apart.

Once margin debt starts down, it feeds on itself with margin calls leading to stock sales and more margin calls leading to more stocks sales with each jolting decline in the market. And besides the profits lost, there is time lost, sometimes a lot of time lost, before the market can even begin to recover.

If we take a look at the history on the chart below it’s pretty obvious the divergences between margin-debt and price of the SPX foretells the market sell-offs. In 2000 and in 2008 margin debt dropped down (the black boxes on the chart) while each time the market went higher for a few months before plummeting. Again these last six months (another lower black box lower than the previous peak), history repeated.

Granted it’s hard to believe as the market keeps going up and up the bull will ever end — earnings seemed good, the Fed was on board, Trump was bragging on Twitter at each new high — but long-term investors could not ask for a better advance notice it was their time to sell or at least tighten their stop-loss levels to preserve capital. All this market needed was one small trigger for the full unwinding of margin debt to usher in a bear market, instead it got a big one. But if it hadn’t been the Covid-19 pandemic, it would have been something else.

Now that the bear market has begun, margin debt is indicating it is not done yet.

History says, like in 2000 and 2008/2009, the S&P500 is going down around 50% before this bear market is finished. If history repeats again, there is another 20 or so percent more downside to go.

Margin debt during this long bull market went higher than either 2000 and 2007 so there’s no telling how that’s going to play out. From its 2019 peak it has a lot farther to fall – and if the news keeps getting worse — since the US, thanks to a lying President and his incompetent Federal administration is getting a late start on coming to grips with the pandemic it’s possible it could be more than 50%.

If the dire damage being done to the economy is not mitigated sufficiently by a Congress that was supposed to have a stimulus package out last week and hasn’t managed get one done yet or if the stimulus is too small or if it’s aimed at the wrong people, we could be looking beyond a historical 50-percent decline to something more like 1932.

You ask me, we’re at a point when we need a Franklin Roosevelt in the White House and instead we’re still stuck with worse than a Herbert Hoover.

But as history shows on the chart, whatever the final decline is to be, it’s likely it won’t be until after a big bounce any a week, any day, any minute now.

This market is massively oversold and it’s a positive sign that governors and mayors, allied with scientists and health-care providers across the country, have taken over the front-line fight against the pandemic as Washington goes on dithering.

The trouble with the margin-debt numbers is they are reported a month late so one pretty much has to guess, based the price action during the month, where the debt level might be in the current month. While we can see the SPX crash here in March on the chart, the margin debt line is only up to date through February. I would assume from the current price action in March it’s now a lot lower, probably akin to that drop in 2008 marked by the black vertical line.

If so, we may be closer to a bear-market bottom (six months or so) than the pattern in 2000 (which took about three years).

Regardless, the bounce, which could be spectacular, is not going to be a resumption of the bull underwater long-term holders are hoping for. More likely it’s going to be a bull to be slaughtered so severely by the next bear move no one, as despair sets in, will be looking to buy any stocks.

In despair is when a new bull market can be born.

But I could be wrong. It could be different this time. Uh, huh…

(CLICK ON THE CHART FOR A LARGER VIEW)

Reading history on the #VIX chart…

Ah, yes, I remember it well… In fact I’ll never forget…

I began investing in the stock market in September of 1987. My wife was having our second child that month. I figured I had to make some financial provisions for the future. I was beginning to make some extra money so I put our savings into the stock market. I bought stock in Compaq and Intel. The stocks were roaring up and continued to rise. I was a very happy young father.

Then about four weeks later on October 19th, the market crashed. In a panic I sold all the stock. That was on the Tuesday after Monday’s crash. That time was in so much chaos it wasn’t until Saturday before I got the fills to learn we had no savings left.

I didn’t tell my wife. She was busy with our newborn. I had a job so we had money coming in. I didn’t want to worry her. But I was virtually catatonic for weeks, until Dec 4th, 1987 (coincidentally our anniversary), when the market made a successful retest of the crash lows.

That was the day I learned what matters most in trading the market – no matter what happens, it’s all happened before.

History, history, history.

There is the famous curse, usually attributed to George Santayana, that “he who does not learn from history is doomed to repeat it.” In the stock market it’s the opposite – “he who learns from history is is blessed to repeat it.”

Which brings us to the VIX, the Volatility Index.

The mass psychology of the market – because money is always at stake – is either in some degree of fear or some degree of greed with both emotions filtered by time.

While history serves as context, the VIX measures the market endless wheeling back and forth between fear and greed. The index itself runs opposite the other major indexes, the S&P500 (the SPX), Dow Jones Industrial Averasge, the Nasdaq Composite…in other words, it runs opposite the market.

When the VIX is low the market is in a bull market, and most stocks are rising, virtually all stocks, and when it is high (as it is now), the market is a bear market, and stocks go down, virtually all stocks.

But the VIX says more than the obvious.

Right now because we’ve just finished a very long bull market there is a lot of belief that the recent stock crash is just a temporary drop and prices will soon be hurtling upwards to new highs.

And yet…right now the VIX says “not so fast.”

Consider the chart below showing the VIX with a monthly chart of the SPX.

I’ve outlined the effect of the VIX on the general market.

First, let me say what I consider the key levels on the VIX itself. Under 15, the market is in a steady advance, a bull market. At 25, the market is in a normal “correction” and the price will soon continue to climb. But if the VIX rises through 25 convincingly and vaults past 40, it ia a bear market. At that point the VIX will have to convincingly fall back through 25 before stocks can in general begin to move up again.

On the chart the red vertical rectangles mark the periods in which the VIX last went through 40 and dropped again below 25. In the 2008 bear market it took eight months before prices began to rise again. Although it doesn’t show here on a monthly chart, a weekly chart of 2010 has the VIX also above 40 (marked by the red circle on this chart) when it took five months for the prices to rise again. In 2012, it took four months for prices to rise gain.

These are measures of time.

I am suggesting this is the time it’s going to take for the current bear market to subside so prices can rise again in a steady climb. Months at best, and even then only for those not holding long term. This crash has caused a lot of damage and a lot of stock holders are trapped at higher levels (the entire advance from the day Trump was inaugurated as President has been erased). William O’Neil of Investor Daily called this “overhead supply,” meaning those holding stock above current prices will be looking for bounces to get out so going forward is going to be a choppy ride and it’s going to take time to work off the effects of the bear.

To say nothing of the fact there are very few signs the market has, as yet, quit falling.

Still, there’s more…

By my reckoning the VIX is also a calendar. The market always has a bullish bias (this is America after all!) but there are months and even years lost along the way.

The shaded blocks on chart below illustrate the time it takes for prices, once the bear market has begun, to regain their former highs. For instance if one invested in the market at the top in mid-2007, it would have taken more than five years to breakeven; in the 2015/2016 and 2018/2019 corrections approximately a year each to regain the losses, or move sideways to new highs.

When the bull is going strong, everyone forgets it takes just one down day for a bear market to begin. Of course, until it’s later and one can look back, no one can know which down day, like February 20th this year, is THE DAY.

Which is also why since December 4th, 1987, as a day and swing trader, and having learned the market’s history, I sell, every time, on the first day down.

(CLICK ON THE CHART FOR A LARGER VIEW)

$UAL $DAL $AA – time for buyouts instead of bailouts?

Bloomberg reported yesterday that the major American airlines used their free cash flow for buybacks and may be bankrupt by May.

See this CASH FLOW LINK and this BANKRUPTCY LINK.

Trump is already talking a taxpayer bailout.

How about buyouts instead?

Again and again, these industries (last time it was the banks) recklessly practice free-market capitalism and eventually a crisis comes and again they need a socialist intervention to go on with their business as usual.

Don’t these guys ever plan ahead? Don’t they ever realize all good times come to an end to one degree or another (all bad times too for that matter)?

Isn’t it time for this periodic sucking on the taxpayer tit stops? Maybe a lesson needs to be learned. If the taxpayer is going to have to subsidize and/or finally bail them out in the end, maybe it’s time the taxpayers take ownership.

Not that Trump would know what to do being on the opposite side of his own bankruptcy history but he won’t be President forever (at least I hope American voters have wised up enough to flush the con king).

Anyway, this is what these once high flying birdS look like crash landing together:

(click on the chart for a larger view)

On $AAPL — its broken parabolic updated…

AAPL keeps trying to bounce off the market’s gaps down, but as time goes by it is still working its way down to where its recent parabolic rise began.

This decline with take some time. There will be bounces to sell along the way but when a parabolic breaks it creates so much overhead supply (i.e. holders who want to get out) the stock’s decline is usually inevitable.

The target price for the stock is approximately $220 to $230.

This was first outlined in this link:

#STOCKS – on $AAPL gone parabolic

And reiterated in this link when its parabolic rise first broke:

ON $AAPL gone parabolic – with an updated chart…

(click on the chart for a larger view)

#MarketTiming – doin’ the monster bounce Monday…

Needless to say, the market was up huge today. After being down huge last week.

I’m just going reiterate what I said last Tuesday when I first began looking for a bounce in this post:

#MarketTiming – From the Kerplunk to a bounce

So what now?

This sell off is so extremely oversold there is going to be a bounce. Likely tomorrow.

Forty-eight of the stocks on my nifty-50 stock list are on sells with 36 individually oversold (that is a lot). The indexes are down more in this four-day thrust than they’ve been in more than a year. It is just too much too quickly.

However, the question is going to be what to do with this bounce? Hang on and hope it’s V-bottom? Or sit on the edge of your seat looking for a chance to SELL EVERYTHING?

The bull market of the past year would suggest the former, everything else suggests the later. But it should be noted that CNN’s Fear and Greed Index is at 22 today. While that’s an “extreme fear” level, it has more room to move down which suggests when the bounce happens, tomorrow or whenever, the low of left behind will be tested, and if by then this is a full-fledged bear market, this bounce is going to be remembered as a last chance to sell for a long time.

P.S While the stocks on my nifty-50 stock list had only two on buys and 36 oversold (a huge number in perspective) a week ago, there are now 40 on buys but only four overbought. AAPL and, my favorite, TSLA, had a particular spectacular day, up 25 and 90 points respectively. There is likely more market upside to come as more stocks continue to bounce back toward overbought.

(click on the chart for a larger view)

#STOCKS – “Trump loves coal…”

The President claims he loves coal and coal miners.

Outside of Florida, he runs most often to West Virginia to rally his supporters.

Evidently, the West Virginia voters have been so poor and uneducated for so long, they will believe anything his says. I’m probably being too harsh on these unfortunate folks but it’s way past time they wised up. To have Trump on your side is to have worse than having no one.

Except for his Russian money-laundering real-estate businesses, this self-described master deal maker and businessman has managed to run through everything he inherited from his dad and a few billion more, bankrupting almost everything he’s touched along the way – casinos, steaks, champagne, a university, and so and so on (to say nothing of his marriages and his money spent to shut up porn stars and playmates).

Without the Russians, he could be going broke right now hawking hot dogs from a cart on a street corner in New York.

But enough of my admiration for greatest con man of all time, let’s get down to the stock market and the coal stocks.

While Trump says he loves coal, as anyone who has bumped into my posts on Trader-Talk over the years knows, there may be no one who loves shorting coal stocks more than me.

I’ve shorted Walter Energy (WLT) off the board. That was a lot of fun as nearly every coal sector analyst kept reiterating “buys” at every price level from $85 a share to $1.50. At $1.50, the analysts finally said sell. Believe it! Hopefully all those fools (or are they liars and thieves?) are out of the securities industry but probably not (Trump is President, after all, no matter what).

Over the years, so many coal companies have gone belly-up, killed by natural gas, environmental activists, and finally the worldwide recognition of climate change, it was almost as if one could throw darts at the sector and whatever the dart hit would die.

Two of the most prominent were Peabody Energy (BTU), “the biggest coal company in the world,” and Arch Coal (ARCH).

Both companies, BTU and ARCH (and also the not-great Cloud Peak Energy), came to the port town where I live in a desperate attempt to ship coal to China where my neighbors, along with everyone on the West Coast, shut them down, a failure that led to both companies filing for bankruptcy and its consequent loss of all shareholder equity. They both reorganized, returned to the big board, and long came Trump to sit down beside them and give them hope…for about a year. Even subsidy plums can’t save a dying fruit tree.

Both companies are now well on their way to burning through all shareholder equity again. I can’t imagine who squanders investments on this dead-end stuff anymore.

See the pitiful charts below. Both stocks, like the market, are so oversold they will probably a bounce here. If so, they are shorts…again.

Once BTU drops below $5 (it closed today at $5.50, down from $30 or so in just the last year), the nails in its coffin will soon follow. ARCH has a lot more price downside (see the second chart below) and it will take some time but it will get to cliff BTU is standing on too.

(click on the charts for a larger view)

$SPY – Up, up, up…and KERPLUNK?

Just got back from a week in New Orleans so if my head feels a bit thick, don’t blame me, blame the Nawlins’ food, drink, the music.

W.C. Fields once said: “I spent half my money on gambling, alcohol and wild women. The other half I wasted.” New Orleans is a perfect city to not do the wastin.’

Anyway, the market after a break of its December/January uptrend line, took another shot and manage another high on SPY (among other index ETFs) last week but dropped back down below the January high (332.95) to close at 332.20 Friday.

Not such a big deal except the NYMO after the rally off a double-bottom earlier in the week (see the white line with the red dots on the chart below) fell with the price weakness to turn the all important NYSI (longer-term breadth) negative.

That’s an automate sell on its own but there’s maybe more…

In his book “Methods of a Wall Street Master,” Trader Vic Sperandeo says determining the trend is a simple as 1-2-3. One is the break of the trend line, which happened on the gap down from 1/24 to 1/27 (see the chart); two is the attempt to resume the recent trend that fails, which may have just happened; three is a fall back to through the low after the trend line break.

Since “three” hasn’t happened yet, there’s a chance, and maybe even the likelihood, the pattern here is just a pause before more advance but…

But Trader Vic Sperandeo’s has more. His most classic set up for aggressive traders is right here, right now. He calls it “2B”, as in “2B or Not 2B, that’s where the money is made.” The fade off the old high on Friday is the 2B, as pretty as can be (see the chart).

This a short.

And it is made all the better by the stop being close by at the old high at 334.20.

That simple. And if it follows through, without stopping out, it could be a great big KERPLUNK right at an all time high.

P.S. There’s also a bearish full moon today for those who put some store in such lunar signs.

(click on the chart for a larger view)
and

ON $AAPL gone parabolic – with an updated chart…

This is a followup to the post below as AAPL takes a predictable hit today.

Wrote the following in this link a couple of week ago: On $AAPL Gone Parabolic.

At the risk of a massive understatement, let’s just say AAPL has gone up…a lot.

In fact one look at its chart below reveals is has gone parabolic.

Let’s define a parabolic move first. Basically, according the website, Prometheos Market Insight, when a stock makes a enough of a move to create three distinct supporting trend lines (see the green lines on the chart below), then accelerates, it is in a parabolic move (the red line on the chart).

There is both good news in that, and bad news.

The good news you own it, the bad news its latest rise is unsustainable. Although one can only guess when and at what level it parabola ends (the way it always is with that phenomenon), but when the inevitable end comes it will likely be violent and the stock could eventually go back to where the parabolic began.

At this point, a rough estimate of where it began in AAPL is around $230.

It’s hard to believe it will ever quit going up as it’s wildly (exuberantly) rising, but I would suggest there is no profit here until one sells.

Also, one other thing to keep in mind, AAPL today, according to Yahoo Finance, has a market cap of 1.377 trillion dollars. That in itself is unprecedented in market history, but it is also nearly $100 billion higher than next highest market cap, MSFT (but that as they say is another story).


(CLICK TO SEE A LARGER VIEW OF THE UPDATED CHART)

$TSLA – Update as its stock price launches like a rocket

Elon Musk launched his cherry red roadster into a Mars orbit last year.

TAKE A LOOK:

TSLA Roaster takes a space ride

Today he launched the company’s stock into a Wall Street orbit (see the link and charts below). You’ve heard it here before…

TWO YEARS AGO:

Is TSLA the best long term investment since AAPL?

AND NOW ON ITS LATEST EARNINGS:

(Click on the chart for a larger view)

#STOCKS – on $AAPL gone parabolic

At the risk of a massive understatement, let’s just say AAPL has gone up…a lot.

In fact one look at its chart below reveals is has gone parabolic.

Let’s define a parabolic move first. Basically, according the website, Prometheos Market Insight, when a stock makes a enough of a move to create three distinct supporting trend lines (see the green lines on the chart below), then accelerates, it is in a parabolic move (the red line on the chart).

There is both good news in that, and bad news.

The good news you own it, the bad news its latest rise is unsustainable. Although one can only guess when and at what level it parabola ends (the way it always is with that phenomenon), but when the inevitable end comes it will likely be violent and the stock could eventually go back to where the parabolic began.

At this point, a rough estimate of where it began in AAPL is around $230.

It’s hard to believe it will ever quit going up as it’s wildly (exuberantly) rising, but I would suggest there is no profit here until one sells.

Also, one other thing to keep in mind, AAPL today, according to Yahoo Finance, has a market cap of 1.377 trillion dollars. That in itself is unprecedented in market history, but it is also nearly $100 billion higher than next highest market cap, MSFT (but that as they say is another story).

(click on the chart for a larger view)