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)

#MarketTiming $SPY – Buy now, resell later…

Gotta be a bounce if only because it can’t go down forever.

CNN Money’s Fear and Greed Index is at one. One. It can’t go below zero.

Forty-nine of my nifty-50 stock list are on sells with forty-eight of them oversold. I can’t remember 48 oversold all at once before.

The VIX is at 75. That is virtually a bear market momentum number.

The VIX leveraged ETFs, TVIX and UVXY, have been the stars of this market plunge. See the charts below. Since the NYSI downturn 13 trading days ago UVXY is up 40% and TVIX is up 72%

TVIX was at 40 when I posted this advance notice in January – $TVIX – Just a heads up… – and closed today at 399. Absolutely f-ing spectacular if I was so myself.

So what now?

This is a only a guess because I have no actual upturns anywhere – not in the NYMO, let alone the NYSI, not in price, not in volatility, definitely not in fear and greed but this exercise band is stretched so far, the market ether has to crash tomorrow or snap back.

I’m guessing the shorts cover only because they have made so much profit this week and it would be prudent to take some before the weekend.

Could be wrong.

President Incompetent could try to “reassure” the market again, or claim everything is hunky-dory again, or blame Obama again or blame the Fed yet again. (Hell, the Fed fought the NYSI mid-day today and lost that battle big time by the close.) Yes, yes he claims he knows a lot about the stock market but knows nothing so he slam the market down another thousand points or more…again

But if he shuts the tweet up…

My guess is it’s a buy now – not for the long term – and a resell later.

Regardless – tight stops.

(click on the charts 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)

#MarketTiming – From the Kerplunk to a bounce

Warned of a sell-off here back in February 9th in this post:

$SPY – Up, up, up…and KERPLUNK?

Well, the market defied the sell-off warning for a couple of weeks as it ran up past the setup, but that run up is gone now in the rubble of the last four days.

TVIX and UVXY, the leveraged VIX ETFs were backing into the starting blocks, backing into the starting blocks — here $TVIX – Just a heads up… and here $TVIX – Just a heads up… — until finally there were off with TVIX up 92% in the last four days, and UVXY up 67%. I remember when I posted that heads up someone on Twitter or Facebook scoffed at me an told me I basically full of shit (I get a lot of that at market tops).

Now there are stocks all over the place down 20% or more just on market timing. It’s likely nothing as changed at many of those companies since four days ago except for the market sell off. Such is the madness of crowds.

None of this is any surprise really, since there were signs everywhere that the indexes were running on the fumes of AAPL vapor and a, I guess, a whopping TSLA short squeeze (everyone said Elon Musk was crazy, and then it turned out is was more like crazy smart). Over at Virgin Galantic (SPCE), where Richard Branson’s company has put a mere two winged space craft in space for short jaunts, there are passengers buying seats on flying ships to Mars. Say what?

As the indexes made new highs, there were divergences on the NYMO/NYSI, CNN’s Fear and Greed Index, S&P 500 stocks versus their 200-day moving average, and news lows were gradually climbing above new highs before bolting much higher (see the chart below).

Then there is the Coronavirus…and again news comes along like black swans crying when market internals are obviously falling apart.

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. And if it doesn’t bounce? Ai-Yi-Yi!

(click on the chart 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

$TSLA – #DayTrading options on stocks for less risk and more gain.

TSLA announced earnings on yesterday’s close and gaped up 50 dollars a share today, closing finally at 640, up 63 dollars.

And to think not that long ago the company and its founder, Elon Musk, was the mockery of the market.

After cruising most of last year below 300 a share, it broke above 300 on October 25th and hasn’t looked back.

I wrote this back in August of 2017, giving a long term heads up on the stock:

Is TSLA the best long term investment since AAPL?

But this post is not about that.
This is about options trading. And more specifically day trading stock options.

I wrote about this strategy for the first time in August of last year but primarily in this post in November:

#ShortStrangles on #Stocks – stealing money weekly in cash

That post was about holding the weekly options to week’s end and did not yet consider day trading. Still, as that post indicated there was a 5.6% gain on the margin requirement for the stocks that week. If consistent each week, that would add up to something for the year.

But could it be consistent when the risk on a short strangle strategy is unlimited while the gain is locked in on the credit received? Probably not. Take TSLA today – that 50-point gap on the open would have killed any short strangle, and it would have been even more devastating by the end of the day.

So day trading…

See the chart panel below. The top row of charts in the panel are last week’s four days (Tuesday through Friday) since the holiday. The lower row is this week through today (Thursday).

In the last eight days, day-trading short strangles in TSLA has gained 16.7% against the margin required each day. The margin fluctuates a bit each day depending on the call strikes and puts strikes executed but since the strategy is a day trade on the weekly options the margin remains roughly the same each day.

On the charts the negative numbers in the white flags on the lower right are actually the pluses on the shorts per contract, and the positive numbers are negatives.

For example, Tuesday (the chart second from left on the lower row) the loss was $365 per contract while today (the last chart on the right on the lower row) the gain was $660 per contract. All total, those profits equal $2,012 per contract over the eight days, give or take a bit for commissions and slippage. That’s about 16.7% against an approximate $12K margin requirement day in and day out. With the risk limited to a single day (with stops), there is likely much more consistency in the trades.

I’ve been by a lot of pundits on the internet, so-call options experts parading the common wisdom, day trading on stocks can’t be done (to say nothing about SPY which I’ve written about many times now).

And of course, it takes persistence and discipline and experience to day trade options on anything but in at least this case with stocks, the common wisdom is, again, suspect.

P.S. One final note on TSLA today.The trade was made after its earnings were in the market. Note on the chart for today (lower row, far right) how flat the price action was for the rest of the day as time decay racked up an approximate 5.5% against margin, a 54% gain on the actual money, per contract, put into the trade.

(Click on the chart panel for a larger view)

$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)

$SPY #Options – $DayTrading Calls 1/28

Haven’t posted the day trades in SPY calls and puts for quite a while but the strategy still holds – tight spreads, high liquidity, less time decay.

The trades are always the nearest expiration (Monday, Wednesday, Friday), the closest in-the-money (ITM) or at-the-money (ATM) strikes, and never hold overnight (it’s always a day trade). They are posted on Twitter to get the time stamps.

Today was a good day, and a good day to drop this post here.

LAST TWEET

(A note on the “added note” in this tweet for the reentry later in the day – it was up 16% at one time but pulled back and broke even at the close)

EXIT ON MAIN TRADE

TAKING PROFITS ON FIRST HALF

PUTTING ON A TRAILING STOP

INITIAL ENTRY -BEGINNING OF THE TRADE

$SPY – The drop too far, too fast?

The market took a plunge today and all the why-did-it-happen pundits are citing the Chinese coronavirus fears for the sell-off.

Once again, this is news arriving to confirm what’s already happened. The NYSI, measuring long-term breadth on the New York Stock Exchange, turned negative last week. That was the tell that the market’s advance was faltering. News can accelerate a decline, but no-news would have also but probably at a slower pace.

What we have now is a fast fall and based on one of my key charts it is likely too far, too fast. See the chart of SPY below and note nearly every time the average SPY pull-back (as displayed as a histogram) pierces one of lower green lines, it bounces, and sometimes runs. The Nasdaq Composite chart is showing the same pattern.

In addition, 45 of the stocks on my nifty-50 stock list are on sells and 23 are oversold. Forty or more on sells is usually the bottom or the beginning of a bottom of a down swing.

Although today looked relatively ominous, not a lot of damage has been done – most of my bellwether stocks are only down two to three or so percent since the NYSI down turn.

So what’s next?

I think the market bounces tomorrow. The question for the week is will it be a dead cat? Or will it, in this bull market, be the start of another run to the highs?

If it turns out it’s no more than a dead cat bounce, or the market doesn’t bounce and keeps on going right down without pause, then the damage to the stocks and indexes not done yet will be done on the next plunge.

For now, as laid out in the post below the long VIX ETFs and ETNs are the play on this drop. Stops should be tightened to preserve the quick profits on TVIX (29.9%) and UVXY (22.7%). If the market weakness continues, TVIX and UVXY will no doubt be easy swing trades to jump into and out of going forward.

(click on the chart for a larger view)