Tuesday, March 31, 2009

My Crazy Parents - 3 - Russian Gangsters

Roy = My brother who lives in the Wild West of Ukraine and may or may not be juggling a few foreign girls. I really have no idea what he's up to.

MyFather - So we got some strange message left on our machine the other day....It was foreigners, Russians, or something.....they mentioned Marena or Lorena....Roy's girlfriend.....They were demanding money....It was very threatening....and very intimidating.

CaptiousNut - What!?!?!

MyFather - [Artlessly repeated the story, if you can call it that.]

CaptiousNut - WHAT!?!?!?

MyFather - [Repeated with another unintelligible version.]

CaptiousNut - Did you call Roy and ask him what it was about?

MyFather - No....that doesn't....we don't....[grunts, flails, head-shakes]

CaptiousNut - WHY NOT!?!?!?

MyFather - No....that doesn't....we don't....[grunts, flails, head-shakes]....well your mother listened to the message....we listened to it a bunch of times.....we ended up deleting it.

CaptiousNut - Let me get this straight. Your son lives in Russia (Ukraine, same sh*t), some Russian-sounding dude calls up mentioning his girlfriend BY NAME, DEMANDS MONEY, all in a threatening tone....AND, you don't even tell Roy about it, AND after a group analysis you and Mom DECIDE TO DELETE THE MESSAGE.

MyFather - Well, it was a private caller so....

CaptiousNut - WHAT?!?!? What is wrong with you people?!?!?! What is the one thing you should think of given RUSSIAN, A GIRL, A DEMAND FOR MONEY, AND A THREATENING TONE????

MyFather - Ah,....I don't know.

CaptiousNut - Are you kidding me? It starts with 'k' and ends with 'nap'. How about 'ransom', have you ever hear of that?

[Often, when teaching Prince C-Nut, I can actually see the gears in his head turn and the light click on. Here, with my father, despite my lucid lecture, it was still pretty dark in the room.]

So I went into the other room and emailed Roy; I told him to call me ASAP.

About an hour later or so I got him on the phone.

It turns out, he ordered flowers for his Natasha or whatever, paid with PayPal, but not soon after the payment was yanked back. Y'all will have to forgive Paypal if it's a little hesitant about sending money to those thievin' Ruskies. So the florist (foreign/Russian/?) probably sent out the flowers already and thought he was getting stiffed. Imagine the irony, right? He must have looked up my parents' phone number in Massachusetts and thought that was an appropriate place to leave a threatening message demanding the money.

Little did he know his pointed message was just going to get inexplicably deleted!

Trades - March 31st, 2009

Today I bought April 100 puts in Goldman Sachs at 4.40.

I bought extra SRS at 54.04. Remember I let some out at 59.86 yesterday.

And I have a new one here. I bought September 10 puts in American Campus Communities, Inc. - ticker ACC - for 1.20 apiece. I believe it's some REIT that traffics in student housing. A well-known blogger/trader is touting it as a potential GGP.

Here's a refresher on strip-mall operator GGP:

This particular blogger had a good record last year - to put it mildly. I'd reveal his name but this pick of his is for *paying subscribers*. Me? No, I don't pay for this stuff. I inferred the ticker from data on his blog. If you really need to know who's beared up on this stock, email me on the side.

The stock is 14% shorted according to Yahoo; and it has only $28 million in cash versus $1.28 billion in debt. So it looks like the word is out....and certainly puts are priced high enough to reflect that. If my account and/or the stock firms up I may sell calls against the puts. I may turn my position into a *risk reversal* or an outright *synthetic short*. My first impression is that this company is not a *GGP*, not in the next six months anyway. Most certainly, a dividend cut/elimination is forthcoming. I'll be doing more research on this one - when I get a chance.

Fannie Mae Reincarnated - It's Called FHA

Stupidity in action:

The FHA's share of the U.S. mortgage market soared to nearly a third of loans originated in last year's fourth quarter from about 2% in 2006 as a whole, according to Inside Mortgage Finance, a trade publication. That is increasing the risk to taxpayers if the FHA's reserves prove inadequate to cover default losses.

Most people don't know that Fannie Mae is effectively still functioning - only under a different name. As Fannie went down, they just ramped up FHA loans. To give you an example, in my tony town on the South Shore of Boston, one can buy a $500,000 house with a 3% downpayment through FHA. At least that's what a local real estate broker enthusiastically told me.

3% is a joke, even if the house *flat-lines* in price, the owner/borrower has no incentive to stick around for a sale because a real estate commission alone will knock 30k of proceeds off. In other words, the buyer who could only come up with a 15k downpayment in the first place, would have to go further in their pocket (another 15k or so) just to make a legal sale.

Consider that right now I pay $2,500 in monthly rent, or $30,000 in annual rent. Tell me why I shouldn't put down 15k on a $500,000 house, get an FHA loan, immediately default, and stay there for a year or two before the government gets around to kicking me out?

I believe there are a lot of *speculators* using FHA today - particularly in Florida. With 3% down, they'll have no *skin in the game*, they'll have no disincentive from *walking away* should the market deteriorate further.

If you can stomach it, here's the lying propaganda straight from the FHA:

Why does FHA Mortgage Insurance exist?

Unlike conventional loans that adhere to strict underwriting guidelines, FHA-insured loans require very little cash investment to close a loan. There is more flexibility in calculating household income and payment ratios. The cost of the mortgage insurance is passed along to the homeowner and typically is included in the monthly payment. In most cases, the insurance cost to the homeowner will drop off after five years or when the remaining balance on the loan is 78 percent of the value of the property -whichever is longer.

How is FHA funded?

FHA is the only government agency that operates entirely from its self-generated income and costs the taxpayers nothing. The proceeds from the mortgage insurance paid by the homeowners are captured in an account that is used to operate the program entirely. FHA provides a huge economic stimulation to the country in the form of home and community development, which trickles down to local communities in the form of jobs, building suppliers, tax bases, schools, and other forms of revenue.

Costs taxpayers nothing?

Yeah, right.

Read that initial WSJ quote again at the top - FHA accounted for a whopping 33% of new mortgages last year! And their default rate is up to 7.5%!

This is disastrous on its face - without even going into those fraudulent *downpayment assistance programs* where these borrowers, through financial sleight of hand, don't even put down the 3%.

The seeds of the next foreclosure *crisis* are sown....and note that it is springtime.

Monday, March 30, 2009

My Crazy Parents - 2 - Bend Over

Perhaps only those of y'all who know my father will fully appreciate this one.

And, it's only funny because *no harm was done*.

My father, a clumsy-@ss dervish, recently got dropped off somewhere by his buddy.

He got out of the car, walked right behind it, and then proceeded to bend over and tie his shoe.

His buddy nearly backed right over him!

Who the bleep would bend....never mind.

Is It Yours?

How about *Am I His*?

Homeschooling - Moving Forward

So this morning my son finished the Kumon Simple Multiplication workbook.

He's 4.33 years old. I didn't learn multiplication until I was in the third grade - if I remember correctly. (And even with that retarded start, I still became a nationally recognized mathlete.)

The most fun, was at the end, filling out and utilizing the multiplication table.

When fathers see their kids get timely extra-base hits or star in a government school play they no doubt teem with pride.

With homeschooling, we move along so fast that I get that rush almost everyday. Seriously. It seems like just yesterday that Prince C-Nut was learning to count. Before you know it, he'll be doing the binomial tree, twin primes, modular arithmetic, inductive proofs, and differential equations!

For more on government school math see Michelle Malkin's post from almost 1.5 years ago. Particularly, watch the YouTube video which I'll also embed below. I actually disagree with Malkin, et al, on some of their criticism. And I'd elaborate if time permitted. Briefly, I actually think the *new-age math* methods are in many respects superior to rote algorithms that no users can or have ever proven/derived.

But I won't step into this *trap* of arguing how best to teach 5th graders....1st or 2nd grade level computation.

In other words, the *new age* methods are fine, just many years too late. Meanwhile, Malkin and company are screaming because their kids won't *test well* - not because they aren't learning life skills or anything.

If your kid can't do basic arithmetic by the 5th grade, it ain't the school's fault because the shortcomings of Big Education have been well advertised.

And because you sent them there.

Trades - March 30th, 2009

Did nothing except sell out my last SRS buy. I bought those shares on Wednesday of last week at 50.93 - and sold them today at 59.86.

My Crazy Parents - 1 - Tiny Pics

MyMother - People keep emailing me pictures but they're always so small....I don't know how to make them *bigger*.

I didn't fully understand what she was saying at first, but later on figured it out.

She thought the thumbnail previews were the pictures!

Enlarging/downloading/viewing attached pics is so fundamentally easy, I wasn't even sure if I remembered the specific way to do so. I think we just click on them, right?

For far too long I have *sat on* the fount of Marginalization content that is my parents.

Those days are over - especially in light of the fact that my mother recently told me that she doesn't read my blog because, "You're not nice to me on it".

So when was the last time I ripped my mother on this blog? I can't remember. My father, yes, but she hasn't been targeted at all. I swear these 'old coots' live in a world of make-believe.

Regardless, it annoys me that my mother is so self-absorbed; my blog may be many things, but it certainly ain't *about her*. And it annoys me that she has no interest in a substantial part of my life. What type of mother doesn't want to know what their kid is up to anyway?

So they'll be no more tongue-biting, no more choking on good blog material.

Heck, it's been two years since I even clubbed my father:

Marginalizing My Father

The Jurassic Butterfly Effect

Friday, March 27, 2009

Ken Lewis - Liar, Moron, Or Both?

Here's an excerpt from my February 7th analysis of Ken Lewis' interview:

And here's what I just came across tonight:

J.P. Morgan Chase Chief Executive James Dimon said…that March was a little tougher than the first two months of the year….Bank of America…CEO Kenneth Lewis also said that March had been a tougher month for his bank.

I fully expect these banks to lie and report *profits* on their next earnings releases.

But it will only take about 2 minutes for bloggers to find where they fudged, again.

Trades - March 27th, 2009

All I did today was buy some more General Electric puts. I bought April 10s for .50.

I've never really traded this ticker before this month - probably not ever in my 13 year career.

But for some reason, I smell blood on this one. I can't really put my finger on exactly why, but I do.

There's Your Socialization!

"Observed behaviors of concern recently exhibited include kicking others in the groin area, grabbing and touching of others in personal areas, hugging and horseplay. Physical contact is prohibited to keep all students safe in the learning environment," Williams wrote.

Students and parents are outraged. They said the new policy means no high-fives and hugs, as well as horseplay of any kind. The consequences could be dire, Williams warned in the letter.

And y'all thought touch football was wimpy before!

I generally don't like to pull stuff from Drudge, but this belongs on my blog.

I guess the only real world experience *no touching* would prepare someone for is....I don't know....

...dating at Harvard?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Another Book Rec - The Bible

Last June I started reading an annotated study Bible that I received for Christmas 2007. I just finished up the Old Testament this evening and I want to say, that everyone should read this *dusty* old book.

If you haven't read the most influential book ever written, realize you're wearing a definitive badge of ignorance.

Personally, I've learned that my entire life has been mistakenly spent in pursuit of wealth, toys, amusement, and material comfort.

And the good book has also helped me grapple with my well-deserved egomania.

My plan was to finish the entire book within a year. So hopefully I'll be through the New Testament by June.

UPDATE - See - Finally Done!

Trades - March 26th, 2009

Did nothing today except mope and sell my STP.

I bought it on March 9th at 5.52 and let it out at 11.67 today.

If only I had bought more....

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Trades - March 25th, 2009

Today was a tease. The market soared in the morning. I saw the Dow up 170 pts or so.


Because there are still too many shorts - I guess. I think long term investors haven't even been a factor in the past two weeks. I bet it's simply been a traders' affair where savvy longs, like Michael Davey, have been taking money from formerly-flush and weak-handed shorts.

After the perky open, the market sold off for most of the day but culminated with a painful bank rally in the last hour.

Today I increased my SRS position by 28% or so at 50.93.

I doubled my QID position at 46.88.

And I grabbed some April 11 puts in GE at .88.

It suffices to say that I'm pretty darn short at the moment.

The ostensible cause of the intraday sell-off was a weak Treasury auction, perhaps combined with a simlilarly weak government debt auction in Great Britain.

I think that's the case anyway. I don't follow that nonsense too closely - though I must admit, this *geo-political* news had me thinking today could be a really big down day. There's going to be a whole lot of scrutiny (and hope!) on these auctions going forward.

There's no *bailing out* a Treasury bond crash.

Simon Cowell - A Modern Day Samuel Johnson?

So Simon's too busy to dine with the head of the Communist party?

And the other day, he ripped Hell's Kitchen's Gordon Ramsay during an American Idol broadcast.

Ryan Seacrest asked the chef (in the audience) what he thought about one of the performances. Ramsay started talking but no one could hear what he said because he hadn't a microphone. With nose pointed skyward and in that arrogant British accent Cowell quipped, "See, he doesn't know what he's talking about."

What made it so hilarious was who Ramsay is. He's a lunatic know-it-all belligerent in his own right. But Simon dismissed him like a booger on his thumb-tip.

You gotta hand it to Simon Cowell. He gets paid a jillion dollars to make snide remarks on a karaoke show. Who amongst us would relish that job?

Furthermore, and no small boost to his ego, he can instantaneously slay all opponents with his Captious and caustic wit. The best his critics can do is rip his gaudy threads.

[Note that Morons necessarily descend to this tack with me as well. See - $90 Jeans and Morphing Into My Father.]

Apparently, Simon is turning into a bubblehead celebrity as it's quite hard to wipe that smile off his face these days.

But his hectoring wit conjures up memories of another bombastic Brit - Samuel Johnson.

Johnson was so intellectually and conversationally domineering that his table-mates were scared to death to espouse their usual loud-mouthed opinions. When Johnson was dining, only the brave and foolish engaged his towering personality; the rest wisely concentrated on mastication.

Of course, I have the same exact dinner-time effect. There's a whole lot more emphasis on the food at extended family get-togethers when C-Nut's there - especially from the 'old coot' Massachusetts contingent.

Required reading for all aspiring invectivists - Samuel Johnson, Jonathan Swift, and Pietro Aretino.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Trades - March 24th, 2009

Did nothing today outside of add some FAZ to my retirement account at 18.24.

In fact I have yet to even look at my (big) account to assess the total damage from yesterday.

I've decided to repeal mark-to-market accounting for my personal account!

What's good for the goose is good for the gander....

Homeschool Evangelism - Shaming Others For The Welfare Of Their Children

This weekend my wife was at the store with our 4.25 year old.

He espied a girl from his *pre-school*:

Prince C-Nut - Hi Sally,.....HOW WAS FLORIDA? Did you go to Orlando or Naples?

Now this girl's dad was blown away by my son's conversational/geographical aptitude. Of course he had to *answer* for his daughter. Most of my son's age-mates can barely say hello or state their name - they definitely can't discern or expound on the difference between Disney World and 'old coot'-ville Naples.

And the other day at the library some kid had a shirt on that read "Cooler Than Ice". I grabbed the Prince and made him read it - which he did competently on the spot. The father of the other boy exclaimed, "HE'S READING?!?!?!"

Well, we practice reading every thing we see: cereal boxes, road signs, DVD cases, food labels, etc.

And here's the last example, just from the past week. Some other *mom* brought her kids over for a *playdate*. One of the girls was a bit older than the rest of the brats. Thus she was *bored*. So my wife grabbed her and said, "Hey let's read a book. Let's read Madeline..."

But the young lady, despite being 6 and despite attending a $22,000 per year kindergarten couldn't read. In fact she couldn't read ANY of the words. My Captious 4 year old was blurting out the story over her shoulder right in front of her, hopefully embarrassed, *mom*.

A lot of prospective homeschoolers fret that they won't be able to teach their kids ALL of the subjects; that they're kids might very well miss out on *something*.

Here's the rejoinder:

If you start them young; do a little work everyday like Kumon books; you'll end up like me. Your kids will be so far advanced, at such a young age, that such a fear will become laughably remote.

Well fears of inadequacy will become remote for you, but not for the other parents who come into contact with your children.

Then they'll be deflectively blaming *the school*!

Last year, after my son displayed some advanced erudition at a friend's house, the mother there got scared. She got scared that her husband would find out how *behind* their Montessori-educated child was in comparison. Serious, she said, "Oh boy, I hope [husband's name] doesn't find out....he'll be furious."

Good for that *dad* anyway. At least he has some expectations for the $34-per-hour education he's paying for.

Convincing someone to homeschool is not anything that can be easily accomplished with words and persuasion. That's why I encourage people to read John Taylor Gatto, to start the Kumon books, etc. - this way, the parents will soon realize how infantilized the school systems are by comparison. They will see as plain as day how low institutional expectations are compared to their children's capabilities.

One other point I want to make about my son's precocity is that except for 5 hours per week, he's with me, a competent, complete-sentence-wielding adult all day. The other kids who are *daycared* are stuck with a bunch of juvenile, mute mush-heads all week long.

I'm telling you. All these preschoolers who've been age-segregated, they can't even speak - which is a curious deficiency for those presumed to be developing *social skills*.

Book Rec - When Genius Failed

Even though I lived/traded through the Long Term Capital stock mini-crash in 1998, the details of what happened never prompted my interest.

All I knew was that some big hedge fund imploded and it/*its counterparties*/*its investors* essentially got bailed out by the Fed - or so I thought. [And that my trading account got hammered at the time.]

Anyway, having recently met a family member of one of the protagonists, my curiosity in this subject was piqued. I procured Roger Lowenstein's book and must say that it's a great story, a great read, and more importantly an insightful window into today's markets, ravaged by leverage and credit crunches.

Wall Street really hasn't changed in 100 years - and it's probably unlikely to do so over the next 100 as well.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Runaway Bull Market - Trades March 23, 2009

No comment!

[Alright, I just about doubled my FAZ position again today at approximately 25.50. And added a little SRS at 50.00 in my retirement account.]

What may have been the most frustrating part of today involved my father.

He was over to *help* with the kids whilst I did my taxes and octupled up on leveraged short ETFs.

I had to bear listening to him on the phone SCREAMING at some salesperson for his local newspaper (telgram.com) because they wouldn't give him the same 13-week deal for his subscription renewal as his buddies. The difference between about $51 and $66. Yeah, it was over $15.

My father, an otherwise gentle man, was irate; and demanding to speak with another representative.

Now between what I lost today and the taxes I have to pay Uncle Sam in the next week or so, I am out a hefty six-figure sum.

Yet, my father was more ape-sh*t than I was. And THAT was what was really chafing me!

Seriously, he was far more upset than I was today. This reminded me not that *money is relative*....but rather that *money is merely sand* - though with the power to torment all and sundry.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Marginalizing Revenue

Recently a friend of mine, a proprietor of a small but highly lucrative consulting firm, told me:

"Business is good. My revenues are much higher this year but my profits are down."

My eyes rolled. Who gives a bleep about *revenues*?

His *revenues* are higher simply because he hired more consultants and billed more hours. His profits are down because he got lazy and did less of the work himself. Knowing his still lofty income and the toil of weekly travel I don't blame him for disengaging a bit.

As a trader, my *revenues*, my proceeds from broker and barter exchange transactions, were in the multi-million dollar range last year - as they always are. It's too bad I have those annoying multi-million dollar *cost bases* to account for!

But the misplaced obsession with revenue these days is rampant - especially in corporate America.

In the current witch-hunt against million dollar bonus recipients Wall Street has in unison defended its right to compensate - not profit producers - but *revenue producers*. Here's one exec:

I think there's a lot of emotion around bonuses, and legitimately so," said Robert P. Kelly, chairman and chief executive of Bank of New York Mellon Corp. "If you think about the average American, their house price is down, and they don't have the same level of job security that they had in the past, so people are angry."

But Kelly said increased scrutiny should be directed at top executives and policy makers at companies, not "revenue producers" like traders, who are effectively following the orders of higher-level managers.

Likewise, Citigroup only wants y'all to look at its revenue:

In a letter sent to employees Monday, Citi Chief Executive Vikram Pandit said the first-quarter performance so far has been the bank's best since the third quarter of 2007 -- the last time it recorded net income for a full period. Based on historical revenue and expense rates, Citi's projected earnings before taxes and one-time charges would be about $8.3 billion for the full quarter.

Pandit declined to say how large credit losses and other one-time items have been that would at least partially offset profit.

If only *credit losses* PARTIALLY offset profits!

And what does he mean by *one-time items*? Does he mean those that take a bite out of profits ONE TIME PER QUARTER - EVERY QUARTER?

Ken Lewis weighed in on *revenue producers*:

I don't feel good about the $500,000 cap. And it's not about me—I'll take $500,000. However, you will have talented individuals, particularly revenue producers, going to foreign banks and other asset management firms. That's a problem.

And he's weighed in on *revenue* for his entire bank:

Looking forward to this year, Bank of America should generate....close to $50 billion in pre-tax, pre-provision earnings( 2009).

There they are again with those nettlesome loan provisions.

So why the misplaced obsession with *revenue* from employees all the way up to upper management?

Because *net profits* are not their concern. That's the annoying, disjoint business of stake-holders. It's a problem for equity and debt holders.

We can also indict the revenue fetish this way - consider that Big Business has descended to the mindset Big Government with its single emphasis on top-line confiscation:

Also, there's this perverse obsession with mere revenue because that number, and that number alone, sets the parameters for SKIMMING.

For more on *skimming* visit:

Marginalizing Analysts

The Skim Biz Takes A Hit

Skim Biz Update - Fidelity Investments

Fidelity - A Mess

Friday, March 20, 2009

Expiration Day Trades - March 20th, 2009

Yesterday, I grabbed some GE March 10 puts for the bargain price of .05 apiece. With only a day until expiration I need the stock to drop right away. Thankfully it did.

I bought stock against them 1-to-1 at 9.35 today - effectively selling the puts for .65 less commissions.

Unfortunately the stock went no lower than 9.26 so my *double bushel* of March 9 puts expired worthless.

With Dell trading just a bit above 10.00 in this *overbought* market I tried the same tactic. I bought a bunch of March 10 puts for .08 (after just missing them at .03). The stock obliged and quickly broke the strike. At 9.75 I hedged half of the puts; and the rest were taken off for even at the close, at 9.91.

Question for Taylor - How much money did I make on those Dell puts?

Today I also dumped that SKF I had bought at 127.16 on Tuesday. I lost a full four points - selling today at 123.23. All in all, it felt like a winner considering the darned thing traded as low as 100.15 yesterday morning!

FAZ Decay

Above find historical prices for RIFIN - which is the underlying index for FAZ - that *triple-short* financials ETF I've been trading. It's also the underlying for FAS - the *triple-long*.

I've discussed, at length, the concept of ETF decay. Here I will try to quantify precisely how badly FAZ decayed during this recent bear market rally. [The S&P 500 has rallied from 666.80 to 803.00 in the past two weeks.]

The first whammy was on March 10th where the underlying (RIFIN) rose 13.75%

Then on March 12th it rose 10.62%.

On March 17th it rose 5.05%

And the final dagger (hopefully) was March 18th when it rose 9.79%.

Let's call up that formula I derived:

Lemma - Given an underlying A and its daily compounding triple inverse Z, a drop of R-percent in A which retraces fully the following day will DECAY Z by:

12*R2 / (1 - R)

when .25 > R > 0

Plugging in .1376 for R tells us that on that first upward move, March 10th's rise, the FAZ decayed by a whopping 26.34%.

Allow me to clarify.

Using March 9th and March 10th closing prices, the FAZ dropped from 99.17 to 61.50.

Now, IF on March 11th, the RIFIN did a complete *retrace* the FAZ would only have risen back up to 73.05 - a far cry from the penultimate close of 99.17.

Now note that these numbers are only theoretical and approximate. The initial 13.76% rise in RIFIN should have sent the FAZ to 58.26 - on paper. But it closed officially at 61.50. And my math projecting a *retrace* to 73.05 by necessity presumes it went to 58.26.

In other words, none of you would-be Captious nerds out there need waste your time trying to poke holes in my Kevlar analysis.

By extension, the three other large *up* moves in RIFIN also induced substantial decay into FAZ.

March 12th's 8.98% up-move shaved 10.62% off FAZ.

March 17th's 6.28% up-move shaved 5.05% off FAZ.

And March 18th's 8.63% up-move shaved 9.79% off FAZ.

So what exactly should I do with these numbers? How should I aggregate their collective decay?

I don't well know.

A straight up compounding via multiplication yields:

98.50 * (1-.2634) * (1-.1062) * (1-.0505) * (1-.0979) = 55.92

That means that roughly and theoretically speaking, a complete retrace of the squeezing FAZ underlying would only get that ETF back to about 56.00 - a far cry from it's value of 98.50 with the underlying at the same exact level.

Let's test my hypothesis more directly.

On March 18th, the RIFIN closed at 510.24. In order for it to drop all the way back to March 9th's nadir of 357....

It would have to decline by 30.00%.

In that case, the FAZ should rise by three times that magnitude - it should rise by 90%.

Since the March 18th close of FAZ was 26.35, let's multiply that by 1.90 to see where a one day 90% rise would theoretically take it:

26.35 * 1.90 = 50.06

So by utilizing both methods, we can safely presume that the new backward-looking high for FAZ is somewhere between 50.00 and 56.00 - a sufficient guestimate for our purposes.

What does this mean?

It certainly doesn't mean that FAZ will never rise above 60.00 or eclipse its recent acme of 115.50.

That is still 100% possible. We'll just need much lower lows in Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Wells Fargo, and a sufficient number of other financials for it to occur.

It also means that those simpletons on xTrends comment threads drawing all sorts of lines on FAZ charts are complete Morons.

And, lastly, it means anyone sitting on a recently acquired high-cost-basis FAZ position ought to at least reduce their expectations accordingly.

Related posts:

ETF Daily Compounding

More On ETF Decay

Measuring ETF Decay

Leveraged ETF Risk

ETF Leverage - Test Case

Organic Death - The Way To Go

The Brazilian wandering spider will kill you in 25 minutes - especially in Tulsa, Oklahoma where the antidote might not be found on the shelves of local apothecaries.

Here's the story.

Now my paternal grandfather passed, jeez, 18 years ago now. He had a heart attack while mowing his lawn.

The consensus sympathy was that...that was the way to go. It's far better to die while active and doing stuff rather than to croak after a long rotting tenure at Last Lap Living.

That perspective definitely has merit - and I used to be in full agreement.

Though now, I'm wondering if there's perhaps not a better way to bid adieu to this cruel world....

Oddly, the Brazilian spider delivers more than a painful bite that sends most victims to the hospital. Researchers have found its venom also stimulates an hours-long erection in men.

Patients not only experience overall pain and an increase in blood pressure, they also get an uncomfortable erection.

In Brazil, emergency room staff can immediately spot the victims of a bite.

"The erection is a side effect that everybody who gets stung by this spider will experience along with the pain and discomfort," said study team member Romulo Leite of the Medical College of Georgia, presumably speaking only about male bite victims.

No pain (and discomfort)....no gain, right?

After learning this, why would anyone ever hang themself?

Ramping Up The Homeschooling

We rejected that fine arts' preschool application for my son.

There are just too many better avenues to pursue.

Last night I drove 40 minutes to meet with a homeschool support group. I'd been lurking on their online forums and just wasn't ready to jump in and participate - given the ages of my kids 4.25 and 2.75.

But next year my daughter will be past that *disruptive* age, hopefully anyway, and we'll probably immerse in this local, albeit far-flung, network.

The group leader seems pretty nice and quite experienced; she has five kids from age 8 to 21 whom she educated *outside the school system*. This particular group, like probably most other homeschooling networks, has all styles of teaching and all ages of kids represented. They have children whose parents pulled them out of school in the later grades and those with mere preschoolers. They have liberal crunchy types, religious families, the musically inclined, etc.

I think a big part of it is they all want their kids to associate in a multi-age setting with other kids who haven't been *anti-socialized* by mass schooling. [More on this in a subsequent post.]

Homeschooling is truly a sweeping phenomenon today.

Apparently 20% of all library usage is by the homeschooled now.

The moderator of this local group - who started it six years ago - says she now fields calls every single day from new people who're interested in homeschooling their brats. And she said most of the parents have *pre-schoolers* whose kids will never set foot on that Earth-scorching, rolling yellow penitentiary.

Her money quote of the evening:

"Those public school systems have no idea about what's NOT GOING TO HIT THEM in the future."

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Trades - March 19th, 2009

All I did today was buy some more cheap GE puts. I bought March 10s for .05.

Remember I've got a bunch of March 9 puts as well. My account could really use a *down a buck* day in GE tomorrow (puts expire then).

I admit that when I got long GE a couple of weeks ago I hadn't researched the *news* on it a bit. Since then I have - and I've been underwhelmed. In other words, I think the stock could be in trouble, again. General Electric was a huge player in overseas real estate and they are pretty leveraged to consumer finance and global industry. I expect nothing short of horrific performance in those sectors for the foreseeable future. The New York Slimes has an article today on the mess.

More than half of my profits last year came from shorting banks.

This year it'd be nice if we had a replay, but realistically I'm probably going to have to find new whipping boys.

Could There Be A Less Desirable Mate?

I just discovered that Comcast has On-Demand personals. I watched a handful of them last night and let's just say the *mystery* of singlehood was painfully obvious.

Check out this one chick. I was in stitches.

You can't really see it on the web, but she had white hands to go with that fake-n-bake red face.

Money quote - "I think it's really hot when guys....wear hats."

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Another Crack At Solace For The Bears

Since the last attempt is proving feckless....

Take a gander here.

So Y'all Still Want To Be Traders?

More pain today for shorts.

I was out all day at the parks with my kids. A balmy 56 degrees after a long winter is hard not to jump at.

This garbage rally - garbage rallying on garbage news and garbage logic - will surely fade. It's going to take some time though. By my rough count, there were 4 bullsh*t rallies last year, all of which retraced. I rode out every one of them with heavy losses followed by moderate-substantial gains.

In a mere 8 trading days, the FAZ - the triple-short financials ETF - has gone from an intraday high of 115 to today's close of 26.

Incidentally, I doubled up my position at 26.15 in the after-market.

I messed up in GE today. Yesterday, after the close, I tried to buy some March 9 puts. Curiously, I wasn't getting filled. I figured my brokerage had some BS rule about trading options after the close.

So this morning, I went back in. Paying .13 for what I tried to buy yesterday.

Later on, I noticed that my order from yesterday they held until this morning - and executed on the open. So I ended up with twice as many now-worthless puts as I wanted.

When it rains, it pours.

Hopefully I'll get some money back in the next few weeks as I've got to pay my taxes for last year pretty soon.

[Today the Fed had some BS meeting where it said it was going to *buy* long term Treasuries - with more debt!]

The FOMC statement was full of surprises, albeit in the Fed's typical bland language. The Fed committed itself to buying another $750 billion this year in mortgage-backed securities issued by "agencies" like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, on top of the $500 billion it had already committed to buying. It doubled to $200 billion the amount of agency debt it will buy this year.

And in a surprising change of direction, the Fed said it will buy $300 billion of longer-term Treasury securities. Up until now, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke had said there was no need for the Fed to buy Treasuries since there was a strong market for them already. The Fed's new thinking seems to be that it can't hurt to try a little Treasury buying in hopes that the money will trickle down to non-Treasury securities. It said the goal of the Treasury purchases is "to help improve conditions in private credit markets."

Who amongst y'all believes our government at all capable of improving the economy?

They've thrown everything including the kitchen sink at the markets in the past year or two and what exactly has it wrought besides a bunch of great *shorting* opportunities?