As a Lehman summer associate many moons ago, I split my ten weeks primarily between two desks – High Grade Corporates and Equity Program Trading.  The assignment coordinating gods smiled upon me as both groups were crown jewels at the bank, run by top shelf management with impeccable reputations and unmatched ability.  As part of the program, I did get to sample a few of the different areas on the Floor as we plebes needed as many people as possible to go to bat for us to secure the ultimate prize of a full time offer for the following September. 

One morning when I found myself on the Govie Desk, the Durable Goods numbers flashed across the Bloomberg of the trader I was sitting next to.  The headline ripped consensus which instantly sat on the Treasury market.  The economist for the firm who was unabashedly Continue reading »

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As a father of three daughters, I cannot avoid “American Idol.”  Every Tuesday and Wednesday nights during the first five months of the year, our flat screen in our family room is tuned to Fox as we watch the birth of this country’s next big star.  During the five years of our devoted viewing, no contestant has commanded as much of our attention as Sanjaya Malakar, arguably the worst singer ever to grace the Idol stage as part of the competition’s Top 24.  The reason he grabbed such a focus from the show’s audience was his resiliency to survive no matter how negative the criticism he received from the judges, most notably the highly influential Simon Cowell.  In the end, an exasperated Mr. Cowell threw up his arms and bellowed sarcastically toward the tone deaf singer after another dreadful performance, “it really doesn’t matter what I say to you, so maybe this will get you sent home.  You were terrific!”

Sure enough, America voted Sanjaya off with the aforementioned caustic commentary dooming him to a career of cruise ship crooning.  I by no means claim that my analysis of the markets compares to the talent Mr. Cowell has in finding the next recording superstar.  However, after being dreadfully and embarrassingly wrong in predicting the path of equities for the past six trading days, I throw up my arms in bewilderment in wondering what it will take stocks deservedly to bottom and claw back some of the massive losses sustained in the past few weeks.

I easily could make mention how my most reliable bearish sentiment indicators Continue reading »

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Whenever I have misfired on predicting market direction, I review the data I used in my analysis in formulating my erroneous investment thesis.  I do this for two reasons.  The first allows me to make a more accurate prognostication the next time we encounter a similar environment while the second yields clues on what will precipitate the inevitable turn for equities.  When managing the Beacon Worldwide Opportunities hedge fund last August, I got caught long as the S&P 500 sold off 8% because I disregarded a reliable oversold indicator that I track as well as ignored weak economic data that I argued was dirty, thanks to a variety of outside influences such as the expiration of the first time homebuyer tax credit, and did not reflect the true state of the recovery as global numbers were accelerating aggressively. 

After reevaluating my research, I concluded that since the sentiment statistic had trended to more neutral territory and valuations on stocks had ventured to a point cheap enough to entice institutional buyers, I felt comfortable adding to my long positions which allowed the fund to finish that quarter up a solid 7% Continue reading »

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