Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Bear Rally

I suspect that we could have some sustained rally in the next couple of months. The US situation in Q3 is not as worse as feared (and it should not given that the main fiscal drag from reduced stimulus, e.g., payroll tax cut, won't come until the new year). Eurozone might find some temp bandit and would still have at least three months before the ultimatum on EFSF anyway. China has tried to signal support for its banks (none of its big 4 banks will go bankrupt anyway; that won't be an option for Chinese government, even though they are technically bankrupt, as in BOA and Citi situation). So it is possible this rally could run till after early November. So from a trading point of view, or from a professional money manager point of view, it might be wise to cover shorts and even load up a bit on risky high beta names with low bankruptcy risks. 

However, the bigger question is whether this is the end of this round of bear market? I doubt it. As mentioned in an earlier post, US recession is likely, given Republican's political interest. The Fed probably won't deliver a big QE3, if any (maybe 200 billion more bond buying). It is completely hopeless yet that Eurozone may eventually come up with necessary solution, but that will happen until things already become extremely dire. China has fiscal powder this year to boost up its growth (note that it ran budget surplus in the first half of 2011, like every prior year, which becomes budget deficit by year end, because of fiscal injection). But it should know that too strong a boost will only provide the precursor for an even more dramatic fall a few years down the road. Also, China's ill is nearly terminal (which may take decades to cure), because it is structural. No country ever has 33% or lower consumption portion of their GDP and no country ever has more than 50% GDP as investment. It has to fire tens of millions, if not much more, and then move them into service and consumption related sectors. It also has to resolve the issue of how to pay for the bill from massive misallocation of capital. If it is through financial repression as they did the last time, that will only make its economy even more imbalanced. The best solution may be selling all the SOEs and use the proceeds to build medicare, social security, and free education system. But since SOEs are the fat cows the monopolize Chinese industries and that the elite use to milk for their own pockets, that is politically infeasible.

So it is probable that the short sighted market will rally hard in the next couple of months, only find itself extremely disappointed at the start of next year. 

On a higher note, it is not impossible that the US will become much better than what it is now in 2013. If a Republican is elected into the White House, he is likely to renege on the campaign rhetoric that is only used to confuse people and make things worse. Once they have the rights to govern, unless they are extremist (they might as well be, at least up to now) who want to destroy the most powerful republic on earth, they are likely to raise taxes (especially capital gain and estate taxes), build infrastructure, and do some other right things such as reining in the big banks and financial industry.  Romney would be wise enough to do some of those. If Obama cannot do anything right and disgrace the most powerful position in the whole world, then it is not a bad idea that he gets booted. If Obama does get reelected, there is some chance he will finally show some teeth and do what is right. After all, most presidents only do what they strongly believe in during their second terms. So it is no inconceivable we could have a relative bull market in 2013. 

To end this note, I steal the following quoted lines from Mr. Paul:

"First of all, bank regulation is important even in the absence of bailouts. Don’t trust me, trust Adam Smith. Scotland invented modern banking; it also invented modern banking crises; and Smith, having witnessed such a crisis, favored bank regulations, declaring that
Such regulations may, no doubt, be considered as in some respect a violation of natural liberty. But those exertions of the natural liberty of a few individuals, which might endanger the security of the whole society, are, and ought to be, restrained by the laws of all governments; of the most free, as well as or the most despotical. The obligation of building party walls, in order to prevent the communication of fire, is a violation of natural liberty, exactly of the same kind with the regulations of the banking trade which are here proposed."
So no one can be more eloquent than Adam Smith, the father of capitalism, about the issue. In fact, it would be a real pity to see a great country like the US being destroyed for the political interest of a few and send it to the class of Brazil in the 70s. Without such a great country to back them up, how would the moneyed elite keep their wealth. For now, they are free riding the American republic to the extreme. 2013 may be the time for them to make a choice. But whatever will happen then, we probably are destined to enjoy some dark days in the next year. That does not mean you cannot make money ;=). Bearish or bullish, there is always an angle to make money. Only the complacent lazy investors, which is the majority, hope for bull markets to make money.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Is technical analysis useful?

On October 3:

Charts are certainly great for short term predictions, not because they have any predictive power, but because everyone is watching and trading with them. So largely a herding effect. However, for longer term predictions, charts are much less accurate. If you back test any of the charts, you are unlikely to find anything there, unless you trade every day, which is again based on short term  predictions ;=), and the transaction costs will eat those profits alive.

I have not used charts for a long while now, but I should look more when it comes the time that the bottom might be near ;=).

More nuanced view about markets

On October 6:

What's your view on the property market in hong kong ? Do you think more serious adjustment is coming also ?

HK housing market is a bubble on steroids. It may not completely burst as long as mainland growth can hold up, but we probably will have some correction this winter and it may come back up if China floods everything with liquidity again. China still has some powder for now. But that would set up for an even big stage of the bubbles and will crash even hard when it burst within the next five years. HK economy will be in a big and long winter by then. However, that does not there will be no money made; one could retire once making it.

What's your view on when the stock market can be stabilized ? Or will it be haunted by the Greece sovereign debt crisis until it collapsed and started to default ?
Europe has a few months (say 3) to decide. One temp solution is to ask ECB to buy unlimited amount of PIIGS debt. That can probably delay the resolution by another 6-12 months top and is not a long term solution. In that case, people in those countries will rebel and default and leave Euro zone, and ECB would still need Germans to recap because it has little equity. And Germans still have to recap their own banks. Some say it is just loading the explosives in the can and then kick the can down the road. The long term solution, if they still want the one Europe dream, is fiscal union, like the US. But that is not possible in near term given the very long approval process (take years), and that average Germans do not want to do that at all. So that is the biggest explosive right now.

Market won’t drop in straight lines. So as I mention in earlier email, markets might stabilize or even rally, especially given that the Fed may send another 200 Billion QE out after relatively miserable Q3 numbers are announced at the end of October and start of November. But the US will likely have a recession; republicans have tried hard to make the economy bad. They now hope for a recession in order to get in the White House. There is a very high correlation between a recession 6-12 months before election and the incumbent president being ousted. This is the last moment before their potential success, they will not give ground. They are effectively committing treason in the last couple of years for their own political gains. In a cynical way, you may not fully blame them, because the man who hold American presidency, the most powerful position in the world, did nothing to stop them. Instead, he is complicit in their crime. If these guys are not doing things like this, the US would have been in much better shape. 


Some Friends wrote back and said that they agree with me. They believe  everything is a doom for the near future. I might beg to differ on the latter point. There are still a lot uncertainties and even though we could have a baseline scenario, the bi- or tri-mode nature of the near future outcomes means we need to be flexible in terms of our predictions. Just from a simple trading point of view, you could short into the market by taking a bearish view and markets eventually go down much more. However, if in between there is a bear rally, it could cause so much pain that you cannot hold the position. Since I have no time recently, I am simply out of the market for the most part now, because if you read one of my earlier post, I predicted this would have been a slowly downward trend market with lots of volatility (which most do not enjoy). So on the surface you might get it that this will be a bear market, and you thought everything is easy, but markets and the situations going forward are actually much more nuanced than that (Well, that gives you one  more )reason to read my blog, doesn't it?).

To follow up on the above point, also on October 6:

I think the EU solution could have many alternative outcomes than just a singular solution of printing a lot of money. That is the usual mistake people have made with the Fed, hence the false inflation scare last and this year. Also, China is not really that hand tied; they still have enough powder to deploy. So I am actually not necessarily that bearish on China for the time being. But if they do not do it in the right way to start the transition, they will lose the last bit of wig room and the crash from next crisis, say a couple of years from now, could be much bigger. So the situation might be much more nuanced than simply saying it is all downhill from here. 

Monday, October 3, 2011

lucky on a very short term view

The last two emails were actually included in my email sent to a bunch of friends on very short time view. I am lucky to be right on this very short term view as well. In HK for example, the share prices have dropped to May 2009 level. A lot of savings for people who have kept money in dry powder.

On Tue, Sep 27, 2011 at 10:25 AM, Xi Li <> wrote:

Hope you have enjoyed some market action so far. I warned some fellow members about this coming slaughter, the earliest in April when people like Yang Kun, Xiao Xiaofeng, and Guan Yu were together at dinner with some friends from CIC (The CIC). It will be mostly volatility + downside in the next few months. Now is still not a bad time to get out of position, especially with this current unavoidable technical rally. These are updates on my blog Had no time to write a blog so simply cut a couple paragraphs from email communications in the last few months to share.