Sold My Calls This Morning

Market sentiment changed dramatically since I pondered about the latest rally (the bottom or just another bear market sucker's rally?) just as few days ago. After yesterday's (3/19/09) close, with the S&P 500 up around 18% in a week's worth of trading, the bulls seemed to outnumber the bears and other skeptical investors. The screaming and yelling Fast Money guys seemed particularly bullish last night. More importantly, I feel bullish and think there's no reason for the market to go lower (bearish sign).

Another thing that drove me to sell my calls (for a not so bad profit, but I wish I had bought them later than I did--and they're on the SPY if you've been wondering which calls I keep talking about; and as always, I try to update my trades on the bottom sidebar of this blog) was a video by TheStreet.com's James Altucher. (In the video he's the Sideshow Bob looking guy who is sleeping on the sidewalk and talks like he drinks too much coffee.) He says, "the bull is back." This coming from Altucher, who advises debt free homeowners to take out a mortgage because "cash is king" (genius!) is a bearish signal for me. He's been a frequent guest on Yahoo!'s Tech Ticker, and each time proclaimed that stocks are incredibly cheap or were great over the longer term just as they peaked before a leg down. November 4, 2008, July 10, 2008, December 2007. Maybe it's just poor timing of his appearances, as he'd probably say the same thing on March 9 as he's saying now (and would seem smart today). And I'm sure he's made some good calls in the past (I haven't found any), but I sell when this guy says buy.

I'm not buying puts yet, and maybe I'm a bit early in selling, but I think we're due for at least a small pullback.

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Surprise Surprise

Everyone seems surprised and upset about the AIG bonuses, but are some government officials of our banana republic just acting?

From CNBC:

In a stunning development, Sen. Christopher Dodd said that Obama administration officials asked him to add language to last month's federal stimulus bill to make sure the controversial AIG bonuses remained in place.
Dodd, chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, told CNN that Obama officials wanted the language added to an amendment limiting bonuses that could be paid by companies receiving federal bailout money. He said they were afraid that without it, the government would face numerous lawsuits from employees who were promised bonuses.

Senior White House officials said last night that President Obama did not learn that bonuses worth $165 million were to be paid to executives of American International Group until Thursday, one day before they were issued and two days after his Treasury secretary was informed that the payments were going forward.

But how could that be if the administration was asking for language to be added to the "stimulus" bill last month? Besides, CNN reported on the AIG bonuses on January 28th.

Where's the surprise? 

And the funniest thing is Geitner's proposal to get the $165 million in bonus money back: reduce AIG's bailout by that amount! Genius! How does that work? You beg me, "please, please, please, lend me some money so I can feed my kids and pay the rent." I give you the money, knowing that I'll probably never see it again, but hey it's for a good cause. Then find out that you subsequently bought everyone drinks at a bar. Geitner's solution is that I take what you've spent on the booze from you, reducing my loan by that amount. Does that change anything? I'm still the one paying for the drinks.

Geitner is either not very smart or is shameless (maybe after he resigns Obama will follow Bush's example and give him a medal). It could be both. That's what it takes to advance in Washington these days.

But we're not so bright ourselves. 

They are stealing our money right in front of us. It's not just the bailout of their Wall Street friends. (For instance, most of the AIG bailout is going out the back door to Goldman Sachs et al, for crap that AIG insured. Billions of those dollars will probably be paid out as bonuses at those firms at the end of this year. Paying off Goldman by giving money to AIG is supposed to save our financial system.)

And it's not just the previous bonuses. Are we still angry that around three fourths of Bank of America's most recent bailout was paid out as bonuses? I think we've forgotten. That's billions of dollars, and here we are livid over AIG's $165 million, which is, incidentally, about $5 million cheaper than Obama's inauguration.

Everyone seems so angry about the bonuses, whether main street's real anger or Washington's feigning. I'm not especially. 

The real outrage is the nonstop running of the printing presses. The Fed just announced that it will print an additional $1 trillion plus. I've lost count of how much money is floating around out there. This is a far larger theft than the bonuses.

The silver lining, for all you angry people, is that eventually the bonuses you're upset about won't be worth anything anyway.

I say when everything fails (and it will, as our foundation is rotten), we get out the torches and pitch forks, clean up DC and Wall Street, and start over fresh.

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