Monthly Archives: May 2017

How You Can Make Serious Money When Markets Go Down

If you’re only buying stocks – or options, or any security – hoping they will increase in value, you could be missing out on a lot of profits.

Markets move up and down – you know this because on the down days, you feel it right in your wallet.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Yes, shorting, like most things in trading, can be both risky and complicated. But it doesn’t have to be. And contrary to what many novice traders think, it’s certainly not “off limits” to ordinary investors.

Today I’m going to show you an easy (and possibly very profitable) way to play the markets when you think they’re about to head south.

An Easy Way to Go Short

When I’m bearish and want to bet stocks are headed lower, I generally like buying inverse exchange-traded funds (ETFs) based on the major market indexes.

ProShares Short Dow 30 (NYSEArca:DOG) for the Dow Jones Industrial Average, ProShares Short S&P 500 (NYSEArca:SH) to short the S&P 500, and ProShares Short QQQ (NYSEArca:PSQ) to bet the Nasdaq is headed lower.

If I’m extremely bearish, and I believe stocks are going to fall hard today or tomorrow, I’ll sometimes buy a leveraged short inverse ETF like the ProShares UltraPro Short S&P 500 (NYSEArca:SPXU). The UltraPro Short S&P fund is a “3x leveraged” inverse ETF. That means if the S&P 500 goes down 1% today, SPXU would go up 3% today.

But this is important: Leveraged ETFs are only meant as short-term trading vehicles. That’s why I said “if I believe stocks are going to fall hard today or tomorrow.” Because of the way leveraged ETFs are priced, they’re “re-set” every day – they’re not good long-term holds.

In a perfect world, if your conviction is right and you buy a leveraged inverse ETF and stocks go down right away, and they keep going down for multiple days in succession, you’ll be a very happy camper.

I’m not greedy. If I have a straight run for a few days holding an inverse leveraged ETF, I’d take my profits as soon as I think the sell-off is over.

I wouldn’t wait another day, I’d ring the register and be happy. If I own an unleveraged inverse ETF like DOG, SH, or PSQ, I’d probably use a 5% to 10% stop to get out if the markets rallied. If you take small losses, you can get out and figure out where stocks are going and get back in if your timing was off but you think they’re going down again.

Now let’s look at one of my favorite plays: money…

Here’s the Trade for When Gold and Currencies Tank (or Skyrocket)

There are lots of leveraged gold ETFs. Here are some of my favorites. Just remember what I said about holding any leveraged ETF: they’re very short-term trading vehicles.

Another way to “leverage” gold on the upside (betting bullion is going higher) is to buy miners. Mining stocks move up a lot faster than gold itself in an up-trending gold market.

Currencies are a little bit different, but it’s not hard to trade their moves up or down. Don’t forget, you can’t just short one currency – all currencies are “priced” in terms of another currency, so they always trade as a “pair.”

If you think the euro is going down relative the U.S. dollar, you can actually sell short the CurrencyShares Euro ETF (NYSEArca: FXE). If you want a leveraged (2x) way to bet the euro is going down relative to the U.S. dollar, you can buy a popular inverse leveraged euro/dollar ETF, the ProShares UltraShort Euro (NYSEArca:EUO).

There’s another popular way to hedge and play downturns in the market, but it’s trickier than it looks. Still, done right it can lead to some big profits on the short side.

How to Buy and Play the iPath Hedges

I’ve got nothing against VelocityShares Daily 2x VIX Short-Term ETN (NYSEArca:TVIX), if you get into it and the move you expect, a dramatic drop in prices and a spike in volatility, happens right away.

But here’s that tricky part I mentioned.

It’s a leveraged ETF – so if you don’t get a sustained move down pretty soon after you buy it, and you sit with it a few weeks, or worse, a few months, it loses its value quickly. Bottom line, it’s a leveraged ETF and great if you get the timing right, get in, and get a sustained move in your direction.
I’m not a huge fan of the iPath S&P 500 VIX Short-Term Futures ETN (NYSEArca:VXX), either, because it’s based on VIX futures.

VXX is thought of as an ETF, but it isn’t. ETFs have their own supply and demand dynamics and their own bid-ask spread dynamics. But it’s based on two sets of futures that have their own “valuation” dynamics based on rolling first- and second-month futures contracts.

VXX is actually an exchange-traded note (ETN), not a fund. It’s actually a derivative, which adds up to a lot of moving parts and is hard to arbitrage and “value” properly.

But if you’re going to use VXX, I’d suggest you add a one-quarter dose of it to whatever other protection you have on. Just keep in mind, if markets settle down and stocks flatten out and go sideways, the VIX and VXX will drop a lot quicker than non-leveraged inverse ETFs you might have on for protection.

My favorite way to play a spike in volatility is to buy calls on the actual VIX.

When I’m playing options, I generally like to buy options three to six months out. I always prefer further out options because it gives me more time, but you have to weigh the time against the higher price or premium you have to pay for them.

That’s why I look three to six months out and incorporate how much volatility I expect over that three to six months. If I expect a spike in volatility sooner rather than later, I’d opt for the cheaper, near-term options. If I run out of time but I still think I’m right, I’ll roll into the next three months out options.

In a perfect world, if you knew the move you expected was going to happen in a couple of weeks and last a week or two, you wouldn’t waste money buying further out options and pay for time you wouldn’t need.

But… it’s not a perfect world and I’m very often right, but I can get stung because my options expire and I hesitate rolling out to the next few months and get sick when the move I expected all of a sudden happens and I’m not in the trade.

That’s the worst feeling in the world, but you won’t have to sweat it with this strategy.

Wall Street Insights & Indictments

WITH SHAH GILANI

Here’s Who Killed the American Middle Class – and Why

The proof is in the pudding.
I thought this article is quite interesting in explaining the declining of democracy in U.S.A; and the condition of the middle class who have been reduced to poverty by the very politicians who they elected for their well being.
So who were the Republican and Democratic politicians behind the wholesale transformation of America, and where are they now?
Well…..
Here’s Who Killed the American Middle Class – and Why
By SHAH GILANI, Capital Wave Strategist, Money Morning • @WallStreet_II • May 23, 2017
There’s a widening wealth gap in America. It took a generation, but the middle class in this country has been hollowed out. Most people agree on that. But they don’t really know how it happened or who’s really to blame – it’s been obscured with false narratives, covered with “fake news.”
The thing is, the truth is in front of us. We’re living it in real time. It’s just never discussed openly – for a reason.
The people who are behind this catastrophic American collapse have fooled folks into thinking this is all normal.
Well, it’s anything but that…
Who to Blame for the Disappearing Middle Class
Republicans aren’t to blame: Their old-school platform of a smaller federal government, fiscal conservatism, more power to the states, and belief that a lightly regulated path to working hard and standing on your own two feet is what made America the global bastion of entrepreneurship and helped create a middle class that is laudable and fair.
Democrats aren’t to blame: Their old-school platform of a larger, more interventionist federal government, spending on social programs, supporting and safeguarding workers, all kinds of civil rights, protections for the environment, and their belief that government should stand behind those not able to stand on their own two feet, or who have been trampled by runaway businesses, helped create a middle class that is equally laudable and fair.
The two parties, with their visions and flaws balanced by democracy, made America great… once.
What happened is greedy, neo-con, profiteering Republican crony capitalists hijacked their party, while greedy, limousine liberal, profiteering Democrat crony capitalists hijacked their party. Together, as a new class of elites joined the Masters of the Universe, they began manipulating state apparatuses and banking for fun and profit…
A lot of profit.
The crony capitalists’ principal enrichment tools are “financialization” and, as we’ll see a little later this week, its manservant, “globalization.”
Financialization is the retooling of the economy’s production and distribution assets, consisting of made-in-America goods and services, into credit-driven banking and financial services products.
At its core, financialization is the transfer of low-risk, low-profit debt into high-risk, high-profit products.
The net result of the mass commodification of debt-based financial instruments and leveraged debt (grossly under-collateralized by low-risk debt) is rampant speculation.
This heavy betting, however, isn’t undertaken just for the sake of pyramiding risks for speculative gains. These so-called “products” are now integral and necessary investment tools because traditional, safe investments don’t yield adequate returns in the world of financialization.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), in 1980, financial services contributed 4.9% to the country’s GDP. At its peak in 2006, that contribution had almost doubled to 8.3%.
More to the point, in terms of profitability, James Kwak, law professor at the University of Connecticut, calculated in 1980 the financial industry’s profits as a share of total U.S. business profits was 7.5%. That share of all business profits in corporate America jumped to more than 41% by the mid-2000s.
U.S. GDP in 2016 was $18.56 trillion, according to the BEA. In full view of financial services’ share of GDP (which is rising again) and its share of corporate profits (also on the march to new highs), it’s impossible not to see the financialization of the U.S. economy.
Worse, it’s actually become the beating black heart of the economy. It’s happening that way by design…
How the Financialization Scam Became Settled Public Policy
The road to financialization began with the overturning of longstanding public and economic protections, starting with the Depository Institutions Deregulation and Monetary Control Act of 1980, a Trojan horse that let banks establish holding companies and gave the Fed more power over more banks.
That major deregulatory action was followed quickly by the Garn-St. Germain Depository Institutions Act of 1982, which leveled the playing field for banks and their holding companies experiencing competitive disintermediation and decreasing profitability.
Ultimately, a series of subsequent rules- and regulations-trimming by banks’ congressional cronies culminated in the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999, whose main function was the total repeal of the Depression-era Glass-Steagall Act that had for decades separated insured, deposit-taking commercial banks from swashbuckling investment banks.
That’s how elitist Democrats and Republicans paved a super highway for the financialization of the American economy and their enrichment from the country’s transformation.
So who were the Republican and Democratic politicians behind the wholesale transformation of America, and where are they now?
You’d be shocked at how many of them you know as senators, House members, cabinet secretaries, principal regulators… Supposed stalwart guardians of American prosperity who’ve become filthy rich at the expense of the middle class, on whose backs and from whose labor and savings they’ve enriched themselves (and their reelection war chests). I’ve written thousands of pages in Insights and Indictments naming names and calling these sellouts what they really are: crony capitalist pigs.
The proof is in the pudding.
Actually, make that pooling.
Without financialization, we never would have had the subprime mortgage crisis and the market and financial system crashes.
I’ll show you how.
Home mortgages used to originate “locally,” with banks, thrifts, and credit unions that knew their communities, as well as the value of properties and creditworthiness of borrowers in those communities. Mortgage loans mostly stayed on the books of lending institutions until maturity or until properties were sold.
That was great for stability and fairness, and making sure things remain sustainable… but the trouble was, no one got filthy stinkin’ rich on it…
Financialization, with its cheap come-on capital, its dodgy pooling techniques, its structuring, its tranches, derivatives and synthetic derivatives of derivatives, turned a utility service into a speculative pyramid of leveraged loans that looked and acted more like a Ponzi scheme than the sophisticated, high-yielding, safe (a lot of them packaged with government approval and guarantees) financial instruments they were made out to be by rating agency co-conspirators.
We all know how that ended.
Thing is, it didn’t actually end there. How could it have? As horrific as the financial crisis was, as much wealth was vaporized, there was still lots more blood to drain from the middle and working classes – and their children.
A Bad Idea Gets Much, Much Worse
That bloodletting comes in the pooling of student loan debt. If anything, it’s even more sickening than the financialization of mortgage debt.
As if leveraging the living daylights out of the American dream of home ownership wasn’t enough, the financial vampires of the political class saw an opportunity in that other great American dream: higher education – the burning desire of people to better their lot and improve their wages and prospects at colleges and universities.
What happened to professors’, administrators’, state schools’, and private schools’ goals of helping Americans get a higher education for the fair wages they earned and the balanced budgets they hoped to achieve?
As horrific as the financial crisis was, as much wealth was vaporized, there was still lots more blood to drain from the middle and working classes – and their children.
They got greedy. They’re all in the big for-profit game now, thanks to financialization.
Hopeful students are suckered into cheap loans which are, of course, pooled, leveraged, sliced, diced, and sold to investors. The cash those investors fork over can be used to make more loans, to pyramid (or Ponzi, if you choose) students’ hopes and dreams that a higher education means a higher standard of living.
And if those loans are in arrears, in default, and don’t get paid back – hey – investors don’t have to worry.
The government, which is to say crony capitalist congressmen and women, have fixed that potentially profit-leaking hole.
You see, making student debtors “low risk” by having the state guarantee payment of interest and principal to investors – while extracting more payment from grossly indebted students (plenty of whom never graduate), no matter the cost or the poverty level of those beleaguered, unemployed, underemployed, and generally struggling indebted borrowers – means that more loans can be pushed like dope to the uninitiated who have no idea about the trap they’re being lured into.
And as for the neo-liberal educators and liberal arts universities who want more kids – customers – to get a better education, they’re making hundreds of thousands of dollars in salaries and tens of millions of profits every year.
That’s financialization at work.
It’s not at work alone. Later this week in my Insights & Indictments service, I’m going to show you how globalization is taking these crony capitalist schemes big time, as in, worldwide, trapping billions in a state of permanent poverty. Click here to get my update as soon as it’s released, and you’ll get all of my Insights & Indictments research, too – free.
Together, we’ll play the crony capitalists’ game while working to destroy it.
Follow Shah on Facebook and Twitter.

Google will soon become the most powerful entity on Earth.

The future’s most powerful entity

Google is one of the leaders at the moment when it comes to artificial intelligence applications and has turned the AI venture into the single largest collection of resources and brain power that has a focus purely on the development of artificial intelligence.

Currently, there are over 250 PhDs and 400 research scientists working on DeepMind’s unlimited funding projects with two main goals in mind. The first is to try and solve intelligence and figure out how the human brain became capable of taking over the planet. The second is to use that intelligence to do everything else. And you may laugh, but this is not some crazy farfetched idea either. These goals are for real, and the company is more than happy to talk freely with anyone about it.

To get an even deeper understanding of what their plans involve why not check out a recent presentation given by Demis Hassabis, founder of DeepMind, who will talk you through their ideas.