*Click any chart to enlarge. Please read disclosures at the bottom of this page.
Welcome to a special Sunday edition of The Lund Loop, which is free on the last weekend of each month.
But if you want to get it every god damn weekend, and why wouldn’t you, click the cute blue button below to become a paid subscriber. It’s the best $10 bucks per month you’ll ever spend.
This was a week of conflicting signals, as uncertainties over China, the economy, and a potential impeachment are starting to show up in the charts.
Some stocks look good, while others look shaky. Some indexes look solid, while others are worrisome. And some sectors are hanging in there, while others look like they want to rollover.
The bottom line is, after that encouraging breakout a few weeks ago, we’ve now - once again - moved back into a choppy environment where it’s hard to find a short-term edge.
Let’s get to the charts…
S&P 500 Index (SPX)
SPX gave up its quest to stay above the long-term trendline. Now it’s just holding on a support level.
NASDAQ-100 Index (NDX)
Almost the same pattern here in the NDX as we have in SPX.
The weak links.
FB finally gave up the ghost and abandoned the trendline. Friday saw it barely close above support and the 200-day MA.
As we’ve been saying for weeks, AMZN has looked bad on a relative strength basis.
Now it’s poking its head out of the bottom of the recent consolidation range.
However, AAPL and GOOGL don’t look too bad.
AAPL has formed a small consolidation zone above support, while GOOGL is basing near all-time highs.
Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA)
The DJIA doesn’t look that bad as it consolidates sideways. But with only 30 stocks in the index, who really gives a fuck what it does?
Russell 2000 ETF (IWM)
Like a son who dropped out of law school, IWM continues to disappoint.
A few weeks back it had a massive run, which initially had an orderly pullback. But this week that pullback went too far.
The only consolation I can give is that all four of the major MAs are basically flat. Meaning we could sit in this range for quite a long time.
S&P 500 Volatility Index (VIX)
The VIX is stuck in an ever-enlarging flag pattern.
iShares Trust China Large-Cap ETF (FXI)
FXI broke below support and now might have a date with that long-term support level below.
iShares MSCI Emerging Markets ETF (EEM)
EEM is doing well relative to other emerging market indexes. Hint: Check out JCs part of my Stocktoberfest recap to see what he says about investing in emerging markets.
Financial Sector SPDR (XLF)
SPDR S&P Homebuilders ETF (XHB)
VanEck Vectors Semiconductor ETF (SMH)
A tale of different indexes.
XLF put in a double top last week, but this week it has held, moving sideways. That’s good.
XHB broke out of a tight flag-type range above support. Can’t be mad at that.
But SMH, though not far from all-time highs, seems to be breaking out of the bottom of a consolidation range.
Like I said, conflicting signals.
US Dollar Currency Index (DXY)
CBOE Interest Rate 10-Year T-Note (TNX)
DXY looks like it wants to break into multi-year highs, while TNX is pausing in an intermediate-term downtrend.
SPDR Gold Trust (GLD)
iShares Silver Trust (SLV)
GLD held the gap support while SLV held the pivot point support.
West Texas Oil (WTIC)
After that violent breakout a few weeks back, oil has come down and “kissed” the breakout line.
Just waiting to see what happens from here.
ETFMG Alternative Harvest ETF (MJ)
Pot sucks as MJ goes below support, into all-time lows.
But wait, a pot hedge fund may save the day. 😒
Hipsters are hating as BTC breaks below support.
S&P 500 -1.01%, Dow -0.43%, Nasdaq -2.19%, and the Russell 2000 -2.52%.
The best asset class returns this week were Long Treasuries (+0.64% ) and the worst were Emerging Markets (-2.33% ).
Potential market-moving data next week: September Employment Report (Fri).
*Click any chart to enlarge. Please read disclosures at the bottom of this page.
Most of last week’s setups didn’t trigger. Of those that did, they either had weak moves that stayed near breakout points or they came back in for a scratch.
As you might have guessed from the previous section, unless you’re day trading off 5-minute charts, you should probably just be sitting on your hands for the time being.
Once we get some resolution in this market new setups will begin to emerge. And when they do, you’ll see them here first.
There's a sleepy town, just north of the border
You go there once, you'll be there twice
-Cabo Wabo, Van Halen
Welcome to Stocktoberfest & Trade App - Ian Rosen, StockTwits CEO
Last Thursday afternoon, I embarked upon my annual sojourn down the Southern California coast to Coronado Island, where I attended Stocktoberfest 2019, put on by the folks at StockTwits.
When I went to the first Stocktoberfest back in 2012, the whole StockTwits team was domiciled on the island in a series of offices in a rundown complex. I say a “series” because none of the offices were actually connected.
The entrance/reception was in one section of the building, and you had to walk along an outside balcony - past a nail salon - to get to the business development office. And the programmers? Well, it was back onto the balcony and another walk past a massage parlor and a new age healing center to get to their office.
It was on a crowded deck outside that office - with an open bar that consisted of an igloo cooler filled with beer and boxed wine - where the inaugural networking event took place. That’s when I first met Howard Lindzon, Phil Pearlman, Sean McLaughlin, and the other members of the OG StockTwits crew.
My, how things have changed.
Now the company is based in Manhattan, boasts 2.8 million registered users, and just launched their new product, Trade App.
On the surface, Trade App looks like just another entry into the world of commission-free trading, but there’s more to it.
In addition to supporting fractional trading, the idea around Trade App is that every trade has a story (a tag line supplied by yours truly). Phil was kind enough to set me up as the first outside test user, and after Howard walked me through a demo, I began to see the genius behind the app.
Trading, as a business, has long been on a road of commoditization, one that ended with the advent of zero-commission mobile apps. And though transaction technology is no longer unique, what you layer over it can be, and that’s where the value-add is for Trade App.
Trade App allows users to not only quickly and easily trade for free but enables them to turn that trade into natively shareable content which can be annotated with indicators, drawings, and even embedded video.
It’s pretty cool and I can’t wait to see where they go with it.
After Ian’s welcome, the day continued with a full slate of great presentations, but a few of them stood out to me. In summarizing these, I’ll be paraphrasing the presenters - except when quotes are used.
All the presenters were kind enough to allow me to use their slides and to link to their full decks. I encourage you to reach out to them if you have additional questions.
Screen-Time Adjusted Returns - Evan Mederios, The Trade Risk
Evan is a great guy who I always look forward to talking to when our paths cross. His presentation covered the journey he’s been on to make his trading more efficient by avoiding getting bogged down with the infinite number of indicators, products, and market-related decisions we all face.
He’s done this in a number of ways, including extending time frames, but his primary strategy has been to automate his trading, however, not in the way most of us have been conditioned to think of automation.
I would call it “thoughtful automation.”
It starts with selecting automation tools you are comfortable with. For example, Evan uses an Excel spreadsheet as one of his main tools, which requires no coding or programming abilities.
Then you ask yourself a question, one that seems obvious at first, but which most of us have probably never asked.
“What can I automate?”
You can then break the process into several component parts, like automating stock selection, or what type of market environments you’ll trade in. And most importantly, you want to automate what you’re bad at.
As you do this, you keep in mind that the overriding philosophy is to make sure you’re automating your system in a way the corresponds with your personality and in a way that allows you to maintain your quality of life.
By following this strategy, Evan had continued to trade less every year – down from twenty-five trades per week to four currently - yet his returns have increased.
To me, this is a very Zen way of approaching trading, and it really made me think about what aspects of my trading I could put on autopilot.
The Inversion Between the S&P Dividend Yield and the 10-Year Yield - Michael Kramer
Michael is a mystery.
He hit the stage, ripped through a bunch of slides, and then slid out into the Stocktoberfest crowd, never to be seen again. At least I didn’t see him again.
I don’t know if he’s got a company, a product, or even a Twitter account.
Maybe I dreamt him?
Well, despite Michael’s phantasmic appearance, his presentation left an impression on me.
“We’re going to have a bull rally in the market, and we’re NOT going to have a recession.” That’s the thesis from Michael Kramer, and here are a few reasons why;
· Though earnings expectations are trending lower, they are still well within ranges that historically have not corresponded with recessions.
· Average one-year forward PE’s are cheap. He feels too cheap.
· Inflation is unlikely to change for several more years.
But here’s the part that really stuck with me.
When financial pundits point to the inverted yield curve as a harbinger of doom, they miss the point. It’s not that the yield curve is inverted - that’s not the important part - it’s the length of time and the depth with which the curve inverts.
As Michael pointed out on a chart that went back to 1989, when you compare today’s inversion to past inversions - those that corresponded with recessions - you can barely see this one. It’s almost imperceptible.
The point being, we’re not going into a recession any time soon. Oh, and he expects to see a 12% rise in the S&P 500 over the next twelve months.
Hmm, maybe I did dream him?
Online / Twitter / StockTwits <---------- Like Bigfoot, I don’t know if Michael actually exists in the wild, but if you sight him, hit me up as I’d love to give credit where credit is due.
30 Charts in 30 Minutes – J.C. Parets, All-Star Charts
The title of this talk is a bald-faced lie. It was more like 120 charts in 17 minutes. That’s a lot of firehose drinking. So much so that there’s no way I can accurately summarize JC’s whole presentation, but there were some really fantastic insights, so I’m going to try to hit some of them.
One of the things I like about JC is that he’s a trend follower at heart and thus takes a much more macro approach to charts than most other market technicians (i.e. those I see in the mirror 😒). He also looks at how markets, asset classes, and sectors act and interrelate to come up with his viewpoints.
“There is no holy grail chart. The more charts you have, the more clues you get.”
JC began his presentation by posing the question, “is this current consolidation just a pause before a new uptrend starts, or is it delaying the inevitable break lower?”
He thinks we go higher.
Here are just a few of the charts he highlighted to support his take.
JP Morgan looks like it’s setting up a reverse head and shoulders, and “if JP Morgan is breaking out, the market is not crashing.”
“Home construction (ITB) is at its highest close since 2018.”
The IXC is a new communications index made up of FB, GOOGL, DIS, and other tech/media darlings, and it’s making new highs.
Google consolidating in a long-term uptrend is bullish.
“TXN hasn’t done anything in two decades, and now it’s breaking out.”
The SOX is still above March 2000 highs.
Broker-dealers are still above the March 2007 highs.
“If you want just one chart to show the bull case, this is it. If IAI is above highs we buy, below we sell.”
JC noted that this chart of WFC was a little bit out of date as the stock has since started breaking out.
“Investors buying the worst bank out there is evidence of risk appetite.”
Copper: Commercial hedgers have their largest historical positions currently.
“If copper is above 255, we want to buy the metal and emerging market stocks.”
“Rails are looking strong and about to break out of multi-year bases.”
To be fair, JC did show some charts that weren’t in the best shape, but overall, his take was bullish. For a better – and more nuanced - explanation of this thesis, feel free to hit him up.
Beyond Howard Lindzon – Howard Lindzon, Social Leverage
Ian came back on stage for this part of the presentation to pose a question to Howard.
What is he worried about?
Well, it’s complicated.
On one hand, he’s worried that there’s “an insane person in the White House.”
He also says that knowing that, the market hasn’t crashed, and maybe that’s a good sign?
But he’s more worried about misinformation. The term “fake news” may have come up one or twenty times.
Howard related the story of his son Max who is currently away at college. Max is big into vaping, and both Howard and his wife are continually sending him articles and information about the health risks associated with this habit.
Like any parents, they are worried that something terrible might happen to their child.
But when pressed, Max always responds with some variation of “that’s fake news,” and Howard is worried that there is a whole generation of Americans who have lost their ability to reason and separate fact from fiction – something I’m going to talk about in a moment in the “Life” section of today’s Lund Loop.
So where are the opportunities?
Howard thinks they’re in Healthcare and with brands who know how to deliver “lifestyle” to consumers. Brands like Lululemon, Nike, and Apple. These are companies that understand their customers, and those companies that understand their customers best will stand out in the marketplace going forward.
And, he thinks swag is overrated. 🤷
Holy Shit! - Todd Sullivan, ValuePlays
Actually, Todd’s presentation was entitled “Oil’s Landlord,” but “Holy Shit!” is what I’m pretty sure everybody in the room thought once he got past the third or fourth slide.
I can’t even begin to do the presentation justice, but here are the short strokes; There’s a publicly traded company out there that controls 900,000 acres of the most oil and natural gas-rich land in the United States with no mortgage or cost, which they lease to exploration companies while retaining significant mineral and asset rights.
And due to an arcane trust structure, which may soon be changed due to challenges by an activist investor, the stock is massively undervalued.
You’ve got to check out Todd’s presentation; it’s pretty epic. And feel free to hit him up with any questions about it.
Simple Instruments Creating Stellar Results - Anne-Marie Baiynd, The Trading Book
I’ve known Anne-Marie for a long time, and she’s the author of one of my favorite books on trading – The Trading Book.
(By the way, you can see all my favorite trading and investing books here).
Her talk was about using less to get more out of the market, more specifically, capturing signal over noise.
“We all say we want the signal, but we get caught up in the noise – financial media, for example. All this takes us away from our plan.”
Anne-Marie started as a neurological researcher, with a focus on Mathematical and Behavioral Statistics, so when she says that by nature, we are always mentally looking to simplify, she knows what she’s talking about.
She sees the process of simplifying trading as linear. It starts first with risk management, then structure, and finally, strategy.
With that structure in place, you can then focus on the signals you should be looking for – trend, time, support, and resistance.
But most traders don’t know how to structure and simplify, which leads to an increase in that most of human conditions – lack of consistency, which is hot death in trading (my words 😉).
She says that if you look at your portfolio and see large peaks and valleys, that means you are having a problem with consistency.
“Learn to subtract instead of adding indicators, data, and process.”
“We already have the information we need to be successful, but we lose control of the process, often exasperated by the emotions associated with winning and losing. So instead of trying to find new tools and new things, focus on fixing the tools and things you have, and pay attention to what’s going on in your head.”
Anne-Marie then talked about indicators, and how she thinks the best ones are the ones with a zero line, like the Stochastic Momentum Indicator (SMI), which she uses.
But, she contends, it’s not the absolute values of those types of indicators that are important as much as it’s the location, slope, and trend.
“Overbought and oversold are completely relative to trend. And trend will always win until it breaks.”
After her presentation, we were chatting, and she said she was worried that the audience in the room was too sophisticated and that they may have been saying, “yeah, and…?”
I had to laugh - and told her why.
At one point during her talk, she made a comment regarding the SMI - “when your momentum indicator dips down (rolls over) or rises up (bottoms), you should pay attention to where price is during that action as it will define important future levels.”
After which, she showed examples of how price levels set during indicator trend changes ended up being significant support/resistance levels in the future that can be traded against.
I’ve been doing this for 30+ years, and it never occurred to me to think that way about the indicator/price relationship.
Of course, that’s just one of the reasons why I still go to Stocktoberfest every year.
Markets, Trading & Finance Links:
My friend and FinTwit OG Jon Boorman - who up until this year had been a Stocktoberfest regular - has been in a life-threatening battle for months, and on Friday, he went public with it.
Jon is a great market strategist, a fantastic singer, and just a truly all-around good guy. If you know Jon, reach out and give him some love. If you don’t, here he is dropping some serious market knowledge…
Some Things I’ve Learned Over The Last 30 Years (Broadsword Capital)
A majority of the ultra-wealthy are hunkering down for a recession in 2020. Side note: Who the fuck says “hunkering?” (CNBC)
In 2000, when Netflix’s Reed Hastings proposed that Blockbuster buy his upstart company for $50 million, Blockbuster’s executives laughed him out of the room. Great read. (Vanity Fair)
Another take - in the eternal series of takes - on the cost of selling your house. (A Wealth of Common Sense)
A really good piece about the lessons learned from the WeWork debacle. (Collaborative Fund)
Twitter now allows replies to be hidden. Here’s how it works and what it means for the user experience going forward. (Ramp Capital LLC)
There are few competitive advantages in sports. Same goes for investing. (Above The Market)
Want to invest in Keith Richards? There’s a music royalty fund for that. (The Wall Street Journal)
The secret to successful investing is there is no secret. (Of Dollars and Data)
But tracking how you invest can help. (Klement on Investing)
Oh, and surviving is good too. (Novel Investor)
The data shows Americans are getting dumber over time – at least in terms of financial literacy. (MSN)
A: Car keys. Virginity. Inheritance. Q: What are three things people are most likely to lose. (The New York Times)
How to fund a career pivot. (FrazerRice.com)
Could the WeWork disaster blow up the NYC real estate market? (Business Insider)
Fake news. False information. Disinformation. False flags. Conspiracy theories.
These are historical problems that technology has made acutely current.
Every day we’re bombarded with an overload of information, which our brains instinctively sort through in a futile attempt to land on one side or the other of an issue. More often than not, there’s no way to objectively know if we made the right choice.
Did we really land on the moon?
Was 9/11 an inside job?
Is global warming – uh, sorry – climate change, a threat?
Is Trump’s hair real?
Did the Nazi’s make contact with UFOs?
“What? Don’t be silly Brian,” you’re probably muttering to yourself.
“Sure, those first four premises might be a bit wacky, however, at their core, they rotate around a real issue. But Nazi’s and UFOs? What fine craft beer were you drinking when you wrote that?”
Perhaps the same one that the gatekeepers of what today passes for mainstream media - fuck, I hate that term – are drinking? For example;
On television, you have The Discovery Channel's Nazi UFO Conspiracy and The History Channel's Nazi UFO Hunters.
Check out Amazon and you will find a cornucopia of books and DVDs with titles such as Nazi UFO Secrets of World War II, Hitler's Secret Flying Saucers, and UFO's, Nazi's Secret Weapon.
And don't even get me started on the internet; if you want to believe that der Aliens and der Führer once met amongst the beer gardens of Bavaria, well, there are plenty of websites that will help support your delusions.
Typical of the type of crap you will see on Al Gore's invention, are sites dedicated to one of the most ridiculous theories, that of the Nazi Bell, or "Die Glocke."
The Nazi Bell, as numerous Blogspot websites will tell you, is a type of anti-gravity device that ran on liquid red mercury, which was born out of extraterrestrial technology.
It’s reported that The Third Reich was working on this Wunderwaffe – or “Miracle Weapon” - in the waning days of World War II.
The problem is, the story is complete bullshit.
How do I know? Let me first make the rational case.
In the first fifty-five years after the end of the war, there were no references to the Nazi Bell in any literature, by any eyewitnesses, or in any documentation.
Then, as if magic, in 2000, it was described in detail by a Polish Journalist, Igor Witkowski, in his book The Truth About the Wonder Weapons.
Here is an excerpt from the Wikipedia page - yes, there is a Wikipedia page about the Nazi Bell - that describes how the idea came into existence, and how it gained traction.
Witkowski wrote that he first discovered the existence of Die Glocke by reading transcripts from an interrogation of former Nazi SS Officer Jakob Sporrenberg.
According to Witkowski, he was shown the allegedly classified transcripts in August 1997 by an unnamed Polish intelligence contact who he said had access to Polish government documents regarding Nazi secret weapons.
Witkowski maintains that he was only allowed to transcribe the documents and was not allowed to make any copies.
Although no evidence of the veracity of Witkowski's statements has been produced, they reached a wider audience when they were retold by British author Nick Cook, who added his own views to Witkowski's statements in The Hunt for Zero Point.
So let’s recap...
An unknown writer, for some reason, gets access to classified documents, that nobody else has seen - and that he is not allowed to make copies of - that refer to claims supposedly made by a long-dead war criminal, about the existence of the Nazi Bell.
Then, another writer repeats his wild claims as fact in his book, and so on, and so on, with each subsequent book, or TV show, or website referring to the other’s claims as "evidence."
Sounds pretty solid to me.
Now, let me take you down the commonsense path to disproving the existence – in any time or dimension – of the Nazi Bell, which for convenience sake and hipness I’ll refer to as N-bell from here on out.
Full Confession: I am not a famous historian. I don't even play one on TV. But despite this somewhat large gap in my resume, I feel pretty confident in going out on a limb and saying that UFO's never contacted the Nazi's.
What, you say? Are you mad? No, but I’m secure in my conclusion for a number of reasons.
First off, I'm not currently wearing lederhosen.
Second, my name is Brian Christopher Lund, not Karl Günther Lundberg.
And finally, everybody knows that Hogan always got the better of Col. Klink - not the other way around.
Because it only goes to reason that if the Nazi's ever were in contact with UFO's, they would have gotten some pretty bad-ass technology, with which to dominate the world - including all of us right here in the USA.
Besides, everybody knows that all the best extra-planetary visitors - Superman, The Silver Surfer, Uncle Martin, Mr. Spock, Kreamus from Lepton 7, The Great Gazoo, and even bad 80s space mutts like Alf have traditionally sided with 'Merica.
The bottom line is, aliens love us bigly.
Fifty years ago, if you had some crazy ideas you wanted to promote, your options were pretty limited. The powers that be and the restricted bandwidth their formats carried prevented you from using the internet of the day - television and radio - to spread your message.
Even if you were somehow able to self-publish your theories and could convince your local bookseller to stock a couple copies of your tome on their precious shelf space, that is where the distribution model ended.
With the leaps we’ve had in technology over the last twenty years, now any idea – literally any idea - no matter how insane, is available for the populace to absorb 24/7.
This is a very dangerous situation because it lets the public come to the industrial information trough with their own biases and beliefs in place, and tacitly curve fit tainted data in a way that trues up with whatever allows them to slide into the arms of Hypnos.
Hypnos was (is?) the Greek god of sleep, though not lucid or contemplative, but hypnotic sleep. The kind that follows a strict tautology which reinforces flaws and deficiencies.
In the Iliad, Hypnos was a minor god of unknown origin whose powers were underestimated. Yet, upon enticement from Hera, he was able to trick Zeus, the greatest of all non-guitar gods, and put him into a deep slumber, allowing the Danaans to win the Trojan war.
Legend says a fixation on beauty caused him to sleep with his eyes open while staring at a mirror, enabling him to unceasingly admire his face - the Ancient Greek version of checking your Twitter feed every five minutes.
His post-war fate is unknown, but some myths say he eventually drifted into the Elysian Plains where gods conferred with immortality were sent, which actually sounds pretty dope.
So what do we do in today’s decidedly non-Greek god world to divine the truth?
Listen to your eyes and ears but trust your gut and stay true to what you understand. Oppose the speed of digital and embrace the gait of analog. Turn off the streams and dig into the weight of things you can touch, feel, smell, and taste.
And in an every increasingly disconnected world, find a way to make connections related to what matters to you.
It’s Good, It’s Good
11 lines everyone should read - and re-read when needed. (AVC)
You do this. I do this. We all do this. And it’s making us crazy. Let’s let it go. (Liberty Wealth)
If you’re of my generation, chances are you’re a fan of The Black Crowes. But what you may not know is that at the core of the band, there’s a sibling dysfunctionality rivaling that of the Kinks’ Davies brothers, Oasis’s Gallagher brothers, and Adam’s Cain and Abel. That rivalry initially helped propel, but eventually killed the band. Founding member and drummer (woot!) Steve Gorman lays out all the fascinating details in this thoroughly entertaining read, Hard to Handle: The Life and Death of the Black Crowes - A Memoir.
Is there any point to getting an MBA these days? (WSJ)
The real reason they check our receipts at Costco. (Mental Floss)
Craft brewers are dirty, rotten hypocrites. (WSJ)
Check your closets, garage, and attic. Video game archaeology is becoming a lucrative business. (BBC.com)
The true story behind Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’s final stand. (Daily Beast)
Here’s what happens when you ignite 100,000 matches. (YouTube)
Thanks for reading this week’s edition of The Lund Loop.
I want to hear your opinion on these, or any other topics you see fit to pontificate on.
So drop me a line.
If you arrived here by accident, happenstance, or magic, make sure that you become a paid subscriber to The Lund Loop to have it automatically delivered to your inbox once a week - isn’t technology great?
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Talk to you soon,
P.S. It should go without saying - but I’ll say it anyway - all opinions expressed here in The Lund Loop are my own personally and don’t reflect the views of my employer, any associated entities, or other organizations I’m associated with.
Nothing written, expressed, or implied here should be looked at as investment advice or an admonition to buy, sell, or trade any security or financial instrument. As always, do your own diligence.