I guess I first noticed it about a month ago.
I took my family to North Lake Tahoe, where we've got a place, so we could enjoy the last days of skiing. I saw an issue of the Robb Report, which is basically a magazine for wannabe zillionaires. It is full of ads for Rolls Royces, exotic vacation destinations, and the like. In a nutshell, the essence of tacky.
I used to actually subscribe to this thing when I was a teenaged twirp, dreaming of having a fortune some day. I suspect that I had the same idea that many readers of this magazine have, which is that somehow wealth would rub off on me if I read about it and coveted it enough.
Well, I hadn't seen this magazine in over twenty years, so I thumbed through it. What struck me the most was a single word that kept appearing again and again - bespoke. It had to be the most frequently used adjective in every ad and article. Everything was bespoke this, and bespoke that.
It actually got kind of comic after a while. The actual definition of "bespoke" has a lot more to do with tailoring clothes than wealth, but I guess the idea is that if you throw money at products, you will get something specifically suited to you and you alone, as opposed to the unwashed masses beneath you.
People often look to the 1980s as the decade of greed, but frankly the symbols of greed from the 80s appear quaint today. For one thing, the Dow topped out at about 2,700 before it crashed, which is a small fraction of its current value. Obviously the asset bubble in real estate, stocks, and just about everything under the sun has made a lot of people far more fabulously wealthy than at any prior point in human history. Even house porn has become a favorite fixation, particularly in the SF Bay Area where I live.
Because of this wealth, the symbols of greed and covetousness abound. Since I'm pretty well past my adolescent craving for "stuff", I generally find the whole Gimme Gimme Society as a mix of interesting and stomach-churning. But it reached a new low yesterday when I thumbed through my personal mail.......I got this:
I stared at the cover in disbelief thinking, "You have got to be kidding me." I get the fact that Trump will whore himself out for just about anything with his name on it. But putting your name on hotels, condominiums, houses, and even a TV show is one thing. But - - - meat? A grocery item? What's next, toilet paper? ("Now you can wipe your ass with the same quality paper product that I do....")
If you believe - and I hope you don't - that money equals class, you are sadly mistaken. There are plenty of billionaires that don't have an ounce of class, and there are plenty of thousandaires with gobs of it. For a superb perspective on this subject, read Paul Fussell's Class. It is many years old, but it is absolutely on the mark.
Well, the asset bubble kept expanding today, although it moved away from its highs. I watched the Dow cross the 13,250 mark, and at one point I think it was up something like another 130 points. The "melt up" started to simmer, however, and it closed "only" about 75 points higher, yet another all-time-high.
My portfolio has been doing an admirable job of holding its own. In fact, it closed the day virtually unchanged. This is very encouraging to me. If I have constructed a bearish portfolio that can weather this kind of abuse, then I know any weakness will be richly profitable.
Here is an intraday graph of the red-hot Chinese market (which is basically a verbatim repeat of the NASDAQ bubble of 1999). I've drawn a neckline here on what seems to me to be a nicely formed head and shoulders pattern.
The Dow 30 has obviously been the strongest index of late, although its lurches forward seem to be getting more spasmodic. But it certainly has not broken its upward pattern yet.
My concern yesterday about the candlestick formation of the Russell 2000 was well-founded. I am glad I closed those puts - - and at a very handsome profit, I might add. But I was aggressively re-entering the position today when the Dow was in the +100 points zone.
The Dow Transports have not been sharing in the glory, and this looks toppy to me:
As for the $XAU (gold and silver index), I hate for you to think I see an H&S pattern everywhere I turn, but there's really no doubt in my mind as to what we're looking at here.
Now, it's confession time. As you may recall, I was short BankRate (RATE). I had a stop in place. And, first thing this morning, I overrode it and closed out the position.
That was stupid, it was a mistake, and it was against my rules (in particular, "Never do an ad hoc close.") The stock closed up for the day, but substantially below its highs, and the chart is still a reasonable bearish play. So this is a bit of public flagellation for jumping the gun. I don't do it often, but when I do an ad hoc close, I almost always regret it.
Wednesday, May 02, 2007
I guess I first noticed it about a month ago.