Pride Goeth Before the Fall? – A Performance Review of 2021

It’s been awhile since completing a review of market calls made here at Marginrich.com.  As my general knowledge of market inter-workings and crowd psychology has refined over the past several years increasing in nuance and depth, now’s as good a time as ever.

Let’s start with accuracy percentage and a list of the articles with basic details.  Then I’ll provide a quick, detailed breakdown of each call afterwards down below.  We’ll work backwards from the most current post, skipping 2 posts where I don’t make any directional calls or predictions.

Nine of the 11 asset forecasts between December 2020 and December 2021 were correct, for an accuracy rate of 82%.  Stellar by any definition, especially for a free blog written in spare time.  Each forecast was actionable via options, futures, the underlying asset, or simply raising cash.

Forecasts:

1. Trading Brazil – 12/12/2021:  The Brazilian Real would strengthen against the US Dollar and Brazilian stocks were about to be re-rated higher. (CORRECT)

2. Options Markets Muting Signals – 11/20/2021:  Trapdoor underneath stock markets and potential for a large selloff in the near future. (CORRECT)

3. Insiders, Metaverse, and Options – 11/16/2021:  Options usage too extreme; quick & shallow selloff felt very close. (CORRECT)

4. I Can’t Fight This Feeling – 10/24/2021:  Commodities sentiment extreme and due for a selloff led by oil with a rise in the US Dollar. (CORRECT)

5. If Everybody’s Thinking Alike, then… – 9/13/2021:  Technically, I stated the cannabis sector looked as if it might be basing for a potential up-move.  I didn’t actually make a directional call, but I’ll still own it. Same goes for EWZ, for which I actually did make a directional call 3 months later. (WRONG)

6. Volatility Interpretation – 9/1/2021:  Volatility was about to show its face in stock markets. (CORRECT)

7. I Don’t Know Why I Talk About Crypto in a Public Setting – 8/30/2021:  Ethereum on the verge of another run upwards. (CORRECT)

8. The Best Part of Waking Up – 7/22/2021:  A correction in coffee was imminent. (CORRECT)

9. Bitcoin – A Quick Technical Read – 7/16/2021:  I thought BTC had one more puke-dip into the $20k range, anywhere between $21k and $29k.  Major whiff.  My article actually bottom-ticked that particular correction before BTC went on to return over 100% within 4 months. (WRONG)

10. Oil Taking Its Breather…Finally – 7/7/2021:  Oil correction had begun (not obvious yet) and XLE would sell off accordingly. (CORRECT)

11.  Beware the Secular Trend’s Short-term Counter Move – 12/28/2020:  The Euro/USD pair had reached an extreme point and a USD rally looked primed, which would coincide with potential fear-events in the equity markets. (CORRECT)

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So that’s the quick and dirty.  Keep reading below for a bit more detail and to view the charts better illustrating each forecast.  Each chart will have a yellow circle denoting the date the article was published.

Trading Brazil:

EWZ Performance

Calls on EWZ were the chosen expression for this trade.  Pre-tax return was 100% in less than 2 months.  While everyone has been focused on energy, I focused on an EM component that looked ripe to provide a kickstart to 2022 trading.

Brazilian Real Strenghening Against the USD

Real strengthening vs the USD.  Any reader could’ve bet futures here on the currency pair for a tidy profit.

Options Markets Muting Signals:

NASDAQ Performance

This particular article actually top-ticked the NASDAQ Composite, but I didn’t go short here.  Hindsight being what it is, I should have, but instead I simply raised cash levels for the opportunities that are currently availing themselves.

S&P 500 Performance

My focus was on the NASDAQ in this article however one has to include the S&P 500 if one is going to comment on general equity markets.  No top-tick as there was a bit more demand for the S&P 500, but within a matter of weeks, the trapdoor opened for this index, too.

Insiders, Metaverse, and Options

SPX Performance Turkey Day

You could almost smell the move coming, like a turkey basting for hours.  Then, Black Friday delivered a little fear for the unprepared.  No trade here as raising cash was the strategy, and the ensuing rallies assisted with that process.  Going short up until the past few months was a dangerous endeavor and understanding option flows was and is critical.

I Can’t Fight This Feeling

DBC Performance

That little 11% jaunt downward in the underlying ETF over the next month resulted in a 135% pre-tax return on simple Put purchases.  Of course, energy as a sector is a different beast entirely now, and along with inflation, the Russia/Ukraine conflict has put commodities front and center of the financial space again.

USD Performance

The US Dollar followed it’s typical anti-correlation to commodities by rising.  Since that initial run upwards, it has chopped in this uncertain environment.  I suspect the ultimate, long-term path is downwards for the USD, but that’s a philosophical discussion for another time.

If Everybody’s Thinking Alike, Then…

MJ Performance

Ugh, what else needs to be said?  This one is ugly.  To reiterate, I did not actually make a directional call or bet here.  I simply thought that the bear market in cannabis may be reaching a nadir.  But investors and speculators had other ideas as the market pounded this ETF for an additional 50% loss subsequent to publishing the article.

Volatility Interpretation

VIX Performance

The article literally bottom-ticked the VIX.  Unfortunately, I didn’t directly trade Vol here.  I used the ensuing volatility to pyramid some positions in the long portfolios.

I Don’t Know Why I Talk About Crypto in a Public Setting

ETH Performance

Those percentages in the chart above were from the publishing date of the article (yellow circle).  The actual moves were,  20% as annotated for the first ascent, then a quick 50% downdraft followed by a 75% spike.  If you ignored ETH in 2021, or crypto period, then you missed some of the best trading opportunities of the year.

The Best Part of Waking Up

Coffee Performance

Coffee was the gift that kept on giving for about 4 weeks in late July through late August, before squeezing out of an old school pennant to what seems like non-stop upside.  The initial trade was simple Puts on the JO ETF for a 40% pre-tax return in a week.  Then I was able to scalp 20% in a week out of JO with some Calls before finally squeezing the last bit of Put juice for 10% in a week before THE breakout in coffee.

Subsequent to those trades, I did overestimate the extreme in buying-sentiment and underestimate the impact of the freeze in Brazilian crops.  Consequently, I gave back a bit of the profit with additional Puts and failed to capitalize on the ensuing multi-month rally as a result of my bias.  All additional lessons at a fair tuition price.

Bitcoin – A Quick Technical Read

BTC Performance

I darn near bottom-ticked BTC with this particular forecast.  So wrong!  As BTC goes, so goes the crypto markets so it wasn’t long before I was pursuing the other opportunity as noted above.  As has been said countless times by countless players, trading is all about managing risk (control losses & maximize gains).

Oil Taking Its Breather…Finally

WTIC Performance

Oil (West Texas Intermediate) was overdone.  I top-ticked the high in July on the day of publishing and was fortunate to estimate an unsurprising 20% sell off in the commodity.

XLE Performance

I favored Puts on the XLE as the expression for this trade and the market rewarded me with a 100% pre-tax return in under 8 weeks.

Beware the Secular Trend’s Potential Short-term Counter Move

USD Performance

I published this article in the midst of what felt like virtually everyone expecting the “obvious” demise of the USD.  The dollar’s imminent demise down into the $80’s has since proven to be fallacious logic.  Its haven status as the world’s reserve currency has kept it afloat and demand will probably keep it there for some time until internal and external geopolitical/economic events shift perceptions and capital flows.

Euro Performance

Once again, the anti-correlated pairing could’ve provided currency traders with an exceptional opportunity.  Admittedly, I failed to take advantage of this potential trade with a currency pair expression.

S&P 500 Performance

What I did do was expect more intense volatility.  As such, I purchased hedges which ended up costing me insurance premiums as the S&P 500 simply chopped for a month before continuing onward and upward.  Sure, I was correct about some volatility but wrong about the amplitude.  Still though, I contend that the price paid for peace of mind was worth it.

It’s my sincerest hope that if you’ve read this full performance-review that my skills and experience are apparent.  I’m not some wannabe, greenhorn daytrader posing as a professional.  Although I mostly showcase my technical analysis skills here at the site, I’ve honed my fundamental analysis skills for all asset classes and sectors.   Over the last 20 years, I’ve poured my heart and soul into building an amalgamated skill set around a professional-level understanding of investing, finance, banking, currencies, economics, accounting, business operations, sales, geopolitics, crowd psychology of markets, leading/managing/coaching, and asset management.

Now I’d like to test those skills in the appropriate arena.  If you’re here just to have a read, I hope you’ve enjoyed.  I’ll continue to intermittently share actionable thoughts.  But if any readers from the professional, financial space are interested in how I can benefit their organization, please don’t hesitate to reach out.  Email address is listed at the menu button in the upper-right of the screen.  My LinkedIn profile can be accessed at the About page by clicking the hamburger in the upper-left of the screen.

Here’s to a fruitful 2022 for any and all readers of Marginrich.com.

Trading Brazil

                                Brazilian Chica Con Dinero

Putting the trade on in September, when I wrote about it, just didn’t feel right but I’ve continued to observe the price action.  I think we have a tradeable set-up now in Brazil.  Since topping out in late June, it’s down 33%.  The commodity euphoria has finally waned a bit, or rather other asset classes have moved to the forefront of investor minds (mainly tech again for now).  Couple this with a potential strengthening of the Real against the USD and we have a chance for the stock prices of Brazil’s largest companies to be re-rated in the short-term.

Observe the correlation for EWZ (green) price spikes vs the USD (light blue) weakening against the Real.

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This chart alone looks like a good enough set-up to allocate capital, but the Timing by TradeSmith forecast (purple line) just below shows there’s potential room for a bit more consolidation before an up-move.  But there is a definitive, tight correlation to the forecast line and actual ETF performance.  This might be the most successful forecast by TradeSmith’s software that I’ve analyzed.

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What that means for our trade is that we need to purchase a strike far enough out (theta) to give the hypothesis time to play out.  Volatility in this ETF is sharp.  Observe the wavy action, surfable swells if you will, of rallies and drawdowns in the chart.  It’s readily obvious.

Roughly half of the ETF is positioned in just 5 stocks, which are Vale (iron/coal/base metals), Petrobras (oil), Itau Unibanco (banking), Bank Bradesco (banking/insurance), and Ambev (beer).  I don’t need to know their prospects to determine if the set-up is worth a trade as potential movement in the Real can improve investor perceptions of them as EM investments.

In September, I thought that $34 might be a potential bottom but it was too early.  Still though, $34 represents an important price point.  Only now it is resistance instead of support.  $31.50 should be the first line of resistance, but once broken, it looks as if it could easily run up to $34.

EWZ Res-Supp 2

The indicator that I probably put the most stock in is also at a favorable place for an EWZ rally as it just crossed over its oscillator.  I’ve highlighted in cyan each crossover occurrence over the last few years.  Positive price action tends to confirm.

As I’ve mentioned countless times, I prefer weekly charts to guide my trading theses.  But for you daily enthusiasts, EWZ is displaying a nice clean breakout to recover it’s 50-day SMA.  Based on my analysis, the 200-day should be next.  Observe:

EWZ Daily

In any event, I suspect there are multiple opportunities amongst “emerging” markets such as Brazil as a result of potential weakness on the horizon for the USD.  S. Korea is showing similar action as observed in the EWY.

So watch the US dollar and place your bets accordingly on some international holiday speculations!

Options Markets Muting Signals

Now that the options markets are the tails that wags the dog, equity market signals are losing power.  Or at least temporarily losing efficacy.  It doesn’t feel like a permanent arbitraging away, but huge capital (regardless of source) knows how to use broker dealers and market makers to maintain a supportive stance for respective portfolios.

I’ve been analyzing plenty of signals that a trap door is set up just under the stock markets.  Amongst those signals is the clustering of Hindenburg Omens in the NASDAQ.  A single Omen rarely proves useful, but clusters have been consistently effective in communicating large sell-offs ahead of time.  Observe the following chart, courtesy of The Felder Report:

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Just based on the chart, one would think that a large drawdown is very close.  In the past couple of decades, any time we’ve seen clusters of the Omens in a single calendar year reach 13 or more, then it usually was a portent for a heavy risk-off period.

Subsequent to November’s OpEx, if large capital simply continues to allocate to higher strikes farther out on the calendar for the major indexes, then the signal the cluster is communicating could be totally dampened.

It simply hasn’t paid to be the least bit bearish, but it feels like we’re drawing closer and closer to a period in the markets where fear and option flows could feasibly create a perfect multi-year set-up for expert surfers of price action.

Looking out 10 years, my gut tells me that there are fair odds that markets won’t experience a single, long drawdown similar to the Tech Crash or the Great Financial Crisis.  Instead, we’ll experience rolling drawdowns (15% to 35%) through the 2020’s but with an overall upward tilt on a long-term price chart.

It’s just a theory.  The Final Arbiter will reveal its hand in time, but you might want to consider waxing up your board and getting a new wetsuit for the potential environment ahead this decade.

Insiders, Metaverse, and Options

1. Insiders:  I’ve been watching Asana (ASAN) since the Summer…and kicking myself for not hopping on that train.  Hard not to love the SaaS model and with ASAN you get a heaping helping of support from co-founder, Dustin Moskovitz, the Facebook pioneer.

ASAN Daily (11-15-2021)

A 500% increase in share price in half a year is performance anyone would love to write home about.  And Dustin has been right there buying through all of it, buying almost $300M worth of shares out of pocket.

FinViz Insider Purchase - ASAN (Oct. 2021)

The exact skin in the game one wants to see from founders and executives.  The real question is whether that’s just conviction in an undervalued business for which he has every relevant analytic to contemplate or does he have a real good idea about who would want to acquire ASAN and at what price in the near future?

And do you follow Moskovitz’s buying?  Although his accumulation began in the Summer and ended in the Fall, lots of other insiders last week decided to get while the getting is good.

Future Overlord of America, Elon Musk, cashed in billions worth of TSLA.  Co-founder of Airbnb cashed out a $100M.  Sergey Brin, Google co-founder, added another $250M to his cash coffers.  ASAN is definitely worth a deeper drilldown.

2. Metaverse:  Geez how I hate Facebook.  And their rebranding to Meta just feels like such an IOI-move.  Regardless, they have a userbase i.e. scale.  They have fairly priced equipment with Oculus.

And this is where Unity Software’s (U) purchase of Weta Digital is so damn interesting to me.  I had been thinking about the buildout of a scalable AR-verse, one that the masses can really embrace.  My thought process kept bringing me back to the elite visual effects houses of the movie industry.  Somehow they had to be seriously brought into the fold because they’re genius and artistry are too great.  I say this as an admitted sci-fi/fantasy addict who loves the cinema genre.

Weta represents CS engineering greatness, but artistry is what’s required for truly breathtaking world-building.  Anyone remember a decade ago watching James Cameron direct his Avatar production sets rendered in real time into Pandora forests on a tablet?  Who wants to stomp around on a bunch of pixelated blocks?

Assuming some artistic talent can be retained with the Weta players joining Unity and more brought aboard, as one of the leading engines for digital world-building, it just feels like Unity’s purchase has the potential to be historically significant.

Could Zuck make Unity an offer that couldn’t be refused?

3. Options:  Call options!  What else needs to be said?  Everybody knows how to use them, because everybody knows they only go up regardless of strike and expiration.  And even better, the “weaponization of gamma” just continues to help drive stock markets even higher.  It’s a fabulous flywheel of guaranteed, easy wealth-building

With such extreme usage by retail and pros, it feels like a bit of shine will have to come off of option usage.  Temporarily at the very least.

October’s speedy buying of September’s dip leads me to think that an equal selling of the advance (STA? – copyright & trademark pending) could occur within the next 4 weeks.

Have a look at the four major stock indexes subsequent to February’s gamma-squeeze highs.

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I wouldn’t expect much depth on a move downward, just speed.  Speculators may have been a bit premature in adorning themselves with an ugly sweater to ring in the Santa Rally that everyone expects.

I Can’t Fight This Feeling

Commodities have gotten white hot in a very short window.  The sheer amount of headlines around inflation and raw material pricing is insane.  I don’t have a nifty little Google Trends chart to show you but I’m pretty sure I already know how it looks.

Every other financial article or analysis is about inflation or commodity pricing.

Commodities are on top of everyone’s mind right now, which of course means a reversal is imminent.  Which in turn should drive the buck upwards as commodities are priced in dollars and heavy amounts of short-term capital will have to hide there while steam is let out of this commodities rally.

Have a look at DBC.  You can see when recent capital started jumping in enmasse as a result of commodity price action and the narrative heating up around inflation.

DBC Weekly (10-22-2021)

It’s all a bit too much, too fast.  A correction may have already began last week and I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see DBC come off 15%.  However, there are a ton of Calls outstanding on this ETF compared to the Put total with tons of theta purchased out to January of next year.

Gamma sways everything.

Still though, my gut tells me the narrative around oil and copper is simply too hot.  I’m probably a bit early here, so if one were intending to go short on select commodities, be sure to purchase enough theta on one’s own Puts.

Just look at the raw YTD performance of the energy complex!  And copper is easily outperforming the S&P 500 and NASDAQ.

Commodity Inflation YTD (Oct. 2021)

A couple months back, I thought a harder selloff in the commodity complex might trigger selling action in the equity markets.  Instead, equities took their own little breather in September as volatility rose.

But I don’t think we’re quite out of the woods with equity volatility.  This “buying of the dip” has a delicate feel to it, as if fear was not properly washed out last month.  I continue to stand by my hypothesis that commodity weakness will lead to general equity weakness.

Of course, the commodity weakness will be transitory along with any equity weakness.  I expect to have a solid end of year rally in stocks.

Assuming my hypothesis is correct, oil and copper should be the triggers.  Copper’s decline has probably already begun with last week’s 5% selloff (and more to come).

Oil would be the real trigger for overall weakness across markets.  Observe this bit of backtesting on oil, courtesy of SentimenTrader.  If the trend over the last 30 years holds true, then we should expect a rocky month in oil regardless of narratives and “shortages.”

Oil After 21 Consecutive Days Above 10-Day MA & 2yr Hi (10-21-2021)

Couple this with some end of month historical tendencies towards equity weakness, and we have the makings to pull the rug out from recent dip buyers.

From Tom Bowley of Earningsbeat.com via his weekly segment at Stockcharts.com,

One historical fact is that, at the close today, we will be entering the worst historical week of the year. The October 21st close through the October 27th close has a tendency to show weakness. Before I show you the numbers, keep in mind that the 19th through 25th of EVERY calendar month has produced annualized returns of -8% on the S&P 500 since 1950. So this October weakness is really nothing new. It just happens to be the worst of the bunch. Below are the annualized returns by calendar day (since 1950) on the S&P 500, followed by the NASDAQ:

Annualized Returns Since 1950 by Calendar Day - Tom Bowley at EB via Stockcharts (10-21-2021)

But then these annualized returns are immediately followed up by historical strength in the S&P 500, so any weakness should be relatively short and shallow, but very scary.  It is Halloween, folks.  Observe the next 9 days of annualized results (since 1950) for the S&P 500:

Annualized Returns Since 1950 by Calendar Day S&P500 Only - Tom Bowley at EB via Stockcharts (10-21-2021)

Summing up:  The inflation narrative and commodity pricing are too hot.  Expect weakness there.  This would then catalyze weakness in equity markets with overall weakness driving capital into the USD.

All sound far fetched?  Have a look at the USD and performance when CoT shows Large Traders at a wide disparity to Commercial Hedgers.

USD FinViz Monthly (10-24-2021)

Some hefty rallies noted.  I don’t expect a monster run; just enough for a short-lived rally while capital hides.  It’s only a hypothesis, but one has to trade their beliefs and manage risk accordingly.  Can’t reiterate that enough.