Editor's Note: Todd posts his vibes in real time each day on our Buzz & Banter.
The storyteller makes no choice; soon you will not hear his voice.
-- Grateful Dead
I've been trading for 23 years and writing about my risk in real-time for twelve of them. I've had my fair share of ups and downs, as you might expect when you do something for almost a quarter-century.
I've made some solid proactive observations during that stretch -- the approaching dot.com bust
(when the Nasdaq
(INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) was near all-time highs in 2000), the looming real estate and financial crisis
(when the Dow Jones Industrial Average
(INDEXDJX:.DJI) was at all-time highs in 2007), and The Gold Scold
(when the yellow metal was at $1900) among them.
I've whiffed as well -- fighting the Fed in 2003
, opting not to chase 'em after being long into March 2009
(and flattening my risk to focus on the important stuff
), and yes, being too cautious the last few months (after trading two-sided the better part of the year and giving back what was the best performance of my career on a percentage basis).
I call 'em as I see 'em, which doesn't make it right or wrong; it just makes it honest. I value "truth" and "trust" as two of the three most valuable commodities ("time" has always been number one, in my view). And we try to insulate ourselves from the societal acrimony that has swept the street since the Age of Austerity
arrived like a clap of thunder; you know the drill, all-time highs notwithstanding
Along the way -- the journey,
if you will -- you notice certain things... nonsensical instances that stick with you for one reason or another.
There were the message boards on Yahoo Finance in the summer of 2008, after I told Aaron Task that I was 100% cash. Scathing, rude insults, one after another, that numbered in the hundreds; it, in a way, fortified my view that folks were completely unprepared for what was about to happen
Ditto the reaction to Is the Gold Bubble About to Pop?
, which triggered the article referenced above. The "vitriolic tenor," as we described it at the time, was telling in and of itself, similar to the reaction to Oil of Oy Vey
in 2008, which dared to question the new paradigm in crude as we shorted it near $140 per barrel.
And of course, there was the pushback in March 2009,
when we were bullish -- a bit early, but very bullish nonetheless. And I quote:
Todd, I heard you on Yahoo! Tech Ticker making bets on a big rally going into March. I've been expecting the S&P (INDEXSP:.INX) to drop to 660 all along and expected a big drop going into Q1 earnings. You have long positions, I have short positions. And I have to say it's a bit frustrating to see so many headlines from Minyanville suggesting that there will be a rally or that the bears have run out of steam. It's one thing to make a bet, and it's another thing to attempt to manipulate the markets with clout in an attempt to be right and make money. Your articles may have no influence, but please, let the markets run their course. Ryan
Why, you ask, am I sharing this walk down memory lane?
Is this an attempt at public self-flagellation?
Am I trying to prove a point?
Is there something in the past that we can extrapolate to the future?
Yesterday, an email was forwarded to me with the subject header "todd sucks!" and I'll share it exactly
as I received it:
Hi Michael, can you forward an email to todd harrison for me, his recommendation on buying S&P Put is one of the worst call I remember in my past 5 yrs. I think he lost his vision some time ago starting early this year around May, he causes many people to lose money. S&P has keep going up with the uptrend in tact starting Jan 2013, either support by fed announcement or 50 day, and most recently at 100 day when S&P drop and bounce back at 1560. He ave the wrong recommendation too many times, with only a few good call he make, first bad call is S&P in May 2013, it keeps going up and his S&P put was a disaster at that point, then he make the right call at around end of May, that's way too late since most people will not trust his advice after make another bad call about blackberry...it went from 14 something to 8.7 now... then another bad call for apple asking for lower price entry which never happen... at 360 in fact it was 385... close but still way too pessimistic on his recommendation this year. S&P at all time high, with his decemeber put must be working against him, how can he keep recommending like this... please stop being pessimistic and stop hurting people as this is one of the worst year for me and many people who trust him and follow his advice...Execuse my typo - I just want to let him know the anger start within not happiness...John
Now, John makes some valid points -- it's not the most elegant prose, but to be fair, I have been too bearish
and my P&L reflects that. In fact, I've taken a step back from actively trading the tape because I don't currently have a good feel. One of our Ten Trading Commandments
is that the ability not to trade is sometimes as valuable as trading ability.
However, this gentleman missed the mark on a few items.
First, I took my medicine at the end of April
as I was admitted to the hospital for my total hip replacement; I continued to write throughout the rehab process in an attempt to put on a brave face, but admittedly, it wasn't my best work. I own that, and heck, I'll even apologize for it.
Second, we made a lot
of money on the long side of BlackBerry
(NASDAQ:BBRY) before it was placed on my restricted list in the spring. MV Studios, a division of Minyanville Media, has an enterprise relationship with BlackBerry and I opted not to discuss the stock either way, as communicated at the time.
Third, when we discussed the potential for Apple
(NASDAQ:AAPL) to trade to $360, the stock was trading at $460
; if that's going to be spun negatively, so be it.
My intention isn't to sound defensive, although my sharing this thread may suggest that I, in fact, am. I hold myself to pretty high standards when it comes to my name and word, and when I'm "off," it's the first thing I think about in the morning and the last thing I think about at night.
I share John's email to highlight the frustration permeating and percolating throughout the marketplace -- and society as a whole.
With the stock market at all-time highs, you would expect folks to be a whole lot happier and more fulfilled than they currently are. While raging bulls are having a great year -- and they'll be the first to tell you that -- there are far more folks feeling the heat, suffering from performance anxiety, and having assets pulled for not beating their benchmarks.
Perhaps I'm reading too much into a one-off email, but I didn't write this column to feel better about myself; that much is certain. The financial decisions you make -- the reward you will reap, the consequences you will suffer -- are your choice and your choice alone.
As the fat man once sang
, "Our job is to shed light and not to master."
Good luck today.
Disclosure: Minaynville Studios, a division of Minyanville Media, has a business relationship with BlackBerry.