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MIM3 and the Sideways Market


No wonder Hoofy's scared and Boo's tired!


"Hoofy's scared and Boo's tired." -- Lanie Santoli

I flew out of Chicago's Midway airport last week, heading for the third annual "Minyans in the Mountains." While I enjoyed myself at this "Sundance of Finance," I have to admit that it took a certain measure of patience just to get there!

Like many of you, I fly quite frequently and, thus, it takes an extraordinary series of events to surprise me. I've had non-weather "weather" delays, endless standby transfers and airline crews going over their legal limit for time on the job. Cancellation and rebooking nightmares are recurring ones in my world. And that's just been in the past month!

But until Wednesday (Aug 9), I'd never taken a flight from Midway that had to land in Des Moines, Iowa, to take on fuel to make it to Denver! That was a new low, even for United -- er, Ted!

The pilot on that Ted flight told us that the windy conditions in Chicago made a stop for fuel in Des Moines necessary, but if you believe that, I've got some expired calls I could sell you! Come on, unexpected winds in Chicago? These jokers are based here in the "Windy City," so that excuse was about as lame as the stale pretzels they toss at us.

I'd hazard a guess that the real culprit was a miscalculation of fuel required earlier in the day. After all, there were dozens of Southwest Airlines (LUV) jets heading for points further west than Denver and not a single one was adding a stop in scenic Des Moines to their itinerary!

But as any traveler knows, you just have to take these things in stride, because travelers across the Pond probably would have given anything to exchange their day for mine.

As I'm sure you know, there was a thwarted terror plot in London aimed at taking down as many as 10 flights heading to the U.S. by means of liquid explosives to be triggered by cell phones and iPods. That clearly qualified as an extraordinary event, but both travelers and the markets dealt with news of the attempted attack and stepped up security with equal aplomb and, once again, the good guys saved the day and won in the end.

The 'Sundance of Finance'

The market rallied not on the news of the terrorism, but instead on the fact that it was stopped in its tracks, and I had the pleasure of celebrating with my fellow investors in Vail, Colorado, at the MIM retreat.

Toddo and the gang at the 'Ville kicked off MIM three years ago when 60 folks got together in Crested Butte, Colorado. Last year's event had nearly triple that number out in Ojai, California, and this year's event drew about 250 to Vail, where I was again honored to be speaking about my firm's HeatSeeker and Depth Charge programs.

MIM kicked off with Jeff Saut, chief strategist at Raymond James, and panels were moderated by Michael Santoli, senior editor of Barron's (and a damn good third baseman)! There were a host of breakout sessions ranging from metals to oil and from derivatives to technical analysis. In short, there was something for everyone, including the parties at the Lazy J and 4 Eagle dude ranches.

For as much adventure as I found at the ranches, though, I'll take bulls and bears over horses any day. Lanie Santoli (who I quoted at the start of this note) is the daughter of Michael Santoli and her comment was directed at the critters on Toddo's business card.

Hoofy represents the bullish side of trading, while Boo is the market's downside rep. Lanie kept looking at the characters and thought Hoofy looked scared and Boo looked tired. And I think she's on to something when you relate it to the status of the markets lately.

The market action we've seen since mid-May is exactly what Lanie described: The bulls are scared and the bears are tired. That pretty much sums up and explains the sideways market action we're stuck in. The market opens up 80 points, but finishes with just a 10-point gain. The next day, the market sells off 80 points, but finishes flat. No wonder Hoofy's scared and Boo's tired!

Lately, doesn't it seem that we're all a little bit of both?
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