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Random Thoughts: The Precipice of Pain


Downgrades in brokers sweep the Street.

  • The first move is the false move? Nonsensical, perhaps, but it works too often to ignore it.

  • I thought the FOMC was hawkish on the margin. That was my first take from the top headline and why I pulled the ripcord on all of my upside calls in the financials (and layered into more American Express (AXP) puts) into the post-Fed head-fake.

  • Speaking of AXP, I started that position as a hedge against Wachovia (WB), JP Morgan (JPM) and Citigroup (C). After the post-FOMC Texas two-step, it morphed into my single biggest position. I've peeled out of some of those puts into this morning's muck (discipline) and wanna watch how it reacts at the all-important $40 level.

  • That was the good one. The not-so-hot one, thus far, was the small put position in the USO. I said yesterday that if the dollar didn't open higher, I would unwind the bet as 1) there's that bullish basing in place and 2) the FX market is my tell on whether the world agrees with my hawkish perception. Consider it "held for sale."

  • Good traders know how to make money but great traders know how to take a loss? I'm far from a great trader but that doesn't mean we should ever stop trying.

  • Keep that Google (GOOG) gap on ye radar. If it breaks below $525, it "works" to $450. I'm not involved but mis ojos son tus ojos.

  • Need a smile? Here ya go!

  • For the first time in a long time, I'm nibbling anew in Gannett (GCI) January paper. Minyans will remember that I bought the Jan 30's, caught a nice lift and paired the position to a remnant core. I'm legging into a lower strike as a function of price and conscious that I lack a discernable catalyst. Sometimes right, sometimes wrong, always honest.

  • S&P 1275 are the March lows. Get used to that number, the financial press will be tossing it around a lot.

  • Where the heck were all these brokerage downgrades last spring when the financials were 50% higher? I mean, it's not like the issues weren't percolating for everyone to see.

  • Ditto the economic (and socioeconomic) malaise. The writing has been on the wall for a few years now. Wouldn't it have been easier to proactively prepare rather than reactively scramble?

  • Again, why does BKX 60 "matter?" Decade lows, 50% retracement (wow!) and of course, as goes the piggies...

  • What else am I doing this morning? I bought (legged back into) some October calls in Wachovia (leaning against BKX 60 and paired against AXP) and taking a look at the FXI.

  • I was speaking with a savvy seer last night and said, in response to his position (long Europe, Short US) that I would rather be long China and short US given the 50% pullback. He didn't agree--and, to be honest, the FXI chart doesn't thrill me) but that's what I'm thinkin' about, for better or for worse.

  • "I can't emphasize enough that if credit cards are now on the official troubled credit list, bank managers will have no choice but to cut off the availability of credit to marginal borrowers. And with that, the ripples through retail are likely to be severe." Minyan Peter on today's Buzz.

  • There's nothing funny about the coming crisis as homelessness will have many faces. This is, unfortunately, a topic that I have hands on experience with and I'm empathetic regarding what's to come.

  • How do we roll in the 'Ville? With one eye on getting by and the other on giving back. Anything you can do to help the children is very much appreciated.

  • Breadth is skewed 4:1 Boo on the big board, the financials are sitting on monster, major, mamaluke support, big beta--where some fund managers were hiding into quarter-end--is getting waxed on Research in Motion (RIMM), bowling averages are way down and mini golf scores are on the rise. In other words, we gotta hold here or they'll be passing out Depends at the Fox Business NYSE block party tonight.

  • Long lucidity-short emotion is the best pairs trade in the market right now. Deep breaths, friends, and take it one step at a time.


Positions in WB, AXP, USO, GCI

Todd Harrison is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Minyanville. Prior to his current role, Mr. Harrison was President and head trader at a $400 million dollar New York-based hedge fund. Todd welcomes your comments and/or feedback at

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