Todd Harrison: Answers That Will Define 2014
Taking stock into the holiday season.
Editor's Note: Todd posts his vibes in real time each day on our Buzz & Banter.
Friday, December 20, 2013. It's a date that I've had circled on the calendar over a couple of seasons for a few reasons.
For one, today is options expiration and the vehicle I chose for my ill-fated "snake eyes" bet was December S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) out-of-the-money puts. They twisted in the wind long ago, but remained on my sheets as a humble reminder of directional fallibility. The relative size was small, but the song remains the same: If you take the other side of a steamroller, you better bring more than an option ticket.
The 2013 stock market rally has been powerful and intoxicating, albeit far from equitable. A few days ago, we offered that the common thread across the societal spectrum was one of desire. Whether it's acquiring basic needs or registering better performance, this rally left many wanting more.
I will channel Ojai '05 when I share that "the problem that comes from engaging in high-risk behavior for which the consequences are absent, even if only temporarily, is that such high-risk behavior begins to appear normal, and the entire scale of risk gets adjusted and pushed out."
I remain confident that risk hasn't been destroyed - it's been transferred from one perception to another - but that's a moot point for the purposes of 2013, or at least thus far. In hindsight, I was too rigid and absolute in my views and that is another lesson that I'll incorporate into the Things I've Learned these last 23 years on Wall Street.
Will social stocks -- Twitter (NYSE:TWTR), LinkedIn (NASDAQ:LNKD), Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) -- turn into the JDSUs of tech-bubbles past?
Can the Federal Reserve hold the trillions of dollars of assets on its balance sheet until maturity -- and then simply write them off?
Will the Cannabis food chain stake claim as the secular growth story for the next decade?
Is gold writing the forward script for stocks, as I believe, or will that prove to be yet another archaic tell in the new world order?
Will China emerge as the downside catalyst, either through geopolitical discord, economic upheaval, or a seismic structural shift?
These are some of the questions that I'll be thinking about as I prepare to take a much-needed respite to clear my keppe. In addition to today being options expiry, it is also the last day before I unplug from the madness to focus on my family. True wealth isn't always captured in a P&L; sometimes you just have to open your eyes. And for that, I'm thankful.
Have a healthy and safe holiday stretch, and a prosperous journey through the New Year. May peace be with you.
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