Slope of Hope Blog Posts

Slope initially began as a blog, so this is where most of the website’s content resides. Here we have tens of thousands of posts dating back over a decade. These are listed in reverse chronological order. Click on any category icon below to see posts tagged with that particular subject, or click on a word in the category cloud on the right side of the screen for more specific choices.

An Introduction to Wine Collecting – Part 1 (by Biffermas)

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I'm fortunate to be spending the Thanksgiving holiday touring through Mendoza, Argentina, home of fantastic Malbecs, periodic nauseating inflation, and economic collapse.  Mendoza is Argentina's most famous wine region and sits at the foot of the Andes, which rise 16,000 feet above the valley floor.  This provides desert-like conditions ideal for growing grapes.  Since I'll be unable to contribute anything on the trip I’m writing a series of posts on the subject of wine collecting beforehand.  I will speak directly to the small-fry wine collector, not the mega-rich sleazy oligarch collector (I'm sure some of them are nice).  If hot robber-baron on Sotheby's auction action is your forte, I have nothing to offer you.  I buy collectible wine by the bottle or case, not the gross. My “cellar” holds 500 bottles, not 10,000-20,000+.

I possess a few qualifications that might enable me to speak as an amateur wine collector:

  • I've been collecting wine for five years, and witnessed the stunning euphoria through 2007 and the precipitous decline that bottomed out recently.
  • I'm taking the certificate series of wine-making courses from UC Davis, the finest wine making school in the United States.
  • I've been making wine from kits or grapes for 10+ years.
  • And most importantly, I'm a wino, and so is my father, wife, siblings, and friends.  

What is a collectible wine?  Is it possible to lay down a case of 2009 Ernest and Julio Gallo wine (we will sell no wine before it’s made) and realize some serious capital gains 15 years later?  No.  A collectible wine must possess certain structural qualities to age properly, namely a high score from The Wine Advocate / Robert Parker, and a high score from the Wine Spectator (Wine Speculator).  Just kidding (not really).  I'll cover what qualifies a wine as collectible in the next posting; I can say that most wines you'll find in the supermarket and small liquor store are meant to be consumed quickly, not stored for years.


Two wine periodicals set the stage for prices based on their ratings.  The most influential is The Wine Advocate, authored by Robert Parker.  High ratings of 94 or better will automatically inflate a wine's worth, while a sub-90 score will plummet a speculative wine future's value.  The Wine Spectator is less influential but still valuable if a high score is given.  Two other periodicals, Stephen Tanzer's International and Wine & Spirits aren't as useful for collectors.  These seem to be more consumer-driven rating systems.


 Some people say negative things about Robert Parker.  I've heard him referred to as, "A self-promoting, superfluous windbag", or an "Over-rated, compromised lap dog of the famous French producers", but I can't speak directly to these claims.  After all, I'm merely a small-fry collector.  Regardless of what "they" think, he's hugely influential on wine prices.  A 100-point rating will pound some lucky person's wine futures into the stratosphere, much like a surprise earnings report from Travelzoo.  A few wines manage to receive 100 points from both Robert Parker and Wine Spectator, and people thus pay dearly for them.

Next post: What is a Collectible Wine (besides a good score from Robert Parker)?

Trading a Post-Trend Day (by Biffermas)

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Monday's trend day sparked some intelligent comments regarding what comes next, with many traders correctly calling the sluggish consolidation doji that formed on Tuesday.  Momentum traders seem to despise the slow action that typically occurs after a strong move, but there are some high-probability opportunities that arise in the aftermath.  The so called, "Post Trend Day" is one of my favorite environments to flip equities.  

This setup starts with a trend day, which can
usually be identified on a daily chart as a day that opens at one extreme and
closes on the other, with a wider than normal range.  I like a roughly 2% rise. 
Monday was a textbook example.


My method is pretty simple, and I’d enjoy hearing how
other traders arrange their approach.  I
trade the big broad boring etfs: DIA and SPY. 
I avoid anything more speculative since they don’t always follow the
diversified markets.  I simply place a
horizontal line through the center of the opening 15-minute bar of the
post-trend day and swing trade around it. 
If the market rises and the NYSE intraday tick goes above 1000, I’ll
short the market with a target 0.25% below the horizontal line.  I close the position if the tick rises above
1000 soon after on a separate 5-minute bar, since this can indicate something
stronger than I want.  I’ll go equally
long if the reverse setup occurs.  Many
people like to trade the VWAP rather than a static horizontal bar, which also
works well.

Don’t Ignore This Chart My Furry Friends (by Gary)

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Gary from Biiwii with a chart depicting a divergence that bears should be very interested in.

The gold-silver ratio (GSR) and the SPX are concurrently doing something that is most unsustainable during this last little thrust higher in markets.  They are rising together.  To review, when gold is rising vs. silver, a signal is given that liquidity is draining.  When gold declines vs. silver, the bull party is on.  It is no more complicated than that.

As you can see by the chart, the GSR has been in an intermediate downtrend since the blow-off hysterics in fear back in March.  Last week, bears (including myself) thought we had the market right where we wanted it and guess what, as long as the bearish divergence of a rising GSR remains concurrent with a rising market, we do!  This will not last.


So the vital question is 'which is real and which is Memorex?' when it comes to the two short term uptrends.  I did a less formal version of this study on my blog during pre-market and it appears for the moment at least, that the stock market and the GSR are cooperating toward my favored view, which is that the market will break down and the GSR will continue to rise, possibly into a new intermediate leg up (with corresponding intermediate leg down in the markets).

We should realize however, that the bulls have the benefit of the established trend and that counts for a lot. So, my furry friends, let's keep the hubris under wraps until we get further confirmation.  But so far, so good.