Textual Intercourse

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This week is only three days old, but it feels like an eternity.

I came into the week 115% committed with a split of about 85/15 between bearish and bullish positions. Monday was a good day (obviously), and it seemed that things were starting to finally crack.


The S&P downgrade can now be added to a long, long list of "this time for sure!" events that have been squished like a grape. The Dow is at a new recovery high, and all the after-hours activity is bullish again.

So while Monday was terrific, and Tuesday I gave up just a portion of those profits, Wednesday flat-out stunk. I was only 82% committed, but the portfolio was purely shorts, and I got stopped out left and right. I spent the day endeavoring to even out the portfolio with bullish positions to achieve more of a 50/50 split. The risk of the S&P bolting to 1430 is simply too great, and I don't get my jollies out of being smacked across the face with a ball peen hammer.

Suffice it to say that waking up to an /ES that was 17 points higher was just as unsettling as waking up to an /ES 17 points lower was exhilirating. As I sit here now, I am far more comfortable with a 50/50 portfolio of carefully-selected stocks. I don't have a single general equity ETF (like SPY, DIA, etc.) in either direction.

Of course, the downside of a totally balanced portfolio is that any moves are going to be completely muted. If we soar 150 points up (or down) tomorrow, the best I can hope for is a small profit (intraday ETF trades notwithstanding), since the only thing that prevents the positions from totally cancelling each other out is – – God willing – – that the selections are good enough so that the longs are a little stronger than average and the shorts are a little weaker than average.

But the market seems to be switching direction every couple of days, and I'm not comfortable being totally bullish or totally bearish right now. I am also very, very "light", with a big chunk of the portfolio in cash.

The point is that having such a portfolio coming into Monday (or Wednesday, for that matter) would have greatly reduced my portfolio's volatility. One would love to be totally long on up days and totally short on down days, but as long as you are fantasizing, you might as well imagine Gong Li giving you a vigorous massage with essential oils while you monitor your positions.

At present I've got 27 longs and 24 shorts. That's right – I have more longs than shorts. A few of the longs include CAVM, FNSR, GOOG, MA, MIPS, and VMED, and a few of the shorts include CQP, GS, HRB, NTAP, RADS, UAL, and XRTX.

One final word to those precious metals bulls out there who are setting the world on fire. I know exactly how it feels to be "printing" money just about every day. In the blessed months of late 2008 and early 2009, it seemed like I could do no wrong. Almost everything I did seemed to make money. That must be how you are feeling right about now.

Enjoy it while it lasts. Take those profits and have a treasure bath. But be really mindful of your mindset when it ends. And I know you don't believe me, but it will end someday, and years from now people will marvel at a chart like SLV and wonder what on earth people were thinking. I don't know when the party in precious metals will end, but it's easy to lose sight that markets don't usually throw giant sacks of cash at people like this. You have my fondest hopes of maximizing your profits and making an elegant exit. But take it from someone who knows how it feels to do everything right – – and who also knows how it feels when it seems he does everything wrong – – it ain't gonna last forever, as much as you hope it might.