Market Direction: What I Think Is Happening In The Markets

My market direction calls are always just my best guess, but today’s action reminded me of some other events in the past including the Lehman Collapse and the GM Bankruptcy.

For weeks now the market has been worried about the European Union and in particular Greece. Remember now, everything in this guess (as in all guesses) is just my opinion. There is no way that Greece can repay so default is a given. It doesn’t matter whether they try to revamp their debt, pay only some of it, or extend time periods, the outcome remains the same – default.

Market Direction: The 3 Stages Of Default

Sovereign debt, like all debt whether personal, institutional or corporate, is often the same. The money is borrowed and for a time everything seems fine. The debtor pays its interest payments and may even try to reduce the principle by a small amount. But as time passes more debt is piled on and yet the debtor thinks there is really nothing to worry about.

Eventually though the realization sets in that the debt is too large. Just as a bad debtor finds out, borrowing costs skyrocket when he goes looking for more money. Greece is finding the same thing.

Next up comes the denial stage. The debtor tries to convince himself and others that he can handle it. That he has everything under control. Finally comes the acceptance stage where the debtor decides that bankruptcy is the only logical course of action.

Europe and Greece are going through all these stages. They are now in the acceptance stage which is why I believe the European Governments are working to shore up their banks so that when the Greek default happens the damage to the banks is contained. Unlike the Lehman Collapse, the Europeans believe they can contain the damage in advance of it actually happening. Personally I don’t believe any of the Greek default is “baked into the market”, as they say.

The governments want to have the default happen after markets close and preferably on a weekend. They believe that the markets may have a bad Monday or even Tuesday, but then they might stabilize. The rumor mill will be working overtime when the default occurs and everything from the death of the Euro to the breakup of the EU will be on the rumor channels. The European Governments know this and hope by preparing in advance they can control losses.

Market Direction: Remembering The Fed

Look back through the last few years. The Housing Credit Crisis was supposedly contained. The Federal Reserve not only talked about how well it was containing it, but actually assurd the nation that there was nothing to be concerned about. The market flailed back and forth in 2007 and early 2008 as investors “wanted” to believe the Fed. In the end Lehman Brothers caught many by surprise and the damage was immense to the market.

GM’s bankruptcy was handled very differently. The Government talked up GM. They first indicated that there was no way that GM would go into bankruptcy. As debt and health benefits made it so very clear that GM was doomed, the government insisted they would be there for GM. This is the denial stage. However within a very short time, the direction changed into acceptance and the government then indicated that they would put GM through a “quick”, “painless” bankruptcy and get the company back operating within weeks.

We have all seen this type of market manipulation before. Every decade has all kinds of market manipulation events. I believe the Greek Credit Crisis and GM are fine examples.

Market Direction: Investors Want To Believe

Meanwhile the stock market direction is reflecting investors concern. Investors are hoping or want to believe that the crisis will be contained. Look at the chart of the S&P from today, below. The market dropped at the open worked its way lower, but then when it didn’t “fall out of bed”, it climbed all the rest of the day almost reclaiming the day’s loss. It’s because investors want to believe.

Market Direction: S&P 500 chart Sep 19 2011

But with Greek 1 and 2 year interest rates at 90% and 80% respectively, investors need to realize that Greece will default. It may not be this week or next but sometime over the next several to perhaps six months, the country will default.

I believe you can tell from the market direction action that the government are trying to prepare their banks for default while keeping investors hanging onto their stocks, but the loss in stock value could be enormous unless they get it just right. Select this market direction link to view the past 3 months of the SPY.

Market Direction: Staying With Bear Strategies

So there you have it. This is my interpretation of what’s been happening in the market. Personally I am staying with strong bear strategies like selling deep in the money covered calls, far out of the money naked puts, shorter time frames, selling far out of the money naked calls and holding spy put contracts at varying times throughout each week.

At the start of the year I indicated that my financial investment strategy would be the cautious bull. This strategy works well when the market direction is sideways to down.

  • Alan


    Given you sold your SPY Put already, you reckon the market will be up again ?

  • Robertgregor

    Are you still suggesting to purchase SPY puts today after the move up in the index.
    Thank You

  • Aboslutely. Until the market hears what the FED has to say later today, the market is going to move up. Just my opinion of course. I would be selling stocks into this rally. Best guess – short term move up then some mroe downside.

  • I am not buying SPY Puts yet. I sold all my puts yesterday. Now I am waiting for the Fed remarks and see what happens in the market. I like a much clearer direction and right now the Ultimate Oscillator and 5 day SMA show market up.