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Monday August 6, 2007 - 10:36:21 GMT
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Cries from the two-way street crowd

Key News

The dollar fell to a 15-year low against a basket of currencies on Monday, as speculation mounted in financial markets that rising credit market risk and softening U.S. data will force a cut in U.S. interest rates. (Reuters)

Key Reports Due (WSJ):
 There are no economic indicators scheduled for today.


To torture analogies, the global financial market seems like a giant suspension bridge with complicated engineering.  Thousands of bolts hold it together. Today a few of them have fractures and one or two seem to have failed completely. The bridge, however, with typical redundancy built in, can take a few failed bolts, perhaps quite a few.  And only with bad luck will some of them line up in a dangerous enough sequence to bring a major strut down.  This global financial structure is far too large and has far too many interlocking pieces for weakening U.S. house prices and a few subprime issues to bring it down. No, what we have to worry about is whether we are reaching a broad-based level of financial metal fatigue in which bolt after bolt will fail with ultimately disastrous consequences.  The scary part is that this global financial structure is faith based, held together by unprecedented amounts of animal spirits. If the faith starts to fail it is, “sauve qui peut” (the old cry as a ship foundered), or “every man for himself.”  The Blackstone Peak argument of growing hostility to the financial world is just the kind of slow burning negative that, with plenty of help from other negatives, can finally bring the bridge down or sink the ship.

   Jeremy Grantham

FX Trading – Cries from the two-way street crowd

[Apologies, but we just couldn’t help commenting on the latest outbreak of hypocrisy.]

We don’t watch the TV financial shows during trading hours.  Occasionally we switch on CNBC to view the release of key reports.  We definitely don’t watch Cramer (an actor on the program), as we find him repugnant, to say the least.  But we did view clips of his latest meltdown on Friday, sent to us by friends.  Besides the theatrics, it was the classic response from the hypocritical two-way street crowd. 

We like operating in financial markets because of the fact that they issue a verdict i.e. you do your work, you make a trade, and you’re either right or wrong.  If wrong, you act like a grown up, you take responsibility for your trade.  Then you move on.  Case closed. 

Good traders, we think, don’t stand around and tell you how wonderful they are when they are right; most of time good traders only talk of their losers.  (Unfortunately in the newsletter business we do tout too much—guilty we plead.) Good traders’ reverse the natural tendency to attribute winning trades to brilliant analysis, and losing trades to bad luck; they understand what Livermore meant when he said, “In trading its better to do right, than be right.”  The functional reality of this type of mindset is to limit the ego—which wants to seep in and control all.

The two-way street crowd, of which Mr. Cramer has now become the new poster child, wants it both ways.  They want to attribute their good trades to they brilliant market insight, timing, courage, blah…blah…blah…never to shear luck of catching a market cycle.  And of course, when things go badly—it’s the responsibility of someone else.  That someone else in Cramer’s crosshairs is the Fed. 

It really is sickening watching these clowns enjoy the fruits of easy credit, reaping huge gains during bull markets and extolling the virtues of free market capitalism (quasi free market at least) to justify their winnings—“each according to his abilities” being their smug mantra song.  But wait a second, when the sword of risk in the risk/reward equation cuts the other way, these men of such ability cry for the nanny state to save them from the market.   It is to laugh!

Cramer complains Mr. Bernanke is just some silly “academic.”  We have no particular love for the Fed as an institution—we think they meddle too much and create many of the problems precisely because of the on again off again credit policies, driven by the various contradictory policy mandates (that’s an issue for another day).  But we do like Mr. Bernanke.  We like his demeanor, and his ability to use complete sentences without relying on jargon to communicate complex topics—the sign of a very smart guy in our book (Milton Friedman, another “academic,” had this rare gift and we miss him so).

Mr. Bernanke, being just a lowly “academic,” is well aware of the danger of sanctioning even more risk complacency than already exists in this market by adding fuel to the fire i.e. cutting interest rates.  Unfortunately, it may be his only policy choice left if this so-called housing bubble spirals downward out of control and/or a derivatives debacle flows from the Street.  But maybe now that everyone in the world seems focused on subprime, it won’t be as bad as expected.  Who knows?  

There is one thing we can feel confident knowing, Mr. Bernanke never wastes time watching a clown like Cramer. 

Jack Crooks


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