There's no doubt 2015 was one of the most volatile years in recent history.
But here's the thing… I believe 2016 could be even rougher.
We haven't even seen the sell-off I'm predicting yet; it's likely to make the plunge we saw on Aug. 24, 2015, look like a kiddie ride.
Just as there's nothing solid or healthy underpinning the stock market gains we're seeing now, there will be nothing to catch investors who aren't prepared to trade this volatility – just a long, deep drop.
There's no bottom in sight, but the good news is there's one easy way to trade just about everything the market is likely to throw at you this year.
Here's what we should do…
Make Serious Money When Stocks Go Down
When I'm bearish and want to bet stocks are headed lower, I generally like buying inverse exchange-traded funds (ETFs) based on the major market indexes.
ProShares Short Dow 30 (NYSE Arca: DOG) for the Dow Jones Industrial Average, ProShares Short S&P 500 (NYSE Arca: SH) to short the S&P 500, and ProShares Short QQQ (NYSE Arca: PSQ) to bet the Nasdaq is headed lower.
If I'm extremely bearish, and I believe stocks are going to fall hard today or tomorrow, I'll sometimes buy a leveraged short inverse ETF like the ProShares UltraPro Short S&P 500 (NYSE Arca: SPXU). The UltraPro Short S&P fund is a "3x leveraged" inverse ETF. That means if the S&P 500 goes down 1% today, SPXU would go up 3% today.
But this is important: Leveraged ETFs are only meant as short-term trading vehicles. That's why I said "if I believe stocks are going to fall hard today or tomorrow." Because of the way leveraged ETFs are priced, they're "re-set" every day – they're not good long-term holds.
In a perfect world, if your conviction is right and you buy a leveraged inverse ETF and stocks go down right away, and they keep going down for multiple days in succession, you'll be a very happy camper.
I'm not greedy. If I have a straight run for a few days holding an inverse leveraged ETF, I'd take my profits as soon as I think the sell-off is over.
I wouldn't wait another day, I'd ring the register and be happy. If I own an unleveraged inverse ETF like DOG, SH, or PSQ, I'd probably use a 5% to 10% stop to get out if the markets rallied. If you take small losses, you can get out and figure out where stocks are going and get back in if your timing was off but you think they're going down again.
Now let's look at one of my favorite plays: money…
Here's the Trade for When Gold and Currencies Tank (or Skyrocket)
There are lots of leveraged gold ETFs. Here are some of my favorites. Just remember what I said about holding any leveraged ETF: they're very short-term trading vehicles.
Another way to "leverage" gold on the upside (betting bullion is going higher) is to buy miners. Mining stocks move up a lot faster than gold itself in an up-trending gold market.
Currencies are a little bit different, but it's not hard to trade their moves up or down. Don't forget, you can't just short one currency – all currencies are "priced" in terms of another currency, so they always trade as a "pair."
About the Author
Shah Gilani boasts a financial pedigree unlike any other. He ran his first hedge fund in 1982 from his seat on the floor of the Chicago Board of Options Exchange. When options on the Standard & Poor's 100 began trading on March 11, 1983, Shah worked in "the pit" as a market maker.
He helped develop what has become known as the Volatility Index (VIX) - to this day one of the most widely used indicators worldwide. After leaving Chicago to run the futures and options division of the British banking giant Lloyd's TSB, Shah moved up to Roosevelt & Cross Inc., an old-line New York boutique firm. There he originated and ran a packaged fixed-income trading desk, and established that company's "listed" and OTC trading desks.
Shah founded a second hedge fund in 1999, which he ran until 2003.
Shah's vast network of contacts includes the biggest players on Wall Street and in international finance. These contacts give him the real story - when others only get what the investment banks want them to see.
Today, as editor of 10X Trader, Shah presents his legion of subscribers with the chance to earn ten times their money on trade after trade.
Shah is also the proud founding editor of The Money Zone, where after eight years of development and 11 years of backtesting he has found the edge over stocks, giving his members the opportunity to rake in potential double, triple, or even quadruple-digit profits weekly with just a few quick steps.
Shah is a frequent guest on CNBC, Forbes, and Marketwatch, and you can catch him every week on Fox Business's "Varney & Co."
He also writes our most talked-about publication, Wall Street Insights & Indictments, where he reveals how Wall Street's high-stakes game is really played.