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"It's all good until it isn't" is one of my favorite sayings, which happens to be exactly what happened with the bull market's last run-up to all-time highs on Feb. 12, 2020.
The hot-mess rally, after news about the spread of novel coronavirus in Wuhan, China, knocked global and U.S. markets down from mid-January, looked good. It looked like virus fears were overblown when China said the rate of infection was slowing. Stocks got right back on the bull and rode it.
It was all good.
Until it wasn't. The virus was actually spreading across China and the globe. When markets realized they'd been duped by fake news out of China, the selling began.
Now, we're facing the opposite of "It's all good." Now, "It's all bad until it isn't."
That goes for rallying markets too. Most rallies we're going to see are traps, they're "head fakes," because the news is all bad, until it isn't.
Winning big in the stock market is all about the BIG picture, first and foremost. When the outlook is good, for the economy, for companies' sales and profits, and for markets, investors and traders should be playing from the "buy" side or the "long" side, as they call it on Wall Street.
In other words, play it like it's all good until it isn't. Which means keep riding the bull until something kills it, something bad.
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But when the BIG picture is bad, economic growth is threatened, companies' customers, suppliers and profitability prospects are "indeterminable," play the market from the "sell" or "short" side. That means take profits, raise cash, and look for opportunities to make money when markets go down.
In other words, play it like it's all bad until it isn't.
It's not the moment or time for "rah, rah, don't worry, everything's good" and "don't be afraid of what may not be there."
It's the opposite of that.
Overall, it's not that I'm not optimistic – I am, because this will all pass and everything will be good again. It's just not now. That's not reality at this juncture.
Frighteningly – and I'm not trying to frighten anyone, I'm trying to tell-it-like-it-is and advocate caution and concern – the extent of the impact on the country, on the world, on economies, on companies, and on markets is a great unknown.
The one thing markets hate most is "unknowns." Investors and traders sell on account of unknowns.
We don't even know what we don't know about the novel coronavirus. Markets, at least, know that.
That's why a sustained rally that leads to a return to across-the-board buying and a renewed bull market isn't only unlikely, it's unrealistic.
It's All Bad Now Until It Isn't
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.
The work he did laid the foundation for what would later become the 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 Hyperdrive Portfolio, Shah presents his legion of subscribers with massive profit opportunities that result from paradigm shifts in the way we work, play, and live.
Shah is a frequent guest on CNBC, Forbes, and MarketWatch, and you can catch him every week on Fox Business's Varney & Co.