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September was a busy month for us.
While the country slowly starts to recover from numerous natural disasters, there was no chance to catch our collective breath. There was a Federal Open Market Committee meeting. There are threats abroad. There have been plenty of promises coming from the administration.
The month is coming to an end, but it doesn't appear as though anything is slowing down. With that said, I figured now would be a good time to do another Q&A.
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I found some incredible questions in the comments section and in the emails my readers send, and some of them I needed to answer. From which financials to invest in, to where you should be placing your stops, to the market's personality, there is a lot to touch on.
Q: If the "Fab 5" are failing as the leadership stocks and financials are taking over, should we follow with our own capital and buy banks? – Annie D.
Right now, the banks are moving up on the prospect of tax cuts and interest rates moving higher, which will widen their net interest margins and profitability. Additionally, the rising and more volatile rates mean more trading opportunities.
Rising rates, I believe, are a given. That's a plus for banks. If we get meaningful tax cuts (and that's a big if), the banks will continue to lead. So, yes, I like the banks here. Bank of America Corp. (NYSE: BAC), Wells Fargo & Co. (NYSE: WFC), Citigroup Inc. (NYSE: C), JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM), and Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS) are all good. I don't like Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (NYSE: GS) here; it hasn't been reacting positively to any of the news that's moving the others.
However, a word of caution is warranted. If the administration's tax plans go to hell in a handbasket and the market tumbles, the banks will see a good amount of profit-taking and Goldman will get hit hardest. The reason I'm in the "I'll believe it when I see it" camp on tax cuts getting through Congress is that I don't see Democrats going along with any plan. It's not that they don't want tax cuts, it's that they don't want to hand a victory to the president, and tax cut reform would be a huge victory.
The game-playing here is frightening. Not much has come out of the Dems side, so far. In the back room, they're probably leading on the administration. Then if they want to derail proposed cuts, they'll come out against cuts for the wealthy and big businesses and claim there aren't enough cuts for the middle class, etc. And they'll be right. That's how wicked things are politically these days.
Lastly, if we do get tax cuts and repatriation, the tech sector should head higher too.
Q: What other stores like Toys R Us are about to go bankrupt? – Scott M.
If Nordstrom Inc. (NYSE: JWN) doesn't find a buyer soon, it's likely headed into the rabbit hole too. Like Toys R Us, it's been saddled with billions in debt, and debt service is an overwhelming capital allocation that should be going into more creative efforts.
Besides JWN, and I'm referring specifically to companies you can trade, there are a bunch of losers that are heading for bankruptcy. Occasionally I'll tell you which ones we're targeting in Zenith Trading Circle, where we've been on a tear since April. There are probably even more retailers that were taken over by private equity and buyout shops that are debt dogs out on their last walk. But that's not important if you can't bet on them crapping out.
The market is continuing to rally, and the prospect of tax cuts is causing some investors (and a lot of speculators) to "rotate" into beaten-down, cheap retailers where there are huge short positions and players try to trigger short-covering rallies with their bottom-fishing buying. There's a lot of that going on right now. But if the market falters, all those fake news fliers are going right back down, and hard. Most of them are going to die anyway, but a rallying market will breathe more life into them for only so long.
Q: You use "markets" as if these constructs had a personality. Isn't it that they reflect the sum of all hopes and fears of all market participants? – Conrad L.
The markets absolutely have a personality. Being hopeful or fearful are personality traits, aren't they?
I've said for years that capital moves stocks, but people move capital. The psychology of investors is what moves markets. And people don't realize it, but technical analysis is a map of their psychology in their fears and hopes and how that moves a stock.
Q: Given the amount of cash out there, is the Fed unwinding that big of a deal going forward? The $7 trillion you mention in stock buybacks alone may have been reduced significantly had investors had better options in the fixed-income markets (i.e., government bonds), as companies may not have been issuing such a massive amount of corporate bonds to fund the buybacks. We wouldn't have such elevated stock prices and a Fed without $4 trillion of securities. – Scott R.
We can talk about the Fed, what it's done, who it serves, and on and on and on. It all comes down to its manipulation of rates to help its constituents, the big banks. The secondary beneficiary, which was planned, is the market.
Share buyback programs, courtesy of low rates and a lack of viable alternative avenues for corporate cash, made sense. Without a good feeling about the economy, companies weren't willing to increase capital expenditures towards growing capacity and production because they weren't confident consumers could step up and buy their goods and services. So they invested what they had laying around in their own stocks. When rates remained low, they realized they could borrow and keep supporting their stock prices by extending buyback programs.
How that affected investors, who didn't have good yielding options in fixed income or elsewhere, was simply to drive them into equities, where management of companies had planned on a floor under their stock and other investors joining the party would lift stocks higher and higher. Then everyone would feel better because of the "wealth effect." And guess what? That black magic worked.
The Fed's not going to take away the fairy dust too quickly. It knows it will blow the top off the mountain it built, and it isn't stupid. Full of crooks, yes. Stupid, no.
Q: What percentage do you recommend on our stops? – Chris N.
That's a great question. In a perfect world, it's based on two things.
About the Author
Shah Gilani is the Event Trading Specialist for Money Map Press. In Zenith Trading Circle Shah reveals the worst companies in the markets - right from his coveted Bankruptcy Almanac - and how readers can trade them over and over again for huge gains.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. 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.