Friday, March 8, 2013

Personal Capitulation

In recent missives, I wrote about what seems to be the silence of the lambs, er, bears. These days, vocal bears do indeed get made into chops, served with a nice mint jelly (and fava beans).

Today, I've got a little soul searching and how  "once bitten, twice shy" applies to your humble technical journalist (that would be me).

Each Friday, I discuss possible topics with my editors for next week's columns. There are some perennial favorites - banks, gold, Apple - and they do get a bit more coverage than say containers and packaging. But I look at international markets, currencies, bonds, commodities, energy and healthcare as interesting patterns arise.

Recently, they asked if gold looked like a good topic. After all, it was falling like an atomically heavier-than-lead balloon and the world was rife with calls of even further losses. I politely declined because a few weeks earlier I was still a raving bull on the sector. The correction was nearing its end, so I thought, and my previous call for a breakout lasted about two days before the downtrend resumed.

A trader can and should shrug off being wrong but as a journalist I can only take being called an idiot for so long.

And what happens if I decide now that gold is going lower, too? It is always a good idea to change at the right time. Better late than never. Don't go down with the ship. Live to trade another day.  Blah, blah, blah.

But what would happen if I throw in the towel, aka - capitulate? If the market keeps going down, well, that would be OK. But what would happen if it doesn't? What if I change my view right at the bottom? The personal downside risk is too huge because unlike a trader where money could care less if you were wrong the last time, readers of financial analysis and news have long memories. Fighting the trend all the way down and changing your mind at exactly the wrong time can not only fire up the flame machine but lose a hefty chunk of readership. It takes a long time to build a following but one (very) bad call to lose it.

So, dear reader, you have a window into the mind of a journalist. There is risk in writing anything and unlike a trader, who can take a day off, journalists have to produce - every day - whether there is something important happening or not.

So, do I think the stock market rally can continue? Absolutely!

Will I recommend backing up the truck? No way.  I am not changing my tune now although I have completely backed off fighting it.

And shorting? Been there, tried that.

A portfolio of puts and calls, along with a vacation, would be nice right about now. And a nice kee-Anne-tee.

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