STRATEGY VIEW. This morning please let me warn a bit further about using inverse vehicles. Appropriate because yesterday’s big rally must have gotten everyone’s attention, longs and shorts alike, but especially those now using these shorting vehicles. And because I’ve been getting increased interest in my hedging strategy of offsetting my longs and this bear market with inverse mutual funds and short ETFs. I’ve been recommending starting small and going slow. Exactly because even during sustained and extended bear markets, as I believe this one will prove to be, a too aggressive investor can get taken and/or shaken by jumping into new territory. Hey, it only is fundamentally correct policy to proceed into new, unexplored territory v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y, right? I mean there’s sayings about such like: “Fools rush in where wise men never go.” And wagon trains sent out just a couple advance scouts to test out unexplored territory (I know from watching all those old cowboy and Indian movies). But I know we’re all impatient and want to resolve gray matters quickly, to get that monkey off our backs, especially so when it comes to investing, so we can get back to sleeping well at nights. But enough of those warnings … for the second.
My advice remains putting one foot slowly ahead of the other. Say if you have a $100,000 account. First, I would be keeping roughly half of it in cash or laddered short term US Treasury notes (for a little more income). Then with the other half I’d have roughly half long and half short, shifting with the tide.
· Longs. Say have the longs spread over the strongest acting market specific sectors, picking the strongest acting sector charts in technology, health care, and maybe chemicals or transports as a continuing cyclical play (likely boosted if oil keeps coming down). So try to play the strongest relative strength sectors you can find in an overall declining stock market.
· Shorts. Then on the short side I’d be short the S&P and or Dow, as both indexes have a diversified mix of industry sectors. Yesterday, for example, while the banks jumped sharply, utilities, energy and precious metals fell. So a diversified mix will benefit you if the whole stock market slumps as I continue to expect (although we could easily see somewhat of a sustained rally here on the hope that the government is going to fix things).
Go Slow! No matter what, (from first hand experience!), I would advise moving slow. Say today, tomorrow or soon take your first step. Again with that $100,000 portfolio, if you are 100% long, I’d lighten up into this rally, again doing so in steps in case this rally proves sustainable, trying to sell a little each step higher. And of the projected goal of putting the remaining 50% or $50,000 to work, $25,000 long, $25,000 short, I’d start off by going short with just 20% of the $25,000. Say buy an inverse fund or a short ETF with $5000 or 20% of the $25,000 you’re now long. Then watch the account’s value for a few trading days. If you’re still seeing your portfolio value fall more than you can stomach, go short another $5000, thus giving you a position of $10,000 short and $25,000 long. And so on, step by step. And, of course, only go short on or after up days. You need to sell most anytime midway through a big bear market, not waiting for rallies, but to go short you have to wait for rallies. You need to build yourself a profit buffer as you go otherwise big up days like yesterday will devastate you mentally and hurt too much financially. And cause you to abandon the whole scheme (scheme used in the best sense of the term).
Schwartz Summing Up. The goal again is to hedge your downside, not make a bundle going short!