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27-Apr-2006
"Make It An Old-Fashioned, Please" from Victor Niederhoffer

From "Make It Another Old-Fashioned, Please" in Cole Porter's Panama Hattie:

                Make it another old fashioned, please
                Make it another double old-fashioned please
                Make it for one who's due to join the disillusion crew
                Make it for one of love's new refugees
                Once high in my castle I ran to you
                And oh what a castle, built on a heavenly dream
                Then quick as a lightning flash, that castle began to crash
                So make it another old-fashioned, please

Today I woke up to find the S&P 500 down 8 points, its biggest overnight decline since July 7 when it opened down 12 points. I looked at the headlines and sure enough Ben Bernanke was scheduled to testify in Washington. It turned out that he was scheduled to testify before the Joint Economic Committee -- twice a year in April and October without specific dates.  Like the old times I immediately said "darned Humphrey Hawkins Testimony!"

Now, of course, there hasn't been a Humphrey Hawkins testimony since the late 1990s. However, there's a monetary policy report to Congress that's semi-annual in February and July where the Chairman voluntarily tries to walk between the Scylla and Charybdis of economic growth and inflation while advancing the power of the Fed and maintaining a Delphic persona. But it's an old fashioned reaction to think it was Humphrey Hawkins and it was an old fashioned kind of day. The market eventually opened down 5 points at 1304 (an eight-day low) and quickly moved to 1300 to induce liquidations and squeezes. All who follow trends, pivots, and follow the fear factor in general were liquidated and like the old fashioned corners on Wall Street, once the weak holders were out, the wives wouldn't let the old timers reach for their canes. So it was fair game to take it up to within a whisker of the six-year highs at 1321, just 4 points below the 1325 high of last Thursday.

In any case, the move got me thinking of how to tell if you're truly old fashioned so that you will better be able to circumnavigate squeezes like this in the future with a historical and disinterred view of your cane in the grandstands. Here's a list that I came up with to tell if you're old fashioned .

How to tell if you're an old fashioned market persona:

  1. You wait for the money supply to come out each Thursday as the key to moves in the fixed income and stock market.
  2. You refuse to buy stocks until there's a true selling climax where not one weak long is left in the market and there has been confirmation of a rise.
  3. You follow Western Union, AMF, or General Motors or JDS Uniphase as the bellwethers.
  4. You still think of IBM as the leading computer manufacturing company.
  5. You believe the greatest trader of all time was Gann, Livermore, or the Large Man.
  6. You're waiting for Granville, or Prechter, to turn bullish before you get back into the market
  7. Your favorite game is checkers and you remember seeing the game room at the Big Board or the Ocean Liner or the barber shop where all the checker boards were set up.
  8. You love to be spanked on the bear side by female market technicians with very great legs who may have appeared in a nylons ad.
  9. You refer to the phone as "the wire" and a CD as a "tape".
  10. You have to have the 20-year-old in the next seat show you how to turn on the airplane media system.
  11. You don't own a handheld video game, and you listen to  music and books-on-tape on a cassette recorder instead of an iPod.
  12. Your greatest computer proficiency is on a VAX or Wang or Radio Shack TRS-80.
  13. You refer to any squeeze engendered by a Fed Chair speaking in Washington as a "Humphrey Hawkins deal".

I am open to other signals of old fashioned thinking so that we can at least know what the characteristics of the disease are, so that we will have less tendency to succumb in the future.

 

 

 

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