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Happy Guy Fawkes Day

guy_fawkes_portraitRemember, remember the Fifth of November,
The Gunpowder Treason and Plot,
I know of no reason
Why the Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot.
Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes, ’twas his intent
To blow up the King and Parli’ment.
Three-score barrels of powder below
To prove old England’s overthrow;
By God’s mercy he was catch’d
With a dark lantern and burning match.
Hulloa boys, Hulloa boys, let the bells ring.
Hulloa boys, hulloa boys, God save the King!
–Traditional English nursery rhyme

 

Tomorrow, November 5, is Guy Fawkes Day. While it doesn’t get a lot of press on this side of the Atlantic, it really should. It’s the day that the English remember one of their most notorious villains or one of their most celebrated heroes, depending on their mood or ideological leaning.

In the early hours of November 5, 1605, Fawkes was found hiding under the House of Lords with a cache of explosives large enough to level the entire building. It was his plan to take out the entire government — king, ministers, parliament and all — during the State Opening of Parliament. Now that’s one way to cut government spending!

Fawkes tortured and executed, of course. But he is remembered, in typically dry English humor, as the last man to enter parliament with honest intentions.

Today, the English celebrate Guy Fawkes Night with fireworks displays and by burning effigies of Fawkes or other contemporary political figures… but it’s always a little ambiguous as to whether they’re celebrating the foiling of the gunpowder plot or the spirit of rebellion behind it. But more than anything, it’s an excuse to get blind drunk and light things on fire… something that every red-blooded American should appreciate.

In just a few days, we’ll have a new president elect. I don’t know who will win, but I can say with absolute confidence that they will take office as the least popular president in history. Hillary Clinton set an all-time record this year for “strongly unfavorable” ratings from voters… only to have her record broken by Donald Trump.

This means that our two candidates are quite literally the two most hated political figures in modern history… and that even a large number of the people voting for Trump or Clinton are doing so despite hating them. Few Americans are actually voting for a person they like… they’re voting for someone they despise marginally less.

As tempting as it might be, I’m not going to recommend that you follow Guy Fawkes’ lead by putting barrels of gunpowder under Washington DC and then lighting them on fire. That’s the sort of thing that will get you locked up in Guantanamo for the rest of your life.

But I do encourage you to take a step back and keep it in perspective. Whoever wins on November 8, we’re still going to have to go to work the next day, and we’re still going to have portfolios to manage. And while I can’t stand either candidate, most of their policy points are actually fairly harmless. For all the hysterics, neither is a budding dictator, and the more extreme policy proposals will never survive negotiations with Congress.

So, let’s do this. Tomorrow night, light up your fire pit if you have one, and pour yourself a drink. In English style, make an effigy of whichever candidate you hate more and throw them on the fire. But be happy that, whichever truly despicable person gets elected in a few days, you still live in a free country, and that’s not going to change.

And on Wednesday, the day after this awful election, we’ll get back to the business of making money.

A very happy Guy Fawkes Day to all of the libertarians, anarchists and other assorted good-hearted ne’er-do-wells out there. Don’t get in too much trouble.

Disclaimer: This material is provided for informational purposes only, as of the date hereof, and is subject to change without notice. This material may not be suitable for all investors and is not intended to be an offer, or the solicitation of any offer, to buy or sell any securities nor is it intended to be investment advice. You should speak to a financial advisor before attempting to implement any of the strategies discussed in this material. There is risk in any investment in traded securities, and all investment strategies discussed in this material have the possibility of loss. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. The author of the material or a related party will often have an interest in the securities discussed. Please see Full Disclaimer for a full disclaimer.

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Happy Labor Day

captain-america1

The following is an excerpt from today’s 5-Day Forecast:

Today is Labor Day, a holiday to honor the American worker by giving them a day off. The markets are closed, so you should really stop reading this, step away from the computer and enjoy the unofficial end of summer.

But if you insist on reading, I’ll tell you a story. A few months ago, we had a discussion about labor holidays in the office. Our Editorial Director, Teresa van den Barselaar, who hails from South Africa, asked why we American workaholics insisted on working on May 1, which is Labor Day for most of the rest of the world.

My response – mostly in jest – was that May 1 was a commie holiday, and this is ‘Merica.

I’m a child of the Cold War, and I had always assumed that May Day was a creation of the communist USSR… and that we Americans came up with our own Labor Day in September because we didn’t want to give the Russians a propaganda win.

Boy, was I wrong.

It turns out that both days have their roots in U.S. history… and that the American September Labor Day is actually the older of the two holidays.

The first American Labor Day celebration took place in New York City in September 1882. Five years later, the first state – Oregon – made it an official holiday, and the rest of the states and the Federal government followed thereafter.

May 1 – May Day – commemorates an incident in 1886 in Chicago’s Haymarket Square, where a labor protest turned into a violent confrontation between anarchists and police… and eight people ended up dead in the melee.

In the U.S., the Haymarket marchers were, rightly or wrongly, mostly remembered as a bunch of anarchist and socialist troublemakers. But in the rest of the industrializing world, it became a rallying cry for the nascent labor rights movements.

So there you go, Teresa. That’s why Americans celebrate Labor Day in September.

Disclaimer: This material is provided for informational purposes only, as of the date hereof, and is subject to change without notice. This material may not be suitable for all investors and is not intended to be an offer, or the solicitation of any offer, to buy or sell any securities nor is it intended to be investment advice. You should speak to a financial advisor before attempting to implement any of the strategies discussed in this material. There is risk in any investment in traded securities, and all investment strategies discussed in this material have the possibility of loss. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. The author of the material or a related party will often have an interest in the securities discussed. Please see Full Disclaimer for a full disclaimer.

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I Refuse to Celebrate Labor Day…Sort Of

Because the concept of a holiday celebrating the proletariat deeply offends me, I will anti-celebrate Labor Day by working on Monday, if only for a few hours.

It’s a matter of principle, you understand. We don’t have a holiday celebrating the entrepreneurs that take risk, work insanely long hours and actually create new jobs in America, so it’s hard for me to recognize a holiday dedicated to labor.

My ridiculous grandstanding aside, I am looking forward to grilling fajitas and cracking open a Shiner Bock or two.

Enjoy the day off with your families. The market will be there waiting for you on Tuesday.

–Charles

 



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Disclaimer: This material is provided for informational purposes only, as of the date hereof, and is subject to change without notice. This material may not be suitable for all investors and is not intended to be an offer, or the solicitation of any offer, to buy or sell any securities nor is it intended to be investment advice. You should speak to a financial advisor before attempting to implement any of the strategies discussed in this material. There is risk in any investment in traded securities, and all investment strategies discussed in this material have the possibility of loss. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. The author of the material or a related party will often have an interest in the securities discussed. Please see Full Disclaimer for a full disclaimer.

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AAII Sentiment Survey: ‘Running of the Bulls’

spanish-bull-flag-3378-p

It’s that time of year again.

Tomorrow morning, thousands of adventurous (or phenomenally stupid) young men from around the world will run with the bulls in the streets of Pamplona.

I was one of those adventurous (let’s be honest — phenomenally stupid) young men once (see “¡Viva San Fermin!“). Though it was over a decade ago, I remember it like it was yesterday.

Lest I get teary-eyed, I’ll cut the nostalgia short. Today, we’re going to focus on a very different “running of the bulls.” Among individual investors, it seems there is nary a bull to be found these days. According to the latest American Association of Individual Investors (“AAII”) Sentiment Survey, there are fewer bulls today than at any time since the 2008 meltdown:

Slide1
The AAII survey measures the percentage of individual investors who are bullish, bearish, and neutral on the stock market for the next six months. To smooth out the noise a little, I used an 8-week moving average. And as you can see, bullishness is currently at lows you might normally associate with panic bottoms.

The weekly reading shows that just 22.6% of individual investors are bullish about the market over the next six months. To give a little long-term perspective, the long-term average bullishness reading is 38.8%.

While it has become cliche to call this “the most hated bull market in history,” at least by this metric it would seem like an accurate statement.

The AAII Sentiment Survey is viewed by many as a contrarian indicator. Like most measures that depend on investor psychology, it is noisy and doesn’t always give clear signals. But the takeaway here is that the bull market probably has a little longer to run. Yes, stocks are very expensive at these levels and probably won’t offer much in the way of returns over the next 8-10 years. But that doesn’t mean the market can’t continue to drift higher for the next several months.

 

Disclaimer: This material is provided for informational purposes only, as of the date hereof, and is subject to change without notice. This material may not be suitable for all investors and is not intended to be an offer, or the solicitation of any offer, to buy or sell any securities nor is it intended to be investment advice. You should speak to a financial advisor before attempting to implement any of the strategies discussed in this material. There is risk in any investment in traded securities, and all investment strategies discussed in this material have the possibility of loss. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. The author of the material or a related party will often have an interest in the securities discussed. Please see Full Disclaimer for a full disclaimer.

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Why Americans Don’t Celebrate May Day

I had a colleague from South Africa ask why we don’t celebrate May Day as a holiday in America. The answer, of course, is that May 1 was the date chosen by the communist leadership of the Second International  to be the International Workers’ Day. It’s kind of anathema to celebrate international communism here. Just sayin’.

And I still contend that if we celebrate working slobs with Labor Day, we should also have Entrepreneur Day as a holiday. Except that no one would celebrate it, because all the entrepreneurs would be at their desks working, building the future.

For what it’s worth, I celebrate neither May Day nor America’s late summer Labor Day. I make sure to do at least a little work on both days…just as a matter of principle.


Disclaimer: This material is provided for informational purposes only, as of the date hereof, and is subject to change without notice. This material may not be suitable for all investors and is not intended to be an offer, or the solicitation of any offer, to buy or sell any securities nor is it intended to be investment advice. You should speak to a financial advisor before attempting to implement any of the strategies discussed in this material. There is risk in any investment in traded securities, and all investment strategies discussed in this material have the possibility of loss. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. The author of the material or a related party will often have an interest in the securities discussed. Please see Full Disclaimer for a full disclaimer.

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