Sunday, September 6, 2015

This Weeks Free "500k Proof and Trading Plan" Webinar with John Carter

We will be attending an live online event this Wednesday evening with John Carter and we would love to have you join us. Please reserve your seat asap since John's wildly popular webinars fill up quickly.

Sign Up for the "500k Proof and Plan Webinar"

John is a special trader for sure, and what really sets him apart is his ability to pass on his skills. He has a "knack" for making his trading methods easy to understand so you can put them to work the following trading day.

John became famous for the "Big Trade" he made with Tesla [TSLA] in 2014. Changing the way wall street looks at using options for protection and profit. And this weeks webinar will make it clear, it's not an unattainable thing to trade like John. And he will deliver this Wednesday, that's why we are going and that's why we believe you should as well.

Register for live event and secure recording HERE

See you Wednesday evening,
Hedge Fund University

Get ready for Wednesdays with John's latest FREE eBook "Understanding Options"....Just Click Here!

Buy the Dip? Hell No.....Sell the Rip Instead

By Tony Sagami

Are you worried about the stock market? You should be; at least according to your local Starbucks barista.
Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz told his 190,000 employees in his daily “Message from Howard” email communication: “Today’s financial market volatility, combined with great political uncertainty both at home and abroad, will undoubtedly have an effect on consumer confidence and … our customers are likely to experience an increased level of anxiety and concern. Let’s be very sensitive to the pressures our customers may be feeling.”

You can’t make this stuff up!

Hey, maybe I shouldn’t be too harsh on Mr. Schultz, because the stock market is in a lot of trouble… and not for the reasons the mass media and Wall Street experts are telling you. The know it alls on CNBC are pointing their fingers at the Chinese stock market meltdown as the reason for our stock market turmoil, but that is just the catalyst… not the root problem.

The source of the meltdown is deeper, more problematic, and more painful. What I’m talking about is that the Federal Reserve—from Greenspan to Bernanke, to Yellen—thought they possessed Wizard of Oz powers to fix whatever ails the economy with their menu of monetary tools.

In 2000, the Fed thought it could solve the bursting of the dot-com bubble with massive interest rate cuts and repeated that playbook again for the 2008-09 Financial Crisis. And when they ran out of room by cutting interest rates to zero, they trotted out Operation Twist and QE 1, 2, and 3.

Those three rounds of QE added about $3.7 trillion to the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet since 2008, which now totals a mind boggling $4.5 trillion. The problem is not China; the problem is Janet Yellen and her Federal Reserve buddies.

The Fed—beginning with the original monetary Mr. Magoo of Alan Greenspan—created a bubble, then rolled out more of the same to deal with the bursting of the bubble, and like the shampoo bottle says: Rinse, Lather, Repeat. Zero interest rates plus QE1, QE2, and QE3 created a massive misallocation of capital that has affected everything from home supply, ocean-going freighters, the US dollar, and wages, and pushed stock prices to a bigger than ever bubble.

The recent weakness is the painful process of deflating that bubble, but the Federal Reserve refuses to learn from its mistakes. It won’t be long until we hear about QE4 and/or a delay to the overpromised interest rate liftoff. Former US Treasury Secretary Larry Summers had this to say yesterday: “A reasonable assessment of current conditions suggests that raising rates in the near future would be a serious error that would threaten all three of the Fed’s major objectives; price stability, full employment and financial stability.”

Honestly, I don’t know what the Federal Reserve will do next. Heck, I bet they don’t know what to do either… but they will do something. Central bankers are arrogant know-it-alls who think they can fix the world’s financial problems with a couple of pulls of a monetary lever.

So pull they will.

And so the stock market damage will continue, albeit with some powerful up moves along the way.
Bulls, whether in a Spanish bull-fighting arena or roaming the floor of the NYSE, are a tough animal to kill. They won’t surrender until they make a few more desperate attempts to push the market higher.
Look at what happened last Tuesday after the 588-point Monday meltdown. The Dow Jones Industrial Average shot up by as much as 441 points before ending the day with a 204-point loss.

My point is that you’re going to see a lot of powerful up moves in the coming months… but I’m telling you, these are nothing more than bear market traps to lure you into buying at the wrong time. The stock market is falling into a bear market, and that means big swings both up and down, similar to 2000–2003.

The Federal Reserve, along with the rest of the world’s central bankers, has puffed stock valuations into an epic bubble, and the stock market has a long, long ways yet to fall…..just not in a straight line. That’s heart attack material for both buy-hold-and-pray and buy the dip investors, but it is a goldmine if you adapt your strategy.

Instead of buying the dip, the right strategy going forward is SELL THE RIP.

When the stock market gives you a big rally, the right move will be to sell into strength.

And if you have some risk capital, that will be the time to load up on inverse ETFs and put options, like my Rational Bear subscribers did in July.

The biggest short-selling opportunity of our lifetimes is knocking on your door.
Tony Sagami
Tony Sagami

30 year market expert Tony Sagami leads the Yield Shark and Rational Bear advisories at Mauldin Economics. To learn more about Yield Shark and how it helps you maximize dividend income, click here.

To learn more about Rational Bear and how you can use it to benefit from falling stocks and sectors, click here.

Get our latest FREE eBook "Understanding Options"....Just Click Here!

Friday, September 4, 2015

How Did John Carter Get Through the Market Turmoil of Last Week?

You know him as our trading partner that made a name for himself as the guy who made the Big Trade on Tesla. Simpler Options CEO John Carter has continued to allow us to watch over his shoulder as he quietly took an account that he put $150,000 in at the beginning of the year and in 8 months turned it into $650,000.

Our readers have been attracted to John's trading methods due to the system's ability to limit risk while limiting the fees it takes to trade in this manner. And best of all it can be accomplished with any size account, no matter how large or small.

So how did John fair in the market turmoil of last week? He calmly continued to make money while using the volatility to his advantage. Luckily for us John put together another game changing free video that shows us exactly what he did in the peak of the madness.

Watch the video HERE

Here's what else he covers for you in the video.....

  *  Why the recent market sell off didn't change his plan

  *  How to compound profits correctly

  *  Why options are so profitable no matter the market condition

  *  And his plan that you can easily copy

Watch the video HERE for free, and let us know what you think

See you in the markets putting this to work,
Ray C. Parrish
Hedge Fund University

Get the latest updated version of John Carter's free eBook "Understanding Options".....Just Click Here

Thursday, September 3, 2015

A Correction Fireside Chat with the "10th Man"

By Jared Dillian 

I don’t really enjoy these things like I used to. Keep in mind, I’ve traded through a lot of blowups, going back to 1997...1998...2001...2002-2003...2007-2009...2011...Today. They all kind of feel the same after a while.

Nobody wins from corrections except for the traders, which today mostly means computers. I forget who said this: “In bear markets, bulls lose money and bears lose money. Everyone loses money. The purpose of a bear market is to destroy capital.”....And that’s what is going on today.

For starters, long-term investors inevitably get sucked into the media MARKET TURMOIL spin cycle and puke their well-researched, treasured positions at the worst possible time. But I’m not trying to minimize the significance of a correction, because some corrections turn into bona fide bear markets. And if you are in a bear market, you should get out. If it is only a correction, you probably want to add to your holdings.

How can you tell the difference?

My Opinion: This Is a Correction

So what were the two big bear markets in the last 20 years? The dot com bust, and the global financial crisis. Two generational bear markets in a 10 year span. Hopefully something we’ll never see again. In one case, we had the biggest stock market bubble ever and in the other, the biggest housing/debt crisis ever.

Both good reasons for a bear market.

What are we selling off for again? Something wrong with China?

Again, not to minimize what is going on in China, because it is now the world’s second-largest economy. Forget the GDP statistics. After a decade of ridiculous overinvestment, it is possible that they’re on the cusp of a very serious recession, whether they admit it or not. But the good news is that the yuan is strong and can weaken a lot, and interest rates are high and can come down a lot. China has a lot of policy tools it can use (unlike the United States).

Let’s think about these “minor” corrections over the last 20 years.....
1997: Asian Financial Crisis
1998: Russia/Long-Term Capital Management (LTCM)
2001: 9/11
2011: Greece

All of these were VIX 40+ events.

In retrospect, these “crises” look kind of silly, even junior varsity. The Thai baht broke—big deal.

Russia’s debt default was only a problem because it was a surprise. And the amount of money LTCM was down—about $7 billion—is peanuts by today’s standards. After 9/11, stocks were down 20% in a week. The ultimate buying opportunity.

And in hindsight, we can see that the market greatly underestimated the ECB’s commitment to the euro.
So what are we going to say when we look back at this correction in 10-20 years? What will we name it? Will we call it the China crisis? I mean, if it’s a VIX 40 event, it needs a name.

I try to have what I call forward hindsight. Like, I pretend it’s the future and I’m looking back at the present as if it were the past. My guess is that we will think this was pretty stupid.

What to Buy

I saw a sell-side research note yesterday suggesting that this crisis is marking the capitulation bottom in emerging markets. I haven’t fully evaluated that statement, but I have a hunch that it is correct. China is cheap, by the way. But if China is too scary, they are just giving away India. I literally cannot buy enough. And I have a hunch that Brazil’s president, Dilma Rousseff, is going to be impeached and the situation in Brazil is going to improve relatively soon.

Think about it. The most contrarian trade on the board. Long the big, old, bloated, corrupt, ugly, bear market BRICs. Also the scariest trade. But the scary trades are often the good trades. There’s more. If you think we’re in the midst of a generational health care/biotech bull market, prices are a lot more attractive today than they were a few weeks ago. I also like gold here because central banks are no longer omnipotent.

That reminds me—there was something I wanted to say on China. The reason everyone hates China isn’t because of the economic situation. It’s because they made complete fools of themselves trying to prop up the stock market. So virtually overnight, we went from “China can do anything” to “China is full of incompetent idiots.” Zero confidence in the authorities.

You want to know when this crisis is going to end? When China manages to restore confidence. When they have that “whatever it takes” moment, like Draghi. If they keep easing monetary policy, sooner or later there will be an effect.

I Am Bored

I used to get all revved up about this stuff. That’s when I made my living timing tops and bottoms. I don’t do that anymore. I do fundamental work, and I go to the gym and play racquetball. The mark-to-market is a nuisance. Also, if you can’t get excited about a VIX 50 event, you have probably been trading for too long.
There is a silver lining. The disaster scenario, where the credit markets collapse due to lack of liquidity, isn’t happening. Everyone is hiding and too scared to trade.

Honestly, high-grade credit isn’t acting all that bad. And it shouldn’t. I don’t see any big changes in the default rate. Anyway, if you want to go be a hero and bid with both hands, be my guest. It’s best to be careful and average into stuff. These prices will look pretty good a couple of months from now, I think.

Jared Dillian
Jared Dillian

If you enjoyed Jared's article, you can sign up for The 10th Man, a free weekly letter, at Follow Jared on Twitter @dailydirtnap

The article The 10th Man: A Correction Fireside Chat was originally published at

Get our latest FREE eBook "Understanding Options"....Just Click Here!

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Distressed Investing

By Jared Dillian 

When most people think of distressed investing, they think of buying CCC-rated bonds at 20 or 30 cents on the dollar, then maybe sitting in bankruptcy court to divvy up the capital structure, making healthy risk-adjusted returns in the end. You just need to hire a few lawyers.

Distressed investors are a different breed of cat. It’s one of those countercyclical businesses, like repo men, who do well when everyone else is getting hammered.

I remember distressed guys killing it in 2002. Most people remember the dot-com bust, but there was a nasty credit crunch that went along with it. Nasty. High yield/distressed investments had some amazing years in 2003 and 2004. Convertible bonds in particular.

Funny thing about distressed investors is that they like to stay within their comfort zone. In my experience, they’re not keen on commodities. Like coal mining, which this week saw one bankruptcy filing and another one in the works. Distressed guys hate commodities because they are just timing the earnings cycle – which is the same as market timing.  Distressed guys want less volatile earnings so their projections aren’t totally dependent on commodity prices rising.

Coal is distressed, all right. But you don’t see the distressed guys getting involved. Even they are too scared!

Here’s a somewhat controversial statement: I think most commodities are distressed. Coal is definitely distressed. So is iron ore. Copper, too. And yes, even gold. Corn and beans have had a nice little run, but metals and energy in particular have been a complete horrorshow.

So I think it’s time to start looking at commodities as a distressed asset class. The assumption is that fair value of these commodities/producers is well above current market prices, and current market prices are wrong because of, well, a lot of things. In particular, a self-reinforcing process where selling begets more selling.

If you’re a distressed investor and you’re buying something at a deep discount, if you have a long enough time horizon, you’ll be vindicated eventually. Sometimes, it takes a long time. Sometimes, not very long at all. It’s pretty great when it works.

I have never had much aptitude for it. But I am trying it now.

Gold: A Special Case

Gold is a little different.

How do you value gold? It has no cash flows. An industrial commodity like copper is pretty easy to value. With gold, you’re trying to gauge investment demand (at the retail or sovereign level), which is hard, against mining production, which is a little easier.

But what an ounce of gold is worth is entirely subjective. More subjective than copper or cocoa or coffee. For example, if everyone started using bitcoin, there would be little to no demand for gold. (For the record, I think cryptocurrencies indeed have had an impact on gold demand.)

Basically, people want gold when they think their government no longer cares about the purchasing power of their currency. In our case, that was when the Fed was conducting quantitative easing, known colloquially as printing money.

But that’s not really what people were nervous about. Think about it. The Fed was printing money for monetary policy reasons. They were trying to effect monetary policy with interest rates at the zero bound. That’s different from printing money to buy government bonds because nobody else wants to. That’s called debt monetization.

When budget deficits get sufficiently large, people worry about things like failed bond auctions, that the Fed will have to step in and be the buyer of last resort. This is the nightmare scenario described in Greenspan’s Gold and Economic Freedom essay.

We had $1.8 trillion deficits not that long ago. The bond auctions were a little scary. I thought debt monetization was a possibility.

The deficit is lower today, mostly because of higher taxes, more aggressive revenue collection, and economic growth. As you can see, the price of gold has corresponded almost perfectly with the budget deficit.

With a small deficit today, nobody cares about gold.

Is the deficit going higher or lower in the future? Higher. Ding-ding-ding, we have a winner. One of the reasons I’m happy owning gold as a part of my portfolio.

Paper vs. Things

Asset allocation gets a lot easier when you figure out that the financial markets are a tug-of-war between paper and things. Sometimes, like now, financial assets (stocks and bonds) outperform. Stocks are overpriced, and bonds are way overpriced. Other times, like 10 years ago, commodities outperformed.

It has to do with the degree of confidence people have in… other people. A bond is a promise to repay. A stock is a promise to pay dividends, or that there will be something left over at the end. A dollar is a promise that it’s worth something, namely, a divisible part of the sum total of the productive abilities of all the people in the country.

These are pieces of paper. Paper promises. When confidence in promises is high, nobody needs gold, coal, or copper. When confidence in promises is low, time to build that underground bunker in the backyard. Confidence in promises is currently at all-time highs. Without making a positive statement either way, I’d say that only in the year 2000 were commodities more undervalued than they are right now.

Sidebar: it is tempting to treat commodities as an asset class, but you should try not to. They are idiosyncratic, and for most commodities, the cost of carry is high enough that it’s impractical to hold them for long periods of time.

Commodity related equities are a different story.


I’m kind of biased on this, and I always think commodities are undervalued because I’m a deeply suspicious person and I don’t believe promises. I’ve owned gold and silver for years (plus GLD and SLV, and GDX and SIL), and if prices get low enough, I will add to those positions.

Keep in mind that I worked for the government under the Clinton administration. Clinton’s mantra to government employees was, “Do more with less.” The man did a lot to restrain the growth of government—and he was a Democrat!

People resented him for it. They wanted their fancy toys and their boondoggles. Public servants have been much happier under Bush and Obama. Not coincidentally, gold bottomed in 2000, at the end of Clinton’s presidency, and has basically been going up since.

So here is the secret sauce: You want to know when commodities are going up?
Watch the deficit. If someone dreams up free college for everyone, buy commodities with veins popping out of your neck.
Jared Dillian
Jared Dillian

If you enjoyed Jared's article, you can sign up for The 10th Man, a free weekly letter, at Follow Jared on Twitter @dailydirtnap

The article The 10th Man: Distressed Investing was originally published at

Get our latest FREE eBook "Understanding Options"....Just Click Here!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Biggest Trade Ever....No Exaggeration

By Jared Dillian

I won’t keep you in suspense. The biggest trade ever is in demographics. In particular, our rapidly increasing life expectancy.

Quick story. My Coast Guard friends are retiring now. You get to retire after 20 years of service, but some of them have been taking advantage of early retirement and are leaving the service as young as age 40.
Oh my God, what a deal: At age 40, you can bring home about $50K a year and then start a whole new career on the side!

In the old days, you could offer that deal because military folks would die at 47. Now they will live to 100.
Paying out benefits for 60 years to retired military personnel doesn’t sound like a great deal for the taxpayer.
Of course, the military pensions are just the tip of the iceberg. To receive Social Security, you can retire at age 62 (or 67 for full benefits). Again, that’s fine when most people die before 62. The blended life expectancy (for both men and women) is almost 79 years and trending higher.

Or my favorite chart on life expectancy ever, also a rebuttal to those who don’t like capitalism.

If you pay attention to Silicon Valley stuff, you know that Google and Ray Kurzweil and some other folks are working on projects that will allow us to live to 150 or even beyond. That would involve doing a couple of things, first
  1. Curing cancer
  2. Curing heart disease
  3. Curing Alzheimer’s disease
You do these three things, it increases life expectancy by another 10 years or more. And we are actually doing those things!

Once you have a cure for all known diseases (attainable in my lifetime), then you have a different problem. Cells get old and die. The Silicon Valley folks are working on that too. Funny, if you don’t smoke, eat right, and get a little exercise, you will pretty much live to 80, no matter what. What happens beyond that is up to genetics, which we will solve one day. So what will the world look like if people live to 100, 150, or more?

It Looks Like Greece

Greece’s retirement age (to receive benefits) used to be 55 years. Again: retiring at 55, what a deal! I would only have 14 more years to go. People are pretty healthy at 55 (though maybe not the Greeks—they have the highest rate of tobacco use in the developed world).

So if people live way longer than the retirement age, the Social Security system goes kablooey. It just does. And yet people resist all attempts to reform it. We know Social Security is in trouble. George W. Bush tried to tackle it. For all his faults, it was the right thing to do. But he got laughed at.

The first thing we will do is to means-test the benefits, which will just make it more progressive but won’t solve the actual problem. You need to push back the retirement age, like, to 80.

But wait a minute. There aren’t even enough jobs for people to work until age 80.

I know…..

The World Was a Lot Simpler When People Just Died When They Were Supposed To

We’re going to look back at the 1940s-2000s as an exceptional period in economic history—with high, virtually straight line, uninterrupted economic growth. We had debt problems before, but biology has made them intractable.

In fact, the whole profession of economics is based on the very idea that there is population growth and inflation. What happens if birth rates decline? They are. Population growth rates will peak very soon. (By the way, the old Malthusian idea of overpopulation is being discredited.) What does the profession of economics look like with declining populations, people living longer, a dearth of unskilled jobs?

Is it nonstop deflation?

Many economists predict years of global deflation based on this premise. They say that you should buy bonds at any price. It’s a compelling argument. I think we’re going to learn a lot of really interesting things about money velocity in the coming years.

The Trade

Like tech in the ‘90s and energy in the 2000s, health care has been and will be the trade of the 2010s. You have the happy accident of huge technological advances and a government that seems willing, for the time being, to pay for it all. You hear some squawking about the cost of some treatments, but seriously, if you can cure cancer for $250,000, who is going to say no? Especially when that person’s chemotherapy, radiation, and hospital bills could easily exceed $2,000,000.

Lots of folks thought that Obamacare would tomahawk the health care sector. In classic market fashion, it has done the exact opposite. The insurers in particular have been the biggest beneficiary. You probably saw the recent Aetna/Humana merger.

People have tried for years to short biotech. Hasn’t been fun for them.

People have funny attitudes about death, you know. You ask someone if they’d like to live to 100, 120. “Noooooo,” they say. “I wouldn’t want to just sit in a chair.” Me, personally, I’d be okay with sitting in a chair. But the point of these treatments is that you can be active into your 100s. What then?

“I don’t know…” they say.

Are you kidding me? Forever young, my man. I’m 41, and I look a lot younger than my parents at the same age (sorry, Mom and Dad). I’m still DJing parties, for crying out loud.
Still don’t get the point of Snapchat, though.
Jared Dillian
Jared Dillian

Get our latest FREE eBook "Start Identifying Patterns in the Markets Today"....Just Click Here!

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Heard of the "10 Bagger" Trade?

The term '10 bagger' trade has been around for a while now but frankly it's never been a legitimate strategy for growing any size account.
That's what I thought until I saw it done consistently in the video below. There are 3-4 examples of '10 bagger' trades and detail on the HOW and WHY.

Check it out here:

 WATCH: 10 Bagger Trade Examples
  • In this video John Carter shows you: 
  • How he made that famous million dollar trade 
  • The #1 goal of every trader uses to consistently make money
  • The difference between trading for income and trading for growth
  • Why you don't want to put it all on one big trade because you can have consistent account growth 
  • The best vehicle you can use to grow an account fast
  • Examples of trades made this year you could have used to grow your account. 
 See you in the market,
 Hedge Fund University

Get out latest FREE eBooK "Understanding Options"....Just Click Here

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Free Webinar: The 5 Step Checklist You Can Use to Find the Next Hedge Fund Darlings

Our trading partner John Carter of Simpler Stocks and Options is back this Tuesday evening June 2nd at 8 pm eastern with another one of his game changing free trading webinars and the trading methods he is covering this time are soooo simple.

You probably already know that John's webinars are wildly popular and always fill to capacity so reserve your asap and log in 10 minutes early to guarantee you don't lose your seat to someone on the waiting list.

Register Today

In this Free Webinar John Carter is going to share....

 *  How do you find these stocks in today's unpredictable market

 *  The fundamental criteria every stock should meet before you buy

 *  The technical analysis tool that I almost named my first child after

 *  Why the market conditions are perfect for this opportunity right now

     And much more....

Just Click Here to Reserve Your Seat Right Now

John sent out a great free video as a primer for this event.....Watch it Here

See you Tuesday night,
Ray @ The Hedge Fund University

Get out latest FREE eBooK "Understanding Options"....Just Click Here

Saturday, April 18, 2015

An Insight into What Institutions Get When They Pay Top Dollar

Our trading partner and one of the industry’s most respected traders, Guy Cohen of the OVI Flag Trader, has released a new eBook that you must download and read. Guy is truly the experts’ expert when it comes to options. Over the last 13 years Guy has licensed this proprietary research to institutional clients including the NYSE, the ISE and several brokers.

Fortunately for you his obligations are fulfilled, and he’s now available for the first time in many years to show you his completely unique approach to options.

To celebrate his availability, I asked him to share some of his pearls of wisdom with my valued subscribers. I was just in time because Guy is also contracted to one of his publishers for a new edition of one of his bestsellers. So for starters, he’s written a brand new eBook showing you his uniquely simple approach that you can start implementing immediately. And we have the pleasure of sharing it with you today!

Grab Your Copy Here

In this publication you will learn how to.....

 *  Trade volatility around news events such as earnings (I love this section)
 *  Match the right options strategy with the appropriate chart setup (crucial for all options traders)
 *  Understand the Greeks in seconds (I kid you not...Guy’s approach to this is utterly unique)
 *  Trade for income with full illustrated examples (and I know there’s more to come) and much more.

If you’re interested in trading options at the highest level, from the industry’s leading expert, you will want to grab your copy NOW!

Guy has an uncanny ability to demystify and simplify options, which is why he’s a four time best selling author, and this is exactly what this new eBook will do for you and more.

See you in the markets putting this to work!
Ray @ The Hedge Fund University

Get Guy Cohen's latest FREE eBook....Just Click Here!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Crude Oil, Divorce, and Bear Markets

By Tony Sagami

Everybody loves a parade. I sure did when I was a child, but I’m paying attention to a very different type of parade today. The parade that I’m talking about is the long, long parade of businesses in the oil industry that are cutting jobs, laying off staff, and digging deep into economic survival mode. The list of companies chopping staff is long, but two more major players in the oil industry joined the parade last week.

Pink Slip #1: Houston-based Dresser-Rand isn’t a household name, but it is a very important part of the energy food chain. Dresser-Rand makes diesel engines and gas turbines that are used to drill for oil.
Dresser-Rand announced that it's laying off 8% of its 8,100 global workers. Many Wall Street experts were quick to point the blame at German industrial giant Siemens, which is in the process of buying Dresser-Rand for $7.6 billion.

Fat chance! Dresser-Rand was crystal clear that the cutbacks are in response to oil market conditions and not because of the merger with Siemens. The reason Dresser-Rand cited for the workforce reduction was not only lower oil prices but also the strength of the US dollar.

If you’re a regular reader of this column, you know that I believe the strengthening US dollar is the most important economic (and profit-killing) trend of 2015.

Pink Slip #2: Oil exploration company Apache Corporation reported its Q4 results last week, and they were awful. Apache lost a whopping $4.8 billion in the last 90 days of 2014.

No matter how you cut it, losing $4.8 billion in just three months is a monumental feat.

Of course, the “dramatic and almost unprecedented” drop in oil prices was responsible for the gigantic loss, but what really matters is the outlook going forward.

CEO John Christmann, to his credit, is taking tough steps to stem the financial bleeding, and that means:
  • Shutting down 70% of the company's drilling rigs.
  • Slashing it's 2015 capital budget to between $3.6 and $5.0 billion, down from $8.5 billion in 2014.
Those aren’t the actions of an industry insider who expects things to get better anytime soon.

I don’t mean to bag on Dresser-Rand and Apache, because they’re far from alone. Schlumberger, Baker Hughes, Halliburton, Weatherford International, and ConocoPhillips have also announced major layoffs. And don’t make the mistake of thinking that the only people getting laid off are blue-collar roughnecks. These layoffs affect everyone from secretaries to roughnecks to IT professionals.

In fact, according to staffing expert Swift Worldwide Resources, the number of energy jobs lost this year has climbed to well above 100,000 around the world.

From Global to Local

Sometimes it helps to put a local, personal perspective to the big-picture national news.

In my home state of northwest Montana, a huge number of men moved to North Dakota to work in the Bakken gas fields. Montana is a big state; it takes about 14 hours to drive from my corner of northwest Montana to the North Dakota oil fields, so that means those gas workers don’t make it back to their western Montana homes for months.

Moreover, the work was six, sometimes seven days a week and 12 hours a day, so once there, they couldn’t drive back home even if they wanted to. This meant long absences… and a good friend of mine who is a marriage counselor told me that the local divorce rate was spiking because of them.

Now the northwest Montana workers are returning home because the once-lucrative oil/gas jobs are disappearing. That news won’t make the New York Times, but it’s as real as it gets on Main Street USA.

From Local to National

Of course, the oil industry's woes aren’t a carefully guarded Wall Street secret. However, I do think that Wall Street—and perhaps even you—are underestimating the impact that low oil prices are going to have on economic growth and GDP numbers going forward.

Let me explain.

Industrial production for the month of January, which measures the output of US manufacturers, miners, and utilities, came in at a “seasonally adjusted" 0.2%.

A 0.2% gain isn’t much to shout about, but the real key was the impact the mining component (which includes oil/gas producers) had on the industrial-production calculation.

The mining industry is the second-largest component of industrial production, and its output fell by 1.0% in January. It was the biggest drag on the overall index.

However, the Federal Reserve Bank said, “The decline [was] more than accounted for by a substantial drop in the index for oil and gas well drilling and related support activities.”

How much did it account for? The oil and gas component fell by 10.0% in January.

Yup, a double-digit drop in output in just one month. Moreover, it was the fourth monthly decline in a row.
Last week’s weak GDP caught Wall Street off guard, but there are a lot more GDP disappointments to come as the energy industry layoffs percolate through the economy. Here’s how my Rational Bear readers are getting ready for GDP and corporate-earnings disappointments that are sure to rattle the markets.
Can your portfolio, as currently composed, handle a slowing economy and falling corporate profits? For most investors, the answer is “no.” Click above to find out how to protect yourself.

Tony Sagami

Tony Sagami

30 year market expert Tony Sagami leads the Yield Shark and Rational Bear advisories at Mauldin Economics. To learn more about Yield Shark and how it helps you maximize dividend income, click here.

To learn more about Rational Bear and how you can use it to benefit from falling stocks and sectors, click here.

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