Retail Investor … The Apocalypse

Mass Psychosis, At The Edge

Even before we had gone around the room to introduce ourselves, the instructor at Online Trading Academy, Dallas, said he had a important topic to cover.

He wanted to make sure everyone understood the concept. The rest of the seven-day course hinged on the understanding and acceptance of the idea.

What was it?

You may have already guessed: ‘Short Selling’.

The big money is made on the downside … not after, when the bottom is in, although that may happen as well. No, it’s the downside that has the greatest opportunity for profit.

Fear is a much easier emotion to gauge than greed; in that sense, down is easier than up.

Short Selling: Market Trading 101

You would think it’s a no-brainer; that everyone knows this.

Not so.

Years ago, while discussing the markets with a former broker, he asked me, and I quote: “What’s an inverse fund?”

During a business lunch, I asked another broker if he worked the downside for his clients. The response was “They can’t handle the volatility”.

In his case, he knows the vehicles are there (inverse funds) but he doesn’t use them; only working the upside.

Shorting The Market

My first short sale was back around 1995.

I shorted ‘against the box‘, when you could still do so. The short trade was Alcide.

In the May 1993, edition of my newsletter (see About) ‘Market Order Letter’, published by my firm, Equity Research Corporation, Alcide received initial coverage.

Prior to that edition, I managed to get a phone interview with Mr. John Richards, Vice President, and Chief Financial Officer of the company.

Remember that I was simultaneously employed as Engineering Technical Manager, for an avionics company. So, the interview was performed on my lunch hour.

During the call, I had made it past the receptionist, then secretary, and then to Mr. Richards, specifically.

Initially, the interview was not going well.

I could tell he considered me an annoyance and rightly so. That was, until I mentioned the competition and how they were going to deal with that.

At the time, Isomedix, had a plan to irradiate chicken (carcasses) to prevent salmonella. Conversely, Alcide had a product that was sprayed on (i.e. low-tech) and biodegradable.

When I mentioned Isomedix, the tone of the conversation changed instantly. I had done my work; I knew the market and wasn’t some newbie (even in ’93).

Mr. Richards opened up and gave me a fantastic interview discussing all manner of things. I did not tell him I was on my lunch hour and in the end, had to politely say, ‘You must be busy, so I’ll let you go’; thank you for your input.

Alcide (ALCD) was a ten-bagger that ultimately went from about $3/share to above $60/share (actually, a twenty-bagger) before being acquired by Ecolab.

Which brings us back to the ‘Retail Investor’

Still Buying The Dip

One more thing about the trading class mentioned above.

After the short-selling topic was covered, the instructor went on to say, the fact we were sitting in that room, separated us out from the massive herd of ‘investors’.

At that time, there were about 40,000 – 60,000 professional traders in the U.S. Although still neophytes, we were considered in that group.

That’s 60,000 out of 240-million adults, putting the ratio at around 0.03%

Now, on to ‘the dip’.

This article out from ZeroHedge has the data saying, ‘Retail’, is still buying the dips although the average portfolio is down a whopping -34%, for the year.

Without getting into specifics, the most conservative account managed by my firm is up over 30%, for the year, which includes the LABD, whack from this past Friday.

Note: An updated analysis of Biotech SPBIO, inverse LABD, and LABD-22-03, is scheduled for tomorrow.

Fuel, For The Downside

Over a century ago, Wyckoff wrote about the behavior of those on the wrong side of the trade.

That is, they are the ones who provide the fuel for the next move. In our case, that would be fuel for the downside.

Investors are buying the dip, because that’s all they know how to do.

It’s a sign of desperation.

Hoping that somehow, the markets will pull them out and return things to ‘normal’.

If you’ve read this far, you already know, ‘normal’ is gone.

Whatever happens next, (except for the starvation) will be completely new.

Stay Tuned

Charts by StockCharts

Note:  Posts on this site are for education purposes only.  They provide one firm’s insight on the markets.  Not investment advice.  See additional disclaimer here.

The Danger Point®, trade mark: No. 6,505,279