Month: October 2017

Remember When IPO’s Were A Thing?

Have you noticed the near financial/business media blackout when it comes to anything like IPO’s and their spawning stable-mates known as “Unicorns?”

Remember when debuting an IPO was met with such media fanfare it allowed for the viewing public to fawn, or feel really insignificant (more like loser) for not being one of the “beautiful people” paraded across magazine covers, screens, or conference stages?

So alluring was the “next IPO celebrity” made out to be it probably made Hollywood’s PR machine envious. Hint: Remember SnapChat™ CEO Evan Spiegel’s many cover-shots including L’Uomo Vogue™, GQ™, and others? Here’s another hint: “sex symbol.”

Yet, that was way back in October of 2015. You know, before the next-in-rotation IPO to save the IPO world was to hit the “markets.” Then it did. How’s it all going since then? Hint: When was the last time you read about Snapchat in general, never-mind its “bares all” centerfold CEO? Hint: ________________(insert crickets here.)

Here’s the real reason, and I’ll use what “The Valley” likes to call “pictures.” To wit:

(Chart Source)

The above represents Snap Inc. via a daily chart since its IPO debut. Over the past few days I’ve noticed the growing chorus of “Snap is now up double digits from its lows! Is this a sign things have turned?” Then some next-in-rotation fund manager, or next-in-rotation technology aficionado is queued up to start making that “This is where it all turns around” argument of the ridiculous.

It’s all pure malarkey. Here’s why…

Snap reports earnings next week. What we’re currently seeing (all my opinion, of course) is just the pre-earnings release positioning. i.e., Ladies and gentlemen, place your bets, Red or Black?

What you should also notice and compare to what you “hear” is those “double-digit gains” are the results of the stock bouncing after plummeting, as well as still remaining, below its original IPO price. i.e., Those lucky enough to get in before everyone else are still underwater. (e.g., $17 was the IPO) And those whom got to “get in” after? All I’ll say is, “You have my condolences.”

Yet, that’s not what you’ll read, hear, or watch across the media spectrum of business and finance. No, just like lollipops and sugar candy: Unicorns are just as magical, sweet, and alluring as the name implies, and would never rot your teeth. What it does to your investment portfolio – is another matter entirely. I hear mum’s the word on that topic.

Now, if you think I’m picking on Snapchat as if it were now some poor defenseless entity in the school play-yard. Let me stop here and help you remember something you might have missed. Because from what I can tell – unless I bring it up – it seems to have been relinquished to the, “Don’t bring that up again unless there’s something good to say” section. Ready? Again, to wit:

“Roku IPO Is Year’s Best for Tech Stock Debut With 68% Jump”

Then of course, there’s this…

“Roku CEO Says IPO Is Natural Evolution of Business”

Sounds just fantastic, right? I mean “68% Jump.” That’s double-digit double digits, right? This must be a hit! Actually, I guess it is, for here’s another headline, to wit:

“Roku IPO a hit with investors”

This was all just a few weeks ago, I mean with such endorsement that IPO should be screaming higher, right? Especially with the tech sector (or NASDAQ™) indexes at all time highs, again, right, I mean, correct?

Fair argument, only thing left is to check it out, agree? Again, to wit:

The only thing I can gather that may be of little condolences to some is this:

At least those that bought in at the $14 offering are still above water.

If that’s any consolation, again, you have my condolences.

Then again, maybe what’s needed to help arbitrage away any IPO risk is to do something via those newfangled  ICO’s to help make up, or hedge against losses. After-all I hear they are all the rage across the media today. Just ask them! Please!

IPO’s are so 2016. ICO’s are where the real mythical money is made today. Again, just ask the main stream financial media. I’m sure they’re talking about it right now with some next-in-rotation tech aficionados’ spewing advice on how you “must get in, and get in now!” Of course you’ll also hear (but you have to listen very carefully) the now pre-requisite disclaimer of – “Of course this may or will end badly.”

Too bad they weren’t saying that during the IPO boom. Oh well I guess, it’s not like it’s their money at risk, it’s only yours. So onward and upward.

Right?

© 2017 Mark St.Cyr

The Market’s Conundrum: Batten Down The Hatches Or Rig For Smooth Sailing?

When it comes to the “markets” today, one outcome has been near guaranteed: Make any statement that implies even the most rudimentary, or elemental call for caution – and the “markets” are near guaranteed to vault ever higher.

This has been playing out not only for years, but the inherent state of calmness, along with its incessant push higher, is not only at never before seen in human history heights. But the calmness, and steady sailing inferred via those market waters to this destination is also – the calmest ever traveled in its history.

The issue with all of the above is that the term “markets” now require parenthesis or quotation marks. i.e., These aren’t your parents markets.

However, nobody wants to hear it, especially the main stream financial/business media et al. The higher it goes – the higher the hyperbole of why it should. The arguments for it have bordered on both convoluted assumptions, to just plain making stuff up to fit the narrative. It’s now gone far beyond reasoned, or reasonable assumptions, and moved into what can only be deemed as bat-sh_t-crazy status.

The arguments I’ve heard, more often than not, via the myriad of next-in-rotation fund managers trumpeting these latest moves fall into the latter camp. The issue at hand, in my opinion, is this: Everyone, and I do mean just that – everyone – seems to be regurgitating the same. i.e., Unemployment is at statistical full, Earnings are all beating and better than expected, blah, blah, blah, etc., etc., etc.

These arguments or evidentiary facts as portrayed via the many government reporting agencies, alongside with their ancillary brethren of sentiment indicators, coupled with the managed reduction of expectations for earnings reporting, are all skewed to appear prima facie “fantastic.”

The issue is, they are more specious than anything resembling a true indicator of economic health or activity. i.e., If you still believe that we are currently at “statistical full employment” with over 95+ million unemployed? I have some wonderful oceanfront property in Kentucky you can have for cheap. Yet, that’s just one example.

As I said prior, “No one wants to hear.” However, as one of my favorite comedians Joan Rivers used to say: “Can we talk?”

It doesn’t matter what the “markets” do from here in relation to what I may, or may not, correctly infer. What is important is whether or not you dear reader truly understand and not underestimate precisely where you, your business, and more are in relationship to it. Because I am going to make this statement, and I’m going to make it forthrightly:

If your working assumptions are coming from what you’re reading, hearing, or watching via the main stream financial media? I’m sorry, but you haven’t a clue. Again, sorry.

What’s transpiring currently that far too many don’t understand is this: Many are mimicking nothing more than the mindset and actions of an amateur casino patron who by happenstance placed a bet at a perceived “hot table” and immediately won. Then, without taking any of the table, let their bets ride, and ride, and ride, and ride continuing to roll those “profits” back into the next bet as the onlookers (financial media) scream and shout in unison how great of a “player” they are.

So far the “winning” has not only continued far longer than anyone dared believe, but the chips are stacking higher, and higher. The only thing rising as high – is one’s ego, for they’ve now become convinced they’re a casino and betting “aficionado”, as opposed to being the recipient of making a “lucky bet” when they first entered.

This is the analogy that fits most 401K holders today. i.e., Things like odds or such now mean nothing, as a matter of fact: the more you try to impart caution citing odds (or anything that refutes the status quo) – the less they want to hear you. The roar of the crowd and the height of their chips proves they now know everything there is to know.

And so far – that’s worked like a charm. But therein lies the rub. For just like gamblers who think their “roll” will never end. When it does. The results are never pretty.

Over the past week I had offered up some observations as it pertained to charts and my interpretations of them. One of the assumptions I mused was that the markets could be playing out what is known technically, as a “blow off top.”

I also mused that I found it interesting that looking at the NASDAQ 100™ in comparison to the other main indexes one could infer that it looked a little weaker as compared to the others, which I inferred as an even further sign that caution should be the default mindset. Then Amazon™, Alphabet™ (aka Google), and Twitter™ reported.

And with that, any and all calls for “caution” seemed to be met with a “market-middle-finger” as their respective stocks and relative indexes rocketed back into black-sky territory once again.

However, I feel this latest “rocket ride” isn’t a showing of strength as was portrayed across the financial echo chamber. But rather, nothing more than one last gasping short squeeze that will be short-lived. Here’s why…

Everyone was talking about how Twitter is now going to show all the nay-sayers wrong using their latest earnings beat as de facto proof. The problem with that is this: They beat earnings, but how they beat is, once again, the real question.

Case in point: Revenue exceeded expectations. e.g., $590 Million. However, revenue fell by 4% for the third straight quarter. And, ad revenue fell ever further, by some 8%. And yet, their DAU (daily active users) are said to have increased 14% YoY, the fourth consecutive quarter of double-digit increases.

The machines (along with the next-in-rotation fund manager cabal) ran with it.

But wait, just for a little more context: U.S. revenue (you know, the largest consumer market in the world to sell eyeballs to) decreased 11% YoY this Qtr. as compared to a 7% decline comparison the Qtr prior. e.g., It’s going in the wrong direction!

Here’s the problem with all the above…

Double digit increases in active users four quarters running: and revenue is down for almost just as many quarters concurrently? I thought “more eyeballs” meant more money (aka revenue) for both Twitter and its advertisers? Is this what “it’s different this time” now means? e.g., “Fewer ads, and even less revenue = more money?”

In my opinion: It’s no longer bordering, it’s now all well past the point of farcical.

But Google beat, as did Amazon. Yet, here we are again with those nagging questions such as “Did Amazon make money?” Along with: “Is Google just the final recipient in the ever shrinking ad revenue (or click baiting) business models?” It would seem Amazon, once again, had the headline earnings beat supplied by its web service, not its retail operation. (i.e., What else is new.)

And Google? Was its revenue beat helped, as I’ve stated ad nauseam, as the recipient of an underway consolidation away from all the other platforms (Hint: like Twitter and such) and just a last gasp at throwing at the “digital wall” what little remaining speculative digital ad-dollars remain?

It’s an open question with onerous consequences. (Especially if Google will now have to pay Apple™ even more for many of those clicks. e.g., Traffic acquisition costs aka TAC.)

And then comes this week with even more fan-fare too come, as in: We have both Apple, as well as Facebook™ to report. What the reporting will be from either is anyones guess, but guessing they will. As for myself? I have no idea. We’ll all just have to wait and see.

But that’s far from the only thing we’re going to get reported.

On Monday you have the political where not only could indictments be forth coming, but for whom and why is going to be all the rage and rhetoric.

Then, you’ll have the status of the so-called “tax cuts” making their way through the process that so far has more secrets being withheld from public scrutiny than the remaining JFK files. That, and how with the revelations of supposed forth coming indictments (or lack of others) and the unity it’ll now spread across capitol hill for members of both parties to work together to afford tax relief for the American people will be fascinating to see. Don’t you think?

On top of that, we’re suppose to learn who the President will appoint to head the Federal Reserve, and how the global currencies will react to it. (Hint: This is where the real action to watch for clues will be, in my opinion.)

Oh, yeah: Then China’s “markets” come back to play, after being on political vacation while they consolidated their Premier’s power, remember? All while mandating during this period (you know, as we were smooth sailing) any, and all “bad news” reporting had to wait till this week to be known. Either that, or heads would roll. Literally. (cough, Hang Seng Index, cough)

Did I mention we sent another (this being the third) carrier strike group to the Korean peninsula? You know, to play war games because it’s just big kids playing with big toys, right? Nothing to see here, I guess.

And just so I didn’t leave anything out: N. Korea’s population is currently practicing mass-evacuation drills as I type this.

Maybe the only true answer to my above headline is that coined by the famed, philosophical sage, Alfred E. Neuman

“What…Me Worry?”

© 2017 Mark St.Cyr

F.T.W.S.I.J.D.G.I.G.T.

(For those who say I just don’t get it…get this!)

A few weeks back I dared pen the question: “Are Tim Cook’s Days As CEO Numbered?”

In that article I made following points. To wit:

“Should this take place with Apple’s continuous lack of innovations, dumbing down of existing products (see any forum of Apple power users) and continuing focus on both Tim Cook, his political stances, along with his pushing the involvement of Apple the company, its employees, and coffers into the political fray, simultaneously against a backdrop of uninspiring (think Pencil®), clichéd (think: any Apple presentation), openly mocked, (think: when demos were conducted on stage via Microsoft employees) laughed at, (think: CNET™ live coverage of any event) as well as live product demos gone wrong, (think: face recognition) displays on the world stage. This is a string of “hits” no one any wants, especially current share holders.

Should the stock now falter, along with any iPhone rumblings confirming sales numbers will look like what the latest roll out last month foretold? Watch how fast things not only change from the narrative of “great stewardship,” but calls for management change begin to bubble to the surface in unison.”

This made quite the media buzz and rounds, along with some business/financial outlets possibly needing to have defibrillators on set, and at the ready, for any next-in-rotation fund manager that may be asked for their thoughts on the matter.

This was a question for the “faithful” that was never to be asked in private, let alone, in full public view. After all – this is the world’s most coveted and valuable company, or was. To imply anything less than full-on devotion to both the product, the stock, along with its CEO has been met, and scorned, as financial blasphemy. And, any and all deniers were argued to meet the same fate as those resembling the inquisition of centuries past.

Then, I dared ask the unspeakable. Then – this happened yesterday, again, to wit:

Here’s where I’m going to ask you to answer the obvious “elephant in the room” question. Ready?

What CEO would mention or address questions of any sort about prepping his successors during what is publicly being viewed and reported on as a less than lackluster (and that’s being kind) rollout of its flagship product, along with, the week before an earnings report?

Bueller?

Stuff like this doesn’t “just happen.” Especially at this level. Unless, someone (or group of somebody’s) have asked behind the scenes the “what if” questions, where “trial balloons” needed (or recommended) to be floated in public, as to see what may be the response of such a momentous move at one of the largest market capitalized corporation, ever.

Here’s the tricky part of this: Is this, what I see as a “trial balloon”, being floated with the knowledge that if the earnings report is uninspiring, that the stage is set, and public, for the outright questioning of Mr. Cook’s leadership?

Or: If the adverse effects of such a headline is seen immediately in the stock via the HFT cabal and reacted to in a negative fashion – would a “fantastic earning beat” be just the salve (and rescue) to cover over any wounding that may have resulted?

These are the types of questions any Board would want answered if the question was being openly contemplated. Doesn’t mean that it is. But the timing, along with a few other pieces of circumstantial evidence such as the above, sure brings attention to it for anyone trying to pay attention.

Yet, here’s what I do know: No one dared contemplate the above, let alone ask it.

Until I did.

© 2017 Mark St.Cyr

Footnote: These “FTWSIJDGIGT” articles came into being when many of the topics I had opined on over the years were being openly criticized for “having no clue”. Yet, over the years these insights came back around showing maybe I knew a little bit more than some were giving me credit for. It was my way of tongue-in-cheek as to not use the old “I told you so” analogy. I’m saying this purely for the benefit of those who may be new or reading here for the first time (and there are a great many of you and thank you too all). I never wanted or want to seem like I’m doing the “Nah, nah, nah, nah, nah” type of response to my detractors. I’d rather let the chips fall – good or bad – and let readers decide the credibility of either side. Occasionally however, there are, and have been times they do need to be pointed out which is why these now have taken on a life of their own. (i.e., something of significance per se that may have a direct impact on one’s business etc., etc.) And readers, colleagues, and others have requested their continuance.

An Update To: A Charted Course…

Earlier this morning I posted my opinion of what I was viewing via the “markets.” I no sooner posted when I received a call from a friend asking me, “So, what about the Dow?” i.e., Dow Jones Industrial Average™.

It was a fair question and as I was replying I could see how others might feel (or believe) I’m intentionally trying to side step what seems by many as a “freight train” only to roll ever higher. So, it’s in that vein why I add the following.

What it means, as always, is in the “eyes of the beholder.” So without further ado, here it is:

What the above chart shows is the Dow via a daily chart. The colored areas represent what are known as “Fibonacci” equations via a channel pattern.  What I’ve done is mark what is commonly known technically as a “throw-over.” It begins indicating bearish interpretations if it falls back, retracing its accent in much the same manner, time frame, as it was created.

It doesn’t matter if you understand what are known as “Fibo’s” or not. What’s important – is if the machines do. (aka Algo’s) And how they may react to such pattern recognitions.

What you need to take notice of is where the market currently is as of this writing which is approx. 12:30 PM ET.

From the “markets” open it zoomed higher, relentlessly, precisely to a very relevant fib number carefully watched across most technical analysis. e.g., 1.618.

Should the Dow, in unison, stop here and reverse, along with the other indexes sporting similar reversal patterns? Then, as I’ve stated in all the previous commentary – a close within the above highlighted box over the next few days or so would raise the flag for “hurricane warnings” I have cautioned for.

Either that, or Dow 100K, right?

© 2017 Mark St.Cyr

A FWIW Charted Course To ?

Last week I shared some commentary, along with some charts, on what had caught my eye and why. It seemed as if I had Nostradamus inspired insight, for the “markets” moved precisely in the manner I described may result. Then, in what seemed like a “middle-finger” to anyone daring to instill any form of insight, reversed, and moved twice as fast, and twice as much in the complete opposite direction. It seemed to prove that the BTFD (buy the f’n dip) mantra was to remain alive, well compensated.

As usual I was inundated with questions via friends, colleagues and more on what I thought about these happenings. Some were truly interested, others were more of a back-handed snickering opportunity, which is to be expected.

So with the above for context I want to further elaborate on what I’m still looking at and why, for I believe it to be that important.

Whether anything comes of it is not the point. What is the point – is this: Being in business, any business, and not paying attention to market behavior because one may not be “invested” or “doesn’t own stocks” or anything of the such is folly at best – irresponsible at worst.

Regardless of how captured, adulterated or more these “markets” may be. All businesses are connected in one way or another to it.

Hint: Remember how suddenly there were near 100 container ships with 10’s of thousands of containers filled with needed inventory and supplies which overnight were stuck at sea, with no immediate recourse? If you were one of those needing that inventory? Keeping an eye on the shipping markets, bulk rates and others would have helped you stay abreast and maybe inspired one to keep more inventory on hand so you had the product to sell when your competition may have had none. That’s why you need to understand stocks. It’s not about someone’s 401K balance – It’s about your business. Remember that.

So with that said here’s what I’m still looking at with a concerning eye. To wit:

The above is the S&P 500™ via a daily chart. e.g., Each bar/candle represents one day.

As you can see (click on the image to enlarge) the pattern I first pointed out on my previous observations is here as well. The “confirming” movement I point to with an arrow and text as “False…” As you can see the movement then reversed and closed up, over and above, seemingly voiding my first interpretations.

As I implied then, “It was the first sign to watch for,  then others should follow if it were signaling correctly.” Some immediate voided the entire exercise when the “markets” immediately reversed sending the BTFD crowd to an early cocktail hour Friday. However, I would still caution against popping the corks on any remaining bottles, at least before the hangover clears entirely, because there just might be a more “bite” for the remaining hair-of-the-dog.

What transpired yesterday is what has caught my eye and attention once more. I noted it on the above chart with both an arrow and text beginning with “This may…”

That arrow points to what is known in technical terms as a “Bearish engulfing pattern.” An ominous signaling pattern in charting terms. Whether or not this pattern plays out to its signaling tradition is, as always, a pure statistical interpretation.

Yet, with that said, buttressed with the prior signal, along with Friday being an options expiry date (aka OPEX) the movement or “market” behavior Monday seems to be signaling that last weeks prior signaling may have been the correct interpretation. And, that Friday’s action should be relegated to the “market noise” category.

So it’s with the above that I used and moved the “signal confirmation box” onto a daily chart, pointing an arrow with the text “Original call…”

Again, if the broader “markets” (aka Indexes) should move and close within the above highlight over the next few days, I believe my original call for “Caution should be paramount” still stands, with far more onerous possibilities to follow.

Will it? Again – who knows. But that doesn’t mean one should take their eye off of what may be signaling far more than just a rain shower over the horizon. i.e., It could be a something that’ll require a surname like Hurricane ________?

I’ll end here with another chart, because I feel it’s also relevant.

As I stated in my first observations, the pattern I was seeing, and what brought this all to my fore-mind, was that I was seeing the same across all the broad indexes, along with its timing. e.g., In the middle of earnings season. Again, to wit:

Above is a daily chart of the NASDAQ 100™. It also sports the same pattern I alluded to prior – with this one distinction, which I believe to be noteworthy: This index doesn’t show the same exuberance of that “throw-over” I noted in my prior takes. As a matter of fact, one could infer that it looks relatively weaker in its pattern than the S&P. What it means is purely in “the eye of the beholder.” Yet, it’s worth mentioning to the point that I also put the same highlighted “box.” A daily close within it over the next few days I imply speaks volumes of cautionary tales for anyone willing to “read between the lines.”

Then again, with that said?

Dow 100K here we come, right?

© 2017 Mark St.Cyr

 

How To Save The NFL And Why It Won’t Happen

There is probably no bigger topic in business than the current debacle taking place within not just the NFL®, but all sports and the media that covers them.

Political protests are now not only the topic du jour, but nearly the entirety. So far off-the-rails of sports has this become that it lends itself to replace one old sport joke with another. i.e., Remember the old, “I was watching a boxing match and a hockey game broke out!” joke? It was funny because it had an element of truth behind it.

Today? It runs along the lines of “I was watching a political debate and a football game broke out!” This is leaving fans not only far from laughing, but they’re turning off and away from these venues in droves. And it’s not in the latter stages, rather, it’s just the beginning.

I was asked the other day in conversation (the reason why is because of my prior acumen. e.g., I’m a former turn around specialist.) what I would recommend if I were called in to advise what the NFL should do as to both arrest its ever falling ratings, along with how they could go about rebuilding both the sport, brand, and the image of the entire enterprise.

Here is my response, I’ll use a few bullet points for this example. First:

  • Fire the current commissioner: Roger Goodell.

The reasoning is simple: He’s been ineffective in addressing the issue (and many others years prior) of protests publicly, as well as what’s been inferred privately. The more he speaks, the more he appears to be on a different footing than the owners. The only thing worse is his latest public appearances via the media where he sounds absolutely robotic and focus-group driven. i.e., Says a lot of words using current phraseology that mean absolutely nothing, to anyone. He needs to remember he’s running a business enterprise, not a government one, which demonstrates de facto my assertion to begin with.

  • The owners have to re-emphasize, unanimously, that they are in a business – first. And, that business rules and ethics need to be applied, across the board, now. i.e., Current rules for conduct and more need to be applied with no-quarter vigor. Or said differently: star players can/should be ejected, suspended, or fired for proven violations. Period. (I’ll get to Players Union later)

The reason for this is simple: You either have rules, or you don’t. If “grey areas” aren’t allowed on the field, then neither should any other, whether it be a rule that applies during a game, or off the field.

  • Now is the time to not only change many of the rules, but also the enforcement mechanisms behind them.

In other words: Breaking rules have to have serious consequences. This is that moment to make sweeping changes in all areas for both the good of the teams and players, but the sport itself. No “dancing around the edges” is warranted in existential moments of business crisis. Wholesale changes are the order of the day. It’s the only effective course of action.

  • Of course here’s where you’ll get push back from the players and union. So here’s my point:

The NFL (and all sports for that matter) are a business. And without net profits to enable the owners to pay for players skills? There is no business. Political stances and other such distractions on the field are not “rights” owners have to pay for. What they have to pay for is the equal treatment and rights of players against extorting policies that can hurt or leave a player physically harmed. Not to enshrine the “rights” for the political player of the day to bring an entire industry too-its-knees with his/her politics.

What owners do not (nor should) have to pay for (nor stand for) is to have players interject their politics, and in ways, which can subsequently kill the sport in its entirety across all venues. e.g., Ticket sales, media coverage, advertisers, et al.

Yet, here is the “money quote” if you will: All while the “protesting” players continue to collect their salaries in toto and unaffected by their protests.

Currently it’s the owners, along with the entire sporting complex that are the ones continually suffering both financially, immediately. The players immediate monetary cost for protesting? Zero.

That is, until the NFL itself goes bankrupt as a result. Then everyone (i.e., players, owners, even municipalities alike) will be in bankruptcy court together. All kneeling, in unison, for the same reasons. Think about it.

Again, there’s far too many rules and such to address for this summary. So here’s a few more quick points:

  • The mindset going in has to be both forceful and understood by all – that if these rule changes are not enacted, the franchises, along with the sport itself, is at the cusp of collapsing both financially, as well as its esteem in the public eye.

Reasoning: 30% projected decreases (so far) in revenues or attendance in just one year, across the board itself, are going to put many current markets into total disarray financially. If this holds to (or through) next year? Or worse – is worse? Everyone concerned is going to have plenty of time for taking a knee in solidarity – at the unemployment lines.

Recommendation?

  • Ban all political protests across the board immediately, along with over-the-top celebrations (i.e., end zone dancing and such) anywhere on the field or sidelines during games.

This is where sportsmanship can reassert itself back into the game and is so desperately needed. In other words: The “field of play” is a place for sport – not political sport, or poor sportsmanship. The visual cues would have immediate impact and would be easily discernible to the fans. i.e., No reading-between-the-lines interpretations needed.

In my opinion: You can’t ban one without the other and have either one stick. Do both. And make the fines punitive, as in violations can be punitive to the sum of $Millions, if not entire contract dismissals. i.e., What enforcement is there if $100K fine for a violation makes that athlete $1Million worth of ancillary media self promotion for having a “bad boy” persona? Both on, and off the field.

People are dismissed from employment everyday throughout the U.S. for inappropriate use of social media alone. Businesses have the right to distance themselves from employees should they demonstrate not only on the job, but off bad behavior that could reflect poorly on their employers business.

Currently sports is the only venue where felonious arrests are now seen as “career enhancements.” It’s gone well beyond the pale of defensible reason. (For those currently howling as this is ridiculous or unfair? Hint: See any college professor for not touting just the ideology line of that particular day.)

  • There needs to be a short and concise message aired by the team owners and player representatives before each of remaining games. i.e., The owners of that games teams and their player representatives whether they be the team captains or such.

Both the owners, along with player representatives should make a televised public announcement before each game stating they are all in favor of removing politics from the field of play during game time. And are.

They both (owners and players) need to make the point, and make it forcefully, that “this stage” is for sports, not politics.

They can state that doesn’t mean that they don’t have views which they firmly believe in. But (and it’s a very big but) during the game is not the place for it. i.e., Say something to the effect: “We know why you’re here, and it’s to see our game, not our opinion of politics. And we respect that. And we will show our respect for you by not protesting the political during games. There are other venues for that outside, where we can make our voices heard, along with yours should the need arise. So let us start by saying, thank you for being a fan. And we want to give you what fans like you truly deserve – the best game, at the highest level of athleticism and sportsmanship we can deliver. Again, thank you, and enjoy the game.”

It can all be worded and shot in a 60 second venue.” Less is more.

  • If players don’t agree? Don’t sign or renew contracts going forward. Regardless of the talent or marquis name. Even if it means lockouts and more. Period. Full Stop.

Why? The political intrusion of just one individual (e.g., Colin Kaepernick) has demonstrated that all it takes is one to bring down the entire franchise, if not sport. It’s the NFL today, I’ll garner it’ll be the NBA® next and so forth. It has to stop somewhere. Might as well stop it where it started – for the good of all sports.

Remember: It’s “taking a knee” today. Tomorrow? ___________(fill in the blank) and it will never stop, and it’s already shown how far and fast it’ll spread. (Hint: again, see NBA for latest clues)

The only way to get rid of the political – is to get rid of it all together. And there is no price to be paid today that will be higher than what will be extracted tomorrow – willingly or not. i.e., A 30% decrease in revenues and viewership will look “fantastic” as compared to what looks to be coming on the horizon should this all continue.

There’s only one choice in this matter: Remove the political in one entire sweeping motion, much resembling the amputating an entire limb to save the body. Or, die-the-death of a thousand political cuts, day in, and day out, from this moment forward.

Allowing the political to enter into the sports world resembles much that other old sage about pregnancy. i.e., There’s no such thing as “a little bit.” You either are, or not.

Just like politics, you either are a political game, or not. The only way to relinquish the ever tightening death grip of politics into sports is to jettison it entirely. And yes, using another old sage fits, just not in the way most think of it. i.e., Erring on: “Throwing the baby out with the bath water” needs to be the rule, not just the cautionary tale. At least in the near term.

So now the big question: Will any of the above be even remotely enacted? All I’ll say is this – and it comes via a career of experience.

I highly doubt it. All sides are trying to be simultaneously “politically correct” while traversing the “political, ideological line.” You can’t have both. The only thing that’ll finally get everyone on the same playing field will be when the franchise bankruptcies begin to appear. And by then (if it isn’t already) it’ll be too late.

© 2017 Mark St.Cyr

And There You Go

I’ve related over the past few days what I interpreted as a precursor to a what used to be a relatively reliable signal in what’s known as technical analysis when looking at markets and charts. (Here are the links for those who may be new: Here and Here)

As I looked at the “markets” this AM, here’s what is currently taking place. To wit:

(Chart Source)

The above chart is of the S&P™ futures via the same 4-hour chart I used previously. It was taken at approximately 6:30AM ET.

As you can see the “market” has currently moved into, as well as, had a “close” within that box area I had highlighted using the open hours market.

Should this pattern be confirmed with it being reproduced during the open market? Then, as I stated previously: Caution should be paramount, for it signals a change. How much of a change? No one knows. But that’s irrelevant to the first order that should be – caution. What that means to you, is up to you to decide. Yet, here’s the bigger take-away if you will…

As I also stated: “Technical analysis has been rendered near useless when trying to garner information via the main indexes since the rise of HFT (high frequency trading) and central banking largesse. However, with that said, with the Fed. now reversing that largesse where there’s less money for the bots to manipulate as before, patterns that used to be reliable may become reliable once more.”

That’s the real tell-tale signal if it is. And that “signal” is ominous indeed.

© 2017 Mark St.Cyr

An Update To “It’s Just Worth Mentioning”

The other day I made an observation I felt deserved mention.

In that post I used the S&P™ futures contract as my example, because it was pertinent for timing (it was before the opening bell in the US.) My observations still hold and are now being expressed in clearer detail via the actual S&P 500 index during market hours.

Here’s what I’m looking at for those who want to know, because I was inundated by friends and colleagues after the post to explain my interest further. So, without further ado, here’s what I’m watching. To wit:

(Chart Source)

The above is the S&P 500 a few minutes after the opening bell via a 4 HR chart. (e.g. every bar/candle) represents 4 hour intervals when the markets are open. As you can see the what I referred to as the “diagonal” pattern appears here as well. Here’s what matters:

As I stated in the prior post, this pattern is usually a signal or precursor, if you will, for the ending of a prior trend. Doesn’t mean it will, just means it’s a signal to watch and now see if other “signals” develop that make its forecast all the more foretelling. It may be doing just that as I type this. So here’s the next step to look for if it has a significance.

We are currently in what is known technically as the “Throwover” stage. i.e., We gapped over, and out of the pattern entirely.

What would make this what is known as a “bearish” pattern is if in the very near future (i.e., next few days or so) the market begins to move and prices close within or thereabout the highlighted box. If so, concern should be your utmost concern, because that would be a signal that a reversal may be upon the markets.

Can we go higher? Sure can, but the dynamic and technical to watch remains. The “markets” could spike higher, but it’s the sudden reversal of it that’s the key.

Let me remind everyone this one point: Technical analysis has been rendered near useless when trying to garner information via the main indexes since the rise of HFT (high frequency trading) and central banking largesse. However, with that said, with the Fed. now reversing that largesse where there’s less money for the bots to manipulate as before, patterns that used to be reliable may become reliable once more.

As always, we shall see. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be watching for clues.

That’s just good business sense.

© 2017 Mark St.Cyr

It’s Just Worth Mentioning

If you are anything like myself you’ve probably grabbed a coffee, or other beverage of choice and put on some financial show where you could hear the latest “earnings” reports as they came through. Personally I listen to these reports as to just how colorful they’ll be spun. i.e., “Fantastic!”, “Incredible!!”, “Wow, just WOW!!!” and so forth.

The reason the commentary more often than not resembles something akin to a comedy show is because many of these earnings are completely managed before hand, as in either adjusted up or down, on the fly over the course of the cycle, so that if there are any “surprises” they are already knowns. Which by the way is actually required by SEC regulations. But that’s for another article.

The reason I felt compelled to share the following is for the reason of: when I looked at a few charts what I saw was concerning in my opinion. Here’s what I’m alluding to. To wit:

(Chart Source)

The above is the S&P™ futures, and the bars represent 4-hour intervals as of about 8:15AM ET.

What the above chart shows is what is known in technical analysis as an “ending diagonal.” (and yes, I can read charts with the best of them.) What this pattern represents more often than not is what is also described as a “terminal pattern.” i.e., The trend that preceded it has run out of steam, and is about to reverse.

Could it consolidate further? Sure. Could it move even higher? Of course. Does it portent anything concrete? No, it’s always a statistical odds equation. But, with that said, it is a well-known and defined pattern observed by many as a signal that the “trend” as they say may be about to encounter a pause, or worse.

In my opinion, this is an ominous pattern to develop at the beginning of the earnings season. I would expect to have seen the appearance of this pattern (if it were at all) far more into it, or near the end of the cycle or reporting period. That’s why I was a little startled when I looked at a few other charts and seen the same pattern developing in a myriad of other indexes as I perused them.

Whether or not anything comes of it, is as always, pure speculation. But here’s the thing to remember…

If this is a pattern in the HFT arsenal of pattern recognition programs? It doesn’t matter what you, or I think…

It’s what the machines will think – then do.

© 2017 Mark St.Cyr

The Political Celebrity Is Now A Business Liability

Business is about creating choices in products and services that change people’s lives, hopefully for the better. Politics is a about controlling the lives of its people, businesses, and the choices they can make. For the betterment of whom – is an open question.

It’s one thing for a celebrity spokesman to give their endorsement to any product. Whether it’s a true one (as in they actually use, believe in the product) or, it’s just one of the myriad of paid-for versions, where you instinctively know what their selling – they’re more likely than not – not using.

We all know the game, and understand it. (Hint: I doubt very much any A-list Hollywood actor would be seen, let alone photographed driving around in a Lincoln®. Nothing against driving one and they’re nice cars, but do I really need to say more?)

However, everything changes in nearly every dynamic when a celebrity (and/or business) begins selling the political, whether it be a position or candidate. The reason?

There’s no choice for the people (or customer) who doesn’t want to “buy”, for lack of a better term. i.e., What ever it is – they’re now forced into it. When it comes to politics (or the insertion of it) this dynamic can not be avoided. Whether good, bad, or indifferent.

In business (i.e. the offering of a product or service) one has a choice: as in buy it, or not.

In the political: There is no choice once the polls close.

Everyone (as in customers) now has to deal with what the celebrity endorsed, whether they want to, or not. That’s the political example. And most people instinctively understand the difference. Which is why many take great offense when a celebrity becomes politically involved, especially when it pertains to so-called “hot button issues.”

This is the reason why injecting politics into business should be avoided at all costs. Why? Because adding the political into ones product, in any way, forces the dynamic of alienating customers within your own customer base. A Business 101 no-no.

It (being the political) can not be managed out, or away, once inserted.

The moment you allow politics into the business – the political business is what you are now in. Regardless, if you want it – or not. It supersedes all other business considerations in the eyes of many, both customers and company alike.

Here’s a rule of thumb example: If you have 100 customers, then suddenly add a political element to your business structure. You immediately have to assume you’ve put at risk 50 (or around half thereabout) of your existing customers to either consider, or decide, to shop elsewhere.Yet, it doesn’t end there.

For once you openly add the political – so too have you added an “us vs them” within your own company. And factions will align and work against each-other to show their solidarity to the “cause.” Employees, or departments will no longer work as one. Far too many business leaders forget this all too important dynamic.

That’s why it’s to be avoided (or at least was) at all costs, because the costs are potentially far too high to begin with. Yet, the lesson/reminder of this dynamic, and its cascading repercussions, are playing out for all too see on the biggest stage, and under the brightest lights, than those even imagined by Hollywood itself.

Of course, I’m referring to the Weinstein debacle, with all of its intrigue and allegations.

What this moment in history has also done is exposed for all to see what will now to be forever monikered as the “Hollywood Hypocrite” moment.

This is going to be a type-casting label that’ll be applied to not only all of Hollywood, but almost any political wanna-be celebrity so firmly, and with such a broad brush, it’ll make bottles of Superglue® envious.

Back in December I penned the article: “The Political Celebrity: Another Jump The Shark Moment” This was in direct response to the sheer lack of intellectual honesty, as well as critical thought emanating via Hollywood.

Here’s a portion of what I wrote. To wit:

However, with that said I do believe the most recent incarnation of the “political celebrity” may indeed be going way of the Dodo bird. Case in point: Martin Sheen and his leading of the gaggle to influence electors of the electoral college to stand up – and cast their vote for someone else.

In what was supposedly some form of call-to-action video Martin Sheen (did you notice the purple shirt?) and others called for electors to change their votes away from their sworn obligated duties and cast them for someone else. They wouldn’t openly state their desired choice (cough-Hillary-cough) however the intent was clear.

The problem? A few electors did just that. The result? The exact opposite of what they prayed, begged, tantrum’d hoped for, inflicting even further humiliation into what can only be described as – rubbing rock salt into an already mortal wound.

It doesn’t matter which side of the political spectrum you fall on. If you look at this latest episode in the effectiveness of “celebrity” endorsements you can not come away with anything less than it no longer works.

Yet, that hadn’t stopped Hollywood from trying, with Herculean fashion and effort.

The pompous, “we know better than you,” “we are better than you,” and more wreaked from not only television, but radio, print, and live stages everywhere. And just when you thought you could escape it? It was inserted into every gala or award show as a world-stage-event to get up and openly ridicule, attack, insult, again, and again the viewing audience. i.e., Their customers.

Everyone was on the bandwagon. That is, except the band. Which just so happens to be about 50% of the electorate, again, their customers. (some will/may put that 50% much higher, but this is just for demonstrative purposes.)

The result? Need I bring up any ratings or viewership stats for any of these programs? Hint: Use the search engine of your choice and just include the word “abysmal.” I just leave it at that.

And then: Harvey Weinstein happened. And the “stage” for all of those political celebrities changed with it. Or, said differently: All their so-called “enlightened viewpoints” have descended down the drain, in unison, along with Mr. Weinstein.

And they ain’t coming back any time soon. Why?

The responses both in content, context, and timing via all of Hollywood, and especially those who were first to a camera or microphone to denounce anything they did not deem “proper” has been not only disingenuous. But rather, has put on full display for the world to see some of the most pathetic, and bad acting, ever portrayed in unison by not only Hollywood itself, but by all its ancillary counterparts such as magazines, talk shows, late night comedy shows, and more.  And yes, even many of the politicians they so adored, embraced, and shilled for. It has been beyond pathetic in all cases.

Everyone knows, and I mean just that – everyone – knows Hollywood knew, along with all its ancillary enablers (all media/entertainment) including the political. The only ones who are still in disbelief are those still thinking their “I didn’t know!” acting job has helped sway their prior culpable demeanor. Hint: It hasn’t, it’s only magnified the hypocrisy making it even easier to see with every denial uttered.

And with that comes the ensuing, pent-up backlash. And it’s showing up in far more numbers, and far more boisterous that suddenly it’s the political celebrity finding themselves in the crosshairs of indignant reprimands.

This is already taking place across the spectrum. George Lopez for one has already found himself in those crosshairs. He’s far from going to be the first, or last. Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Meryl Streep, and more have already lost more credibility in the last few weeks than their latest box office proceeds.

People have had enough, again, regardless of what side of the political aisle one strides: they want the political striding off their “red” carpets and out of their entertainment venues. Both Left, and Right have had enough.

The Weinstein affair has now made all of it (e.g. the insertion of politics) as toxic as the meltdown of nuclear reactor’s core . And at the center of it, the “fuel-rods” if you may, is the “political celebrity.” The meltdown effects are probably equal in both scale and outcome, with a similar half-life.

Many a once lauded “political celebrity” is going to suddenly find themselves the recipient of many a cold shoulder. Some will be lucky if they don’t find themselves as they did in the old days, as in recipients of “rotten tomatoes” of the real kind.

Will “Hollywood” learn its lesson? Probably not. But if you, or anyone else, want to see just how pernicious and business damaging allowing the political into one’s business can be. Don’t take my word for it. (as I argued in 2015) And forget Hollywood. Just look to the NFL® or ESPN™ today. Or rather…

Look at how many are no longer watching may be a better metric to judge the effects. And all businesses should take heed, before, it’s too late.

Although, for some – that moment may have already passed.

© 2017 Mark St.Cyr