Weekly Cycle: Market Outlook for 07.09.2018

Weekly Cycle: Market Outlook for 07.09.2018

Each week, we review the stock market using a specific set of information sources in order to cut through the noise generated by media publishing attention grabbing headlines. Weekly updates give e the opportunity to play trends while not overreacting on a daily basis.

 

“Don’t worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you’ll have to ram them down people’s throats.”

~Howard H. Aiken
via Why Share?
Howard Lindzon

 

 

 

Market Performance

Performance of a handful of macro indexes, as well as index and ETFs on specific sectors of particular interest.

 

Observations:

  • VNQ (Vanguard REIT index) up over 10% over last 90 days
  • SPY down just over 1% since 1 month ago
  • China tech (CQQQ) down over 8% last 90 days (trade war fears, possible buying opportunity)
  • Emerging markets ( VWO BKF) down 10% and 8% over last 3 months.
  • Cannabis (MJ) up 8% over last 90 days

 

Technical Indicators

Based on data and info from TradingView (Click for 30% off a pro subscription)

Scores based on the cumulative total of positive and negative technical indicators signals over three time horizons on Trading View. Scores are weighted by multiplying total as follows: daily (x 1) weekly (x 2), and monthly (x 3). 

Observations:

  • VIX signals are down significantly
  • SPY considerable stronger
  • VNQ and QQQ much stronger than 1 week ago

 

OldProf’s Risk Analysis

Each week, at the Dash of Insight blog, OldProf takes a look at a variety of sources to gauge overall market risk on both a short and long-term basis. He tracks a handful of indexes, economic indicators from respected sources, and volatility indicators. His weekly updates include a discussion of events with potential to effect markets, as well as general insight. Highly recommended reading.

This week, OldProf writes in Weighing the Week Ahead: Inflation on the Horizon?

“Short-term trading conditions continue at highly favorable levels. Actual volatility declined dramatically in the four-day week.”

“Homebuilders. Barron’s especially likes Toll Brothers (TOL), suffering from an “excessive decline” leaving the stock “significantly undervalued.” The company has been performing well despite the highly-publicized headwinds of higher interest rates and increased costs. [Jeff – I agree but have chosen two of their competitors.]1

 

StockTrader Recap

Mark Hanna publishes a weekly Market Recap full of charts and insight on news and market trends at StockTrader.

This week, Mark writes in Weekly Market Recap Jul 08, 2018

“Currently the action for short term traders is choppy and tricky. Those with a long term view still are in cruise control”

“Long term: Still very positive for the “buy and never sell” crowd.2

 

Articles of note

— Today’s tech stocks (FAANG) are not nearly as overvalued as the biggest tech stocks of the dotcom bubble

FAANG “currently trading at 37x earnings and 5.5x sales. The four in the late 90s were trading at 100x earnings and 26x sales.”

The Ghost of Tech Stocks Past

” These four stocks would collectively fall 77%. Other stocks got hit much harder.

Nortel was worth $283 billion. It went bankrupt.
Lucent was worth 285 billion. It merged with Alcatel in 2006, which currently has an $11 billion market cap.
America Online  was worth $220 billion at its peak before it merged with Time Warner. They were bought by Verizon for $4.4 billion.
Yahoo was worth $125 billion. It was also recently bought by Verizon, for $4.5 billion.3

Speaking of FAANG stocks, Domino’s has beat all of them since 2010, and there are a handful of businesses in much more traditional industries that have grown by as much as 5500% since 2010

“since 2010 it is Domino’s that beats Netflix and the rest of FAANG since 2010:”

Who Has The Best Business Model?
Howard Lindzon Howard Lindzon

“If you are looking for the best stocks since 2010 it is actually paint protection film, manufactured housing and commercial dry cleaning equipment that have made their investors the most money4

— Is there a problem brewing with passive, blind index investing? Here the case is made that the largest companies are being overvalued and that indexes are bending criteria to include the biggest tech stocks. 

“consequence is an ocean of money flowing into the largest companies for reasons that could be unrelated to their merits as investments”

The Hidden Index Bubble
Isaac Pino, CPA The Motley Fool

“For investors, this raises questions about whether there’s a bubble within index investing. So far, valuation metrics like price-to-earnings ratios have not gone completely haywire, as they did in 1999 during the dot-com bubble. Back then, the cyclically adjusted price-to-earnings (CAPE) ratio was nearing 45 at the time of that bubble’s collapse; it’s at 33 today.
But that time frame provides some context. In 1998, just before the dot-com bubble, the largest stocks were thriving. The 10 largest companies in the U.S. market were up 38.5% that year. Then the market turned and took everyone with it — shareholders in small and large companies alike.5

— A good read on the excessive number of bear calls and how the noise makes it difficult to know when to take action. 

‘Turning to Amazon, again we have over 100 different ETFs that have overweighted the stock”

Same Old Greed In A Shiny New Wrapper
The Felder Report

“It’s the very same sort of insatiable greed on the part of Wall Street serving the insatiable greed on the part of investors that has driven every speculative mania throughout history. Only this time it comes in a brand new, shiny wrapper that people can use to call themselves “passive investors.”6

“For all the time spent worrying about this risk, the overwhelming majority of short term traders…haven’t found a way to avoid it”

The Money Gods’ Price For Achieving High Returns

“Briefly, stay long when SPX is above the 10-mma at month end, move to cash when below. There are still drawdowns of more than 15-20% (e.g., 1987, 1990, 1998) and the strategy can underperform in a grinding bull market, but the long term track record is excellent.7

— Canada’s Shopify scored a big win in British Columbia. Presumably, this is a large growing market given Canada’s recent law changes allowing recreational cannabis nationwide. 

“Shopify has been named as the sole vendor to provide ecommerce services for cannabis sales across…British Columbia ”

Shopify to run ecommerce cannabis sales within BC
Business Chief Canada

“The Liquor Distribution Branch (LDB), set to become BC’s only public retailer of cannabis products, stated that Shopify was selected ahead of a number of other bidders due to its proven track record of offering reliable delivery services.8

— A look at the best business model, which typically results in giving away a great product cheaply (or freely) to the majority of customers, while providing the opportunities for best customers to spend. QVC and Amazon are cited as examples. 

“A key to shared-value transactions is that you then use a portion of the spend from your best customers to indirectly fund products for your average users”

Who Has The Best Business Model (And It’s Not Google Or Facebook)
Medium

“What if instead you had a business model that could maximize revenue from your best customers, and then share that value across all your customers, while not annoying users in the process? Sounds good right? Not only does such a model exist, but it’s being used by many companies to great success. I’ll call this strategy shared-value transactions.9

 

 

 

 

  1. https://dashofinsight.com/weighing-the-week-ahead-inflation-on-the-horizon/
  2. https://www.stocktrader.com/2018/07/08/weekly-market-recap-jul-08-2018/
  3. http://theirrelevantinvestor.com/2018/06/30/the-ghost-of-tech-stocks-past/
  4. http://howardlindzon.com/who-has-the-best-business-model/
  5. https://www.fool.com/investing/2018/06/24/the-hidden-index-bubble.aspx
  6. https://thefelderreport.com/2018/06/27/same-old-greed-in-a-shiny-new-wrapper/
  7. http://fat-pitch.blogspot.com/2018/06/the-money-gods-price-of-achieving-high.html
  8. https://canada.businesschief.com/marketing/2728/Shopify-to-run-ecommerce-cannabis-sales-within-BC
  9. https://medium.com/@efeng/who-has-the-best-business-model-and-its-not-google-or-facebook-ca36f967bbd1

Weekly Cycle: Stock Market Outlook 06.04.2018

 

“The most painful realization…is that the people who disagree with us are not especially hypocritical or contradictory.”

The Acrobat and the Fly
Rusty Guinn Epsilon Theory1

 

Market Outlook Update for [June 06, 2018]
Each week, we review the stock market using a specific set of information sources in order to cut through the noise generated by media publishing attention grabbing headlines. Weekly updates give e the opportunity to play trends while not overreacting on a daily basis.

 

Market Performance

Performance of a handful of macro indexes, as well as index and ETFs on specific sectors of particular interest. 

Observations:

  • Volatility [VIX] has dropped considerably over the last week
  • Emerging Markets VWO ( and BKF) up over 3% in last week
  • China Tech surged again last week.
  • Cannabis down over 10% last 3 months

 

Technical Indicators

Based on data and info from TradingView (Click for 30% off a pro subscription)

Scores based on the cumulative total of positive and negative technical indicators signals over three time horizons on Trading View. Scores are weighted by multiplying total as follows: daily (x 1) weekly (x 2), and monthly (x 3). 

Observations:

○ Big improvement from a week ago for $SPY, $VTI
○ $CQQQ looks much improved this week
○ Emerging markets $VWO and $BKF much improved
○ $VIX has dropped significantly since a week ago

 

OldProf’s Risk Analysis

Each week, at the Dash of Insight blog, OldProf takes a look at a variety of sources to gauge overall market risk on both a short and long-term basis. He tracks a handful of indexes, economic indicators from respected sources, and volatility indicators. His weekly updates include a discussion of events with potential to effect markets, as well as general insight. Highly recommended reading.

This week, OldProf writes that “Short-term trading conditions continue at favorable levels, much improved from the month-ago data.”

He also writes on how investors should handle news and speculation regarding Trade Wars:

“Is it time to worry about a trade war? For investors, not yet. For citizens, yes.

Free trade is an issue that differs dramatically in two ways:

  1. First-order impacts are very clear and immediate. The impact is on cohesive industry and worker groups. Nations emphasize their role as exporters.
  2. Other impacts are delayed, nuanced, and difficult to measure. Retaliatory tariffs have gradual impacts – inflation, producers (think soybean farmers) leaving the business, Fed rate increases in response to price pressures, and eventually a recession.

Investors cannot profitably plan now for these effects, since they will take many months or even years to show up.2

 

StockTrader Recap

Mark Hanna publishes a weekly Market Recap full of charts and insight on news and market trends at StockTrader.

This week, Mark writes that despite increased volatility “small caps (Russell 2000) and tech stocks held in quite well and we don’t have any major technical change in the indexes – more on that later..”

Short term: The S&P 500 remains mostly range bound and has for a few weeks, meanwhile the NASDAQ is looking a bit more spiffy of late.

Long term: Still very positive for the “buy and never sell” crowd.

 

Technical Analysis Update

Hacked (subscription-only) publishes a weekly technical update on U.S. indices with a weekly analysis of the S&P 500, NASDAQ, and DJIA, as well as a general market outlook. Other posts include trade recommendations (stocks, crypto & forex markets), worldwide-market updates, ICO analysis, and much more.

This week, Hacked has not yet posted an update.

 

Articles of note

$TSLA “The larger economic issue is that every durable good is becoming a service”

Software is Eating the World-Tesla Edition
Alex Tabarrok Marginal REVOLUTION

“stances. This week Consumer Reports changed their review to recommend after Tesla improved braking distance by nearly 20 feet with an over the air software update!3

“Consider this: how many investors buy stocks thinking they will sell at the bottom? NONE.”

Easy in Theory, Difficult in Practice – Of Dollars And Data
Of Dollars And Data

“Months go by and now the market is down 40%. Your spouse says to you, “Honey, we need to stop this. Think about our children’s future.” As this happens, one of your closest friend’s brags about how he sold when the market was down only 15%. CNBC reports this is the worst financial crisis of the modern era. You’re still buying and holding, yes?
4

User & subcribers models “grounded in fundamentals, with value coming, as it always does, from cash flows, growth and risk.”

User and Subscriber Businesses: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly!
Aswath Damodaran Musings on Markets

“Consequently, I went back to valuation first principles, where the value of any asset is a function of its cashflows, growth and risks, and adapted that approach to valuing a user or subscriber:
5

“Why is it that position sizing and actively managing a portfolio is seen as “trading”. It shouldn’t be.”

One Position Sizing Strategy for Long Term Success
Jae Jun The Value Investing Blog of Old School Value

“It’s that people believe a value investor has to invest a certain way.
By this, I mean things like:

don’t buy and sell often
know everything about the business you buy
hold small number of positions and bet big

6

GDPR is helping centralize market further to benefit of $FB $GOOGL

GDPR is centralizing the market
Tyler Cowen Marginal REVOLUTION

“The reason: the Alphabet Inc. GOOGL +2.58% ad giant is gathering individuals’ consent for targeted advertising at far higher rates than many competing online-ad services, early data show. That means the new law, the General Data Protection Regulation, is reinforcing—at least initially—the strength of the biggest online-ad players, led by Google and Facebook Inc.
7

“Predicting the A.I. winter is like predicting a stock market crash – impossible to tell precisely when…but almost certain that it will”

AI winter is well on its way
Piekniewski’s blog

“This gradual shift from rich, big corporations to government sponsored institutes suggests to me that the interest in this kind of research within these corporations (I think of Google and Facebook) is actually slowly winding down. Again these are all early signs, nothing spoken out loud, just the body language.
8

“With fewer births, and less net migration, demographics will not be as favorable…”

U.S. Births decreased in 2017
Bill McBride Calculated Risk

“Births have declined for three consecutive years following increases in 2013 and 2014.”
9

 

 

 

 

  1. http://epsilontheory.com/the-acrobat-and-the-fly/
  2. https://dashofinsight.com/weighing-the-week-ahead-is-it-time-to-worry-about-a-trade-war/
  3. http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2018/05/software-eating-world-tesla-edition.html
  4. https://ofdollarsanddata.com/easy-in-theory-difficult-in-practice-4d28200f638
  5. http://aswathdamodaran.blogspot.com/2018/05/user-and-subscriber-businesses-good-bad.html
  6. https://www.oldschoolvalue.com/blog/investing-strategy/position-sizing-strategy/?source=rss
  7. http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2018/06/gdpr-centralizing-market.html
  8. https://blog.piekniewski.info/2018/05/28/ai-winter-is-well-on-its-way/
  9. http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/CalculatedRisk/~3/Xnk5DygKf_g/us-births-decreased-in-2017.html

Weekly Cycle: Market Update 05.29.2018

You can’t do the same things that other people are doing and expect to outperform them. When you do what everyone else does, you’re going to get the same results everyone else gets. But it’s not enough to be different — you also need to be correct

Second-Order Thinking: What Smart People Use to Outperform – Farnam Street Blog

Market Outlook Update for May 29, 2018

Each week, we review the stock market using a specific set of information sources in order to cut through the noise generated by media publishing attention grabbing headlines. Weekly updates give e the opportunity to play trends while not overreacting on a daily basis.

Market Performance

Performance of a handful of macro indexes, as well as index and ETFs on specific sectors of particular interest. 

Observations:

○ Volatility [VIX] has risen considerably in the last week
○ SPY and VTI have dropped slightly over last week, remain positive for last 30 days
○ Financials [VFH] and [MJ] performed worse over past week
○ Homebuilders [XHB] performed strongly over past week

Technical Indicators

Based on data and info from TradingView (Click for 30% off a pro subscription)

Scores based on the cumulative total of positive and negative technical indicators signals over three time horizons on Trading View. Scores are weighted by multiplying total as follows: daily (x 1) weekly (x 2), and monthly (x 3). 

Observations:

○ Indicators for SPY and VTI have dropped and remain positive over longer term
○ QQQ, HACK signals remain very strong
○ Signals for international markets [VEA, VEU] turned significantly worse
○ VIX has turned significantly more positive, which indicates a signal towards increased volatility

OldProf’s Risk Analysis

Each week, at the Dash of Insight blog, OldProf takes a look at a variety of sources to gauge overall market risk on both a short and long-term basis. He tracks a handful of indexes, economic indicators from respected sources, and volatility indicators. His weekly updates include a discussion of events with potential to effect markets, as well as general insight. Highly recommended reading.

This week, OldProf writes that Short-term trading conditions improved dramatically.”

He also writes that this week is a very busy week for economic news this week and believes many will be wondering it it’s still worth listening to. Our typical preference is to ignore headlines about what might happen and instead react to what we see happening.

There is an avalanche of economic news in the shortened week ahead. While this will provide plenty to talk about, I expect many to be asking:

Should investors basically ignore the daily geopolitical news?

The Pundit-in-Chief commented that the market is getting it wrong every day, mistakenly trying to trade every swing in the news flow.

Art Cashin observed that traders seem to be learning a pattern. Aggressive statements by world leaders, including the Trump Administration, followed by more moderate policies. Art sees this understanding as part of the recent reduction in volatility.

StockTrader Recap

Mark Hanna publishes a weekly Market Recap full of charts and insight on news and market trends at StockTrader.

This week, Mark writes that it was “The second week in a row of low volatility which is usually advantage bulls” and goes out to point out positive signs in the Nasdaq.

“Short term: The S&P 500 is consolidating while the NASDAQ tipped its head over this trend line connecting highs of the year.

Long term: Still very positive for the “buy and never sell” crowd.”

Technical Analysis Update

Hacked (subscription-only) publishes a weekly technical update on U.S. indices with a weekly analysis of the S&P 500, NASDAQ, and DJIA, as well as a general market outlook. Other posts include trade recommendations (stocks, crypto & forex markets), worldwide-market updates, ICO analysis, and much more.

This week, Hacked has not yet posted an update.

Articles of note

“Real Bear Markets, “The Big One” we hear so much about today is what produces excruciating, prolonged equity market declines. They have recessions attached. There is no sign of that I can find today. None.”

If You Want To See Bears, Go To The Zoo
Lloyd Clucas Seeking Alpha

“In my view we are experiencing a global economic “dead-cat bounce”. That worked for ’17 and should suffice for 2018. I hope it will be longer. But hope is not an investment strategy. Earnings have turned up and are accelerating again. How long? I have no idea. But you take what is there. [If you don’t, you can have tea with John Hussman or Jeremy Grantham.] And earnings are looking good for 2018. The tax cut for corporations is a big deal for 2018. It pushed up central value for many companies and hiked this year’s earnings estimate growth materially.”
1

“Now, with public and private funding flowing into Chinese start-ups, entrepreneurship has become an appealing alternative for a generation disillusioned with the conveyor-belt career paths of their forebears.”

How China’s Tech Revolution Threatens Silicon Valley
Alec Ash The Atlantic

“The tech revolution in China is ubiquitous in urban life. I use the messaging app WeChat for work calls and vacation bookings. I pay for a cup of coffee or a ride in a car with a scanned QR code on my phone. I go to work at a rented desk in an “experimental life space” called 5Lmeet, built in an old soy-sauce factory, which offers pop-up cuisine, a cashless, staffless convenience store, and an office space, the entrance gate to which uses face-recognition software to let me in. Every time I come out of a subway stop in Beijing, I have to fight through a mass of the cheap, rentable bicycles that have transformed transportation in the city. Dai Wei, the CEO of the leading bike-rental firm, Ofo—reportedly valued at $2 billion—is 27 years old.”
2

“Amazon had lowered prices at Whole Foods by an average of 5% over the last year. ”

Shopping at Whole Foods is finally a good deal—if you have Amazon Prime
Alison Griswold Quartz

“On May 16, Amazon announced that Prime members could get an extra 10% off sale items by downloading the Whole Foods mobile app, signing in with their Amazon account, and scanning a code at checkout. The “member deals” are available now at Whole Foods in Florida and will begin rolling out to the rest of the US this summer, Amazon said”
3

From 4 years ago and still a great read on common knowledge and where to look for big challenges

When Does the Story Break?
Epsilon Theory

” I believe that public markets today are essentially hollow, as what passes for volume and liquidity is primarily machines talking to other machines for portfolio “positioning” or ephemeral arbitrage rather than the human expression of a desire to own a fractional ownership share of a real-world company. I believe that today’s public market price levels primarily reflect the greatest monetary policy accommodation in human history rather than the real-world prospects of real-world companies. I believe that the political risks to both capital market structure and international trade (which are the twin engines of global growth, period, end of story) have not been this great since the 1930’s. Simply put, I believe we are being played like fiddles. That does NOT mean, however, that I think anything has to change next week … or next month … or next year … or next decade. The human animal is a social animal in the biological sense, and as such we are cognitively evolved to maintain our beliefs and behaviors far beyond what is “true” in an objective sense. This is, in fact, the core argument of Epsilon Theory, that there is no such thing as Truth with a capital T when it comes to the institutions and the social organizations that we create. There’s nothing more “natural” about our market behaviors than there is around, say, our fashion behaviors … the way we wear our clothes or the way we cut our hair. For 150 years everyone knew that everyone knew that gentlemen wore wigs. This was the dominant common knowledge of its day in the fashion world, absolutely no different in any way, shape or form than the dominant common knowledge of today in the investing world … everyone knows that everyone knows that it’s central bank policy that determines market outcomes. And this market common knowledge could last for 150 years, too.”
4

“This is ultimately the most important distinction between platforms and aggregators: platforms are powerful because they facilitate a relationship between 3rd-party suppliers and end users; aggregators, on the other hand, intermediate and control it.”

The Bill Gates Line

Ben Thompson Stratechery

“Third — and this is the point of this article — what Yelp seems to want will only serve to make Google stronger”

“it is suggestive of further growth in the year ahead and this should be positive for stocks, all else being equal.”

Only The Good News
David Templeton, CFA The Blog of HORAN Capital Advisors

“The purpose of this post is to highlight a number of the positive data points that one would expect to see in a strong economic environment like we are in now”

Our Take

Volatility has increased today after a few weeks of relatively low volatility. It’s still best to ignore more headlines as there appears to be more headlines than real changes.

We’re remaining mostly invested and believe there are short term opportunities. Risk has increase greatly from a year ago though no obvious reason for a general market downturn on the horizon, historically speaking.

Crypto Update: Invaluable

If your customers had to stop using your product or service tomorrow, how much would they miss it?

From How cold is the turkey? by Seth Godin

Crypto Market Update

Our weekly crypto market update uses a standard set of information sources.

Crypto Indexes

The Bletchley Indexes “offer the most thoughtful and consistent approach to index construction” according to CoinMetrics. 

Original “top X” indexes were launched in June 2017, followed by a market-wide index in December 2017 and sector specific indexes in February 2018. In total, there are 13 Bletchley indexes, with charts over various timetables available for each on their site.

Below is an alternate view of the performance based on the downloadable data made available by Bletchley. This view is intended to give a side-by-side snapshot of a handful of indexes.

crypto index performance 05.21.2018

Obserservations

  • Bletchley 10 and Total Market down over slightly vs BTC and 5-10% vs USD
  • Both Bletchley 10 and Total Market index remain up over ~20% over last 30 days
  • Even Indexes performed worse than weighted indexes over last 7 and remain better over longer periods
  • Platform, Application, and Currency indexes all down against USD and BTC over last week
  • Currency down nearly 10% vs USD over last 7 days and over 22% in last 3 months

Global Crypto Charts

For a quick look at the global markets from another perspective, Coinlib.io provides simple charts with a lot of info, including Bitcoin marketshare, a visualization of the top 20 currencies by volume and market cap, and more.

Total Market Cap of Cryptocurrencies: $379.72 billion

total crypto market cap 05.18.2018

Market Share of Top Cryptocurrencies

Market Share of Top 5 Cryptocurrencies - 05-21-18 Bitcoin’s market share remains at~36%, close to all-time lows. This continues a long-term declining trend, with new currencies such as EOS and BCH taking some of that market share.

Market share of top 20 cryptocurrencies

Market Share of Top 20 Cryptocurrencies - 05-21-18

The top 20 currencies (by market cap) currently make up roughly 86% of the total crypto market share.

TradingView Technical Indicators

Based on data and info from TradingView (Click  for 30% off a pro subscription)

Crypto Performace 05.21.2018

Scores based on the cumulative total of positive and negative technical indicators signals over three time horizons on Trading View. Scores are weighted by multiplying total as follows: daily (x 1) weekly (x 2), and monthly (x 3). 

  • BTC and ETH have turned much more negative vs USD since last week
  • ETH is looking worse vs BTC than the last two weeks

CRYPTO PERFORMANCE

Crypto Performace 05.21.2018

  • BTC down over 6% vs USD over last week and nearly 30% over last 3 months
  • ETH has outperformed BTC significantly in last year

Google Trends

Google Trends Bitcoin + Crypto 05-21-2018.png

Google Trends have mostly flattened out after falling significantly in February.

I’m tempted to stop tracking this, as  I believe there will be fewer searches as the public gains knowledge. However, significant price action could still lead to search volume surges.

WooBull Charts

Google Trends Bitcoin + Crypto 05-21-2018.png

NVT RatioThis long-term cycle tracking ratio has mostly continued a downward trend, although a slight uptick in the past few days. Regardless, the ratio is quite high and suggests a further downturn is due.

Bitcoin NVT Signal Chart 05.21.2018

NVT Signal -This short-term signal has moved down slightly over the past week from 126 to 122. It appears to be breaking a support trend, suggesting bearish price movement in the short term.

In the original post introducing NVT Signal, 150 was indicated as an overbought signal.

 

CoinMetrics Charts

CoinMetrics has provides great charting tools for a number of top cryptocurrencies. Kalvichkin’s NVT is a regular check for checking short term trading signals. 

Kalvichkin's NVT - BTC ETH 05.21.2018

Kalvichkin’s NVT – Similar to NVT Signal, Kalvichikin’s NVT has remained mostly flat compared to last week. ETH has moved higher.

Articles of Note

Crypto’s Big Lie

Parker Thompson writes that crypto does not make venture capital style investing available to anyone, as is often stated.

Setting aside the fact that investing is not independent of wealth (you need money to invest), these markets are opaque, controlled by insiders, and by the time “anyone in the world” has the opportunity to invest, the price is often an order of magnitude or three higher than the price paid by venture capitalists (first in line), and significantly higher than what accredited investors paid in pre-sales (second in line).

And you hear it in private conversations with crypto teams as well. To paraphrase one statement (but not much), “we are letting value-add VCs buy equity in the company, and pushing the dumb money that got rich on bitcoin into the public sale.” When money is abundant, who it is attached to matters even more, and money has never been as abundant in traditional venture as it is in crypto.

Why Crypto’s A Growing Threat To FAMGA (a.k.a. Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, Google and Amazon)

Lou Kerner believes crypto is a real threat to the ever-growing massive tech companies.

The point of my post last year, was that FAMGA’s increasing domination has profound implications, including the stifling of innovation that results from the MAJORITY of value creation going to just five companies.

A year ago I didn’t see any emerging technology that could impede the FAMGA’s increasing dominance. But I did state that “History has taught us that nothing is constant but change”, as noted by the great graph below showing the market cap market share of the top 100 tech companies over time:

Consensus & Token Summit Recap

Last week was crypto week in New York with mulitiple conferences and events. Patrick Mayr  from Token Economy provided a good summary, including a bit about the revenue from ticket sales alone.

Consensus (May 14–16, 2018)

Raking in approximately $17million in ticket sales alone, Consensus provided a glimpse into lucrative ripple effects of the technology: event planning with unprecedented top line.

An analysis of batching in Bitcoin
 As a way to avoid ridiculous fees, batching has been implemented to reduce transaction volume. CoinMetrics looked at the result and found impressive results.

Today, around 12% of all transactions on the Bitcoin network are batched, and these account for about 40% of all outputs and between 30–60% of all transactional value. The fact such that a small set of transactions carries so much economic weight makes us hopeful that Bitcoin still has a lot of room to scale on the base layer, especially if usage trends continue.

Introduction TxTenna: Decentralizing the Last Mile in BitCoin

In Token Economy #49: Crypto Extravaganza, a new project is mentioned which allows offline bitcoin transactions. This could be huge for making BTC viable for a many more people.

Bitcoin is unstoppable, but only to a point: its single point of failure is actually physical, as the network still relies on ISPs for internet connectivity. These are centralized communication networks with a history of censorship (imposed by governments, see the whole net neutrality situation), attacks or fragility (natural or manmade disasters).

So the folks at Samurai Wallet, using the GoTenna SDK, a toolkit provided for free by GoTenna (the makers of an off-grid mobile mesh networking platform) have developed the TxTenna app. The app can broadcast offline bitcoin transactions off-grid via goTenna Mesh devices, effectively enabling an alternative physical communication layer for bitcoin. This is how it works:

Using the Samourai Wallet app the user creates a standard bitcoin transaction and signs it. This is possible while offline and without wifi or mobile access.The Samourai Wallet app then passes the offline transaction to the TxTenna App and TxTenna broadcasts it to nearby mesh nodes via a paired goTenna mesh device. Other goTenna devices in the area relay the transaction until an internet connected goTenna node also running TxTenna receives it and forwards it to the Bitcoin network.”

Final Thoughts

Bitcoin and the crypto markets more widely look susceptible to a short term price drop. Long term, there are are still many positive signs.

Weekly Cycle: Curiosity Drives Change

It’s curiosity, not conviction, that drives change. We should be fueled, not by a desire for a quick catharsis or a life hack, but by intrigue.

From Why “Dumb” Questions Are Key to Innovation by Ozan Varol.

Stock Market Outlook 05.21.2018

Each week, I review the market using a specific set of information sources to gauge the stock market rather than relying on headlines from news sources looking to generate attention. Weekly checkups give me the opportunity to spot trends, while not overreacting on a daily basis.

Performance
stock index performance 05.21.2018
  • SPY up slightly over last week and nearly 15% in last year
  • Volatility (VIX) down over 25% in last 3 months
  • HACK up 10% over last 3 months and over 23% in the last year
Technical Indicators

Based on data and info from TradingView (Click  for 30% off a pro subscription)

Scores based on the cumulative total of positive and negative technical indicators signals over three time horizons on Trading View. Scores are weighted by multiplying total as follows: daily (x 1) weekly (x 2), and monthly (x 3). 

stock market technical indicators 05.21.2018

 

  • China Tech (CQQQ) spiked last week after returning to less bullish signals this week
  • Financials (VFH) signals are very bullish
  • SPY and VTI signals remain very positive for the third consecutive week
OldProf’s Risk Analysis

Each week OldProf takes a look at a variety of sources to gauge overall market risk on both a short and long-term basis. He tracks a handful of indexes, economic indicators from respected sources, and volatility indicators. His weekly updates include a discussion of events with potential to effect markets, as well as general insight. Highly recommended reading.

This week, OldProf short-term conditions have improved significantly

The overall picture remains positive. Economic strength is reasonable, and inflation is low.


Short-term trading conditions improved dramatically.

He mentioned an increase risk of a recession in the next 9 months, though it remains relatively low.

A notable feature of the chart is that we recently increased the nine-month recession odds to a chance of 25%. While this is significantly higher than it has been during the long stock rally, it does not yet represent a real threat. Instead of thinking of the odds as higher than before, we must keep in mind the continuing evidence that a near-term recession is unlikely. The odds are only slightly higher than the long term average.

As he’s written in the past, he reminds that many financial headline are “noise”, a subject on which Daniel Kahneman discussed in an article linked below.

The current interest rate story is mostly noise. The same sources that criticized the Fed for “punishing savers” with low rates are now worried about the gentle and gradual increase. There are so many who are selling something – and therefore on a mission!

StockTrader Recap

Mark Hanna publishes a weekly Market Recap full of charts and insight on news and market trends at StockTrader.

This week, Hanna writes that after it was a relatively quiet week with some consolidation and little change to the short and long term outlook.

This was a generally quiet week in the senior indexes, consolidating some of the prior week’s move up.

Short term: The S&P 500 remains above this trend line connecting highs of 2018.

Long term: Still very positive for the “buy and never sell” crowd.

Technical Update

Hacked (subscription-only) publishes a weekly technical update on U.S. indices with a weekly analysis of the S&P 500, NASDAQ, and DJIA, as well as a general market outlook. Other posts include trade recommendations (stocks, crypto & forex markets), worldwide-market updates, ICO analysis, and much more.

This week, Hacked’s outlook is “Bullish short-term outlook as long as U.S indices remain above their respective 8 EMAs.” They are bearish whenever S&P 500 and NASDAQ break their respective intermediate-term supports.

More info on in the weekly update.

Articles of note
Noise: How to Overcome the High, Hidden Cost of Inconsistent Decision MakingThe Projected Improvement in Life Expectancy

Daniel Kaneman is working on a new book titled Noise. He’s written on the topic previously, including an HBR article in October 2016, where he makes the case for algorithms over human decision making to overcome noise.

Algorithms are also less likely to be useful for judgments or decisions that involve multiple dimensions or depend on negotiation with another party. Even when an algorithmic solution is available in principle, organizational considerations sometimes prevent implementation. The replacement of existing employees by software is a painful process that will encounter resistance unless it frees those employees up for more-enjoyable tasks.


The most radical solution to the noise problem is to replace human judgment with formal rules—known as algorithms—that use the data about a case to produce a prediction or a decision.


It is less well known that the key advantage of algorithms is that they are noise-free: Unlike humans, a formula will always return the same output for any given input. Superior consistency allows even simple and imperfect algorithms to achieve greater accuracy than human professionals. (Of course, there are times when algorithms will be operationally or politically infeasible, as we will discuss.)

Kahneman also spoke on the subject recently with Erik Brynjolfsson, where he described the problem and solution rather succinctly.

What are the bigger risks — human or the algorithmic biases?

Daniel Kahneman: It’s pretty obvious that it would be human biases, because you can trace and analyze algorithms.

….

An algorithm could really do better than humans, because it filters out noise. If you present an algorithm the same problem twice, you’ll get the same output. That’s just not true of people.

The legal sports betting arena is about to get crowded and we’re not ready

Sports betting is coming quickly to many states, and it’s likely to be chaotic, according to Greg Bettinelli, a VC familiiar with the gambling industry.

And if you haven’t been following the case, you probably don’t realize how much is about to change. Short answer: A whole lot, very quickly. And in my opinion, straight out of the gate, it’s not going to be pretty.

Sports betting is a very low-margin business. The take rate of sports wagering is around 5 percent, while it’s closer to 20 percent in horse racing. And in unregulated markets (which will occur somewhere in U.S.), the price of the product is going to get close to zero. It’s going to be hard to make any money, and customer loyalty will be basically nonexistent without pricing power.

Bettinelli also names a handful of businesses that may look to capitalize on the new opportunities.

In addition to all the sports leagues like MLB, MLS, NCAA, NFL, NHL and the PGA, keep an eye on media companies like AT&T (DirecTV), CBS, Comcast (Golf Channel), Disney (ESPN), Fox, Time Warner (Turner), Verizon (Oath) and Action Network/Barstool Sports (with the backing of the Chernin, Kerns and Jacobs dream team). Don’t be shocked if StubHub and even Ticketmaster figure out a way to get in the game, as they know the customers with high propensity to bet on sports

The Finance To Value Framework

Venture capitalist Fred Wilson wrote on the subject of how much startups should raise. In the post, he lays out his philosophies of valuing businesses that are yet to turn profitable.

The first thing you need to know is how your business will be valued by a buyer or the public markets when it is a scaled business. I like to use EBITDA and Revenue multiples for this work. And the best place to get them is from bankers who work in your sector and/or investors who are active in your sector. The key point is these multiples are what you are going to be valued at upon exit or IPO, not currently.

Revenue multiples work better for this than EBITDA because very few companies have positive EBITDA during their growth phases.

I’ve always been impressed with his commitment to investing for the long-term and how he manages to look at startups with a framework more similar to value investing than most startup investing.

“Do People Really Downsize?”

Bill McBride pulled some quotes from a post by economist Josh Lehner, at the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis on the topic.

In fact it is less common today than in decades past. However, among those that do move in their 60s and 70s, they downsize. Given the large Baby Boomer generation continues to age into their retirement years, the absolute number of such moves is expected to rise, even if it remains a relatively small share of the housing market overall.

The original study did not include state by state data. My guess is there are very few intrastate moves in California, due to tax laws that tie tax values to the purchase price, thus adding a cost even when downsizing to those that purchased homes at prices far below today’s values.

Do Long-Term Investors Need Bonds?

Ben Carlson answers a reader’s question on bonds, saying they have underperformed stocks in all but three eras. He believes they are important for investors looking for more stability:

Investing 100% of your retirement assets in stocks may seem like the right thing to do on paper but very few investors have the intestinal fortitude to pull it off in the real world. Investing all of your money in stocks sounds great until you actually have to live with seeing bone-crushing losses and volatility in your life savings.

I tend to believe bonds are not worthwhile for a relatively active investor given the small upside.

Sheep Logic – Epsilon Theory

A long, winding post on the behavior of sheeps, and what we can learn about humans, herds and investing.

Here’s the thing I’ve learned about sheep over the years. They are never out of sight of each other, and their decision making is entirely driven by what they see happening to others, not to themselves. They are extremely intelligent in this other-regarding way.

It’s not what the crowd believes. It’s what the crowd believes that the crowd believes. The power of a crowd seeing a crowd is one of the most awesome forces in human society. It topples governments. It launches Crusades. It builds cathedrals. And it darn sure moves markets.

This type of observational decision making seen from herds leads to common knowledge.

Common knowledge is information, public or private, that everyone believes is shared by everyone else.

The power source of the Common Knowledge Game is the crowd seeing the crowd, and the dynamic structure of the Common Knowledge Game is the dynamic structure of the flock.

Final Thoughts

Nothing much has changed in the short-term and we are remaining fully-invested, letting curiosity lead to new opportunities.

 

Crypto Market Update: Blow Up

Crypto Market Update

My weekly crypto market update uses a standard set of information sources.

Crypto Indexes

The Bletchley Indexes “offer the most thoughtful and consistent approach to index construction” according to CoinMetrics. 

Original “top X” indexes were launched in June 2017, followed by a market-wide index in December 2017 and sector specific indexes in February 2018. In total, there are 13 Bletchley indexes, with charts over various timetables available for each on their site.

Below is an alternate view of the performance based on the downloadable data made available by Bletchley. This view is intended to give a side-by-side snapshot of a handful of indexes.

crypto index market update 05.14.18.png

Obserservations

  • Bletchley 10 and Total Market down over 16% against USD over the past week
  • Both Remain up over 20% over last 30 days
  • Even Indexes roughly down the same amount as weighted indexes over last week
  • Platform, Application, and Currency indexes all down against USD and BTC.
  • Currency has performed best recently and is up over 25% vs BTC over last 90 days

Global Crypto Charts

For a quick look at the global markets from another perspective, Coinlib.io provides simple charts with a lot of info, including Bitcoin marketshare, a visualization of the top 20 currencies by volume and market cap, and more.

Total Market Cap of Cryptocurrencies: $410.58 billion

total market cap 05.14.2018

 

Market Share of Top Cryptocurrencies

Market Share of Top 5 Cryptocurrencies - 05-14-18

Bitcoin’s market share has declined to ~36%, close to all-time lows. This continues a long-term declining trend, with new currencies such as EOS and BCH taking some of that market share.

Marketshare of top 20 cryptocurrencies

The top 20 currencies (by market cap) currently make up roughly 85% of the total crypto market share.

TradingView Technical Indicators

Based on data and info from TradingView (Click  for 30% off a pro subscription)

tradingview technical indicator score crypto 05.14.2018

Scores based on the cumulative total of positive and negative technical indicators signals over three time horizons on Trading View. Scores are weighted by multiplying total as follows: daily (x 1) weekly (x 2), and monthly (x 3). 

  • BTC has turned much more negative in the short-term, while the 30-day technical analysis remains very positive
  • ETH remains postive vs USD, albeit less strongly than last week.

CRYPTO PERFORMANCE

bitcoin eth performance 05.14.18

  • BTC down over 7.5% vs USD over last week
  • BTC up 418% in last year – and “only” 35% in last 6 months.

Google Trends

Google Trends Bitcoin + Crypto 05-14-2018.png

Google Trends have mostly flattened out after falling significantly in February.

I’m tempted to stop tracking this, as  I believe there will be fewer searches as the public gains knowledge. However, significant price action could still lead to search volume surges.

WooBull Charts

Bitcoin NVT Ratio - 05.14.2018

NVT RatioThis long-term cycle tracking ratio has mostly continued a downward trend, although a slight uptick in the past few days. Regardless, the ratio is quite high and suggests a further downturn is due.

 

NVT Signal -This short-term signal has moved down significantly over the past week from 142 to 126. It appears to be breaking a support trend, suggesting bearish price movement in the short term.

In the original post introducing NVT Signal, 150 was indicated as an overbought signal.

Willy Woo recently gave is own update using the two charts above in a Twitter post. Great insight as to how he reads these charts. His take:

Putting it all together, BTC is still unwinding from mania, I think we are on the plateau of another dead cat, I put the next downward move, more gentle this time in the window of 7-14 days from now. /7

But price-wise I don’t think we are that far from the bottom. So not far to go on the short side, lots of long to go when it fully unwinds and sets up in the second half of this year. /8

CoinMetrics Charts

CoinMetrics has provides great charting tools for a number of top cryptocurrencies. Kalvichkin’s NVT is a regular check for checking short term trading signals. 

Kalvichkin's NVT - BTC ETH 05.14.2018

Kalvichkin’s NVT – Similar to NVT Signal, Kalvichikin’s has begun to trend downward both both BTC and ETH.

Articles of Note

On Radical Markets

Here’s a post from Vitalik Buterin inspired Eric Posner and Glen Weyl’s new book, Radical Markets,

First, although I spend most of my time in the blockchain/crypto space heading up the Ethereum project and in some cases providing various kinds of support to projects in the space, I do also have broader interests, of which the use of economics and mechanism design to make more open, free, egalitarian and efficient systems for human cooperation, including improving or replacing present-day corporations and governments, is a major one.

Consider a system where property owners themselves specify what the value of their property is, and pay a tax rate of, say, 2% of that value per year. But here is the twist: whatever value they specify for their property, they have to be willing to sell it to anyone at that price.

Sitting with the cyber-sleuths who track cryptocurrency criminals

Crypto isn’t as secure as many believe, as shown in this inside look at fighting criminals using crypto.

Once multiple accounts have been linked to the same owner, you can try to figure out who that owner is. Linking Bitcoin accounts to real-world identities is possible because information tends to leak out. Regulated cryptocurrency exchanges—generally those in the US or Europe—must follow know-your-customer and anti-money-laundering rules, which require people to hand over identification before using their services. Some people are even so careless as to post their supposedly private Bitcoin addresses in online forums. “What people forget is that the blockchain is just one half of the equation,” says Knottenbelt.

In blockchain we trust – MIT Technology Review

Regardless of the price, blockchain will have major implications, as predicted in this piece on how this is a shirt akin to the advent of double ledger bookkeeping.

A new form of bookkeeping might seem like a dull accomplishment. Yet for thousands of years, going back to Hammurabi’s Babylon, ledgers have been the bedrock of civilization. That’s because the exchanges of value on which society is founded require us to trust each other’s claims about what we own, what we’re owed, and what we owe. To achieve that trust, we need a common system for keeping track of our transactions, a system that gives definition and order to society itself. How else would we know that Jeff Bezos is the world’s richest human being, that the GDP of Argentina is $620 billion, that 71 percent of the world’s population lives on less than $10 a day, or that Apple’s shares are trading at a particular multiple of the company’s earnings per share?

 ‘Ebay for CryptoKitties’ Raises $2 Million from All-Star VCs
Digital goods are just getting started and marketplaces seem like a natural way to exchange them.

 users need a place to more easily buy and sell those items.

It turns out OpenSea wasn’t alone: the decentralized online marketplace for physical itemsOpenBazaar has plans to open up its platform for digital items such as CryptoKitties as well, plus OPSkins recently created Wax, a platform for spinning up decentralized exchange services for these items.

Word on the street: A big week for institutional interest in crypto

includes:

JP Morgan’s boss of blockchain project says more to come

NYSE owner planning bitcoin swaps and crypto exchange

Former Goldman Sachs president backs blockchain

The 10 largest ICO fund raises: successes, controversies and lessons learned
The top ten ICOs have been very successful in gaining early positive attention around their projects; however, many on this list have had lackluster performances in the time since their ICOs.

Final Thoughts

Bitcoin and the crypto markets more widely look susceptible to a short term price drop. Long term, there are are still many positive signs that it will “blow up.”

For me, I grew up listening to hip hop, I grew up in Oakland. It’s a little bit more like, “let’s try to make something that doesn’t suck, let’s try to do great stuff, let’s try to make big things”. But it’s a little bit less of, “let’s create an in-crowd and define all the things that that in-crowd hates so that we all feel closer to each other”.

Weekly Cycle: Stay Vigilant

In 1974, near the peak of his fame, Paul Simon started taking music lessons.

Even the best don’t know what will l happen next, and it pays to stay vigilant.

Stock Market Outlook 05.14.2018

Each week, I review the market using a specific set of information sources to gauge the stock market rather than relying on headlines from news sources looking to generate attention. Weekly checkups give me the opportunity to spot trends, while not overreacting on a daily basis.

Index Performance & Technical Indicators

weekly cycle - stock market perfornace and technical indicator scores 05.14.18

Performance Observations
  • VIX is down over 11% over last 7 days
  • MJ (cannabis) up 5% in last week
  • Cybersecurity (HACK) is up nearly 15% over last 90 days
  • China Tech (CQQQ) up nearly 35% over last year
Technical Indicators Observations

Based on data and info from TradingView (Click  for 30% off a pro subscription)

Scores based on the cumulative total of positive and negative technical indicators signals over three time horizons on Trading View. Scores are weighted by multiplying total as follows: daily (x 1) weekly (x 2), and monthly (x 3). 

  • Trading signals have turned overwhelmingly positive for nearly all indexes on list
  • BKF (BRIC index), CQQQ (China Tech), MJ (cannabis) and VFH (financials) saw biggest positive changes
  • VNQ (Vanguare REIT index) has fallen the most
OldProf’s Risk Analysis

Each week OldProf takes a look at a variety of sources to gauge overall market risk on both a short and long-term basis. He tracks a handful of indexes, economic indicators from respected sources, and volatility indicators. His weekly updates include a discussion of events with potential to effect markets, as well as general insight. Highly recommended reading.

This week, OldProf short-term conditions have improved somewhat:

Short-term trading conditions have improved. The borderline rating was almost poor enough to take our trading models out of the market. A strength of our modeling approach (Thanks, Vince!) is a touch more patience than shown by many technical systems. This has a mild cost, and can reap great rewards. This week was a good example. We continue to monitor the technical health measures on a daily basis. The long-term fundamentals and outlook are little changed.

 

He also notes that the chance of a recession has increased to 25%. While not at a worrisome level, he notes:

That said, we watch this quite closely and plan to reduce position sizes if the risk grows much larger.

 

StockTrader Recap

Mark Hanna publishes a weekly Market Recap full of charts and insight on news and market trends at StockTrader.

This week, Hanna writes that after some worrisome consolidation, short-term conditions showed improvement late last week:

The indexes were looking a bit rocky the past few weeks, with a consolidation at lower levels with no real attempt at an upthrust — but the rally late in the week certainly helped prospects.   The bulk of weekly gains came Wednesday and Thursday but Thursday’s move up helped change the complexion of the S&P 500 and Russell 2000 charts which we’ll show below.

Short term: After a lot of consolidation at lower levels – which is a concern – we saw a reversal here late in the week.

Long term: Still very positive for the “buy and never sell” crowd.

Technical Update

Hacked (subscription-only) publishes a weekly technical update on U.S. indices with a weekly analysis of the S&P 500, NASDAQ, and DJIA, as well as a general market outlook. Other posts include trade recommendations (stocks, crypto & forex markets), worldwide-market updates, ICO analysis, and much more.

This week, Hacked’s outlook is “Short- and intermediate-term bullish”, which is more positive than the previous two weeks. Still, they warn “Short- and long-term bearish whenever S&P 500 and NASDAQ break their respective intermediate-term supports. Considered less likely in the short-term after this week’s price action.”

More info on in the weekly update.

Articles of note
The Projected Improvement in Life Expectancy

Bill McBride at Calculated Risk analyzed reports from the CDC and found some interesting facts on life expectancy:

Using these stats –for those born this year (in 2018) – more than two-thirds will make it to the next century.

Also the number of deaths for those younger than 20 will be very small (down to mostly accidents, guns, and drugs).  Self-driving cars might reduce the accident components of young deaths.

An amazing statistic: for those born in 1900, about 13 out of 100,000 made it to 100.  For those born in 1950, 199 are projected to make to 100 – a significant increase.   Now the CDC is projecting that 2,111 out of 100,000 born in 2014 will make it to 100.

When Intelligence Fails Miserably

Ben Carlson writes about how intelligence can backfire, citing two well known examples in Enron and Long Term Capital Management, and includes a few lessons that can apply on a much more micro level:

It’s easier to fool yourself with complexity. Complexity in business and investing makes it easier to game your own system. Enron and Long-Term Capital were run by extremely bright people who tried to implement complicated processes to run their business activities. And these complexities allowed everyone within the organizations to be fooled by randomness or turn a blind eye to what was going on.

Warner Sells Spotify Stock

Major record labels like Sony and Warner have sold off Spotify stock, and Bob Lefsetz believes it’s another example of short-term thinking, which nearly every company is guilty outside Amazon:

This is what’s wrong with the record companies, this is what’s wrong with AMERICA! The short-term thinking.

no one in corporate America is a builder other than the founder, they’re all custodians, looking to make their bonuses, playing to Wall Street.

Except for Jeff Bezos.

Tech’s Two Philosophies

Apple and Microsoft make tools for humans to use; Google aims to replace human processes, or so writes Ben Thompson in a great piece on the difference in philosphies among tech companies:

In Google’s view, computers help you get things done — and save you time — by doing things for you. Duplex was the most impressive example — a computer talking on the phone for you — but the general concept applied to many of Google’s other demonstrations, particularly those predicated on AI: Google Photos will not only sort and tag your photos, but now propose specific edits; Google News will find your news for you, and Maps will find you new restaurants and shops in your neighborhood. And, appropriately enough, the keynote closed with a presentation from Waymo, which will drive you.

This second philosophy, that computers are an aid to humans, not their replacement, is the older of the two; its greatest proponent — prophet, if you will — was Microsoft’s greatest rival, and his analogy of choice was, coincidentally enough, about transportation as well. Not a car, but a bicycle:

He notes Steve Jobs’ bicycle analogy, which I particularly like here at Bicycles&Blazers,

But fortunately someone at Scientific American was insightful enough to test a man with a bicycle, and man with a bicycle won. Twice as good as the Condor, all the way off the list. And what it showed was that man is a toolmaker, has the ability to make a tool to amplify an inherent ability that he has. And that’s exactly what we’re doing here.

Tesla is another company that appears to want to replace humans by doing the driving for them, especially compared to other companies offering self-drive assist features. Volvo requires drivers to go no more than ~10 seconds without touching the wheel using their self-drive feature.

Should our machines sound human?

Last week, Google held a presentation where they introduced Duplex, which can have human sounding conversations. The tech is impressive and it raises a number of concerns. Jason Kottke rounds up a few links on the subject and concludes:

For now, it’s probably the ethical thing to do make sure machines sound like or otherwise identify themselves as artificial. But when the machines cross the AGI threshold, they’ll be advanced enough to decide for themselves how they want to sound and act. I wonder if humans will allow them this freedom.

Final Thoughts

There’s been a lot of concern around the short-term market conditions recently. This week there’s an improvement among technical indicators and expert analysis.

 

Weekly Cycle: A negative turn?

Stock Market Outlook 05.07.2018

Each week, I review the market using my own set of information sources to gauge the market. While I’d prefer to be long-term investors and check the markets less frequently, I believe my skills in selecting enduring businesses for long-term success are lacking those of great investors.

Instead, I use a trend following strategy with regular weekly checkups for proper diligence. A weekly outlook provides relief from overreacting on a day-to-day basis, while still allowing for relative short term moves.

Index Performance & Technical Indicators

stock market technical indicators and performance 05.07.2018

Performance
  • S&P 500 (SPY) up slightly over last week
  • Cannabis (MJ) up over 10% over last 30 days
  • Tech (QQQ) up 3.5% in past week and 5.6% in last 30 days. Similarly, cybersecurity (HACK) is up over 6% in last 30 days.
  • VIX is 50% down over last 3 months and 50% up over last year
Technical Indicators

Based on data and info from TradingView (Click  for 30% off a pro subscription)

Scores based on the cumulative total of positive and negative technical indicators signals over three time horizons on Trading View. Scores are weighted by multiplying total as follows: daily (x 1) weekly (x 2), and monthly (x 3). 

  • Trading signals have turned overwhelmingly positive for wide, general indexes including SPY, VTI, VEA.
  • Tech index (QQQ) has improved significantly since last week
  • VIX has fallen further, with a negative score indicating bearish sentiment towards volatility
OldProf’s Risk Analysis

Each week OldProf takes a look at a variety of sources to gauge overall market risk on both a short and long-term basis. He tracks a handful of indexes, economic indicators from respected sources, and volatility indicators. His weekly updates include a discussion of events with potential to effect markets, as well as general insight. Highly recommended reading.

This week, OldProf indicates a negative turn for short term trading conditions, while the long-term outlook remains unchanged.

 

Short-term trading conditions have turned negative.

The long-term fundamentals and outlook are little changed. The long-term technical health is back to strongly bullish.

This comes despite genuine positive surprises in earnings reports:

Corporate earnings continue to exceed expectations. This is especially interesting because of the unusual pattern this quarter. Expectations were not reduced significantly before the reports. These are true surprises. FactSet calls it the highest beat rate since they began compiling data in 2008.”

He also discusses how volatility effects trading vs investing, mentioning:

if stocks declined another 14%, would it tempt you to buy? If so, get your shopping list ready. The forward P/E on the S&P 500 has gone from 18.6 to 16.

Most people focus on price, not value, so these “sideways corrections” often go unnoticed.

StockTrader Recap

Mark Hanna publishes a weekly Market Recap full of charts and insight on news and market trends at StockTrader.

This week, Hanna writes that short-term conditions have further worsened, with long-term conditions remaining positive.

The indexes continue to mark time range bound at lower levels (with moderately high volatility) which should be a concern for bulls until it changes. Unlike consolidation after a move up, this is consolidation after a selloff which is not usually bullish.

Short term: A lot of consolidation at lower levels. That is a concern for bulls. More tests of the 200 day moving average – also not great.

Long term: Still very positive for the “buy and never sell” crowd.

Technical Update

Hacked (subscription-only) publishes a weekly technical update on U.S. indices with a weekly analysis of the S&P 500, NASDAQ, and DJIA, as well as a general market outlook. Other posts include trade recommendations (stocks, crypto & forex markets), worldwide-market updates, ICO analysis, and much more.

This week, Hacked’s outlook is “Neutral with a bullish bias”, which is more positive than last week’s “bearish bias.” There’s short and long term concern if SPX and QQQ break immediate term supports, yet they write “Further bullish momentum likely in the short-term.” More info on support levels in the weekly update.

Articles of note
The biggest companies focus on Customer Experience

Ben Thompson writes on the differences between Apple and Amazon, two companies closing in on $1 trillion valuations.

I mean it when I say these companies are the complete opposite: Apple sells products it makes; Amazon sells products made by anyone and everyone. Apple brags about focus; Amazon calls itself “The Everything Store.” Apple is a product company that struggles at services; Amazon is a services company that struggles at product. Apple has the highest margins and profits in the world; Amazon brags that other’s margin is their opportunity, and until recently, barely registered any profits at all. And, underlying all of this, Apple is an extreme example of a functional organization, and Amazon an extreme example of a divisional one.

Despite those differences, there is a commonality in a focus on customer experience.

Both, taken together, are a reminder that there is no one right organizational structure, product focus, or development cycle: what matters is that they all fit together, with a business model to match. That is where Apple and Amazon are arguable more alike than not: both are incredibly aligned in all aspects of their business. What makes them truly similar, though, is the end goal of that alignment: the customer experience.

More VC love for Canada

Like Brad Feld, venture capitalist (and prolific blogger) Fred Wilson is very positive on Canada.

More importantly, the talent pool in Canada is rich. Canadians are well educated and there are a number of very strong engineering schools in Canada. All of our portfolio companies that have engineering teams in Canada claim they get higher quality and retention in those teams than the ones they operate in the US.

So I’m bullish on Canada and have been since we started investing here almost ten years ago. And unlike the US, Canada has the wind behind it’s back in tech right now.

Tesla is not a tech-company

Scott Galloway writes that Tesla is an automaker and shouldn’t be considered a tech company.

Tesla has an amazing product, but has been mistaken by investors as an internet firm. Tesla lacks the frictionless networking effects of a Google or Facebook and doesn’t have the Hermés-like margins of an Apple. Yet, it’s trading at a valuation more reflective of a firm that can scale like a Facebook or generate the profits of an Apple.

His outlook for the stock isn’t good:

This means by the end of the year Tesla analysts will begin wringing their hands over liquidity concerns and dilution. This fear, coupled with rising interest rates, could spook bondholders and result in the equity being the tail of the whip as enterprise value drops.

Lumber Gains

Howard Lindzon mentioned “peak lumber” in a recent post. Here are more numbers to show the change from Bill McBride at Calculated Risk.

Here is another monthly update on framing lumber prices. Early in 2013 lumber prices came close to the housing bubble highs – and now prices are well above the bubble highs.

Final Thoughts

Reports like this make me question living the SF Bay Area.

Let’s state it plainly: The Bay Area must increase its total housing stock by 50 percent over the next 20 years to bring affordability down to a reasonable level.

That’s certainly not going to happen. Even if it did, it’s hard to imagine transit would expand to accommodate that number of people.

Weekly Crypto Outlook 05-01-2018

Crypto Market Update

My weekly update on the crypto market intends to look at the market from a macro perspective. With a majority of the crypto market cap concentrated on Bitcoin and a handful of other tokens, my focus is on the major coins. I check a standard set of information sources each week and include links to articles of interest.

Crypto Indexes

I follow the Bletchley Indexes, which CoinMetrics believes “offer the most thoughtful and consistent approach to index construction.”

Original “top X” indexes were launched in June 2017, followed by a market-wide index in December 2017 and sector specific indexes in February 2018. In total, there are 13 Bletchley indexes, with charts over various timetables available for each on their site.

Below is an alternate view of the performance based on the downloadable data made available by Bletchley. This view is intended to give a side-by-side snapshot of a handful of indexes.

Bletchley Cryptocurrency Index Performance 05-01-2018

Obserservations

  • Over the last month, the Application Index (consisting of the likes of Tron, OmiseGo, Binance, Icon, and two dozen others) has outpaced the market as a whole.
  • Platform Index has roughly kept the same pace as the market as a whole, while outpacing the top 10 index.
  • Currency sector weakest over last month
  • In general, “even” indexes (with an even allocation to all assets) have outperformed weighted indexes over most time periods, with the exception of nearly even performance for the total market over since index inception.

Global Crypto Charts

For a quick look at the global markets from another perspective, I find Coinlib.io provides simple charts with a lot of info, including Bitcoin marketshare, a visualization of the top 20 currencies by volume and market cap, and more.

Market Share of Top Cryptocurrencies

Market Share of Top 5 Cryptocurrencies - 05-01-18

Bitcoin’s market share has declined to ~38%, close to all-time lows. This continues a long-term declining trend, with new currencies such as EOS and BCH taking some of that market share.

Top 20 Cryptocurrencies by Market Share

The top 20 currencies (by market cap) currently make up roughly 85% of the total crypto market share.

TradingView Technical Indicators

Based on data and info from TradingView (Click  for 30% off a pro subscription)

Cryptocurrency Technical Indicators 05-02-2018

Scores based on the cumulative total of positive and negative technical indicators signals over three time horizons on Trading View. Scores are weighted by multiplying total as follows: daily (x 1) weekly (x 2), and monthly (x 3). 

  • ETH has surged compared to BTC and USD over the last month. Technical indicators suggest the tide may be swinging to favor BTC in the short term.
  • USDT has outperformed USD by over 6% in the last year.

Google Trends

Google Trends Bitcoin + Crypto 05-01-2018

After a significant rise in Google searches for “bitcoin” in late 2017, there’s been a downward trend, which continues this week. I’m hesitant to keep tracking this, as my assumption is that there will be less searches as the public gains knowledge and no longer needs to search for the term. However, significant price action could still lead to search volume surges.

WooBull Charts

Bitcoin NVT Ratio 05-01-2018

NVT RatioThis long-term cycle tracking ratio has dipped in the past ewek, though still remains very high. This is worrisome as it suggests a significant drop may be on the horizon.

 

Bitcoin NVT Signal chart 04.16.2018

NVT Signal – This short-term signal continued its upward trend from the previous week. It has moved significantly over the last few weeks week and now sits near 130. In the original post introducing NVT Signal, 150 was indicated as an overbought signal.

Overall, there is potential for the upward trend to continue in short-term, though NVT Ratio suggests a downturn is looming.

 

CoinMetrics Charts

Bitcoin Kalvichkin NVT Signal May 01 2018

Kalvichkin’s NVT – Similar to NVT Signal, this suggests an upward trend is possible for both BTC and ETH in the short term.

Articles of Note

How reliable are ratios?

CoinMetrics collects a large amount of data on a number of coins. In the past, they’ve written about the challenges of collecting data for a number of different currencies, as well as problems with reliability of the data. Unsurprisingly, they understand the power and pitfalls that come with analyzing such data, particularly at a relatively nascent stage.

This week, they wrote on the potential problems of using ratios for valuations:

While users are more empowered than ever, uncertainty remains about a) whether ratio analysis is appropriate, b) how to interpret major ratios, and c) the shortcomings of such analyses.

NVT (network value to transaction volume) has become a popular way of measuring value, and I’ve included it as part of my own regular checks based on the writings of Chris Burniske, Willy Woo, and others. However, this may be a flawed method:

..ultimately, Bitcoin price isn’t a function of its transaction count! That’s only one small variable in the entire system – other important variables include average transaction value, fees, hashrate, accumulated trust, miner concentration, developer innovation and so on. 

Thus, the relationship between transaction count and the economic activity occurring on the network is an extremely tenuous one – we will cover this in a future post.

Read the full post for more info and check out their previous posts on the trouble with data collection.

 Making investment & ownership open to all

Nick Tomaino, founder & general partner of crypto investment fund 1Confirmation, writes on how crypto can make investment and ownership truly open to everyone and how regulation from the likes of the SEC is a threat:

This could have a negative effect of giving wealthy individuals and institutions ownership of the the blockchain ecosystem, leaving the masses out of wealth creation in the industry.

In the event all tokens are determined to be securities, he suggests a possible workaround:

Another possibility is that many more founders could go the Satoshi route of being completely anonymous upon launch to allow their tokens to maintain broad accessibility and also avoid any regulatory risk. If regulators come down aggressively and say that all tokens are securities, there is a strong chance that this happens.

 Blockchain to transform digital art?

While Cryptokitties may have been mocked in some circles, there are incredible new possibilities for digital artwork stemming from ERC-721 tokens. Each token is non-fungible, giving it a uniqueness from other coins. The public ledger aspect proves both authenticity and scarcity.

Here’s an 18 minute discussion on digital art with the founders of cryptokitties, hosted by Chris Burniske, via AVC.

The talk includes discussion of the human aspect of art and how it effects value (presumably higher) compared to AI-created artwork.

Blockchain as decision maker
Prolific blogger and economist Tyler Cowen opines on how blockchain could change the world in terms of governance:
To drive the point home, a blockchain is actually a form of governance and that is what makes it such a potentially radical idea. We’ve had families, and businesses, and governments, all as methods for making decisions.  Now we have blockchains. That could be huge, but is it going to take off?
Cowen outlines a scenario for this to happen and concludes:
That all said, I have more important news yet: I am not sure this cannot happen. In fact, I give it at least a 5 percent chance of taking place in some form, even if not exactly as I have outlined.
The big ICOs are alright

2017 saw some enormous ICOs based on little more than white papers. Jeremy Epstein checks in some of the biggest ICOs, nearly 1 year later.

He looks at the Brave browser, which incorporates the Basic Attention Token, Bancor, Gnosis, Golem, all of which he finds are doing well.

While the SEC and others have been clearing out the scam projects and regulators are cooling the market a bit (which is ultimately good), we are seeing more and more of the first wave of ICOs start to deliver.

This is the lull following the frenzy of November/December of 2017 when the infrastructure and apps are getting built.

Final Thought

“I am not saying here that there is no information in big data. There is plenty of information. The problem — the central issue — is that the needle comes in an increasingly larger haystack.”

Nasim Taleb wrote that in 2013, and it feels more true today. Where will be in another five years?

 

Weekly Cycle: Calm before rapids?

Stock Market Outlook 04.30.2018

Each week, I review the market using my own set of information sources to gauge the market. While I’d prefer to be long-term investors and check the markets less frequently, I believe my skills in selecting enduring businesses for long-term success are lacking those of great investors. Instead, I use a trend following strategy with periodic checkups. A weekly outlook gives us some relief from worrying about day-to-day fluctuations, while still allowing for relative short term opportunities and trends.

Index Technical Indicator & Recent Performance Summary

Based on data and info from TradingView (Click  for 30% off a pro subscription)

  • Scoring has been updated this week to give a more granular look at each index on my list. Scoring is now based on the net count of positive and negative technical indicators signals over three time horizons (daily, weekly and monthly)
  • Volatility index (VIX) showed most movement of any on list over last week, dropping by 2.5%.
  • VNQ (Vanguard REIT ETF) performed best, though still showing negative signals on weekly and monthly basis.
  • China Tech stocks (CQQQ) up nearly 30% over past year
  • Cybersecurity ETF (HACK) has performed well over last year and gets top score on technical signals
  • VEA (developed markets ETF) slightly behind in technical signal score and shows good results over last year
  • Overall, technical signals look great on a monthly basis, good on weekly basis, and show a lot more volatility and randomness on daily basis.

stock market outlook 04.30.3018

Scores based on the cumulative total of positive and negative technical indicators signals over three time horizons on Trading View. Scores are weighted by multiplying total as follows: daily (x 1) weekly (x 2), and monthly (x 3). 

OldProf’s Risk Analysis

Each week OldProf takes a look at a variety of sources to gauge overall market risk on both a short and long-term basis. He tracks a handful of indexes, economic indicators from respected sources, and volatility indicators. His weekly updates include a discussion of events with potential to effect markets, as well as general insight. Highly recommended reading.

This week, OldProf doesn’t see much change from last week, with things largely remaining neutral in the short-term and looking bullish in the long run.

 

Short-term trading conditions remain in the neutral zone.

The long-term fundamentals and outlook are little changed. The long-term technical health is back to strongly bullish.

Similar to another article linked to below, he mentioned an article in Morningstar on the overuse of  declaring  “bubbles” in markets:

Many bubbles are proclaimed, but few arrive. The word is not useful; rather than signal something extraordinary, it has come to mean “securities I don’t like because they strike me as being too expensive.”

StockTrader Recap

StockTrader publishes a weekly Market Recap full of charts and insight on overall market trends.

This week, StockTrader says conditions have weakened on a short term basis. Despite strong earnings, markets haven’t reacted overly bullish, which may be a cause for concern. Nothing has changed in the long-term.

Earnings season remains strong – as anticipated – and while individual companies have been rewarded, it has not led to a broad rally of any sort as much of this was forecast.

Short term: A lot of consolidation at lower levels. That is a concern for bulls.

Long term: Still very positive for the “buy and never sell” crowd.

Technical Update

Hacked (subscription-only) publishes a weekly technical update on U.S. indices with a weekly analysis of the S&P 500, NASDAQ, and DJIA, as well as a general market outlook. Other posts include trade recommendations (stocks, crypto & forex markets), worldwide-market updates, ICO analysis, and much more.

This week, Hacked’s outlook is “Neutral with a bearish bias.” There’s concern that a general downward trend is possible. More info on support levels in the weekly update.

 While breaks of the intermediate-term supports are likely, outlook is not outright bearish until confirmation is received.

Short- and long-term bearish if S&P 500 and NASDAQ break their respective intermediate-term supports.

S&P 500 and NASDAQ need to hold their intermediate-term supports and break above the orange resistances for outlook to shift to bullish, at least in the short-term.

Articles of notes
Stop calling bubbles

Morgan Housel wrote a great post on the aforementioned topic on the rising trend in calling bubbles.

Since there’s no definition, anyone can classify anything they want as a bubble and no one can prove them wrong. What began as a serious topic among economists has become a job-security loophole for pundits.

Alas, he gives his own take on the true quality of a bubble:

It’s only a bubble if return prospects don’t improve after prices fall.

Canada to rise as for tech entrepreneurs

Brad Feld makes the case that Canada has a great opportunity – and even advantage over the US to rise as a home to tech entrepreneurs and startups due to immigration-policies put into place under Trump.

From a Bloomberg article on the topic:

A big reason for the shortfall is that the year-old program has been constantly under assault since the election of President Donald Trump…

…No one has been granted a visa, and Homeland Security said last year that it’s working on a plan to kill the rule entirely

Feld, as a venture capitalist, writes about his first-hand knowledge:

The Toronto/Waterloo startup community is on fire. Many companies I’m involved in are exploring offices in Canada, especially Vancouver (for the Seattle folks) and Toronto (for the east coast folks) since it’s so difficult to get work visas in the US for employees. Other entrepreneurs from around the world are simply opting to start the company in Canada rather than the US because of all the uncertainty around visa status.

There is a window in time where Canada has a massive strategic geographic advantage over the US.

Lindzon on Solar and Consumer Product Goods

Howard Lindzon, always transparent with his investments, wrote positively on solar and consumer products goods this week.

I’m noet yet familiar with this company specifically, though are long $RUN and $SEDG. He credits Charlie Bilello for the tip on First Solar.

At Stocktoberfest, my friend Charlie got a ‘perfect 10’ score for his ‘chart battle’ take on being long First Solar.

Regarding CPG, he writes about how $PG has been getting beat up due to the rise of microbrands.

Amazon does not want to kill Procter & Gamble…at least quickly. There are a lot of advertising and promotional dollars Amazon would like to extract from them marketing inside/on Amazon.

Over the next 10 years, the Company can also buy 1,000 rising microbrands and go directly to the customers themselves.

The whole CPG (Consumer Product Goods) sector is going to see explosive deal action and volatility for the forseeable future

Value of judgement to rise as a complement to AI

Coming to us via a post at Kottke.org on AI is an article at McKinsey titled The economics of artificial intelligence. Guest editor Patrick Tanguay surmises, and quotes from the original article:

The very interesting twist is here, where he mentions the trope of “data is the new oil” but instead presents judgment as the other complement which will gain in value.

“So as the value of human prediction falls, the value of human judgment goes up because AI doesn’t do judgment—it can only make predictions and then hand them off to a human to use his or her judgment to determine what to do with those predictions.

Investing in cannabis as a healthcare play

Todd Harrison and Loren DeFalco, who run CB1 Capital, makes the case for cannabis as a healthcare investment in this video from Stocktoberfest.

DeFalco, who runs CB1 Capital with Harrison, took notice in Cannabis-based products because of a seizure he had. His treatments did not help, and in certain cases worsened his health. He found real treatment in cannabinoid wellness.

 

Final Thoughts

I’ve been reading Kevin Fedarko’s book The Emerald Mile about the fastest ride ever down the Colorado through the Grand Canyon. He provides fascinating details on the history of the Canyon, including how the Canyon was formed seemingly slowly over a long period, yet most change came in short bursts.

Up through the first half of the twentieth century, most tourists who contemplated the walls of the Grand Canyon assumed that this landscape was shaped slowly and gradually over tens of millions of years. This is true, but only in the broadest sense—which is to say, by stretching the process out on the scale of deep time. In the 1950s and 1960s, however, the geologic credo was further refined and scientists began to appreciate that the steady march of geomorphic change is punctuated by catastrophic bursts: brief moments of exceptionally brutal violence in which things happen very quickly indeed. In the canyon, these bursts take the form of debris flows.

Fedarko, Kevin. The Emerald Mile: The Epic Story of the Fastest Ride in History Through the Heart of the Grand Canyon (p. 118). Scribner. Kindle Edition.

Nature’s patterns have a way of playing out in other aspects of life, including markets and technology, and this seems a fitting reminder.