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A Mystery Investor Has Made A 262 Million Dollar Bet That The Stock Market Will Crash By October July 23, 2017

One mystery trader has made an extremely large bet that the stock market is going to crash by October, and if he is right he could potentially make up to 262 million dollars on the deal.  Fortunes were made and lost during the great financial crisis of 2008, and the same thing will happen again the next time we see a major stock market crash.  But will that stock market crash take place before 2017 is over?  Without a doubt, we are in the midst of one of the largest stock market bubbles in U.S. history, and many prominent investors are loudly warning of an imminent stock market collapse.  It doesn’t take a genius to see that this stock market bubble is going to end very badly just like all of the other stock market bubbles throughout history have, but if you could know the precise timing that it will end you could set yourself up financially for the rest of your life.

I want to be very clear about the fact that I do not know what will or will not happen by the end of October.  But one mystery investor is extremely convinced that market volatility is going to increase over the next few months, and if he is correct he will make an astounding amount of money.  According to Business Insider, the following is how the trade was set up…

  • To fund it, the investor sold 262,000 VIX puts expiring in October, with a strike price of 12.
  • The trader then used those proceeds to buy a VIX 1×2 call spread, which involves buying 262,000 October contracts with a strike price of 15 and selling 524,000 October contracts with a strike price of 25.
  • For reference, bullish call spreads are used when a moderate rise in the underlying asset is expected. Traders buy call options at a specific strike price while selling the same number of calls of the same asset and expiration date at a higher strike.
  • In a perfect scenario, where the VIX hits but doesn’t exceed 25 before October expiration, the trader would see a whopping $262 million payout.

I will be watching to see what happens.  If this mystery investor is correct, it will essentially be like winning the lottery.

But just because he has made this wager does not mean that he has some special knowledge about what is going to happen.

For example, just look at what Ruffer LLP has been doing.  They are a $20 billion investment fund based in London, and they have been betting tens of millions of dollars on a stock market crash which has failed to materialize so far.  But even though they have lost so much money already, they continue to make extremely large bearish bets

As of earlier this week, Ruffer had spent $119 million this year betting on a stock market shock, $89 million of which had expired worthless, according to data compiled by Macro Risk Advisors. The investor has gradually amassed holdings of about 1 million VIX calls through three occasions so far in 2017, and each time a significant portion expired at a loss.

Blame a subdued VIX for the futility. The fear gauge was locked in a range of 10 to 14 for the first three months of 2017, and while it has since climbed to as high as 15.96, it has been stuck well below 14 since a single-day plunge of 26% nine days ago. Earlier this week, the index closed at its lowest level since February 2007.

But that doesn’t mean Ruffer is giving up. Already loaded up on May contracts, the firm has continued to buy cheap VIX calls expiring later in the year — wagers costing about 50 cents.

I can understand why Ruffer has been making these bets.  In a rational world, stocks would have already crashed long ago.

The only way that stock prices have been able to continue to rise is because of unprecedented intervention by global central banks.  They have been pumping trillions of dollars into the financial markets, and this has essentially completely destroyed normal market forces.  The following comes from David Stockman

The Fed and its crew of traveling central banks around the world have gutted honest price discovery entirely. They have turned global financial markets into outright gambling dens of unchecked speculation.

Central bank policies of massive quantitative easing (QE) and zero interest rates (ZIRP) have been sugar-coated in rhetoric about “stimulus”, “accommodation” and guiding economies toward optimal levels of inflation and full-employment.

The truth of the matter is far different. The combined $15 trillion of central bank balance sheet expansion since 2007 amounts to monetary fraud of epic proportions.

In the “bizarro world” that we are living in today, many companies are trading at prices that are more than 100 times earnings, and some companies are actually trading at prices that are more than 200 times earnings.

Stock prices have become completely and totally disconnected from economic reality.  As I discussed the other day, U.S. GDP has only risen at an average yearly rate of just 1.33 percent over the past 10 years, but meanwhile stock prices have been soaring into the stratosphere.

Nobody in their right mind can claim that makes any sense at all.  Just like in 2000, and just like in 2008, this absolutely ridiculous stock market bubble will have a horribly tragic ending as well.

Once again, I don’t know what the exact timing will be.  Stocks could start crashing tomorrow, but then the Swiss National Bank could swoop in and buy 4 million shares of Apple just like they did during the months of January, February and March earlier this year.

The biggest players in this ongoing charade are the global central banks.  If they decide to keep pumping trillions of dollars into global financial markets, they may be able to keep the bubble going for a little while longer.

But if at any point they decide to withdraw their artificial assistance, those that have placed huge bets against the market are going to make absolutely enormous piles of cash.

Michael Snyder is a Republican candidate for Congress in Idaho’s First Congressional District, and you can learn how you can get involved in the campaign on his official website. His new book entitled “Living A Life That Really Matters” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.

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Central Banks Now Own Stocks And Bonds Worth Trillions – And They Could Crash The Markets By Selling Them June 7, 2017

Have you ever wondered why stocks just seem to keep going up no matter what happens?  For years, financial markets have been behaving in ways that seem to defy any rational explanation, but once you understand the role that central banks have been playing everything begins to make sense.  In the aftermath of the great financial crisis of 2008, global central banks began to buy stocks, bonds and other financial assets in very large quantities and they haven’t stopped since.  In fact, as you will see below, global central banks are on pace to buy 3.6 trillion dollars worth of stocks and bonds this year alone.  At this point, the Swiss National Bank owns more publicly-traded shares of Facebook than Mark Zuckerberg does, and the Bank of Japan is now a top-five owner in 81 different large Japanese firms.  These global central banks are shamelessly pumping up global stock markets, but because they now have such vast holdings they could also cause a devastating global stock market crash simply by starting to sell off their portfolios.

Over the years I have often been asked about the “plunge protection team”, but the truth is that global central banks are the real “plunge protection team”.  If stocks start surging higher on any particular day for seemingly no reason, it is probably the work of a central bank.  Because they can inject billions of dollars into the markets whenever they want, that essentially allows them to “play god” and move the markets in any direction that they please.

But of course what they have done is essentially destroy the marketplace.  A “free market” for stocks basically no longer exists because of all this central bank manipulation.  I really like how Bruce Wilds made this point

One indication of just how messed up and flawed the global markets have become is reflected in the way central banks across the world are now buying stocks. This has become a part of their response to correcting the forces of past excesses. Their incursion into this bastion of the free markets signals we have entered the era where true price discovery no longer exists. The central banks are often viewed as price-insensitive buyers, so this incestuous influx of money is in some ways the ultimate distortion.

According to Business Insider, global central banks are on pace to purchase an astounding 3.6 trillion dollars in stocks and bonds in 2017.

Overall, the five largest global central banks now collectively have 14.6 trillion dollars in assets on their balance sheets.

You can call this a lot of things, but it certainly isn’t free market capitalism.

The Swiss National Bank is one of the biggest offenders.  During just the first three months of this year, it bought 17 billion dollars worth of U.S. stocks, and that brought the overall total that the Swiss National Bank is currently holding to more than $80 billion.

Have you ever wondered why shares of Apple just seem to keep going up and up and up?

Well, the Swiss National Bank bought almost 4 million shares of Apple during the months of January, February and March.

And as I mentioned above, the Swiss National Bank now owns more publicly-traded shares in Facebook than Mark Zuckerberg”

Switzerland’s central bank now owns more publicly-traded shares in Facebook than Mark Zuckerberg, part of a mushrooming stock portfolio that is likely to grow yet further.

The tech giant’s founder and CEO has other ways to control his company: Zuckerberg holds most of his stake in a different class of stock. Nevertheless this example illustrates how the Swiss National Bank has become a multi-billion-dollar equity investor due to its campaign to hold down the Swiss franc.

It is now the world’s eighth-biggest public investor, data from the Official Monetary and Financial Institutions Forum show.

But as shameless as the Swiss National Bank has been, the Bank of Japan is even worse.

Today, the Nikkei is essentially a giant sham.  The Bank of Japan regularly goes in and just starts buying up everything in sight, and according to Bloomberg they are on pace to become the largest shareholder in dozens of the most prominent Japanese corporations by the end of 2017…

Already a top-five owner of 81 companies in Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average, the BOJ is on course to become the No. 1 shareholder in 55 of those firms by the end of next year, according to estimates compiled by Bloomberg from the central bank’s exchange-traded fund holdings.

If global central banks have the power to pump up these markets, they also have the power to crash them.

Why would they want to do such a thing?

I can answer that question with just two words…

Donald Trump.

If the Comey angle doesn’t work, the elite could try to destroy Trump by engineering an absolutely devastating stock market crash.  Close to half the U.S. population dislikes Trump anyway, and so it would be fairly easy to get them to believe that Trump’s policies have caused a new financial crisis.  Of course that would be complete nonsense, but in our society today the truth often doesn’t really matter.

And without a doubt, evidence continues to mount that the real economy is starting to slow down substantially.  For example, we just learned that bankruptcies surged once again in May.  The following comes from Wolf Richter

So here we go again. Total US business bankruptcies in May rose 4.7% year-over-year to 3,572 filings, according to the American Bankruptcy Institute. That’s up 40% from May 2015 and up 10% from May 2014.

And there’s another concern: Bankruptcy filings are highly seasonal. They peak in tax season – March or April – and then fall off. The decline in April after the peak in March was within that seasonal pattern. Over the past years, filings dropped in May. But not this year.

Without unprecedented intervention by global central banks, financial markets would have crashed long ago.

And if they keep increasing their purchases of stocks and bonds, the central banks may be able to prop things up for a while longer.

Who knows?  Perhaps with enough financial engineering they would be able to keep this bubble going for years.  Of course things would start to get really awkward once they eventually owned virtually everything, but I have a feeling that things will never get that far.

I have a feeling that global central banks will eventually find an excuse to start “unwinding their balance sheets”, and I have a feeling that it will be at a time that is highly inconvenient for President Trump.

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Why Are So Many Big Investors Positioning Themselves To Make Giant Amounts Of Money If The Stock Market Crashes? June 5, 2017

I keep hearing from people that think that the stock market is going to crash by the end of the year.  Hopefully that will not happen, but the ridiculous stock prices that we are seeing right now certainly cannot last forever.  On Sunday, I was chatting with a friend that had just been to a financial conference.  He was quite surprised that one of the things being taught to the attendees of this conference was how to position themselves to make an enormous amount of money when the stock market crashes dramatically in the near future.  Markets tend to go down a lot faster than they go up, and so when the inevitable market crash does take place those that have made large bets against the market will make huge fortunes.  It happened in 2008, and it will happen again.  But it was unsettling to my friend Robert that there were so many people that were gleefully looking forward to this.

Of course some of the biggest names in the investing world are also anticipating a major downturn very soon.  I have previously written about how Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. is sitting on a pile of 86 billion dollars in cash right now.  Nobody ever knows exactly what Buffett is thinking, but it isn’t too hard to figure out that he plans to use those billions to buy up stocks for a song after a big market crash happens.

I have also previously written about many other big names throughout the financial world that are warning that a new financial crisis is imminent.  The last time I saw so many prominent investors sounding the alarm was just before the market crash of 2008, but most people didn’t listen that time around either.

And of course those that believe that a market crash is coming are doing a lot more than just talking about it.  According to Zero Hedge, there are now more short positions betting against the Russell 2000 than we have seen at any time in the last six years…

The Russell 2000 Index posted a 2.2% decline in May, its worst month since October, and it appears a large swath of investors is now betting it has further to fall.

As Bloomberg notes, hedge funds and other major speculators have a combined net short position of 73,030 contracts in the small-cap index’s futures, according to the latest data from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

Russell 2000 sentiment has sharply declined since January, when future contract positioning reached record bullishness. It’s now the most short since May 2011.

The last time investors were this short the Russell 2000, it fell by almost 30 percent.

Can we expect something similar this time?

We will just have to wait and see.

Meanwhile, there has also been a surge in the number of investors betting that we will soon see increased market volatility

As Bloomberg notes, with the VIX down more than 30% this year through the end of last week, investors have been using options to bet on volatility.

As the chart above shows, the volume of contracts wagering on a resurgence of market turmoil has reached its highest level since last February relative to those calling for a drop in price movements.

Because markets tend to go down much faster than they go up, most of those that bet on increased volatility are typically doing so because they believe that a stock market crash is coming very soon.

And it is also interesting to note that hedge funds are jumping into gold at a rate that we have not seen since 2007

Hedge funds are jumping back into gold.

Money managers boosted their long positions in U.S. futures by the most in almost a decade in the week ended May 23, Commodity Futures Trading Commission data show.

Gold is a safe haven asset, and it is a very good place to be during a major financial crisis.  So if hedge funds are anticipating that we are on the verge of a major market downturn, it would make sense for them to be piling into gold.

All of the moves that I have discussed above will end up looking quite foolish if stocks just keep going up and up and up.

But if the market crashes, those that have positioned themselves ahead of time will end up making a killing.

Today the stock market bears absolutely no resemblance to economic reality, but at some point that will change.  And with each passing day we just continue to get more bad economic news.

Yesterday, I showed that according to official U.S. government figures there are 102 million working age Americans that do not have a job right now.  Today, we got more confirmation that the U.S. economy is slowing down.  We learned that new vehicle sales fell on a year-over-year basis for the fifth month in a row in May, and we learned that factory orders and new orders for durable goods both declined last month.  And for a lot more numbers just like those, please see this article.

The U.S. economy is not “healthy” and it hasn’t been for a very long time.  Because we have shipped so many jobs overseas, manufacturing’s share of U.S. employment has fallen to an all-time record low.  The middle class is shrinking, and somewhere around two-thirds of the country is living paycheck to paycheck.  We have been able to maintain our national standard of living by going on the greatest debt binge of all time, but every additional dollar of debt that we take on makes our long-term outlook even worse.

Just because he is living in the White House does not mean that Donald Trump can automatically turn things around.  Without the help of Congress, he cannot cut taxes, repeal Obamacare, eliminate unnecessary federal agencies or implement many of the other items on his economic agenda.

And the truth is that because of the way that our system is structured, the Federal Reserve actually has much, much more power over the economy than Donald Trump does.  When the financial markets crash and we officially enter the next recession, most of the blame will be placed on Trump, but it won’t be his fault.  Instead, it will be primarily the Federal Reserve’s fault, and we need to educate the American people about this ahead of time.

What goes up must come down, and this irrational stock bubble has been living on borrowed time for quite a while now.

It isn’t going to take much to push things over the edge, and there are all sorts of candidates for what the next “trigger event” will be.

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