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The Tax Bill Comes Due

Finally, investors were reminded of the fact that stocks don’t rise in value every day like a sinecure.

We even witnessed a rare $250 point drawdown in the Dow Average. In 2017, these have become as rare as hen’s teeth.

You can thank the Republican Party’s proposal to delay all corporate tax cuts to 2019 for that one.

The closely watched average has not seen a 3% correction in a torrid 370 days, a record.

In the meantime, concentration is increasing to perilous extremes, never a healthy development.

NVIDIA (NVDA), my top market pick for this year, is up 680% in 18 months, making it one of the largest stocks in the market, compared to 37.64% for the Dow Average.

By the way, I hope you have since deservedly fired all those newsletters who were bearish 18 months ago.

As good as 2017 has been, even IT will come to an end.

After earnings, the tax reform bill being mooted by Congress has become the sole driver of share prices.

That has made life miserable for strategists such as myself, as trial balloons are floated one day, only to be shot down the next.

For a start, the bill is misnamed as a tax cut, as almost everyone I know will pay higher taxes, and I’m talking acquaintances in all 50 states.

The bill would cost me $100,000 personally, as I own a lot of real estate. The hit promises to heavily influence my vote in the next election.

Vastly complicating matters is the fact that the House and the Senate bills are wildly conflicting on basic issues, meaning that reconciliation is going to be impossible.

In the end, it may be a lot of fuss over nothing.

The bill that makes it to the president’s desk for signing will be determined by the most liberal Republican member of the Senate, which at this point is either Maine’s Susan Collins and Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski.

And at this point, Collins has confirmed that she won't vote for ANY bill without public hearings, and certainly WON’T vote for the elimination of the estate (death) tax.

In the end, it may be the erstwhile voters of Alabama who decide the matter.

They vote for a new Senator on December 12, and due to unforeseen circumstances, the Democratic candidate has suddenly shot to a 46% to 42% lead.

However, the margin of error is 4.1%. So once again, we are forced to bet on an event on where we have absolutely no idea of the outcome.

And you wanted to work in show business?

If this is all the bull market has to hang on, it could be in trouble.

It is this conclusion that prompted me to add my first short positions in stocks in many months.

In particular, I sold the Russell 2000 (IWM), which actually has only 1,700 stocks left after mergers, bankruptcies, and private equity buyouts.

This is the index you love to hate in falling markets because of the fragility of smaller companies during times of economic uncertainty.

Of course, my big trade of the week, if not the year, was my recommendation to buy the March 2018 $123-$125 vertical bear put spread LEAP.

Two days later saw the sharpest bond market selloff of the year, nearly two full points.

Those who got in at the $0.80 Wednesday low saw an eye-popping 69.50% return on capital by the Friday close.

It’s another example of how the harder I work, the luckier I get.

Did Christmas come early for me?

I bought the exchange position limit maximum of 2,000 contracts with an average cost of $0.90, meaning that coined $50,000 in two days to cover my coming Christmas shopping bills (front row seats for Hamilton in Chicago, etc.).

Oops, looks like I am going to have to save some for a higher tax bill for 2018 as well.

The third quarter earnings are now winding down to a close, but we still have a few biggies in the coming week.

Troubled General Electric (GE), Wal-Mart (WMT), Home Depot (HD), and Bank of America (BAC) are all reporting.

On Monday, November 13, there is no economic data of any import.

On Tuesday, November 14 at 6:00 AM EST we get a new NFIB Small Business Optimism Index, which is based on a questionnaire of only 10 common business outlook questions.

On Wednesday, November 15, at 7:00 AM EST we obtain MBA Mortgage Applications, which should tail off, given the recent sharp rise in interest rates.

The weekly EIA Petroleum Status Report is out at 10:30 AM.

Thursday, November 16 at 8:30 AM EST we learn the Weekly Jobless Claims, which have been plumbing new 43 year lows.

On Friday, November 17 at 1:00 PM, we receive the Baker-Hughes Rig Count, which lately has been rolling over.

As for me, I’ll be personally trying to reinvigorate the economy of Napa Valley by engaging in some high-end wine tasting.

The community lost the entire month of October, normally their busiest of the year, and they are trying to get locals to fill the gap left by out-of-state cancellations. Layoffs are now rampant.

I’ll also be helping relatives sift through the wreckage to salvage what few mementos they can.


I Call Them As I See Them

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