So the April jobs report came out this morning. The headline number was "good": over 220,000 jobs added. Wonderful! But oh by the way, last month's bad jobs report was even worse than the government said at the time, and the March number was revised downwards from 126,000 to 85,000.
Now if those 40,000+ lost jobs had been subtracted from the April number, the headline would be 180,000 jobs, far below expectations, below the key 200,000 level, and the reaction would have been increasing worries about slowing economic growth. But instead let's hide those 40,000 missing jobs in the March number, which is "old news" and which was already bad anyway, and hardly anybody seems to notice!
Even more striking is the market's reaction to the "good" April jobs report. Ok, stocks went up, that makes sense. But bonds and even gold went up too! Overall, the market reacted like a Fed rate hike had been put off, and everyone will enjoy loose monetary policy and low rates a little while longer.
Wait, doesn't a good jobs report mean the Fed should be more likely to raise rates sooner? Ah, not quite: The jobs report wasn't that good, so the Fed is unlikely to raise rates in June. That will wait at least until September.
But wait, didn't the market already believe a June rate hike was unlikely? In fact, didn't Treasury yield futures already indicate the market doesn't expect a rate increase until December? Guess what, doesn't matter. Today the market is even MORE certain there won't be a JUNE rate hike, and today that is all that matters.
The market reaction is so incredibly short-sighted, Dr. Strangemarket calls it "Die Another Quarter". Right now everyone is chasing this quarter's returns and this quarter's returns only. So the market is only looking at June. Wait, wouldn't a September rate hike reverse all of this quarter's gains and more? Doesn't matter to this market. Squeeze out a few more percentage points this quarter, and worry about September later. Sell stocks and take profits when the May, June, July and August jobs reports indicate the rate hike is finally about to hit.
But is everyone is thinking that same thing, who will buy when everyone decides it's time to sell? This is what market crashes are made of. Dr. Strangemarket reminds you: your stop-losses will not save you if no buyer can be found at your stop-loss price during a rapid market decline. Ask forex traders who were short the Swiss franc in January how their stop-losses worked out for them when Switzerland de-linked the franc from the euro.
Finally, in light of today's market moves, Dr. Strangemarket has an idea for an extreme contrarian bet: What if the Fed decides the best way to begin raising rates is to surprise everyone and make the first move in June now that almost nobody is expecting it? Yellen just warned that the stock market appears overvalued, after all. The Fed doves will be alarmed, but if Yellen lines up with the Fed hawks...I'm just sayin'.
The way to play a bet on this move is to wait until the week before or the day before the June Fed meeting, and buy up some dirt-cheap S&P 500 (SPY) June put options, which expire two days after the Fed meeting. With so little time on them, and so little expectation of a rate hike, those options will be VERY cheap. The mainstream discussion will just be about what kind of guidance or hints the Fed will give about September and beyond. An actual June hike will roil the stock market, and those puts could produce a very big payoff in a very short amount of time.
Hey, it's just an idea. You even have a month to think about it. Do your own research and decide for yourself. Don't risk too much money on an outside shot like this one. An option is like a bet. Only bet what you can afford to lose. Stay safe out there.
If you want access to more ideas like this one, subscribe to the Dr. Strangemarket newsletter! Now only $99 for a 1-year subscription and this Special Report:
To activate your subscription, order the Special Report, and then submit your email address and the first word on page 7 of the Special Report in the Subject line in the form below: