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The Rest of the Story

I see a lot of people lately agonizing over what we should have done. By that I mean it's obvious to all by now that the correct move was to buy stocks back in November instead of precious metals and miners. I mean seriously, it's obvious that liquidity was going to flow into every asset class except precious metals. Well it's obvious now in hindsight anyway.

Of course everyone has conveniently forgotten how tough it was coming out of that November low.

There were ongoing concerns about the approaching fiscal cliff, not to mention a significant sell off as we approached the end of the year. Once the fiscal cliff was resolved the markets rallied violently. Of course no one was positioned ahead of the rally because there was the risk that politicians wouldn't make a deal. So the upshot was almost everyone missed the first day, and virtually no one was expecting a second day of huge gains.

So by that time the market was overbought and right up against resistance at the September highs. It's pretty tough to buy into an overbought market that is butting up against a major resistance level, so I don't think anyone could be faulted for abstaining at that point.

Once the market broke through 1475 it only took five days for it to reach the next resistance level at 1500. So if you didn't buy immediately you missed that move also.

At that point we moved into the timing band for a half cycle low. Again, probably a dangerous time to be initiating long positions.

Unfortunately the market didn't give us a half cycle low and continued higher, with two strong down days thrown in to keep traders off-balance.

It's easy in hindsight to rationalize the correct trade, but as I have just shown, tough to do in real time.

Next I'm going to show you a market progression. Imagine you are experiencing this in real time.

In August of 1990 the stock market stagnated, formed a double top, and proceeded to plunge sharply below the 200 day moving average. At this point, as we've heard many times, chartists were screaming that the market was clearly headed down.

$SPX S&P 500 Large Cap Index INDX

Imagine your emotions on that Thursday in August. Realistically, how many people would have been able to pull the trigger and buy at that point? The answer is, not many.

But buying on that Thursday, even though one's emotions were screaming sell, was the correct move.

$SPX S&P 500 Large Cap Index INDX

Or was it?

Well after two weeks the market certainly appears to be building a base for another leg higher. At this point, although almost certainly nervous, one could probably rationalize adding to positions.

$SPX S&P 500 Large Cap Index INDX

So let's see how that worked out.

$SPX S&P 500 Large Cap Index INDX

Holy crap! That was a mistake. A huge freaking mistake. Sell, sell, sell!

Whew, that was a close call.

No sooner did the market break down then we get a strong reversal candle followed by another reversal candle five days later. I have to say, it looks like we finally hit a bottom. Buy everything back.

$SPX S&P 500 Large Cap Index INDX

You've got to be kidding me! Wrong again. This is obviously a bear market, time to sell short.

$SPX S&P 500 Large Cap Index INDX

A couple of days later; Time to add to shorts.

$SPX S&P 500 Large Cap Index INDX

A week later; This sure looks like we finally made the right decision, as this is clearly a bear market, and obviously about to begin the next leg down.

$SPX S&P 500 Large Cap Index INDX

But did one really make the right decision? Remember this was a secular bull market. As Paul Harvey used to say, now let's look at the rest of the story.

$SPX S&P 500 Large Cap Index INDX

As you can see, clearly this was the buy of the century, although actually doing so and holding through that bottoming process was agonizing to say the least, or more likely virtually impossible.

So might I suggest that when the gold bull becomes too frustrating, and you're ready to give up, you come back and review that 1990 bottom.

Bull markets never make it easy. Very few traders have the determination, stamina, foresight, and focus to make it all the way through one. But the rewards for the very few that can weather every punch the bull dishes out... are huge.

 

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