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October 4, 2020 | When Even the Smart Money Panics

Rick Ackerman

Rick Ackerman is the editor of Rick’s Picks, an online service geared to traders of stocks, options, index futures and commodities. His detailed trading strategies have appeared since the early 1990s in Black Box Forecasts, a newsletter he founded that originally was geared to professional option traders. Barron’s once labeled him an “intrepid trader” in a headline that alluded to his key role in solving a notorious pill-tampering case. He received a $200,000 reward when a conviction resulted, and the story was retold on TV’s FBI: The Untold Story. His professional background includes 12 years as a market maker in the pits of the Pacific Coast Exchange, three as an investigator with renowned San Francisco private eye Hal Lipset, seven as a reporter and newspaper editor, three as a columnist for the Sunday San Francisco Examiner, and two decades as a contributor to publications ranging from Barron’s to The Antiquarian Bookman to Fleet Street Letter and Utne Reader.

Wall Street kept its cool Friday on news that President Trump and Melania had contracted the virus. Investors were so cool, in fact, that one might have wondered whether even a collision between Earth and a giant asteroid would shake their confidence in the Fed’s ability to levitate shares indefinitely.  Although we might have expected the stock market to suffer devastation on a day when the nation’s leader has been stricken with a disease that has killed more than a million people, the broad averages instead faked lower, then higher, manipulated by the usual svengalis to extract maximum profits from the rubes and the panic-stricken. Their hysteria lasted less than hour after word of Trump’s contagion crossed the tape just before 1:00 a.m. In a mere 36 minutes the selloff was over: Dow index futures turned sharply following a 600-point plunge and never looked back. Shares see-sawed overnight, but in the minutes before the opening bell they reignited on a manic binge of short-covering, recouping all but 70 points of what had been lost after the news came out.

‘Mild’ Symptoms

The president’s symptoms, as well as Melania’s, reportedly were mild, but so were Boris Johnson’s initially when the British Prime Minister fell ill in April. His conditioned worsened after several days and he nearly died.  Trump has proven himself to be hardier than a Seal Rock barnacle, and perhaps that is why investors treated the news as just another buy-the-dip opportunity. But if, heaven forbid, his condition should worsen in the days ahead, the business-as-usual shenanigans and thievery we saw on Friday are going to give way to a selling panic that will shake up even the smart money.

We wish Mr. Trump and his wife a speedy and complete recovery in the meantime. If he comes back stronger than ever, perhaps with a little Zen thankfulness in his heart, he will be repeating Reagan’s crowd-pleasing recuperation after being shot and wounded by Jodie Foster fan John Hinckley in 1981.

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October 4th, 2020

Posted In: Rick's Picks

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