Monday’s Importance to the Bulls

Written By: DragonFly Capital

The S&P 500 ($ SPY) has been holding up the best of the Indexes, and it is basically moving sideways on a longer scale. No real excitement there. But for both the doom and gloom crowd and the bullish crowd, Monday may have been a significant day in the short run. And all it takes is the most basic old school form of technical analysis. We won’t know until after the fact, a day or so, but Monday just might have been a higher low following a higher high. A trend change. The chart of SPY below shows it clearly.

spy

But it was also present in the $ DIA, $ QQQ (below) and $ IWM. Will this be the start of a turn around? We will have to wait to see but on a short term basis a high high and a higher low signals a trend change. Don’t ignore it. If it holds up and continues then everyone will be pointing to the Fed Meeting, but you will know better. If it fails then it is back to proper risk management.

qqq

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How many times do we have to pay for the same Internet service? (net neutrality)

It seems that the Federales have decided not to regulate Internet service providers with regard to “net neutrality” and carrying, e.g., Netflix streams to your house (nytimes). So now these unregulated monopolies will be able to charge us $ 50-100 per month for service and then charge us again for the same Internet service (by charging Netflix, et al., who will then turn back around and raise our subscription rates). Maybe they should save everyone a lot of trouble and just allow Comcast, Time-Warner, and Verizon to collect a 5% payroll tax on wages in exchange for … giving us whatever Internet speeds and cable channels they think would be appropriate.

Carlos Slim is presumably laughing at us right now…

Related: Thoughts on the Comcast/Time-Warner merger

 

Philip Greenspun’s Weblog

STTG Market Recap April 28, 2014

Indexes were volatile Monday, gapping up at the open, then selling off through the lunch our – taking another leg down down mid afternoon which pushed all the indexes into the red, before a late day surge led to a mixed result.  We continue to see a rotation into safety sectors such as consumer staples and utilities and away from more risk oriented parts of the market – the S&P 500 gained 0.32% while the NASDAQ fell 0.03%.   Geopolitical risk remains due to the Ukraine situation.   We have a Fed meeting in the next 2 days with expectations of another $ 10B/mo reduction in QE, and later this week we have the first pass of 1st quarter GDP, a key ISM report, and the monthly employment data.

We’ll look at charts today using Dan Zanger’s newsletter; keep in mind these charts are from Friday’s close but since he is pointing out larger trends – namely the “head and shoulders” formation in a lot of charts, it is fine to use.   A head and shoulders formation is a bearish condition marked by one peak (the left shoulder) a higher peak (the head) and then a lower peak (the right shoulder).  This obviously creates a situation where the most recent high was not higher than the previous one.   However for this formation to play out the “neckline” must break – which has not yet happened; so we are in a monitor stage to see if it does.

As we have stated Dan points out how the S&P 500 has held up much better than the more “growth type” indexes; the NASDAQ and the small cap Russell 2000.  The neckline in Dan’s examples below for charts such as the NASDAQ and Russell 2000 are the lower pink line.

spx

nasdaq

rut

Meanwhile, here is a group of very well known “momentum” type growth stocks – all have potential head and shoulders patterns; although Amazon’s has triggered.  If you remember last week, Amazon was actually up in after hours then the next day came in and punched anyone who left feeling good about that with a 10% loss!

amzn

nflx

fb

With this pattern if you start to see stocks begin to fall through their necklines en masse you have the makings for a tough summer.  Amazon shows that while Netflix and Facebook are not there yet.

Original post: STTG Market Recap April 28, 2014


Stock Trading To Go

April 25 Trap Reversal Intraday Trading Update

With today triggering a “Bull Trap” reversal outcome (at least so far), let’s take a look at our mid-day S&P 500 and Sector Breadth Update.

We’ll start with a chart of the mid-day S&P 500 and how we got to this point:

S&P 500 1-min Intraday Chart

First, be sure to brush up on this morning’s update regarding the broader Rectangle Trendlines which set the stage for this morning’s “Bull Trap” or reversal down against resistance (the re-entry under 1,870 triggered a wave of logical short-selling and long/buy liquidation).

For now, we’ll be watching the 1,865 pivot in conjunction with the 1,868 pivot which is central to our higher timefrmae chart (it’s the upper trendline).

The market is bearish (at least from that perspective) while it remains beneath 1,870.

Any intervention/rally that takes price back above 1,870 would place the market above the reference level and thus bullish (for no other reason that it would trigger a wave of stop-losses from short-term bears/sellers who entered under 1,870).

Sector Breadth is Bearish across the board (for  now):

There’s no question that Sector Breadth (broader money flow) is about as bearish as it gets today.

We see almost all Utility Sector Stocks ($ XLU) up today except one (AES is the lone-wolf if you’re interested) while all other Risk-On Offensive Sectors (like Financials) are beneath 20% for their sector breadth.

Sector strength – if we can call it that – comes from Staples ($ XLP) and Health Care ($ XLV).

With that in mind, there are still stocks trending up today despite the wave of liquidation selling:

Uptrending candidates include Tenet Healthcare (THC), Dollar General (DG), Aon (AON), and Southern Company (SO).

Our downtrending candidates (and there are certainly more than the four selected above) include Visa Inc (V), Analog Devices (ADI), Garmin Ltd (GRMN), and EOG Resources (EOG).

As always, monitor the higher frame reference levels and any surprise breakthrough back above 1,870 (which would trap the sellers today).

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Corey’s book The Complete Trading Course (Wiley Finance) is now available along with the newly released Profiting from the Life Cycle of a Stock Trend presentation (also from Wiley).


Afraid to Trade.com Blog

Top Trade Ideas for the Week of April 28, 2014: The Rest

Written By: DragonFly Capital

Here are the Rest of the Top 10:

Adobe Systems, Ticker: $ ADBE
adbe

Adobe Systems, $ ADBE, is moving lower after making a lower high. The RSI reversed at the mid line and the MACD is heading back lower after a brief rise. Look for more downside.

Ctrip.com, Ticker: $ CTRP
ctrp

Ctrip.com, $ CTRP, broke through both support and all of the SMA on Friday, ending near the low of the week. There is a ‘M’ pattern in the works and the falling RSI and MACD support it continuing lower.

Jazz Pharmaceuticals, Ticker: $ JAZZ
jazz

Jazz Pharmaceuticals, $ JAZZ, moved higher out of a base last week, only to reject at the falling 50 day SMA. The RSI also turned back lower as the MACD leveled. The red Marubozu bodes for more downside.

Johnson Controls, Ticker: $ JCI
jci

Johnson Controls, $ JCI, continued the trend lower last week, ending at a new 2 month low and below the 200 day SMA for the first time since December 2012. With the RSI and MACD both heading lower and moving into the bearish range there looks to be more downside.

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Ticker: $ REGN
regn

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, $ REGN, is heading lower in a 3 Black Crows pattern. It ended the week below the 200 day SMA on a strong red candle, boding for more downside. The RSI is falling back and the MACD has turned down and is about to cross down.

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If you like what you see sign up for more ideas and deeper analysis using the Get Premium button above. As always you can see details of individual charts and more on my StockTwits feed and on chartly.

After reviewing over 1,000 charts, I have found some good setups for the week. These were selected and should be viewed in the context of the broad Market Macro picture reviewed Friday which, as the markets close out April, sees equities are looking weak. Elsewhere look for Gold to continue higher while Crude Oil takes a breather and retreats. The US Dollar Index looks better lower while US Treasuries are biased lower in the uptrend. The Shanghai Composite and Emerging Markets both are biased to the downside in the short term with the risk of both just consolidating. Volatility looks to remain low keeping the bias higher for the equity index ETF’s SPY, IWM and QQQ, despite the moves lower. Their charts suggest that the short term will feel some more pain with the QQQ weakest followed by the IWM and then the SPY. Use this information as you prepare for the coming week and trad’em well.
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Brave New Virtual World

A friend has a lightly used Magento-based ecommerce site that delivers pages more slowly than he would like. He reported that there were only about 100,000 page views per day, i.e., an average of about one per second. I said “Are you sure that you have enough RAM to keep the database in memory?” This was not an issue that his team of developers had considered. After some digging I found out that he was paying for two servers, each with 32 GB of RAM. On these two physical machines he was running three virtual machines, one for the MySQL database management system, one for the Web server, and one for a staging server. These VMs were allocated 16 GB of RAM for each production VM and 4 GB for the staging server. In other words, he was paying for 64 GB of physical RAM but the Gods of virtualization had set things up so that his production site could not possibly use more than 32 GB of RAM. The database VM ran on a physical machine by itself, leaving 16 GB of RAM entirely idle except for whatever the hypervisor was using.

Requests for the site and server documentation were answered with “What’s documentation?” (I pointed to “Software Design Review” for examples, but still not a single document was found for a site in which at least several developer-years have been invested.)

Does virtualization really make sense for people who aren’t going to do basic design work or write down simple documents that say (1) how much data there is, (2) where the data will be stored, (3) how much memory will be required at each point where data are stored? This particular site would almost surely have run better if the people who set up MySQL had never heard of VMware.

Philip Greenspun’s Weblog

Best Practices in Trading With Dr. Brett Steenbarger

Trading psychologist Dr. Brett Steenbarger appeared on the Options Tribe for the first time to share his observations about the common characteristics of successful traders that he has known throughout his career.  Dr. Steenbarger writes daily at TraderFeed.blogspot.com, a treasure trove of trading guidance.  He has written The Psychology of Trading, Enhancing Trader Performance, and The Daily Trading Coach.

Enjoy the video!

Seth Freudberg

Director, SMB Options Training Program

The SMB Options Training Program is an eight-month program designed for novice and intermediate level options traders who are seeking Read more […]
SMB Capital – Day Trading Blog

Macro Week in Review/Preview April 18, 2014

Written By: DragonFly Capital

Last week’s review of the macro market indicators suggested, moving into the shortened Passover and pre-Easter week that the equity markets looked to continue lower. Elsewhere looked for Gold and Crude Oil to continue their moves higher. The US Dollar Index looked weak and headed lower, but with support nearby while US Treasuries might break the long consolidation to the upside. The Shanghai Composite and Emerging Markets looked strong with a chance that Emerging Markets would consolidate for a bit. Volatility looked to remain subdued keeping the bias higher for the equity index ETF’s SPY, IWM and QQQ, but it was biased to the upside and under watch. The equity index ETF’s themselves showed no signs of a reversal higher, only a continuation lower. They all still had room to major trend reversal levels but it appeared the short term direction was firmly lower.

The week played out with Gold starting higher before getting knocked back while Crude Oil made several tests higher but could not get through resistance. The US Dollar found that support and bounced while Treasuries broke to the upside but could not hold it to end the week. The Shanghai Composite pulled back to support while Emerging Markets consolidated. Volatility spiked to start the week but fell back to the recent lows to end it. The Equity Index ETF’s all found support early in the week and started back higher. What does this mean for the coming week? Lets look at some charts.

If you like what you see sign up for more ideas and deeper analysis using the Get Premium button above. As always you can see details of individual charts and more on my StockTwits feed and on chartly.)

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Dragonfly Capital

STTG Market Recap April 16, 2014

Blain here: If you have not yet taken our 30 second reader survey, we’d really appreciate your feedback. Thank you in advance.

We missed an interesting session yesterday with our quarterly survey so it is worth mentioning it today.   The market was very volatile yesterday but sometimes that can cause a shakeout of sorts when it comes at the end of a correction.  Also the NASDAQ hit a key moving average – the 200 day – which if nothing else is usually a place for momentum to reverse in the near term.  Was that the end of the correction?  Of course we never know until after the fact but creating a new low and then surging off it can sometimes signal a key reversal.  As for today, the Federal Reserve continues to try to massage the market’s nerves and Janet Yellen helped lift spirits, pushing the S&P500 up 1.05% and the NASDAQ 1.29%.

In her second public speech since taking the Fed’s helm, Yellen was careful not to predict when interest rates would rise from near zero. Instead, she stressed the decision would hinge on healing in the labor market and on how briskly inflation rises toward the Fed’s 2 percent goal.  Yellen reiterated her intention to support the recovery even as the labor market improves, with the 6.7 percent unemployment rate in March still a percentage point higher than the central bank’s projection of full employment.

Outside of Yellen there was some supportive economic data:

Economic data had U.S. manufacturing output rising for a second straight month in March, with factory production up 0.5 percent last month and overall industrial production climbing 0.7 percent, beating expectations.  The Fed’s Beige Book, a report of anecdotal information on business activity, showed that activity picked up in most regions in recent weeks.

Looking at the longer term indexes the NASDAQ chart shows you exactly why we bounced where we bounced yesterday.  It wasn’t a random event like those who don’t follow technicals might think; instead it was a perfect kiss off the 200 day moving average.  While it is too soon to call any sort of bottom for this index, clearing the downtrending line in blue would help.

nasdaq

The S&P 500 continues to be in far better shape throughout this correction.

spx

After hours we had reports tonight from both IBM (IBM) and Google (GOOG) – both are being hit in after hours as we you see below in the charts from thinkorswim by TD Ameritrade.  Hence there might be some pressure tomorrow at the open, at least in tech stocks.  That said buyers have been coming in for Google so it is well off its lows as you can see in the chart.

Google delivered quarterly earnings and revenue that fell short of analysts’ expectations on Wednesday, as ad pricing continued to weaken. The company posted first-quarter earnings excluding items of $ 6.27 per share, up from $ 6 a share in the year-earlier period. Revenue increased by 19 percent to $ 15.42 billion from $ 12.95 billion a year ago.  Analysts had expected the company to report earnings excluding items of $ 6.40 a share on $ 15.52 billion in revenue, according to a consensus estimate from Thomson Reuters.  The number of “paid clicks” climbed by 26 percent year-on-year in the first quarter, while the average “cost per click” generated from the ads dropped 9 percent from a year ago.

goog

IBM Corp reported its lowest quarterly revenue in five years as the company struggles with falling demand for its storage and server products. Total revenue fell 4 percent to $ 22.5 billion in the first quarter, below analysts’ average estimate of $ 22.91 billion.   Revenue from the hardware business, which includes servers and systems storage, plunged 23 percent to $ 2.4 billion.

ibm

 

Yahoo (YHOO) surged after the company gave a tepid revenue outlook; however revenue growth accelerated in the last quarter of 2013 for Alibaba, in which Yahoo holds a 24 percent stake.

yhoo

Intel (INTC) shares briefly hit their highest since June 2012 a day after the chipmaker posted a quarterly net profit that exceeded Wall Street’s estimates.  This was a very strong chart going into earnings – almost with no dip during the correction!

intc

 

Just a heads up – tomorrow along with a raft of earning reports comes the widely anticipated IPO of Weibo, which is the “Twitter of China”.

Original post: STTG Market Recap April 16, 2014


Stock Trading To Go

STTG Market Recap April 17, 2014

Blain here: Final reminder to take our quarterly reader satisfaction survey. Results will be posted next week. Thanks!

With markets closed for Good Friday, stocks finished off a very good week, retracting a decent portion of the losses we had seen in the previous few weeks.  The coast is still not clear thought for major risk taking – but we are seeing some rebounds in the hardest hit areas, specifically internet, biotech, and momentum stocks.  Today the S&P 500 gained 0.14% and NASDAQ 0.23% after both opened in the red with Google and IBM pressured.  Stocks came off their lows after a gauge of manufacturing activity in the Philadelphia region rose to 16.6 in April from 9.0 in March – this was ahead of expectations.  For the week, the S&P 500 added 2.7% and the NASDAQ advanced 2.4%.

The S&P 500 continues to look in better shape than the NASDAQ; with the latter index we really won’t know what new pattern it is headed for until we see it break over the blue downtrend line.

spx

nasdaq

We noted the NYSE McClellan Oscillator was in the very phase of oversold last week – today it has rallied all the way back to a positive reading.

nymo

We’ll use MarketSmith charts today to look at individual names:

Chinese microblogger Weibo made its market debut on the Nasdaq, with shares of the Twitter rival lately trading well above its initial public offering at $ 17 per share.  Here is a 5 minute chart for the name:

WB

Its parent company Sina (SINA) had a very good day after a dreadful month.

sina

In the earning sphere we had a significant drop in Chipotle Mexican Grill (CMG) but not because of a bad quarter.  Overall revenue rose 24% vs. a year earlier to $ 904.2 million, above consensus estimates for $ 873 million. It was the biggest sales gain in two years and continued a long run of double-digit increases.Chipotle’s same-store sales surged 13.4% — even better than the prior quarter’s 9.3% gain.  The stock was hurt due to a proposed price hike coming to offset rising costs:

The Denver-based burrito restaurateur will begin hiking prices in the mid-single digits by the end of the current quarter, CFO Jack Hartung said on a conference call following Chipotle’s Q1 earnings release Thursday.  However, rising costs for beef, avocados and cheese tamped down Chipotle’s Q1 earnings, which came in at $ 2.64 a share. That was up from $ 2.35 a year earlier but below views for $ 2.86. The restaurant-level operating margin fell 40 basis points from the prior year to 25.9%.

cmg

Morgan Stanley (MS) rose after the financial services company reported a rise in first-quarter earnings.

ms

General Electric (GE) posted a 12 percent rise in overall industrial profits and its stock gained.

ge

During the correction we mentioned some stocks that held in very well – one was Taiwan Semiconductor (TSM).  Usually stocks that do well during a correction have strong performances once the market stabilizes, so today we saw a nice launch.

tsm

Another name that held up well was Southwestern Energy (SWN) which likewise had nice action today.

SWN

Have a good long weekend and Happy Easter.

Original post: STTG Market Recap April 17, 2014


Stock Trading To Go

SPY Trends and Influencers April 18, 2014

Written By: DragonFly Capital

A weekly excerpt from the Macro Review analysis sent to subscribers on 10 markets and two timeframes.

Last week’s review of the macro market indicators suggested, moving into the shortened Passover and pre-Easter week that the equity markets looked to continue lower. Elsewhere looked for Gold ($ GLD) and Crude Oil ($ USO) to continue their moves higher. The US Dollar Index ($ UUP) looked weak and headed lower, but with support nearby while US Treasuries ($ TLT) might break the long consolidation to the upside. The Shanghai Composite ($ SSEC) and Emerging Markets ($ EEM) looked strong with a chance that Emerging Markets would consolidate for a bit. Volatility ($ VIX) looked to remain subdued keeping the bias higher for the equity index ETF’s $ SPY, $ IWM and $ QQQ, but it was biased to the upside and under watch. The equity index ETF’s themselves showed no signs of a reversal higher, only a continuation lower. They all still had room to major trend reversal levels but it appeared the short term direction was firmly lower.

The week played out with Gold starting higher before getting knocked back while Crude Oil made several tests higher but could not get through resistance. The US Dollar found that support and bounced while Treasuries broke to the upside but could not hold it to end the week. The Shanghai Composite pulled back to support while Emerging Markets consolidated. Volatility spiked to start the week but fell back to the recent lows to end it. The Equity Index ETF’s all found support early in the week and started back higher. What does this mean for the coming week? Lets look at some charts.

As always you can see details of individual charts and more on my StockTwits feed and on chartly.)

SPY Daily, $ SPY
spy d
SPY Weekly, $ SPY
spy w

The SPY looked ominous to start the week after a big fall ending the prior week. Monday’s long legged doji back above the 100 day SMA though was confirmed higher Tuesday and it continued up, ending the week above the 20 day SMA. It has yet to make a higher high, over the April 10th high, and will keep many at bay until then. The RSI on the daily chart moved back above the mid line but stalled Friday while the MACD is turned up but has yet to cross up to signal a buy. The price action has also traced out a bearish Shark harmonic with a Potential Reversal Zone II at 190.44. The stage is set. On the weekly chart the move takes it right back to the consolidation zone, erasing the move down from the prior week. The RSI is moving back higher after holding at the mid line, creating a RSI Positive Reversal set up that targets at least 197.30. The MACD is level but has not turned higher yet. There is resistance at 187.20 and 188 followed by 189.70. Support lower may be found at 185 and 184 followed by the 181.50 range where it held during this pullback. Continued Short Term Upward Price Action in the Long term Uptrend.

Heading into the May options cycle the equity markets are mixed. Elsewhere look for Gold to continue lower while Crude Oil continues to move up. The US Dollar Index seems ready to move sideways or pullback while US Treasuries are biased higher. The Shanghai Composite and Emerging Markets are both in consolidation mode with the Chinese market looking better lower and Emerging Markets biased to the upside. Volatility looks to remain low keeping the bias higher for the equity index ETF’s SPY, IWM and QQQ, and potentially signaling for a new all-time high to come in the S&P 500. The equity Index ETF’s themselves paint a mixed picture with all rising on the short term, but the SPY the strongest and back at the consolidation zone, while the IWM and QQQ still have a lot of work to do to remove the intermediate term downward bias. Use this information as you prepare for the coming week and trad’em well.

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Employment Litigation in Maryland

After-dinner conversation this evening with some friends from graduate school …

A friend’s wife was owed about $ 40,000 by her former employer. She and her husband approached a litigator who estimated that the matter could be handled for $ 2,500 in fees. On that basis, they agreed to sign up for litigation. The case ended 15 months later with a four-day jury trial in which she was awarded $ 40,000 in damages. Her legal fees to that point? About $ 200,000 (i.e., 80X the estimate). Fortunately, the contract under which she was suing required a person found in breach to pay the other side’s fees. The jury agreed with this interpretation and awarded her the legal fees in addition to the actual damages. All’s well that end’s well? “The judge set aside the jury’s fee award, so all I got was the $ 40,000. I could have appealed but I was exhausted by the process so we gave up.”

How did she feel about the experience? “I learned that the system only works for the lawyers.”

Philip Greenspun’s Weblog

Big Pictures: Stocks, Gold and the Miners

Ukraine war hype, China demand drop, GOFO mysteries… these are the short term noise inputs on the gold sector. US Treasury bond yield spreads, gold vs. commodities (i.e. the ‘real’ price of gold), gold vs. the stock market… these are some of the fundamental considerations that actually matter and they have taken a hit since […]
Slope of Hope

Pontius Pilate Was the First Behavioralist

Written By: DragonFly Capital

As hundreds of millions of Christians around the world begin their Easter celebrations, the markets take a day off to regroup. Today, Good Friday, is maybe the oddest market holiday but if you search hard and expand your mind there is an obvious connection. Pontius Pilate.

Pontius Pilate was a Roman prefect serving the Emperor Tiberius from the period 26-36 AD. He is best known as the Judge at the trial of Jesus and the man who authorized his crucifixion. How does that warrant a market holiday? There are many thoughts on this. Some will suggest that the Christians forced this on the exchange. That might be true. But what about the the obvious ties between Pontius Pilate and Behavioral Science.

tulipmania

You are all familiar with the Dutch Tulip Bulb Mania of the 17th century. The stratospheric rise in the cost of a tulip bulb only to crash much faster. At that time the saying went “mountain path up, fall from the cliff down”, which has evolved to “escalator up and the elevator down” in today’s markets. This action is attributed to the madness of crowds. Hysteria over a tulip bulb because everyone else wanted them. And that is how we tie the Good Friday Market Holiday to Behavioral Science. You see, Pontius Pilate was a master at understanding the crowd. Let me set the stage for you non church goers.

opnamedatum: 2006-04-18

The story goes that Jesus was arrested for sedition against Rome. He opposed paying taxes to Caesar and called himself King. Or so the charges go. He was brought to Pilate as depicted in the Rembrandt painting above. Pilate asked him if he was the King of the Jews and it seems that there was some confusion as to the answer. He may have said yes or he may have said this what they say (I’m paraphrasing). Pilate personally found him not guilty of the crime, which was punishable by death. This is where the behavioral piece clicks in. At the beginning of Anno Domini time (AD) it was a tradition of the Roman Emperor to release a prisoner at Passover. Pilate brought out two prisoners before the crowd. One was Barabbas (just the name sounds like a bad ass) a murderer and notorious criminal and the other was Jesus. He asked the crowd who he should release. Word has it that Pilate expected them to ask for Jesus but instead they asked for Barabbas and demanded that Jesus be crucified. Pilate asked the crowd “Why? What evil has he done?” The crowd just kept chanting crucify him.

What would you do with an angry crowd who are calling for justice in their own form? Pilate certainly recognized that the crowd could become an angry uncontrollable mob if they were not pleased. I was not there so I do not know for sure how it happened. But what is clear to me is that Pilate fully understood the madness of crowds a full 1600 years before the Tulip Bulb Mania. He may have truly been the first Behavioralist.

The Christian crowd will be moving forward from there this weekend and if you are one of them enjoy your Easter. If you are not then enjoy your long weekend with an extra day of planning.

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Passover Tax Day thoughts

Why is this Passover different from most others? The first day coincides with Tax Day for Americans. Jews remember the bitter hardship and forced labor of slavery in Egypt. Scholars, however, can find no evidence of modern era-style slavery (or of Jews residing in or escaping from in Egypt). As for the pyramids there are records of payments to laborers, typically farmers who had nothing else to do at certain times of year. A “slave” in ancient Egypt may simply have been a person subject to a 20% tax that free Egyptians did not pay.

[To the children at last night’s Seder I pointed out that “the plagues visited upon the Egyptians were so bad that their civilization lasted only about 2000 more years.”]

Philip Greenspun’s Weblog