[CNBCfix Fast Money Review archive: March 2009 and previous]

[Tuesday, March 31, 2009]

Fast Money Review: Did
Ratigan exit stun CNBC brass?

Three days sans Dylan Ratigan, and virtually nothing about "Fast Money" has changed.

This tells us at least 1 of 3 things is true:

1. Melissa Lee will not be permanent host.
2. The show is eventually going to be shelved.
3. CNBC brass was completely caught off guard by Ratigan's departure.

Tim Seymour called Tuesday "a very artificial day" in terms of market action. Hadn't heard that one before. Cool term.

Guy Adami, who just a few days ago (see below) was repeatedly telling us S&P 900 is coming, also didn't believe the rally. "I still say we have to make a run at 740 on the downside. Today threw me a big curveball. ... I still think we move lower."

Seymour implicitly agreed with Adami that there might've been window-dressing occurring, questioning what would cause the banks to rally, citing negative reports from John Mack and others. "HSBC said we're only 40 percent through the deleveraging," he said.

Pete Najarian pointed to the VIX's status over 40 as a reason to be careful. "It's not fear, folks, it's all about uncertainty," he said.

Jeff Macke made a strange comment about the S&P 800 mark; we couldn't figure out the crux of it, except he seeemed disheartened that the final close was lower. (To be honest, given what we've heard on "Fast Money" for the last month or two, we're kind of of the opinion that the technicals spouted on the show are nonsense, that all the statements like "if it closes below so and so, look out" are a joke, that they just keep inventing new stages of "support" and "resistance" as they happen, like it's a ouija board.)

Macke, though, had us roaring by reaching into the famed "Fast Money" cliche grab bag for this old favorite: "Google has one killer application, and a bunch of garbage."

Addison Armstrong basically made another goofy technical prediction with oil; if June stays above $50, then it'll trade between $50 and $55, and if it trades below $50, then it'll move to $45.


Armstrong, to his credit, did make an interesting call on nat gas, suggesting a "2 handle" on a cooler summer.

Jon Najarian brought up some specialty retailers, lululemon, American Eagle and Hot Topic. Sure, they've gone up maybe 100% in some cases, but they're still great investments because they're so far off the highs.

Seymour did a fine short presentation on more emerging markets stocks, but qualified each recommendation with "they've had a great run." In other words, had to do a canned segment, but probably don't buy these right now.

[Monday, March 30, 2009]

Fast Money Review: Adami
suggests Geithner was inaccurate

Dylan Ratigan is apparently gone. Now CNBC has a chance to hit the jackpot with someone else, perhaps Charles Gasparino and David Faber.

But more on that below.

"Fast Money" is now theater of the absurd, and if Monday's show is a harbinger, CNBCfix might soon be shelving its daily review as it did for Jim Cramer's "Mad Money."

What must headline today's show is the "introduction" — using the term loosely — by Guy Adami of Mel Lee as the presumed interim host. "Clearly you noticed some changes here on the set, but as a show and as a network, we'd just like to wish Melissa Lee, The Emissary, all the best as she now takes the center seat here on 'Fast Money'," Adami said during an awkward break before the first commercial.

But that little vague intro didn't surprise us in the slightest.

This comment by Adami surprised, and disappointed, us:

"I still think we now make a move toward 741 in the S&P, test that, what was resistance is now support," he said. "That should be support, and we'll see what happens when we get there."

"I still think" ...? What IS he talking about??? CNBCfix thought it was bad enough when Jon Najarian, a pundit we respect, misstated his own gold recommendation (see a couple weeks below) and also misstated it as "working." To hear Adami, another respected trader and longtime conscience of "Fast Money," suddenly claim he "still" thinks the S&P is going to 741, just days after repeatedly insisting "I still think we're going to 900," is borderline media fraud.

We define "media fraud" in this case as declaring you said something that you didn't actually say — or in Adami's case, said just the opposite.

Oh, but a few moments later, there was a clarification, perhaps a producer reminding him what readers of CNBCfix know — that he hasn't predicted 741 for weeks and was regularly pounding the table in the opposite direction as recently as last week.

"I do think we're in a short-term bull market within this terrible downturn that we've seen, so if we test that 741 level and hold, yes, I believe 900's still attainable, I was wrong, I thought we would get there before testing 741. All right, so we test it first then take another shot."

So in the span of a week, he's now predicted the S&P is going to both 900 and 741, is assuming it will reach 741 again soon, perhaps Thursday (according to later statements on today's show), and then make a run at 900 again, so whichever number finally comes through, he can claim he's right.


A prediction flip is one thing. Traders sounded amazed that the market could fall so far at least partly on Tim Geithner's banking bailout comments. In other words, when stocks go up, which has ridiculously been the case the last few weeks, it's based on real trading technicals and various improvements in the global economy that bad news is decelerating, but when stocks go down, it's the market overreacting to already known news.

Isn't Jeff Macke the guy who always says, trade the market you've got, not the one you want?

This is the specific quote from Geithner, per Bloomberg, cited by Melissa Lee Monday as causing distress in financials: "Some banks are going to need some large amounts of assistance."

Adami, incredibly, suggested the market reaction might've been not based on news, but on poor terminology used by Geithner. " 'Large amounts,' I mean, think about the number of banks there are out there, he probably used the wrong language, he's still trying to feel his way around the position, frankly. His communication skills are lousy, they'll get better. Probably should've used a different term, doesn't matter ... I think the market was looking for a reason to sell and they took it from him," Adami said.

So Adami is either suggesting the U.S. Treasury secretary is bungling facts — there are not a "large number" of banks in need — and is responsible for making the markets fall more than they should ... or that the secretary was not wrong but should use terminology that Wall Street tends to like better — which sounds to us something like manipulating the markets.

Either Geithner's a dope who can't even correctly tell a national TV audience the amount of banks in trouble ... or he should be stretching the truth to manipulate markets. That's quite a recommendation.

And we're told this is the greatest financial crisis since the Great Depression, so in Adami's world we should be happy to have a guy running the Treasury during these times who 1) didn't pay all of his taxes and 2) "his communication skills are lousy."

But "they'll get better," so be glad.

Karen Finerman had a fantastic tirade against CHK CEO Aubrey McClendon, who we always thought was a fine CEO. However, we've been sick of hearing Pete Najarian recommend CHK trades since October, when the stock basically stinks, and now we know that the board seems more interested in compensating McClendon than improving shareholder value. We got a chuckle out of the soapbox icon that popped up and danced around the screen while Karen talked.

CNBCfix wishes Mel Lee all the best. Really, we do. Sure, she looked great in her black outfit today. But "Fast Money" is clearly doomed. There is a small base audience that will watch CNBC throughout the business day, but everything else is personality-driven. Ratigan, Jim Cramer, Larry Kudlow, Maria Bartiromo and Charlie Gasparino have something to say and they do it with panache and people watch it. Others like Michelle Caruso-Cabrera and Joe Kernen and Mark Haines hold their own.

Lee's "Fast Money," acceptable for short-term Ratigan absences, is a long-term disaster. She follows a script, isn't in synch even though she knows what the traders like and dislike, runs a flat show, and even has pockets of dead air such as what occurred briefly with Brad Hintz in the early part of Monday's show.

"Fast Money" was a great idea when Ratigan was still emerging, there was no Fox Business and America was enjoying a years-long bull market. The relevance of "Fast Money" has dwindled with the Dow in the last year, too many lightweight subs have been summoned; it's become an entourage show that peaked probably in 2007 and really has only been interesting in the last six months because of Ratigan's bank tirades.

It's not like the old "Kudlow & Cramer," where both personalities could carry a show and later proved it. The only "Fast Money" star with a long-term TV future is Ratigan. Jeff Macke would be great in any ensemble, perhaps something like "Power Lunch," or maybe a reinvigorated Larry Kudlow program, but can't do what Jim Cramer does. Mel Lee has been lapped by other CNBC faces for better guest hosting gigs and "Fast Money" clearly isn't her style.

CNBCfix predicts the show, sponsored by Charles Schwab, will probably be retooled in a couple weeks, just to prove it's not Ratigan's old thing, they'll do things that Susan Krakower and John Melloy wanted to do that Ratigan resisted (whatever those might be), and then it'll fade over a couple months as the viewership lags, then the sponsorship. Certainly Charles Schwab people must've been in contact with Mark Hoffman and Krakower as soon as they heard the Ratigan news.

Once the plug is pulled, we've got a great idea:

CNBCfix thinks a show teaming Gasparino and perhaps David Faber, or perhaps a woman reporter, to talk about Wall Street rumors and scoops for an hour would be a great show. Few people can deliver an hourlong TV show that's interesting and that makes news. Gasparino is the most promising CNBC face that hasn't had the chance yet.

Such a show might fit at 7 p.m., if CNBC instead opts to move Kudlow back into the 5 p.m. Eastern slot. Who knows, maybe the network takes a gamble and gives Macke or even Rick Santelli (who appears to be an embarrassing lightweight as a national figure) a shot.

Anyway, for the time being, CNBCfix will keep an eye on "Fast Money," try to issue a daily review (provided it's worth the time), while keeping our eye out for the next big CNBC thing.

[Friday, March 27, 2009]

Fast Money Review: Lee, panel
silent on Ratigan’s departure

If you're Melissa Lee, this is what you get the big bucks for.

Lee was summoned to pinch hit for Dylan Ratigan Friday — we don't know when she was told — after Ratigan famously quit CNBC overnight.

Lee rushed right into the show opening with nary a mention of why she was hosting, and traders sounded like they were forced to talk about stock market things they had no interest in discussing today (and are no doubt wondering about their own future as well as the show's), but were pros about it.

We're sympathetic, actually. Sometimes, it's hard for the media to cover itself, and an earthquake news story such as this would be one such situation.

While the opening of the show lacked the usual yuks, zingers and one-liners, eventually the panelists fell back into trader-speak mode and had some of their typical fun.

Mostly, they suggested the market's a bit tired, and not many reasons to get long right now.

"Today was the lowest-volume day of the entire month," Lee said.

At least one person though said something startling. That would be chart guru Carter Worth.

"The absolute start of the bear market, that's January 2008," he said.

And of course this is "absolute" official terminology. For example the bear market "absolutely" could not have started in November 2007, when the Dow tumbled more than a thousand points.

If Worth described the beginning of the bear market as November 2007, that would wipe out his chart presentation showing consumer discretionary stocks regularly outperforming.

We continue to monitor the hyper-bullish prediction by Guy Adami of S&P 900, first it was maybe going to be Friday the 20th, then it was maybe going to be Friday the 27th, or maybe early the week after.

Incredibly, it was Jon Najarian of all people who tried to squelch it — although note he cut Adami more slack than even Adami gave himself, attributing the prediction to "under the right circumstances":

"Broader market, 8000's gonna be a real pain in the backside for the bulls," Najarian said. "I mean I think we get up to there; I know you think we can trade up to 900 even, Guy, under the right circumstances; I agree with you, but I think there will be so much selling as we get close to that..."

Well, given that we're already "close to that," he must be short-term bearish, despite not saying it.

Melissa Lee described Whitney Tilson as a "prophet" of bank stocks. She must not've run that one by Zach Karabell, who famously said on "Fast Money" a week or two ago that people who make one good call on the markets never make the follow-up call correctly.

Tilson said Wells Fargo is a "pretty attractive risk-reward." He said all the government cash is "sorta working," and that he sees value in American Express.

Perhaps the Ratigan news is the reason Apple fan Gene Munster was incredibly subdued, struggling to make any connection with Lee. He too found the market tired, specifically for tech. "Well we think it's probably gonna take a pause here ... (tech has moved) a little bit too far too fast."

"Gold is gonna be 2000 before the end of 2015," Tim Seymour said.

Noteworthy: The "Pops & Drops" segment did not include a "drop" for Dylan Ratigan.

[Thursday, March 26, 2009]

Fast Money Review: Yardeni
claims S&P 943 within weeks

Ed Yardeni is one of the endless string of CNBC guests to declare a bottom two weeks after the worst low. "I think the S&P will be unchanged, in other words, back to 943, which is where it was January 6, probably within the next few weeks."

Wow. If someone is buying stocks in a few weeks with the S&P at 943 — a 41% gain in the index in barely a month — we can't fathom what type of return they might expect. Another 10%? Another 20%? Break even but avoid the boredom of Treasuries?

Yardeni claimed the next big rally-causer will be the FASB dropping mark-to-market April 6. We're not pros, but we're highly certain, if people are basing stock decisions on this, it's already priced in. Yardeni, like Barton Biggs (who spoke recently on Bloomberg with a 50% pronouncement) and Guy Adami (every day, an S&P 900 prediction by "Friday," or the next Friday, etc.) will be kept accountable on this site.

Tim Seymour declared in a discussion about materials and miners, specifically BHP, "This rally is not over yet." Jeff Macke gushed about Potash, and Najarian also trumpeted the ag sector.

Richard Repetto delivered a nice little segment on brokers. Honestly, we don't really trust his picks, as this site doesn't believe the economy and market have truly bottomed and isn't convinced the two-week buying will persist, but he did make some interesting arguments about Schwab and Ameritrade, saying of retail investors, "they're back in the market."

Karen Finerman beautifully outlined the situation involving commercial real estate. This is a summary of points she makes every week or so, but very well illustrated in a five-point chart. Rents are lower, vacancies are up, capital is more expensive, dividends are getting pulverized, and the credit markets seem to be well ahead of the equities in pricing all of this in.

[Wednesday, March 25, 2009]

Fast Money Review: Market
won’t take breather, we will

Dylan Ratigan spent a compact segment asking first analyst Heather Bellini, then his panelists, if they are impressed by February housing numbers improving over January, when that is typically what happens, when in this case the values were down 18%, and when the total sold over February 2008 was a massive drop. Adami continues to giggle that the rate of things going bad is slowing. But the others mostly agreed with Ratigan, that the market is so euphoric now, it somehow treated this troubling report as good news.

Something that seems a constant on CNBC is the trigger-happiness of so many pundits to declare a bottom. Three weeks ago, we were at a 12-year market low, but last week Dennis Gartman of all people assured us (in a very strange way of phrasing that we still don't understand) the lows are behind us and not even worth questioning, at least for the time being, we gather. It reminded us of August 2007, when Eric Bolling and others declared a bottom after a tumultuous week mid-month, and he/they were right, but only for about two months. We've missed Dennis Kneale and "Power Lunch" for a few days, but no doubt he's predicting something like GDP 4.3%, Dow 10,500, oil $75 by year-end, etc.

Barton Biggs — the "legend" who famously appeared on "Fast Money" in 2007, either Oct. 31 or perhaps early November, we can't recall exactly, and first chided Dylan Ratigan for calling him "Mr. Biggs" and then proceeded to predict a "stampede" to buy stocks right near what's proved to be the all-time high — was heard on Bloomberg a day ago declaring this current stock surge will ultimately be a 30-50% rise in the S&P.

OK. Too much written about this show already. Mark Zandi kind of put viewers to sleep on yet another segment on Geithner. Bellini? Very articulate, very attractive analyst who should become a regular guest on "Fast Money."

[Tuesday, March 24, 2009]

Fast Money Review: K-Fine won’t
say if Golub likes bailout

Mark Mahaney really made some interesting, albeit sober, points about technology. He said some tech companies like Amazon and Google are doing things less poorly than others now and are long-term winners, and — most interestingly — suggested, with Finerman's question, that bookstores like Barnes & Noble and Border's could be put out of business by Kindle-type products (and the competitor coming from Apple).

Pete Najarian made another mildly interesting, though repetitive, case for BX and FIG. Seymour's disclosure shows he's long BX.

A segment with investor Jonathan Finger suing over the BAC-Merrill deal was as useless as the suit seems, a waste of time, even though Finger might have facts and even the law on his side.

Dan Clifton talked about President Obama, we're not really sure what about, because it put us to sleep.

Evidently, either Tim Seymour or Guy Adami got tossed by a security guard from an Allman Brothers reunion concert last night. (We think, given the banter, it was Adami.) Seymour called it the band's "48th anniversary" — wrong, it's the 40th. They traditionally play the Beacon in the spring, presently in a 15-night run.

[Monday, March 23, 2009]

Fast Money Review: No one
as giddy as Jeff Macke

It's rare to find Jeff Macke the most bullish "Fast Money" trader on the block.

But that was the case Monday.

Macke's endorsement of the rally is not surprising — it seems completely technical, and he more than any of the panelists has been advocating trading technicals and nothing more.

He mentioned a couple times during the day, including in the afternoon "Final Call" segment, that he doesn't believe in "triple tops" or "triple bottoms," and thus when the 805 level held (later he said something about "800"), he basically urged long investors to keep going.

While Karen Finerman and Pete Najarian both seemed unsure of themselves in this market, Macke was surfing the wave of bullishness like Lance in "Apocalypse Now." But it was up to Guy Adami to revert to an endpoint prediction.

"I believe we still go to 900," Adami said. "By the end of this week or early next week."

Some who regularly read this column might wonder if we owe Jeff DeGraaf an apology. Well, we think his "chartology" is bogus.

But yes, so far he has been accurate in calling for a huge bear market rally.

In fact, even if it crumbles from here, still a pretty good call on his part.

We may think it's bogus, but it's still better than Carter Worth.

Tech analyst Jim Suva gushed about GLW, then so did Guy Adami, who mentioned (twice) that Goldman blundered with its handling of HPQ on its "conviction buy" list. (He's made that point about, oh, three times before.)

[Friday, March 20, 2009]

Fast Money Review: Macke calls
Congress’ actions ‘anti-American’

It was one and done for DR.

Dylan Ratigan was sick just about all week, returned on Thursday but obviously not 100% — despite delivering one of the greatest "Fast Money" hours of all time (see below). Suddenly he's off again Friday. We heard Bob Pisani say Ratigan has the day off, but we think maybe he just wasn't ready to return yesterday.

So back to MLee we go.

Joe Terranova, asked if the early-week rally was over, opened Friday's show with a sudden about-face on his bold "S&P to 825 then to 900" prediction (see below). "I don't know if it's over, it becomes technical now, gotta hold the 740 area, that's your support area."

Terranova claimed Ben Bernanke's comments this week fueled the rise (which, again, he claimed would take us to 900, now says we've got to watch 740), but because of Congress' interest in AIG, "We've now cast uncertainty."

But a more interesting comment came from Jeff Macke, who with Pete Najarian pointed to the 800 level on the S&P as a clear top, saying the approach to 800 was a "great signal it was time to purge your gains ... an obvious key resistance point."

To the staunch agreement of Macke, bank analyst Paul Miller said the AIG outcry is going to be bad for the next stimulus package and the government is sending a terrible message by targeting bonuses and contracts. "Losses are going to accelerate," and "I don't think it's over at all for the financials," Miller said.

Congress is "cherry-picking" financial legislation to look good in the next election cycle. He is "appalled, disgusted," and calls these tactics "anti-American" and significantly troublesome for financials.

M&A expert Howard Lanser of Baird said he thinks the M&A market is probably bottoming, but caution is still needed. The possible Sun Microsystems acquisition is a good sign. "When IBM does something, everybody takes notice." What really cracked us up though was his comment about the Pfizer-Wyeth deal that seemed to come straight from our favorite movie, "Wall Street" (read the most in-depth review of "Wall Street" here). Lanser said "30 banks lined up" for the acquisition.

(Those of you who like "Wall Street" know what the line "30 banks" means.)

[Thursday, March 19, 2009]

Fast Money Review: Can Geithner
hang on as Treasury chief?

First, welcome back, Dylan Ratigan. He returned to "Fast Money" with something of an edge. He said he left last week expecting a vacation, then got sick.

And he sounds like he might be a bit under the weather, so that's OK. He cut off people and restated questions in every segment Thursday. (It was odd to hear the standard CNBC promotional voice doing the "Trader Radar" commercial break halfway through the show.)

Ratigan though seemed whipped into a frenzy Thursday — and we're guessing the culprit was the recent Fed meeting and market rally.

We think he's got a helluva point — there remains all kinds of talk from the White House, Congress, Fed, other central banks, etc., on ideas to get through this financial situation that amount to not much more than "gaming" (Ratigan's word) the system — and as a result, putting the dollar at serious "risk," according to Ratigan.

Josh Rosner was on set to discuss the government's mortgage ideas. Rosner sounded in harmony with Ratigan, who even attacked a question from Tim Seymour about how people can be kept in their homes.

"Right now we're playing a game of financial gamesmanship, it's like the world's largest Ponzi scheme," Ratigan said, suggesting the question being asked by too many is "How can I game the system so I can stay in my house this month?" rather than how do we get back to a system where value is purchased for value.

Basically Rosner and the panel agreed with him but quietly asserted there is value in keeping people in their homes.

We mildly agree with that, but to echo Ratigan, if we'd just let this crisis bottom, then it will bottom, we'll all get over it quicker, and return real value to our financial system sooner rather than later, as Ratigan would say.

A startling question from Ratigan: "Is Goldman Sachs only viable because we bailed out AIG?" Pete Najarian answered: "No."

Then, probably more significant, but it came at the end of the show and was not as explosive, was talk with Steve Liesman about Tim Geithner's role in the AIG bonuses, and more importantly, whether Geithner will keep his job and how the markets will react to his problems or potential resignation.

Tim Seymour said it would be bad for markets. Jeff Macke said the markets have priced in zero credibility from Geithner and it doesn't matter.

Pete Najarian cracked us up big time with a stray comment on Geithner. At one point Ratigan, who is not a fan of Geithner, said the Treasury boss now has "got himself in very deep at this point."

Pete showed he's been hitting a matinee or two: "The opposite of Benjamin Button, this guy's aging by the second."

(Of course, the line would be better if he had stopped at the comma. He overexplained it.)

Liesman, before his cell phone obviously faded out, actually told of how the administration was recently comparing Geithner to Alexander Hamilton.

OK. Moving on. Rebecca Patterson of JPMorgan was on the show to discuss the dollar with quite an interesting viewpoint. "More often than not, when we've had inflation in the U.S., the dollar has benefitted." As for investing in the dollar, "I'd buy it back. I think the dollar is oversold," she said.

What also caught the attention of CNBCfix Thursday was analyst Matt Kelley on the long-awaited GE meeting that was announced a couple weeks ago by CFO Keith Sherin.

Recall that Sherin's main point two weeks ago in his "Squawk Box" interview was that the company has to do a better job of communicating with the Street.

According to Kelley, GE attempted to accomplish this goal by moving "to a range of expectations" instead of offering "specific guidance" as in the past. While that is a common practice in this environment and acceptable in its own right, it hardly seems like a better job of "communicating."

For example, to insist in late January that a dividend is safe, reiterate that view in early February, then cut the dividend in late February is also a way of giving guidance in the form of a "range of expectations."

Kelley said, after a number of edgy, specifics-driven follow-up questions from Ratigan that he was equally or more comfortable with GE's position after the meeting, but nevertheless, said there's "still a pretty big leverage multiple compared to U.S. financials in particular" on GE Capital.

Lot of good stuff to chew on in this show.

[Wednesday, March 18, 2009]

Fast Money Review: Gartman says
lows made ‘some time ago’

Melissa Lee mentioned at the opening that Dylan Ratigan is apparently ill, accounting for his extended absence.

So MLee will get more time to polish her game, and by the time she gets there DR will probably be back.

Dennis Gartman said cryptically, "I think you saw the worst for the stock market quite some while ago; it was just a matter of whether we would go down and test those lows and get even close to them. ... Have we seen the lows? That's not even a question."

Huh? We don't know what he's talking about. "Quite some time ago?" The S&P 500 was at 667 just two weeks ago, something like a 12-year low. When he says "get even close to them," what is he talking about? 1932?

It might be that Gartman is referring to commodities or something that might've been hammered into submission in 2008.

But it didn't make any sense here.

Sean Egan, a credit analyst, somehow got disconnected, and when they got it hooked up, it wasn't much of a segment anyway.

Adami closed the show with a sad note and poignant tribute. Bennet Sedacca of the Minyanville Web site community has died. This writer did not know Sedacca but expresses condolences to his family and friends.

[Tuesday, March 17, 2009]

Fast Money Review: Cliggott
tries to douse the 900 fever

Guy Adami practically plowed into MLee Tuesday with another massive bull proclamation.

Lee, starting with the day's rally, asked "America wants to know if it's for real."

"It's for real ... I think it's going to 900, I thought it was gonna happen by St. Patrick's Day (but) ... might happen before the end of the week."

"Guy is right, this rally is for real, and no one believes it," said Joe Terranova.

(Other than the first two people to speak on "Fast Money.")

Jeff Macke threw a bit of cold water, but not with typical vigor, saying people should be lightening up, selling these rips, buying on the dips.

(Macke, a 1991 Dartmouth grad, also dumped on Obama adviser Larry Summers, saying mockingly that what the market needed was "really aggressive condescension from a Harvard guy.")

Doug Cliggott made about as good of a case for a bear market as CNBCfix hears on CNBC (or reads elsewhere on the Web.

Keep in mind, this writer is long SKF — Jim Cramer's least favorite stock, which he says is responsible for ruining bank stocks. (Perhaps it's the cause of TheStreet.com trading below $2 and its CEO resigning too.)

Cliggott put things as simply as possible — the market is pricing in higher earnings in the S&P 500 than will actually happen.

Hey, we want the economy to rally as much as the next CNBC/media Web critic.

But we also want to take market positions that make sense, even if that means bearish ones.

MLee looked great again, this time in her maroon outfit, but will have to go to great lengths to top her appearance Monday.

[Monday, March 16, 2009]

Fast Money Review: MLee looks
great, but Macke saves show

CNBCfix does not know John Melloy. But CNBCfix does know that John Melloy is the senior editorial producer of "Fast Money."

And thus CNBCfix must ask John Melloy why in the world he continues to put Bill Seidman on a show called "Fast Money"?

Yes, we know Bill is some sort of CNBC contributing legend. Yeah, we've heard the spiel far too many times in the last year. "The Fed needs to stabilize the banking system" ... "unthaw the credit markets" ... "What we did in 1990 was" etc.

Might we ever get a stock idea from the guy?

"I can't predict the stock market, that's you gentlemen," Bill told the panel Monday.


It was great to see Jeff Macke back, and in fine form dismissing the recent market upswing (this writer has no short positions as of this writing). Unfortunately, Dylan Ratigan is still gone, MLee is still hosting, and continues to deliver a flat show. Sure, she looked great in her sleek black outfit, but she needs to transfer some of her clothing/appearance vibe into the panel talk on Alcoa's dividend.

Without a few good barbs from Macke, Monday's show would've been deader than a doornail.

Technical analysis is not the specialty of CNBCfix. We're big believers in the value of a specific chart in the most simplest terms usually described by Dennis Gartman ("going from the lower left to upper right"). But as far as all of this chart analysis goes — whether from Carter Worth, Louise Yamada, John Roque, Dan Fitzpatrick, Jeff DeGraaf, etc., if the crash of 2008/2009 hasn't proved this is voodoo science, we don't know what has.

We're not statisticians either, but our gut says the reason tech analysis is bogus is because there aren't enough statistical occurrences to assume a trend.

For example, DeGraaf Monday declared, "The average bear market bounce of the last 100 years is 46 trading days."

Really. How many bear market bounces have actually occurred in the last 100 years — a dozen? Twenty? Thirty? Hundreds? Single digits?

And they've all occurred under these conditions, right: after a housing depression, credit very limited, major banks going under or being nationalized, Europe mostly under a single currency, China riding a massive growth crest, Democratic White House and Congress, tax rates all the same as now, etc.

DeGraaf showed a cherry-picked series of charts (what we always like is the convenient time range of the chart that proves the theory) that somehow detected bullish signs in 50-day moving averages and advance-decliners. His conclusion was that the market is extremely oversold, we'll see one of the "bigger bear market bounces" in history, and "I think health care might surprise for 2009."

Anybody buying stocks on this forecast would have just as much success relying on a Magic-8 ball. (That's our amateur analysis.)

[Friday, March 13, 2009]

Fast Money Review: Market
sizzles more than MLee’s show

Seems like Jeff Macke has had a lot of vacation lately, but maybe no more than other panelists.

It also seemed like in recent guest-host appearances, MLee was really getting the hang of it, but this week she has reverted to flat questions, almost nonexistent follow-up, an utter lack of point of view ... and she's experienced pockets of dead air.

[Thursday, March 12, 2009]

Fast Money Review: Adami
predicts S&P rise to 900

No doubt "Fast Money" viewers enjoyed having the beginning of their show preempted by President Obama explaining how solutions to acid rain, which occurred either in the '70s or '80s, he couldn't remember, came about much easier and cheaper than people thought, and who knows, maybe the same will happen with global warming and cap-and-trade, etc.

OK. Guy Adami made a sensational call Wednesday on oil, suggesting shorts were about to get squeezed.

Thursday, attempting to top himself, he made an even bigger prediction: the S&P is going to 900.

Citing the magic 741 level that Jeff Macke has also mentioned repeatedly, Adami thinks the higher close is a bullish sign, expressing his view with unbridled enthusiasm.

"Now with a close above 741, I believe we're set up to go to 900 in the S&P. ... This move today should get you 900 in the S&P."

While Adami made a great call on oil Wednesday, he also said it's too late to get into PNC -- which happened to surge again Thursday.

Traders were not at all impressed by Tuesday's rally. Thursday was a different story. "This one was pretty impressive I have to say," Karen Finerman said, but noted the market has perhaps come so far so fast.

A week ago on "Fast Money," the world was coming to an end, a reasonable earnings multiple could put the S&P at 600, the situation was "apocalyptic" for commercial realty, etc. Like Scarlett O'Hara says, on "Fast Money," tomorrow is always another day.

Jon Najarian showed up on the set in slick new specs — and couldn't wait to gloat about his success on recently recommending banks.

He pointed out how the triple-long financial ETF — the FAS — had gone from a buck and change to $5 and change in "four days."

Here's what he didn't tell you Thursday:

1. His actual prediction was that some banks would rise 100% within hours if mark-to-market was changed. Mark to market has not been changed. Banks have not jumped 100%, and certainly not within hours.

2. He did not tell you that a couple Fridays before that, he was gushing about another trade — going long gold miners in the GDX, explaining it would narrow the spread with the commodity GLD. The GDX was a rotten recommendation for at least a week. Then he came on "Fast Money" 10 days later and said he still likes the trade he recommended little over a week ago, long GDX and short GLD — which was not his recommendation, not the short part of it — and neither long GDX/short GLD nor purely long GDX alone had worked in the slightest over this time frame.

3. This inaccurate statement was flagged on this site. (Page down to last week's reviews to see it.) Yet the inaccuracy was never acknowledged on "Fast Money" or by Jon Najarian elsewhere. Yes, this site e-mailed "Fast Money" and got the usual automated reply.

"Transparency" is a common term on "Fast Money." But it doesn't always apply to the trades.

We've said it before here many times (again, page down for examples) — Jon Najarian is extremely good at articulating trading and market issues in a way that is very understandable to the layman and does not at all condescend. His reports are almost universally excellent.

When it comes to recent trades, it would help if he would tell us in advance which of his trades are going to work and which ones aren't before gloating about the winners, and then not later restate what the losers actually were.

MLee, in her second consecutive day as Dylan Ratigan's sub, again had the fist-bumping going again around commercial breaks. She's been doing a good job, though isn't nearly the questioner that Ratigan is, also doesn't feel comfortable stating her own opinions, but did look good in her sleeveless outfit.

[Wednesday, March 11, 2009]

Fast Money Review: Lukewarm
response to Gartman’s 8,000 call

Melissa Lee sat in for Dylan Ratigan — something we expect to see for the rest of the week — and the show, lacking Ratigan's customary pointed follow-up question "where's the trade," fell a bit flat.

Dennis Gartman made his presence felt, even though he never actually appeared on the show. Lee got confused more than once figuring out who the guests were and what the traders would talk about, and after plugging a video appearance from Gartman, it was determined they didn't have him.

But they had his recommendation from the morning's Gartman Letter, which is that the Dow is due to trend back toward 8,000.

If so, that would be a lot of short-term upside from here. But no one was aggressively nibbling.

According to the show's official summary, Gartman's comments are more interesting than what Lee said — even if they unfortunately included a dreadful cliche of the false bull prophets, "large sum of money left upon the sidelines."

Guy Adami and Pete Najarian went to great lengths to suggest the banking rally might have come too far too fast, and that FCX has been a hot performer, and to be careful. Adami as always likes HPQ, and there were some nods for Transocean.

This site long ago stopped taking any Gene Munster recommendation on AAPL seriously. Wednesday he offered, "Well, we think there's still upside."

Big surprise there.

One of the most intriguing investment comments was from Karen Finerman, who said the closest thing to a sure thing she sees here is to short the VIX.

Interesting. But we amateur traders don't know how.

Finerman, according to the show's disclosure, is now out of her TBT position. (This writer is still long TBT.)

We like "MCC" as much as any CNBC watcher, but breaking into "Fast Money" with a report from Michelle Caruso-Cabrera about the big breaking news that is the Forbes richest list, yep, same people for the last 20 years, basically, seemed a waste of the show's time.

Not much of a trade there.

[Tuesday, March 10, 2009]

Fast Money Review: Karabell is
mocked defending uptick rule

The show didn't offer a whole lot in the way of trades, but was crisp. (Unfortunately, Dylan Ratigan is taking the rest of the week off, so we'll see how crisp it is the rest of the week.) Chartist Jeff DeGraaf made a case for a bottom based at least in part on Warren Buffett being dissed by the credit spreads from Mexico, Vietnam, etc. (Doesn't sound very technical to us.)

Sometimes we wonder why Zach Karabell is on "Fast Money." (Yes, we've acknowledged several times he is evidently an expert on President Chester Arthur, which is impressive.) Tuesday traders and Ratigan ganged up on him for his support of reinstating the uptick rule. Karen, who was really slinging it, all day, called it "a waste" and said "I think it's ridiculous." Guy Adami said it won't help anything. Tim Seymour bemoaned the fact it means "more discombobulation" for the markets, a changing-of-the-rules again that investors dislike.

Karabell insisted a couple of times that reinstating the uptick rule is "really vital" and that it provides "circuit breakers" in tough markets.

[Monday, March 9, 2009]

Fast Money Review: K-Fine
talks ‘capitalism at its finest’

K-Fine made our day Monday ... in the opening moments.

"It's like some of the go-go days of risk-arb all over. I feel like Bud Fox — almost."

Not only did it crack up this writer, it offered a chance to refer to the CNBCfix review of "Wall Street" &mdash we know there are many reviews of "Wall Street" floating around, but we believe the one at CNBCfix is the deepest, most comprehensive and the best.

And while we're at it, a nod to the complete transcript of Gekko's speech at the Teldar Paper meeting.

Doug Kass, who is now given loads of coverage on CNBC to explain his sudden bullishness (which looked dubious two weeks ago and even worse now), declared, after a long-winded spiel that was interrupted twice by Ratigan, "the market on a valuation basis is very cheap." Ratigan presented evidence to the contrary.

Frank Aquila gave a nice talk on acquisitions, and Rich Greenfield gave a nice talk on the state of media including the mighty DIS, but neither offered much in the way of trading. Dylan Ratigan made a dubious comment: "(Disney,) I would argue along with NBC Universal, has one of the best asset mixes you could ask for." Greenfield acknowledged DIS is not into newspapers.

[Friday, March 6, 2009]

Fast Money Review: Traders lei
off the good stuff in dreary show

Friday's episode of "Fast Money" looked like happy hour at a hotel bar. To even give it a review is stretching the bounds of journalism.

Dennis Gartman, our favorite guest, made an appearance to rattle off a list of industrials to buy like Suncor, all the kinds of stuff that if you drop it on your foot it hurts, etc., you know the drill. Marc Faber said he liked Fluor and a few other names. Guy Adami mentioned PNC Bank, suggesting it could get a similar bounce it got a month or two ago. Karen Finerman said the money is mostly done from the Genentech/Roche situation but that it was more or less a "lay-up" trade (we tend to think there is no such thing, but she's right, this one was pretty close. This writer owned DNA before Friday, sold Friday.).

Pete Najarian made a hard-to-understand point using the VIX to apparently suggest we're near the bottom. Guy Adami and Karen Finerman said this doesn't seem like capitulation at all.

Dylan Ratigan turned a potentially interesting segment into a joke -- how CDS spreads show Vietnam (apparently) more credit-worthy at the moment than Berkshire Hathaway (this writer is not an expert on credit swaps). It might be that Vietnam has a lot going for it ... and it also might mean that Berkshire is not quite as golden as it used to be.

Jon Najarian wore a lei onto this set. This is the item we probably should've led with.

[Thursday, March 5, 2009]

Fast Money Review: Can show
survive a catastrophic market?

Thursday's "Fast Money" was possibly the most depressing episode yet.

At least for 20 minutes.

Afterwards it got better, and the panel returned to form.

But in those first 20 minutes Dylan Ratigan was agitated, he shouted down Jeff Macke, and the weight of the market collapse seemed to be taking its toll.

Quite honestly, we wonder if the traders, given a choice, would go long or short the future of "Fast Money."

"Fast Money" is clearly a bull market show. In 2006, most of 2007, you had everybody and his brother buying RIMM, AAPL, POT, USO, etc. "Mad Money" is pretty much the same thing, though Jim Cramer is more capable of entertaining sans stock picks than the "Fast Money" crew, where the success of the show is learning how traders operate and hopefully piggybacking on some good trades.

This daily review has criticized the lack of trades on the show since about August 2008, maybe July. Rarely is a short trade offered, though sometimes they are, even though that has clearly been the way to go for more than a year. Instead much of the show is spent discussing banks, transparency, etc.

So there is a very real question as to whether "Fast Money" could exist if the S&P 500 drifts near the neighborhood of some of Louise Yamada's worst predictions.

And that might not be too far away.

Even more: How much longer would CNBC continue to exist in its present form if the stock market destruction continues indefinitely?

Presumably watching television is something people will continue to do. But will they watch a business channel after swearing they'll never get in the stock market again?

Will a company like GE consider it feasible to maintain both a CNBC and an MSNBC and other TV properties, and might Murdoch's News Corp. also feel compelled to do some combinations?

This site would rather not think about it.

[Wednesday, March 4, 2009]

Fast Money Review: Discrepancy
of Jon Najarian trade ignored

The "Fast Money" crew, refreshingly, went another round with GE. Much of this is discussed in another post today involving David Faber.

What we'd rather talk about here is what this site calls The Curious Case of Jon Najarian's Gold Trade.

If you're unfamiliar, page-down to our Monday recap.

We pointed out — with immense supporting evidence — that Jon Najarian said Monday (March 2) that he still likes his trade from a little over a week ago of being long gold miners and short the commodity gold.

Even though, in that appearance he cites, he did not specifically recommend shorting gold.

The long/short trade was not a success. Even worse was the trade he actually did explicitly suggest, which was merely being long miners.

But the success of the trade is not the concern here. Accuracy in what is said on the show is the concern here.

CNBCfix caught this discrepancy. Reported it prominently on the site. E-mailed "Fast Money," a show that regularly invites viewer e-mails.

No correction has been issued. Jon Najarian even was the subject Tuesday on "Fast Money Final Call," a Dylan Ratigan segment on "Closing Bell" before the real "Fast Money," and did not mention the discrepancy.

Then on "Fast Money" Tuesday, Tim Seymour curiously for his "Final Trade" recommended the opposite trade of Jon Najarian — long gold and short the miners.

And then Seymour's version of the trade tanked too.

"I was wrong ... The opposite worked today," he freely admitted, refreshingly, Wednesday.

But there was no admission on air that Jon Najarian made an inaccurate statement Monday. (All this site received via e-mail was an automated reply.)

So two traders have offered opposite sides of a trade in 12 days — and somehow both managed to be wildly wrong.

That is amusing. But not the subject of our criticism.

We'll say it again, and you'll find it below in previous days — this site finds Jon Najarian to be an extremely credible commentator on the stock and options markets.

The belief here is that on March 2, he simply didn't recall exactly what he had said Feb. 20.

Assuming that's true, why not a (very) brief mention on "Fast Money" explaining that the Monday statement was inaccurate?

Or does the show have no problem with traders saying they recommended trades that they didn't specifically recommend ... and were conveniently better trades than the ones they actually did recommend?

This glitch does not change our view that the show is worthwhile. We know that Najarian and Ratigan are very smart people who take the show's credibility seriously. We think both will thank this site not for badgering them — a little — but for holding them to high standards.

Regarding Wednesday's actual stock movements, the traders were not impressed with the gain in the Dow.

"The bulls were talking unbelievable levels of smack," Jeff Macke said. "I've gotten five e-mails after the close, telling me how the bottom's called."

Guy Adami — who often said in January and early February that he expected the S&P to shoot up to 1,000 before plateauing into a range — says he's not bullish on the S&P until it closes above 741.

Adami deserves great credit for calling a double top in gold recently — coincidentally about the same time as Jon Najarian's long/short trade.

Adami said ACM is a promising stock because of "huge" activity on a secondary offering.

Jeff Macke, the funniest guy on CNBC, had another zinger on rumors of changes to mark-to-market accounting. "Mark to market is like Mike Tyson's tattoo — it was a bad idea to tattoo your face in the first place," he said, and Dylan Ratigan cut him off to finish: "And it's an even worse idea to try to burn it off."

But that belief was not universal. "They should have a mark-to-market hiatus," said Karen Finerman.

Tim Seymour said to ride RIO up to $16. It closed Wednesday at $13.78.

[Tuesday, March 3, 2009]

Fast Money Review: 2 traders’
GE options positions disclosed

"Fast Money" on Tuesday probably put together the best dialogue on General Electric ever heard on the network.

Interestingly, this discussion came less than two hours after CNBC's Matt Nesto delivered a credible report on Tuesday's move in GE stock.

Whether this extensive coverage stemmed from the natural course of business — or it was decided the reports were needed after criticisms of CNBC's coverage Friday — the traders were generally frank.

But not perfect. Two panelists, Karen Finerman and Jeff Macke, who happened to be singled out by this site for Friday's show, were extremely frank. Tim Seymour and Pete Najarian treaded very carefully. Dylan Ratigan explained he had spoken to management and used his role as moderator to present the company's side, which was a fair position.

Here's the report card. Please note, this writer has no position in GE, has never had a position in GE, wishes the best for GE, its employees and stock, and merely believes the company should be discussed — whether the analysis is positive or negative — like all other companies discussed on NBC networks:

Jeff Macke: A+. Most importantly, he clarified his disjointed remark of Friday as to the role of Warren Buffett in GE's troubles. "A company in that great of financial shape just simply does not pay that much for their cost of capital," he said of the terms given to Buffett.

Macke's opinion on the stock is undeniably candid. (Note: this does not mean this writer, who is not a professional money manager and has never been trained to analyze companies, endorses this view.) "Guy Adami says it all the time, that people lie, stocks don't," Macke said. "Not accusing anyone you (Ratigan) spoke to of lying directly, I'm just saying, that stock is what stocks that are going to zero look an awful (lot) like."

Macke noted, and show discloses, he is long GE puts. Regardless of whether he is bullish or bearish on GE, this site considers it a good thing that traders can freely deal in the company. But this writer does not recall ever noticing "Fast Money" traders with GE positions before (though it certainly could've happened), and Jeff Macke does not normally report an options position. Could the network, on the heels of poor GE coverage Friday, explicitly endorsed trading on GE stock in response? If so, it seems a welcome idea. According to disclosure, Najarian also owns a GE put spread.

Karen Finerman: A. Finerman almost spoke with a smirk on Friday when she called the dividend cut the smartest thing the company could do, then said she wouldn't touch the stock. Tuesday, she pointed out, "They do have a very large portfolio of loans — very large. They've been a very aggressive lender for several years."

Ratigan at one point said the company feels it has laid out its risks to the investing public. "The last time they laid that out, they also said we're gonna be Triple-A and we are going to keep the dividend ... got some explainin' to do," Finerman said.

Pete Najarian: C-. Did point out "huge activity" in $2.50 puts, saying "over 80,000 of these puts were bought today." But then he said that level seemed "a little ridiculous." Speaking of Jeff Immelt, he seemed to try to offer a broad-market defense but indirectly called into question Immelt's vision: "He's even admitting now ... they might not have really recognized how big it (lending) really is right now, how dangerous it is." He also did say: "It looks like GE is going lower."

Tim Seymour: D. Defended Jeff Immelt's statements (a note on this below) on the dividend. "I actually think that Jeff Immelt on Feb 6 said that they gave themselves the ability to keep flexibility in their business."

This is what Immelt said, per Bloomberg News: “The board and I will continue to evaluate the company’s dividend level for the second half of 2009 in light of the growing uncertainty in the economy, including U.S. government actions, rising unemployment and the recent announcements by the rating agencies."

We don't understand Seymour's point. Nobody this site is aware of said Immelt did not have "flexibility" to make business decisions. Immelt's statement Feb. 6 clearly suggests the dividend would be safe in the first half of 2009.

Which it wasn't.

Seymour did single out "11%" exposure to Eastern Europe as a sign of trouble. "It's dangerous. It's concerning," he said.

But then Ratigan had to do a "quick clarification" (as opposed to "correction") three-fourths of the way through the show that the 11% number referred to all emerging markets, not Eastern Europe. Seymour to his credit acknowledged the mistake.

Finally Seymour raised the subject of Immelt and other execs buying GE shares. But then he negated his own point, saying of the amounts, "I don't think that's a major expenditure for these guys."

Dylan Ratigan: C-. He made the company's arguments, which apparently was the plan, and we don't begrudge him that. But note this statement:

"I talked to the executives there today ... that the difference between their loan portfolio — GE's lending — and a bank's lending is that a bank does not know their customers as well as GE does..."

Ratigan delivered this line straight-up. This is exactly the type of defense mocked by the "Fast Money" panel when discussing other companies. GE's loans are better than bank loans because banks do not "know their customers" as well.

"Just because they're familiar with it doesn't mean they're going to perform," Finerman said, even chuckling.

One other note: Regular viewers of "Fast Money" will note endless harping on Apple's disclosures regarding Steve Jobs. Not necessarily by every panelist, but collectively as a whole that is clearly the sentiment, that Apple lacks credibility in divulging Jobs information and "doesn't have the bench" behind him.

There has been scoffing by some (Jeff Macke, namely) on the iPhone, but no scoffing at a business model of an engine-maker also producing "Meet the Press" and making loans similar to a bank.

Yet GE's handling of expectations and dividend status have not gotten nearly the same scrutiny — even though AAPL has been a significantly, or overwhelmingly, better investment during the reign of Immelt.

Some tough grades, perhaps, but still an important segment.

There was no mention of the discrepancy in Jon Najarian's recent gold recommendations, first flagged on this site (below) with all necessary evidence. Interestingly, Tim Seymour suggested just the opposite trade (long gold, short miners) as his "Final Trade" Tuesday.

Joe LaVorgna delivered a very interesting criticism of the TALF. We didn't fully absorb it, but his main point resonated, that rebundling old assets is problematic. (We think.)

Carter Worth delivered a decent segment, but he was wrong in November (and to his credit later admitted it), and several times in the last nine months has said the market is trading flat.

We find Louise Yamada's analysis more engaging.

It was not Ratigan's best day as host. But to his credit, he raised good points, as he is prone to do, about government actions and policies, questioning (more or less) how the country can cure cancer while fighting to keep industrial giants from going to $0.

[Monday, March 2, 2009]

Fast Money Review: Discrepancy
in 2 Jon Najarian appearances

Is Jon Najarian playing a little fast and loose — not with options — but with "Fast Money" facts?

On Friday, Feb. 20, Najarian appeared as a guest and specifically touted the gold miners (ETF: GDX) as a good long position.

"It's time to be focused on those miners ... so I'd say if you think that, uh, gold will be a safe haven, and I do, then I think that right now, you're back to a situation where the miners are undervalued vs. where gold is on the spot price, and any price over $900 is manna from heaven for these miners."

He did not say anything on this episode about shorting gold the commodity. According to the CNBC official summary, "he thinks gold is best played through the miners — and he recommends gaming it with the Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF (GDX)."

There is also nothing in the show disclosure for that segment indicating any positions of Jon Najarian, short or long.

Later that day, Feb. 20, Najarian appeared on "The Kudlow Report" to discuss gold. He said:

"I'm, I'm, uh, mildly bullish Larry at the level that it's at." He specifically recommended NEM and GG, "I do own both." He added: "I don't own any of the hard commodity here because I traded out of that at the tail end of this week."

He continued to describe what he sees as ideal conditions for miners: "It's a compelling reason to be long those miners, not the spot."

Then fellow guest David Malpass jumped in: "Larry I heard Jon say he sold, though, gold."

"Yes," Najarian said, nodding.

Monday, March 2, 2009, on "Fast Money" he said: "The trade that I described to you a little over a week ago was, buying the miners and selling the, the gold, the GLD, itself. Still like that a lot. ... And so I think that pairs trade is still working out." (Note: It's not.)

Comparing the prices from the close of Feb. 20 to the close of March 2, per Yahoo finance, we get:

GDX Feb. 20: $37.03
GDX March 2: $31.09
Decline: 16.04%

GLD Feb. 20: $97.80
GLD March 2: $90.93
Decline: 7.02%

Before we draw a journalistic conclusion, let's be clear on a few things:

1. By originally saying the spread between the spot price and miner stocks would narrow, Najarian is indirectly implying that shorting GLD would be an appropriate trade against a long GDX position. But he never explicitly recommended this trade, nor declared he had this position himself.

2. The gist of his recommendation was that GDX would close the spread with GLD — not that GDX would necessarily outperform the market. However, we believe a typical investor would conclude that's what he meant.

3. During the week between Feb. 20 and March 2, we believe he appeared at least once on CNBC (thought to be the "Fast Money Final Call") and — at that time — did mention being short the commodity.

4. It has been stated numerous times at CNBCfix.com — including as recently as Friday (below) — that Jon Najarian is exceptionally good at articulating trades and market activities in easily understood terms, and we have no reason to believe his advice and statements in general are not perfectly sound.

5. We are not stating he deliberately misstated his position Monday — only that his statement Monday was not accurate.

This is what matters to a site that is dedicated to the highest standards of journalism:

1. Jon Najarian happened to recommend a trade that quickly became a very poor trade. (That alone would be of no consequence.)

2. Ten days later, Jon Najarian said he recommended a different trade, which also would've lost money over the 10 days, but not as much as the original recommended trade.

3. Either Jon Najarian had a short position in gold on Feb. 20 and did not disclose it — which would be a major oversight given what he was discussing on two CNBC programs, and materially affect someone's evaluation of his recommendation — or he did not have a short gold position on Feb. 20.

4. If he did not have a short position Feb. 20, then either A) he reinvented the trade on March 2 to give the appearance it was better than it really was ... or B) he simply couldn't remember exactly what he said in his Feb. 20 appearance, had shorted gold at a later time, and honestly thought on March 2 that he had indeed recommended a short on Feb. 20.

Now, how about some real disclosure: This writer, in afterhours Feb. 20, bought 600 shares of GFI, a gold miner. The trade lost money (obviously), and the shares have been sold. That is primarily why this writer has been keenly alert to Jon Najarian's recommendations of the last 10 days. This writer does not blame Jon Najarian by any means for the decisions made by this writer. In fact, GFI had been recently recommended more than once by another person on "Fast Money."

This journalist simply puts the facts out there. As a "Fast Money" reviewer, he gives Jon Najarian the benefit of the doubt — that on March 2 he likely did not remember exactly what he said on Feb. 20.

We would hope that CNBC and Jon Najarian would issue a clarification, and always fully disclose the traders' positions. We understand those positions can change in a moment, that mistakes can easily happen during multiple appearances on live TV. But transparency — a favorite term of Dylan Ratigan — and truthfulness on the part of stock and financial recommendations are an absolute must for "Fast Money" and CNBC if the programs are to maintain credibility.

OK. Now for more "Fast Money":

Louise Yamada is one of CNBCfix's favorite "Fast Money" guests. Not because we're big fans of chart analysis, but because she can make even an atrocious bear market sound pleasant. Always impeccably dressed, speaking elegantly, and about half the size (literally!) of Pete Najarian, she doesn't seem built for a high-testosterone world, but holds her own.

"Unfortunately I think the markets are still going lower," she said, tossing out potential future "support" levels for the Dow and S&P that are so bleak we don't even want to mention them here (hint: they begin with "4").

The panel was nearly unanimous with her, except for — no, we know you're not the least bit surprised — Zach Karabell, who confoundingly seems downright offended that anyone would be bearish on the stock market.

But he's always glum when he complains, and doesn't say it with anywhere near the panache of our favorite Super Bull, which of course is Dennis Kneale.

"This is a lot more of a herd mentality than we had four months ago," sighed Karabell, though at one point in the show he admitted his bullishness on the Dow was wrong about a thousand points ago.

Traders had virtually nothing to offer in way of trades, except for Tim Seymour, who again is articulating trading stances better than just about anyone. He said his firm is in "high-beta names on the short side," and that "there are businesses that will go to zero here even though they may be good companies now." That seems like a logical impossibility, but we get the point.

[Friday, February 27, 2009]

Fast Money Review: Ratigan’s
‘thanks’ hints something’s up

Uh oh.

All was going swimmingly well on Friday's "Fast Money" until the last 10 seconds or so, when Dylan Ratigan went out of his way to thank the four traders present plus Guy Adami and Tim Seymour for all they do for the show and the viewer.

It sounded like the types of "thanks" heard when big changes are coming.

If so, we don't know a word about them. Structure, format, time slot? CNBC's news chief, Jonathan Wald, unknown to the public but highly regarded by insiders, is leaving at the end of March. Is there a chance a new boss could change or jettison "Fast Money"?

Ratigan did conclude with "See you in March." So it's possible the show just had a good month, and he was merely thanking his panelists.

Or it's possible he does a similar "thanks" at the end of every month, though we don't recall one like this before.

Ratings for specific non-prime-time cable TV shows can be hard to find or interpret. It's just a gut feeling here that "Fast Money" probably rolls with the market, and suffers viewership losses during long-term terrible markets like this one. All of those people a couple years ago trading RIMM, AAPL, USO, TSO, WYNN, PCX and others, who excitedly watched "Fast Money" for tips, have been washed out, or washed up.

For our purposes, the show has definitely gone flat since August, when actual trades dried up. The panel is reluctant to recommend widespread shorting and with very good reason isn't recommending many stocks beyond a day -- or hour -- or two.

The "Fast Fires" and "Quicker than the Ticker" have disappeared, just one segment in about four or five months, by our estimation.

CNBC has recently launched the Melissa Lee options show Friday nights, but that seems a very low-risk, low-expectation operation running a half-hour on Friday nights.

Certainly, "Fast Money" is the meat of this Web site, we like the show, and don't want it to go away. We would like to see it improved, with fewer generic business segments on the banks and promos for other CNBC stars/shows.

The show ideally belongs in the morning, as the trading day opens, from 9 to 10 Eastern time.

But there is all kinds of news coming out then that the network wants to cover, Mark Haines and Erin Burnett are ensconsed there, and that kind of time slot probably wouldn't work for the traders, at least these traders.

Oh well, whatever happens, we wish Ratigan and the traders the best, and hope they keep coming back to this site.

OK. Now for some Friday notes.


If CNBC wants to put together a blockbuster 5- or 10-minute program, it should rerun excerpts of Friday's "Fast Money" discussion on ETFs as often as possible.

Jon Najarian -- one of the most eloquent speakers on financial markets in the world -- explained a term never heard at CNBCfix before: "Intraday indicative value."

This is not the price the ETF is trading at, but the value at any given moment of the components that are purportedly represented by the ETF.

"What the heck is that," Dylan Ratigan modestly said, for the benefit of viewers. Najarian explained extremely well. Some ETFs represent extremely liquid futures trades, and the price of the ETF very closely mirrors the IIV at all times. Others, though, are not as easily and quickly measured, and thus are stomping grounds for arbitrageurs ... and firms issuing the ETFs are cutting back on the size of the markets, allowing for more distortion between ETF price and IIV.

Jeff Macke reiterated several great points he's made before, that there eventually will likely be a "price disconnect" of the futures that will greatly distort the ETF value and bring the whole concept crashing down.

Jon Najarian stressed that for now, there is plenty of arbitrage activity that guarantees fairly accurate prices within 15 seconds. But he noted futures and stocks are regulated by separate agencies, CFTC and SEC, and that is a problem in oversight.

Karen Finerman gushed that Friday's Citigroup news was a "home run" for the preferred shares she's been touting.

We're thrilled for her, because she celebrated her 44th birthday this week and deserved a great trade.

Joe Terranova made a valid point, but we're not sure we agree with the sentiment. He pointed out that most "Fast Money" viewers are not prepared to suddenly jump into preferred stock analysis like Karen can and turn a quick trade. "She does it for a living," he said, and he is right.

On the other hand, the show should exist in part to give amateurs trading ideas in instruments they haven't previously considered.

Nevertheless, we have to agree with Terranova's implication that regular Joes probably aren't well-equipped to suddenly grab risky preferreds of crumbling banks on very short-term notice, despite Karen's wonderful explanations.

Jeff Macke is confusing us a little bit. In the past, he often referred to using a "crayon" to analyze charts; in other words, don't obsess over pinpointing specific numbers, just the general directions. But the last couple of days, he was stressing the massive importance of 741 on the S&P resistance level and how the market is trading almost purely on technicals.

Today, he was back with the crayon, suggesting that a close at 735 could actually be a buying opportunity going into Monday because "closes on Fridays like this ... frankly it's too easy to push it below support;" in other words, he's suggesting there was extreme technical engineering going on that won't be vindicated next week.

Which could be another way of saying, I was wrong in the last day or two when I said to "abandon hope" if the S&P breaks 741."

Props to Dylan Ratigan and Maria Bartiromo (earlier in the day) for calling the initial TARP distribution a "cover-up" designed to help Citi, camouflaged as a reinforcement for all the major banks. Ratigan questioned why the government needs to try to prevent obliteration of Citi, "I think the institution already obliterated itself."

Michelle Caruso-Cabrera, in striking yellow, delivered breaking news on Northern Trust in negotiations to possibly pay back its government cash.

Daryl Byrd of IberiaBank was a decent interview, but little help in finding a trade.

[Thursday, February 26, 2009]

Fast Money Review: Magic
number for S&P 500 is 741

For some reason -- probably because it was the only time the network could book him -- "Fast Money" put White House budget bureaucrat Peter Orszag on five minutes into the show to deliver mind-numbing bureaucratese. Nice guy, fine general explanations, zero of trading value.

Steve Cortes gave some pretty good arguments against tech. He said it's more cyclical than the market realizes, which is something many say, but he notes its outperformance vs. the S&P and would short against the S&P.

The segment with Rick Santelli, whose 15 minutes are nearing their conclusion, was utterly useless and a sad attempt at CNBC to promote its newest star. Dylan Ratigan kept using the same term he used on the "Today" show to defend Santelli, that he's "channeling" what people feel. Actually, most people probably don't have a strong notion about any mortgage plan one way or another because it's the umpteenth plan to be pitched in six months and people are tuning it out. Santelli is a good reporter from the CME/CBOT and unlike some CNBC hosts, is not a Dow cheerleader. He's entirely out of his league as a spokesman for limited government, evidenced by his ridiculous claim of being "threatened" by White House spokesman Robert Gibbs, which led to some embarrassment at the hands of Matt Lauer. Again, we ask, what's the trade? Short Santelli as an interview guest on any non-CNBC show.

[Wednesday, February 25, 2009]

Fast Money Review: Karabell
tired of people questioning TARP

Happy birthday, K-Fine!

CNBCfix loves the action figure and would gladly place a bid -- if it had a budget above $0.

We didn't hear an age, but we can tell you she's 44. And, she looks great.

Now on to some less exciting things, such as Zach Karabell's presence on Wednesday's "Fast Money" and eye-opening scoff at bailout griping.

"I think there's been a lot of carping about the TARP," Karabell said (where did he get that idea?), offering a strange analogy about whether Mrs. Lincoln otherwise liked the play.(*) "It's very easy to criticize these things."

That last quip brought a challenge from Dylan Ratigan, who -- despite his excellence as a questioner/interviewer (no, we've never met him, have never worked for CNBC) too often lets Karabell get away with mumbling dismissals of the bearish potential of stocks -- told Karabell in frank terms that the criticism is not only "easy," but appropriate and necessary.

And even Zach conceded this was true.

CNBCfix finds Karabell to be a fine individual, but woefully miscast on "Fast Money." He regularly expresses disdain for market panic and skepticism and, at least into January, was continuously telling viewers that the global growth story hasn't changed at all and is very much intact and that infrastructure spending is still going to be a gold mine.

Technical analyst John Kosar from Asbury gave a very muddled "if then" type of diagnosis for the market and, not surprisingly, after five minutes of meandering, was trumped by Jeff Macke's 10-second thesis, which is that this particular market with so many unknowns is trading largely on technicals, traders are very closely watching 741 on the S&P, and if it falls through, there could be a massive cascade of selling. (This writer is long SKF.)

Kosar's theory -- and we wish stats expert Nate Silver, who appeared later, could've debunked this -- is that this once in a lifetime market can be defined by what happened in 2002 and 1987, etc. His most head-scratching point came when Macke asked about exiting if the S&P fell below 741, he replied, "More or less, I think you have to give it a little room." Huh? So in other words, it's a technical support level, but don't take it too seriously.

And then he said the semiconductors represent the broader market (we doubt this), offering an "if semiconductors hold, the market will hold" theory which basically means the same time you realize semis have held and done their thing, the market will have already held and done its thing, so it's no advantage.

In this site's opinion, the only valid chart analysis on "Fast Money" in about six months has been Louise Yamada agreeing with Peter Schiff, and she didn't even need her chart to do so.

Pete Najarian seemed troubled by the unsustainability of the late rally. He and Karen Finerman both touted Genentech (a stock they convinced this writer to go long with last week). Each said they expect a higher bid than $89 from Roche in the near future.

Happy birthday, Karen!

[Friday, February 20, 2009]

Fast Money Review: Dr. J says
gold miners in ‘manna’ mode

Had Jeff Macke not been on vacation this week, he would've been asked about the banking situation and whether he sees any value in the massively beaten stocks.

He would've said, "No way, they're changing the rules as we go along, we have no idea what's on these balance sheets, it doesn't matter what you call it, nationalization, whatever, these stocks are a train wreck."

Karen Finerman reiterated her interest in bank stock preferreds vs. the common stocks (sounds like a dynamite trade these last few days, though this writer has no position). She also made several points with Joe Terranova and Tim Seymour about ways to fix the banks involving private equity but didn't quite mention that her husband, Lawrence Golub, happens to be a big-time private equity boss. (Note: We agree with Karen's sentiments, and she surely isn't trying to promote her husband's industry in a very roundabout way -- we're just saying it should be disclosed on the show.)

Jon Najarian offered maybe the most doable trade for a typical viewer, touting the GDX with great enthusiasm. As his brother Pete has said recently, Jon believes the GDX has lagged the GLD and is bound to catch up. He said any gold price over $900 is "fantastic for these miners ... manna from heaven," and he does not believe any kind of stabilization/new program for the financials will hurt this sector for two or three months. Tim Seymour again touted GFI. The two were so convincing, this writer picked up some GFI. But Seymour also sounded a cautionary note on the spot prices of gold and silver and even made it his "final trade" -- he thinks the charts project an overbought gold and silver market, and he would sell SLV and GLD for Monday.

Seymour is not only the best on the show, but one of the best in the world, at articulating situations in foreign markets. Again he said Europe is facing great distress. "I'd love to short the Dax and own the S&P," he said.

Joe Terranova explained an interesting "MACE" (we'll figure out how to spell it eventually) trade he's got going on oil, saying he can play an average of a string of future months' contracts, which he thinks are beginning to narrow the spread with the front month.

K-Fine cracked us up with a tirade on executive perks. She pointed out the chief of Shaw Group has a non-compete (a "golden coffin") that somehow kicks in even in the death of the executive. Karen called it "crap." Yowza!

No jokes about Dress Barn tonight. (Why would anyone name a business like that?)

Guy Adami made a joke that might someday make the "Fast Money" greatest cliches file: "You never get the bottom you want; you never get it in dating, you never get it in trading."

[Wednesday, December 31, 2008]

Fast Money review: Macke
is show’s best of 2008

"Fast Money" closed out a very dreadful stock-market year with fewer fireworks than Times Square would later offer.

Try zero.

Oh sure, Guy Adami told us not to buy Goldman Sachs until it makes a grand move down to $78 (it's at $82 now), as if there are scores of people eagerly waiting to buy Goldman Sachs stock.

Instead of employing the Fairness Doctrine, Melissa Lee, or "M. Lee" or "Mel" as the traders call her, should've just recapped the year of one trader -- Jeff Macke. He got it right, virtually the whole year.

Going round-robin with the others and ginning up a high and low for each was a waste of time.

Macke can get a little arrogant. We've never met the guy and have no reason to doubt he's a nice guy. He's not really a man of the people like Guy Adami or Pete Najarian. He'll occasionally point out that he's a smart guy, or overdo the snarkiness.

Louis Rukeyser had an ego too. He still delivered a highly respected show for decades, long before CNBC was a concept.

Macke's job is to explain competent trades and competent market viewpoints to laymen who follow stocks. He does this exceptionally well. The crumbling markets of 2008 actually made him better. He stopped offering the daily forecasts that Guy Adami and Joe Terranova still indulge in ("this close was so weak today and there was a Cisco warning, so I'm guessing we'll be down 400 points tomorrow, but will probably rally by Wednesday," etc.) and stuck to his core analysis most of the year, which was the commodity boom being unsustainable and sticking with best of breed and ditching the broken charts.

In 2007 the only excitement Macke generated was from punch lines. He talked about Intel, a useless investment for a decade, forever, and capped the end of 2007 by claiming if there was one stock he would squirrel away for a long time and not touch, it would be Microsoft.

In 2008, he finally ditched INTC (why it was so difficult for him, who knows) and quickly figured out what was going on with this market. He has avoided the trap of calling the bottom in certain names (which all the other traders have done, particularly in commodities and materials, at various times) and maintains that whatever we're in, it ain't over yet.

Give the credit where it's due -- without Macke and Karen Finerman, this show would've been completely unwatchable since September. Nobody bats 1.000 forever. Hopefully the other traders will get their groove back in 2008, and the show can regain the sizzle it had in the grand first half of 2007.

So, hat's off to Macke, and may he and the rest of the panel -- and the loyal readers who give this page a look, once, twice, hopefully daily -- enjoy a far more prosperous 2009.

[Thursday, November 20, 2008]

Fast Money review: Peter Schiff,
Louise Yamada predict doom

"Fast Money" Thursday was really good. It featured Peter Schiff, one of the best CNBC guests in the last couple of years.

Schiff is a little too hyper and/or overcaffeinated for our tastes, but he is an interesting person to listen to. Usually it's hard to hear a short recommendation on CNBC, yet Schiff has been violently bearish.

The gist of his talk Thursday was to trumpet how right he's been, how right he'll continue to be, and get defensive about his wrong calls recently in gold and the dollar. Of greatest interest, he said gold was going to hit $2,000 next year and go above it.

Then, chart technician Louise Yamada -- who has no investment position to defend like Schiff does -- backed up virtually everything Schiff said.

"Everything is going down," Yamada said.

Yamada said we had "enormous bases" in the consumer staples in the 1981-82 markets, ready to take the lead in a bear market, but today "we have no bases, we're have top after top after top."

Guy Adami was the voice of reason. He rightly credited Schiff for his correct call -- although Schiff started pronouncing doom at least a year early -- but questioned why gold has fallen and the dollar has risen, two excellent questions that Schiff tried to aggressively dodge.

Zach Karabell said Yamada and Schiff presented two eloquent arguments about further market collapse, and people who might believe them shouldn't be in the market.

We agree, but with this caveat -- Schiff and Yamada sound just about as certain as bulls sound at market tops.

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