I have been writing about Europe lately and why not? The mess is getting messier, the can being kicked down the road is kicking back, and 80% of Greeks — whose government has yet to put in place real austerity programs and plan to retire at 50 — say they want no more austerity.
The Germans, Finns and others say they do not want to pay for this while Spanish youth, with the highest unemployment rate in Europe, took to the streets not with rocks but with sangria and cell phones. That shows this conflict is more of a disagreement about how much to borrow now to create a bigger problem later.
But the real problem is that Greece, and perhaps Portugal and maybe Ireland and possibly Spain, will not be able to borrow what they need at an acceptable interest rate.
Last week I recommended that options trading investors short the euro (“An ETF for the Grecian Debt Crisis,” May 20) by buying put options on the CurrencyShares Euro Trust (NYSE: FXE).
Now it is time to go long – precious metals.
Start with silver — it crashed, stabilized, did a mini-crash, stabilized and is now rising. The iShares Silver Trust (NYSE: SLV) is the exchange-traded fund for silver. I own it and typically write covered calls to generate cash. If I had bought calls anytime within a month of the crash I would have been killed.
If you are conservative like me, look at a buy-write trade — buy the underlying and sell a call option against it. If you are more of a buccaneer, go ahead and buy the calls. This morning the SLV is at $36 and change. In my opinion the real ceiling before selling hits the SLV is around $44 — $45.
If you buy the SLV and write (sell) calls, write them for a couple of months out, at least four dollars. If you buy calls – it’s more risky — do it for something close in, say July or August, at a strike of $40 or less.
In my service Michael Shulman’s Short Side Trader I have recommended buying calls on the SPDR Gold Trust (NYSE: GLD), the ETF for gold, as a “short” on the euro. Gold does not have the potential to crash in the short run as silver did and is building a strong base right here. I would look at longer term calls — October or later — as it may take a while for gold to break out.
One last note — I tend to be glib in these columns but the issues in Europe are totally serious and dangerous to the US economy and specific U.S. companies. More on that on Friday.
Michael Shulman uses simple trading tactics to make solid, profitable investments in falling stocks in his Short-Side Trader service.