In light of this Wednesday morning’s commentary, a few emailers asked me were we stood after today’s action.

The short answer: We are now all cash. We have no positions long or short. We are actively looking for shorts.

I will post an update when we make a serious change in our tilt.


UPDATE:  May 6, 2010 5:27am

Several readers wanted to know the reasoning behind this:

1) Greece/EU had nothing to do with our tactical rebalancing.

2) This was strictly a technical call — market internals, sentiment, duration of rally, volume were amongst the factors that came in.

3) This is not an end of primary trend expectation — rather, it is looking at the potential of a  secondary trend.

4) Ideally, if we get lucky, we will see a rally over the next week, with deteriorating characteristics — that sets up a better entry for shorting new positions.

5) We had a very good Q1 with a handful of strong positions — EK, MGM NYT, THOR, C — so some of the thinking behind our move was locking in a profitable 1st half of the year. We can now look be very selective in identifying trading opportunities.

6) We are now concentrating on screening and identifying new short ideas . . .

Category: Short Selling, Trading

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

86 Responses to “Cash = 100%”

  1. DiggidyDan says:

    Interesting. I’m about 25 long 60 cash 10 tips. . . but i’m not looking for shorts. Got burned last time and stopped out. I think I’ll just stay in my MM account at 1.5% and wait for some really good buys if they come along and not risk a false start. Wish I’d gotten out of some of my materials/energy mining stocks last month before Australia decided to tax the living crap out of the industry and the giant Oil Spill debacle. Oh well, can’t predict the future.

  2. DiggidyDan says:

    That was supposed to be 15% TIPS

  3. Chief Tomahawk says:

    All cash??? Holy snikees! And to think I just dumped my CNBC right when it’s about ready to give Comedy Central a run for it’s money again… Who could forget Dennis Kneale telling viewers to “invest for the long haul” when the DOW was around 11,000, prior to the run at 6,800. Jim Cramer opening his Mad Money show in the fetal position beneath a red spotlight. Larry Kudlow ditching his credo, having his show renamed, and a co-anchor added. CNBC management: “Quick, bring back the $1,000,000 portfolio investment game so everyone invests in triple-levered ETFs…”

  4. Chief Tomahawk says:

    triple-levered short ETFs…

  5. LehmanBrotha says:

    Hahaha…Looks like the broken robot Alacra traders are going to crash the market tomorrow! To the FAZ-mobile!!!

  6. GZR says:

    A massive change from 69% to 100% cash in one day. It is unlikely this move was entirely because of stop-outs. Would you be willing to share the reasoning for your repositioning?


    BR: I discussed the broad overview here:

  7. gregh says:

    is this a test for the Hedgies blog-scrapping algorithms? Anybody else watching the futures?

  8. alfred e says:

    @BR: Thanks. I have not been in for a long, long time.

    But that was a very important signal.


  9. alfred e says:

    @BR: BTW, you’ve been hinting at this for some time. But you did not know the timing.

    Seems you’ve solved that one too.

  10. Mannwich says:

    Had a feeling this was coming. BR dropping hints left and right lately.

  11. DiggidyDan says:

    So 25% from last intraday S&P top of 1218 puts us at 913. I’m looking at that 875 area bounced off in Oct 08, Dec 08, Apr 09, May 09, July 09. Seems reasonable.

  12. mbelardes says:

    The Euro thing is, in my opinion, a major cause for concern.

    Look how long it’s taken to figure something out for Greece? What is this 6 weeks and we still don’t have a clear bailout or not? The country is erupting in violence.

    What happens if they really do have to face the same issues in Spain, Portugal, Ireland and Italy? What we have 2 year ahead of us of no clear rescue package for Eurozone countries?

    Here’s a thought, if the Euro continues to weaken, how will this affect the earnings of US companies for Q2/Q3? This is like a dollar rally that isn’t. If Bernanke has to raise rates the dollar could really climb back faster than they intend.

    I saw a bloomberg article today about manufacturing leading us to a solid recovery. Hmm…

  13. mbelardes says:

    PS Barry,

    C’mon I hope you still have DGIT. You recommended that on Yahoo at the start of the semester (along with RVBD and SGI). I made some short-term money on RVBD and SGI but DGIT has been killin’ it still.

    Paid for my law school books this summer. Thanks.

  14. xSiliconValleyEE says:

    Wow, Wow, Wow!!! 100%?!!! I had to check the date, no, it’s not April 1st. Maybe an after effect of Cinco de Mayo, but not likely. Maybe, after the post about hedge funds monitoring your blog, you’re pulling their chains, that one I can believe. ;-)

    All joking aside, is it due to Greece and the contagion effect? Or is it just due to the market’s going down for a bit, why participate? Or is it due to hedge funds and big money, being highly leveraged again, having to sell since their computers tell them to do so, so why not just wait them out in cash?

    Thank you for the information, and your post a week or so ago indicating your feelings on things being toppy. I sold 2/3rds of everything on Tues. It was getting toppy, and the 3rd 90% or so down day in a bit over a week just did it for me. Until Tuesday, it seemed like the normal nearing the end of the month runnup bid under the market by the quants with money happened last week, and a bit of a fall on the last day of April since they couldn’t manipulate their stocks higher on the final day. Then the normal Monday rise and first part of the month money inflows. But, when the normal beginning of the month inflows really didn’t happen like it should have on Tuesday, goodbye.

    A couple of articles I really liked, one from Doug Kass explaining the mechanics of the momentum based quants selling. And the latest letter from Jeremy Grantham, that scepticus also highlighted.

    I’m in Jeremy Grantham’s camp, that whenever this conniption ends, the massive amount of money the Fed is throwing into the system by keeping rates far too low for far too long will case asset inflation in stocks. And a bigger conniption will just cause the fed to throw money at the prob for far longer. In a couple of weeks things will become clearer in terms of effects on various company’s profits. It may still be that Intel’s forward P/E ex cash is still 10 or 11, Hewlett Packard’s is still 9 or 10, Cisco’s is still like 13, and Apple’s is still about 15 (by annualizing the previous quarter). Significantly too low for each of them, to put it mildly, especially with the massive amount of product each is selling. And then the banks aren’t going to get hurt bad by the Dodd bill, which will provide very good upside to both big banks and regional banks.

    Thanks again for the pointers!

  15. Simon says:

    Just looked at The Big Picture by checking out the S&P500 monthly charts. Prices has just retreated from the 50 month moving average. Which, incidentally, is sloping down.


    BR: That is a significant technical development

  16. JasRas says:

    Not seeing it yet…going to cash, that is. I’ve covered longs with puts, so I supposed the net effect is same, but it’s a trade in a correction.

    It would be nice to know what triggered such a move to 100% cash, as we all have our indicators we used to make decisions. Or was this because of the giant mess in Europe and the high probability of contagion?

    I don’t think the serious contagion reaction happens until later this summer, if it is going to happen.

  17. Its strictly a technical call — looking for the first 10% correction — could be a 10-15% move.

    If we get lucky, we will see a rally the next few days, which will create a better entry for shorting new positions.

  18. [...] not the only bear either. Someone much smarter than me is 100% cash right now. Like this post? Share [...]

  19. call me ahab says:


    so . . .I guess you don’t have to swallow hard and “buy what you hate” anymore :D


    BR: I guess I should have called that “Trade what you hate.” (the Citi trade popped from 4 to 5 in a very short period of time).

  20. Transor Z says:

    No, but now he has to short what he loves.

  21. [...] Barry Ritholtz goes 100% cash, @Dasan very positive [...]

  22. Watch SPX 1150 as a major support line . . .

  23. call me ahab says:


    I have never gotten the impression BR is “in love” w/ any stock-

    I can see him buying an iphone, ipad , ipod and and a macbook shorting AAPL the whole while :D

  24. Bob_in_MA says:


    One obvious short is your friend, they had a huge rally on questionable news just as retail stocks were reaching an unsustainable peak.

  25. mark says:

    BR – you’re playing with fire! The hedgies follow your every move! Look out below!

    Ahh. I just realized a deeper game is afoot. You’ve already got your shorts on and you’re going to fade their lemming-like next move. Sweet.

    But what if their SPARC-boxes anticipated your fade? The mind reels.

  26. I am long myself and short other people…

  27. catman says:

    Bring’em on!!! We havent had any fireworks for some time, a little shakeout would not be out of place.

  28. Greg0658 says:

    since I’m logged in an no other thread yet exists .. slightly off Top .. but speaking of charts that matter .. why is the Unemploment Insurance Chart so important – could it be to a businessman – insurance payments matter more than a worker being in the wings and waiting?

  29. tradeking13 says:

    Uh-oh. Those blog-quants you spoke of yesterday are gonna take down the market based on your call. Look out below!

  30. ashpelham2 says:

    I’ve never gotten more than 40% in at any point since since the fall of last year, and I’ve missed a lot of growth because of it. I will probably never be more than 50% all in during my lifetime, as the first 10 years of my working career saw the SP 500 index return somewhere, plus or minus, zero.

    There’s an entire world of us early 30-somethings who just don’t think the Wall Street scam will ever give us true wealth. Lots of us who’ve bought in, but a lot of who haven’t. What they giveth, they can easily taketh away.

  31. perra says:

    100% cash seems lazy


    BR: And your 4 word comment — is that supposed to be a model of industriousness and intellectual rigor . . . ?

  32. The Curmudgeon says:

    You are growing wise, ashpelham2. It is game rigged to let you win when they wish, and to let you lose when they wish as well.

    I’ve never been “all in”, and I’m a good bit longer in the tooth than you. I worked too hard for my dough to fritter it away chasing dreams of Wall Street riches. I don’t concern myself as much with return on principal as I do with return of principal.

  33. jeffn25 says:

    Too bearish. I’m margined long with winners and puts on AIG just in case. How about bargains like AOI and EIHI. How about the exploration mining companies which have priced in $350 gold despite gold trading at $1200.

    Although the 100% cash to play the 10% correction is intriguing. Have you calculated the short term capital gains tax on that move, though? Would need to be more than 10% gain to make up for what you owe to the good uncle…

  34. The Curmudgeon says:

    Watch SPX 1150 as a major support line . . .

    Wilco. In real time, we’re almost there (1153 @ 11:30 eastern).

  35. perra says:

    SPX 1150 “major support line”. That’s funny. Almost choked on a peanut when I read that. There’s no support at 1150. Your astrolabe must be malfunctioning.

  36. Ramstone says:

    You could do worse than shorting tech/cyclicals imo. Short QQQQ is the poor man’s way of doing it.

  37. rootless_cosmopolitan says:


    Wow, 100% cash! That must have been some really bad picks you made recently, if they all have gone to Zero already!

    I have 35% stocks long and increasing, currently. The rest is cash.


    BR: Tell you what — I’ll put up our Q1 performance versus yours, and I’ll spot you 250 bps.

    How much do you want to wager on this?

  38. Natacuy says:

    Oldest trade in the book: sell in May and walk away…

  39. rustum says:

    Thanks for the update BR. China is already going through correction fro some time.

  40. [...] Barry Ritholtz has moved to 100% cash.  (Big Picture) [...]

  41. Mannwich says:

    There goes 1150.

  42. The Curmudgeon says:

    Cap’n…she cahn’t take anymore…she’s bustin’ through all the stops…cap’n what can we do…cap’n?

    (SPX 1147)

  43. Mannwich says:

    Me thinks A LOT of shorts are waiting for the bounce to go all-in short. They might be waiting a while.

  44. Mannwich says:

    Well, that was quick. What’s your next support level, BR?

  45. The Curmudgeon says:

    I still got my FAZ on from way back, when I bet some of my play money that this weren’t over, not by a mile.

  46. scharfy says:

    look out bellllllooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooowwwwwwww!

  47. Mannwich says:

    Oh ya, this SURRREEE looks like a healthy, robust market and economy to me. Is this really what it looks like? Get real.

  48. The Curmudgeon says:

    BR: Nice day to call you just went 100% cash. Prescient. Beautiful. See how powerful you are now? All you gots to say is 100% cash, and the frigging world steps off a cliff. Cognos?

  49. snapwizard says:

    But…but I believed in Cognos when he said Apr 29th is the bottom!

  50. cfischer says:

    Impressive call Barry.

  51. The Curmudgeon says:

    SPX–3% down. Any bets on how long ’til the SEC reinstitutes its short-selling ban? Short-sell now or be forever locked out of the market. But can they make it illegal to short-sell a whole economic system?

  52. Mannwich says:

    Yikes. Where is cognos? Of course, nowhere to be found.

  53. Transor Z says:

    Barry, really outstanding stuff. THANK YOU.

  54. Mannwich says:

    Yes, excellent work, BR. You da man!

  55. The Curmudgeon says:

    make that 4+% on the SPX…

  56. Mannwich says:

    Cognose? Did you just buy?

  57. Mannwich says:

    The most telegraphed crash in history.

  58. The Curmudgeon says:

    7.5+%…damn. I can’t keep up.

  59. The Curmudgeon says:

    Dow 10,000…where’s my hat, again?

  60. call me ahab says:


    market in a free fall-

    BR you are either the luckiest or one of the smartest mofo’s on the planet- lol

    your timing is impeccable(-:!!!!!!

    I wonder if cognos had stops set???? He was pretty sure of himself- so probably not(-:!!! only AWESOME- hahahahahha

  61. TripleB says:

    I think the “China may crash” trade is the one to be in….I went long FXP in late april, otherwise I am in cash as well.

  62. Mannwich says:

    @ahab: Maybe it’s a bit of both. Anyway, I’d MUCH rather be lucky than good.

  63. DeDude says:

    Thank God for the shorts being there to buy, what the stop-loss orders sell. That was one heck of a 30 minuttes :-)

  64. Transor Z says:

    Should +0.00% YTD be in green or red? Discuss.

  65. Mannwich says:

    Again, what’s the problem? This market totally “healthy”. LOL.

  66. Mannwich says:

    @Transor: The way things had gone for me last year, I’d put it in GREEN.

  67. Les Lofton says:

    U da man

  68. The Curmudgeon says:

    Now let’s see if they can juice it back up before the close. The Obama administration might be having regrets about pissing off Goldman about now:

    Timmy Treasury: “Goddamit Lloyd, I didn’t have anything to do w/ that stupid lawsuit. C’mon, where’s the love. Give me some of that good, market-making mojo you gots in your drawer. For the people, Lloyd, for the people, for chrissakes…what do you think’s gonna happen if this all goes to hell again?”

    Lloyd: “Fuck you, Timmy.”

  69. emmanuel117 says:

    Wonderful cash call!

  70. scharfy says:

    watch this rally today and tomorrow…..

    The minis went haywire…. Algo’s are taking over the universe.. someone fat fingered P&G, aapl, and some others…..

  71. Arequipa01 says:

    I have been warning you all for better than a year. It’s time to use your trading profits to start looking unappetizing. And remember. Eat the lean. The hefty only offer empty calories.

    Mr. Ritholtz- most excellent prescience. Kudos. You’re better than Baretta (and almost nobody is-not even Telly Savalas).

  72. poly says:

    Great Call! Kudos!!!

  73. Mannwich says:

    “It’s all so easy”. Up, up, and up from here, guys.

  74. rustum says:

    1000 points crash. We can see a sell off in each full back.

  75. xSiliconValleyEE says:

    100% cash! Barry, a LEGENDARY call!!!!!

    But, as Hans Solo said, “Don’t let it go to your head, kid.” ;-)
    It does all depend on what happens in the next week or two still.

    I love the bozos on CNBC trying to blame it on an erroneous trade, rather than properly placing the blame on this is the way the system is set up to work/not work. Maria saying, “Where are the regulators on this?”, yeah, right. Try high frequency trading, momentum algorithms, stop losses, high leverage on sub 1% money, no human market makers to smooth the insanity, multiple market makers whose effects feed into each other in sub-second time, …

    The system is broken. 600 trillion of derivatives written on a world GWP of 43 trillion. Nearly free money from the worlds governments flooding into financial games raising asset prices, like stocks, instead of it being able to be directed into productive uses that create jobs.

    Congress needs to substantially strengthen the financial regulation bill going through now. They would have incredible political support for doing so, Americans are PO’ed at the financial shenanigans going on.

  76. scharfy says:

    Rumor has it a Citi trader fat-fingered.

    Tax payer dollars hard at work…..

  77. scharfy says:

    That being said. There was 15 minutes of raw selling. Vacuum.

  78. DeDude says:

    Put a tax on every trade. Then half of Wall Streets bonus babies can go get a real job that produce something real and valuable. All of this trading is way excessive and does more harm than good for society. How did we allow a simple function as allocating capital to where it is needed, to not only take over a third of the economy, but even with that much of the economy poured into it – it still does not work. The inefficiencies of market forces at work.

  79. panchog says:


    100% cash? I thought you are a gold bug like me.

    Or do you consider gold as non-nation/universal currency, as I do?

    I’m 70% precious metal, 30% Emerging market stocks… but the today’s movement is making me more metal heavy.

  80. panchog says:

    My problem with 100% cash (US$)…What would you buy when DXY index (85 now) reverses?

    When you consider the quantative easing all over the world, I think it makes sense to go long now (vs. short), betting on inflation/reflation?

    Just my 2 cents…

  81. jeg3 says:


    Now you can buy that dream island, since you have a wad of cash lying about.

  82. [...] Barry Ritholtz has moved to 100% cash.  (Big Picture) [...]

  83. [...] A few others I read were very well positioned and had blogged it. For example, Barry Ritholtz had gone to 100 percent cash for certain client accounts just a day before the event . [...]

  84. [...] last weeks Wednesday morning and late night discussions about moving to 100% cash, the office phones lit up — long/short accounts, FusionIQ [...]

  85. [...] of the stream early this morning was Barry’s post that he was all cash.  @agwarner has a humorous tweet below that presents a world as it should be, where bloggers views [...]