August 27, 2019

It’s there if you look…

In 1837, Charles borrowed $1,000 (about $25k today) from his dad and, along with school pal John, he started his shop in New York City. After three days, sales were only $4.38, leaving doubts about their startup. Two years later, he married John’s sister and started a family. He had six kids. He also had been building his business, fabricating jewelry of the highest order. His “Tiffany & Co.” still exists today…

His daughter Annie in-turn had a daughter Alfreda, who married Hiram Bingham III, who explored Machu Pichu and brought it to worldwide attention in 1911. Their son, Hiram Bingham IV, was Vice-Consul serving in Marseilles, France during WWII. In 1939, his job was to issue visas for passage to the United States. The Vichy government signed an armistice with Germany after Hitler’s invasion. The U.S. was not yet at war and wanted good relations to the Vichy government. Therefore, the U.S. State Department discouraged visas and showed little compassion for refugees.

Jacques was born in Vienna, Austria, in 1920. Nazi Germany annexed Austria in the Anschluss of March 1938. Jacques was only 17 when he was arrested, just for being Jewish. He was crafty enough to escape a workcamp. He headed to Italy and then France through Ventimiglia. He was arrested in Nice days later and imprisoned for nearly a year at Camp-des-Milles, a French internment camp in Aix-en-Provence.

That’s when he was brought to Hiram Bingham IV’s office, skin and bones, living on 500 calories a day, in shackles. He hadn’t bathed in a month. Bingham was outraged and ordered his cuffs removed. He was given a bath and some clothes. Bingham gave him a visa for a ship that sailed to America on March 30th, 1940. In doing so, Bingham defied authority. He was yanked from his post but not before he saved 2,300 Jews from certain death, as Camp-des-Milles’ prisoners were usually bound for Dachau, a death camp.

Jacques would have been sent to Dachau, but instead, Bingham sent him to America. He slept on Central Park benches for a few weeks. Speaking no English, he became a dishwasher learning Yiddish from Puerto Ricans in the Jewish deli kitchen. He joined the U.S. Army, married a beauty, had five kids, and crushed the American dream. He had the biggest house on the block and bought himself a Rolls Royce in 1980. He got a special license plate: GEMACHT, which means “made it” in German, his native tongue.

Jacques Bodner was my grandfather. He died in 2007, but his car was a classic. It was eventually sold to an enthusiast in France, who read the original bill of sale tracing it back to Jacques. He hunted down my father eager to learn more about the car. The story blew him away. So, he took the car back to its roots: Camp-des-Milles. He parked it right up front, and gave the concentration camp the proverbial finger:

I knew I was the grandson of a holocaust survivor, but it turns out that my story goes far deeper, woven into the Tiffany fortune, Machu-Pichu, a life-saving rebel diplomat, and now it is honored in museums.

It’s there if you look. And sometimes the hidden stuff is the most important stuff.

The Hidden Strength of the Market

At face-value, the market showed growing strength last week – but then Trump tweet-bombed a trade war retaliation against China’s retaliation, so Friday was ugly. But volumes were thin early in the week, when the market rallied, and on Friday’s sell-off. This echoes my earlier sentiment that the selling was not over.

Still, the selling wasn’t even close to mid-August levels, and the market still sits at a 2850 support level:

Graphs are for illustrative and discussion purposes only. Please read important disclosures at the end of this commentary.

Selling was heavier in Discretionary, Materials, and Energy. Buying was in Utilities. But keep in mind, two weeks ago, we saw big selling everywhere, especially Energy. That typically marks near-term bottoms, which it did. Compare last week’s big money buying and selling to the week ending August 9th:

Graphs are for illustrative and discussion purposes only. Please read important disclosures at the end of this commentary.

A few things you need to know:

  • The big money buying index is at 48.8% but falling. That means selling is outweighing buying. If it falls below about 45%, that usually means “look out below.”

Graphs are for illustrative and discussion purposes only. Please read important disclosures at the end of this commentary.

  • BUT– should the market fall, it will be a buying opportunity. I have continually discussed why the U.S. is the oasis in global markets. Growing sales and earnings, low interest rates, low tax rates, and “best in show” remain the reasons.
  • This is summer volatility with low liquidity and low participants. I told you it would be bumpy.

Expect trade rhetoric to continue and volatility to persist a bit. September is also a volatile time. Markets tend to rally at the end of the year – last year being the one exception. The bull still has room to grow.

Remember that when things look to be one way, that doesn’t mean they will turn out that way. After World War II, Hiram Bingham IV was asked why he did what he did, and he answered:

My boss said: ‘The Germans are going to win the war. Why should we do anything to offend them?’ And he didn’t want to give any visas to these Jewish people. So, in a way, I had to do as much as I could.”

That’s also why we write to you about the markets as we see them. Always do what you can in all endeavors.

About The Author

Jason Bodner

Jason Bodner writes Sector Spotlight in the weekly Marketmail publication and has authored several white papers for the company. He is also Co-Founder of Macro Analytics for Professionals which produces proprietary equity accumulation/distribution research for its clients. Previously, Mr. Bodner served as Director of European Equity Derivatives for Cantor Fitzgerald Europe in London, then moved to the role of Head of Equity Derivatives North America for the same company in New York. He also served as S.V.P. Equity Derivatives for Jefferies, LLC. He received a B.S. in business administration in 1996, with honors, from Skidmore College as a member of the Periclean Honors Society. All content of “Sector Spotlight” represents the opinion of Jason Bodner


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