When I was standing shoulder to shoulder with all those other oil day traders on the floor of the NYMEX, once in a while I’d get a very funny feeling. All of a sudden, I’d realize that the position I’d built up for myself was largely shared by just about everyone around the ring – and I also sensed that every other trader had had the exact same realization.
That’d be a wary moment – staring around at each other like combatants in an old west quick draw. We’d all still be convinced still in our positions, of course. We, collectively, could be entirely right on the coming trend and just need some patience to all make some money. But we also knew that the first guy to flinch in panic could set off a complete avalanche of traders suddenly becoming less convinced and trying to get out.
I called this “the porthole effect”: The boat might or might not be sinking, and you couldn’t tell through the small hole that was available to you; but if one guy jumped into the porthole trying to escape, he was likely to cause a mob scene of panicked passengers all fighting to squeeze out of that entirely too small of an exit.
This is kind of what I’m seeing in the oil market today. There’s a lot to like – OPEC coming through with production limits, everyone seeing speedy rebalancing, even the most conservative reckoners and quality reports coming from dedicated U.S. producers, particularly in the Permian…