UMA, Oprah. Oprah, Uma. Uma, Oprah. Eh, here in the lavish Bull’s Eye suite beyond the velvet rope it feels a bit like David Letterman at the 1995 Oscars.

Where to begin? Did the world end over Chanukah? Evidently not, and the interns left to run the trading desks of the world’s investment banks seem to have run amok during the holidays.

New all-time highs everywhere you look! New talking heads on TV! Fresh-faced pundits swaggering up to the lectern, saying it’s different this time.

We have nothing to fear, they cried, despite our nodding suspicion that most of them don’t know the difference between Jay-Z and the JSE.

Did you read all the predictions by the fund managers in December? Put their selections together and you might as well buy a JSE tracker and hope for the best. Rubbish, the lot of it.

Huffing about stocks they’ve already bought, hoping the mugs jump on the train. A couple of deft bum-covering moves in case things go paw-paw.

We can do better, right? Kate Moss, Mos Def. Mos Def, Def Jam. Jam up, and jelly tight ...

Sorry, but there must be a better way to sniff out likely market movements than listening to some Herbert in a suit and stupid haircut.

May I introduce some wisdom from my friend Munch, culled from the days when page88.co.za was the go-to site for serious traders? (Cautionary announcement: you may look upon Munch as a friend, but old hands know he is like a hyena who has not yet eaten your face.)

Munch advised that “the only real game in town is stock market forensics - the art of tracing PigMen footprints, blood spoors and urine trails through the charts. That’s when you start trading — think like a criminal!”

The PigMen (fund managers and economists) talk about “fundamentals” — stuff like company earnings forecasts and economic trends — but whatever they say is discounted by the market LONG before the common rabble is told about it (mainly because every bank has back rooms full of analysts feeding the info to their trading desks).

So yeah? So yeah.

At the risk of being beheaded next time Munch raises his voice in the ether, here’s my top tip: watch what the derivatives jockeys are doing. These are the guys who drum up fees by getting the fortune hunters excited, by racking up the buy and sell orders on stocks most likely to show the most violent moves.

Take Standard Bank warrants, for example. (A call warrant invites you to bet on a likely upward move on a stock; vice versa for a put warrant.)

On January 15, the bank issued a bunch of new warrants, most of them calls. My two cents are on the following, going solely by bullish interest in their warrants: Anglo American, Anglo Platinum, BHP Billiton, NewGold, Impala Platinum and Kumba Iron Ore.

(Ten days later, the bank issued sucker-call warrants on last year’s front-running stocks: Mr Price, Shoprite, Foschini and Woolworths. Caveat bloody emptor right there, folks.)

There is also a fresh call on the JSE Top 40 with a strike price of 38,500 and a put at 35,000. On Friday the index was dithering around 36,100. Roll up ...

Still new and yet to attract all the old faces, the page88.co.za crew is finding its feet at themarketsbarandgrill.co.za

* This article was first published in Sunday Times: Business Times