(WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 5 MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA STRATEGY LUNCHEON) (THE NEXT COMMODITY SUPER CYCLE HAS ALREADY STARTED) (COPX), (GLD), (FCX), (BHP), (RIO), (SIL), (PPLT), (PALL), (GOLD), (ECH), (EWZ), (IDX)
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When I toured Australia a couple of years ago, I couldn’t help but notice a surprising number of fresh-faced young people driving luxury Ferraris, Lamborghinis, and Porsches.
I remarked to my Aussie friend that there must be a lot of indulgent parents in The Lucky Country these days. “It’s not the parents who are buying these cars,” he remarked, “It’s the kids.”
He went on to explain that the mining boom had driven wages for skilled labor to spectacular levels. Workers in their early twenties could earn as much at $200,000 a year, with generous benefits.
The big resource companies flew them by private jet a thousand miles to remote locations where they toiled at four-week on, four-week off schedules.
This was creating social problems, as it is tough for parents to manage offspring who make more than they do.
It’s starting to look like we are on the eve of another great commodity boom, the start of a long-term supercycle. China, the world’s largest consumer of commodities, is currently stimulating its economy on multiple fronts, including generous corporate tax breaks and relaxed reserve requirements. Get a trigger like a settlement of its trade war with the US and it will be off to the races once more for the entire sector.
The last bear market in commodities was certainly punishing. From the 2011 peaks, copper (COPX) shed 65%, gold (GLD) gave back 47%, and iron ore was cut by 78%. One research house estimated that some $150 billion in resource projects in Australia were suspended or canceled.
Budgeted capital spending during 2012-2015 was slashed by a blood curdling 30%. Contract negotiations for price breaks demanded by end consumers broke out like a bad case of chickenpox.
The shellacking was reflected in the major producer shares, like BHP Billiton (BHP), Freeport McMoRan (FCX), and Rio Tinto (RIO), with prices down by half or more. Write-downs of asset values became epidemic at many of these firms.
The selloff was especially punishing for the gold miners, with lead firm Barrack Gold (GOLD) seeing its stock down by nearly 80% at one point, lower than the darkest days of the 2008-2009 stock market crash.
You also saw the bloodshed in the currencies of commodity-producing countries. The Australian dollar led the retreat, falling 30%. The South African Rand has also taken it on the nose, off 30%. In Canada, the Loonie got cooked.
The impact of China cannot be underestimated. In 2012, it consumed 11.7% of the planet’s oil, 40% of its copper, 46% of its iron ore, 46% of its aluminum, and 50% of its coal. It is much smaller than that today, with its annual growth rate dropping by more than half, from 13.7% to 6.6%.
The rise of emerging market standards of living will also provide a boost to hard asset prices. But as China goes, so does its satellite trading partners, who rely on the Middle Kingdom as their largest customer. Many are also major commodity exporters themselves, like Chile (ECH), Brazil (EWZ), and Indonesia (IDX), and are looking to come back big time.
As a result, western hedge funds will soon be moving money out of paper assets, like stocks and bonds, into hard ones, such as gold, silver (SIL), palladium (PALL), platinum (PPLT), and copper.
A massive US stock market rally has sent managers in search of any investment that can’t be created with a printing press. Look at the best performing sectors this year and they are dominated by the commodity space.
The bulls may be right for as long as a decade, thanks to the cruel arithmetic of the commodities cycle. These are your classic textbook inelastic markets. Mines often take 10-15 years to progress from conception to production. Deposits need to be mapped, plans drafted, permits obtained, infrastructure built, capital raised, and bribes paid. By the time they come online, prices have peaked, drowning investors in red ink.
So a 1% rise in demand can trigger a price rise of 50% or more. There aren’t a lot of substitutes for iron ore. Hedge funds then throw gasoline on the fire with excess leverage and high-frequency trading. That gives us higher highs, to be followed by lower lows.
I am old enough to have lived through a couple of these cycles now, so it is all old news for me. The previous bull legs of supercycles ran from 1870-1913 and 1945-1973. The current one started for the whole range of commodities in 2016. Before that, it was down from seven years.
While the present one is short in terms of years, no one can deny how business cycles have been greatly accelerated by globalization and the Internet.
Some new factors are weighing on miners that didn’t plague them in the past. Reregulation of the US banking system is forcing several large players, like JP Morgan (JPM) and Goldman Sachs (GS) to pull out of the industry. That impairs trading liquidity and widens spreads— developments that can only accelerate upside price moves.
The prospect of flat US interest rates is also attracting capital. That reduces the opportunity cost of staying in raw metals, which pay neither interest nor dividends.
The future is bright for the resource industry. While the gains in Chinese demand are smaller than they have been in the past, they are off of a much larger base. In 20 years, Chinese GDP has soared from $1 trillion to $10 trillion.
Some 20 million people a year are still moving from the countryside to the coastal cities in search of a better standard of living and improved prospects for their children.
That is the good news. The bad news is that it looks like the headaches of Australian parents of juvenile high earners may persist for a lot longer than they wish.
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Below please find subscribers’ Q&A for the Mad Hedge Fund Trader October 16Global Strategy Webinar broadcast from Silicon Valley, CA with my guest and co-host Bill Davis of the Mad Day Trader. Keep those questions coming!
Q: How do you think the S&P 500 (SPX) will behave with the China trade negotiations going on?
A: Nobody really knows; no one has any advantage here and logic or rationality doesn’t seem to apply anymore. It suffices to say it will continue to be up and down, depending on the trade headline of the day. It’s what I call a “close your eyes and trade” market. If it’s down, buy it; if it’s, upsell it.
Q: How long can Trump keep kicking the can down the road?
A: Indefinitely, unless he wants to fold completely. It looks like he was bested in the latest round of negotiations because the Chinese agreed to buy $50 billion worth of food they were going to buy anyway in exchange for a tariff freeze. Of course, you really don’t get a trade deal unless you get a tariff roll back to where they were two years ago.
Q: Did I miss the update on the Citigroup (C) trade?
A: Yes, we came out of Citigroup a week ago for a small profit or a break-even. You should always check our website where we post our trading position sheet every day as a backstop to any trade alerts you’re getting by email. Occasionally emails just go completely missing, swallowed up by the ether. To find it go to www.madhedgefundtrader.com , log in, go to My Account, Global Trading Dispatch, then Current Positions. You can also find my newly updated long-term portfolio here.
Q: How much pain will General Motors (GM) incur from this standoff, and will they ever reach a compromise?
A: Yes, the union somewhat blew it in striking GM when they had incredibly high inventories which the company is desperate to get rid of ahead of a recession. If you wonder where all those great car deals are coming from, that’s the reason. All of the car companies want to go into a recession with as little inventory as possible. It’s not just GM, it’s everybody with the same problem.
Q: When does the New Daily Position Sheet get posted?
A: About every hour after the close each day. We need time to process our trades, update all the position sheets before getting it posted.
Q: What do you think about Bitcoin?
A: We hate it and don’t want to touch it. It’s unanalyzable, and only the insiders are making money.
Q: Are you predicting a repeat of Fall 2018 going into the end of this year to close at the lows?
A: No, I’m not. A year ago, we were looking at four interest rate increases to come. This year we’re looking at 1 or 2 more interest rate cuts. It’s nowhere near the situation we saw a year ago. The most we’re going to get is a 7% selloff rather than a 20% selloff and if anything, stocks will rise into the yearend then fall.
Q: Why are we trading the Russell 200 (IWM) instead of the ($RUT) Small Cap Index? We pay less commissions to brokers.
A: There’s more liquidity in the (IWM). You have to remember that the combined buying power of the trade alert service is about $1 billion. And that’s harder to do with smaller illiquid ETFs like the ($RUT), especially the options.
Q: If this is a “Don’t fight the Fed” rally for investors, where else is there to go but stocks?
A: Nowhere. But it’s happening in the face of an oncoming recession, so it’s not exactly a great investment opportunity, just a trading one. 2009 was a great time not to fight the Fed.
Q: Do you want to buy Facebook (FB) even though there are so many threats of government scrutiny and antitrust breakups?
A: The anti-trust breakups are never going to happen; the government can’t even define what Facebook does. There may be more requirements on disclosures, which means nothing because nobody really cares about disclosures—they just click the box and agree to anything. I was actually looking at this as a buy when we had the big selloff at the end of September and instead, I bought four other Tech stocks and (FB) had moved too far when we got around to it. I think there’s upside potential for Facebook, especially if we can move out of this current range.
Q: Would you sell short European banks? It seems like they’re cutting jobs right and left.
A: I always get this question after big market meltdowns. European banks have been underpricing risks for decades and now the chickens are coming home to roost. Some of these things are down 80-90% so it’s too late to sell short. The next financial crisis is going to be in Europe, not here.
Q: Is it time to short Best Buy (BBY) due to the China deal?
A: No, like Macys (M), Best Buy is heavily dependent on imports from China, and the stock has gotten so low it’s hard to short. And the problem for the whole market in general is all the best sectors to short are already destroyed, down 80-90%. There really is nothing left to short, now that all the bad sectors have been going down for nearly two years. There has been a massive bear market in large chunks of the market which no one has really noticed. So, that might be another reason the market is going up—that we’ve run out of things to short.
Q: Do you like Intel (INTC)?
A: Yes, for the long term. Short term it still could face some headwinds from the China negotiations, where they have a huge business.
Q: Would you buy American Airlines (AA) on the return of Boeing 737 MAX to the fleet?
A: Absolutely, yes. The big American buyers of those planes are really suffering from a shortage of planes. A return of the 737 MAX to the assembly line is great news for the entire industry.
Q: Do you like Raytheon (RTN)?
A: No, Trump has been the defense industry’s best friend. If he exits in the picture, defense will get slaughtered—it will be the first on the chopping block under a future democratic administration. And, if you’re doing nothing but retreating from your allies, you don’t need weapons anyway.
Q: Will Freeport McMoRan (FCX) benefit from a trade war resolution?
A: Yes, the fact that it isn’t moving now is an indication that a trade war resolution has not been reached. (FCX) has huge exposure to traditional metal bashing industries like they still have in China.
Q: Would you go long or short gold (GLD) here?
A: No, I’m waiting for a bigger dip. If you can get in close to the 200-day moving average at $129.50, that would be the sweet spot. Longer term I still like gold and it is a great recession hedge.
Good Luck and Good Trading!
John Thomas CEO & Publisher The Diary of a Mad Hedge Fund Trader
Yes, I Still Like Gold
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Below please find subscribers’ Q&A for the Mad Hedge Fund Trader July 24Global Strategy Webinar broadcast from Zermatt, Switzerland with my guest and co-host Bill Davis of the Mad Day Trader. Keep those questions coming!
Q: What are your thoughts on the Freeport McMoRan (FCX) long position here?
A: We could take a profit here. We probably have about 50% of the maximum potential profit, but I want to hang on and go to the max on this because we’re so far in the money. Cash always has a premium ahead on any Fed interest rate decision. But long term, I think the stock could double, and with the earnings report now out of the way, we have room to run.
Q: What can you say about semiconductor stocks?
A: Long term we love them, short term they are too high to chase here. I would wait for any kind of pullback and, better yet, pull back from the other side of the next recession. We’re not seeing an improvement in prices or orders so this is strictly a technical/momentum-driven trade right now.
Q: How do you play the Volatility Index (VIX)?
A: There are numerous ways you can do it; you can buy call options on the (VIX), you can buy futures on the (VIX), or you can buy the iPath Series B S&P 500 VIX Short Term Futures ETN (VXX). We are probably a week away from a nice entry point on the long side here.
Q: Does a languishing U.S. dollar mean emerging market opportunities?
A: It absolutely does. If we really start to get a serious drop in the U.S. dollar (UUP)—like 5-10%—it will be off to the races for commodities, bonds (TLT), emerging stock markets (EEM), emerging bond markets (ELD), emerging currencies (CEW), and gold (GLD). All of your weak dollar plays will be off to the races—that’s why I went straight into bonds, the Aussie (FXA), and copper through Freeport McMoRan (FCX). All of these trades have been profitable.
Q: When should we sell the U.S. dollar?
A: How about now? For any kind of strength in a dollar against the (FXA), (FXE), (FXC) and (FXY), I would be buying any dips on those foreign exchange ETFs. We’re about to enter a six-month – one-year period weakness on the dollar. It could be the easiest trade out there. The only one I would avoid is the British pound (FXB) because of its own special problems with Brexit. You never want to go long the currency of a country that is destroying itself, which is exactly what’s happening with the pound.
Q: Should I start selling pounds?
A: It’s pretty late in the pound game now. We went into Brexit with the pound at $1.65 and got all the way down to $1.20. We’re a little bit above that now at $1.21. If for some reason, you get a surprise pop in the pound, say to $1.25, that’s where I would sell it, but down here, no.
Q: I missed the (FCX) trade—would you get in on the next dip?
A: Yes, we may not get many dips from here because the earnings were out. Today, they were not as bad as expected, and that was keeping a lot of buyers out of the market on (FCX), so any dips you can get, go a dollar out on your strikes and then take it because this thing could double over the medium term. If the trade war with China ends, this thing could make it to the old high of $50.
Q: Is now a good time to refi my home?
A: Yes, because by the time you get the paperwork and approvals and everything else done (that’ll take about 2 months), rates will likely be lower; and in any case you’re looking to refi either a 7/1 ARM or a 15-year fixed, and the rates on those have already dropped quite substantially. I was offered 3.0% for a 15-year fixed loan on my home just the other day.
Q: On trades like (FCX), why not sell short the put spread?
A: It’s really six of one, half dozen of the other. The profit on either one should be about the same. If it isn’t, an options market maker will step in and arbitrage out the difference. That’s something only an algorithm can do these days. I recommend in-the-money call spreads versus shorting sell short vertical bear put credit spreads because for beginners, in-the-money call spreads are much easier to understand.
Q: The Mueller hearings in Congress are today. Is there any potential impact on the market?
A: The market has completely detached itself from Washington—it couldn’t care less about what’s happening there. I don’t think politics have the capacity to affect stock prices. The only possible impact was the prospect of the government shutdown in September. That seems to have been averted in the latest deal between the House and the White House.
Q: What about Amazon (AMZN)?
A: Like the rest of technology, long term I love it, but short term it’s overdue for a small correction. I’m looking for Amazon to go to $3,000 a share—it’s essentially taking over the world. The antitrust threats will go absolutely nowhere; Congress doesn’t even understand what these companies do, let alone know how to break them up. I wouldn’t worry about it.
Q: I just received an email inviting me to buy a new Bitcoin auto trading system that is guaranteed to make me a millionaire in four months. It is being promoted by Nicole Kidman. Do you think I should try it?
A: I wouldn’t touch this with a ten-foot pole. No, wait. I wouldn’t touch this with a 100-foot pole! Whenever a new type of security comes out, these types of “get rich quick” investment scams come out of the woodwork. Cryptocurrency is no different. Nicole Kidman was probably paid $500,000 to make the pitch by a promotor. Or more likely, Nicole Kidman has nothing to do with these people and they just swiped her picture off the Internet. I hear about these things daily. Follow their plan and you are more likely to get completely wiped out than become a millionaire. There are NO get rich quick schemes. There are only get rich slowly strategies, such as following this newsletter. Click here to see the above-mentioned scam which you should avoid at all cost. Gee, do you think Nicole Kidman would be interested in promoting the Mad Hedge Fund Trader?
https://www.madhedgefundtrader.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/John-with-Hiking-Poles-e1468528643680.jpg354400Mad Hedge Fund Traderhttps://www.madhedgefundtrader.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/cropped-mad-hedge-logo-transparent-192x192_f9578834168ba24df3eb53916a12c882.pngMad Hedge Fund Trader2019-07-26 08:04:042019-07-26 08:59:41July 24 Biweekly Strategy Webinar Q&A