Posts

January 6, 2020

Global Market Comments
January 6, 2019
Fiat Lux

2020 Annual Asset Class Review
A Global Vision

FOR PAID SUBSCRIBERS ONLY

Featured Trades:
(SPX), (QQQQ), (XLF), (XLE), (XLY),
(TLT), (TBT), (JNK), (PHB), (HYG), (PCY), (MUB), (HCP)
(FXE), (EUO), (FXC), (FXA), (YCS), (FXY), (CYB)
(FCX), (VALE), (AMLP), (USO), (UNG),
(GLD), (GDX), (SLV), (ITB), (LEN), (KBH), (PHM)

December 20, 2019

Global Market Comments
December 20, 2019
Fiat Lux

Featured Trade:

(DECEMBER 18 BIWEEKLY STRATEGY WEBINAR Q&A),
(BA), (CRSP), (BABA), (GLD), (PANW), (VIX), (VXX)

December 17, 2019

Global Market Comments
December 17, 2019
Fiat Lux

Featured Trade:

(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)

The Next Commodity Supercycle Has Already Started

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.

 

 

 

 

 

December 3, 2019

Global Market Comments
December 3, 2019
Fiat Lux

Featured Trade:

(WHY WATER WILL SOON BE WORTH MORE THAN OIL),
(CGW), (PHO), (FIW), (VE), (TTEK), (PNR), (BYND),
(WHY WARREN BUFFETT HATES GOLD),
(GLD), (GDX), (ABX), (GOLD),

Why Warren Buffet Hates Gold

After seven years in the penalty box, gold is finally starting to come alive, and the Armageddon crowd is absolutely loving it. Maybe after ten years of rising, stocks are finally expensive on a relative basis?

These are the guys who are perennially predicting the collapse of the dollar, the default of the US government, hyperinflation, and the end of the world.

Better to keep all your assets in gold and silver, store at least a year’s worth of canned food, and keep your untraceable guns well-oiled and supplied with ammo, preferably in high capacity magazines.

If you followed their advice, you lost your shirt.

I have broken many of these wayward acolytes of their money-losing habits. But not all of them. There seems to be an endless supply emanating from the hinterlands.

The “Oracle of Omaha” Warren Buffet often goes to great lengths to explain why he despises the yellow metal.

The sage doesn’t really care about the gold, whatever the price. He sees it primarily as a bet on fear. I imagine he feels the same about Bitcoin, the modern tulips of our age.

If investors are more afraid in a year than they are today, then you make money on gold. If they aren’t, then you lose money.

The only problem now is that fear ain’t working.

If you took all the gold in the world, it would form a cube 67 feet on a side, worth $5 trillion. For that same amount of money, you could own other assets with far greater productive earning power, including:

*All the farmland in the US, about 1 billion acres, which is worth $2.5 trillion.

*Four Apple’s (AAPL), the second largest capitalized company in the world at $1.2 trillion.

Instead of producing any income or dividends, gold just sits there and shines, making you feel like King Midas.

I don’t know. With the stock market at an all-time high, and oil trading at $56/barrel, a bet on fear looks pretty good to me right now.

I’m still sticking with my long-term forecast of the old inflation adjusted high of $2,300/ounce.

It is just a matter of time before emerging market central bank buying pushes it up there. And who knows? Fear might make a comeback too.

 

 

 

 

December 2, 2019

Global Market Comments
December 2, 2019
Fiat Lux

Featured Trade:

(MARKET OUTLOOK FOR THE WEEK AHEAD, or 2020 IS ALREADY HAPPENING),
(TSLA), (X), (GE), (FCX), (SLB), (GOOGL), (MSFT), (GLD)

October 31, 2019

Global Market Comments
October 31, 2019
Fiat Lux

Featured Trade:

(WELCOME TO THE LAND OF ZEROS),
(TLT), (VIX), (GLD), (SLV), (FXY),
(A NOTE ON OPTIONS CALLED AWAY), (BA)
(TESTIMONIAL)

Welcome to the Land of Zeros

Jay Powell really showed his hand today with the press conference following his 25-basis point interest rate cut.

The Fed’s medium-term target rate is now zero. Take a 1.75% inflation rate, subtract a 1.75% overnight rate and you end up with a real interest rate of zero. The fact that we have real economic growth also at zero (1.75% GDP – 1.75% inflation) makes this easier to understand.

That means there will be no more interest rate cuts by the Fed for at least six more months. All interest rate risks are to the downside. There is no chance whatsoever of the Fed raising rates in the foreseeable future with a growth rate of 1.75%. It will also take a substantial fall in the inflation rate to get rates any lower than here.

That may happen if the economy keeps sliding slowly into recession. Net net, this is a positive for all risk assets, but not by much.

I regard every Fed day as a free economics lesson from a renown professor. Over the decades, I have learned to read through the code words, hints, and winks of the eye. It appears that the thickness of the briefcase no longer matters as it did during Greenspan. No one carries around paper anymore during the digital age.

I then have to weed through the hours of commentary that follows by former Fed governors, analysts, and talking heads and figure out who is right or wrong.

In the meantime, the “Curse of the Fed” is not dead yet. The ferocious selloffs that followed the last two Fed rate cuts didn’t start until the day or two after. That’s what the bond market certainly thinks, which rallied hard, a full two points, after the announcement.

All of this provides a road map for traders for the coming months.

The Santa Claus rally will start after the next dip sometime in November. Buy the dip and ride it until yearend. The Mad Hedge Market Timing Index at 75, the bond market (TLT), the Volatility Index (VIX) and the prices of gold (GLD), silver (SLV), and the Japanese yen (FXY) are all shouting this should happen sometime soon.

I hope this helps.

John Thomas

 

 

 

 

October 18, 2019

Global Market Comments
October 18, 2019
Fiat Lux

Featured Trade:

(OCTOBER 16 BIWEEKLY STRATEGY WEBINAR Q&A),
(SPX), (C), (GM), (IWM), ($RUT), (FB),
 (INTC), (AA), (BBY), (M), (RTN), (FCX), GLD)