Posts

May 6, 2019

Global Market Comments
May 6, 2019
Fiat Lux

Featured Trade:

(MARKET OUTLOOK FOR THE WEEK AHEAD, OR HERE’S ANOTHER BOMBSHELL),
(DIS), (QQQ), (AAPL), (INTU), (GOOGL), (LYFT), (UBER), (FCX))

April 29, 2019

Global Market Comments
April 29, 2019
Fiat Lux

Featured Trade:

(MARKET OUTLOOK FOR THE WEEK AHEAD, OR ANOTHER LEG UP FOR THE MARKET),
(SPY), (TLT), (DIS), (INTU), (FCX), (MSFT),
 (QQQ), (CVX), (XOM), (OXY), (TSLA)

April 24, 2019

Global Market Comments
April 24, 2019
Fiat Lux

Featured Trade:

(WHY ARE BOND YIELDS SO LOW?)
(TLT), (TBT), (LQD), (MUB), (LINE), (ELD),
(QQQ), (UUP), (EEM), (DBA)
(BRING BACK THE UPTICK RULE!)

Why Are Bond Yields So Low?

Investors around the world have been confused, befuddled, and surprised by the persistent, ultra-low level of long-term interest rates in the United States.

At today’s close, the 30-year Treasury bond yielded a parsimonious 2.99%, the ten years 2.59%, and the five years only 2.40%. The ten-year was threatening its all-time low yield of 1.33% only three years ago, a return as rare as a dodo bird, last seen in the 19th century.

What’s more, yields across the entire fixed income spectrum have been plumbing new lows. Corporate bonds (LQD) have been fetching only 3.72%, tax-free municipal bonds (MUB) 2.19%, and junk (JNK) a pittance at 5.57%.

Spreads over Treasuries are approaching new all-time lows. The spread for junk over of ten-year Treasuries is now below an amazing 3.00%, a heady number not seen since the 2007 bubble top. “Covenant light” in borrower terms is making a big comeback.

Are investors being rewarded for taking on the debt of companies that are on the edge of bankruptcy, a tiny 3.3% premium? Or that the State of Illinois at 3.1%? I think not.

It is a global trend.

German bunds are now paying holders 0.05%, and JGBs are at an eye-popping -0.05%. The worst quality southern European paper has delivered the biggest rallies this year.

Yikes!

These numbers indicate that there is a massive global capital glut. There is too much money chasing too few low-risk investments everywhere. Has the world suddenly become risk averse? Is inflation gone forever? Will deflation become a permanent aspect of our investing lives? Does the reach for yield know no bounds?

It wasn’t supposed to be like this.

Almost to a man, hedge fund managers everywhere were unloading debt instruments last year when ten-year yields peaked at 3.25%. They were looking for a year of rising interest rates (TLT), accelerating stock prices (QQQ), falling commodities (DBA), and dying emerging markets (EEM). Surging capital inflows were supposed to prompt the dollar (UUP) to take off like a rocket.

It all ended up being almost a perfect mirror image portfolio of what actually transpired since then. As a result, almost all mutual funds were down in 2018. Many hedge fund managers are tearing their hair out, suffering their worst year in recent memory.

What is wrong with this picture?

Interest rates like these are hinting that the global economy is about to endure a serious nosedive, possibly even re-entering recession territory….or it isn’t.

To understand why not, we have to delve into deep structural issues which are changing the nature of the debt markets beyond all recognition. This is not your father’s bond market. 

I’ll start with what I call the “1% effect.”

Rich people are different than you and I. Once they finally make their billions, they quickly evolve from being risk takers into wealth preservers. They don’t invest in start-ups, take fliers on stock tips, invest in the flavor of the day, or create jobs. In fact, many abandon shares completely, retreating to the safety of coupon clipping.

The problem for the rest of us is that this capital stagnates. It goes into the bond market where it stays forever. These people never sell, thus avoiding capital gains taxes and capturing a future step up in the cost basis whenever a spouse dies. Only the interest payments are taxable, and that at a lowly 2.59% rate.

This is the lesson I learned from servicing generations of Rothschilds, Du Ponts, Rockefellers, and Gettys. Extremely wealthy families stay that way by becoming extremely conservative investors. Those that don’t, you’ve never heard of because they all eventually went broke.

This didn’t use to mean much before 1980, back when the wealthy only owned less than 10% of the bond market, except to financial historians and private wealth specialists, of which I am one. Now they own a whopping 25%, and their behavior affects everyone.

Who has been the largest buyer of Treasury bonds for the last 30 years? Foreign central banks and other governmental entities which count them among their country’s foreign exchange reserves. They own 36% of our national debt with China in the lead at 8% (the Bush tax cut that was borrowed), and Japan close behind with 7% (the Reagan tax cut that was borrowed). These days they purchase about 50% of every Treasury auction.

They never sell either, unless there is some kind of foreign exchange or balance of payments crisis which is rare. If anything, these holdings are still growing.

Who else has been soaking up bonds, deaf to repeated cries that prices are about to plunge? The Federal Reserve which, thanks to QE1, 2, 3, and 4, now owns 13.63% of our $22 trillion debt.

An assortment of other government entities possesses a further 29% of US government bonds, first and foremost the Social Security Administration with a 16% holding. And they ain’t selling either, baby.

So what you have here is the overwhelming majority of Treasury bond owners with no intention to sell. Ever. Only hedge funds have been selling this year, and they have already done so, in spades.

Which sets up a frightening possibility for them, now that we have broken through the bottom of the past year’s trading range in yields. What happens if bond yields fall further? It will set off the mother of all short-covering squeezes and could take ten-year yield down to match 2012, 1.33% low, or lower.

Fasten your seat belts, batten the hatches, and down the Dramamine!

There are a few other reasons why rates will stay at subterranean levels for some time. If hyper accelerating technology keeps cutting costs for the rest of the century, deflation basically never goes away (click here for “Peeking Into the Future With Ray Kurzweil” ).

Hyper accelerating corporate profits will also create a global cash glut, further levitating bond prices. Companies are becoming so profitable they are throwing off more cash than they can reasonably use or pay out.

This is why these gigantic corporate cash hoards are piling up in Europe in tax-free jurisdictions, now over $2 trillion. Is the US heading for Japanese style yields, of zero for 10-year Treasuries?

If so, bonds are a steal here at 2.59%. If we really do enter a period of long term -2% a year deflation, that means the purchasing power of a dollar increases by 35% every decade in real terms.

The threat of a second Cold War is keeping the flight to safety bid alive, and keeping the bull market for bonds percolating. You can count on that if the current president wins a second term.

 

 

 

 

 

Why Are They So Low?

October 15, 2018

Global Market Comments
October 15, 2018
Fiat Lux

Featured Trade:

(THE MARKET OUTLOOK FOR THE WEEK AHEAD, or OUR HARD LANDING BACK ON EARTH),
(SPY), (QQQ), (TLT), (VIX), (VXX), (MSFT), (JPM), (AAPL),
(DECODING THE GREENBACK),
(DUMPING THE OLD ASSET ALLOCATION RULES)

July 27, 2018

Global Market Comments
July 27, 2018
Fiat Lux

Featured Trade:
(LAST CHANCE TO ATTEND THE FRIDAY, AUGUST 3, 2018,
AMSTERDAM, THE NETHERLANDS GLOBAL STRATEGY DINNER),

(STOCKS TO BUY ON THE OUTBREAK OF TRADE PEACE),
(QQQ), (SPY), (SOYB), (CORN), (WEAT), (CAT),
(DE), (BA), (QCOM), (MU), (LRCX), (CRUS),
(ORIENT EXPRESS PART II, or REPORT FROM VENICE)

July 23, 2018

Global Market Comments
July 23, 2018
Fiat Lux

Featured Trade:
(FRIDAY, AUGUST 3, 2018, AMSTERDAM, THE NETHERLANDS
GLOBAL STRATEGY DINNER),

(THE MARKET OUTLOOK FOR THE WEEK AHEAD,
or IT'S SUDDENLY BECOME CRYSTAL CLEAR),
(SPY), (TLT), (QQQ),
(AMZN), (MSFT), (MU), (LRCX),
(REPORT FROM THE ORIENT EXPRESS)

April 16, 2018

Global Market Comments
April 16, 2018
Fiat Lux

Featured Trade:
(THE MARKET OUTLOOK FOR THE WEEK AHEAD, or THE WEEK THAT NOTHING HAPPENED),
(TLT), (GLD), (SPY), (QQQ), (USO), (UUP),
(VXX), (GOOGL), (JPM), (AAPL),
(HOW TO HANDLE THE FRIDAY, APRIL 20 OPTIONS EXPIRATION), (TLT), (VXX), (GOOGL), (JPM)

April 13, 2018

Global Market Comments
April 13, 2018
Fiat Lux

Featured Trade:
(ANNOUNCING THE MAD HEDGE LAKE TAHOE, NEVADA, CONFERENCE, OCTOBER 26-27, 2018),
(APRIL 11 GLOBAL STRATEGY WEBINAR Q&A),
(TLT), (TBT), (GOOGL), (MU), (LRCX), (NVDA) (IBM),
(GLD), (AMZN), (MSFT), (XOM), (SPY), (QQQ)

Ten Stocks to Buy at the Bottom

Suddenly, the consolidation turned into a correction and maybe even a bear market.

A crucial part of trading a crash is knowing what to do at the bottom. Don?t worry. You?ll receive a flurry of text alerts from me right when that happens.

Many individual investors simply run to the bathroom and lock the door, hoping nobody knocks on the door for a couple of days.

Worse, they dump every stock they have. That?s what makes market bottoms.

Trades that once seemed impossible can now get done, provided you use limit orders.

Let me get this right. Stocks are crashing because:

1) The Federal Reserve isn?t going to raise interest rates anymore.
2) The price of oil has dropped 84% in five years.
3) Commodities have reached multi-decade lows.
4) The US dollar has suddenly stabilized.
5) Investors are yanking money from abroad and pouring it into the US on a flight to safety trade because it is the only place they can obtain a positive return, especially in stocks.

May I point out the screamingly obvious right here?

These are all reasons for 90% of US companies that borrow money and consume energy and commodities to increase earnings and to boost their share prices.

Only the 10% that derive revenues from ripping oil and commodities out of the ground should get hurt here.

Of course the market doesn?t know that. It is anything but rational when we hit big triple digit declines. There was only one direction on, and that was OUT.

And that is where you make your money

Margin clerks rule supreme, squeezing every bit of leverage out of their clients they can find.

The Dow and (SPY) are already posting large negative numbers for 2016.

Of course, I saw all of this coming a mile off.

I have been banging drums, pulling fire alarms, shooting off flare guns, and otherwise warning readers that the technical situation for the market was terrible ever since I went 100% into cash in December.

When the breakdown appeared imminent, I shot out Trade Alerts to sell short the S&P 500 (SPY) in size as fast as I could write them. And I started buying outright (SPY) puts for the first time in ages.

As a result of these sudden tactical moves, my model-trading portfolio has been keeping its head above water all month, up 2%. The Dow Average is off by a nausea inducing -10.7% at today?s low.

Yes, yes! All the hard work and research is paying off!

Ignore my musings at your peril!

What is even more stunning is that these declines are occurring in the face of US macro economic numbers that are going from strength to strength. The blockbuster December nonfarm payroll report of 292,000 is the real writing on the wall.

Housing, which accounts for about one third of the US economy, has been on fire. I?m sorry, but if you can?t find a parking space at Target, there is no recession.

Another crucial leg of the US economy, auto manufacturing, has been in overdrive. Auto sales are at a record 18 million annual rate, and some summer production shut downs have been cancelled.

That is, everywhere except Volkswagen.

With two of the most important legs firing on all cylinders, it?s clearly not about the economy, stupid!

There certainly hasn?t been a geopolitical event to justify moves of this magnitude.

As far as I can tell, Hitler has not invaded Poland, nor have the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.

Sure, there is whining about China, which has the Shanghai Index approaching the 2,900 level once again, down 40% from the top.?

Which leads me to believe that all of this is nothing more than a temporary hiccup. A BIG Hofbrauhouse kind of hiccup, but a hiccup nonetheless.

In a zero interest rate world, stocks only have to fall back from a price earnings multiple of 18 to 15 to flush out a ton of buying, and they will have done just that when the (SPY) hits $174.

THAT IS MY LINE IN THE SAND.

If nothing else, corporate buybacks should reaccelerate here, which could reach $1 trillion in 2016. Some 75% companies exit their quiet period by February 5 and can resume buying.

That could signal an interim market bottom.

The great thing about this selloff is that the best quality companies have fallen the most. This has been a function of the heavy sovereign wealth fund selling the bridge oil deficits.

After all, when share prices are in free fall, you have to sell what you can, not what you want to. It is only human to realize profits rather than incur losses, so quality has been trashed.

I am therefore going to give you a list of ten of my favorite stocks to buy at the bottom, highlighting the sectors that will lead us into a yearend rally.

The themes here are home builders, consumer discretionary, autos, solar, old technology, and international. I?m sorry, but the entire interest sensitive sector is on hold for the rest of the year, thanks to likely Fed inaction.

Watch out, because when I sense that the market has burned itself out on the downside, the Trade Alerts are going to be coming hot and heavy.

You have been forewarned!

Read ?em and weep with joy!

10 Stocks to Buy at the Bottom

Lennar Homes (LEN)
Home Depot (HD)
Microsoft (MSFT)
General Electric (GE)
Tesla (TSLA)
Apple (AAPL)
First Solar (FSLR)
Palo Alto Networks (PANW)
Wisdom Tree Japan Hedged Equity (DXJ)
Wisdom Tree Europe Hedged Equity (HEDJ)

SSEC 1-20-16

INDU 1-20-16

USO 1-20-16

VIX 1-20-16

JNK 1-20-16

John ThomasFinally, All the Hard Work is Paying Off