Posts

October 2, 2019

Global Market Comments
October 2, 2019
Fiat Lux

Featured Trade:

(TEN MORE REASONS WHY BONDS WON’T CRASH),
(TLT), (TBT), (ELD), (MUB)
(COFFEE WITH RAY KURZWEIL), (GOOG)

September 27, 2019

Global Market Comments
September 27, 2019
Fiat Lux

Featured Trade:

(IF BONDS WON’T GO DOWN, STOCKS CAN’T EITHER),
($NIKK), (TLT), (TBT), ($TNX),
(TESTIMONIAL)

September 20, 2019

Global Market Comments
September 20, 2019
Fiat Lux

Featured Trade:

(SEPTEMBER 18 BIWEEKLY STRATEGY WEBINAR Q&A),
(TLT), (FDX), (FB), (HYG), (JNK), (EEM), (BABA), (JD), (TBT), (FXE), (UUP), (AMZN), (FB), (DIS), (MSFT), (USO), (INDU),
(THE GREAT TRADING GURU SPEAKS)

September 6, 2019

Global Market Comments
September 6, 2019
Fiat Lux

Featured Trade:

(SEPTEMBER 4 BIWEEKLY STRATEGY WEBINAR Q&A),
(INDU), (FXY), (FXB), (USO), (XLE), (TLT), (TBT),
(FB), (AMZN), (MSFT), (DIS), (WMT), (IWM), (TSLA), (ROKU), (UBER), (LYFT), (SLV), (SIL)

July 31, 2019

Global Market Comments
July 31, 2019
Fiat Lux

SPECIAL FIXED INCOME ISSUE

Featured Trade:
(ITALY’S BIG WAKE UP CALL),
(TLT), ($TNX), (TBT), (SPY), ($INDU), (FXE), (UUP), (USO),
(WELCOME TO THE DEFLATIONARY CENTURY),
(TLT), (TBT),

Italy’s Big Wake Up Call

Those planning a European vacation this summer just received a big gift from Mario Draghi, the outgoing president of the European Central Bank. His promise to re-accelerate quantitative easing in Europe has sent the Euro crashing and the US dollar soaring.

Over the last two weeks, the Euro (FXE) has fallen by 2.5%. That $1,000 Florence hotel suite now costs only $975. Mille Gracie!

You can blame the political instability in the Home of Caesar, which has not had a functioning government since WWII. The big fear is that the extreme left would form a collation government with the extreme right that could lead to its departure from the European Community and the Euro. Think of it as Bernie Sanders joining Donald Trump!

In fact, Italy has had 62 different governments since WWII. They change administrations like I change luxury cars, about once a year. Welcome to European debt crisis part 27.

I can’t remember the last time markets cared about what happened in Europe. It was probably the first Greek debt crisis in 2011. As a result, German ten-year bunds have cratered from 0.60% to -0.40%. But they care today, big time.

Given the reaction of the global financial markets, you could have been forgiven for thinking that the world had just ended.

US Treasury Bond yields (TLT) saw their biggest plunge in years, off 120 basis points to 2.05%.

Even oil prices collapsed for an entirely separate set of reasons, the price of Texas Tea pared 20% since April on spreading global recession fears.

Saudi Arabia looks like it’s about to abandon the wildly successful OPEC production quotas that have been boosting oil prices for the past year. Iran has withdrawn from the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, responding with an undeclared tanker war in the Persian Gulf, which I flew over myself only a few weeks ago. The geopolitical premium is back with a vengeance.

So if the Italian developments are a canard, why are we REALLY going down?

You’re not going to like the answer.

It turns out that rising inflation, interest rates, oil and commodity prices, the US dollar, US national debt, budget deficits, and stagnant wage growth are a TERRIBLE backdrop for risk in general and stocks specifically. And this is all happening with the major indexes at the top end of recent ranges.

In other words, it was an accident waiting to happen.

Traders are extremely nervous, global uncertainty is high, the seasonals are awful, and Washington is a ticking time bomb. If you were wondering why I was issuing so few Trade Alerts in July, these are the reasons.

This all confirms my expectation that markets could remain stuck in increasingly narrow trading ranges for the next six months until the presidential election begins in earnest.

Which is creating opportunities.

The global race towards zero interest  has the US as the principal laggard. So you should keep buying every serious dip in the bond market.

Stocks are still wildly overvalued for the short term, so I’ll keep my low profile there. As for gold (GLD) and the currencies, I keep buying dips there as well.

So watch for those coming Trade Alerts. I’m not dead yet, just resting. The contest here is to make as much money as you can, not to see how many trades you can clock. That is a brokers’ game, not yours.

 

 

 

 

Waiting for My Shot

Welcome to the Deflationary Century

Ignore the lessons of history, and the cost to your portfolio will be great. Especially if you are a bond trader!

Meet deflation, upfront and ugly.

If you looked at a chart for data from the United States, consumer prices are showing a feeble 1.6% YOY price gain. This is below the Federal Reserve’s own 2.0% annual inflation target, with most of the recent gains coming from rising oil prices.

And here’s the rub. Wage growth, which accounts for 70% of the inflation calculation, has been practically nil. So, don’t expect inflation to rise much from here despite an unemployment rate at a 50-year low.

We are not just having a deflationary year or decade. We may be having a deflationary century.

If so, it will not be the first one.

The 19th century saw continuously falling prices as well. Read the financial history of the United States, and it is beset with continuous stock market crashes, economic crisis, and liquidity shortages.

The union movement sprung largely from the need to put a break on falling wages created by perennial labor oversupply and sub living wages.

Enjoy riding the New York subway? Workers paid 10 cents an hour built it 120 years ago. It couldn’t be constructed today, as other more modern cities have discovered. The cost would be wildly prohibitive.

The causes of 19th-century price collapse were easy to discern. A technology boom sparked an industrial revolution that reduced the labor content of end products by ten to a hundredfold.

Instead of employing 100 women for a day to make 100 spools of thread, a single man operating a machine could do the job in an hour.

The dramatic productivity gains swept through the developing economies like a hurricane. The jump from steam to electric power during the last quarter of the century took manufacturing gains a quantum leap forward.

If any of this sounds familiar, it is because we are now seeing a repeat of the exact same impact of accelerating technology. Machines and software are replacing human workers faster than their ability to retrain for new professions.

This is why there has been no net gain in middle class wages for the past 30 years. It is the cause of the structural high U-6 “discouraged workers” employment rate as well as the millions of millennials still living in parents’ basements.

To the above, add the huge advances now being made in healthcare, biotechnology, genetic engineering, DNA-based computing, and big data solutions to problems.

If all the major diseases in the world were wiped out, a probability within 10 years, how many healthcare jobs would that destroy?

Probably tens of millions.

So the deflation that we have been suffering in recent years isn’t likely to end any time soon. If fact, it is just getting started.

Why am I interested in this issue? Of course, I always enjoy analyzing and predicting the far future using the unfolding of the last half-century as my guide. Then I have to live long enough to see if I’m right.

I did nail the rise of eight-track tapes over six-track ones, the victory of VHS over Betamax, the ascendance of Microsoft (MSFT) operating systems over OS2, and then the conquest of Apple (AAPL) over Microsoft. So, I have a pretty good track record on this front.

For bond traders especially, there are far-reaching consequences of a deflationary century. It means that there will be no bond market crash, as many are predicting, just a slow grind up in long-term bond prices instead.

Amazingly, the top in rates in this cycle only reach the bottom of past cycles at 3.25% for ten-year Treasury bonds (TLT), (TBT).

The soonest that we could possibly see real wage rises will be when a generational demographic labor shortage kicks in during the 2020s. That could be a decade off.

I say this not as a casual observer but as a trader who is constantly active in an entire range of debt instruments.

 

 

 

Yup, This Will Be a Real Job Killer

July 5, 2019

Global Market Comments
July 5, 2019
Fiat Lux

Featured Trade:

(FRIDAY JULY 19 ZERMATT SWITZERLAND STRATEGY SEMINAR)
(WHERE THE ECONOMIST “BIG MAC” INDEX FINDS CURRENCY VALUE),
(FXF), (FXE), (FXA), (FXY), (CYB),
(WHY US BONDS LOVE CHINESE TARIFFS),
(TLT), (TBT), (SOYB), (BA), (GM)

Why US Bonds Love Chinese Tariffs

For many, one of the most surprising impacts of the administration’s tariffs on Chinese imports announced today has been a rocketing bond market.

Since the December $116 low, the iShares 20+ Year Treasury Bond ETF (TLT) has jumped by a staggering $16 points, the largest move up so far in years.

The tariffs are a highly regressive tax that will hit consumers hard in the pocketbook, thus reducing their purchasing power.

It will dramatically slow US economic growth. If the trade war escalates, and it almost certainly will, it could shrink US GDP by as much as 1% a year. A weaker economy means less demand for money, lower interest rates, and higher bond prices.

There is no political view here. This is just basic economics.

And while there has been a lot of hand-wringing over the prospect of China dumping its $1.1 trillion in American bond holdings, it is unlikely to take action here.

The Beijing government isn’t going to do anything to damage the value of its own investments. The only time it actually does sell US bonds is to support its own currency, the renminbi, in the foreign exchange markets.

What it CAN do is to boycott new Treasury bond purchases, which it already has been doing for the past year.

The tariffs also raise a lot of uncertainty about the future of business in the United States. Companies are definitely not going to increase capital spending if they believe a depression is coming, which the last serious trade war during the 1930s greatly exacerbated.

While stocks despise uncertainty, bonds absolutely love it.

Those of you who are short the bond market through the ProShares Ultra Short 20+ Year Treasury ETF (TBT) have a particular problem that is often ignored.

The cost of carry of this fund is now more than 5% (two times the 2.10% coupon plus management fees and expenses). Thus, long-term holders have to see interest rates rise by more than 5% a year just to break even. The (TBT) can be a great trade, but a money-losing investment.

The Chinese, which have been studying the American economic and political systems very carefully for decades, will be particularly clever in its retaliation. And you thought all those Chinese tourists were over here just to buy our Levi’s?

It will target Republican districts with a laser focus, and those in particular who supported Donald Trump. It wants to make its measures especially hurt for those who started this trade war in the first place.

First on the chopping block: soybeans, which are almost entirely produced in red states. In 2016, the last full year for which data is available, the US sold $15 billion worth of soybeans to China. Which are the largest soybean producing states? Iowa followed by Minnesota.

A major American export is aircraft, some $131 billion in 2017, and China is overwhelmingly the largest buyer. The Middle Kingdom needs to purchase 1,000 aircraft over the next 10 years to accommodate its burgeoning middle class. It will be easy to shift some of these orders to Europe’s Airbus Industries.

This is why the shares of Boeing (BA) have been slaughtered recently, down some 13.5% from the top. While Boeing planes are assembled in Washington state, they draw on parts suppliers in all 50 states.

Guess what the biggest selling foreign car in China is? The General Motors (GM) Buick which saw more than 400,000 in sales last year. I have to tell you that it is hilarious to see my mom’s car driven up to the Great Wall of China. Where are these cars assembled? Michigan and China.

The global trading system is an intricate, finally balanced system that has taken hundreds of years to evolve. Take out one small piece, and the entire structure falls down upon your head.

This is something the administration is about to find out.

 

 

 

June 4, 2019

Global Market Comments
June 4, 2019
Fiat Lux

Featured Trade:

(WEDNESDAY, JUNE 26 SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA STRATEGY LUNCHEON)
(TEN UGLY MESSAGES FROM THE BOND MARKET),
(TLT), (TBT), (USO), (GLD), (GS), (SPY)