Notes From Underground: Looking at 2020 With Imperfect Vision

January 9, 2020

On Monday, I had a chat with Anthony Crudele about the global macro impact on markets in 2020. As I always warn (in an effort to mimic MAO), there are many potential prairie fires in the world that COULD be ignited by a single spark. The Middle East is a potential prairie fire — every year. We were reminded of this over the last week as multiple events in IRAQ/IRAN brought the world to the precipice of cataclysmic outcomes. For now, the situation seems to be contained as GOLD, sovereign bonds and other tools of wealth protection.

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Notes From Underground: Whistling Past the Tombstones

December 29, 2019

As we approach 2020, it seems as though the financial world is unconcerned about the dramatic increase in DEBT. Yes, the airwaves are alive with news of the extremely low level of mortgage delinquencies but fail to discuss the growing delinquency of 90-day auto loans and the $1.5 trillion pile of student loan debt, an albatross for college graduates over the 20 years. Corporate debt has increased by the magic of financial engineering in which share buybacks and dividend increases are greased with the benevolence of central banks caught in a trap of their design.

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Notes From Underground: Euthanize the Rentiers

December 22, 2019

As we head into the global macro uncertainty of 2020, equity markets continue to elevate due to central bank liquidity additions. One year ago, U.S. equities suffered large losses, which some attributed to the FED firing its DOUBLE SHOTGUN of interest rate increases with QUANTITATIVE TIGHTENING (Druckenmiller/Boockvar).

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Notes From Underground: 10 Years of Notes

December 19, 2019

This is the 10th anniversary of NOTES FROM UNDERGROUND. I published the first post on December 17, 2009. WordPress has an archive where readers can go back and find many things that are still relevant today. I want to thank those who edit my work, send stories and references for me to research, as well as the many who had brought their thorough and thoughtful comments to help promote a higher level of discourse and investment possibilities, and, of course, all of our subscribers.

NOTES FROM UNDERGROUND will take on an enhanced roll as the GLOBAL MACRO WUNDERKIND DENNIS GARTMAN is heading to the golf course for a well deserved round of 18. So, my gift to you all this holiday season: An FRA PODCAST I recorded with Chris Whalen and Peter Boockvar. Enjoy and pour the libation of your choice (mine is now a Maker’s Mark). All the best!

Notes From Underground: The Market Has Much to Consider

December 16, 2019

Last week was filled with the culmination of many issues as we had the FEDECB, trade agreement, UK election, impeachment hearings, and even an attempt at resolving the USMCA trade deal with Mexico and Canada.

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Notes From Underground: “It’s Good News Week”

December 10, 2019

What an appropriate song for the band Hedgehoppers Anonymous. This week is loaded with potential market-moving outcomes. On Wednesday we have the final FOMC statement of the year followed by Chairman Jerome Powell’s press conference. The CONSENSUS is for no change in the current fed funds target range of 1.5% to 1.75%. The real key will hopefully be Powell’s press conference as market participants are hoping for any sort of dialogue about the Fed’s role in the repo market.

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Notes From Underground: The Jobs Picture Is Robust, But Where Is the Wage Increase?

December 8, 2019

This is a rhetorical question of course, for the lack of wage growth is to be found in the vast amount of money chasing a global labor pool.

It is capital that had benefited from the last 30 years of the unleashing workers after the fall of the Soviet Empire and the black/white cat policies of Deng in pursuing growth in China. Now that other emerging economies are attracting capital in an effort to create jobs, there still remains a great deal of downward pressure on wages. Even the movement of supply chains out of China will act as a drag on global earnings as manufacturers will act to hold down wages as way of remaining attractive to foreign direct investment. The world has been watching as Chinese earnings growth has accelerated over the last 10 years but one of the outcomes from the Trump tariffs will be to force a slowdown in China’s wage inflation.

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Notes From Underground: All Tweets, No Substance

December 3, 2019

On Monday President Trump sent out an early morning TWEET that sought to admonish the FED for keeping interest rates too high, coupled with an accusation that “two South American have been presiding over a massive devaluation of their currencies, which has not been good for our farmers.” ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN IN THE CAPACITY OF ECONOMIC AND TRADE ADVISERS OUGHT TO BE FIRED FOR MALFEASANCE.

This tweet was so off base that it should have forced the media into hyper critical mode to deconstruct its flaws. Brazil and Argentina have not been intervening to depreciate their currencies.

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Notes From Underground: Same Old Song With a Different Beat

December 1, 2019

There are few questions about the one-dimensional nature of the driving force of markets around the world. Cheap money sustains equity markets as the vast amounts of central bank liquidity continues to provide support for low-cost borrowing and a lack of alternatives for investors. A subset of the cheap cost of capital has been the “hoped” for resolution to the China/U.S. trade conflict which without question has disrupted global trade. South Korea’s recent economic performance is a reflection of the impact suffered by key components of the global supply chain driven export-oriented economy.

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Notes From Underground: Was Trump Addressing Mnuchin or Powell?

November 19, 2019

On Monday, Treasury Secretary Steven Muchin and Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell met with President Trump at the White House where the duo “advised” and “forecasted” the economy to the president as 2020 election posturing is in full swing. NOTES FROM UNDERGROUND has maintained that Trump used the tariff threat to cajole Jerome Powell into lowering interest rates, weaken the DOLLAR and end the balance sheet runoff that the administration believed has held back the U.S. economy. What was Powell buying insurance against?

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