Archive for October, 2017

Notes From Underground: It’s Halloween and Nothing Scares the Markets

October 31, 2017

It has been a few days since the ECB announced its intentions. There was no surprise as President Draghi met market expectations by beginning a NON-TAPER, cutting QE by 30 billion euros beginning in January 2018. So as we considered the outcome of PACE and DURATION, the ECB cut the pace in half and extended the program by nine months to September 2018. The most significant piece of the Draghi press conference was his persistence on making the composition of future purchases. It seems that the ECB will utilize the European corporate bond market to meet its requirement and stay true to its CAPITAL KEY. By buying more corporate debt the ECB will find enough German assets to buy. The major problem for the European markets is that UNLIKE the U.S. financial system, European banks are a much more important actor as they provide far more corporate loans on a percentage basis of GDP than U.S. banks. The U.S. financial system relied to a far greater extent on issuing bonds. We have previously discussed the absurd chart showing European high yield debt to have a lower interest rate than 10-year U.S. Treasuries.

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Notes From Underground: A Celebration Of The Greatest Act Of Financial Alchemy (Ever)

October 25, 2017

The Swiss National Bank (SNB) has pulled off the greatest act of alchemy by printing copious amounts of Swiss francs (CHF) and turning the currency into real corporate assets. The SNB has grown its balance sheet to CHF800 billionĀ  from CHF500 billion in 2015, 85 percent of which is foreign exchange holdings in various forms. As the SNB struggled to weaken the franc to prevent the ultimate safe-haven currency from strengthening and putting the Swiss economy into a DEFLATIONARY SPIRAL. The Swiss experiment began January 15, 2015 as the SNB officially removed the EUR/CHF PEG, which it was attempting to HOLD. Yet the market kept buying the franc despite the SNB’s efforts (the PEG had a 1.20 floor).

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Notes From Underground: Him Or Me, What’s It Gonna Be?

October 24, 2017

President Trump is the ultimate drama queen. The president is drawing out his FED selection as he titillates the markets with the drips and drabs as to who is the most probable choice. Here is my best guess: Because this president reminds the nation how great he is doing using the stock markets as the barometer it would follow that his choice would be the best one for keeping equity prices elevated. Kevin Warsh and John Taylor would be a problem as the equity markets would become cautious for fear of short-term interest rates rising at a quicker pace. It seems that Jerome Powell and Janet Yellen would be the ones to sustain the current stock rally as they are known entities to the Wall street contingent. Of course the ultimate booster of all asset classes would be Neel Kashkari, the latest dissenter to the previous rate increases in 2017.

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Notes From Underground: Prepping For Draghi

October 23, 2017

Another moment in time with Rick Santelli. We reviewed some of today’s early market reactions to the weekend events. A measure of the impact of President Mario Draghi’s ECB policy was reflected in the prices of European sovereign debt. The political news out of Spain and Italy let alone recent elections in Austria and the Czech Republic SHOULD have sent Italian and Spanish yields HIGHER but because of the ECB’s ongoing LARGE ASSET PURCHASES Spanish and Italian yields on 10-year debt actually dropped the most today.

(Click on the image to watch me and Rick discuss the weekend’s events.)

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Notes From Underground: Elections In Japan, Czech Republic and Italy

October 22, 2017

First: On Oct. 18 I talked with Richard Bonugli from the Financial Repression Authority and financial analyst John Browne, a former member of the British Parliament. I am linking to the transcript of the chat. The conversation was free-flowing and was heavily tilted toward geopolitical concerns and shed light on investment possibilities. But as readers of NOTES well know, many of out best trade outcomes are based on political economy as well as mere yield curves. Last week the 2/10 did challenge the 73.5 basis point level (again) and by Friday the 2/10 had bounced back to 81 basis points.

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Notes From Underground: The Chinese Cite Hyman Minsky

October 19, 2017

First a few jokes: My sources tell me that the new Fed Chairman will be Marc Faber; second, as Lloyd Blankfein is chirping about Brexit and Goldman moving to Frankfurt, Germany, he opined several years ago that Goldman was doing God’s work. Well, being the cyclical time in the Jewish Torah of the reading of NOAH, I remind Blankfein that Noah was also part of God’s work. (Pour a scotch and laugh).

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Notes From Underground: Some Areas Of Concern and Importance

October 16, 2017

As the tinder of prairie fires builds, these areas of concern are important because of the potential impact they can have on the market:

1. Sunday’s election results in Austria give rise to concerns about the rise of euroskeptic groups in several European nations. Yes, the anti-immigration sentiment appears to be the dominant variable in bringing a right-wing government to Vienna, but the sparks from xenophobia can manifest into an anti-ECB issue as domestic citizens are asked to foot the bill for bail-outs of Italian banks. Many citizens of various European states have borne the costs of bailing out Italy, Spain, Ireland, Greece and Cyprus through negative interest rates, the ultimate tool of financial repression. German two-year notes are currently -73 basis points, even though German inflation is approaching 1.7%, resulting in a real yield of NEGATIVE 2.5% for the savers in German-based banks. Regardless of what the ECB does in terms of quantitative tightening President Draghi has maintained that negative rates will remain lower for longer. Financial repression will be the next theme for the European right.

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Notes From Underground: Who Gets Eaten and Who Get’s to Eat (Sweeney Todd)

October 15, 2017

As Stephen Sondheim wrote in the dark musical Sweeney Todd, “What’s the sound in the world out there. It’s man devouring man. The history of the world, my sweet, is who gets eaten and who gets to eat.”

I open with this thought in regards to a wonderful op-ed piece in the Barron’s over the weekend by John Curran titled, “The Coming Renaissance of Macro Investing.” Curran has the pedigree of writing this piece as he served his time at one of the greatest global macro funds, Caxton Partners. There are no greater thinker/traders than Stan Druckenmiller or Bruce Kovner. When it came to understanding the role of foreign currencies in creating investment opportunities Kovner is the wisest I have ever had the pressure to read. The last 10 years have been difficult for the global macro discretionary crowd but as John Curran suggests the winds of change are blowing. This is also a theme I have been discussing of late. The big difference in my opinion is that short-term trades will morph into momentum investments.

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Notes From Underground: Trading Strategies For An Automated World

October 10, 2017

Yesterday, I sat down with the group TOPSTEP TRADER to discuss ways I prepare to trade. Topstep is a private group that educates/prepares potential traders for a profitable existence. As the fourth quarter has begun, I thought this video would be beneficial as a review for my readers. Reviewing rules and concepts are important, especially as I BELIEVE WE ARE HEADING INTO A PERIOD OF INCREASED VOLATILITY. A rise in market volatility can be a time of great profit but it comes with a major increase in risk. The complacency of the market because of the central banks continued intervention coupled with the risk selling of the risk-parity crowd. I say crowd because it is not just AQR and Bridgewater involved in risk parity but there are many volatility sellers piggy backing on the power of the largest market players. Remember, when George Soros/Druckenmiller broke the Bank of England in September 1992, it wasn’t just Soros but many of the banks servicing Soros were tailcoating the Quantum Fund. But when the elephants leave the drinking hole many denizens of the jungle get crushed (Niederhoffer).

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Notes From Underground: Be Very Afraid Of Jerome Powell and His Printing Press

October 3, 2017

Over the past 15 months, I have made light of Fed Governor Jerome (Jay) Powell because of his answer to a question I had asked him at a symposium presented by the Chicago Global Initiative. I asked Governor Powell, “Who guarantees the balance sheet of the ECB?” Without hesitating, Powell said, “THEY HAVE A PRINTING PRESS.” If this is his answer to issues of debt overhang I will be closely watching the precious metals if Powell actually became Fed Chairman. Janet Yellen has proven far more competent than Jerome Powell would be under any top of stressful central bank situation.

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