Archive for December, 2018

Notes From Underground: And To All a Good Year

December 23, 2018

We are heading into the last trading week of the year and it’s setting up to be volatile, to say the least. The FED is in motion. Equity investors are harvesting profits from a long-run bull market. Bond markets are uncertain as how to react to the end of QE since the central banks are now beginning to shrink global reserves (at least the Fed is). Commodity prices are struggling due to the fear of a global economic slowdown. And the political backdrop adds great uncertainty as the Trump administration never misses an opportunity to open its mouth and detract from any policy success it may experience. China, Russia, Turkey, Iran and even Saudi Arabia are watching the Western Democracies to see how they respond to Trump’s efforts to disrupt the current trading system and, more importantly, the rollback of PAX AMERICANA.

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Notes From Underground: The Umpire Strikes Back

December 19, 2018

The Fed chairman is situated as the key arbiter of the economy and rules via its DUAL MANDATE. Given that it has a research staff of at least 500 economists the FED positions itself as ALL KNOWING, which is certainly okay as long as it accepts the consequences and lays aside the use of counterfactuals when its policies may turn out to be very misguided.

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Notes From Underground: Seasons Greetings From 1850 K Street

December 18, 2018

On Wednesday the most discussed FOMC meeting in years will take place. The FED has put itself into a box through its use of forward guidance and of the DOT PLOTS to direct investor sentiment. By skipping a rate hike at its November 8 meeting Chairman Powell put the burden on December with a heightened sense of a rate rise as it has a scheduled press conference. There is a murderers row of financial heavyweights arguing for the FED to ABSTAIN FROM A RISE IN RATES and wait for more data to ascertain whether the equity markets are signaling a genuine concern on economic problems, or are merely repricing risk that had premiums WAY TOO LOW during the halcyon days of harmonized QE. As the FED shrinks its balance sheet, the ECB is finished with liquidity. Once you add the BOJ dancing to the tune of a decimated bond market, global liquidity is being restrained.

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Notes From Underground: Markets Are Rounding Third and Sliding Into Home

December 16, 2018

As we head into the final two weeks of the year, the global equity markets are “sliding into home.” Equities sold off again on Friday as the Chinese tariff saga is failing to provide support to the market. Weekend news conveyed the idea that the market was reacting to this week’s FED meeting and the very high probability of another increase in the central bank’s target range. This is a stretch because investors have been aware of the FED‘s limitations under its own “forward guidance,” trapped into a rate hike for fear of spooking the market if no increase was decided.

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Notes From Underground: Narrow-Minded Hypocrites, All I Want Is the Truth

December 13, 2018

Gimme some truth. That is what John Lennon craved back in 1971. In 2018, it seems that investors and traders crave the same thing:

       I’m sick and tired of hearing things
       From uptight, short-sighted,narrow-minded hypocrits
       All I want is the truth, just Give me some truth
       I’ve had enough of reading things
       By neurotic, psychotic, pig-headed politicians
       No short-haired, yellow-bellied, son of tricky dicky
       Is going to mother hubbard soft soap me
       With a pocketful of hope
       Money for dope, money for rope

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Notes From Underground: Deep Discourse With Anthony Crudele (and Futures Radio)

December 10, 2018

On December 6, I had the pleasure of talking with Anthony Crudele at Futures Radio. Anthony and I covered Russia, yield curves, gold/currencies and the Chinese tariff situation. Enjoy the discussion, be it on the tread mill, stationary bike or sipping your favorite libation. My favorite drink is now Wild Irish Rose sent to me by the great trader and humorist P. Lynch. And please, keep the comments coming as powerful questions lead to quality discourse and potential profitable trades.

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Notes From Underground: Angie, Where Will It Lead Us From Here?

December 9, 2018

Germany chose a new CDU party leader to replace Angela Merkel. Membership chose Merkel’s hand-picked choice Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, also known as AKK. This is a very poor choice as it reflects a continuation of the status quo at a time that the traditional German ruling parties are struggling to maintain voter support. These are turbulent times for Germany, Europe and the world and Chancellor Merkel has proven to be too staid to deal with a world threatened by a populist upheaval.

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Notes From Underground: Not Such Benign Neglect for the Payrolls Report

December 9, 2018

In what appeared to be a “soft” unemployment report, the equity markets discarded the  traditional Goldilocks response to weaker data and spent the entire session in sell mode. That sent the S&Ps to a 4.5% LOSS for the week. The BULLS are in trouble for the market rejected what was regarded as POSITIVE news and continued the 11-week long correction. The G-20, “dovish” FED and softer data were cast aside as new negative stories, like the arrest of a significant Chinese business leader and the Mueller investigation closing in on the president. OPEC’s agreed cut in oil production sent crude oil prices moderately higher on Friday, which would have given a boost to the S&Ps as energy stocks would have been bid in past occasions.

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Notes From Underground: Bye, Bye Pappy Van Winkle

December 6, 2018

At the end of 2017, my readers may recall that I did an unusual thing. I made a prognostication as where the 10-year yield will end the year. I said the 10-year would end the year at 3.41 percent, to which a friend offered up a bottle of Pappy Van Winkle bourbon if the rate reached that level. (The yield was 2.60 percent at the time.) Well, I’m throwing in the towel as it looks like 3.26 percent looks to be the top for the year. I guess I will have to enjoy a lesser-quality libation.

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Notes From Underground: A Riddle, Wrapped In a Mystery, Inside an Enigma

December 4, 2018

I’ve been thinking about the Churchill quote referring to Russia. Rather than referencing Russia my thoughts turn to the flattening yield curves that began on Monday. As commodity, global equities markets, the Chinese yuan and the precious metals all staged strong rallies, the long-end of the yield curve also rallied, especially the 10-YEAR. As a result, the 2/10 curve flattened to a 10-year low of 15 basis points. On Tuesday, the curves flattened even more as the 2/10 closed at 10.7 basis points. As Vizzini from the Princess Bride would say, “INCONCEIVABLE!” To support the rally in the long-end of the curve there was a retracement of the recent rally in global equity markets (the NIKKEI, DAX and S&Ps were all down substantially). This suggests that the positive news from the G-20 meeting has now been cast asunder because investors are struggling to comprehend what actually took place in Buenos Aires between the U.S. and Chinese delegations.

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