Complex Simplicities

This note was originally published at 8am on January 18, 2011. INVESTOR and RISK MANAGER SUBSCRIBERS have access to the EARLY LOOK (published by 8am every trading day) and PORTFOLIO IDEAS in real-time.

“I must forever make the complex the simple.”

-Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

Ironically enough, one of my best friends gave me “The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr.” for my birthday a few weeks back. Notwithstanding that he didn’t know I’d be on my back reading for the last week, the timing of this gift was impeccable. Dr. King’s passion has forever made the complex the simple.

 

Complex Simplicities are what we chaos theorists wake up looking for each Global Macro market morning. One of my favorite risk management books of all time (“Deep Simplicity”, by John Gribbin) got me hooked on the basic principles of chaos and complexity theory back in 2006. Thank God for those teachings. They saved our clients and our firm a lot of money in 2008.

 

Investment opportunities in a globally interconnected ecosystem are omnipresent. While there may be Apple days in California and snow days in Connecticut, there is no such thing as “risk on” and “risk off” days in Global Macro markets. In fact, when I hear people say that, all I can do is smile. Accepting chaos theory in risk management means accepting uncertainty, every day.

 

Over the intermediate-term TREND, there is no such thing as market certainty. The only thing you can be certain of, after a +91.3% melt-up in US stocks since March of 2009, is that for the immediate-term groupthink session everyone on the Barron’s Roundtable is going to be bullish.

 

Being bullish or bearish on the amount of uncertainty you think there is going to be in a market price is an opinion. So is doing nothing. For now, from an asset allocation perspective, we’re doing more and more of nothing. As some market prices climb, we’re raising more cash.

 

This is what the Hedgeye Asset Allocation Model looks like to start off this week:

  1. US Cash: UP to 67% (versus 61% last week)
  2. International Currencies: DOWN to 18%
  3. International Equities: DOWN to 6%
  4. US Equities: UP to 6%
  5. Fixed Income: UNCHANGED week-over-week at 3%
  6. Commodities: DOWN to 0% (in the last 2 wks, I’ve sold all our Oil, Sugar, and Corn – and there are no rules saying I can’t buy them back lower)

Being in cash is a simple concept. While I do get some very complex questions about the nature of my cash position, most of the time the real complexity in the questions is born out of the problems associated with many institutions being mandated to be “fully invested.” I don’t have to be.

 

To be crystal clear on this, the Hedgeye Asset Allocation Model represents what I am personally doing with my investable capital. I’d be nuts to put my name on any other advice than that which I abide by myself. Again, from a transparency and accountability perspective, this is very simple.

 

Complex Simplicities: Did I think people who were jamming into bond and gold funds in Q4 of 2010 were nuts? Yes. Do I think people who are fully invested chasing US Equity indices up here are nuts? Yes. Do people who I think are nuts make money in this business? Yes.

 

But, sometimes (1998, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2008), people who get nutso invested blow up. The goal here, if you’ve made money in each of the last 3 years, is to make it a fourth -  not to implode.

 

Last week in Global Macro, other than in the $2.8 TRILLION US Municipal Bond Market, not a lot of things blew up. Here were the most important Global Macro market moves of the week:

  1. US Dollar Index was debauched for a -2.4% loss, taking it down for the 2nd week out of the last 3 as Republicans attempt to break spending promises
  2. Euro rallied +3% from its prior week’s lows of $1.29 (where we covered our short) as “I Have A Scheme” (Zero Hedge coined) on fiat paper goes global
  3. CRB Commodities Index closed at another weekly closing-high of 333; Dear Ber-nank, that was another +3.1% inflationary move in 19 commodities
  4. Oil prices inflated +4% week-over-week, and 71% of Americans say it’s an issue – really?
  5. Gold was down -0.6% and down for the 2nd consecutive week (we remain short of gold, GLD)
  6. US stock market Volatility (VIX) dropped another -9.5% to 15.46, testing its April 2010 lows when US growth bulls were last this horned up

There wasn’t enough pin action in credit spreads (US or Sovereign) for me to call it out and nominal US Treasury Yields didn’t do much on a week-over-week basis either (they remain in what we call a Bullish Formation – bullish on all 3 of our core investment durations: TRADE, TREND, and TAIL). That’s one of the main reasons why we love our cash so much. Global Inflation Accelerating is bad for de bonds, eh.

 

Complex Simplicities associated with our living in a higher-and-lower American society by the week aside, we’re looking forward to watching how this year’s Global Macro picture plays out post the beginning of the year “flows” thing. While in cash, waiting and watching for US stock-centric investors to react to something other than Apples and snow should be, at a bare minimum, worth the immediate-term absolute performance charge.

 

My immediate term support and resistance lines for the SP500 are now 1277 and 1299, respectively.

 

Best of luck out there today – it’s good to be back in the game,

KM

 

Keith R. McCullough
Chief Executive Officer

 

Complex Simplicities - box



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