Risk Ranger: SP500 Levels, Refreshed

POSITION: no position SPY; short XLF


I am getting a lot of questions about levels here. To be clear, the 200-day Moving Monkey is not a risk management line. It’s a one-factor (point and click simple moving average) where we can all observe proactively predictable behavior.


Across our risk management durations (TRADE/TREND/TAIL), here are the lines that matter: 

  1. Long-term TAIL of resistance = 1377
  2. Intermediate-term TREND resistance = 1319
  3. Immediate-term TRADE range = 1 

Big Government Intervention isn’t the economic or market catalyst it’s all cracked up to be. All it does is shorten economic cycles and amplify market volatility. We remain the bears on US GDP Growth Slowing and the Financials (XLF).




Keith R. McCullough
Chief Executive Officer


Risk Ranger: SP500 Levels, Refreshed - SPX


PEET’s is one of those rare small cap companies that is well managed and operates within a strong category.  Its current valuation partially reflects the coffee bubble that is being priced into several names within the coffee space.  PEET takes the prize for the company with the highest inflation rate at 40%.  During the past quarter coffee prices have declined almost 20% during 2Q11.  It is likely that gross margins erosion peaked this quarter and should mitigate going forward barring a spike in coffee prices.


The following comments are the forward looking statements from the 1Q11 earnings call which took place on 05.03.2011 as well as our take on certain topics.


GROCERY TOP-LINE: “Looking forward we have good momentum in our grocery business. We have strong base plans in place, very good visibility on the new distribution we expect and some things later in the year that we expect to have a meaningful impact on our business.”


“Grocery growth of 22% in the first quarter on top of last year's 39% growth in the first quarter was strong and reflects the overall health of this business, the strength of the brand and superior execution capability of our DSD system.”


HEDGEYE: The growth in grocery was achieved despite the price increase not being in effect for the full quarter.  The overwhelming majority of the company’s growth came from existing store distribution.  Late in the first quarter, Peet’s added “200 to 300” targeted stores.  The company was at roughly 9,000 at the end of 2010 and plans to add 1,000 to 1,500 in 2011 and maintains that it has “very good visibility” on that target.  As the DSD business is expanded, we expect a significant boost to margins given the degree of operating leverage in this business model.



RETAIL TOP-LINE:  Retail sales grew 4% in the quarter, all from existing stores.    


HEDGEYE:  Going forward, Peet’s has a number of top-line and efficiency initiatives coming through that should maintain or improve on retail performance notwithstanding rising coffee costs.  By the end of 2Q11, a new labor and time management system will be rolled out which will enable the company to more effectively schedule labor needs.



OTHER TOP-LINE:  Foodservice and office business grew 11% in 1Q11 and lowest rate of growth this year given the timing of new licensed locations, and the fact that a price increase in early January spurred some stronger orders back in December of 2010.


HEDGEYE: The rate of growth in 1Q11 will be the low point of 2011 and I expect trends to accelerate in 2H11.



MARGIN TRENDS: “In the specialty segment margins should continue to improve”… “In 2011 have turned the corner and are starting to see the operating leverage as put more volume on the existing DSD system” … “In 1Q11 G&A expenses improved 10 basis points over last year and there should continue is leveraging this line item for the rest of the year.”


HEDGEYE:  In terms of the expenses the company can control, we think it has managed them well.  The quotes above and tone of the conference call showed confidence in their ability to gain on the margin line though operating leverage.


COFFEE COSTS: “Coffee has gone from 15% inflation when we set our plan back in November of 2010 to 30% at our last call on February to over 40% now in May as the market has breached $3. Higher coffee costs will begin to significantly impact gross margins in the second quarter. In fact, the largest quarter-to quarter jump will occur between the first and second quarter. In Q1, our hedging benefits limited our coffee increase to 14% higher than last year. We began locking in more expensive coffee in the fourth quarter of last year and first quarter of this year and we'll start using that coffee this quarter.”


“Were expecting our full-year inflation to be around 40% in coffee costs”


“As a result, whereas gross margins were down only 40 basis points in Q1, we expect gross margins to be down in the 300 to 400 basis point range for the balance of the year.”


“Net-net we will be able to offset most of the short term coffee cost issues we have with operating expense savings and leverage of other costs, but we will continue to invest in areas for longer-term business benefit, and therefore, not expect to offset the full amount this year.”


HEDGEYE:  Coffee is the big wild card for this company but, in our view, the company is doing all the right things to reap significant benefits if/when coffee costs mitigate.




Howard Penney

Managing Director


Rory Green



A decent quarter doesn't matter in this market environment


"Our business performed well in the second quarter, showing solid growth in earnings, stronger occupancy levels and increased average rates in multiple segments and regions. We are building on that momentum with three recently announced transactions -- two acquisitions and the formation of a joint venture -- that will expand our select service presence, heighten awareness of our successful brands among both guests and owners and strengthen our select service development capabilities, thereby enhancing our ability to attract third party capital to fuel our growth in this attractive segment in North America and internationally."


- Mark S. Hoplamazian, president and chief executive officer of Hyatt Hotels




  • Adjusted EBITDA of $151MM and Adjusted EPS of $0.27
  • "Comparable owned and leased hotels RevPAR increased 5.9% (3.3% excluding the effect of currency)"
  • "Comparable North American full-service RevPAR increased 5.0% (4.7% excluding the effect of currency)"
  • "Comparable North American select-service RevPAR increased 9.6%"
  • "Comparable International RevPAR increased 9.9% (2.5% excluding the effect of currency)"
  • "Opened five properties during the second quarter of 2011 including three owned extended-stay hotels purchased during the second quarter of 2011 for approximately $77 million" and sold 8 hotels to a JV which it owns 40% for $110MM
  • Owned & leased Adjusted EBITDA was negatively impacted by approx $10MM due to renovations and RevPAR was negatively impacted by approximately 500bps
  • As of June 30th, Hyatt had 150 (35k rooms) executed hotel management and franchise contracts - 70% of which are located outside of North America
  • 2Q Capex of $72MM
  • Debt: $770MM; Cash: $875MM; Short term investments: $520MM
  • 2011 Guidance:
    • Capex: $380 - $400MM
    • D&A: $285 - $295MM
    • Interest expense: $50 - $55MM
    • 15 hotel openings excluding the acquisition announced in July


  • Rate growth was due to continued mix shift and pricing power that resulted from higher occupancy
  • Saw higher interest from potential owners in their brands this quarter
  • There has been limited financing in hotel development available - so therefore they have used some of their own cash to fund growth in these brands (select service)
  • Acquired through a foreclosure process--3 hotels in California--and will complete renovations at the hotels. 
  • During the quarter, they formed a JV with Noble to develop select service hotels and has a strong track record in developing hotels through multiple cycles. Own 40% and invested $30MM - think that they can develop 6-8 hotels
  • Lodgeworks acquisition comes with the branded management rights. Majority of the hotels are located in high barrier to entry markets and the hotels are in good condition.  Their extended stay product will grow by 40% as a result of this acquisition.  The full service hotels will benefit from their reservation systems and rebranding efforts. They like the extended stay segment.
    • 2012 Adjusted EBITDA will be approximately $50MM from this acquisition and expect that EBITDA will grow further as a result of rebranding and access to Hyatt's reservation system.  2 hotels are still under construction and several are less than 2 years old and are still ramping.  Many of the markets have limited new supply coming online over the next few years
  • Lower effective tax rate helped their EPS - benefited from a $12MM reversal from a charge in their international division
  • Smaller asset base in 2011 vs. 2010 due to asset sales over the last 12 months - roughly 3,000 less rooms (12 hotels) impacted owned and leased results
  • Timing of the Easter holiday negatively impacted results
  • Group business booked in the quarter for the quarter was up 7%. Easter holiday negatively impacted group business.
  • Transient rate benefited from a shift to corporate
  • Saw an increase in food and beverage and other revenues for the first time in a while
  • RevPAR was negatively impacted by Japan and North Africa and tough Shanghai comps. Excluding these 3 regions, local currency RevPAR gains would have been 11%.
  • No plans for future share repurchases at this time
  • Guidance doesn't include Lodgeworks but only the 2 they have closed.  Noble borrowed $65MM - their net proceeds were $90MM
  • Expect to fund $770MM of the Lodgeworks purchase in cash next quarter with the balance funded at a later date
  • Less than a 100bps and less than a $5MM impact from renovations in 3Q, after that their renovations will have a positive impact


  • They believe they will be able to significantly improve the EBITDA production capacity of their acquisition
  • See an expansion of more Select Service opportunities and some increase in Full Service as well on the acquisition front
  • Expect to open 15 properties ex Lodgeworks this year - have 8 left to open in the 2H of the year
  • Don't feel like there are any markets that they are over concentrated in. The Noble $30MM investment will be funded and drawn over time
  • Still focused on cost controls.
    • Decreased paper utilization
    • Keeping food costs in check - inventory management to reduce spoilage and turnover
  • Why do they like Extended Stay?
    • Gold passport membership levels are the highest in their Select Service which has a lot of managed corporate accounts
    • Feel like they have a dedicated customer base
    • Expect to expand these brands into emerging markets like India - Summerfield Suites are being built adjacent to IT center.  Feel that these brands have international growth potential
  • Lodgeworks assets are largely up to Hyatt Select Service brand standards so there is minimal investment required. Woodfin requires more capex. They would consider eventually selling these assets and retaining management contracts
  • Lodgeworks team has a long track record of raising development financing. They will likely participate in some new development activity with them in the future.
  • Group side overall trends - up 3% largely driven by rates. Business booked in the Q for the Q was up 13%. Business booked for 2012 has 8% higher ADRs.  Corporate and association business (70% of group) was also up. Booking windows continue to be short. However, the business that they are booking is coming in at decent rates.
  • Business in China ex Shanghai is up in the teens. Europe is a mixed bag.
  • Transient business was up 6% as a combination of rate and occupancy.
  • Leisure (10-15% of NA) ended the quarter on a strong note. June was up 10%. So far no impact of gas prices. Overall think that the trends are reasonable and they are cautiously optimistic.
  • Plan to remain investment grade - which is about 3.5x. Have a R/C that they are in the process of renewing now. Still have capacity to fund more growth
  • Bought back the shares given the overhang of the shares.  There is no plan on stock repurchases.
  • Thoughts on effective tax rate through year end? Reversed valuation allowance on an international asset based on improving results. Best to use a 35-40% tax rate.
  • 2Q impact from Japan and ME was $1.7MM - evenly split. Think it will be about $5MM impact for the year.

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Debt Ceiling Comprise Reached: Positive for the Politicians and Negative for the Rest of Us

Conclusion:  It seems that the politicians in Washington have their victory on the debt ceiling debate, a victory for whom remains the question.  Assuming this deal is passed, it will do very little to alleviate the bleak fiscal outlook of the United States.


Subject to passage by the Senate, the politicians in Washington have reached a compromise on the debt ceiling.  Despite the best fear mongering by both parties and many of the talking heads on TV, the credit markets, both Treasury yields and credit defaults swaps, have been consistently signaling that a U.S. debt default was highly unlikely.  The derivative impact of the fear mongering is that a deal is being pushed through, but the deal will not truly address deficit issues and continues to leave the door wide open for a potential ratings downgrade.


Based on the details we can discern from various sources, the Republicans will effectively get most of their deal, while President Obama will get the debt ceiling extended past the 2012 election.  The key points of the bill that were passed by the House 269 – 161 last night include: 

  • The debt ceiling can be increased by up to $2.4 trillion.  This increase will come in two tranches of $900 billion and a second tranche of up to $1.5 trillion.  The second tranche could be halted if Congress approves a joint resolution of disapproval;
  • The bill implements the $917 billion in discretionary spending cuts that were in the bill passed by the House last week, but these cuts are now split between “security” and “non-security”;
  • The top leaders in both chambers will appoint three members each to a twelve person committee (six Democrats and six Republicans) who will be charged with coming up with $1.2 trillion in additional cuts.  The committee will report by November 23rdand a Congressional vote on their proposed cuts will be implemented by December 23rd; and
  • New cuts will automatically go into effect if Congress doesn’t act on the super committee recommendations to ensure that the cuts reach $1.2 trillion. 

Keynesian economist and Nobel laureate Paul Krugman voiced his concern about this bill in the New York Times on Sunday with his emphasis that “there will be big spending cuts”.  We are not sure whether Dr. Krugman has a calculator in either his Upper West Side apartment or hallowed Ivy League office, but nothing could be further from the truth.


In the short term, according to the most recent scoring by the Congressional Budget Office, the impact of this bill is minimal with a mere $21 billion in cuts in fiscal 2012 and $42 billion in cuts in 2013. In the Early Look last Friday, we called this the Congressional Comb-over.  That is, while the amount of cuts to the deficit and the amount that the debt ceiling will be extended are roughly equal, they are on two very different time frames.  As noted, in the short term, the bill literally does nothing to alleviate the deficit and if the ratings agencies are being intellectually honest, this bill should not meaningfully change the creditworthiness of U.S. government debt.


Moreover, it is important to understand that the proposed spending cuts come off of the Congressional Budget Office baseline.  Based on the current CBO baseline, as represented in “An Analysis of the President’s Budget Proposal For Fiscal Year 2012”, total debt held by the public will increase from ~ $10.4 trillion in 2011 to ~ $20.8 trillion in  2021.  Therefore, the baseline projections will still add over $8 trillion in debt to the U.S. balance sheet over the next decade AFTER the proposed cuts.   As Senator Rand Paul wrote in an open letter stating why he won’t vote for this deal:


“This deal, even if all targets are met and the Super Committee wields its mandate - results in a BEST case scenario of still adding more than $7 trillion more in debt over the next 10 years. That is sickening.”


In the intermediate term, the more critical issue impacting the U.S. deficit is the domestic outlook for economic growth. Hedgeye has been on the low end of U.S. GDP estimates for the majority of the year, and consensus growth forecasts for 2H are still nearly twice that of ours.  The actual reported numbers have supported our contrarian stance, coming in at 0.4% on a quarter-over-quarter SA basis in Q1 2011 and 1.3% in Q2 2011 (advance estimate – which may also wind up being ~80% too high after future revisions!).  There are many issues with slow growth, but the key one that is not currently being contemplated is its impact on the federal deficit.


From a bigger picture perspective, the deficit projections provided by the CBO, which are the basis on which the spending cuts are predicated, are highly questionable based on a number of the imbedded economic assumptions, in particular GDP growth.  According to the CBO’s January 2011 publication, “The Budget and Economic Outlook: Fiscal Years 2011 to 2021”:


“All told, if growth of real GDP each year was 0.1 percentage point lower than is assumed in CBO’s baseline, annual deficits would be larger by amounts that would climb to $68 billion in 2021. The cumulative deficit for 2011 through 2021 would rise by $310 billion.”


In its economic projections, the CBO assumes 2.9% real annualized GDP growth from 2011 to 2021.  Interestingly, that is a noted acceleration from the last ten years, which produced an average annual rate of 1.7% real GDP growth.  If the next ten years produce comparable growth to the prior ten years, which is reasonable for an economy that is at 90%+ debt-to-GDP, the incremental deficit in that period over the CBO baseline would be $3.7 trillion, upping Rand Paul’s $7 trillion figure to a whopping $10.7 trillion in additional deficits added to the U.S. balance sheet through 2021.  And that, my friends, is a lot of billions.


Daryl G. Jones

Director of Research


We still expect a pretty sizeable beat but PENN stole some of the thunder already. Here is the pertinent forward looking commentary from PNK’s Q1 earnings call and press releases.



May 26: Investment in Asian Coast Development (Canada) Ltd. Conference Call

  • “We have been monitoring the Mississippi River, the water levels, very closely. It appears those levels have peaked. We’re fortunate not to have impact to our operations thus far here in the U.S. other than the previously announced delay of our L’Auberge Baton Rouge project site. We continue to target the summer of next year for that project.”
  • “Our investment provides for a 26% ownership in ACDL, a proportional board representation, which is expected to start-up at two board seats upon closing of the investment. It also gives us management rights through 2058 for a second major integrated resort on the Ho Tram Strip, with a possibility of a 20-year extension beyond that.”
  •  “There are two stages to MGM Ho Tram and there will likely be two stages to the Pinnacle Resort on the Ho Tram Strip. That financing has not been secured and thus will take place for the second stage of MGM Ho Tram that will take place after the first phase opens.”
  • [Project cost] “Well, it will be very similar in scope as far as amenities to what’s getting built as the MGM Ho Tram ($430MM). So, certainly keep in mind that it will be built at a different time. Certainly that wouldn’t be a bad assumption.”
  • [$95MM investment] “The vast majority of that will come from cash on hand.”


Youtube from Q1 Conference Call

  • “New Orleans actually saw the biggest improvements over the quarter, both in terms of its efficiency, as well as improvements in revenue. And that continues into the second quarter.”
  • [Baton Rouge facility] “And as a result, based on the current expectation of the river levels, which continues to be significantly above normal, we are waiting for those waters to recede. Eventually they will. It’s a question of time, and as a result we’re faced with looking at the summer of 2012 versus the first quarter for the opening day of that facility.”
  • [Corp exp run rate] “I think historically, 6.5% to 7% is probably a good run rate.”
  • “As well as some future development we’re going to do over at River City that I think we’re well on our way to getting our fair share. But again, I’ll remind you, our focus is not on market share, our focus is on driving profitable revenue.”
  • “There’s been some increased visits, but it’s mostly on the spend. The spend per visit is up. And we’re just starting to see the early signs of that through this quarter, and it’s continued through the early part of the second.”
  • “You’re right, we’re actually right exactly where we thought we would be as it relates to our marketing spend on a revenue basis. So from that perspective, certainly that’s played out to expectations…We haven’t seen a significant increase in promotional spend by our competitors, not yet.”
  • “We had new brand campaigns, as I mentioned in my remarks for Belterra, Lumière and River City. And all three launched in the first quarter. Those are not a monthly recurring expense, but that’s typically something we do depending on the legs of the campaign every 12 to 18 months.”
  • “I still believe we’re in the early innings in St. Louis.”
  • “I would tell you at L’Auberge, I see a lot of room for continued improvement there just from better managing that asset.  We cancelled our Sugarcane Bay project, and we cancelled it because we believe that there is a lot more than we can yield from the existing facility. If you look at our New Orleans property, we’re continuing to see improvements at our New Orleans property. We have implemented a shared services pod system for Louisiana.
    [River Downs] “And during the racing season, the loss accentuates. So, I think there was some disclosure out there that this property lost in excess of $2 million last year on the EBITDA line, and we have to pare that back somewhat, but it is somewhat limited as far as some of the savings that we’ve had. So, I would think that the first quarter was definitely a partial quarter, but we’re of the view that that number is going to grow a little bit from the first quarter on the losses through the racing season. But you’re going to be in that zip code between, call it, a couple million dollars or so of loss until there is a change in VLTs.”
  • “We’re reconfiguring some of our casinos. We’re putting in a poker room at our L’Auberge property. I mentioned we relocated our high-limit room, both for slots and tables at River City.”


We are expecting an in line quarter tomorrow. Here is some forward looking commentary issued by ASCA since they announced their Q1.


Modified Local Development Agreement (ASCA East Chicago)- June 2, 2011

  • Pursuant to the Modified LDA, for the period beginning June 3, 2011, Ameristar will pay 1.625% of its adjusted gross receipts from operation of the casino ("AGR") to the City of East Chicago, Indiana (the "City") and 1.625% of its AGR to Foundations of East Chicago, Inc., an Indiana not-for-profit corporation ("FEC"), to be used by the recipients solely to support and assist economic development in the City through specified initiatives set forth in the Modified LDA and for reasonable and necessary administrative expenses.
  • The Modified LDA modifies and supersedes in its entirety the prior local development agreement for the East Chicago casino (the "Prior LDA"), pursuant to which Ameristar has been paying 2% of its AGR to FEC, 1% of its AGR to the City and 0.75% of its AGR to East Chicago Second Century, Inc., an Indiana corporation ("Second Century"), with the respective amounts payable to FEC and Second Century being deposited into the two Ameristar segregated bank accounts as described above.

Neilsen stock sale- May 16, 2011

  • Craig H. Neilsen (the "Selling Stockholder"), an affiliate of the Company, has agreed to sell 4,560,055 of its shares of the Company's common stock in an underwritten public offering. The Selling Stockholder currently owns approximately 15% of the Company's outstanding common stock and after giving effect to this offering will own approximately 0.77% of the Company's outstanding common stock. The Company will not receive any proceeds from the offering. The total number of shares of the Company's common stock outstanding will not change as a result of this offering.


Youtube from Q1 Conference Call

  • [East Chicago] “We’re continuing our attempts to strengthen the property by proceeding with the renovation of the hotel rooms there, as well as continuing negotiations regarding the rebuilding of the bridge with the state and local community and we’re cautiously optimistic that that will all work out.”
  • “We’ve controlled costs well and we’ve taken steps to reduce the volatility of our table games play.”
  • “Subsequent to the end of the quarter, with the amount of free cash flow the company’s been generating we were able to retire an additional $15 million in debt by the middle of April, which was just prior to completion of the debt restructuring.”
  • “The effects from the [Craig H. Neilsen] transaction to the company is a reduction in the outstanding number of shares by 45%, which on a weighted-average basis will give us a total share count at the end of this year of about 40.6 million and then at the end of ‘12, 33.5 million shares. It’s created immediate accretion to earnings and free cash flow per share, excluding certain one-time charges that will be recorded in Q2.”
  • “After the $15 million of debt repayments in early April and $4.2 million in outstanding letters of credit, we have $128 million in borrowing capacity under the revolver. Obviously, net of the OID on the senior unsecured notes in the B Term. Assuming quarterly dividends continue at current rates and interest rates don’t significantly change, dividend payment savings from the 45% reduction in outstanding shares will more than offset the cash interest increase we’ll experience from the new credit facility.”
  • “Despite large debt increase, annualized interest expense at current LIBOR rates, is expected to increase only about $6 million on an annualized basis. With the debt reduction we’ll be saving at current dividend rate of about $11 million. So, from an free cash flow perspective, the transaction, and adding the amount of debt that we did, is better than neutral to the company.”
  • [Stock comp] “We should see the numbers go back to $3.5 million, $4 million roughly starting in the third quarter"
  • “Blended tax rate is still expected to be 42% to 43% in the second quarter. CAP spending, we’re still looking at a run rate of about $10 million to $15 million. Interest expense in the second quarter is expected to be between $25 million, $26 million. Non-cash interest is expected to be $1.7 million for Q2 with the new debt structure.”
  • “As a result of refinancing, assuming minimal changes in LIBOR, we now expect full year 2011 leverage expense net of CAP interest to be between $104 million and $109 million, an increase from the previously announced $98 million to $103 million, as I said earlier, of about $6 million in cash interest. The new non-cash interest expense on an annual basis will be approximately $7 million, which is a slight reduction from what it had previously been. Interest expense will decrease year over year in Q2 by $8.5 million, due to the expiration of the swaps we had last year, and they expired in July 2010. We expect to, again, generate significant free cash flows that will allow us flexibility to pay down somewhere in the neighborhood of $40 million to $45 million worth of debt in Q2. The board did declare, for Q2, another dividend at $10.05 on April 29th payable on June 15th.”
  • “In prior quarters you heard us talk a little bit about table games hold being a little erratic. And we’ve taken steps to make sure that that stays a little more stable, and I think we’ve been very successful at that.”
  • [Iowa tax increase proposal] “I still don’t think it’s likely to move forward. I don’t think there’s any movement in the legislature to move forward the governor’s original or revised proposal.”
  • [FY2011 Capex guidance] “I think at the beginning of year in the first call, we indicated the rate was going to be somewhere around $65 million, $70 million for the year including Kansas City’s hotel, the start of Kansas City hotel and some work in Vicksburg on the site stabilization.”
  • “First quarter is always one of our strongest ones. I can’t tell you that we will maintain that margin throughout the entire year, but I do expect that we will continue to have great flow through and have year-over-year improvements as we move through it. Gas prices, it’s hard to really see an impact just yet. Not saying that there might not be some, but we don’t see it in any of our trend lines.”
  • “We don’t have any strategic plan to sell any assets.”
  • [Share count] “At the year end, it’s going to be about a little over 40 million. But this quarter, it’ll be about 38. Third and fourth quarters will be 33.5, 33.6.”
  • “We’d have to say that we’re probably seeing slightly better play from our long-term existing players than seeing any material change in those customers that left two or three years ago when unemployment shot up and basically the recession began.”
  • [ASCA Black Hawk] “I think at the margin levels we currently have based on the size of the hotel, that it probably has entertained the peak and that’ll occur as the economy improves. But based on where the economy is right now, I think that mid 30% EBITDA margin is very attractive for that size facility."

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