Bearish: SP500 Levels, Refreshed

POSITION: Short Financials (XLF)


There really is no other way to summarize the US Equity market here. It’s bearish. Period.


I’ll be the first to concede that bear markets get immediate-term TRADE oversold (I made that call last Monday in note titled “Short Covering Opportunity” – time stamped 10:47AM on August 8th, 2011).


But, please, don’t confuse immediate-term TRADE oversold as anything other than what that is – immediate-term oversold.


Across our core 3 risk management durations (TRADE/TREND/TAIL), bearish is as bearish does: 

  1. Intermediate-term TREND resistance = 1314
  2. Long-term TAIL of resistance = 1256
  3. Immediate-term TRADE resistance = 1214 

Like 1192 and 1173, there are multiple short-term downside levels of TRADE support between 1214 and the YTD closing low of 1119 (establish August 8th, 2011), but since most people out there are still saying they are “long-term investors”, they probably don’t care about those. The long-term TAIL is bearish. So, “long-term investors” are probably going to become increasingly bearish too.


Bear markets bounce. This one just did. That’s yesterday’s news.



Keith R. McCullough
Chief Executive Officer


Bearish: SP500 Levels, Refreshed - 1

JCP: Shorting Again

Keith added JCP to the short side of the ledger in the Hedgeye Virtual Portfolio -- again -- as he continues to manage near-term risk around a very high conviction TREND and TAIL short idea. See our recent Black Book "What Ackmanists Are Missing" for our fundamental view on why there is a meaningful duration mismatch between the storytelling on the Street vs. economic reality.


JCP: Shorting Again - photo








The ICSC chain store sales index posted its third straight decline, falling 1.5% in the latest week. Year-over-year growth slowed to 3.5%, its lowest level in six weeks. Its becoming more apparent that the stock market volatility may be impacting consumer behavior more than the potential benefit from lower gasoline prices.





Gasoline prices have slumped in August to-date after gaining 4.4% in July.  Concerns surrounding slowing economic growth are likely weighing on oil prices.


THE HBM: SBUX, MCD, DIN - gas prices





We’ve been highlighting the Food Processors group as a beaten-down category that will benefit as commodity inflation becomes less of a headwind.  Over the past day and week, the subsector has outperformed other food, beverage, and restaurant peers.


THE HBM: SBUX, MCD, DIN - subsectors fbr




  • SBUX Via ready brew has been expanded to six additional countries, according to a press release out this morning.  The product is now available to all Starbucks locations in Asia.
  • MCD is rated as more healthful than Subway by its most influential, social-media-connected patrons, according to Nations Restaurant News.



  • Bar and Grill led the way yesterday. DIN outperformed, gaining 7.4% on steady volume.

THE HBM: SBUX, MCD, DIN - stocks 816




Howard Penney

Managing Director


Rory Green


Daily Trading Ranges

20 Proprietary Risk Ranges

Daily Trading Ranges is designed to help you understand where you’re buying and selling within the risk range and help you make better sales at the top end of the range and purchases at the low end.

Misery's Mistake

“They get to see all of my mistakes.”

-Ray Dalio (The New Yorker, July 25th, 2011)


Recent history is marked-to-market. That’s a good thing because it helps us rethink, rework, and learn faster. Modern day multi-media tools from YouTube to Twitter have revolutionized and expedited our quest to find the right sources of alpha. Old Wall Street’s “sources” are either wearing orange jump suits or dying on opacity’s vine.


Per the same New Yorker article that I cited yesterday (“The Machine – How Ray Dalio built the world’s richest and strangest hedge fund”, by John Cassidy at The New Yorker), Ray Dalio has a “rule of radical transparency” that has ultimately shaped the risk management culture at Bridgewater Associates.


Transparency: I like that word; particularly when someone is practicing it out loud.


As a practical matter, I do find it very interesting (but not ironic) to note that two of the most successful Global Macro Risk Managers of our generation  (George Soros and Ray Dalio) both started their firms during the mid-1970s. Soros and Dalio hung up their own shingles in 1973 and 1974, respectfully.


What was very unique about the 1970s was that there was this economic reality called The Stagflation. It was man-made by central planners and, ultimately, it ran all of the Keynesians right over. Big Government Interventions that were focused on devaluing the US Dollar perpetuated rising inflation and slowing growth (stagflation).


I’m not sure how either Soros or Dalio’s macro models scored The Stagflation then, but this is how Hedgeye scores it now:

  1. Growth Slowing At An Accelerating Rate
  2. Inflation Rising (and remaining) Above The Real Growth Rate
  3. Monetary and Fiscal Policy that perpetuates 1 and 2

The Stagflation: In the US and across most of Western Europe, that’s basically what you have right here and now. In fact, if you take the US Government’s word for it and use the Q1 2011 US GDP number (revised down by 81% to 0.36%), and then “trust” that headline Consumer Price Inflation was 3.3% in Q1 - that’s a ratio of 10:1 of inflation over growth. That’s nasty.


Causality? What drives The Stagflation? That’s easy. Keynesian Politicians.


This is what Nixon, Carter, Bush II, and Obama all had/have in common. They and their economic “advisors” were/are all Keynesians. And all 4 of their Administrations oversaw horrible employment decades combined with horrifically low Presidential approval ratings.


Today, this country doesn’t like The Stagflation any more than it didn’t in the 1970s. Back then, they called it the Misery Index (unemployment + inflation). On this very common sense calculation, the Obama Administration ranks 3rd worst in American history to Nixon and Carter. Not surprisingly, Reagan, Clinton, and Kennedy are the Top 3.


Back to the Global Macro Grind


Let’s take a ride around the world and take a gander at some stagflation callouts from this week’s Global Macro Economic Data:

  1. JAPAN – reports a down -1.3% GDP number for Q2 2011. Keynesians celebrated that as “better than expected due to the tsunami effects.” Non-Keynesians remind realists that Japan’s GDP was negative for the 6 months before the tsunami!
  2. UNITED KINGDOM – reports an awfully high Consumer Price Inflation (CPI) print for July of +4.4% (versus +4.2% in June); the British (homeland of the Keynesians) are now running 10:1 inflation over GDP growth like the Americans are.
  3. GERMANY – reports a huge sequential slowdown in economic growth for Q2 2011 of +2.8% (cut in half versus Q1 GDP growth of +5.2%). If you didn’t know why German stocks have crashed since May 2011 (down -22%), now you know.

Elsewhere in Global Macro, commodities, currencies, and bond markets continue to signal that Global Growth Slowing remains reality:

  1. CRB COMMODITIES INDEX – closed at 330 yesterday and remains well below Hedgeye’s intermediate-term TREND line of 348
  2. WTIC OIL – trading $86 this morning continues to be broken across all 3 of our risk management durations (TRADE/TREND/TAIL)
  3. DR. COPPER – leads to the downside this morning (down -1.3%) and has now broken its long-term TAIL line of support ($4.10/lb)
  4. EUR/USD – continues to hope and pray to hold above its intermediate-term TREND line of resistance = $1.44
  5. UST YIELDS – 10-year yields remain broken across all 3 of our risk management durations (downside support = 2.06%!)
  6. UST YIELD SPREAD – continues to compress (10s minus 2s = +209 basis points) and is down -25% since Q1 Growth Slowed

But, but…


There are no buts. Stocks aren’t “cheap” either. Our 2011 call on US Equities has not been that stocks will get as cheap as they did during The Stagflation of 1974 (7x earnings). But it has been that buying Equities as Growth Slows And Inflation Accelerates is Misery’s Mistake.


My immediate-term support and resistance ranges for Gold, Oil, and the SP500 are now $1, $79.10-91.79, and 1098-1256, respectively. Yesterday I bought Silver (SLV) and sold half of our long China (CAF) position in the Hedgeye Asset Allocation Model, taking my allocation to International Equities down to 6% and keeping my allocation to US and European Equities at 0%.


Best of luck out there today,



Keith R. McCullough
Chief Executive Officer


Misery's Mistake - Chart of the Day


Misery's Mistake - Virtual Portfolio

Forecasting Dark

This note was originally published at 8am on August 11, 2011. INVESTOR and RISK MANAGER SUBSCRIBERS have access to the EARLY LOOK (published by 8am every trading day) and PORTFOLIO IDEAS in real-time.

“Weather forecast for tonight: dark.”

-George Carlin


When 2011 is all said and done, we’ll separate the winners in this Globally Interconnected Game from the whiners. Whoever had their growth estimates right will have had a lot of other things right.


In the meantime, we’ll have to deal with politicians, journalists, and bankers obfuscating this very simple fact – Global Growth Has Been Slowing Since The End of 2010.


That’s it. That’s what Wall Street, Washington, SocGen, and the Government of France all have in common this morning – their top-line estimates for GDP Growth are still way wrong. And, as a result, being long any of their conflicted promises that are associated with using the wrong GDP assumptions will continue to be wrong. Markets don’t lie; politicians do – and the market has this right.


Markets don’t trade on politicians, journalists, and bankers using the wrong sources – they trade on expectations. To amplify this point about Growth Expectations, let’s take a step back and review where these “blue chip” forecasters were on these matters in Q1 of 2011:


Forecasts for 2011 US GDP Growth:

  1. Bank of America = 3.2%
  2. Barclays = 3.1%
  3. Citigroup = 3.1%

*Disclaimer: these estimates must have all been based on the exact same Keynesian model for garden variety “recovery”


Forecasts for 2011 SP500 Returns:

  1. Bank of America (David Bianco) = 1400 (up +11.4%)
  2. Barclays (Barry Knapp) = 1420 (up +13.0%)
  3. Citigroup (Tobias Levkovich) = 1400 (up +11.4%)

*Disclaimer: two of these forecasting czars opted for round numbers on the absolute; one opted for the rounded off % return


2011 Reported Numbers (Year-To-Date):

  1. US GDP Growth Q1 2011 = 0.36%
  2. US GDP Growth Q2 2011 = 1.29%
  3. SP500 YTD Return = DOWN -10.9%

3 investment banks with conflicted analysis + 3 train wrecks versus expectations = priceless.


Actually, that’s not fair – there is a price to pay for Wall Street/Washington groupthink. It’s being marked-to-market in every American’s 301k each and every day. While I’ll be the first to admit that this is not 2008 (it’s 2011), all it took to remind me how bad Wall Street’s forecasting models remain at calling growth slowdowns was another growth slowdown!


There isn’t really a trickle-down effect associated with getting growth estimates this wrong – it’s more like a waterfall. To borrow a frightening quote from Bank of America’s CEO, Brian Moynihan, on yesterday’s conference call, “think about it this way and you’ll have to trust us”:

  1. COUNTRIES – when they are wrong on GDP assumptions, they are wrong on their DEFICIT/GDP assumptions.
  2. RATINGS AGENCIES – when they see countries with DEFICIT/GDP assumptions rising, their ratings start falling (on a lag)
  3. BANKS – when their GDP assumptions are wrong, their assumptions for their net interest margins and cash flows are wrong

That last point is less clear to your average journalist attempting to “trust” Brian Moynihan on the numbers. What does it mean?

  1. Banks make money on a spread (the Yield Spread – that’s why La Bernank wants to keep rates of return on your savings low)
  2. When growth slows, the Yield Spread compresses (the 10s/2s spread has compressed by 28% in the last 6 months)
  3. When the Yield Spread compresses, Bank of America, Barclays, and Citigroups NIM (net interest margin) and cash flow declines

So… if you get that… and you’re still using Hedgeye’s GDP estimates for 2011 instead of a conflicted and compromised Street’s… you would have immediately recognized anything coming out of SocGen, the Government of France, or Bank of America’s mouths yesterday as irrelevant and/or wrong.


I continue to forecast that the sun will rise in the East today.


My immediate-term support and resistance ranges for Gold, Oil, and the SP500 are now $1684-1794, $77.20-88.29, and 1087-1137, respectively. We bought Goldman Sachs yesterday in the Hedgeye Portfolio and we remain short Citigroup.


Best of luck out there today,



Keith R. McCullough
Chief Executive Officer


Forecasting Dark - Chart of the Day


Forecasting Dark - Virtual Portfolio

Hedgeye Statistics

The total percentage of successful long and short trading signals since the inception of Real-Time Alerts in August of 2008.

  • LONG SIGNALS 80.47%
  • SHORT SIGNALS 78.68%